A funny thing happened on the way to a trial in Missoula County District Court last week.
Jurors – well, potential jurors – staged a revolt.
They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren’t about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana.
Never mind that the defendant in question also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.
The tiny amount of marijuana police found while searching Touray Cornell’s home on April 23 became a huge issue for some members of the jury panel.
No, they said, one after the other. No way would they convict somebody for having a 16th of an ounce.
In fact, one juror wondered why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all, said a flummoxed Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul.
District Judge Dusty Deschamps took a quick poll as to who might agree.
Of the 27 potential jurors before him, maybe five raised their hands.
A couple of others had already been excused because of their philosophical objections.
“I thought, ‘Geez, I don’t know if we can seat a jury,’ ” said Deschamps, who called a recess.
Archive for the ‘Idiot Authorities’ Category
Next week it will be 20 years since Margaret Thatcher fell. Pressure had been building on a number of fronts, but the issue which finally destroyed her was the yet-to-be-born euro.
In the last weekend of October 1990, she travelled to a European summit in Rome, where Jacques Delors’ dream of European Monetary Union was high on the agenda.
But while Mrs Thatcher was fighting her lone battle against the prospective single currency abroad, she was being fatally undermined at home.
Geoffrey Howe, her bitterest cabinet critic, went on television to tell the interviewer Brian Walden that in principle Britain did not oppose the euro.
In her Commons statement after returning home, she was forced to slap Howe down: “this government believes in the pound sterling.”
Howe resigned, and days later delivered the famous speech from the back benches that set in motion a leadership contest.
Today, Margaret Thatcher’s autobiography, first published in 1993, reads like a prophecy.
It shows how deeply and with what extraordinary wisdom she had examined Delors’ proposals for the single currency.
Her overriding objection was not ill-considered or xenophobic, as subsequent critics have repeatedly claimed.
They were economic. Right back in 1990, Mrs Thatcher foresaw with painful clarity the devastation it was bound to cause.
Her autobiography records how she warned John Major, her euro-friendly chancellor of the exchequer, that the single currency could not accommodate both industrial powerhouses such as Germany and smaller countries such as Greece.
Germany, forecast Thatcher, would be phobic about inflation, while the euro would prove fatal to the poorer countries because it would “devastate their inefficient economies”.
It is as if, all those years ago, the British prime minister possessed a crystal ball that enabled her to foresee the catastrophic events of the past year or so in Ireland, Greece and Portugal.
Indeed, it is one of the tragedies of European history that the world chose not to believe her.
President Mitterrand of France and Chancellor Kohl of Germany dismissed her words of caution. And when Mrs Thatcher was driven from office in 1990, a crucial voice was lost, and a new consensus started to form in Britain in favour of the euro
A WOMAN is suing over an incident where airport staff allegedly pulled down her top and joked about her breasts in public view.
The 23-year-old traveller, from Amarillo, US, is suing the US Government for the emotional distressed she says the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents caused.
The woman says she was singled out for “extended search procedures” while preparing to board a plane to Amarillo in May 2008.
“As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs’ breasts to everyone in the area,” the lawsuit said.
“As would be expected, plaintiff was extremely embarrassed and humiliated.” The lawsuit claims that other employees laughed and made jokes about the incident “for an extended period of time”.
A high school basketball coach at Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi has been suspended and has been sued for allegedly whipping players for several different reasons.
Marlon Dorsey faced a lawsuit filed Tuesday for the actions against the players. Attorney Lisa Ross filed the lawsuit against Dorsey.
Ross claims to have a video taken with a cell phone of a player that shows the teammate bent over as Dorsey whipped him three times with a weight belt that weighed anywhere from five to ten pounds.
Ross also says that along with the whipping the boys were physically and verbally abused in other ways as well.
Dorsey has admitted to “paddling” the players.
This is what Dorsey had to say in a statement regarding the allegations: “I took it upon myself to save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted and become silent to the issues our students are facing on a daily basis. I am deeply remorseful of my actions to help our students.”
A North Carolina state legislator says he supports the military, but a flyer prepared by his campaign could lead some to question which country’s.
Democrat Tim Spear’s campaign has apologised after inadvertently sending voters a leaflet showing actors in World War II-era German uniforms.
The firm that produced the advert touting his support for the military has accepted blame, US media reported.
The state Republican Party obtained the flyer and distributed it to the media.
A longtime federal judge was freed on a $50,000 bond Monday after his arrest on federal charges that he bought cocaine and other illegal drugs while involved in a sexual relationship with an exotic dancer for the past several months.
North Fulton Senior U.S. District Judge Jack T. Camp Jr. was arrested late Friday night near Sandy Springs. Camp, 67, is accused of purchasing cocaine and marijuana, along with prescription painkillers that which he shared with an exotic dancer he met last spring at the Goldrush Showbar in Atlanta, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit for his arrest.
Camp met the dancer, identified in the affidavit as CI-1, when he purchased a private dance from her, according to the affidavit by Special Agent Mary Jo Mangrum, a member of a task force investigating public corruption. He returned the next night and purchased another dance and sex from her, the affidavit said. The two then began a relationship which revolved around drug use and sex.
The city will change the lettering on every single street sign – at an estimated cost of about $27.5 million – because the feds don’t like the font.
Street names will change from all capital letters to a combination of upper and lower case on roads across the country thanks to the pricey federal regulation, officials said Wednesday.
By 2018, MADISON AVE. will become Madison Ave. and will be printed in a font called Clearview, the city Department of Transportation says.
The Federal Highway Administration says the switch will improve safety because drivers identify the words more quickly when they’re displayed that way – and can sooner return their eyes to the road.
Two Boiling Springs teachers are facing charges after deputies say they threw parties for teenagers that involved alcohol, marijuana and sex.
Sarah Jane Lindsay, 42, of 438 Maplecroft St., and Audrey Beidleman Grabarkiewicz, 44, of 230 Sandy Drive, were taken into custody by Spartanburg County sheriff’s deputies Monday.
Police had been investigating since a parent came forward with a complaint in July.
Lindsay, a teacher at Boiling Springs Elementary, is charged with nine counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and criminal sexual conduct with a minor between 11 and 14 years old.
Grabarkiewicz, a preschool teacher at Lake Bowen Baptist Church, is charged with 10 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Investigators said Grabarkiewicz also had “sexual relations with some of the victims,” but, because they were older than 16, she will not be charged, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
Police in New Zealand burning off seized cannabis were left red-faced when a change in the wind sent smoke billowing over a primary school, it was reported Tuesday.
Officers in the South Island town of Picton were destroying cannabis and shredded paper in an incinerator at the local police station when the incident occurred, the Marlborough Express newspaper reported.
It said St Joseph’s School principal Peter Knowles noticed the smoke on Friday morning and complained to police, who immediately extinguished the fire.
Getty Images The end of a woman’s pleasure cruise turned into a nightmare in Fort Lauderdale when she was mistakenly arrested for prostitution just moments after she got off the ship Monday night. What’s worse is she was carrying her 9-month old son at the time.
Now the woman, Paola Londono of Orlando, is fighting a crime she didn’t commit and understandably upset about the entire ordeal.
“Her baby was taken from her arms,” Londono’s attorney, Jose Baez told the Sun-Sentinel.
“She insisted immediately that it was not her.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office admits this was a case of mistaken identity. Once Londono appeared on the cruise ship’s guest list, it sent off red flags to authorities for a woman with the same name who was wanted for prostitution and drug possession in Osceola County.
The woman on the run was from the same area, and had the same name and birth date as Londono – with one noticeable difference. The cruise passenger is 32 and the alleged prostitute is 24.
“It’s extremely disappointing that in this day and age, this kind of issue can’t be resolved in a matter of seconds,” Baez said. The Osceola Sheriff’s Office confirmed there was an error and that Londono – the one on a cruise – should not have been arrested.
Russia’s finance minister has told people to smoke and drink more, explaining that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services.
Speaking as the Russian government announces plan to raise duty on alcohol and cigarettes, Alexei Kudrin said that by smoking a pack, “you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates”.
“People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state,” he told the Interfax news agency.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin fired darts from a crossbow at a gray whale off Russia’s Far Eastern coast on Wednesday in the latest in a series of man-versus-nature stunts designed to cultivate the image of a macho leader.
Putin held his balance in a rubber boat that was being tossed around in choppy waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula, and eventually hit the whale with a special arrow designed to collect skin samples.
“I hit it at the fourth try!” a beaming Putin, kitted out in black-and-orange waterproof suit and black beanie, yelled to a camera crew from the boat.
A biologist with him displayed the skin sample and said it would allow experts to determine where the whale came from.
From the beginning of September, it will be illegal for the Russian capital’s supermarkets, shops and kiosks to sell vodka from 10pm to 10am.
The move will replace lax rules that theoretically forbid Moscow’s shops from selling the grain-based spirit from eleven at night to eight in the morning but which in practice allow them to sell vodka around the clock if they get a permit.
It comes as the Kremlin pushes ahead with the harshest anti-alcohol campaign since former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s draconian ban on vodka sales in 1985.
Mr Gorbachev, who became a hate figure for many ordinary Russians as a result of the ban, decreed that vodka could only be sold from two in the afternoon to seven at night.
His campaign prompted desperate drunks to rush to get their fix by imbibing perfume and other hazardous intoxicants instead.
Many of them died as a result.
Winston Churchill allegedly ordered a cover up of a close encounter between an RAF aircraft and a UFO during the Second World War because it would create “mass panic”, accordingly to newly-released files.
The claim that the then Prime Minister ordered details of the unexplained incident over the East Coast to be kept secret for at least 50 years was made by a scientist who said his grandfather was one of Churchill’s bodyguards.
The tale is told in newly declassified Ministry of Defence UFO files put online by the National Archives. Allegations of the cover-up emerged when the man, from Leicester, wrote to the Government in 1999 trying to find out more about the incident.
He described how his grandfather, who served with the RAF in the war, was present when Churchill and US General Dwight Eisenhower discussed how to deal with the UFO encounter.
The man, who is not named in the files, said Churchill was reported to have exclaimed: “This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic amongst the general population and destroy one’s belief in the church.”
A year ago, Germany’s financial regulator BaFin warned that the toxic debts of the country’s banks would blow up “like a grenade” once hidden losses from the credit crisis caught up with them.
An internal memo at the time showed that BaFin feared write-offs might top €800bn (£688bn), twice the reserves of Germany’s financial institutions. Nobody paid much attention.
But the regulator’s shock move on Tuesday night to stop short trading on banks, insurers, eurozone bonds – as well as a ban credit default swaps (CDS) on sovereign debt – has left markets wondering whether the slow fuse on Germany’s banking system has finally detonated.
BaFin spoke of “extraordinary volatility” and said CDS moves were jeopardising “the stability of the financial system as a whole”.
It is unsettling that the BaFin should opt for such drastic measures a week after EU leaders thought they had overawed markets with a €750bn rescue package and direct purchases of Greek, Portuguese and Spanish debt by the European Central Bank.
BaFin’s heavy-handed move seems to proclaim that the rescue has failed. “The market is left asking what skeletons are lurking in the cupboard,” said Marc Ostwald from Monument Securities.
The short ban follows a report by RBC Capital Markets that circulated widely in the City accusing German banks of failing to come clean on 75pc of their €45bn exposure to Greek debt.
The mayor of a southern Mexico town allegedly beat his wife during a mother’s day celebration, sparking national criticism and prompting federal authorities to urge the woman to file a complaint.
Local media reported Wednesday that Enrique Hernandez, mayor of Petantepec in southern Chiapas state, punched and kicked his wife and pulled her hair during a mother’s day concert Monday.
The national newspaper Reforma quoted another mayor at the event as saying Hernandez yelled at his wife, Estela Velasco, and then began hitting her at the public concert in the town of Pueblo Nuevo.
“I tried to help her but the mayor threatened me,” Pueblo Nuevo Mayor Juan Alberto Morales told Reforma.
“He beat her hideously. The lady didn’t want to get any medical attention.”
An official with the Chiapas state government’s Institute for Women said Hernandez’s wife confirmed the attack.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to discuss the case, said federal and state authorities urged Velasco to file a complaint against her husband but she had refused out of fear.
An Iranian cleric has proclaimed that inappropriately dress women leading to extramarital affairs are the resons behind the devastating earthquakes that frequently rattle the country.
Speaking to worshipped at the Friday prayers here on Apr 16, senior cleric Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi said, “Many women who dress inappropriately … cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes.”
“Calamities are the result of people’s deeds…We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers,” the religious leader is quoted as saying in newspaper reports.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has canceled a hearing intended to grill CEOs who took a charge against profits because of the health care reform bill. The cancellation came after they realized what everyone already knew – that the companies were required to do what they did because of accounting rules.
Waxman and others had reacted with outrage and accused the companies of doing it – in essence, to make health care reform look bad.
AT&T took a $1 billion charge and other companies including Caterpillar, John Deere, and Valero Energy, and 3M took hundreds of millions in charges because of the health care reforms.
The new bill ended a tax break intended to make it attractive for the companies to keep their retirees on company drug benefit plans instead of ending those plans and pushing them into Medicare which would have cost the government much more money. The Democratic memo cancelling the hearing notes, “These one-time charges were required by applicable accounting rules.
Under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles as determined by the FASB, companies are required to take a noncash charge against current earnings to recognize a tax liability for the estimated future tax effects of a new law.”
It goes on to read, “This noncash charge must reflect the entire present value of the loss of future tax deductions on the subsidy, and it must be taken in the period in which the law is enacted. Moreover, if the level of the impact is deemed “material” under SEC regulations, the company must file the report promptly following the triggering event, in this case the enactment of the law.”
Dressed in garish shorts and boxing gloves, orangutans trade punches and spin-kick each other in a boxing ring.
Horrifying footage shows cheering tourists drawn to the barbaric sport at a theme park called Safari World on the outskirts of Bangkok in Thailand.
The same company was banned from doing exactly the same thing just six years ago.
While an orangutan pretends to be knocked out of the boxing ring, others, dressed in bikinis are trained as round card girls and bell ringers.
The apes kickbox each other as a spectacle for tourists in a show lasting more than 30 minutes, before being returned to their dark cages.
It is not known how many orangutans have been captured and trained by Safari World.
Beer deliveries around Copenhagen were interrupted this week after hundreds of Carlsberg workers walked out when the brewer tightened rules on workplace drinking and removed beer coolers from work sites.
The warehouse and production workers in Denmark are protesting against the company’s new alcohol policy, which allows them to drink beer only during lunch hours in the canteen.
Previously, they could help themselves to beer throughout the day, from coolers placed around the site. The only restriction was that they could not be drunk at work.
“It was up to each and everyone to be responsible,” Jens Bekke, a company spokesman said. “
There has been free beer, water and soft drinks everywhere,” he added.
“Yesterday, beers were removed from all refrigerators. The only place you can get a beer in future is in the canteen, at lunch.”
The pastor of a church that organized a massive Easter egg drop is defending the event after some parents reported that it turned into chaos.
On Saturday, 60,000 eggs were dropped from a helicopter at the Rochester Fairgrounds while thousands of people waited below.
Some of the eggs included tickets for valuable prizes, such as flat-screen TVs and Nintendo Wiis.
Some people said the scrum on the ground when the eggs started falling was dangerous.
“I think it was like chaos,” said Sarah Gallo, of Stratham, N.H.
“I saw some people kneeing people, and it was, like, really, really dangerous, I thought.”
Children were left crying and traumatised after a school role play in which one of their teachers was apparently shot dead in the playground.
The pupils, aged ten to 13, saw their religious education teacher run across a field and fall to the ground following a loud bang. Some were so upset that they were sick afterwards, parents said.
The stunt was part of a science lesson designed to teach children how evidence is collected in criminal investigations. They were not told it was fake until ten minutes after the event.
The ’shooting’ happened on Tuesday. More than 300 pupils were called to the hall and warned there was a gun somewhere in the school before being sent back to their classrooms.
Five minutes later, the fire alarm went and the children queued up in the playground. Only a handful knew it was fake.
Three teachers – one brandishing what looked like a gun – were seen running across the school field before shots were heard. Teacher Richard Kent fell to the ground and played dead.
The children were then ushered back to their classrooms as other teachers pretended to tend to Mr Kent. It was ten minutes before it was revealed the scene was fake.
David Cameron is caught up in an extraordinary ‘dwarfgate’ row with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The dispute centres on a claim that Mr Cameron made a remark about ‘hidden dwarfs’ while discussing a photograph showing himself with Mr Sarkozy – who is seven inches shorter than the Tory leader.
The French government was reportedly furious about the comment.
And Shadow Chancellor George Osborne allegedly fuelled the Franco-Tory war by describing a box placed beneath a speaker’s lectern as a ‘Sarkozy box’, before bursting into a fit of giggles.
The jibes, made over a period of three days, led to French officials remonstrating with British counterparts, according to BBC2’s Newsnight.
Greece should consider selling some of its uninhabited islands to cut its debt, according to political allies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Josef Schlarmann and Frank Schaeffler told Germany’s Bild daily that the Greek state should sell stakes in all its assets to raise more cash.
Greek PM George Papandreou is due to meet Mrs Merkel in Berlin later this week for talks about the crisis.
Mr Papandreou has already announced a strict austerity programme.
Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks – and the Acropolis too!” says the headline in the Bild newspaper.
It sounds like the sort of daydream induced by too much ouzo, but the idea comes from two senior politicians in Europe’s biggest economy.
Mr Schlarmann is a senior member of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats and Mr Schaeffler is an MP for the Free Democrats – the junior partner in the centre-right coalition.
An investigation is underway after a child was heard giving instructions to a pilot from the air-traffic control tower at one of America’s busiest airports.
In a recording that has been confirmed as genuine by the Federal Aviation Administration, the child makes five transmissions from John F Kennedy International Airport — with the pilots in each case all responding enthusiastically to him.
One conversation between the tower at JFK Airport in New York and a pilot goes as follows:
JFK TOWER: Jet Blue 171 contact departure.
PILOT: Over to departure jet blue 171, awesome job.
The child appears to be supervised, with a controller explaining the reason for the young voice to the pilot.
JFK TOWER: That’s what you get guys when the kids are out of school. (laugh)
A firestorm over racially and ethnically charged incidents at several University of California campuses spread Tuesday as UC San Diego announced a KKK-style hood was found on campus and students in Los Angeles and Irvine demonstrated against intolerance.
“What kind of campus promotes an environment that allows people to think it’s acceptable to target people for their ethnicity, gender or sexuality?” said Corey Matthews, one of about 200 mostly minority UCLA students who held a lunchtime rally.
“It’s something about the tone of the environment that allows this.” At UC Irvine, about 250 people gathered for a “student solidarity speakout” to condemn the recent spate of racist incidents at UC San Diego that targeted black students and another incident last month at UC Davis, which targeted a Jewish student with a swastika carved on her door, said Marya Bangee, an event organizer.
The protests came on the same day UC San Diego announced the discovery of a white pillowcase fashioned into a KKK-style hood—the third racist incident around the campus in as many weeks—and a day after UC Santa Cruz officials found an image of a noose scribbled on the inside of a bathroom door.
Officials found the hood, which bore a hand-drawn circle and cross, on a statue of children’s book author Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, outside the main campus library late Monday. A rose had been inserted between the statue’s fingers.
Gov. David A. Paterson personally directed two state employees to contact the woman who had accused his close aide of assaulting her, according to two people with direct knowledge of the governor’s actions.
Mr. Paterson instructed his press secretary, Marissa Shorenstein, to ask the woman to publicly describe the episode as nonviolent, according to a third person, who was briefed on the matter.
That description would contradict the woman’s accounts to the police and in court. Mr. Paterson also enlisted another state employee, Deneane Brown, a friend of both the governor and the accuser, to make contact with the woman before she was due in court to finalize an order of protection against the aide, David W. Johnson, the two people with direct knowledge said.
Ms. Brown, an employee of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, reached out to the woman on more than one occasion over a period of several days and arranged a phone call between the governor and the woman, Mr. Johnson’s companion.
Last fall, a woman went to court in the Bronx to testify that she had been violently assaulted by a top aide to Gov. David A. Paterson, and to seek a protective order against the man.
In the ensuing months, she returned to court twice to press her case, complaining that the State Police had been harassing her to drop it.
The State Police, which had no jurisdiction in the matter, confirmed that the woman was visited by a member of the governor’s personal security detail.
Then, just before she was due to return to court to seek a final protective order, the woman got a phone call from the governor, according to her lawyer.
She failed to appear for her next hearing on Feb. 8, and as a result her case was dismissed.
Many details of the governor’s role in this episode are unclear, but the accounts presented in court and police records and interviews with the woman’s lawyer and others portray a brutal encounter, a frightened woman and an effort to make a potential political embarrassment go away.
A Ugandan pastor who screened same-sex pornography in a church to try to bolster support for proposed anti-homosexuality legislation has been condemned by gay rights groups.
Martin Ssempa, one of the main backers of a bill that would impose the death penalty for some offenders, aired the explicit slideshow to several hundred people during a church service in Kampala yesterday.
Explaining his decision to display the images, the evangelical preacher said it was necessary to educate people “about what homosexuals do”.
He told the BBC’s Network Africa programme: “In Africa, what you do in your bedroom affects our clan, it affects our tribe, it affects our nation.”
While Ssempa represents the extreme end of widely held homophobic views in Uganda, he does carry strong influence.
On his website he describes himself as “consultant to the government of Uganda”, and his congregants yesterday included David Bahati, the MP who submitted the private member’s bill to parliament last year.
She survived the Holocaust, but a tenacious life story wasn’t enough for 92-year old Eta Eckstein to keep her Brooklyn landlord at bay.
While out of her apartment in a rehab facility, the grandmother got evicted.
“It’s unspeakable,” says Eta’s grandson, Idan. “They just threw her belongings onto the street.” Eta’s family got no explanation from the landlord
“Family heirlooms, photographs, my dad’s birth certificate, diplomas. It’s all gone. Everything,” Eckstein told NBCNewYork.com.
The “fight club” scrap at a Queens elementary school was uncovered only after the father of one of the combatants heard his son whining that he didn’t have enough fans in his corner.
Tomas Rivera said that he overheard his son complaining to his sparring partner — as the pint-sized pugilists played video games Thursday evening — that he wasn’t getting enough applause during their bout at PS 65 in Ozone Park.
“I heard him go, ‘Oh, they were cheering you more than they were cheering me,’ ” the father told The Post.
Rivera then quizzed his son, also named Tomas, and the 10-year-old spilled the beans about the clash, which was allegedly set up by Joseph Gullotta, the kids’ fourth-grade teacher.
Rivera said his son initially had a beef with another student when Gullotta told the boy, “Don’t fight with him because I like you guys too much.”
Instead, the teacher allegedly told his son to take out his aggression on longtime pal Justin Stokel, 9.
More than two dozen SEC employees and contractors over roughly the past two years have faced internal investigations after they were caught viewing pornography on their government computers.
The work computer of one regional supervisor for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed more than 1,800 attempts to look up pornography in a 17-day span: “It was kind of distraction per se,” he later told investigators. But he wasn’t alone. More than two dozen SEC employees and contractors over roughly the past two years have faced internal investigations after they were caught viewing pornography on their government computers, according to records obtained by The Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act and other public documents.
The activities of porn-surfing SEC workers, a small fraction of the overall work force, have been serious enough to warrant a mention in each of the past four semiannual reports sent to Congress by the SEC’s office of inspector general.
In response to the open records request by The Washington Times, the inspector general’s office provided more than 150 pages of records and transcripts on the investigations, but declined to identify the employees involved. The office noted that disclosure of the employees’ names “could conceivably subject them to harassment and annoyance in the conduct of their official duties and private lives.”
Allan Bachman, education manager for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, said such problems are hardly unique to the SEC. He also said the findings are troubling aside from “the egregious nature of what they’re doing.”
Two Bronx men were locked up and left to rot in a filthy jail cell for nearly a week after a pair of cops mistook their candy for a bag of crack.
The “drugs” were finally tested five days later and determined to be popular Coco (coconut) Candy. The charges were dropped.
The trouble began the night of Jan. 15, as José Pena, a 48-year-old plumber, and his longtime pal and colleague Cesar Rodriguez, 33, were headed to a party, and decided to stop at a bodega on 181st Street and the Grand Concourse.
When they came out, cops were waiting and asked to search their Ford minivan.
“I said ‘Go search.’ I even opened the door,” Rodriguez told The Post. An officer rummaged around, came out holding a “Hello Kitty” sandwich bag, and shouted “Bingo!” the men said.
“It’s only candy!” Rodriguez said, as the cops handcuffed him and Pena, and several other police cars rushed to the scene.
Rodriguez said he buys a 50-cent bag of Coco Candy, a hard coconut-based treat, almost every day. Because it easily crumbles, he puts it in a sandwich bag.
“Can you test it? Can you taste it?” Rodriguez asked the cops.
“Shut up!” they replied.
France’s highest administrative body has ruled that double-hyphenated, double-barrelled surnames such as Bruni–Sarkozy must be abolished after imposing the unwieldy spelling on tens of thousands of children in the past four years.
In 2005, the French state – famous for laying down rigid language rules – declared that all new double-barrelled surnames must be spelt with two hyphens: the offspring of Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy, would in theory take the surname Bruni–Sarkozy.
The idea was supposed to distinguish, for administrative reasons, between old double-barrelled names, like Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa – the French president’s full surname – and new, so-called “composed” names.
These cropped up from 2002, when it became possible in France to simply create a “family name” by sticking together the mother’s and father’s surnames.
But parents horrified at the ugly double hyphen launched a crusade to overturn the decision.
The Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative watchdog, has now sided with the single dash camp in a definitive ruling, saying the state had exceeded its legal powers and butchered the French language into the bargain with the double hyphen
The Slovakian government has insisted the authorities in Ireland were aware a passenger was carrying plastic explosives in his bag on a flight to Dublin last Saturday morning before the plane even took off for Ireland.
A strongly worded statement has been issued by the Slovakian Ministry of the Interior defending its handling of the debacle and criticising the actions of the Garda.
The statement also criticised what it claimed was the inaccurate reporting of the case by the media in Ireland.
It pointed out that contrary to media reports in Ireland, plastic explosives had been planted in the luggage of just one passenger, and not eight as has widely been reported.
It said the explosives were planted in the luggage of a passenger, without his consent, at Poprad-Tatry airport in eastern Slovakia on Saturday morning as part of an airport security exercise.
Hat tip to Una!
Albay Governor Joey S. Salceda on Tuesday issued a strong warning against a local official who is reportedly escorting tourists within the designated danger zone around Mayon Volcano.
Disaster officials were also furious after receiving reports that City Councilor Celoy Chan has been allegedly renting his all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to foreign tourists.
“It’s stupidity,” said Salceda. “We have been spending a lot of money and exerting all our efforts to clear the danger zones and there he is, disregarding what was agreed upon.”
“If he does not stop, we will take action against him,” the governor warned.
As the government reviews how an alleged terrorist was able to bring a bomb onto a U.S.-bound plane and try to blow it up on Christmas Day, the Transportation Security Administration is going after bloggers who wrote about a directive to increase security after the incident.
TSA special agents served subpoenas to travel bloggers Steve Frischling and Chris Elliott, demanding that they reveal who leaked the security directive to them.
The government says the directive was not supposed to be disclosed to the public.
Frischling said he met with two TSA special agents Tuesday night at his Connecticut home for about three hours and again on Wednesday morning when he was forced to hand over his lap top computer.
Frischling said the agents threatened to interfere with his contract to write a blog for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines if he didn’t cooperate and provide the name of the person who leaked the memo.
“It literally showed up in my box,” Frischling told The Associated Press.
“I do not know who it came from.” He said he provided the agents a signed statement to that effect.
President Barack Obama has apparently issued a long-awaited executive order on classification that fulfills one of his campaign promises by setting up a National Declassification Center to oversee the release of historical documents.
But the announcement, ironically, is shrouded in secrecy and confusion.
“While the Government must be able to prevent the public disclosure of information that would compromise the national security, a democratic government accountable to the people must be as transparent as possible and must not withhold information for self-serving reasons or simply to avoid embarrassment,” National Security Council official William Leary wrote in a blog post announcing the order.
Oddly, that blog post was dated and time stamped at 4:44 p.m. Monday but does not appear to have shown up on the White House website until a little before noon Tuesday.
Adding to the mystery, the link to the executive order was dead at that time. Then, shortly after this reporter inquired about that dead link, the entire blog post disappeared.
The order reportedly sets deadlines for declassification of information exempted from automatic 25-year declassification requirements and eliminates a veto the intelligence community held over declassification orders from an interagency panel that hears appeals of such cases.
A city correction officer took a cell phone photo of his co-worker sleeping on duty, leading to disciplinary action against both of them.
The photo shows guard Nadja Green, in uniform, leaning back in a chair with her arms folded on her chest, eyes closed and mouth open. An inmate is standing next to her, making a “peace” sign.
The photo, published in the New York Post on Tuesday, came to the attention of Department of Correction officials last week, said Deputy Commissioner Stephen Morello. Once it was authenticated, Green was transferred from her post at the Rikers Island infirmary and removed from supervising inmates.
The department also did the same to Claudel Barrau, the officer who took the photo. Phone numbers for Green and Barrau could not be found. Green has been in the department for 4 1/2 years; Barrau for 18 years.
It’s not the lifestyle of a typical federal judge: Five or six vodka cocktails during lunch; gambling with borrowed money; bankruptcy under a phony name; cash, trips or home repairs from lawyers; and a bail bondsman with business before his court.
Witnesses in the congressional impeachment case against U.S. District Court Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. paint a jarring portrait of the former Louisiana state judge appointed to the federal bench in 1994 by President Clinton.
As Congress wrapped up several weeks of evidence-gathering hearings this week, legal experts who testified before a House task force suggested Judge Porteous is a clear candidate to become just the eighth federal judge in U.S. history to be impeached and convicted by Congress.
Lawmakers appear poised to take their advice and bring charges early next year, setting up a historic trial in the Senate.
It wasn’t a state dinner, and they didn’t crash it on purpose. Still, a Georgia couple who showed up at the White House a day early for a tour somehow wound up at an invitation-only breakfast with President Barack Obama and the first lady.
It left the White House once again explaining how people who were not on an event guest list wound up being ushered into the presidential mansion anyway.
The improbable adventure of Harvey and Paula Darden, Obama supporters from Hogansville, Ga., took place on Veterans Day, two weeks before Virginia socialites Tareq and Michaele Salahi infamously crashed the Obamas’ state dinner for the prime minister of India.
The Dardens mistakenly showed up a day early for a tour scheduled through their congressman. The White House and Secret Service both said the Dardens went through the appropriate security screenings and were allowed into the breakfast as a courtesy because there were no public tours the day they arrived.
That explanation was news to Harvey Darden, 67, a retired pharmacist, who said he and his wife never were told about the breakfast. They thought they were simply starting their tour until they were ushered into the East Room, offered a buffet spread and told they’d be meeting the president.
“The further we got into the White House, the more surprised we were,” Darden told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
“My wife looked at me and I looked at her, and I said, ‘You know, I don’t know if we’re in the right place.’”
PRINCE Philip mocked a hero Army cadet blinded by a terrorist explosion by poking fun at his dress sense.
The Queen asked brave Stephen Menary how much sight he had left, but before he could answer, the gaffe-prone Duke of Edinburgh joked: “Not a lot, judging by the tie he is wearing”.
Prince Philip’s tasteless joke was met with an embarrassed silence all-round and Her Majesty gave her husband a disapproving glare.
Hero Stephen was just 14 when he picked up a torch bomb that was hurled into a Territorial Army barracks in White City, west London, by the Real IRA in 2001.
He was almost blinded and his left hand was blown off. His mum Carol, 48, said: “Prince Philip is completely out of touch with reality, he is from another world.”
SO far, the journey of Michaele and Tareq Salahi from unknown arrivistes to notorious party crashers has focused on the apparent slipups of the Secret Service and the White House social secretary.
But to fully grasp the ongoing conniption inspired by the episode, you need to understand that when Ms. Salahi strutted onto the South Lawn in that bright red lehenga, she and her husband breached far more than a secure perimeter. They also trampled countless protocols that are the social, business and networking bedrock of official Washington.
Essentially, the couple used the mixed martial arts approach to upward mobility in a town that still cherishes the Marquess of Queensberry rules. And it looks like the town will be spluttering about it for quite some time.
“Washington is a small ‘c’ conservative kind of society, in which people are aware of the traditions and boundaries of appropriate behavior,” said Wayne Berman, a Republican lobbyist.
“It’s a city about rules, about conventions and if there’s no keg at the party, it doesn’t get crashed.” Of course, if the Salahis had slipped past the bouncers at, say, P. Diddy’s birthday bash and then posted the evidence online, the feat would never have been noticed. But a magnetometer is not simply a velvet rope that beeps, and just because Washington has long been called Hollywood for ugly people doesn’t mean that what works in Hollywood — or New York, or anywhere else, for that matter — will work in Washington.
To set the scene, this comes from the October 8 war room meeting on Afghanistan, with McChrystal teleconferenced in from Kabul to explain what he’d been doing since receiving his orders in March. Smart power:
In June, McChrystal noted, he had arrived in Afghanistan and set about fulfilling his assignment. His lean face, hovering on the screen at the end of the table, was replaced by a mission statement on a PowerPoint slide: “Defeat the Taliban. Secure the Population.”
“Is that really what you think your mission is?” one of the participants asked. In the first place, it was impossible — the Taliban were part of the fabric of the Pashtun belt of southern Afghanistan, culturally if not ideologically supported by a major part of the population. “We don’t need to do that,” Gates said, according to one participant. “That’s an open-ended, forever commitment.”
But that was precisely his mission, McChrystal responded, enshrined in the Strategic Implementation Plan — the execution orders for the March strategy, written by the NSC staff.
“I wouldn’t say there was quite a ‘whoa’ moment,” a senior defense official said of the reaction around the table. “It was just sort of a recognition that, ‘Duh, that’s what in effect the commander understands he’s been told to do.’ Everybody said, ‘He’s right.’”
“It was clear that Stan took a very literal interpretation of the intent” of the NSC document, said Jones, who had signed the orders himself. “I’m not sure that in his position I wouldn’t have done the same thing, as a military commander.” But what he created in his assessment “was obviously something much bigger, and more longer-lasting . . . than we had intended.”
They told him — in his official orders — to come up with a plan to eliminate the enemy and, dummy that he is, he thought that meant he was supposed to come up with a plan to eliminate the enemy. Then they told him he didn’t have to. Six months later.
Gordon Brown was snubbed by badly injured Afghan veterans when they closed curtains round their beds during a hospital visit and refused to speak to him.
More than half the soldiers being treated at the Selly Oak hospital ward in Birmingham either asked for the curtains to be closed or deliberately avoided the prime minister, according to several of those present.
The soldiers, who have sustained some of the worst injuries seen in Afghanistan, described his visit as “opportunistic” and a “waste of time”.
Furious about equipment shortages and poor compensation for their injuries, one soldier said: “It is almost as if we are the product of an unwanted affair … he has done nothing for us.”
If you were wondering what happens to 29-year-old men who still play with Lego, take Jeremy Bell as an example.
The partner at digital marketing company Teehan+Lax was surrounded by heavily armed tactical officers, cuffed and held against the wall of his Richmond St. W. office — until, that is, the cops found the gun he had been holding in front of the window about 90 minutes earlier was a pile of blocks.
The BrickGun Semi-Automatic gun (purchased online from BrickGun, “designers and builders of the world’s most realistic custom Lego weapon models”) arrived at Bell’s office Wednesday.
The lifetime Lego fan finished assembling his toy — complete with build-it-yourself magazine — at 5:40 p.m.
It was in one piece for about 10 minutes before it fell apart, he recalled yesterday.
But the tenant in an apartment about six metres across the way didn’t see that last part. And so the tenant called the cops.
At about 7 p.m., as Bell and some colleagues played a video game, the Emergency Task Force moved in.
“They were screaming in the hallway for me to come out,” Bell said. “When I went out there and I saw there was an officer kind of crouched down in the stairwell, it was clear what was going on.”
Town halls are installing cameras inside suburban homes to spy on the neighbourhood. The Big Brother tactic – which is allowed under the anti-terrorist Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – is being used by Croydon council in South London to catch those suspected of ‘anti-social behaviour’.
The CCTV cameras are placed inside the house of a willing resident, but trained on the street. If deemed successful, the £1,000 cameras could be installed across the country to catch low-level offenders.
The London borough has become the first to test out placing CCTV cameras inside homes Charles Farrier, of the campaign group No-CCTV, said: ‘There is no evidence they act as a deterrent and we should be concentrating on the root problem anyway and working to gel our communities.’
Simon Davies, of Privacy International, said: ‘Unless the public are aware of where these cameras are, I believe this council should be taken to court for a breach of human rights.’ Critics say the scheme has echoes of the East German Stasi secret police, which recruited members of the public as spies.
Those who would trade freedom for security deserve (and obtain) neither.
Citing Time magazine’s selection of NASA’s proposed Ares rockets “The Best Invention of the Year” based on a single purported “test flight” of the vehicle on October 28th, the Space Frontier Foundation congratulated NASA on its propaganda triumph.
The Foundation pointed out that the rocket launched by NASA was not an Ares 1 at all, but a dummy vehicle cobbled together from pieces of other space systems, an elaborate mock-up shaped and painted to look like the actual vehicle, which isn’t even scheduled to fly for another 6 years.
“While many reporters know that Ares 1 is far behind schedule and likely to be canceled as an unnecessary and expensive distraction from real exploration missions, apparently Time magazine fell for this publicity hoax. There was no boy in the balloon and there most definitely was no Ares rocket launched in Florida last month,” said the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson.
“If anyone at Time had bothered to go beyond the NASA and contractor flacks, they would have found out what most people in the space community already knew. This was a marketing ploy designed to save a program threatened with imminent cancellation.”
Time’s assertion that the Ares 1 rocket is “The best and smartest and coolest thing built in 2009″ is a simple error of fact and should be immediately retracted. There was no Ares 1 vehicle built in 2009.
“Even if a real Ares 1 launch vehicle were ever built and launched, it would still be an obscenely wasteful duplication of existing commercial and military rockets, which doesn’t seem too smart or cool during our federal budget meltdown,” Tumlinson added.
Writing last week in the Huffington Post, Apollo Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin put into words what is common knowledge in the space launch community: “Turns out the solid booster was – literally – bought from the Space Shuttle program, since a five-segment booster being designed for Ares wasn’t ready. So they put a fake can on top of the four-segmented motor to look like the real thing. Since the real Ares’ upper stage rocket engine, called the J-2X wasn’t ready either, they mounted a fake upper stage. No Orion capsule was ready, so – you guessed it – they mounted a fake capsule with a real-looking but fake escape rocket that wouldn’t have worked if the booster had failed. Since the guidance system for Ares wasn’t ready either they went and bought a unit from the Atlas rocket program and used it instead. Oh yes, the parachutes to recover the booster were the real thing — and one of the three failed, causing the booster to slam into the ocean too fast and banging the thing up. So, why you might ask, if the whole machine was a bit of slight-of-hand rocketry did NASA bother to spend almost half a billion dollars (that’s billion with a “b”) in developing and launching the Ares 1-X? The answer: politics.”
It’s deflating news for the sheriff at the center of the investigation into the Colorado balloon hoax.
The Boulder County district attorney announced Wednesday that he would personally investigate allegations that Larimer County Sheriff John Alderden improperly conducted his probe into the alleged balloon hoax committed by the Heene family.
A lawyer for Richard Heene wrote a letter to the Larimer County district attorney on Monday, accusing Alderden of breaking a Colorado law that prevents officials from publically disclosing information in a case involving charges of child neglect.
Alderden is seeking charges against Richard and Mayumi Heene of orchestrating a hoax on Oct. 15 that their 6-year-old son, Falcon, was trapped on board a wayward weather balloon. The Heenes allegedly launched the balloon from their home to drum up interest in a potential reality television show. Falcon Heene was later found safe in the family’s attic.
Alderden’s spokeswoman told The Associated Press Wednesday that the sheriff denies any wrongdoing in the Heene investigation.
One of Russia’s most powerful tycoons — barred entry to the U.S. for years due to U.S. government concerns about possible ties to organized crime — visited the country twice this year under secret arrangements made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska met with FBI agents in August and earlier this month as part of a continuing criminal probe, according to two administration officials. The focus of that probe couldn’t be learned.
Mr. Deripaska used the opportunity of his recent U.S. visits to meet with top executives of U.S. investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
The aluminum giant he controls, UC Rusal, is preparing for an initial public offering, a vital part of Mr. Deripaska’s efforts to save his debt-burdened business.
The U.S. trips came at an opportune moment to help reassure bankers his visa difficulties may be easing. Mr. Deripaska’s visa troubles are a potentially sensitive issue for investors, bankers say.
Mr. Deripaska also stopped in Detroit to meet with top executives at General Motors Co. to discuss the sale of a stake in its Adam Opel AG unit to a Russian-backed consortium that includes Mr. Deripaska’s AO GAZ auto maker, people familiar with the visit said.
The State Department, which rules on requests for U.S. visas, hasn’t publicly said why it previously denied entry to Mr. Deripaska, and declined to comment on the recent visits.
Isn’t a diplomat supposed to be–you know–diplomatic? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to think so.
On her current visit to Pakistan, she managed to insult both her own government and Pakistan’s in the space of a few minutes.
The Associated Press has reported on interviews and a Q and A session that Clinton gave in Islamabad. I came across it via The Corner, where John Hannah was appalled by this partisan attack by Clinton on her own government:
As a way of repudiating past U.S. policies toward Pakistan, Clinton told the students “there is a huge difference” between the Obama administration’s approach and that of former President George W. Bush. “I spent my entire eight years in the Senate opposing him,” she said to a burst of applause from the audience of several hundred students. “So to me, it’s like daylight and dark.”
One can only agree with Hannah’s comment: Does anyone advising President Obama and the secretary of state really believe that this kind of partisanship and trash-talking abroad about another American president is going to buy us much long-term goodwill among either our friends or our adversaries? Do they imagine that this sort of thing really helps to advance U.S. national interests?
Interestingly, that paragraph has now been deleted from the version of the AP account to which Hannah linked, although it can still be found elsewhere. But the linked version adds this report of Clinton slandering the government of Pakistan, which is equally appalling, but for different reasons:
While U.S. officials have said they believe Osama bin Laden and senior lieutenants have been hiding in the rugged terrain along the border with Afghanistan, Clinton’s unusually blunt comments went further as she suggested that Pakistan’s government has done too little to act against al-Qaida’s top echelon.
“I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,” Clinton said in an interview with Pakistani journalists in Lahore. “Maybe that’s the case. Maybe they’re not gettable. I don’t know.”
Parents are being banned from playing with their children in council recreation areas because they have not been vetted by police.
Mothers and fathers are being forced to watch their children from outside perimeter fences because of fears they could be paedophiles.
Watford Council was branded a ‘disgrace’ yesterday after excluding parents from two fenced-off adventure playgrounds unless they first undergo criminal record checks.
The local council has told parents that they are no longer welcome at two play areas because they have not been vetted by police Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council ‘play rangers’ who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.
Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds ‘unchecked’.
The bodies of thousands of rabbits culled every year from the parks in Stockholm’s Kungsholmen neighbourhood are being used to fuel a heating plant in central Sweden.
The decision to use Stockholm’s rabbit cadavers as bioenergy to warm Swedes living in Värmland doesn’t sit well with Stockholm-based animal rights activists.
“Those who support the culling of rabbits surely think it’s good to use the bodies for a good cause. But it feels like they’re trying to turn the animals into an industry rather than look at the main problem,” Anna Johannesson of Vilda kaniners värn (‘Society for the Protection of Wild Rabbits’) told the local Vårt Kungsholmen newspaper.
Every year, the city of Stockholm kills off thousands of rabbits in an effort to protect trees and shrubbery in the city’s extensive network of parks and green space.
But rather than simply disposing of the dead rabbits, the city instead froze them for eventual transport to a special heating plant in Karlskoga in central Sweden, where the bunny bodies are then burned as a form of bioenergy.
He had been squatting inside an unexploded mine which had remained undisturbed for the past 60 years. But the lobster nicknamed Lionel paid the ultimate price when Royal Navy divers failed to coax the stubborn crustacean out of his home – which tragically became his watery grave.
After the divers stumbled upon the 600lb mine off Swanage, Dorset, they took pictures of it and alerted Portland coastguard, who contacted the Royal Navy bomb disposal unit.
The experts inspected the device and found Lionel inside. He refused to be temped out of his make-shift house and delivered a nasty nip to the frogmen.
The bomb squad had no choice but to set charges to the mine with Lionel still inside and, after setting up a 1,000m cordon, blew it up. The huge explosion sent a 50ft plume of water shooting skywards and shook the nearby town of Swanage.
Lionel the lobster sadly did not survive.
Most world leaders try to avoid repeating gaffes. Not Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian Prime Minister has called President Obama “tanned” again — but this time he did not miss the opportunity to joke about the First Lady’s skin colour as well.
After his return from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Mr Berlusconi told a rally of conservative supporters that he was bringing greetings from someone in the United States.
“What’s his name? Some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama,” he said. He then added: “You won’t believe it, but the two of them sunbathe together, because the wife is also tanned.”
One of France’s highest-profile prisoners escaped from jail on Wednesday by packing himself into a cardboard box.
Embarrassed officials were at a loss to explain how Jean-Pierre Treiber, 45, a double murder suspect, managed to elude detection in the box he had built himself at a workshop in the high security prison of Auxerre, Burgundy.
With its hidden human cargo, the box was loaded with dozens of others onto a lorry for delivery to the Yonne region, southeast of Paris. During the 100-mile journey, he broke free and leapt from the lorry.
The driver only realised there was a problem once he had reached his destination, when he spotted a hole in the tarpaulin covering the boxes, some of which were flattened. Police have sealed off roads and a huge area of woodland in the hunt for Treiber using helicopters and sniffer dogs.
There has been traffic chaos in two Paris suburbs after their feuding mayors declared the same busy road one-way, but in opposite directions.
Patrick Balkany, the conservative mayor of Levallois-Perret, initially made the D909 one-way to reduce the amount of commuter traffic through his district.
But Gilles Catoire, the Socialist mayor of neighbouring Clichy-la-Garenne, said this increased congestion in his area. He made his section of the road one-way in the opposite direction.
With the contradictory road-signs in place, the unsurprising result was gridlock, prompting the deployment of municipal and national police to direct traffic away from the area.
“What Clichy has done is not a long-term solution, but it is a response to a unilateral decision by the town of Levallois,” Clichy’s deputy mayor, Alain Fournier, was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
San Francisco has paid at least $150,000 for Kenny Walters in the past year. He isn’t employed, has an arrest record as long as his hair, and can often be found passed out in a doorway on Haight Street.
Kenny Walters’ job is to get drunk.
He’s certainly not alone. “Chronic inebriants” are a grim and disturbing fact of life in San Francisco. They also cost the city millions.
The frustration is that the public service network – police, fire and medical professionals – doesn’t seem to make a dent when it comes to people like Walters. There are suggestions, like a pilot program for high-impact users at the Department of Public Health, or the Community Justice Center to target frequent users, but nothing seems to get traction.
A five-year study found that 225 high ambulance users cost the city an average of $13 million annually, said Maria X. Martinez, a deputy director at the Department of Public Health.
Recently Walters, who came from Arizona a year and a half ago, was curled up in the fetal position on the sidewalk near Masonic and Haight. Tourists with a camera walked past him; some peered down to see if he was breathing.
“Basically he comes out here and drinks himself to this point every day,” police Officer John Andrews said. “It’s like the movie ‘Leaving Las Vegas,’ ” in which where Nicolas Cage’s character goes to Las Vegas to drink himself to death.
A man who roasted his pet dog to enjoy as a meal with his family and friends escaped prosecution after authorities in New Zealand determined the animal was killed humanely.”We were in a dilemma at seeing something we were fairly upset about — but being in a position of being able to do absolutely nothing about it,” said Garth Halliday, of the Auckland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, on Monday.
The SPCA — which investigates acts of animal cruelty and presses charges — responded to the house in Mangere, south of Auckland. There, officers found the charred body of a Staffordshire terrier cooking in a barbecue pit.
“They had had the dog for a while, but the man told us his wife was getting tired of the dog. He was becoming a pest,” Halliday said.
“They decided to get rid of him. But instead of bringing him to the SPCA — which we recommend — they decided to have a meal, and cook and eat him.”
Child safety campaigners have reacted with horror after it emerged that a convicted paedophile pensioner is still being prescribed Viagra on the NHS.
Serial paedophile Roger Martin, 71, is still receiving the libido-enhancing drug despite a long history of abuse resulting in his latest sex attack on an 11-year-old girl.
The sickening revelation came to light as Martin was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court for the attack in December 2008.
Widower Martin, who has a history of sex offending dating back more than 30 years, was ‘reluctantly’ spared jail because of his age and ill-health.
But Judge Nicholas Coleman highlighted Martin’s continuing use of the drug as a matter of public interest and revealed there is nothing the authorities can do to stop him.
Probation officers cannot force the paedophile to stop taking Viagra if his doctor, who is reliant on the patient volunteering information about his past, continues to prescribe it.
A Bakersfield woman says she has been hounded by county animal control officers to license her dog. Funny thing is, the pooch officials were so concerned about is a stuffed animal.
Dottie Elkin lives by herself in a quaint home in south Bakersfield. For the past few months the 83-year old says she’s hated getting the mail, due to letters she’s receiving from the Kern County Animal Control Department.
“I told them I do not have a dog, it’s a stuffed dog,” Elkin said. That’s right, Elkin has a stuff “guard dog” named Wolf, keeping watch at her front door.
For the last six months she’s been getting letters from animal control asking her to license the dog or face a $200 fine.
YOUNG, inexperienced government regulators were so wowed by Bernard Madoff’s ritzy Midtown headquarters that they asked about job openings and dropped off resumes while missing clear evidence he was running a massive Ponzi scheme, a new book claims.
“No wonder they never found anything,” Madoff firm secretary Elaine Solomon told author Andrew Kirtzman for his book, “Betrayal: The Life and Lies of Bernie Madoff,” The Post’s Dan Mangan reports.
In the book out today, Solomon, speaking out for the first time since Madoff’s epic downfall last winter after years of operating his multibillion-dollar scam, said the arch-fraudster got anxious every time investigators from the Securities and Exchange Commission came knocking at his Third Avenue office in the Lipstick Building.
“But he needn’t have worried,” Kirtzman writes. “He and his aides were amazed at the youth and experience of the regulators who showed up at their door.” Solomon said, “They would walk in and we’d look at them and we’d say to each other, ‘What do you think their combined age is, 12?’
Cuba, in the grip of a serious economic crisis, is running short of toilet paper and may not get sufficient supplies until the end of the year, officials with state-run companies said on Friday.
Officials said they were lowering the prices of 24 basic goods to help Cubans get through the difficulties provoked in part by the global financial crisis and three destructive hurricanes that struck the island last year.
Cuba’s financial reserves have been depleted by increased spending for imports and reduced export income, which has forced the communist-led government to take extraordinary measures to keep the economy afloat.
“The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper,” an official with state conglomerate Cimex said on state-run Radio Rebelde.
The shipment will enable the state-run company “to supply this demand that today is presenting problems,” he said. Cuba both imports toilet paper and produces its own, but does not currently have enough raw materials to make it, he said.
A Malaysian teacher forced a student to smoke 42 cigarettes for four hours as punishment after a cigarette and lighter were found in his locker, a news report said Thursday.
A school official confirmed that the English teacher subjected the student to the unusual punishment, but said the teenager was made to smoke fewer than 42 cigarettes.
He declined to elaborate. He said the teacher was upset when she found a model student, 16-year-old Mohamad Alif Arifin, had a cigarette and lighter in his locker in the school in the northern island of Langkawi.
The boy was also smelling of cigarettes, said a school official, who declined to be named citing protocol. He said the school apologized to the boy’s uncle, who lodged a police report when he found out about the punishment.
Four of the top five models sold so far under the U.S. “cash for clunkers” program, aimed at boosting the auto industry, are made by foreign automakers, according to Transportation Department data.
Ford Motor Co.’s Focus was the top seller, followed by Toyota Motor Corp.’s Corolla, Honda Motor Co.’s Civic and Toyota’s Prius and Camry, data from the department showed today.
Initial clunkers legislation sponsored by Representative Betty Sutton, an Ohio Democrat, would have barred discounts for new vehicles manufactured overseas and offered higher payments for cars and trucks produced in the U.S. than for those made in Canada and Mexico.
The “Buy American” provision was dropped from the final legislation because of opposition from foreign automakers and free-trade advocates who said it would conflict with U.S. obligations to the World Trade Organization.
The U.S. Marine Corps has banned Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites from its networks, effective immediately.
“These internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user generated content and targeting by adversaries,” reads a Marine Corps order, issued Monday.
“The very nature of SNS [social network sites] creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries and provides an easy conduit for information leakage that puts OPSEC [operational security], COMSEC [communications security], [and] personnel… at an elevated risk of compromise.”
The Marines’ ban will last a year. It was drawn up in response to a late July warning from U.S. Strategic Command, which told the rest of the military it was considering a Defense Department-wide ban on the Web 2.0 sites, due to network security concerns. Scams, worms, and Trojans often spread unchecked throughout social media sites, passed along from one online friend to the next.
New York has a long history as a magnet for the poor and the homeless. Even the famous poem on the Statue of Liberty, addressed to the world’s “huddled masses”, exhorts: “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me!”
But now? Not so much. A New York scheme to send hundreds of homeless people on a one-way ticket out of town has led to more than 550 families relocated since 2007. Under the scheme, initiated by New York’s mayor Mike Bloomberg, the city pays for bus and plane tickets, or petrol vouchers, to destinations varying from cities elsewhere within the US mainland to places like South Africa or Puerto Rico.
The scheme is aimed at saving the costs of putting up homeless families in expensive shelters. It only happens if a family can show they have relatives to stay with elsewhere who are willing to look after them. Then New York will stump up the cash and make the arrangements for them to get out of town, often within a few days of agreeing to leave.
The level of help varies. One couple from Michigan were given $400 (£240) in petrol cards so that they could drive home after a failed quest to find New York jobs. Another family of five got free plane tickets to Paris and then free rail tickets when they arrived to get them to the northern French town of Granville. Though the travel expenses can often cost thousands of dollars, city officials say it is cheaper than housing families in shelters which can cost around $36,000 a year.
Being laid off in Florida isn’t surprising news these days, but what happened to poor Scott Janke doesn’t seem quite right.
Janke, who was the esteemed town manager of Fort Myers Beach, was fired Tuesday because of his wife’s job — or rather the kinds of jobs she did on film.
Janke’s wife, Anabela Mota Janke, is a porn star better known by the name of Jazella Moore. If you’re familiar with her work, then you can see the problem at hand. The couple has been married for about a year, but an adult industry website outed Moore as Janke’s undercover porn wife.
And then the firestorm of debates on political correctness and public decency ensued.
Commissioners voted unanimously to fire Janke, who by all accounts — even those of the commission — had done a stand up job running the town.
The French Army were branded ‘imbeciles’ today after an artillery exercise caused a massive fire which destroyed dozens of houses and left hundreds homeless.
Rather than improving the marksmanship of the Foreign Legion, the shelling led to mass evacuations in a suburb of Marseilles.
More than 300 people have been evacuated from their homes and more than 1,000 acres of bush were left blazing, as 170 firefighters backed by helicopters and waterbombing aircraft fought the fire.
As it continued to blaze today, military chiefs were making panicked apologies for the disaster.
Hundreds of competing lawmakers screamed and wrestled in South Korea’s parliament Wednesday as a rivalry over contentious media reform bills descended into a brawl that sent at least one to a hospital.
Lawmakers from the ruling Grand National Party occupied the speaker’s podium in a bid to quickly pass the bills aimed at easing restrictions on ownership of television networks. Opposition parties responded by stacking up furniture to block ruling party members from entering the main hall of the National Assembly.
The parliament plunged into chaos, as lawmakers scuffled and shouted abuse at each other. Women lawmakers from the rival parties joined in the melee, grabbing each other by the neck and trying to bring opponents to the floor.
YTN television network reported some were injured. One woman lawmaker was seen lying on a blue mattress with nurses checking her blood pressure. The lawmaker was later taken to a hospital, YTN said.
Ukraine has banned the hit comedy “Bruno” on the grounds that its “unjustified” showing of genitals and homosexual sex could have a damaging effect on Ukrainians’ moral health, officials said Wednesday.
The ban is not the first time “Bruno” star Sacha Baron-Cohen has run into trouble in the former Soviet Union after his previous creation, the Kazakh journalist Borat, caused controversy in the Central Asian state.
The film, which stars Cohen as a gay Austrian fashionista with a habit of making outrageous remarks, has already hit the top spot at the North American box office. But Ukraine’s film censors were less impressed, with nine members out of the culture ministry’s 14-person commission voting for a total ban.
An investigation is under way in Australia over claims that navy sailors competed with each other to bed their female colleagues for cash prizes.
According to Channel Seven news, sailors on board HMAS Success put a cash value on each woman’s head.
Sleeping with a female officer or a lesbian, or having sex in a strange place, won more money, the report said.
The Defence Department confirmed that a number of individuals had been sent back to Australia for interviews.
Indian defence scientists are planning to put one of the world’s hottest chilli powders into hand grenades.
They say the devices will be used to control rioters and in counter-insurgency operations.
Researchers say the idea is to replace explosives in small hand grenades with a certain variety of red chilli to immobilise people without killing them.
The chilli, known as Bhut Jolokia, is said to be 1,000 times hotter than commonly used kitchen chilli.
An Arkansas prisoner nearly died after guards left him lying naked in his own feces for a weekend, and while investigating the incident corrections officials found that guards received lap dances while on the job, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.
The prison system fired Lt. John Glasscock, who supervised guards on duty at the maximum-security Tucker Unit prison. One sergeant was fired, another was demoted and three others received written warnings, according to a report stamped “Sustained (Allegation is True).” The report said Glasscock gave false information to investigators and did substandard work “resulting in injury and/or property damage.”
The disclosure of the inmate’s near death comes after two convicted murderers escaped a different state prison by wearing guard uniforms and officers at the Tucker Unit fatally shot a man who officials said fled from a contraband checkpoint.
Combined, the incidents raise new questions about a troubled state prison system described by a federal judge 40 years ago as a “dark and evil world.”
A family has been warned their mail could be halted after postmen refused to deliver to their house – because of a vicious kitten.
Royal Mail chiefs wrote to Ken Ridge claiming that six-month-old Illy had attacked a postal worker.
Mail deliveries to the house could now be suspended as a result of the attack on the woman, he was told.
Mr Ridge, 65, who lives in Clapham, South London, with his 30-year-old son Bradley, said: ‘We were not around when this happened, but it seems some mail was put through the letterbox and their hand was scratched.
‘Illy is only a kitten and I am sure she was just playing. ‘Then we got a letter from the mail delivery office warning our deliveries could be stopped.’
An inventory of deadly germs and toxins at an Army biodefense lab in Frederick found more than 9,200 vials of material that was unaccounted for in laboratory records, Fort Detrick officials said Wednesday.
The 13 percent overage mainly reflects stocks left behind in freezers by researchers who retired or left Fort Detrick since the biological warfare defense program was established there in 1943, said Col. Mark Kortepeter, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
He said the found material included Korean War-era serum samples from patients with Korean hemorrhagic fever, a disease still of interest to researchers pursuing a vaccine.
Other vials contained viruses and microbes responsible for Ebola, plague, anthrax, botulism and host of other ailments, Kortepeter said in a teleconference with reporters.
The family of an Australian Aboriginal elder who died after being “cooked” in the back of a prison van on a scorching hot day is considering suing, they said.
A coroner Friday dismissed treatment of the 46-year-old man as inhumane and a “disgrace,” saying he would ask prosecutors to consider criminal charges over his death from heatstroke in Western Australia in January 2008.
The elder, known only as Mr Ward as his first name was withheld for cultural reasons, was transported 360 kilometres (225 miles) to jail in temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 F) in a van with faulty air conditioning.
Ward, who was arrested a day earlier for drink driving, spent four hours in the searing heat between the mining towns of Laverton and Kalgoorlie, suffering third-degree burns where his body touched the metal floor, the inquest heard.
Western Australia Coroner Alastair Hope found that Ward was effectively “cooked” to death and heavily criticised the state prisons department, the private security firm that operated the van and the two guards who escorted Ward.
An Arizona inmate who died after spending nearly four hours in the desert heat was left in an outdoor holding cell for twice as long as she should have been, the state prisons director said Wednesday.
Three corrections officers have been put on paid leave while the state investigates Wednesday’s heat-related death of Marcia Powell, who was left in her unshaded cell in 103-degree heat at a prison in Goodyear.
“The death of Marcia Powell is a tragedy and a failure,” prisons director Charles Ryan said.
“The investigation will determine whether there was negligence and will tell us how to remedy our failures.”
Powell, who was serving a 27-month sentence for prostitution, was placed alone in the cell while being moved to an onsite detention unit. Ryan said officers placed Powell in the cell after a disturbance at the detention unit, but he would not elaborate on the nature of the disturbance.
Staff Sgt. Bartek Bachleda doesn’t consider himself a hero, but passengers on a recent jumbo jet flight might beg to differ.
One of 300 passengers on a United Airlines flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Tokyo, Japan, in April, Bachleda noticed white “smoke” billowing from the left side of the Boeing 747-400 jet on takeoff and then again at cruising altitude of over 30,000 feet. He said he was sure it was a leak, a big one that could lead to a potentially dangerous situation.
Bachleda, 30, should know. He serves in an air refueling squadron in the U.S. Air Force. He videotaped the midair vapor from his window seat and tried to warn a flight attendant. But at first, she paid him no heed.
“When I initially hit the call button, she thought maybe I wanted something, and she said, ‘Sir, I’m handing out drinks, I’ll be right back with you,’ ” Bachleda said.
The envelopes fill white plastic tubs, stacked on hundreds of shelves in the basement of the Library of Congress. They’re spreading to a ground-floor space that once housed the gift shop and are clogging offices on the fourth floor. And each day, the mail trucks bring about a thousand more.
A serious logjam in the U.S. Copyright Office has created a growing mountain of paper applications, more than the staff can process. Like the marching buckets of water in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the envelopes just keep coming, threatening to flood the operation.
The problem has tripled the processing time for a copyright from six to 18 months, and delays are expected to get worse in coming months. The library’s inspector general has warned that the backlog threatens the integrity of the U.S. copyright system. The irony is that the slowdown stems from a new $52 million electronic process that is supposed to speed the way writers and others register their literary, musical or visual work.
This investment turned out to be as risky as it was risque.
A sex theme park that featured explicit exhibits of genitalia and sexual culture is being demolished before it can even open, a government spokesman in southwestern China said.
The park, christened “Love Land” by its owners, went under the wrecking ball over the weekend in the city of Chongqing, said the spokesman, who like many Chinese bureaucrats would give only his surname, Yang.
Yang refused to give the reason for the demolition or other details. However, photographs of the adult-only park had circulated widely on the Internet over the weekend, prompting widespread mockery and condemnation.
Exhibits had included giant-sized reproductions of male and female anatomy, dissertations on how the topic of sex is treated in various cultures and what the official China Daily newspaper called “sex technique workshops.”
The park’s main investor, Lu Xiaoqing, had earlier claimed that the attractions sought only to boost sexual awareness and improve people’s sex-lives.
Riot police broke up several gay rights demonstrations in Moscow on Saturday, hauling away scores of protesters hours before the capital hosted a major international pop music competition.No injuries were reported, but the detentions could damage Russia’s desire to be seen as a modern nation as it holds the finals of the Eurovision song contest, a cultural event televised around the world. City officials had warned that they would not tolerate marches or rallies supporting the rights of gays and lesbians, but activists had targeted Moscow and the Eurovision contest to press their claims that Russia officially sanctions homophobia.
Moscow police spokesman Anatoly Listovetsky said 40 people were detained, but media reports said up to 80 had been seized. None of the protests in central Moscow took place near the capital’s Olimpiysky Sports Complex, where the Eurovision concert being held live Saturday night.
Police seized gay rights advocates as well as some religious and nationalist protesters who staged counter-demonstrations. They also took away gay rights activists for talking to reporters, and ripped the bra and shirt off one female protester.
More details available here: Russian Riot Police Arrest Scores of Gay Rights Protesters
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will pay $2.6 million in U.S. tax dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job.
Dr. Xiaoming Li, the researcher conducting the program, is director of the Prevention Research Center at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. The grant, made last November, refers to prostitutes as “female sex workers”–or FSW–and their handlers as “gatekeepers.”
“Previous studies in Asia and Africa and our own data from FSWs [female sex workers] in China suggest that the social norms and institutional policy within commercial sex venues as well as agents overseeing the FSWs (i.e., the ‘gatekeepers’, defined as persons who manage the establishments and/or sex workers) are potentially of great importance in influencing alcohol use and sexual behavior among establishment-based FSWs,” says the NIH grant abstract submitted by Dr. Li.
Terrified residents at a Corpus Christi, Texas, state school for the mentally disabled were forced to be part of a brutal “fight club” operated by night shift employees, who made videos of the sessions with their cell phones, the newly released videos show.
Mentally disabled residents forced to brawl as employees prod and laugh. On the videos employees can be seen and heard laughing and prodding the residents to fight.
One resident is seen on the video trying to run away from his attacker and a large group of employees and residents tracking him through the halls. When cornered, he wails and moans and tells the employees, “I will behave.”
The videos were discovered by police in March when one of the school employees left his phone at a hospital and it was turned over to police. In an effort to find its owner, officers saw the disturbing videos.
The U.S. government is pouring billions into General Motors in hopes of reviving the domestic economy, but when the automaker completes its restructuring plan, many of the company’s new jobs will be filled by workers overseas.
According to an outline the company has been sharing privately with Washington legislators, the number of cars that GM sells in the United States and builds in Mexico, China and South Korea will roughly double. The proportion of GM cars sold domestically and manufactured in those low-wage countries will rise from 15 percent to 23 percent over the next five years, according to the figures contained in a 12-page presentation offered to lawmakers in response to their questions about overseas production.
OFFICIALS in a county in central China have been told to smoke nearly a quarter million packs of locally made cigarettes annually or risk being fined, state media reports.
The Gong’an county government in Hubei province has ordered its staff to puff their way through 230,000 packs of Hubei-produced cigarette brands a year, the Global Times said.
Departments that fail to meet their targets will be fined, according to the report. “The regulation will boost the local economy via the cigarette tax,” said Chen Nianzu, a member of the Gong’an cigarette market supervision team, according to the paper.
The measure could also be a ploy to aid local cigarette brands such as Huanghelou, which are under severe pressure from competitors in neighbouring Hunan province, according to the paper.
Fort Lauderdale Rep. Alcee Hastings nearly turned C-Span into XXX-Span when he ran through a laundry list of sex fetishes on the House floor in D.C. on Thursday.
The outraged Hastings was apparently mad that the odd array of sex acts and fetishes were listed in an amendment to a hate crimes bill that he had to read over.
The Florida pol gave a warning before he ran through the list of nearly 25 different sexual terms – part of a two-minute rant worthy of late-night talk show television.
“I apologize to our transcriber, but I want to put into the record what we have to put up with in the Rules Committee,” Hastings said. OK, now run and get your dictionary because you are going to need it to keep up.
Hastings list included but was not limited to: asphyxiphilia, apotomnophilia and autogynophilia (a quick Web search gave the definition as “a form of sexual response in biological males characterized by sexual arousal over the idea of being or becoming female.” Translation: jones-ing to change one’s name from Bob to Betty).
The White House apologized late Monday after the U.S. military – without public warning – buzzed New York City with one of the presidential planes trailed by an F-16 fighter jet. Not even Mayor Bloomberg knew they were coming.
Flying in as low as 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet above New York City and taking photographs along the way, the planes circled the Statue of Liberty and flew over Manhattan, Staten Island, and New Jersey – then vanished.
Before they were gone, hundreds of frightened people had jammed the emergency lines, thousands of terrified people evacuated from buildings in the city and across the river in Jersey, and many New Yorkers had flashbacks to the 9/11 attacks.
“I approved a mission over New York,” Louis Caldera, director of the White House military office, said in a hastilly-prepared statement. “I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.
An unexpected surprise in their son’s backpack caught some Yakima Washington parents off guard. It was human waste, with a note attached from the boy’s teacher. And the school isn’t denying that’s what happened.
“I’m still kinda in shock over this, because why would somebody do this? It’s disgusting,” said Jason, the father of the little boy. It all started on Friday at Apple Valley Elementary, when kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Graham called Jason and told him her classroom was “stinky” and asked if it could possibly be his son.
Jason’s son had a couple of accidents in the past. So when the teacher called, he says he told her right away, there was an extra set of clothes in his son’s bag. But when the 5-year-old came home, the boy was still wearing his original outfit, and Jason says his son was completely clean.
It wasn’t until Jason’s wife emptied her son’s backpack that they got a big surprise.
“She found a clear plastic baggie with a piece of fecal matter wrapped up in some a brown paper towel with the note on it. ‘This little turd was on the floor in my room’ And that’s all it says. Q: Nothing else? A: Nothing else. If it was his did she see him do this? Or did she follow him around to make sure this was his, did she see it drop out? Or just assume it was his because he had an accident a few months ago?”
Valerik Kashkin, a clown in the Moscow State Circus, was performing in Liverpool’s Sefton Park last Saturday when he fell from a three metre high slack wire, injuring his foot.
Although he continued to perform for the rest of the show, when he went to hospital later that evening, he was told he had broken the metatarsal bone in his left foot.
When he returned to the circus he was told by management he could no longer wear the size-18 shoes because they compromised his health and safety.
Mr Kashkin features in the circus’ reworking of the Rasputin tale, The Monk’s Dream.
His routine includes dressing himself whilst walking on a wire, dress himself within a hoop of fire, and playing a drum-kit, trumpet and double-bass all at the same time.
But he is now worried performing in his regular sized footwear will lose impact on the audience.