Friday, July 24, 2009

Erin Andrews New York Post Photos

I wouldn’t say that we here at TV Squad have been purposefully silent about this Erin Andrews peephole mishegas; there’s just been more interesting stuff going on. It seemed like a small, albeit creepy, story on the surface: popular sideline reporter and object of the blogosphere’s affection gets shot naked in her hotel room through a peephole.

Without a doubt, it’s a depressing story, both for Andrews, whose privacy was violated on many levels, and for the sports blogosphere, who have to endure yet another accusation that their frat boy shenanigans helped foster this kind of behavior. But it was still a small story. That was, of course, until The New York Post decided to make the oh-so-classy move of publishing stills of the video in print and on their website.

Now it’s getting serious: ESPN has banned all Post reporters from appearing on any of their shows.

For it’s part, the Post says, via the even-more-classy Page Six, that they wouldn’t have printed the photos in the first place if ESPN hadn’t gone after the people who put the videos on the web. In effect, it’s ESPN’s fault for outing their own employee in an effort to protect her. The bastards.

How the hell did we get here? Andrews isn’t the first attractive woman to work the sidelines of a ballgame. And many of those women have been as attractive or more attractive than Andrews (Lisa Guerrero anyone?). Why were we in the blogosphere so obsessed with her in the first place? Maybe some of you folks can let me know, as I’m having a hard time figuring out how Peepgate (yes, I’m calling it that) became the big media kerfuffle of Summer ‘09.

Anyway, hopefully Andrews can use this new-found but unwanted notoriety to her advantage. Some questionable on-the-job clothing decisions aside, Andrews does a credible and professional job, and has even taken the online drooling over her in stride. Maybe, with so much attention currently on her, she can land a higher-profile gig and just keep doing good work (as good work as any sideline reporter can do… they’re mostly there for show).

Why The Phillies Need Roy Halladay

The short answer is simple: they don't have a true number one pitcher. The long answer only gets worse.

Cole Hamels will never be a number one in the mold of, say, a Steve Carlton. Opposing batters don't start worrying about facing him at 2PM the day of a game. Last season's over-exertions may be part of the explanation for Hamels' mediocre performances this year but the larger issue may be he is a two-pitch pitcher and only one of those pitches, his change-up, is outstanding.

The rest of the Phillies staff is hardly the stuff of we've all said ad nauseum. Some day, and it will come soon, Jamie Moyer is going to consistently show his age. Joe Blanton is a middle of the rotation guy. J.A. Happ looks to have a good future but he's a finesse pitcher at a relatively tender age and those types of guys are never the ones who lead a staff.

Roy Halladay is a number one pitcher by all accounts. If they can get him, the Phillies must act.

Exelon 2Q earns fall 12 percent on weak demand

Exelon said Friday that its second-quarter profit fell 12 percent as the weak economy cut into demand for electricity, and the power company issued a forecast for the next three months that came in below Wall Street estimates.

Chicago-based Exelon said it made $657 million, or 99 cents per share, for the quarter ended June 30 compared with profit of $748 million, or $1.13 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue fell to $4.1 billion from $4.6 billion a year ago.

Including one-time charges and gains, Exelon said it made $683 million, or $1.03 per share, in the quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected profit of 97 cents a share on revenue of $4.9 billion. Such estimates typically exclude such charges.

Shares fell 51 cents to $53.52.

The results were released three days after Exelon called off its bid to buy NRG Energy in a deal that would have created the nation's largest power generating company.

Exelon also reaffirmed its 2009 earnings guidance, saying it expects to make $4 to $4.30 per share after adjustments, including 90 cents to $1 in the third quarter. Wall Street is looking for profit of $4.12 per share and $1.05 in the third quarter.

"We delivered very good earnings in the second quarter despite the weak economy and lower demand," John Rowe, Exelon's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Exelon on Tuesday scrapped its $7.4 billion, all-stock proposal to buy Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy in a deal that would have created the nation's largest power generator with capability of serving 45 million homes. Exelon called off the bid after NRG shareholders rejected an Exelon proposal that would have expanded NRG's board, preferably with new and existing seats going to people that would support Exelon's buyout offer.

NRG Energy said the offer was too low.

Like other utilities, Exelon has been hurt by lower demand because of the economy. Exelon reported lower demand at its ComEd utility in the Chicago area and PECO in the Philadelphia area during the quarter also because of cooler weather.

Because of the weak economy, Exelon last month announced spending cuts that will achieve $350 million in operations and maintenance savings in 2010, a 3.5 percent reduction. The cuts included the elimination of 500 jobs.

Exelon shares fell 88 cents, or nearly 2 percent, to $53.15 in trading Friday morning. The shares have traded between $38.41 and $81.93 over the past year.

Year to date, Exelon reported profit of $1.4 billion, or $2.07 per share, compared with $1.3 billion, or $2.01 per share, in the first half of 2008. Discounting charges, Exelon would have made $2.24 per share in the first half of 2009 compared with $2.06 in the year-ago period.

Revenue fell to $8.9 billion from $9.3 billion.

Cash for Clunkers: Smart or Stupid?

Starting today, you can get cash vouchers for that old gas-guzzling clunker under the new $1 billion federal Car Allowance Rebate System. All you have to do is trade your old car in on a new one at a participating dealer and the cash will be applied to your purchase.

The vouchers range from $3,500 to $4,500, and as a sales incentive, some dealerships plan to match the rebate with one of their own. To qualify, your vehicle must get 18 mpg or less and be less than 25 years old (just keep driving that Pinto!).

Critics say the rules — you have to buy a vehicle that gets just 4 mpg more than your old one — will act as a subsidy for the purchase of SUVs and trucks, rather than putting a fresh fleet of 40-mpg Prius models on the roads, as ABC explains.

(Interesting aside: The national mpg average has changed very little since the Model T.)

A friend of mine joked that his ancient truck, which he's stubbornly held on to since Bon Jovi was a household name, was probably worth about $900, but now it is suddenly worth about $4,500. I doubt he's thinking about gas mileage in pondering whether to trade it in. I drive an old Jeep Wrangler (1999), and I admit the program has me pondering whether the new Jeeps get good enough gas mileage to qualify me. Truth is, however, that keeping my old paid-for vehicle, with its low insurance rates, is financially smarter for me. And the new Jeeps look kinda cheesy anyway.

The program runs through Nov. 1 or when the $1 billion runs out, whichever comes first.

Charlie Rose: A conversation with Denis Cortese, President and CEO of Mayo Clinic

A conversation with Denis Cortese, President and CEO of Mayo Clinic

In Iran VP row, cabinet clashes with Ahmadinejad

Amid a continued political controversy in Iran over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first vice presidential pick, cabinet members engage in a verbal quarrel with the president over his insistence on the choice.

The quarrel broke out at Wednesday's cabinet meeting between President Ahmadinejad and the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi.

Despite a reported call by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution advising the president to reverse his decision in appointing Rahim-Mashaei as his top deputy, Ahmadinejad insisted that Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei would serve as the vice president.

Following President Ahmadinejad's refusal to reverse the decision, Saffar-Harandi left the meeting of cabinet members, Ayandehnews reported on Wednesday.

During the meeting, President Ahmadinejad also criticized what he called "interference by certain officials" in the shape-up of his future cabinet.

The president's criticism prompted reactions from some other cabinet members with ministers of intelligence and labor walking out of the meeting in protest at the remarks.

Rahim-Mashaei's appointment as the country's vice president has unleashed torrents of criticism from both the president's supporters and opponents alike.

In 2008, Rahim-Mashaei turned into a controversial figure after saying that Iran is a "friend of the Israeli people". He later distanced himself from his earlier stance, saying that his comments had been misinterpreted.

The controversial figure, who served as the head of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization before receiving the elevation, explained his remarks on Tuesday from a different perspective.

"What I said had nothing to do with the Israeli regime. I did not talk about the usurper Zionist regime. My remarks were about the people of the occupied lands and were in fact a psychological warfare against the Israeli regime," he said.

"What I said was that this regime was in such mess that it no longer enjoyed international support," he added, but insisted that he did not mean that Iran was a friend of Israelis.

Despite stiff opposition to the appointment, the president told IRIB on Tuesday that Rahim-Mashaei will not give up the post as his right-hand man.

"He is one of the most pious, devoted and creative managers in the country, why should he resign?" Ahmadinejad said, adding "Mashaei will continue to serve the Revolution and the nation."

The Iranian president's refusal to review his decision has also drawn harsh criticism from members of the Principlist faction that holds the majority of seats in Majlis.

Hamid-Reza Katouzian, a member of the faction, said that President Ahmadinejad's insistence on the appointment raises doubts about his "abidance" by the Leader, Etemad-e Melli reported on Thursday.

The Principlist MP went on to urge the Iranian chief executive to reverse his decision on the issue to prove that he is following the path of the late Founder of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini and the Leader.

In separate remarks, Parviz Sarvari, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Majlis, also urged the president to revoke the appointment to "prove his commitment" to the Leader.

Head of the Research Center of Majlis, Ahmad Tavakkoli, confirmed reports indicating the Leader's disapproval of the choice.

According to the Principlist MP, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei had even demanded that no key posts in the government be offered to Rahim-Mashaei.

In Search of the Most Trusted Person in America

By Richard A. Lee
After Walter Cronkite passed away last week, I started wondering who would succeed the former CBS Evening News anchor as the most trusted man in America – a label that evolved from a 1980 magazine poll and stuck with him until his death.

In today’s environment, it is hard to imagine that any journalist would be regarded as the most trusted person in America. We live in a polarized nation: The left criticizes the right, the right criticizes the left, and both sides blame the press as often as possible. This hit home for me on Sunday when MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann was introduced at Yankee Stadium to provide play-by-play for the Old Timers’ Day game and drew a round of boos and hisses usually reserved for elected officials who show up at the ballpark to toss out the ceremonial first pitch.

Lest there be any doubt that the reaction of the Yankee faithful was an anomaly, the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, in its 2009 State of the Media report, offered some hard facts and data about today’s attitudes toward the media, concluding:

“The public retained a deep skepticism about what they see, hear and read in the media. No major news outlet – broadcast or cable, print or online – stood out as particularly credible. There was no indication that Americans altered their fundamental judgment that the news media are politically biased, that stories are often inaccurate and that journalists do not care about the people they report on.”

If the PEW study’s assessment of public opinion about the media is accurate, then the most trusted person in America today is not likely to be found in the world of journalism. Where then will we find him or her?

Politicians, entertainers, athletes, even clergy members all have had their images tarnished in recent years. Just yesterday, federal law enforcement officials arrested dozens of people in New Jersey on money laundering and corruption charges. The group included elected officials, rabbis and civic leaders. "The list of names and titles of those arrested today sounds like a roster for a community leaders meeting," said Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI in Newark.

New York Magazine took a crack at finding the nation’s new most trusted person and assembled a list that includes (among others) Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and David Petraeus.

At first glance, a magazine poll may not seem like a suitable way to bestow the title of most trusted person America, but that’s how Cronkite first received that description. True, he earned our trust over the years with his reporting on historic events ranging from President Kennedy’s assassination to the moon landing, but it was a small, unscientific poll of 1,000 women conducted in 1980 by Ladies Home Journal that led to Cronkite being labeled the most trusted man in America.

The poll itself, however, did not actually give Cronkite that label. The poll was divided into categories. The women voted Cronkite the nation’s most trusted newscaster. There were separate categories for most trusted political leader and religious leader. Cronkite was named the nation’s most trusted newscaster by 40 percent of the respondents. Perhaps since this was a higher percentage than the most trusted political leader (Gerald Ford with 11 percent) and religious leader (Pope John Paul II with 36 percent), Cronkite became known not just as the nation’s most trusted newscaster, but also as its most trusted person.

As for today, in the wake of Cronkite’s passing, Time Magazine conducted a poll to determine America’s most trusted newscaster. Katie Couric, the current host of the CBS Evening News, was nowhere near the top. She received just seven percent of the vote. Anchors at the other major networks fared better, but still fell far short of the 40 percent Cronkite received in 1980. ABC World News anchor Charlie Gibson finished with 19 percent, and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams garnered 29 percent.

The winner, the man whom the respondents deemed best suited to succeed Walter Cronkite as the most trusted newscaster in America, was a comedian. New Jersey’s own Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on the Comedy Central cable television channel, received 44 percent of the votes. That’s even more than Cronkite amassed in 1980 – and the label stayed with him for nearly three decades until the end of his life.

# # #

Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey. A former journalist and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies.

Federal Minimum Wage Increase

Hannah Goitein

Effective July 24th, 2009, the Federal Minimum Wage will increase from its current level of $6.55 (previously $5.85) to $7.25 an hour, according to the United States Department of Labor. This amounts to an increase of 10.7%. These wage floor increases were mandated by a bill passed by Congress in 2007, when the minimum was $5.15 an hour, where it had been for many years prior. With few exceptions, almost all employers are required, under the Fair Labor StandardsAct (FLSA), to pay at least the federal minimum wage to their hourly non-exempt employees for all hours they work.

Accordingly, advocates for low-wage workers believe that a higher minimum wage is a step in the right direction, even though for many people it’s barely enough to survive on. With this new increase to $7.25 an hour, a full-time worker still only earns $15,080 a year. At the nationwide work-week average of 33 hours, the worker would earn only $12,441. The United States government sets the poverty level at $10,830 for one person or $22,050 for a family of four in 48 states and D.C. A worker who is above this low poverty level would not be eligible for certain welfare-related assistance. Thereby, the new federal minimum wage will just barely put many Americans above the poverty level, exempting them from certain assistance, yet barely allowing them to live comfortably.

While the federal minimum wage applies to all states, (click here for more information on each state’s minimum wage laws), individual states have the right to pass a higher minimum wage than the federal level. Some states will not be affected by the increase in minimum wage as they already have a minimum wage above $7.25. The impact will most be felt in 30 states (see below) where the minimum wages are lower than this rate, and many of them plan to match the federal minimum once it increases. Seven states already have laws mandating $7.25 minimum pay, while 14 states and the District of Columbia exceed the new minimum. Employers are required to pay whichever is the highest, federal or state.

Hannah Goitein: Hannah Goitein is currently a law student at the George Washington University School of Law and a legal intern for Workplace Fairness. Prior to law school, Hannah graduated magna cum laude from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Hannah previously worked for AT&T as a manager and as a manager for a restaurant before that. Through her management experience coupled with her legal and business education, Hannah became committed to helping Workplace Fairness address workers right issues and continues to be actively involved in improving the workplace. Hannah lives in Washington, DC.


The Sentencing Project, a Washington D.C. nonprofit, says that Louisiana leads the nation with 10.9 percent of its prison population serving life without parole. (See: "More La. prisoners in for life").

The "the nationwide prison population facing life without parole more than tripled between 1992 and 2008, jumping from 12,453 to 41,095". id.

"The report highlights serious problems in Louisiana and other states, said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana." id.

Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, said that:

"This report is disturbing,”


“It confirms what we have known for awhile, which is that Louisiana treats its prisoners worse than most other states. “It’s about retribution,” Esman said of the state’s criminal justice system. “It’s not about rehabilitation. It’s almost pure vindictiveness.”


“There’s no reason to spend the money to keep everybody incarcerated,” Esman said. “It would be far better for the state to allow prisoners the option to win early release.” id.

I disagree with the A.C.L.U. on this one. While we need to come up with unique ways that stop crime, once it is committed the punishment factor comes in to play. If you committ the crime, you must do the time.

Hispanic Immigration Down With Economy

By Conor Dougherty
The economy has pushed Mexican immigration to the lowest level in a decade, according this Journal article. But even though the economy has fallen hard on Latino laborers in the U.S., immigrants here aren’t returning home, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

The reasons for this are also economic: Mexican immigrants risk their lives on the way here, in the process spending most everything they’ve got. Between stepped up border patrol, the high cost of “coyotes” who ferry undocumented workers across the border and Mexico’s own economic problems, immigrants already here have no incentive to return home.

“The sense I get from these numbers is that for the undocumented immigrants it’s been expensive and dangerous to get into the United States,” Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew Hispanic, in an interview. “Given that they’re here, going back has both some immediate cost and has some potential cost to them because it’s going to be expensive and dangerous if they want to come back to the U.S.”

The movement of Hispanics into and around the U.S. has long been one of the more reliable economic indicators. In the boom years the growing number of construction and service jobs prompted many Hispanics to move away from the coasts and traditional gateway cities like Los Angeles, while new immigrants increasingly bypassed cities for the suburbs. And, as today’s Journal story notes, fewer Hispanics are showing up at all. The number of Mexicans, both legal and illegal, immigrating to the U.S. is down about 75% from its 2005 peak. Pew Hispanic estimates that the Mexican immigrant population in the U.S. slipped to 11.5 million from 11.6 million between March 2008 and March 2009, according to the story.

With the economy in recession, the spread of diversity around the country has slowed as cities and traditional gateway states reclaim their status as the big go to places for immigrants in search of work.

The results of this “Hispanic immigration indicator” are echoed in this report, released today from the Brookings Institution. The report notes that suburbs, and especially the outer lying areas known as exurbs, have been hit harder than in the last recession.

Man Sues Restaurant Over Condom in French Onion Soup

Prepare yourself for this sentence: Zdenek Philip Hodouse is suing an Orange County, Calif., restaurant over a prophylactic he found in his French onion soup.

According to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Hodousek was eating an Easter meal with his family at a restaurant called Claim Jumper when he noticed a foreign object in his soup.

"Suddenly he felt what he believed was tough cheese on one side of his mouth," the suit claims. "When he could not chew it into pieces, (Hodousek) commented to his family that it felt like rubber. He spit it out, spooned it onto a napkin, at which time his wife said, "Oh my God, it's a condom.'"

Read more and see the (truly disgusting) picture after the jump.

A manager at the restaurant confirmed that it was indeed a condom and didn't charge the family for the meal. Hodousek says he threw up twice and, fearing disease, took the condom with him to have it tested.

An independent lab turned up female DNA -- which, when you think about it, is far better than other types of DNA that could be found on a condom -- but the restaurant conducted its own internal investigation and found "there was no wrongdoing by any employee."

Despite the negative attention brought on by the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood has come forward to point out that using condoms is still the safest way to have sex with a bowl of soup.

High Speed Internet Arrives In East Africa

Thanks to a fiber optic cable 17,500 kilometers long, East Africa can now enjoy high speed Internet access.

It took two years to lay, stretches 17,500 kilometers, and cost $650. But the fiber optic cable operated by Seacom has brought high speed Internet access to East Africa, connecting South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique to Europe and Asia, the BBC reports.

Due to be launched last month, but delayed by the activity of Somalian pirates, the services were officially unveiled in Dar es Salaam and Mombasa. In Tanzania, the national electricity company, Tanesco, communications company TTCL, Tanzania Railways and the Universities of Dar es Salaam and Dodoma are already benefiting from the improved speeds.

Businesses that have been shelling out $1,000 a month for satellite Internet will see their costs slashed to around $600 each month. In Kenya, the government has been building a cable network to major towns, and will have fiber optic links for schools.

Florida hospital gets sued after spending 3 years and $1.5 Million to care for illegal alien

By Wing Chun Geologist

This lawsuit seems pretty outrageous to me. According to AOL News, Martin Memorial Medical Center spent $1.5 Million to care for Luis Jiminez after an accident that left Jiminez paraplegic and brain damaged. The hospital saved the illegal immigrant’s life, and provided him with not only medical attention, but around the clock care for three years, only to be sued for returning Jiminez to his own country. Advocates for Jiminez are suing because the hospital refused to keep Jiminez indefinitely.

Jimenez was a Mayan Indian who was sending money home to his wife and young sons when in 2000, a drunken driver plowed into a van he was riding in, leaving him a paraplegic with the mental capability of a fourth grader. Because of his brain injury, his cousin Montejo Gaspar was made his legal guardian.

Jimenez spent nearly three years at Martin Memorial before the hospital, backed by a letter from the Guatemalan government, got a Florida judge to OK the transfer to a facility in that country. Gaspar appealed.

But without telling Jimenez’s family — and the day after Gaspar filed an emergency request to stop the hospital’s plan — Martin Memorial put Jimenez on a $30,000 charter flight home early on July 10, 2003.

Weeks later, Jimenez was released from the Guatemalan hospital and soon wound up in his aging mother’s one-room home in a remote mountain village

Jiminez’s relatives in America were perfectly happy to have an American hospital provide neverending expensive hospital care to Jiminez. After all, it wasn’t costing them anything. Hospital care is expensive, and o hospital can afford to keep someone indefinitely.

Mr. Jiminez’s immigration status put the hospital in the position of having to foot the bill (about $ 1 1/2 Million) to care for the seriously injured man because the federal government doesn’t reimburse states for services used by illegal aliens.

...under federal law, Martin Memorial was required to care for Jimenez until someone else would take him. Because of his immigration status, no one else would. But hospitals that receive Medicare reimbursements are required to provide emergency care to all patients and must provide an acceptable discharge plan once the patient is stabilized.

What happened to Mr. Jiminez is truly a tragedy, but should it entitle the illegal immigrant to expensive medical care, in America, for the rest of his life? According to some the answer is yes…after all, it’s free.

Fellow Sailor Charged with Murder of Gay Seaman August Provost

Navy officials have named the fellow sailor charged with the June 30 murder of gay seaman August Provost at Camp Pendleton, and charged him with additional crimes, the North County Times reports:

"Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Campos, a 32-year-old gas system technician, has been charged with murder, arson, unlawful entry, unlawful possession of a firearm and a host of other charges in connection with last month's fatal shooting of a seaman at Camp Pendelton...Campos, of Lancaster, is being held at the brig at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and is cooperating with investigators, who reiterated that there is no indication the killing of August Provost III on June 30 was a hate crime. Provost was gay. 'An investigative hearing will be held in the coming weeks,' the Navy said. 'During the hearing, a military investigating officer will hear evidence to evaluate the charges and evidence.' Officials repeatedly have rejected assertions that Provost was killed because he was gay, as some members of his family have suggested."

Report: Vick to be suspended four games for 2009 season

According to a report by, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has decided to suspend Michael Vick for four games of the 2009 season, but said the free agent quarterback is free to sign with any team and can attend training camp. ESPN states that Goodell is expected to wait until early next week before officially announcing the decision.

So much for some folks thinking that Vick was going to be suspended for eight or even 16 full games this season. Everyone has the right to have their own opinion on whether or not Goodell let Vick off easy, but don’t forget that the former Falcon has already spent 23 months in jail, which is something Pacman Jones, Chris Henry, Tank Johnson never did before serving their suspensions from the commissioner.

Now the waiting game for Vick begins. Which team will ultimately decide to sign Vick and all of his baggage? Will he even be signed? To some, it’s already a foregone conclusion that some team will take a flier on him, but don’t forget that with signing Vick, a team also opens the door to immense criticism from their fan base, not too mention the media attention that inevitable circus that will follow him once he’s signed.

Personally, I still like the Raiders, Seahawks or 49ers as his possible landing spots. The Raiders because Al Davis is clinically insane (he has to be right?) and could care less about what people think. The Seahawks because new head coach Jim Mora personally held Vick’s jock strap for him on the sidelines when he was in Atlanta. And the 49ers because if there’s one person that could truly help Vick turn his life around, I think it’s Mike Singletary. (Oh, and because Shaun Hill is expected to start at quarterback for San Fran…not that he’s not good…eeeh.)

Amy Winehouse acquitted of assault in Britain

A British judge acquitted Amy Winehouse on Friday of assaulting a fan who asked to take her picture, a dose of good news in the beehived soul diva's tumultuous life.

District Judge Timothy Workman found the 25-year-old singer not guilty of punching dancer Sherene Flash in the eye after the fan asked to take her picture following a charity ball in September.

Prosecutors claimed it was a deliberate assault. But Winehouse said she had merely pushed Flash because she felt intimidated — and claimed she was too short to have punched the dancer in the face.

The judge said after hearing the evidence, he could not be sure the blow had been deliberate.

"The charge is dismissed and the defendant discharged," he said.

Winehouse, dressed in a conservative knee-length black skirt, gray jacket, white shirt and pearls, shrugged as the verdict was announced at London's City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. She remained in the dock until her lawyer spoke to her, apparently clarifying the verdict.

"I'm relieved. I'm going home," she said as she left court through a jostling pack of photographers and television cameras.

In a statement read by a spokesman, the singer said she was "very happy to move on with her life and put the episode behind her."

Winehouse, known as much for her chaotic lifestyle as her soulful music, appeared healthy and composed but fidgety during the two-day trial, at times singing to herself, fanning herself with a notebook and sitting cross-legged in the witness box.

Flash accused Winehouse of punching her after a ball in London's Berkeley Square. Prosecution lawyer Lyall Thompson said the backstage incident was "a deliberate assault by Miss Winehouse."

But Winehouse said she had felt intimidated when Flash "lunged at me and put her arm around me," and had only meant to push the other woman's arm away.

"I was scared," Winehouse said Thursday. "I thought 'People are mad these days, people are just rude and mad, or people can't handle their drink.'

"I think she was being overly friendly but that was intimidating," Winehouse added. "I was scared. I'm not Mickey Mouse, I'm a human being."

She also said that at "5 foot 2 1/2 or 5 foot 3" (about 160 centimeters) and wearing ballet pumps, she was too short to have hit the woman in the face. Flash is 5 foot 7 inches (about 175 centimeters) tall and was wearing heels.

Prosecutor Thompson said Winehouse was under the influence of alcohol or "some other substance" when she hit Flash.

The judge it was hard to determine what really happened because most of the people who gave evidence about the incident had been drunk at the time.

"Whilst I accept that all the witnesses have endeavored to give an accurate account of the events, all but two of them were under the influence of alcohol to varying degrees," Workman said.

He said the medical evidence presented by the prosecution did not show "the sort of injury that often occurs when there is a forceful punch to the eye."

Winehouse's lawyer, Patrick Gibbs, said "the main injury here was probably to Miss Flash's pride."

Winehouse shot to stardom with the Grammy-winning album "Back to Black" in 2006, but her music has been overshadowed by reports of drug use, run-ins with the law and a tempestuous marriage.

She has kept a lower profile recently, spending several months on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and moving from her home in London's Camden nightlife hub to a more sedate suburban neighborhood.

Earlier this month, Winehouse was granted a divorce from her husband of two years, Blake Fielder-Civil. She gave her name in court as Amy Jade Civil.

Henry Gates vs. Rush Limbaugh

by Mark Silva

The BlackBerry that Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was carrying at dinner at a little Italian restaurant on the upper East Side of Manhattan the other night was about to "explode'' when the president started talking about him at a news conference.

That's how Gates, the noted scholar of African American culture who was arrested in his own home in Cambridge, Mass., last week, recalls learning that President Barack Obama, his friend, had suggested that the Cambridge police had "acted stupidly''in cuffing the professor during a call about a suspected burglarly at his near-Harvard Yard abode.

That's OK, we suppose, because Rush Limbaugh's head was about to explode when the president got into the Gates case with some "passion'' for it.

Gates, speaking on The Gayle King Show on Sirius-XM's "Oprah Radio'' today, was asked if he had been watching Obama's prime-time news conference Wednesday night, which was largely dedicated to healthcare reform but at which the president was asked about the Cambridge episode involving Gates.

"I was having dinner with a friend on the upper East Side in a little private Italian restaurant, and all of a sudden I thought my BlackBerry was going to explode,'' Gates said. A friend called saying "Barack Obama just mentioned you in his news conference.''

"I said, 'Oh my goodness, what did he say?'... 'He said the Cambridge police were stupid and that you were friends'...'I went, My God.' And then the was like a slot machine. I got 500 emails last night. ''

King, suggesting that the president was correct in saying that police had "acted stupidly,'' also said she was "surprised that the president of the United States would use that particular phrase.'' (Hear their radio conversation here.)

"I think that the circumstances are so was the adjective that...logically popped into his head,'' said Gates, who has demanded an apology from the arresting officer, Sgt. Crowley, who in turn said in media interviews today that he will offer no such thing. The police commissioner came to his defense, too.

"I haven't listened to a lot of the commentary, but the people who want to protect the police and who are afraid of criminals like I'm afraid of criminals are looking for something that I could have done to justify Sgt. Crowley's actions,'' Gates said in the radio interview. "There's nothing that I could have done to justify Sgtt. Crowley's action. ''

It was more the president's action, or rather words, that was creating a stir today, in the aftermath of a news conference that was supposed to help him tout healthcare.

Limbaugh, interviewed by Greta Van Susteren for talks airing tonight and tomorrow night on FOX News Channel's On the Record, suggested that Obama "was more passionate on that last question'' about Gates at the news conference than he was about healthcare.

"And calling the cops stupid?'' Limbaugh added. "I'm telling you, this is -- there's an undercurrent here... And we're finding out this guy's got a chip on his shoulder. He's angry at this country. He's not proud of it.

"That whole press conference was about health care last night,'' Limbaugh said. "But the last question, that's when he came alive."