Sign Language Ban Imposed on N.J. Girl
School officials have threatened a hearing-impaired girl with suspension if she uses sign language to talk to her friends on the school bus, the girl's parents say.
Danica Lesko and her parents say sign language is the only way to for the 12-year-old to communicate, especially while riding to school on a noisy bus.
But officials at Stonybrook School — which is not a school for the hearing-impaired — and district officials in Branchburg, N.J., apparently believe signing is a safety hazard. They have sent a letter to the Lesko family ordering Danica to stop using sign language on the school bus or risk a three-day suspension.
The March 30 letter from her principal that said Danica was "doing sign language after being told it wasn't allowed on the bus." More
Hospitals making £5.50 per baby born through cash-for-access deals
Contracts are in place at nearly 150 NHS hospitals allowing sales representatives access to new mothers.
A number of hospitals are being paid according to the number of babies born on wards, it has emerged, under deals worth around £2.3 million each year.
In some instances, Bounty, one of companies paying for access, also pays hospitals a "bonus" commission of up to £1.30 a child for every baby it takes a picture of with the mother's consent. The baby product company then sells the pictures to parents.
The company, which has a turnover of £26.9 million, also distributes Bounty packs – bags containing product samples and advertising material as well as government forms. More
North Carolina May Ban Tesla Sales To Prevent “Unfair Competition”
From the state that brought you the nation’s first ban on climate science comes another legislative gem: a bill that would prohibit automakers from selling their cars in the state.
The proposal, which the Raleigh News & Observer reports was unanimously approved by the state’s Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, would apply to all car manufacturers, but the intended target is clear. It’s aimed at Tesla, the only U.S. automaker whose business model relies on selling cars directly to consumers, rather than through a network of third-party dealerships.
The bill is being pushed by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group representing the state’s franchised dealerships. Its sponsor is state Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Henderson, who has said the goal is to prevent unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers. What makes it “unfair competition” as opposed to plain-old “competition”—something Republicans are typically inclined to favor—is not entirely clear. After all, North Carolina doesn’t seem to have a problem with Apple selling its computers online or via its own Apple Stores. More
Hispanic Custodians On Auraria Campus Claim Discrimination
DENVER - A group of Hispanic custodians at the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver are claiming they are victims of discrimination.
They’ve filed a complaint against the campus operator that could be reviewed by a federal judge.
What started out as a miscommunication over a schedule change for employees working the graveyard shift has become a full investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“Too many things have happened to me there that I don’t even know how to explain it,” said Auraria custodian Bertha Ribota.
Ribota said she was injured at work because she couldn’t read a warning sign that was in English. “If I could speak English I wouldn’t have the problems that exist,” said Ribota. More
European Commission to criminalize nearly all seeds and plants not registered with government
(NaturalNews) A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to "grow, reproduce or trade" any vegetable seeds that have not been "tested, approved and accepted" by a new EU bureaucracy named the "EU Plant Variety Agency."
It's called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.
Bizarre moment CNN anchors unsuccessfully try to pretend they are not in the same parking lot
How do you know when two television correspondents are in the same parking lot pretending that they are in separate locations?
When you can see the same cars going by in both screens.
Producers at CNN apparently thought viewers wouldn’t notice that anchors Nancy Grace of HLN/Headline News and Ashleigh Banfield of Newsroom were standing no more than 30 feet way from one another as they manipulated the footage and placed Grace on Banfield’s right instead of her left.
The blatant visual gimmick aired Tuesday morning as the two correspondents reported on the latest details behind the horrific Cleveland kidnapping story and pretended they were conducting a remote interview. More
Woman Spent 8 Months In UAE Jail After Being Raped
Dubai is being promoted as a luxury high-class paradise in the desert, but the reality is brutally different, as Australian Alicia Gali discovered. Gali took a job in the UAE with one of the world’s biggest hotel chains, Starwood.
What happened next makes this story a must-watch for every Australian planning on travelling through the region.
Gali was using her laptop in the hotel’s staff bar when her drink was spiked. She awoke to a nightmare beyond belief: she had been savagely raped by three of her colleagues. Alone and frightened, she took herself to hospital.
What Alicia didn’t know is that under the UAE’s strict sharia laws, if the perpetrator does not confess, a rape cannot be convicted without four adult Muslim male witnesses. She was charged with having illicit sex outside marriage, and thrown in a filthy jail cell for eight months. More
Atlanta Schools Cheating Scandal Suspects Set to Surrender
The first suspects in a cheating scandal that has sent a jolt through the Atlanta Public School system are getting ready to turn themselves in, and former Superintendent Beverly Hall is expected to be among them, the Fulton County District Attorney's Office told ABC News.
The Fulton County district attorney expects most, if not all, of the 35 school officials charged in the scandal to surrender to authorities by a mandated Tuesday deadline.
As for Hall, officials plan to prosecute her to the full extent of the law.
"What we're saying is, is that without her, this conspiracy could not have taken place, particularly in the degree that it took place," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told reporters last Friday at a news conference. More
Judge who said burglar was brave refuses to jail paedophile because he'd 'have a hard time'
He is the judge who thinks burglars are ‘courageous’ – an opinion which earned him an official reprimand for damaging public confidence in the courts.
Now Peter Bowers is at the centre of another controversy, this time for letting a convicted paedophile skip jail because he thought he ‘would suffer very badly’ in prison.
In a move which has outraged campaigners for victims of child abuse, the judge allowed 24-year-old child-porn addict Mark Martin to walk free, despite the fact that he is a repeat offender.
Martin was caught for the second time with a catalogue of hardcore indecent images of young boys and girls on his mobile phone – a crime which even he admitted he ‘fully expected’ to go prison for.
But Judge Bowers gave him a suspended sentence – the second Martin has received – because he feared he wouldn’t ‘cope’ with jail. More
Cops Nab 5-Year-Old for Wearing Wrong Color Shoes to School
In Mississippi, if kindergarteners violate the dress code or act out in class, they may end up in the back of a police car.
A story about one five-year-old particularly stands out. The little boy was required to wear black shoes to school. Because he didn’t have black shoes, his mom used a marker to cover up his white and red sneakers. A bit of red and white were still noticeable, so the child was taken home by the cops.
The child was escorted out of school so he and his mother would be taught a lesson. Ridiculous? Perhaps. But incidents such as this are happening across Mississippi. More
Housekeeper Who Stole a Bag of Frozen Meatballs Facing As Much Jail Time As Rapist
A housekeeper at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is facing two years in jail for allegedly stealing a bag of meatballs.
Estelle Casimir, 56, who had been working for West Point’s food service company, Watson Services, for 28 years, was purportedly seen carrying the bag in an area where she doesn’t work.
According to an affidavit, when supervisors approached Casimir and questioned her about the bag she was carrying, she told them she was throwing it in the garbage.
Casimir was reportedly only responsible for cleaning the latrines in the mess hall, not disposing of food, and according to supervisors, could have thrown the bag in a closer garbage instead of the downstairs dumpster she said she was headed to. More
Student, kicked out of school for having red hair, returns to class
A student at a Utah high school who was suspended for dying her hair red has been allowed to return to classes because the color faded, administrators claimed.
Rylee McKay, a 15-year-old ninth-grader at Hurricane Middle School, was originally suspended for violating the school’s dress code policies, which stipulate that students can only dye their hair within a range of “normal” colors.
School authorities determined that McKay’s hair was too pink when examined under certain lighting, and suspended her until she changed it back.
“We’d asked her to not come until she complied with the policy,” said Principal Roy Hoyt in a statement. “Ninety-nine percent of our parents come in here with the attitude, ‘okay, we’ll comply,’ and they take care of it within hours. I believe we did the right thing.” More
City spends $585,000 on study of how to save money
Why did Baltimore need to pay outside consultants half a million dollars for a report that says the city's financial future is grim?
Some city residents wondered as much after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for a new trash collection fee, a smaller city workforce and cuts to employee benefits as a way to deal with the projected $750 million, 10-year budget shortfall the consultants projected. For a city as financially strapped as Baltimore, couldn't that work have been done in house? The answer, according to city budget director Andrew Kleine, is no.
Though the city's finance department makes three-year projections, it lacked both the manpower and the skill set to make long-term actuarial projections and propose reforms, Kleine said. Many of the more than 100 proposed reforms will be detailed Wednesday when Rawlings-Blake releases the full report, officials said.
"We just didn't have the staff or the expertise to do this," Kleine said. "Our core function is to formulate the budget and monitor the budget." More
Student, 10, arrested for having toy gun in backpack
School administrators in Virginia suspended a 10-year-old boy earlier this month after he was caught with an orange-tipped toy gun in his backpack. Now as he awaits his next meeting with his probation officer, his mother opens up about the incident.
Nakicha Gilbert tells the Washington Post that “it was a toy” in her son’s backpack and nothing more when it was confiscated out of his bag on February 4. Two weeks later, she is still in disbelief over what the entire event has done for her son, herself and the community.
When the gun in question was discovered by a fellow student earlier this month, that child told her parents that she was frightened by the firearm, prompting an email to be sent throughout the school community.
According to Ms. Gilbert, outrage was what most parents seemed to feel. They thought her son had “a real gun in there and he was waving it around and ready to kill the whole school,” she tells her Post. But now as her son awaits an upcoming court hearing and has had an official dossier opened up by the local police department, the outrage has only increased. More
State regulators crack down on grocery chain for selling cheap milk
Louisiana state regulators recently cracked down on a supermarket chain’s weekly promotional deal because it was selling milk too cheaply — which violates state law.
The upscale Fresh Market was selling gallons of milk for $2.99 as part of a weekly promotional deal. Louisiana requires that retailer price markups be at least six percent above the invoice and shipping costs of the product.
“Because milk is a commodity product with regulated costs that are subject to change, at the current cost, due to Louisiana state law, we are unable to honor the $2.99 Tuesday deal for (Fresh Market) milk,” according to a statement from Drewry Sackett of BRAVE Public Relations, who represents the Fresh Market. “Because the cost of milk fluctuates, it is possible that we will be able to offer the $2.99 deal on milk again in the future.”
“They can sell it six percent over cost all day long. It’s when they sell it below cost that it becomes a problem,” State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain told The Advocate. More
Teen Strip Searched In School
CHICAGO – The parents of a 15-year old boy who was allegedly strip-searched at a high school last month have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Public Schools.
In an exclusive interview with CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman, the boy and his outraged parents described what happened.
“He came home crying. So I asked him why he was crying,” said the boy’s father, Anthony Woodman. “And he was like hysterical. He tells me he’s been strip-searched.” It allegedly happened at Taft High school last month. His mother, Michelle Woodman said she contacted the CBS2 Investigators “so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. No one should go through what our son went through.”
The student said two security guards, a Chicago police officer and a female assistant principal took him from an room where he was serving an “in school suspension” to a nearby washroom on the second floor.
Asked if the officer or assistant principal said anything, the student said, “They told me they had an anonymous tip. They were looking for drugs.” More
Motorists File Class-Action Lawsuit Against NYC Over Red-Light Cameras
NEW YORK – Red-light cameras are gaining popularity across the country. Now, New York City is being sued after it was accused of rigging the lights to catch more drivers and write more tickets.
They’re “gotcha” cameras, mounted at intersections. Their photos catch and fine drivers running red lights. New York City first had them in 1998.
“Red-light cameras are to prevent the very dangerous, so called ‘T-bone’ crashes, where you have the front of vehicle running into the side of another. We are in favor, in concept, of the red-light cameras, but they have to be done to certain engineering criteria,” according to AAA New York spokesperson Robert Sinclair.
By federal law, drivers have to have enough time to get through a yellow light — three seconds at the typical 30 mph intersection. Back in October, engineers at AAA New York discovered a problem. At some intersections with the cameras, the yellow lights were almost a half-second too fast. More
Strip Search Of 10-Year-Old Prompts Complaint Against Elementary School
Clinton, N.C. – The parents of a 10-year old Union elementary school student have filed a complaint against the school for strip-searching their son to find an allegedly stolen $20 bill.
In a complaint filed against assistant principal Teresa Holmes on Dec. 6, the family of Clinton, N.C., fifth-grader Justin Cox allege their son was ordered to remove his socks, shoes, pants and shirt so the principal could conduct a manual search for a $20 bill that was inevitably found in the cafeteria. Holmes defended her actions saying that several other students and a few other faculty members told her the money was missing and they had seen the fifth-grader dive below the table for it.
The court filing states that Holmes told the boy “he left her no choice and that she had to search him,” when the boy pulled out his pockets and didn’t produce the allegedly stolen money. She then told the boy that she was “within her legal rights to do so.” More
School locked down after student brings mercury thermometer to class
SEMINOLE — It started as a simple chemistry assignment.
Students were to bring to class an item representing an element of the periodic table. Some brought aluminum foil, salt and water.
But some brought sodium, lithium and even mercury.
As a precaution, a teacher called the principal, who called authorities.
Within minutes, fully equipped hazmat investigators and firefighters bore down on the building. School officials rummaged through the bookbags and lockers of the 125 students assigned the project. Some 2,200 students were locked down in first-period classes.
"It's almost stupid," said sophomore Kyle Salvaggio. More
Man fights to keep vegetable garden in front yard
ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando man is fighting city officials to keep his vegetable garden in his front yard. You have to step over radishes, wax beans and kale to get to Jason Helvingston's front door in College Park.
However, his 25 x 25 foot micro-irrigated vegetable garden is against city code, and the city of Orlando has asked Helvingston to dig it up by Wednesday.
"I said, 'You'll take my house before you take my vegetable garden,'" he said. "There's nothing wrong here, there's nothing poisonous here. This is a sustainable plot of land."
City code requires ground covers to be planted in a way that gives off a finished appearance so neighborhood lawns are clean, and inviting -- keeping property values up.
Helvingston has decided not to listen to the city. Instead, he's trying to petition the code to allow for veggie gardens in the front yard. More
UK to export 'nudge unit' to Australia
AN innovative UK government unit aimed at changing people's behaviour for the better is exporting its expertise to Australia.
Officials from the "nudge unit", a world leader in behavioural change tactics, will work with the NSW government across a range of policy areas.
The Cabinet Office unit comes up with ideas to "nudge" people into action rather than relying on government intervention.
It has helped the UK courts service increase the number of fine payments by sending personalised text message prompts, reducing the number of bailiff interventions by 150,000 and generating about STG30 million ($A46.75 million) in annual savings.
The unit also claims to have increased tax payment rates by 15 per cent by telling late payers that most people in their town had already paid, generating a further STG30 million ($A46.75 million).
Minister without Portfolio Grant Shapps said the UK government was a world leader in the "innovative" use of behavioural change tactics. More
Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril
Tucked into the U.S. Supreme Court’s agenda this fall is a little-known case that could upend your ability to resell everything from your grandmother’s antique furniture to your iPhone 4.
At issue in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons is the first-sale doctrine in copyright law, which allows you to buy and then sell things like electronics, books, artwork and furniture, as well as CDs and DVDs, without getting permission from the copyright holder of those products.
Under the doctrine, which the Supreme Court has recognized since 1908, you can resell your stuff without worry because the copyright holder only had control over the first sale. Put simply, though Apple Inc. has the copyright on the iPhone and Mark Owen has it on the book “No Easy Day,” you can still sell your copies to whomever you please whenever you want without retribution. More
Texas Mom, Arrested For Letting Kids Play Outside Unsupervised
Tammy Cooper, a stay-at-home mom who lives in La Porte, Texas, was arrested earlier this month after a neighbor reported her for allegedly letting her kids play outside on their motorized scooters unsupervised.
Cooper, who spent 18 hours in jail overnight, says she was watching her children, ages 6 and 9, from a lawn chair during the time of the incident. The family lives in a cul-de-sac, and Cooper told KPRC that the safe location was one of the reasons she had chosen to reside there.
When police showed up at Cooper’s home to arrest the mother for child endangerment, her kids protested. “My daughter had him [the police officer] around the leg saying, “Please, please don’t take my mom to jail. Please, she didn’t do anything wrong,’” Cooper told the station. More
Gov't Urges Parents to Use School Lunches As a Model for Family Dinner
Government-approved school meals as a model for the family dinner table?
Responding to concerns that students are throwing away the healthy food on their cafeteria trays, the U.S. Department of Agriculture acknowledged that adapting to the changes "may be challenging at first, as students are introduced to new flavors and foods in the cafeteria."
But the government also says parents can help school make the taste-transition easier:
"We know that many parents are already making changes at home to help the whole family eat healthier," the USDA blogged on Monday.
"We recommend reviewing school menus with kids at home and working to incorporate foods that are being served at school into family meals as much as possible." More
Peanut Butter And Jelly Racist? Portland School Principal Ties Sandwich To White Privilege
A lunchtime staple of students for years, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich could be considered one of the more popular items found in the sack lunches of school children.
But in conjunction with recent equity training in local Portland schools, one principal is raising questions about the mention of the sandwich, arguing it has broader implications about race, the Portland Tribune reports.
The sandwich was reportedly mentioned in a lesson plan last year. Verenice Gutierrez from the Harvey Scott K-8 School used it as an example of a subtle form of racism in language, according to the report.
“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez said, according to the Tribune. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.” More
DOJ Targeted Public Library for Lending E-Books 'Inaccessible' to the Blind
(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Justice Department says it has reached a settlement with the Sacramento (California) Public Library over a trial program the library was conducting that let patrons borrow Barnes and Noble NOOK e-book readers.
DOJ and the National Federation of the Blind objected to the program on grounds that blind people could not use the NOOK e-readers for technological reasons.
The Justice Department said the settlement is aimed at stopping discrimination: “Emerging technologies like e-readers are changing the way we interact with the world around us and we need to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the programs where these devices are used,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in a news release.
A DOJ official told CNSNews.com it interviewed a woman who could not participate in the library's e-reader program due to her disability and concluded that the program had violated the ADA. More
Girl refused to remove her brother's military photo on her binder 'threatened to be kicked out of school'
A school binder decorated with pictures of a 13-year-old's older brother and her softball team nearly led the girl being kicked out of school, her mother claims.
Seen in his military uniform, a photograph of Brianna Gentry's older brother Derrick who is stationed in Montana as a military policeman is one of several pictures on her school binder.
'My brother is very important to me. I haven't seen him in a while,' Brianna told KTLA on her reasoning behind the photo's placement.
Around him are also pictures of her softball team. Both pictures, however, as Brianna recently learned, do not comply with her school's rules with the eighth grader's membership of their AVID programme for top or advanced students. More
3 y/o Violates School Weapons Policy with Name Sign
Zero tolerance has crossed over into the realm of zero intelligence. The politically correct just keep getting more ridiculous.
A public school in Nebraska has banned a 3 year old boy, who is deaf, from using the handsign for his name because
………. the hand sign resembles a gun…
Yep, that’s right. Little Hunter Spanjer’s parents have been informed their child’s name sign violates the school’s weapons policy. The school board’s policy 8470 prohibits the students from possessing, handling or transmitting a “firearm, weapon” or anything that “looks like a weapon.”
Therefore the signal, based on American Sign Language, is prohibited. Hunter’s father stated, “It’s a symbol. It’s an actual sign, a registered sign, through SEE.” (Signing Exact English)
When asked what the sign means, Neitsch responded, "Exactly what it says. Hope he's gone soon and somebody different takes his place." More
The iPad Proposition
Last February, the Sweetwater Union High School District moved forward with a controversial initiative to buy 6300 iPads for its seventh-graders. The iPads cost $4.3 million. Several months later, the district purchased iPad covers, spending $27,000, and in July, learning-management software, costing $1.1 million over six years. The district faces a $27 million deficit. As the costly experiment with new technology unfolds, many question the district’s use of funds and planning to integrate iPads into the classroom.
Sweetwater began using iPads in a pilot program last November. A select group of Hilltop Middle School students were sold the devices. A current posting on the district’s website lauds the program: “Pilot programs such as the one being implemented at Hilltop Middle School in the Foreign Language and Global Studies (FLAGS) program have proven highly successful at engaging students and in raising academic achievement.”
Despite this claim, a public records request asking whether students’ grades had improved yielded this response: “The district does not have the requested information as this is not something we are tracking.”
Money for the iPads came from several sources, including $1.8 million from Proposition O construction bond money and $1.5 million from Mello-Roos funds. Mello-Roos is a special tax assessment paid by some California communities to fund infrastructure and construction of public facilities. More
Lunch Lady Fined $600 Per Day For Feeding Needy Children
Angela Prattis, a Pennsylvania lunch lady, has been fined $600 per day for handing out food to needy children.
Chester Township officials are claiming that the generous lunch lady did not obtain an ordinance variance, which they maintain she needs to conduct such charitable activities.
The special permit, which Prattis failed to obtain, costs $1,000, since the meals are donated through Education Department funds, under the guidance of the Archdiocese Philadelphia, according to the Blaze newspaper.
Prattis began handing out meals to needy children after she moved to the Trainer, Pa., area several years ago. The lunch lady first started distributing meals to underprivileged children at the Church of the Overcomer.
She then started utilizing the gazebo on her own property to feed about 60 needy area children during the summer months, when schools that often provide needy kids with much-appreciated breakfasts and lunches, are closed. More
Union organizing exempted from stalking laws in four states
A new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlights a striking example of Big Labor’s strength at the local government level: the states of Pennsylvania, California, Illinois and Nevada have all exempted unions from the state’s own anti-stalking laws.
The report, titled Sabotage, Stalking & Stealth Exemptions: Special State Laws for Labor Unions, claimed: “union favoritism under state laws tend to occur in criminal statues and allow individuals who engage in truly objectionable behavior to avoid prosecution solely because they are participating in some form of labor activity.”
The main exception noted is stalking laws. Unions have long argued that they need to be able to access to workplaces and contact information of workers, including home addresses, to be able to convince them to joining. This is intended to balance against the fact that management has a captive audience when talking to its employees. More
Obama reunites with Solyndra characters at $35,800 Silicon Valley fundraiser
Monday night, President Barack Obama was caught reconnecting with persons associated with one of his past political nightmares. In spite of the Solyndra energy company’s loan scandal which has plagued Obama’s presidency with bad press for the past two years, the president rubbed elbows with key players in the scandal again - in the name of donor cash again.
The reconnect occurred during a high-profile, high-finance fundraiser in Piedmont, California. The event drew 60 of President Obama’s wealthiest supporters which included two persons who have been dead center in Obama's Solyndra loan controversy.
The two persons connected to the scandal who were at the fundraiser were Steve Westly and Matt Rogers. Westly, reportedly a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, was a pioneer in expressing concerns about Obama’s support of a more-than-$500 million loan to Solyndra with stimulus cash. Westly even wrote Obama's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett about his concerns when he learned of Obama's link to Solyndra via a personal loan.
Matt Rodgers, who was also at the Obama fundraiser, used to be a senior adviser at the Department of Energy and was instrumental in approving the loan for Solyndra, the failed company. More
Man Claims ‘World’s Largest Penis’ Got Him Frisked At SFO
SAN FRANCISCO – A man famous for having one of the largest penises on record told CBS San Francisco that he was recently frisked by TSA agents at San Francisco International Airport after they suspected he was hiding something in his pants.
New York native Jonah Falcon, 41, said that he was returning from a weekend in San Francisco on July 9 when he was delayed by TSA agents who became curious about the bulge in his pants.
“TSA didn’t know what to make of the massive bulge on my thigh. Even after I went through that body scanner that shows you naked,” Falcon wrote on his Twitter page.
“They asked me if that’s a growth – and i said no, that’s my dick,” he said in a phone interview with CBS SF. Falcon said there was no immediate response to his answer from the TSA personnel.
“I think they were more embarrased than I was,” he said in the CBS SF interview. More
Skopje: After complaints, statue of naked Prometheus gets undies
It isn’t clear who exactly complained about the nudity of the Greek God Prometheus, whose bronze statue now graces the area opposite the Parliament building in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, but that’s part of the mystery behind this story.
According to this article in the Balkan Insight, the complainers were “unidentified women's organizations."
What is clear is that good old nude Prometheus — who in Greek mythology is a symbol of self-sacrifice because he stole fire from the gods — suddenly appeared a few days ago decked out in brand new tidy whities.
Made out of bronze, naturally.
The speedy official response and “cover up” have sparked debate in Macedonia, prompting some to speculate whether other statues, like the giant sculpture of a woman breast-feeding a child, will also get a cover up. More
Portland residents opposed to new apartments with no parking not alone
Many Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood residents and businesses have expressed opposition to a proposal to build an affordable-housing apartment complex on N.E. Fremont Street. The chief complaints are the displacement of four businesses and an absence of parking and first-floor retail.
The community will meet with the developer, Everett Custom Homes, and Myhre Group Architects tomorrow night to discuss the plan.
But what can unhappy neighbors do to change things, other than appeal to the developer?
Not much, apparently. Debbie Bischoff, a senior planner with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Northeast liaison, said as long as the developer meets the zoning's code, there's nothing the city can do. More
U.N. could tax U.S.-based Web sites
The United Nations is considering a new Internet tax targeting the largest Web content providers, including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Netflix, that could cripple their ability to reach users in developing nations.
The European proposal, offered for debate at a December meeting of a U.N. agency called the International Telecommunication Union, would amend an existing telecommunications treaty by imposing heavy costs on popular Web sites and their network providers for the privilege of serving non-U.S. users, according to newly leaked documents.
The documents punctuate warnings that the Obama administration and Republican members of Congress raised last week about how secret negotiations at the ITU over an international communications treaty could result in a radical re-engineering of the Internet ecosystem and allow governments to monitor or restrict their citizens' online activities. More
State Threatens to Shut Down Nutrition Blogger
CHARLOTTE — The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send a blogger to jail for recounting publicly his battle against diabetes and encouraging others to follow his lifestyle.
Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”
Steve Cooksey has learned that the definition, at least in the eyes of the state board, is expansive.
When he was hospitalized with diabetes in February 2009, he decided to avoid the fate of his grandmother, who eventually died of the disease. He embraced the low-carb, high-protein Paleo diet, also known as the “caveman” or “hunter-gatherer” diet. The diet, he said, made him drug- and insulin-free within 30 days. By May of that year, he had lost 45 pounds and decided to start a blog about his success.
But this past January the state diatetics and nutrition board decided Cooksey’s blog — Diabetes-Warrior.net — violated state law. The nutritional advice Cooksey provides on the site amounts to “practicing nutrition,” the board’s director says, and in North Carolina that’s something you need a license to do. More
Harvard trips on roots of Elizabeth Warren’s family tree
Elizabeth Warren’s avowed Native American heritage — which the candidate rarely if ever discusses on the campaign trail — was once touted by embattled Harvard Law School officials who cited her claim as proof of their faculty’s diversity.
Warren’s claim, which surfaced yesterday after a Herald inquiry, put the candidate in an awkward position as campaign aides last night scrambled but failed to produce documents proving her family lineage. Aides said the tales of Warren’s Cherokee and Delaware tribe ancestors have been passed down through family lore.
“Like most Americans, Elizabeth learned of her heritage through conversations with her grandparents, her parents, and her aunts and uncles,” said Warren’s strategist Kyle Sullivan.
The Ivy League law school prominently touted Warren’s Native American background, however, in an effort to bolster their diversity hiring record in the ’90s as the school came under heavy fire for a faculty that was then predominantly white and male. More
Man arrested for using real $50 bill
What officers thought was a counterfeit $50 bill turned out to be an old, legitimate bill, but the truth wasn't discovered until a man was mistakenly charged and jailed Friday.
A clerk at Quik Mart, South Cannon Boulevard, notified police after the marker used to detect counterfeit bills didn't check as real.
"The front side of the bill was off center and it didn't feel like a normal bill, it did look to be counterfeit," officer Brock Horner said in his report.
After Lorenzo Gaspar was jailed, Horner showed the bill to Sgt. Bill Logue, the Shelbyville Police Department's evidence technician, who told him old legitimate bills wouldn't "check" with a marker and suggested he have it inspected at a bank. More
Millions of illegal immigrants are getting a bigger tax refund than you
INDIANAPOLIS - Inside his central Indiana office, a longtime tax consultant sits at his desk, shaking his head in disbelief.
"There is not a doubt in my mind there's huge fraud taking place here," he said, slowly flipping through the pages of a tax return.
The tax preparer does not want you to know his name for fear of reprisal, but he does want you to know about a nationwide problem with a huge price tag.
He came to 13 Investigates to blow the whistle. "We're talking about a multi-billion dollar fraud scheme here that's taking place and no one is talking about it," he said. The scheme involves illegal immigrants -- illegal immigrants who are filing tax returns. More
Government-subsidized green light bulb carries costly price tag
The U.S. government last year announced a $10 million award, dubbed the “L Prize,” for any manufacturer that could create a “green” but affordable light bulb.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the prize would spur industry to offer the costly bulbs, known as LEDs, at prices “affordable for American families.” There was also a “Buy America” component. Portions of the bulb would have to be made in the United States.
Now the winning bulb is on the market.
The price is $50.
Retailers said the bulb, made by Philips, is likely to be too pricey to have broad appeal. Similar LED bulbs are less than half the cost.
“I don’t want to say it’s exorbitant, but if a customer is only looking at the price, they could come to that conclusion,” said Brad Paulsen, merchant for the light-bulb category at Home Depot, the largest U.S. seller of light bulbs. “This is a Cadillac product, and that’s why you have a premium on it.” More
'Language Test' Protester Wins Free Aer Lingus Flights
DUBLIN -- The Greek businesswoman who decried an Irish airline's policy of making Greek travelers pass language tests to prove their nationality has received free flights for her family and an explicit promise it has abandoned the practice.
Chryssa Dislis on Friday told The Associated Press that Aer Lingus now accepts it should never have asked her, or any Greek passport holder, to answer written and oral questions in Greek as a condition of their right to fly.
She provided the AP a letter from the Aer Lingus chief executive's office offering her, her husband and daughter free flights to anywhere in Europe and promising "that the policy to conduct a language test for customers holding Greek passports has been revoked."
Dislis credited AP's Tuesday coverage of her case with spurring the Aer Lingus concessions.
"I was discriminated against, but the policy has been addressed and revoked. I've achieved my objective. I'm happy with the outcome," she told The AP in a phone interview from her home in Cork, southwest Ireland.
Apparently hundreds, if not thousands, of Greek passport holders had been required to fill out forms demonstrating their fluency in Greek before they could board Aer Lingus flights from Spain and Portugal to Ireland. More
Schools ban children making best friends
TEACHERS are banning schoolkids from having best pals — so they don't get upset by fall-outs.
Instead, the primary pupils are being encouraged to play in large groups.
Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said the policy has been used at schools in Kingston, South West London, and Surrey.
She added: "I have noticed that teachers tell children they shouldn't have a best friend and that everyone should play together.
"They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend. But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they're learning to deal with it."
Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, confirmed some schools were adopting best-friend bans.
He said: "I don't think it is widespread but it is clearly happening. It seems bizarre. More
Wind farms in Pacific Northwest paid to not produce
Wind farms in the Pacific Northwest -- built with government subsidies and maintained with tax credits for every megawatt produced -- are now getting paid to shut down as the federal agency charged with managing the region's electricity grid says there's an oversupply of renewable power at certain times of the year.
The problem arose during the late spring and early summer last year. Rapid snow melt filled the Columbia River Basin. The water rushed through the 31 dams run by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in Portland, Ore., allowing for peak hydropower generation. At the very same time, the wind howled, leading to maximum wind power production.
Demand could not keep up with supply, so BPA shut down the wind farms for nearly 200 hours over 38 days.
"It's the one system in the world where in real time, moment to moment, you have to produce as much energy as is being consumed," BPA spokesman Doug Johnson said of the renewable energy.
Now, Bonneville is offering to compensate wind companies for half their lost revenue. The bill could reach up to $50 million a year. More
Easter Egg Hunt Canceled Due To Aggressive Parents
Organizers of an annual Easter egg hunt in Colorado attended by hundreds of children have canceled this year's event, citing the behavior of aggressive parents who swarmed into the tiny park last year, determined that their kids get an egg.
That hunt was over in seconds, to the consternation of egg-less tots and their own parents. Too many parents had jumped a rope set up to allow only children into Bancroft Park in a historic area of Colorado Springs. Organizers say the event has outgrown its original intent of being a neighborhood event.
Parenting observers cite the cancellation as a prime example of "helicopter parents" — those who hover over their children and are involved in every aspect of their children's lives — sports, school, and increasingly work — to ensure that they don't fail, even at an Easter egg hunt. More
Preschooler’s Homemade Lunch Replaced with Cafeteria “Nuggets”
A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious. The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones. The girl’s mother — who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation — said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a “healthy lunch” would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25.
“I don't feel that I should pay for a cafeteria lunch when I provide lunch for her from home,” the mother wrote in a complaint to her state representative. More
Feds shut down Amish farm for selling fresh milk
The FDA won its two-year fight to shut down an Amish farmer who was selling fresh raw milk to eager consumers in the Washington, D.C., region after a judge this month banned Daniel Allgyer from selling his milk across state lines and he told his customers he would shut down his farm altogether.
The decision has enraged Mr. Allgyer’s supporters, some of whom have been buying from him for six years and say the government is interfering with their parental rights to feed their children.
But the Food and Drug Administration, which launched a full investigation complete with a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and a straw-purchase sting operation against Mr. Allgyer’s Rainbow Acres Farm, said unpasteurized milk is unsafe and it was exercising its due authority to stop sales of the milk from one state to another.
Adding to Mr. Allgyer’s troubles, Judge Lawrence F. Stengel said that if the farmer is found to violate the law again, he will have to pay the FDA’s costs for investigating and prosecuting him. More
Vancouver health body begins free crack pipe program for addicts
VANCOUVER — Crack addicts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have started receiving free crack pipes as part of a Vancouver Coastal Health Authority harm reduction strategy aimed at curbing the spread of disease.
Part of a $60,000 trial project first announced in August, the pipes are just one piece of drug paraphernalia found inside kits that have been distributed to users in the troubled neighbourhood since the beginning of the month.
The glass pipes are heat-resistant and shatterproof, which experts say should reduce injury to the users’ lips and mouth — wounds that can make them more susceptible to diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
Also included are mouthpieces, filters, alcohol swabs, screens and push sticks.
While harm reduction tools such as these have been made available to addicts in the past, this marks the first time that they have been combined in a single kit, said Trudi Beutel, a spokesperson for the health authority. More
India ministers quit after caught watching porn in parliament
NEW DELHI - Three Indian politicians from a morally conservative party, including a women's affairs minister, resigned on Wednesday after being caught watching pornography on a mobile phone during a session of state parliament.
News channels broadcast footage showing Karnataka state Minister for Cooperation Laxman Savadi sharing a porn clip with his colleague C.C. Patil, the minister for women and child development, while sitting in the state assembly.
The owner of the phone, state Minister for Ports, Science and Technology Krishna Palemar, also quit.
"We are requesting the honorable Speaker of the House to conduct an inquiry and we'll come out with a clean chit," Patil said, denying that they were deliberately looking at porn.
The three men said they did not want to cause any embarrassment for their party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules the state and is in opposition at a national level. There has been outrage over the incident not just from rights activists and right-wing Hindu groups in conservative India, but also from the riling Congress party which called for the assembly to be dissolved. More
Labor unions primary recipients of Obamacare waivers
Labor unions continued to receive the overwhelming majority of waivers from the president’s health care reform law since the Obama administration tightened application rules last summer.
Documents released in a classic Friday afternoon news dump show that labor unions representing 543,812 workers received waivers from President Barack Obama‘s signature legislation since June 17, 2011.
By contrast, private employers with a total of 69,813 employees, many of whom work for small businesses, were granted waivers.
The Department of Health and Human Services revised the rules governing applications for health reform waivers June 17, 2011, amid a steady stream of controversial news reports, including The Daily Caller’s story that nearly 20 percent of last May’s waivers went to businesses in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s district in California. More
Gingrich vows to establish a colony on the moon
Newt Gingrich is promising to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2020 if he's elected president.
Gingrich, the former House speaker, told an overflow crowd gathered on Florida's space coast Wednesday that he wants to develop a robust commercial space industry in line with the airline boom of the 1930s. He also wants to expand exploration of Mars.
The pronouncements appeared to thrill the crowd of roughly 700 people. Florida's space coast is still suffering from a recent round of federal cuts to the space program. But how would Gingrich pay for it? The Republican presidential contender says he wants to offer prizes to help stimulate investment by the private sector. More
A Fine for Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn’t Exist
WASHINGTON — When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law.
But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist.
In 2012, the oil companies expect to pay even higher penalties for failing to blend in the fuel, which is made from wood chips or the inedible parts of plants like corncobs. Refiners were required to blend 6.6 million gallons into gasoline and diesel in 2011 and face a quota of 8.65 million gallons this year.
“It belies logic,” Charles T. Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association, said of the 2011 quota. And raising the quota for 2012 when there is no production makes even less sense, he said. More
Scorching Corruption Complaint in Philly
PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A federal racketeering complaint accuses high-ranking Philadelphia code-enforcement officials of looting the residences of elderly and disabled citizens "under the fraudulent pretenses of needing to clear the homes of various code violations."
The scheme, carried out as part of a purported anti-blight initiative called the Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP), "has so far resulted in at least nine felony convictions" on charges that include perjury, theft and gun running, according to Steven Tengood, a longtime civilian worker in the Armed Forces who says the home he's lived in for nearly 45 years was plundered by CLIP workers.
Tengood, 62, says one of the stolen guns was later used in a homicide.
He says he was forced to put his 96-year-old mother in a nursing home, because as a Holocaust survivor, she was disturbed "by the continual presence of City officials serving additional notices and bills [related to supposed property-code violations], and removing items from the exterior" of his home, according to the 60-page complaint. More
Safeway fires guard for banning 4-year-old girl
For one security guard at a Washington state Safeway, 4-year-old Savannah Harp was just another criminal. During a recent shopping trip to the Everett grocery story, the cute little girl opened a box of dried fruit while her dad wasn’t paying attention. But one eagle-eyed security guard spotted the “shoplifting” tot and was determined to make her face justice.
“She grabbed a bag of apricots – dried apricots – opened them, ate a couple, put it back and the security guard watched her do it,” according to Savannah’s mother, Alissa Jones.
“He proceeded to tell them, ‘Your daughter stole and she’s banned from the store, and we’re pressing charges. And she needs to sign this form saying she understands she can’t come into any Safeways,’” Jones recalled. More
Porn, prostitution will be rampant if women allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia
Allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia would cause rampant sex, porn and homosexuality, according to some of the country's scholars.
Academics at the country's highest religious council submitted a report to the legislative assembly warning of the dangers of letting women behind the wheel, reports the Daily Telegraph.
If the only country in the world that still bans women from driving were to change its rules, there would be "a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce."
Within 10 years of the ban being lifted, the report claimed, there would be "no more virgins" in the country, according to the paper. More
Colorado schools sell advertising space on report cards
Jefferson County Public Schools expects to make $US90,000 over three years from Collegeinvest, a college savings plan, for the 5cm ads on report cards issued by its 91 primary schools.
That seems like a drop in the bucket for the school board, which last year slashed its spending by $US40 million in the face of reduced state and federal government support and a slump in revenue from school property taxes.
But school board spokeswoman Melissa Reeves said: "We're obviously looking for revenue generators and taking them where we can find them."
Headlined "Savings tip: Time is on your side", the ads invite parents to salt away money for their youngsters' university tuition through Collegeinvest, which is run by the Colorado state education department. More
State Demands Chemo Treatments For Cancer-Free Boy
The parents of a ten-year-old boy are being taken to court for refusing to continue gruelling chemotherapy and radiation treatments despite the fact he is now cancer-free.
Jacob Stieler, from Michigan, was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, last March. After a number of treatments he was found to be cancer free.
His mother Erin Stieler told WLUC-TV on Monday that she believed further treatments for her son, Jacob, were unnecessary.
She said of the chemo her son already received: 'It's the most horrible thing, most horrific thing. He was sick, he was nauseous, he was extremely depressed. He told me numerous times he wished he could fall asleep and never wake up.' More
EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration
EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.
Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.
Last night, critics claimed the EU was at odds with both science and common sense. Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is stupidity writ large.
“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true. “If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project then this is it.”
NHS health guidelines state clearly that drinking water helps avoid dehydration, and that Britons should drink at least 1.2 litres per day. More
Fannie, Freddie execs score $100 million payday
Mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received the biggest federal bailout of the financial crisis. And nearly $100 million of those tax dollars went to lucrative pay packages for top executives, filings show.
The top five executives at Fannie Mae received $33.3 million in 2009 and 2010, while the top five at Freddie Mac received $28.1 million. And each company has set pay targets of as much as $17 million for its top managers for 2011.
That's a total of $95.4 million, which will essentially be coming from taxpayers, who have been keeping the mortgage finance giants alive with regular quarterly cash infusions since the Federal Home Finance Agency (FHFA) took control of the companies in September 2008. Fannie CEO Michael Williams and Freddie CEO Charles Halderman, each received about $5.5 million in pay for last year, and they could receive more when their final deferred compensation for 2010 is set. All the executives receive a significant portion of their pay in the year or years after they earn it. More
Dad Fights Zoning Board's Order to Destroy Backyard Tree House
FALLS CHURCH, Va. - It seemed like a great idea -- build a treehouse on his property for two growing boys. But for one local man, it's turning into a big, expensive lesson in government red tape.
Mark Grapin thought his two sons would love the treehouse. He called Fairfax County before starting to find out the rules for the Broyhill Park neighborhood in the Falls Church area of the county.
"The guy in building permits laughed me off the phone," Grapin says. He was told it's a treehouse and not built to any code.
So Grapin went to the local home improvement store, bought $1,400 worth of supplies and spent six weekends building the treehouse. It has red clapboard siding, shingles, a slide, a pull-down ladder, two climbing ropes, closed windows and shutters. It is wrapped around the tree but stands free, not touching the tree. It stands to the side of his house.
Grapin says his immediate neighbors had no complaints, but someone did complain anonymously to Fairfax County. Grapin was told he had to treat it like an addition to his house and get a zoning variance. He spent more than $1,800 getting the proper forms and going through a hearing.
The home sits on a corner lot and Zoning Board Chairman John Ribble says that means what Grapin thought was a side lot is actually the front lot. The variance was rejected. More
TSA finds a new way to waste your money
IN THE LATEST ATTEMPT to prove they’re “protecting you from yesterday, tomorrow,” the TSA has announced plans to insert yet another extravagantly expensive, questionably effective machine into the airport security screening process.
You know how at the entrance to the security line there’s that agent who makes sure the name on your boarding pass is the same as the one on your photo ID?
Apparently that guy’s job is too hard.
According to CNN, the TSA has contracted with three companies to produce machines to “match a traveler’s boarding pass with his or her government-issued ID, while verifying that both documents are authentic.” More
CEO Tells Congress He Was Fined For Hiring Too Many People
From Peter Schiff's prepared remarks to Congress. Schiff is the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital.
In my own business, securities regulations have prohibited me from hiring brokers for more than three years. I was even fined fifteen thousand dollar expressly for hiring too many brokers in 2008.
In the process I incurred more than $500,000 in legal bills to mitigate a more severe regulatory outcome as a result of hiring too many workers.
I have also been prohibited from opening up additional offices. I had a major expansion plan that would have resulted in my creating hundreds of additional jobs.
Regulations have forced me to put those jobs on hold. More
Obama "green jobs" cost over $5 million each
A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began, government records show.
The program — designed to jump-start the nation’s clean technology industry by giving energy companies access to low-cost, government-backed loans — has directly created 3,545 new, permanent jobs after giving out almost half the allocated amount, according to Energy Department tallies.
President Obama has made “green jobs” a showcase of his recovery plan, vowing to foster new jobs, new technologies and more competitive American industries. But the loan guarantee program came under scrutiny Wednesday from Republicans and Democrats at a House oversight committee hearing about the collapse of Solyndra, a solar-panel maker whose closure could leave taxpayers on the hook for as much as $527 million. More
N.J. state trooper suspended without pay for a year after caught drinking, driving three times
State Police Trooper Sheila McKaig, who was caught drinking and driving three times without getting a ticket, has been suspended without pay for a year.
Her suspension, ordered by Supt. Rick Fuentes, is tougher than the seven-month suspension recommended by an administrative law judge. "He believed this was warranted given the facts of the case," said Sgt. Stephen Jones, a State Police spokesman.
McKaig was pulled over by local police three times in three months in 2008 in Atlantic County’s Hamilton Township. Police suspected she was under the influence but never tested her blood-alcohol level, arrested her or issued any tickets, according to a report issued by Administrative Law Judge Ronald Reba in April. More
Hungary introduces 'fat tax' to boost nation's health
Food considered to be unhealthy, including crisps, soft drinks and chocolate bars, are now subject to a new tax in Hungary. The new law is aimed at "improving the health of the nation".
Initially called 'the hamburger tax', the measure was dubbed 'crisps tax' or 'fat tax' after the Hungarian government decided that it would not affect fast food restaurants.
The plan is to impose a 10 forint (3.7 eurocent) levy on products that contain "too much" salt, sugar, or fat, while increasing the tax on liquor and soft drinks by 10%, according to the Global Post news website.
The proceeds, estimated to be worth up to 30 billion forint (111 million euro), would pay for state-funded health care, which has a deficit of about 100 billion forints (371 million euro). Hungary is among the most severely indebted countries in Eastern Europe.
If Hungary does proceed with its 'fat tax', as seems likely, it would be the first country in the world to do so. More
Gibson CEO Says Feds Told Him Problems Would ‘Go Away’ if Labor Was Outsourced to Madagascar
The tale of the Gibson guitar raid — the one focused on the legendary guitar maker’s alleged importation and use of illegal wood — has taken an odd turn. Now CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is claiming the Feds told him that some of his problems “would go away” if the company used Madagascar labor.
In an interview with Beck radio affiliate KMJ 105.9 in Fresno, California, Juszkiewicz told host Chris Daniel that the government made the point “explicitly:”
CHRIS DANIEL: Mr. Juszkiewicz, did an agent of the US government suggest to you that your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of American labor?
HENRY JUSZKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that in a pleading.
CHRIS DANIEL: Excuse me?
HENRY JUSKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that in a pleading.
CHRIS DANIEL: That your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of our labor?
HENRY JUSKIEWICZ: Yes, yeah. They said that explicitly.
Family Facing $90,000 in Fines for Selling Bunnies
NIXA, Mo. | A southwest Missouri man who said he made about $200 selling rabbits has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay more than $90,000 for doing business without a license.
John Dollarhite, who ran Dollarvalue Rabbitry from April 2008 to December 2009, said he didn’t know he needed a license to sell bunnies.
He was told that if he didn’t pay the penalty by last Monday he could face possible litigation and civil penalties up to $10,000 for each violation.
His attorney has told the agency Dollarhite rejects the proposed penalty and wants a hearing. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who grew up in a rural area, has taken up Dollarhite’s cause. She told the Springfield News-Leader the proposed fine “defies common sense.” More
Michigan Woman Faces 93 Days in Jail for Planting a Vegetable Garden
Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan -- a mother of 6, law-abiding citizen, and gardener -- is facing 93 days in jail after being charged with a misdemeanor.
Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden in the front yard.
Bass says that she planted the garden after her front yard was torn up for some sewer repairs.
Rather than wasting the opportunity to start with a clean slate by planting a lawn, she decided to really put the area to use, and plant a vegetable garden.
Her garden consists of 5 raised beds, where she grows a mix of squashes, corn, tomatoes, flowers, and other veggies. Bass received a warning from the city telling her to remove the vegetable garden, because it doesn't adhere to city ordinances (more on that later.) When she refused, she was ticketed and charged with a misdemeanor. Her trial, before a jury, is set to begin on July 26th. If she is found guilty, she can be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail. More
One more headache for border crossers
Crossing into Mexico from San Diego has become a major challenge since last year when U.S. authorities began cracking down on the weapons and cash flowing into the hands of drug cartels.
U.S. officers have been conducting random southbound checkpoints more frequently at border crossings and that has resulted in long waits, particularly at the busy San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Business leaders don’t know yet the economic impact of the waits to enter Mexico but estimate the northbound waits into the United States alone are costing the region billions of dollars annually. The people affected the most by the checkpoints are those heading to Mexico to visit, conduct business or return home.
“We’re used to waiting to enter the U.S., not to return to Tijuana,” said Sylvia Ferrero, who works in Chula Vista and lives in Tijuana.
Ferrero, 25, recalls waiting three hours to cross into Tijuana earlier this year and arriving an hour late at a meeting. “My hope is never to run into one so that I can get home early.” More
Injunction to move by the end the of month
A COUPLE living an "off-grid" lifestyle say they face prison unless they move from their own land in Willand and return to an existence in the benefits trap.
Stig and Dinah Mason bought Muxbeare Orchard after a sudden windfall allowed them to quit their impoverished lives on a Hertfordshire council estate two years ago.
The Masons have transformed what they described as a derelict four-acre plot into a haven of self-sufficiency boasting a 400 sq m allotment, a polytunnel and greenhouses to grow fruit and vegetables, chickens for egg production and an orchard they have regenerated by planting around 14 new apple trees of various species.
The couple, who have two boys, aged eight and nine, say because they moved onto the site in order to work the land, Mid Devon District Council is turfing them off as officers do not consider them to be conserving an agricultural area.
They faced magistrates on March 31 when they were served with an injunction to leave within 28 days from June 1. More
Alameda police, firefighters watch as man drowns
ALAMEDA, Calif. - Alameda police and firefighters stood by and watched as a man drowned off Crown Beach in Alameda on Monday. Authorities are now trying to explain why they had no choice but to stand on the shoreline.
Alameda police received a call shortly before noon on Monday from a woman saying her son wanted to kill himself. Raymond Zack, 53, then walked out into the water off Crown Beach.
"I thought it was kind of weird that they weren't going out to bring the guy in, you know, he was out there, his head was above water, he was looking at everybody, there was plenty of time for them to react," witness Perry Smith said. For more than an hour, Zack stood up to his neck in the frigid surf off of Crown Beach in Alameda.
"Well, we expected to see at some point that there would be a concern for him and somebody would go out there and pull him in," witness Gary Barlow said. About 75 beachgoers could not understand why Alameda police officers and firefighters stood idly by and watched the man slowly succumb to the 60 degree water.
The Alameda Fire Department says budget constraints are preventing it from recertifying its firefighters in land-based water rescues. Without it, the city would be open to liability. More
Canadian Couple raising a 'genderless baby'
Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, who live in Toronto, believe that a child's sex should not determine his or her place in the world.
When Storm was born four months ago, they sent an e-mail to friends and family reading: "We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now - a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place?)"
There is nothing physiologically ambiguous about Storm's sex. However, whether he or she is a girl or a boy is known only to the couple's sons, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, a close family friend and the two midwives who helped to deliver the baby.
The parents say that it will be up to Storm to decide whether he or she decides to live as a boy or girl but their plan has led to them being labelled the "world's most PC parents". More
Church fined $100 per branch for excessive tree pruning
Every two to three years, Eddie Sales trims and prunes the crape myrtles at his church, Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church.
But this year, the city of Charlotte cited the church for improperly pruning its trees.
"We always keep our trees trimmed back because you don't want to worry about them hanging down in the way," said Sales, a church member.
The church was fined $100 per branch cut for excessive pruning, bringing the violation to $4,000. "I just couldn't believe it when I heard about it," Sales said.
"We trim our trees back every three years all over our property, and this is the first time we have been fined." More
Michigan man still on food stamps despite winning $2M
Auburn — A man who won $2 million on a lottery show continues to collect food stamps 11 months after winning the jackpot.
Leroy Fick, 59, of Bay County admitted he still uses the state-issued debit card called a Bridge Card at stores, nearly a year after winning a jackpot on "Make Me Rich!" He told WNEM-TV in Saginaw: "If you're going to ... try to make me feel bad, you aren't going to do it."
Fick's attorney, John Wilson of Midland, said Fick told the Department of Human Services he'd won $2 million but was told he could keep using the Bridge Card issued to him to buy groceries. Food stamps are paid with tax dollars and are meant to assist low-income families.
Fick, who according to the Secretary of State drives a 2008 Audi A4, could not be reached for comment.
"I am not going to sit and debate the ethics of this," Wilson said. "But he did what he was supposed to do — he informed the state, and the state said he could keep using the card. More
Bin Laden’s Death Won’t End His Toll on American Taxpayers
Even in death, Osama bin Laden will be taking revenge on American taxpayers for years to come.
The U.S. government spent $2 trillion combating bin Laden over the past decade, more than 20 percent of the nation’s $9.68 trillion public debt. That money paid for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as additional military, intelligence and homeland security spending above pre-Sept. 11 trends, according to a Bloomberg analysis.
This year alone, taxpayers are spending more than $45 billion in interest on the money borrowed to battle al-Qaeda, the analysis shows.
The financial bleeding won’t stop with bin Laden’s demise. One of every four dollars in red ink the U.S. expects to incur in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 will result from $285 billion in annual spending triggered by the terrorist scion of a wealthy Saudi family.
Without bin Laden, “we would have accumulated less debt, be spending less on interest and we would be on a lower spending path going forward,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a research organization in Washington. More
The Real Housewives of Wall Street
America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we're broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year's retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.
Most Americans know about that budget. What they don't know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy.
After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the "official" budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology. More
Seattle school renames Easter eggs 'Spring Spheres'
A sophomore at a local private high school thinks an effort to make Easter politically correct is ridiculous.
Jessica, 16, told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson Show that a week before spring break, the students commit to a week-long community service project. She decided to volunteer in a third grade class at a public school, which she would like to remain nameless.
"At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that," Jessica said.
She was concerned how the teacher might react to the eggs after of a meeting earlier in the week where she learned about "their abstract behavior rules."
"I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay," Jessica explained. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat 'spring spheres.' I couldn't call them Easter eggs." More
Dire Straits 'Money For Nothing' Unacceptable In Canada
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council said it was too offensive for Canadian broadcasts because it includes the word “f*ggot” three times.
The body launched an investigation after a listener complained that an unedited version of the song had been played on St. John's radio station CHOZ-FM last February.
The complaint said the song, written by Mark Knopfler and Sting, was “extremely offensive” to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
In its ruling, the council said that ‘Money For Nothing’ would only be acceptable for broadcast if it had been edited, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. More
Milwaukee Teachers Fight for Viagra Coverage
With the district in a financial crisis and hundreds of its members facing layoffs, the Milwaukee teachers union is taking a peculiar stand: fighting to get its taxpayer-funded Viagra back.
The union has asked a judge to order the school board to again include Pfizer Inc.'s erectile dysfunction drug and similar pills in its health insurance plans.
The filing is the latest in a two-year legal campaign in which the union has argued, so far unsuccessfully, that the board's policy of excluding erectile dysfunction drugs discriminates against male employees. The union says Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and others are necessary treatment for "an exclusively gender-related condition."
But lawyers for the school board say the drugs were excluded in 2005 to save money, and there is no discrimination because they are used primarily for recreational sex and not out of medical necessity. The filing last month comes as the union, the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association, is also protesting hundreds of layoff notices issued to teachers for the coming school year. Citing a "financial crisis" caused by exploding benefit costs and revenue shortfalls, the district's outgoing superintendent proposed laying off 682 employees in April. More
Taco Bell sued for selling adulterated "meat"
When it's served in a Taco Bell taco, alleges a California woman in a class-action lawsuit. The suit, filed Friday, claims that the fast-food giant uses so much other ingredients in its meat that it no longer qualifies as beef.
Taco Bell, based in Irvine, Calif., fired back in a statement Tuesday, saying that the suit is "absolutely wrong" and that it planned legal action of its own.
The dispute revolves around how much can be mixed in with beef and still be called beef.
In its raw or frozen form, ground beef "shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders," according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). It can include seasonings or not. More
San Diego can now ticket people sleeping on streets
The city of San Diego can now ticket homeless people who sleep on street corners and doorways, but there's one significant catch: There has to be beds available for them. There hasn't been - for years.
The city now, though, plans to make a handful of downtown beds available each night, in hopes of giving police some power to enforce illegal lodging laws.
"For the first time in three years, the city has some clear direction allowing us to enforce the law during the late evening and early morning hours when shelter is available," said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
In 2007, the city stop ticketing the homeless to settle a suit brought against it.
Homeless advocates had argued that the homeless had little option but to bed down on the streets because shelters were crammed. More
Laptop containing possible cancer cure stolen in Oklahoma
Researchers in Oklahoma are offering a $1,000 reward for the return of a stolen laptop which they claim contains a possible cure for prostate cancer.
Sook Shin and her husband, who work as cancer researchers at the Oklahoma University, decided to take a break from their work on Sunday to get some dinner. When they returned to their car they found it had been broken into and their Macbook had been stolen.
Unbeknownst to the thieves was that the device contains years of research into prostrate cancer, some of which can never be replicated, while others will take up to two years to redo.
Worse than that, the couple never made a backup of their data, which means that someone out there has the only copy of the valuable information, if it hasn't been wiped already. Why researchers would fail to make a backup boggles the mind, considering how easily a laptop can be stolen or how often hard drive failures occur, but even the brightest minds in science can make a fatal mistake. More
Peter King's proposed bill would ban guns near lawmakers
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), one of the few pro-gun control Republicans in the House, wants to make it illegal for someone to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of certain high-ranking federal officials, including members of Congress.
In addition to giving him and his colleagues protection, King told POLITICO that his purpose is also to protect constituents who want to meet with public officials and might be hesitant to do so in wake of the shootings in Arizona.
“It would give law enforcement the weapon they need to protect federal officials, and just as importantly, it would provide a large measure of security for those who want to meet with their federal elected officials,” said King, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. More
Brady Wants 'Target' Websites Banned
PHILADELPHIA - Congressman Bob Brady (D-Pa., 1st) says he'll introduce a law to make it a crime to publish Web site that places "crosshairs" on a Congressional member, in a reaction to a map that appeared on Sarah Palin's Web site.
That map was taken down by Palin's web editors from the Web site Sarahpac.com on Saturday soon after Rep. Gabriel Giffords was shot in Arizona.
On Sunday, Palin's spokespeople said the images on map of Palin's "target list" were directional locators, and not gun sight crosshairs.
Palin also offered her condolences on Facebook.
"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona," she said. "On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice." More
Obama's car czar vows fast selloff of government GM stock
Obama administration auto czar Ron Bloom vowed Tuesday to sell off the government's remaining 33 percent stake in General Motors Co. as quickly as possible, saying it was "important for the broader economy."
The government sold 45 percent of its 61 percent stake in GM in November, during the company's initial public stock offering, and can't sell additional shares until a six-month lockup expires in May.
"We are determined to exit as soon as practicable, but we're not going to do a fire sale," Bloom said after touring exhibits of the Detroit automakers at the North American International Auto Show.
"We have unequivocally demonstrated that the president of the United States doesn't want to be CEO of a car company. I hope we can put that foolish 'Government Motors' stuff to bed once and for all."
The government's remaining stake in GM, 500 million shares, is worth nearly $20 billion at current trading.
It is not the "proper role of government over time" to hold a large stake in a private company, Bloom said. More
Mom defies doctor, has baby her way
On Thursday, December 2, as Aneka sat at home nine months pregnant, the phone rang.
It was her obstetrician wanting to know where the heck she was. Did Aneka forget that today was the day for her cesarean section? How could she have forgotten?
No, Aneka hadn't forgotten. She hadn't shown up intentionally.
"She told me, 'You're being irresponsible. Your baby could die. You could die,'" Aneka recalls. Then the doctor hung up.
Aneka (she doesn't want her last name used) had already resolved to not have a C-section, even though the doctor told her it was absolutely necessary. She wasn't going to be opened up surgically, no matter what her doctor said, no matter what any doctor said.
In some online communities, Aneka is a hero who defied the obstetrical establishment and gave birth her way. To many doctors, however, she's a risk-taker who put her and her baby in peril by giving birth at home. More
Misbehaving teens may be at risk for major adulthood problems
People who displayed behavioral problems as teenagers were likely to develop mental or personal problems in adulthood, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
TThe study looked at more than 3,500 people , beginning in the teen years and following them for 40 years. The data came from a national survey of health and development from the Medical Research Council, an organization in the United Kingdom.
Teachers assessed these individuals at age 13 and 15, comparing them with their peers with respect to a number of behaviors. Problematic behaviors included disobedience, lying, lack of punctuality, restlessness, truancy, daydreaming in class and poor response to discipline.
"This research suggests that adolescent conduct problems are indicative of more serious problems in creating and maintaining positive social relationships, and this has a long-term effect on the young adult's ability to maintain good mental health, stable employment, and a happy family life," said Ian Colman, assistant professor at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. More