Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pregnant American Tourist Murdered in Puerto Rico

Five months pregnant, Sara Kuzsak was on vacation with her fiance and some friends in Puerto Rico when she was ambushed and thrown in a car trunk.

Sara Kuzsak's body was found only an hour after she called for help from inside the killer's car. (AP Photo)

Kuzsak had been out jogging on Feb. 4 when she was spotted by Eleiezer Marquez, a 36-year-old Puerto Rican suspected of killing Kuszak. Marquez allegedly opened his trunk and waited for Kuszak to pass by, and when she did, he grabbed her and threw her in.

Panicked, Kuzsak made a frantic call for help from inside the trunk. She described her assailant's car to an employee at the marina she was near, and said what had happened. The marina employee called 911.

That was about an hour before police found her body thrown off to the side of the road. Kuzsak's throat had been slashed and she was naked from the waist down.

Police were able to locate Marquez because he was still carrying Kuzsak's phone.

More from ABC News:
Investigating officer Arsenio Rodriguez said the FBI used a signal from the victim's cell phone to help locate the suspect. Kuszak's fiance had called the FBI, which turned the case over to local police.

Kuszak, 35, who moved to Savannah, Georgia, from San Francisco about five years ago, arrived Tuesday night in Puerto Rico, where she met up with her fiance and several friends.

"She was looking forward to the rest of her life with her fiance and her unborn baby," her friend Matt Daniel said in a phone interview from Georgia. "I'm just devastated. I don't know who would do something like that."

Previous Article

Elizabeth Edwards Writes Book about Husband's Affair

Elizabeth Edwards plans a new book about facing adversity, recapping an often-tumultuous life that most recently included her husband's public disclosure of an affair, her publisher said Tuesday.

The book entitled "Resilience" is to be published on May 12. It comes less than a year after Edwards' husband John publicly acknowledged having an affair with a video producer in the months before he began his second campaign for president.

David Drake, the publicity director at Broadway Books, declined to discuss in detail the contents of the book but said it would serve as a sort of sequel to her previous memoir, "Saving Graces," that was first published in 2006 and updated in 2007.

Drake would not say whether Edwards discusses the affair in her new book.

Former Senator John Edwards.

"We're aware of some of the events that have taken place in her life since then," he said. "She has always been a kind of candid and honest writer, and people can expect that of her in her new book."

Edwards' initial memoir mostly focused on how she coped with the 1996 death of the couple's son Wade and her ongoing battle with breast cancer.

Since the affair announcement in August, Edwards has continued to advocate for health care reform by visiting Congress and making policy speeches. She has yet to discuss the affair in detail and has asked for privacy on the subject.

John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, was laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign when he hired rookie videographer Rielle Hunter to shoot videos of him. Edwards said the affair with Hunter began and ended that year, although Hunter was seen on the campaign trail until the final days of 2006.

Both Edwards and Hunter have denied reports that he is the father of her 6-month-old daughter

Vick Takes It to the House

The days of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick being confined to a penitentiary are soon to be over, as the former NFL star is set to be escorted into a halfway house within the next week.

Vick isn’t scheduled for release until July 20, but could serve the last few months of his sentence in his hometown, Newport News, Va.

Vick’s next NFL landing spot has been widely speculated across the league, but it still remains unclear whether he will be reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“We believe he is ultimately going to be reinstated by the NFL,” said Vick’s bankruptcy attorney, Michael Blumenthal.

Being reinstated may be the easiest part of Vick’s post-penitentiary process. Regaining support from the fans may be impossible.

Vick was once on top of the NFL world. He was the league’s highest-paid player, a regular on highlight reels, possessed one of the more popular selling jerseys and his face was the centerpiece of several video games, magazines and commercials.

For Vick to regain even half of his star appeal would be a major victory on his side.

Stimulus Not Stimulating Optimism

Even as lawmakers in Washington tussle over the details of President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill, the public seems to agree on one thing: they want to see some form of a recovery package enacted.

Two-thirds of Americans believe some version of the president’s bill should be passed, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. However, people seem to have very low expectations of the immediate benefits of the bill.

Just 17 percent of those polled say the bill would make the economy much better and only a few believe the bill would impact their lives this year.

“Americans have become much more negative about everything,” said Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup Polls.

“It’s reality,” he continued, explaining why consumer confidence is so low. “Americans view the economic problems as severe [and not as] a quick fix.”

The numbers seem to bear out that belief.

The stock market has lurched up and down over the past few months, after suffering a near crash in the wake of the housing market implosion.

And in 2008, the country witnessed record layoffs, with 1.9 million losing their jobs in the last four months alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Americans view the economic problems as severe [and not as] a quick fix.”

Just in December, the number of unemployed persons increased by 632,000 to 11.1 million, raising the unemployment rate from 6.8 to 7.2 percent, Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, said people need to see real changes in their own circumstances.

“People are feeling economically insecure; they’re tightening their belts,” she said. For confidence to increase, “people have to feel like their jobs aren’t in danger and that’s going to take a while.”
For the most part, people still seem to believe the president—who has a 66 percent job approval rating, according to the latest polls—can make that change.

In the Black community, said University of Maryland political science professor Ronald Walters, while many may not know the details of the plan, “the general expectation is that the stimulus package will make their lives better and that’s because people have faith in Barack Obama’s leadership.”

Getting this near-trillion-dollar stimulus passed is critical in helping President Obama live up to those expectations and build his political cache, the political analyst said.

“This is the largest piece of legislation that we have seen in modern history in the United States and he is at the helm of it,” Walters said then added, “He is very concerned about his re-election so he has a stake in getting this right.”

Ideas about what the right package would look like have been divided, however, and usually along party lines, jeopardizing Obama’s vow to pass bipartisan legislation.

Even public opinion is painted in shades of red and blue, according to the Gallup poll. More than one-third of the Republicans surveyed said the bill should be rejected altogether while 43 percent said it should be passed with major changes.

And the $819 billion House bill passed last week—of which one-third was devoted to tax cuts and the other two-thirds to spending—was devoid of even one Republican vote, despite the president’s outreach to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

That was nothing but partisan maneuvering, said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

“President Obama came up to the Hill and spoke to the Democrats and Republicans in the House. One hour before he spoke to them, the leader of the House Republicans sent an e-mail out saying, ‘I urge all of you to vote against the package.’ That’s not give-and-take, that’s politics,” Kerry said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday that Republicans are not trying to derail the legislation, however.

“Nobody that I know of is trying to keep a package from passing,” he told reporters. “We’re trying to reform it.”

Chief among those reforms for Republicans and some Democrats is to pare down the unwieldy bill to measures that will immediately and directly stimulate the economy.

According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis released Monday, 78 percent of the funding in the current Senate bill would be used by the end of fiscal year 2010, compared to 64 percent for the House version.

The stimulus package needs to be “timely, temporary and targeted,” Sen. McConnell said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Sunday.

Instead, McConnell and others said, the bill is weighted down with measures such as honey bee insurance, sod for the National Mall, $75 million for anti-smoking programs, another $400 million for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, a $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion pictures, $600 million to buy hybrid cars for federal employees and more.

Walters said Democrats are simply trying to push forward things that were neglected during the George Bush years.

“This is set against the atmosphere of a long drought for Democrats in which they have not been able to get passed large packages in human investment,” he said.

In the House bill, $550 billion is divvied up between education, $142 billion; health care, $111 billion; infrastructure, $90 billion; aid and benefits, $72 billion; energy, $54 billion; science and technology, $16 billion and housing, $13 billion.

Republicans are floating ideas of their own, including the addition of $71 billion for the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was intended for wealthy Americans but is, instead, affecting middle-income families; and a 15,000 tax credit for homebuyers.

And a group of Republican senators led by Florida Sen. Mel Martinez has drafted their own bill.
The $713 billion package would include $430 billion in tax cuts, $114 billion in infrastructure investment, $138 billion for extending unemployment insurance, food stamps and other aid and $31 billion to counter the housing crisis.

Obama has said that the bill in its current form needs to be trimmed and has expressed support for some of the Republican offerings.

The president has met repeatedly with leaders from both parties to urge some compromise so the bill would move swiftly.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said they are willing to make some changes in order to have a proposal on the president’s desk by Feb. 13, the Congress’ self-imposed deadline for passing this bill.

"The president, the Democratic leaders, the Republican leaders certainly have every intention of moving forward to getting everything out of the bill that causes heartburn to a significant number of senators," he told reporters Tuesday.

Shierholz, the EPI economist, said no matter what the final stimulus package looks like, it will not be “a magic bullet.”

She said, however, that an effective stimulus should not focus on too many tax cuts for businesses—since results will not be guaranteed--but on getting money into consumers’ hands.
“We need to increase aggregate demand for goods and services [and to] get money into the hands of people most hurt by this crisis and those who are cash-strapped so they would get right out there and spend that money,” she said.

“Businesses, they can just pocket that money,” she added. “If demand is low, why would a business take that money and invest it in another plant? We need demand first.”

Ex-Detroit Mayor Out of Jail, Out of Work

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is looking for a job in Texas after his release today from jail.

According to the Detroit Free Press, a judge granted Kilpatrick permission to spend five days in Texas once he was released.

His lawyers refused to say where Kilpatrick is going for a job interview, saying that publicity could affect his chance of getting a job.

Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner said his main interest is the $1 million in restitution Kilpatrick owes. So far, Kilpatrick has reportedly paid only $27,500.

Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to lying on a deposition about his relationship with his former chief of staff and their role in police firings. He is also the target of a federal probe.

LeBron James Delivers Madison Square Garden Encore With Triple Double

Jay-Z was amongst those in attendance at Madison Square Garden Wednesday looking for an encore to the 61 Kobe hung on the Knicks Monday, and LeBron James did not disappoint. To the tune of a triple double, LeBron answered the bell going for 52-11-10, leading the Cavaliers to a 107-102 win over the Knicks, extending their record to 40-9 overall.

There were a couple interesting things about the game too, besides the fact that Mike D’Antoni sill obviously hates defense.

The first was in comparison to Kobe’s game Monday. Kobe went for 3 assists and 0 rebounds to go along with his record setting 61. I am not sure how you could play a whole NBA game and not accidently get a rebound, but that was Kobe’s line. LeBron, on the other hand, dishes out 11 dimes and grabs 10 boards, all the while scoring 50+.

To me, I would rather take the latter if I’m building a franchise. Do you think LeBron couldn’t have gotten 10 more points if he looked to pass a few less times, and didn’t waste all that energy rebounding?

Additionally, what is with Knicks fans these days? I know their team stinks, but chanting M-V-P for Kobe on Monday, and cheering as LeBron grabs his 10th rebound of the game should be embarrassing if you’re a New York sports fan, no?

Spike Lee and Reggie Miller used to think so.

The Failures of David Beckham, By Nick Green

His soon to be aborted American adventure with the Galaxy makes three.

The first came in 1998, when a petulant Beckham threw away England's best chance of winning the World Cup since its lone triumph in 1966, getting himself sent off with a childish, retaliatory foul in the second round against Argentina.

The second came in 2003 when Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson showed him the door at the world's biggest club, concerned his growing fame and celebrity was undermining the team.

And now Beckham has failed in MLS, playing no small role in transforming what was the league's flagship franchise into its worst. A player who was supposed to bring star power and credibility to MLS instead merely exposed the inherent weaknesses of a league with a relatively low salary cap and small squads.

In the end, Beckham proved he's no Pele or even a Juan Pablo Angel.

Beckham is a simple, uncomplicated chap. What you see is what you get.

I have no doubt that when he originally left for AC Milan it was, as he said, to keep fit at his relatively advanced age of 33 during what is by soccer standards a long off-season.

In Milan, he was allowed to do what he could not in MLS; play a specific role that emphasized his strengths rather than expose his increasing fragility, surrounded by players as good or better than him.

Beckham has said he was surprised by how much he enjoyed playing for Milan. The bigger surprise is that he was surprised by that.

It became clear last season, playing for an abysmal team surrounded by average players, that Beckham was both increasingly frustrated and disinterested.

Some players are capable of making a team better, hauling less talented teammates up to their level, inspiring them and setting an example.

Beckham is not that kind of player.

At the Galaxy, it became clear with virtually every pass, every cross and every free kick Beckham made that he needed a competent and accomplished supporting cast. That safety net simply did not exist.

Beckham is a role player with a knack for sublime free kicks and long, accurate passes perhaps no other player in the world can duplicate.

But when Beckham continually sends in crosses teammates are unable to finish or make passes less talented players are incapable of reading, the predictable result is a disenchanted, dissatisfied player.

Beckham's inaugural, injury-plagued season was little more than joke - some might use the word scam - that saw him make just two MLS starts, despite drawing huge crowds wherever he didn't appear.

Last season was in some respects even worse, his mediocre output of five goals and 10 assists in 25 MLS starts serving largely to underline his, and the team's, lack of achievements.

The often maligned Landon Donovan proved last year that even on a horrific team a talented player can have the best season of his career, especially if he's motivated by the prospect of a lucrative move abroad.

Donovan deserves a move to Bayern Munich and the U.S. National Team is likely to benefit from a player turning out for one of the world's best teams in one of this planet's best leagues.

Beckham had no such motivation.

Commercially, he had already enriched himself and Galaxy owners Anschutz Entertainment Group merely by signing on the dotted line of his $6.5 million a year contract and adding even more lucrative commercial endorsements along the way in the world's largest economy.

MLS may be a second-rate league - as is every other in the world outside of England, Italy, Germany and Spain - but it is incredibly demanding.

On the field, MLS is a physical, tough slog full of young, strapping athletes if not overly-talented players. Off it, there are thousands of miles of air travel and frequent time zone shifts capable of sapping the stamina of all but the most focused players.

Beckham, it's clear, was never focused. Worse, he underestimated the demands of MLS. Beckham has more in common with failures like Lothar Matthaus than successes such as Darren Huckerby.

There are 45 days until the season begins.

Replacing players of the stature of Beckham and Donovan will not be easy in that short time frame. But it does give Coach Bruce Arena considerable latitude under the salary cap to find a talented playmaker capable of putting his mark on the team in a way Beckham never did.

Beckham has failed - again, again and again - when it mattered most.

His time is gone. It's time for the Galaxy and American soccer to move on.

Because the only thing worse than failing is not owning up to a mistake.

And Beckham has proved a colossal mistake.

Super Hot Prehistoric Monster Snake Found… In Your Pantalones. Or In Colombia.

The fossilized remains of an enormous prehistoric snake were uncovered in Colombia. The “Titanoboa cerrejonensi” is estimated to have weighed somewhere around 2,500 pounds and have measured 42.7 feet long. At its widest, the snake would have reached an average size human’s hips. HOT.

Other remains excavated from the site include those from the largest freshwater turtle known to man and extinct species of crocodiles. Found in the El Cerrejon coal mine in northern Colombia, the remains of this giant snake - which lived after dinosaurs had become extinct - have taught researchers quite a bit about climate change. Because the remains were found near fossils or prehistoric fish, scientists believe the giant snake lived in brackish seawater in a rivervine system that no longer exists in the area.

See, this heinous lost child of Cthulhu slithered through incredibly hot rainforests in what is now Colombia. Because snakes are cold-blooded and use heat from their environs to live and metabolize food. The current temperature of the Earth could not, then, support such large snakes. Scientists believe that, 60 million years ago, mean annual temperature in equatorial South America was about 91 degrees - 10 degrees warmer than it is now. So a ten degree difference in mean annual temperate = GIANT MONSTER SNAKES! Another wonderful argument for trying to combat global warming.

And, in care you were wondering, our favorite quote from a scientist in the history of ever has got to be this: ”The snake that tried to eat Jennifer Lopez in the movie ‘Anaconda’ was not as big as the one we found.”

The image above is an artist rendering of what the giant snake may have looked like. Apparently, it was friends with fat, misshapen crocodiles.

So. Who else is having nightmares tonight?

Bill Gates Lets Loose Mosquitoes at TED

Photo Credit: James Duncan Davidson for TED)

“Not only poor people should experience this,” stated Microsoft founder Bill Gates at the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference in Long Beach, California. Gates said this as he was opening a jar full of mosquitoes during his speech. Gates was doing this as a statement that malaria is a major problem in countries such as Africa and South East Asia. Malaria is often times transmitted by mosquito bites. Gates’ way of presenting this issue got the whole room tweeting.

Founder of Seesmic Loic Le Meur wrote a Twitter message saying “Bill Gates released mosquitoes at #TED we’re all leaving the room and getting sick.” eBay founder Pierre Omidyar tweeted “That’s it, I’m not sitting up front anymore.” Twitter and Blogger founder Evan Williams tweeted “Bill Gates just let live misquitos out on stage. (@sara would be pissed if she were here.)”

Fortunately for audience members, the mosquitoes had no viruses. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hope to significantly reduce malaria-related deaths by 2015.

Chris Christie Answers The Questions

Chris Christie Answers The Questions about running for Governor In New Jersey and about the important issues facing the state.

Hear the brilliance of the Republican almost-Gubernatorial candidate for yourself.