Archive for February, 2009
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So Bobby Jindal’s bid for the Republican ticket in 2012 is not off to such a good start.
Gary Collins explains…
Louisiana has gotten $130 billion in post-Katrina aid. How is it that the stars of the Republican austerity movement come from the states that suck up the most federal money? Taxpayers in New York send way more to Washington than they get back so more can go to places like Alaska and Louisiana. Which is fine, as long as we don’t have to hear their governors bragging about how the folks who elected them want to keep their tax money to themselves. Of course they do! That’s because they’re living off ours.
How is that possible? As a Yankee slugger, you make $20 million a year and you can’t pay your bills allegedly because your money is frozen in the alleged ponzi scheme Stanford Bank?! You’re trying to tell me that you (1) put all your money in one place, (2) don’t have any liquid cash anywhere else, (3) don’t have enough money coming in on a bi-weekly basis to cover your expenses, (4) have many bills anyway?! I just don’t get it.
If you make $20 mil a year, that’s about a mil every two weeks. You’re telling me that JD can’t get by on that?! That’s scary. That’s just weird and scary and I would like someone to explain to me how this could possibly be logical because I find it a little bit offensive.
I like the idea of Lent. It’s not just for Christians either. It’s a great time a couple months after the New Year to renew your intentions, and to check yourself on the luxuries of life. In honor of “Lent” this year, I’ve taken a look at what I can do as an individual to be more friendly to my earth. It may sound cliche, but I sincerely believe that I have a responsibility to the earth around me, and I should have to answer to the conditions that I create. So here are some ideas for things that you can “give up” during Lent or any other time to be an environmental angel.
1. Plastic and Paper Bags – come on people! Get on the bandwagon and BYOB! It’s not only good for the environment to use those eco-friendly canvas bags, it’s also a very cool way to express your individuality and style! There are so many different types of canvas bags out there for you to choose from to let everyone know that you care about the environment and that you know what’s up!
2. Bottled Water – this one is tough to give up because bottled water is so convenient. But those bottles are just piling and piling in our landfills and they are NOT biodegradeable. It’s horrible for our environment, and when I think of all the bottles that have piled up in my car, I can’t imagine the negative footprint I’m leaving on the earth. So enough with the bottled water, I’m buying myself a couple cute metal containers and filling up my water bottles with the Brita. If you just can’t give up the plastic, check this – Plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7 could pose a health threat to you, so look for plastics numbered 1, 2, 4 or 5.
3. Unwanted junk mail and catalogs – Each year, 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. All those catalogs require more than 53 million trees and 56 billion gallons of wastewater to produce — and many of us don’t even know how we got on so many mailing lists! So grab that stack of catalogs piling up on your coffee table and clear out the clutter. Visit CatalogChoice.org to put a stop to unwanted catalogs. Within 10 weeks, your mailbox will be empty of unwanted catalogs. A less cluttered mailbox means less pollution, less waste and less of the pollution that cause global warming.
4. Conventional Detergents – Many natural detergents today are made to clean clothes just as effectively in cooler water temperatures. Choose detergents and other laundry products that are plant-based, concentrated and biodegradable. Also, those conventional detergents can give you nasty rashes with those fragrances and chemicals. Yuck!
5. The Dryer – The second biggest household energy user, after the refrigerator, is the clothes dryer. Overdrying your clothes can end up costing you money as well. (As much as $70,000 over your lifetime, according to the Green Cheapskate. An electric dryer operating an extra 15 minutes a load can cost you up to $34 a year in wasted energy.
4. Conventional Toilet Paper – Believe it or not, switching to recycled toilet paper can change the world. If every household in the United States bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, instead of the typical tissue made from virgin fiber, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution, preserve 356 million gallons (1.35 billion liters) of fresh water and save nearly 1 million trees. And the best news is that a four-pack of recycled toilet paper costs about the same as a four-pack of conventional toilet paper.
5. Paper Towels – Waste. Waste. Waste! During your next trip to the grocery store, buy some reusable microfiber towels, which grip dirt and dust like a magnet, even when they get wet.
6. The Thermostat – Electric power plants are the country’s largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming. By snuggling under a blanket on the couch on a snowy winter night instead of turning up the heat, or enjoying the breeze from a fan in the height of summer instead of turning up the air conditioning, you can save pounds of pollution, as well as some money off your utility bills. Set your thermostat in winter to 68 degrees F (20° C) or less during the daytime and 55 degrees F (13° C) before going to sleep or when you are away for the day. And during the summer, set thermostats to 78 degrees F (26° C) or more.
7. Dry Cleaning – Until recently, dry cleaners used some toxic, cancer-causing agents on their clothes. Yikes! If you HAVE to use a dry cleaner, make sure to take your clothes out of the plastic AS SOON AS POSSIBLE or ask your dry cleaner not to wrap your clothes in plastic at all!
You have skills, talents, insights, and other assets that someone else needs or wants. We all do. It’s just a matter of figuring out what those things are and then tapping into them to provide goods and services that can make us money. When I go apply for a job somewhere, I am marketing my skills and talents to the company that I am applying to. But what if we could make an economic model out of these skills and talents and start swapping them for something other than green bucks?
What if we started thinking out of the box a little bit more and tried to ease our ecoomic woes by bartering with our neighbors and our local community companies. What if I offered legal services to a number of small businesses that I use on a regular basis. I’ll be their “in-house counsel” of sorts in exchange for their goods and services – I’ll draft up contracts and work orders for a local clothing store in exchange for jeans, tshirts, and shoes. I’ll be the legal representation for an ad agency for free space in a couple of their publications each year. This works for me, and it can work in a number of other professional settings.
With the economy dwindling, the dollar facing serious challenges to its value, and the jobless rate skyrocketing, it’s high time to tap into our creative resources and look into ourselves to find our best assets and put them on the market. This system will also foster good-will and relationships among neighbors and communities as people rely more on the exchange of goods and services rather than the exchange of dollars and cents. The barter system can work in a limited sense to ease financial woes and also give people a sense of purpose and committment. Try it. It could work wonders.
Ok, you know it’s bad when the apparent winner of an ice fishing contest allegedly cheated his way to victory.
Lee Shehow claimed to have won Saturday’s ice fishing contest on Bass Lake in Somerset after pulling up a northern pike weighing 2.42 pounds.
TV cameras were rolling when he was asked what he would do with the grand prize, a $27,000 Dodge pickup truck. He replied: “Drive it like it’s stolen.”
But private investigators working for the tournament suspected the winning fish was smuggled in.
SMUGGLED IN?! Ok, seriously, who does that? Who is so desperate to win an ice fishing contest that they smuggle in a 2 pound fish? That’s just ridiculous. He must REALLY have wanted that Dodge truck and couldn’t afford the employee pricing that is being offered right now on those stupid trucks.
Under contest rules, the winner was offered the chance Sunday to take a lie detector test and refused, organizer John Montpetit said, and that meant the prize had to go Tuesday to the runner-up, Monica Slimmer, of La Crosse, who caught a northern pike weighing 1.72 pounds.
Sounds FISHY to me.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken a 20 percent pay cut and the league staff has been trimmed by 15 percent because of a reeling economy.
The league said Wednesday it has dropped 169 jobs as a result of buyouts, layoffs and other staff reductions. Goodell voluntarily took a cut from the $11 million salary and bonuses he was to receive this past year. He and other league executives are freezing their salaries for 2009. The NFL announced Dec. 9 it would reduce its staff of 1,100 by 10 to 15 percent. Seventy-six people took buyouts while 45 jobs were eliminated and 48 openings went unfilled. The move affects NFL headquarters in New York, NFL Films in Mount Laurel, N.J., and the NFL Network in Los Angeles.
The dress, which looked like a two-piece, was sleeveless, unusual in such a serious setting, but quickly becoming a first lady signature, exuding a certain confidence which seems to be exactly what the country needs right now.
On Friday, we’ll be seeing another Obama fashion blast on the cover of People Magazine where she’ll be wearing a lacy, kimono frock by Tracy Reese in azalea (this one has a tiny lace sleeve), which you can buy at the Tracy Reese store at 641 Hudson Street in Manhattan. A bargain at $395!
Did you know about the exorcism? The name that came from The Brady Bunch? Those and other surprising facts about one of America’s fastest rising young politicians.
Last night, on the evening of President Barack Obama’s first major speech, the Republicans put forward Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as the face of the opposition, tapping him to deliver their response. As a 37-year-old Indian-American Rhodes Scholar, the first-term governor will also present a deliberate visual counterpoint to Obama. His folksy speech last evening is meeting with mixed reviews. But with GOP politicians already jockeying for the 2012 primary, Jindal is emerging as a top contender.
“From the insiders I’m talking to, Jindal’s in the top three, right next to [Sarah] Palin and [Mitt] Romney. He’s the rock star of the Republican Party right now,” says Jeff Crouere, the former executive director of the Louisiana GOP and host of daily political talk show Ringside Politics.
“Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe…”
But as the country gets acquainted with the Bayou’s boy wonder, the stranger details of Jindal’s religious or personal background remain largely unknown, even among the Republican grassroots. How many Americans know that Jindal boasted of participating in an exorcism that purged the spirit of Satan from a college girlfriend? So far, Jindal’s tale of “beating a demon” remains behind the subscription wall of New Oxford Review, an obscure Catholic magazine; only a few major blogs have seized on the story.
Born in Baton Rouge in 1971, Jindal rarely visited his parents’ homeland. His birth name was Piyush Jindal. When he was four years old, Piyush changed his name to “Bobby” after becoming mesmerized by an episode of The Brady Bunch. Jindal later wrote that he began considering converting to Catholicism during high school after “being touched by the love and simplicity of a Christian girl who dreamt of becoming a Supreme Court justice so she could stop her country from ‘killing unborn babies.’” After watching a short black-and-white film on the crucifixion of Christ, Jindal claimed he “realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation.”
Jindal’s Hindu parents were non-plussed. “My parents have never truly accepted my conversion and still see my faith as a negative that overshadows my accomplishments,” he wrote. “They were hurt and felt I was rejecting them by accepting Christianity… I long for the day when my parents understand, respect and possibly accept my faith. For now I am satisfied that they accept me.” (In a subsequent interview with Little India, Jindal claimed his parents were “very supportive. They felt like it was important that I was embracing God.”)
During his years at Brown University, Jindal pursued his Catholic faith with unbridled zeal. Jindal became emotionally involved with a classmate named Susan who had overcome skin cancer and struggled to cope with the suicide of a close friend. Jindal reflected in an article for a Catholic magazine (called “Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare”) that “sulfuric” scents hovered over Susan everywhere she went. In the middle of a prayer meeting, Jindal claimed that Susan collapsed and began convulsing on the floor. His prayer partners gathered together on the floor, holding hands and shouting, “Satan, I command you to leave this woman!”
While under the supposed control of satanic demons, Susan lashed out at Jindal and his friends. “Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe… I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back; thus, I resigned myself to leaving it alone in an attempt to find peace for myself.”
If you’ve seen that Hulu commercial starring Alec Baldwin, you surely know that TV is a plot devised by aliens to turn our brains into mush so they can scoop them out and eat them. And online video and phones are making our brains even mushier, by giving us more places to watch TV.
The human race seems to be falling for this devious scheme, and aliens must be readying their sporks and knives. According to a Nielsen report out today, the average American watches more than 151 hours of TV per month. That’s an all-time high, up 3.6% from the 145 or so hours Americans reportedly watched in the same period last year.
Newfangled distribution methods are also adding to the total: an extra three hours on the Internet for people who watch online video, and four hours on cellphones for those who watch mobile video, according to the report.
It’s not just the kids who are firing up their computers to check out shows. Adults ages 18-24 spend five hours watching video online, while 25- to 34-year-olds spend just over four hours. Those ages 35-44 and 45-54 spend 3:20 and 2:34, respectively…….
soucre: La Times
X Factor supremo Simon Cowell has revealed that he plans to have his body frozen after his death so that scientists may be able to bring him back to life in the future, says a report in the Daily Mail.
The millionaire music mogul told guests at a private dinner hosted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown that he planned to have his body cryonically preserved in liquid nitrogen.
He said: “I have decided to freeze myself when I die. You know, cryonics.
“You pay a lot of money and you get stuck in a deep freeze once you’ve been declared dead.
“Medical science is bound to work out a way of bringing us back to life in the next century or so, and I want to be available when they do.
“I would be doing the nation an invaluable service.”
Not all of the guests at the Downing Street bash were impressed by the thought of being brought back to life.
Gordon Brown said: “I am not sure me coming back from the dead would be quite as popular as Simon.”
He added: “In fact, there may be a public campaign to stop me being frozen!”
(CNN) — At a friend’s sleepover more than a year ago, 14-year-old Phillip Swartley pocketed change from unlocked vehicles in the neighborhood to buy chips and soft drinks. The cops caught him.
There was no need for an attorney, said Phillip’s mother, Amy Swartley, who thought at most, the judge would slap her son with a fine or community service.
But she was shocked to find her eighth-grader handcuffed and shackled in the courtroom and sentenced to a youth detention center. Then, he was shipped to a boarding school for troubled teens for nine months.
“Yes, my son made a mistake, but I didn’t think he was going to be taken away from me,” said Swartley, a 41-year-old single mother raising two boys in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
CNN does not usually identify minors accused of crimes. But Swartley and others agreed to be named to bring public attention to the issue.
As scandals from Wall Street to Washington roil the public trust, the justice system in Luzerne County, in the heart of Pennsylvania’s struggling coal country, has also fallen prey to corruption. The county has been rocked by a kickback scandal involving two elected judges who essentially jailed kids for cash. Many of the children had appeared before judges without a lawyer. Watch the corruption scandal that is rocking Pennsylvania »
The nonprofit Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia said Phillip is one of at least 5,000 children over the past five years who appeared before former Luzerne County President Judge Mark Ciavarella.
Ciavarella pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal criminal charges of fraud and other tax charges, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Former Luzerne County Senior Judge Michael Conahan also pleaded guilty to the same charges. The two secretly received more than $2.6 million, prosecutors said.
The judges have been disbarred and have resigned from their elected positions. They agreed to serve 87 months in prison under their plea deals. Ciavarella and Conahan did not return calls, and their attorneys told CNN that they have no comment.
Ciavarella, 58, along with Conahan, 56, corruptly and fraudulently “created the potential for an increased number of juvenile offenders to be sent to juvenile detention facilities,” federal court documents alleged. Children would be placed in private detention centers, under contract with the court, to increase the head count. In exchange, the two judges would receive kickbacks.
The Juvenile Law Center said it plans to file a class-action lawsuit this week representing what they say are victims of corruption. Juvenile Law Center attorneys cite a few examples of harsh penalties Judge Ciavarella meted out for relatively petty offenses:
Several other lawsuits on behalf of the juveniles who have appeared in Ciavarella’s courtroom have emerged.
The private juvenile detention centers, owned by Mid Atlantic Youth Services Corp., are still operating and are not a target of the federal investigation, according court documents. The company cooperated in the investigation, the documents said.
A spokesman from the company denied that its current owner, Gregory Zappala, knew about the kickbacks.
Ciavarella assured the community that he could provide justice. Elected to the bench in 1996, he once ran for judge on the promise that he would punish “people who break the law,” according to local reports.
The corruption began in 2002, when Conahan shut down the state juvenile detention center and used money from the Luzerne County budget to fund a multimillion-dollar lease for the private facilities. Despite some raised eyebrows from the community, county commissioners approved the deal.
The federal government began investigating in 2006.
“It’s been a dark cloud hanging over the county for a very, very long time,” said Luzerne County Commissioner Maryanne C. Petrilla, whose office approved the judges’ budgets during the corruption. “I’m looking forward to the ship turning around now and us moving in the right direction.”
The kickback scandal highlights a major problem in the juvenile justice system in Luzerne County and across the country, attorneys say. They say hundreds of children who appeared before Ciavarella didn’t have lawyers.
“Kids think very much in the present, and they have limited abilities to understand long-term consequences,” said Robin Dahlberg, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York who specializes in juvenile issues.
Dahlberg’s recent study in Ohio revealed that some of the counties had as many as 90 percent of children going through the court system without a lawyer.
“This Pennsylvania case is a sad reminder of why kids need an attorney,” she said.
A 1967 Supreme Court ruling says children have a right to counsel. However, many states allow children and their parents to appear without an attorney by completing a waiver.
Pennsylvania is among about half of the states in the country that allow waivers to be signed for juveniles to appear before a judge without an attorney, legal experts say.
In Luzerne County, teens who waived counsel were at greater risk of being sent to placement center than those with representation.
About 50 percent of the children who waived counsel before Ciavarella were sent to some kind of placement, the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center reports. In comparison, the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission in Pennsylvania found that 8.4 percent of juveniles across the state wind up in placement.
“When you have this many kids waiving counsel, then that’s way out of line,” said Marsha Levick, an attorney at the Juvenile Law Center. “There was no record [Ciavarella] was assuring the child and parent about the consequences of not having representation.”
Minors charged with nonviolent crimes were often given harsher sentences than what probation officers recommended, court documents say. Other investigators say the trials lasted a few minutes at most.
All four of the teens cited in this story say they appeared before Ciavarella without lawyers.
“I was sort of shocked and taken aback,” Hillary Transue, the MySpace offender who is now 17, said of her experience in Ciavarella’s courtroom in April 2007. “I didn’t really understand what was going on.”
The Juvenile Law Center says it first red-flagged Ciavarella in 1999 after discovering that a 13-year-old boy was detained without being read his rights and had appeared in court without a lawyer. When the case became public, Ciavarella promised the public that every minor in his courtroom would have a lawyer.
Judges must verbally explain the consequences of appearing in court without counsel to minors and parents, lawyers say. Juvenile Law Center officials say Ciavarella neglected to do so in many cases.
Yet in the past five years, attorneys, law enforcement officials and other judges did not report Ciavarella’s behavior to the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania, says Joseph A. Massa Jr., chief counsel at the board.
Privatizing detention facilities is a growing in popularity among governments because the companies say they offer lower rates than the state.
Pennsylvania has the second highest number of private facilities after Florida, accounting for about 11 percent of the private facilities in the United States, according to the National Center for Juvenile Justice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Critics say private prisons lack transparency because they don’t go through the same inspections and audits as a state facility, and this may have allowed payoffs to go so long without being noticed.
“Once somebody is going to make more money by holding more kids, there is a pretty good predictable profit motive,” said criminal justice consultant Judith Greene, who heads a nonprofit group called Justice Strategies. “It’s predictable that companies are going to tolerate certain behaviors they shouldn’t.”
An audit draft obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer showed that Luzerne County was spending more than $1.2 million in expenses that weren’t allowed under state regulations. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, the agency overseeing the audits, says the audit drafts are not final.
The audits also allege that two people paid the judges. Attorneys for former Mid-Atlantic owner Robert Powell say that their client is one of those people but that he was pressured by the judges to make payments. The attorneys say Powell never offered to pay the judges, never sought to influence any juvenile case and is now cooperating with the investigation. Zappala and Powell were partners until Zappala bought out Powell in 2008.
Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim of Berks County is reviewing the cases for minors who appeared before Ciavarella. Court officials say some children may have their records expunged or be granted new hearings.
The Philadelphia Bar Association has expressed outrage, assuring the public that the rest of the judges on the state’s bench are “composed of highly qualified, honorable and honest people, who take their responsibilities to the public very seriously.”
But some of the children — many who, like Phillip Swartley, are now young adults — have become jaded and believe that their cases were tainted in Ciavarella’s courtroom.
After being sent to boarding school, Phillip, now 15, became withdrawn and depressed, his mother says.
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So Kate Winslet won best actress. Cassie claims Winslet isn’t that good of an actress. Tim loves her. What do you think!?
The PA announcer in Lucas Oil Stadium told the assembled teams Saturday morning that Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith, one of the top prospects in the April NFL draft, had gone AWOL.
While he made the announcement, Smith was in the air, flying to Atlanta to go meet with his personal trainer for the first of two previously scheduled workouts. After he landed, and questions were raised, Smith explained that he made a mistake in failing to communicate to the people at the combine that he was leaving Indianapolis earlier than previously scheduled.
Smith had been booked on a 4 p.m. flight but moved it up himself to 6 a.m. so he could get back to work out with his trainer and continue preparations for his March 11 Pro Day at the University of Alabama.
“If I had the chance to do it all over, I wouldn’t have handled it the way I did,” Smith said Saturday afternoon in his first public comments on the incident. “I should have told my group leader that I was leaving, and I didn’t. I didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers or step on any toes. I didn’t mean to grandstand anyone at the combine. That was not my intention at all, and I apologize for my mistake.”
Knowing he was not going to work out, Smith thought he had accomplished everything he had wanted. He weighed in for NFL scouts at 332 pounds, interviewed with the teams, answered any questions teams had about any potential weight issues, and even told teams that he was unsure whether he was going to work out Saturday. Then, when the day came, and the announcement was made, no one at the combine knew where Smith was or what he had done. But once he felt like he had satisfied his requirements Friday night, Smith changed his flight, headed out of town, and raised questions amongst teams.
“It was an obvious miscommunication,” said Smith’s agent, Alvin Keels. “Even I can shoulder some of the blame for the mishap. But Andre is focused on getting ready for his Pro Day and showing teams what a good pro he will be.”
The reason Smith opted not to work out at the combine in the first place was because he had switched trainers one week ago and didn’t feel comfortable enough with the new regimen to impress teams the way he hopes. But Smith now realizes his mistake and is focused on pushing ahead.
“I got done in Indianapolis what I thought I should have, but I realize there was more to it now,” Smith said. “It was important for me to get back to my trainer and that’s what I did. All I was thinking about was what it would take to get to the next level.”
The Oscars were great last night!!!!
Congrats from the Block to Sean Penn and Kate Winslet!
Penelope Cruz looked great. We love Meryll Streep!
Sean Penn’s speech was great talking about gay rights. In 30 years all the people that voted yes on 8 will be the ones who will need to tell their kids about the intolerance the participated in. Good work Sean!!!!!!!!!
So the Republicans heeded our call to revamp their image. We really didn’t mean for them to go where they have gone. First, they try Sarah Palin – the young, hot, powerful woman. That was a flop. Then after that disaster and their November pounding, they decided to fire the whole lot of ‘em and hire….a black dude. How friggin’ token is that?! I mean, honestly, I hope Michael Steele enjoys every penny he’s making because what he’s really making is a big, huge fool of himself.
His latest idiocy came when he spoke to the Washington Post. So he’s goin’ on and on about how his party is going to launch an “off the hook” public relations campaign that will update the GOP’s image by translating it to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”
Off the hook? Ok seriously, if I was conducting that interview, I would have laughed in his face. Buddy, you’re not 50 Cent. You’re not even Barack Obama. Didn’t Mitt Romney say some “who let the dogs out?” crap during his campaign?! This always backfires for the Republicans. They are always trying to play catch-up with the Progressives, but they end up just putting their foot in their mouth. It’s not annoying anymore, now it’s just pathetic.
And to top it all off, Steele went on to say that the Republican party wants to appeal to everyone, even “one-armed midgets.” Michael Steele, resign. You are worthless to your party. You are pathetic as a human being, and you have no CLUE how to run an effective PR campaign.