Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rebellion of the serfs: Bell CA officials that gave themselves exhorbitant salaries arrested

Bell California is the flashpoint for the war against the fleecing of taxpayers so that the few in the ruling class can become rich. The $1.5 million per year city manager, Robert Rizzo, has resigned, but will still get a $500,000 per year pension*. The $475,000 per year police chief resigned, but will still siphon a $275,000 per year pension* for life.

* - depending on the outcome of legal action against these public 'servants' that fleeced taxpayers to enrich themselves. From LA Now via memeorandum:

Pic of the Day!
At least eight city of Bell officials were arrested Tuesday morning, a source said, as L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley prepared to announce criminal charges in the municipal salary scandal.

...Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, whose high salary sparked the outrage that led to the investigations of the city, was among those arrested in the sweep. ...

...Cooley filed charges against eight Bell officials Tuesday, alleging that they misappropriated $5.5 million in public funds. Rizzo has been charged with 53 counts of misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest.

...The office is also looking into allegations of voter fraud and whether the high salaries earned by Rizzo and others were legal.
The full audit by state Controller John Chiang's office has previously found that Bell illegally overtaxed residents and businesses by $5.6 million. In addition to the retirement funds, Rizzo received two city loans of $80,000, officials said.

Now That The Recession’s Over…

Posted by Paul Vigna

Now that the recession’s “officially” over, what changes if any can we expect to see?

- I expect that tomorrow the FOMC, the rate-setting committee of the Federal Reserve, will announce that it’s going to start raising interest rates, now that the recession’s over. After all, the Fed cut its overnight fed funds rate to zero in response to the recession. If the recession’s over, it should be self-evident that a zero percent interest rate is manifestly irresponsible. So forget all this talk about QE II, about another bond-buying scheme from the Fed. It’s time to start the exit strategies and rate tightening.

- I expect the Obama administration to phase out all stimulus programs, and to scuttle the programs it proposed just a few weeks ago, now that the recession’s over. Forget about extending the Bush tax cuts. They are not needed. The economy’s expanding.

- The debate over whether or not to extend unemployment benefits will disappear on its own now that the recession’s over, as companies start hiring again and that army of the unemployed dwindles down to nothing.

- The FASB, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, reinstates the rules for mark-to-market accounting that existed before the recession started, now that the recession’s over. After all, the rules were suspended because of the emergency created by the credit crisis. If the crisis is over, it’s time to reinstate the old rules.

- States and local governments will balance their budgets again, as their revenue rises, since now that the recession’s over and the economy’s expanding citizens will see their incomes recover, which will boost the tax rolls.

How many of those things do you expect to happen? I’d put the odds on them, in order, at zero, zero, zero, zero and zero. So long as the Fed is keeping interest rates at zero, a number that in any other context would be considered dangerously irresponsible, so long as hiring remains stagnant, so long as the government is more concerned about stimulus than austerity, so long as state and local governments remain on the edge of the budgetary abyss, whatever tag we give the economy won’t matter. It’s a point John’s made a few times, and it’s worth bearing in mind as you hear people trying to talk up the recovery.

It’s going to a long, protracted, painful phase we’re going through here.

Gambling Advice for Fed Watchers

Posted by Paul Vigna

What's he doing in there?
If I were a betting man, if I were in the markets and not just somebody who reports on the markets, I’d be betting hard money that the Fed will do nothing today. If I could find anybody to lay odds on that, of course.
It just seems kind of nuts to think the Fed is going to embark on some major initiative today, at the end of its one-day rate-setting meeting. Isn’t the economy healing? Isn’t the recession over? Haven’t the data points been getting better? Then why are so many people thinking the Fed’s going to jump back in with some big support program?

Of course, on the issue of rates, it’s beyond obvious that the Fed’s not going to raise them, despite the fact that the recession is apparently over and the economy growing again. You want to know when the recession will really be over? When the Fed starts raising interest rates.

But the market isn’t focused on that. The market, and not just the stock market, is focused on whether the Fed’s going to announce a new round of quantitative easing, buy Treasurys in order to hold down interest rates (and, oh, if some of that money happens to trickle down to risky assets like, say, stocks, well, they can’t really help that now.) In the market, this is a real question.

Bonds are rising, with a good portion of folks over there expecting something. Stocks are essentially flat, albeit tilted downward; seems stock traders aren’t exactly sure what’s going to happen. Still, whereas in the past the market was fairly certain about what the Fed would do, this time around, it isn’t. I just don’t understand why it isn’t.

The Fed was pretty clear at its last meeting, on Aug. 10. It wasn’t opposed to a new bond-buying scheme, but it would have to see some marked deterioration in the economy. But it hasn’t happened. Make no mistake, things are still dicey, and by the end of August it’s far to say we were teetering. But we’ve once again rather miraculously stepped away from the brink. Things certainly aren’t any worse than in early August. So why would the Fed jump in now?

If the Fed does crank up the printing press, that really ought to tell you everything you need to know about the true state of the economy. It should tell you the economy is closer to the edge than most people think. Of course, it won’t be stated like that, and the market probably won’t take it like that, but that’s the reality. Because at this point the Fed was supposed to be exiting, at this point the Fed was supposed to be unwinding its balance sheet, at this point the Fed was supposed to be unscrewing the training wheels. If it’s not, that’s the real tell.

I’ll be honest with you, there’s a reason I’m not a gambler. I’m not good at it. So I won’t be totally surprised if Ben & Co. do something.

But it won’t be a sign of anything good.

Eddie Franklin: Aretha Franklin’s Son Severely Beaten in Detroit

Eddie Franklin, Aretha Franklin’s son, severely beaten in Detroit on Monday evening. Read about it below.
aretha franklin 6559
Aretha Franklin is the undisputed Queen of Soul, one of the most honored musicians in American history. She has won 20 Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But today she is a mother, by her son’s side as he undergoes emergency surgery. Eddie Franklin was badly beaten yesterday evening in Detroit.

Eddie Franklin, 52-years-old, was severely beaten at a gas station in Detroit on Monday night. He was at a station near Plymouth and Evergreen when he was attacked by three individuals. Witnesses say that all three were African-American. A female suspect appeared to be about 19-years-old and one of the male suspects had dreadlocks.

A ‘good Samaritan’ who has not been named, took Franklin to an area hospital and filed a police report.
Aretha Franklin had her son Eddie when she was just 16-years-old. She is 68-years-old now.

Aretha Franklin’s spokesperson, Gwendolyn Quinn, announced the news. She did not give the name of the hospital where Franklin was taken or what his condition is. The police are investigating the attack and are not giving out information while the investigation is on-going.

At this point, all we know is that Eddie Franklin, Aretha Franklin’s son was severely beaten in Detroit at a gas station last night.

By Beth Shaw

ALG Urges Senate to Support Isakson Resolution Against Union Organization by Plurality Rule

September 21st, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today urged the Senate to support a resolution of disapproval against a National Mediation Board rule that allows for union organization at railways and airlines with less than a majority of employees voting “yes.”

The resolution of disapproval is being proposed by Senator Johnny Isakson, who in The Hill wrote, “The Obama administration’s decision to repeal this rule means that now a minority of the bargaining unit can organize — permanently — the entire organizing unit.”

“The National Mediation Board simply does not have the legal authority to make such a radical change without Congressional authorization,” Isakson stated in a press release. “With this rule change, a union could be permanently recognized without a majority of employees having ever supported representation.”

That is because on May 11th, 2010, the National Mediation Board repealed the so-called “Majority Rule.” Under the old rule, it took a majority of an organizing unit voting “yes” to permanently organize a union. Now, it only takes a majority of those voting, a considerably lower threshold.

Isakson wrote in The Hill, “[U]nder the Majority Rule, if a bargaining unit had 6,000 employees, 3,001 must have voted for a union to organize the unit. However, under the new rule, if only 1,000 of 6,000 vote, and 501 of those 1,000 vote yes, all 6,000 are permanently unionized, even if a majority of them become disenchanted with the union leadership.”

Isakson’s resolution is expected to have an up-or-down vote on Thursday under expedited rules.
Wilson said the rule change most likely had been made to accommodate the merger of Delta Airlines and Northwest. “The new company is 40 percent union, and most of that is from the Northwest employees. Since they didn’t already have a majority, the only way to get a union for the whole company was to change the rules to accommodate a decades-long effort by Big Labor to unionize Delta.”

According to CNN Money, “Unlike its competitors, Delta employees have declined to join labor unions in the past, priding themselves on having great relationships with the company and enjoying the freedom to negotiate contracts with managers one on one.”

Wilson said that the National Mediation Board had violated their authority under the Railway Labor Act, urging the Senate to “uphold the original intent of the law, which never included allowing a minority of workers at a company to unionize. The National Mediation Board has clearly stepped out of its statutory role as a neutral arbiter, and into being an advocate on behalf of union organizers.”

Wilson’s sentiments echoed those of the Chair of the National Mediation Board, Elizabeth Dougherty, who in her dissent wrote, “Regardless of the composition of the board or the inhabitant of the White House, this independent agency has never been in the business of making controversial, one-sided rule changes at the behest of only labor or management.”

Wilson said this was “just the latest example of an agency seizing the power to legislate from Congress,” concluding, “First it was the EPA with the carbon endangerment finding. Then the National Labor Relations Board opening the door for card check. And now the National Mediation Board allowing for unionization with less than majority support.”

Get permalink here.

The Establishment Strikes Back

By Robert Romano
Republican primary voters have casted a decisive verdict against the Washington establishment in 2010. In ousting incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican primary, and denying Representative Mike Castle the party’s nomination in Delaware for the open Senate seat there, grassroots Republicans are doing what they must to bring fresh faces to Washington.

An open question is whether political Independents will join Republican voters in November. Polling indicates that they are. Douglas Schoen and Heather Higgins wrote in the Wall Street Journal on September 20th, “independents say they lean more toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, 50 percent to 25 percent, and that the Republican Party is closer to their views by 52 percent to 30 percent.”
Get full story here.

Guard the Change

Get permalink here.

Justice For All? By Rebekah Rast

After raping and murdering eight women — six of them teenagers — the “Roadside Strangler” was convicted and sentenced to Death Row. He sat there for nearly two decades until his case caught the eye of a judge.
This judge worked to prove the “Roadside Strangler,” Michael Ross, didn’t deserve the death penalty. Instead Judge Robert Chatigny felt Michael Ross’ sexual sadism was a mitigating factor in his crimes and he should be let off the hook for that reason alone.

This should raise the eyebrows and drop the jaws of any America family with a teenage girl — any American family at all.
Get full story here.

Carl Paladino Gains on Andrew Cuomo

Carl Paladino and Andrew CuomoThe latest Rasmussen poll in the New York Gubernatorial race shows Andrew Cuomo still comfortably in the lead over Republican challenger Carl Paladino %54 to %38, yet this being the first poll showing Paladino well above %30 should give the Cuomo camp pause for concern.  One reason Cuomo the state’s attorney general New York’s attorney general has fared so well has been his ability to claim the “anti-corruption” mantle.  Now that Carl Paladino has a Tea Party backed candidate” has become the Republican choice, it will be harder and harder for Cuomo, a political insider and son of the former New York Governor to hold onto to being someone who is seen as a “political outsider.”

As the momentum seems to be clearly with Carl Paladino, this race could tighten up to be much more dramatic.
Stay tuned.

Italian police seize $30M from Vatican in probe

Hey! It's the 80's all over again!
[exclamation marks! please don't start singing Wham!]

It seems like only yesterday we were reading "Italy: The Great Vatican Bank Mystery"

A tale of two deaths, twelve investigations and missing millions
Two suicides, both of which could conceivably be murder. As much as $1.2 billion in unsecured loans. The failure of Italy's huge Banco Ambrosiano, which has left more than 200 international financial institutions holding the bag for millions in loans. A scandal that has threatened the stability of the entire international banking system and has begun to bring about subtle changes in the way the world's major banks do business. A secret plot to undermine the government of Italy and to change the shape of politics in several Latin American countries....
-Time Magazine
September 13, 1982
From the AP:
Italian authorities seized euro23 million ($30.18 million) from a Vatican bank account Tuesday and said they have begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money laundering probe.
The Vatican said it was "perplexed and surprised" by the investigation.

Italian financial police seized the money as a precaution and prosecutors placed the Vatican bank's director general and its chairman under investigation for alleged mistakes linked to violations of Italy's anti-laundering laws, news reports said.

The is probe not the first time the bank — formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion — has faced trouble. In the 1980s, it was involved in a major scandal that resulted in a banker, dubbed "God's Banker" because of his close ties to the Vatican, being found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London....MORE
Alrighty then. As for me, I gotta go go.

Michael Jackson virtual world planned for 2011 launch

"The Ultimate Michael Jackson Online Game" may not be a virtual world you expected, but it's a very real project coming to us late next year, via Entropia Universe.

SEE Virtual Worlds approached Michael Jackson's estate about producing Planet Michael, and the company is planning to focus on the King of Pop's positive impact on our culture: "Planet Michael will offer fans around the globe an innovative, first-of-its-kind interactive gaming and social experience that truly celebrates Michael Jackson's extraordinary life as an artist and humanitarian."

Planet Michael will be a free-to-play themed planet created specifically for Entropia Universe with "gameplay monetization" that allows players to take on different occupations and sometimes contribute to real-world charities at the same time. The site is currently live and taking signups.

by Rubi Bayer

Sun-Times: Junior behind $6m deal with for Senate seat

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is talking about running for mayor of Chicago. With disturbing, but not surprising news in today's Chicago Sun-Times about Junior, he should worry about hanging on to his House seat. Voters in Illinois' 2nd District have a better choice for Congress, the Rev. Isaac Hayes.

From the Sun-Times:

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. directed a major political fund-raiser to offer former Gov. Rod Blagojevich millions of dollars in campaign cash in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate, sources said the fund-raiser has told federal authorities.

The allegation by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak counters public statements made as recently as last week by Jackson that he never authorized any deal to attempt to buy the Senate seat.

Nayak also told authorities he paid for two airline trips for a "social acquaintance" of the Democratic congressman at Jackson's request, raising more potential ethical and political problems for Jackson.

The FBI interviewed that acquaintance -- a Washington, D.C., restaurant hostess named Giovana Huidobro [pictured on the right] -- about a year ago as part of its corruption probe of Blagojevich. Authorities were trying to determine whether Jackson had asked Nayak to offer Blagojevich campaign cash in exchange for the then-governor appointing Jackson to the seat once held by President Obama, according to sources with knowledge of the probe.
No Junior for mayor, no Junior for Congress.

SUV hits, kills Md. Green Party Senate candidate

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) — A Green Party candidate running for U.S. Senate in Maryland has died after being hit by an SUV while riding her bike.

Maryland State Police say 30-year-old Natasha Pettigrew died early Tuesday. She was hit by an SUV in Prince George’s County early Sunday.

Police say the woman driving the Cadillac Escalade that hit Pettigrew kept driving nearly four miles to her home, even though the bicycle was still lodged underneath the vehicle.

police say the woman thought she hit a deer or a dog and didn’t want to stop in the early morning hours. When she and her husband found the bicycle under the SUV, they called police.

Juarez Newspaper Pleas With Drug Cartels

The El Diario de Juarez newspaper wrote an open letter to the city’s drug cartels Sunday asking for mercy. In the editorial, the paper asked the cartels to let the journalists do their jobs without the threat of being killed. Friends and family buried slain photographer Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco Sunday, after he was shot several times Thursday while sitting inside of a car outside of a Juarez shopping mall. Authorities have not linked the death to the drug cartel, but after having two journalists killed, in just two years, the newspaper is now pleading with the cartels through an editorial published Sunday. In addition to last week's incident, the paper cites the 2008 death of crime reporter Armando Rodriguez. He was gunned down in his car outside of his home. The newspaper says in it's editorial, it is clear the cartels are the city's authorities, especially since the Mexican government is not protecting journalists. The editorial said, "We ask you to explain what you want from us, what we should try to publish or not publish, so we know what to expect."...more

Denver Nuggets: Want ‘Melo? Just ‘Send It In’

AOL FanHouse is reporting that an anonymous NBA team executive says Denver has told teams to “send it in” regarding their proposals for Carmelo Anthony. The rest of FanHouse’s report is not quite as interesting. The executive says that Denver has shown;
interest in top-tier young players, future first-round draft picks, young assets (i.e. high-upside players with relatively-affordable contracts), and salary-cap savings.
What else would you want? That is everything you could possibly want minis an established veteran.
Denver has a rather massive payroll number in 2010-2011. FanHouse reports the number as $83 million. This is, of course, much greater than the salary cap of $58 million and is additionally well into the league’s luxury tax (above $70.3M).

To me, these numbers really shows that Denver might actually  be willing to part with ‘Melo. Looking at those numbers in their books can’t be too pleasant for ownership. That is when you consider that the Nuggets have been to the playoffs 7 straight seasons, and in those 7 playoffs appearances the team has exited in the very 1st round 6 times.

With these new developments, ESPN is reporting that the Nets are the early front-runners. Shocker. Other teams who reportedly have interest are the Knicks, Bulls, Rockets, Clippers and Warriors. I would say that it is obviously that, if possible, Denver would love to ship ‘Melo out of the Western Conference.

Of note on that list of potential suitors is Chicago. They still can’t find a dance partner.

This is likely going to cost the Nets Derrick Favors. If you are the Nets, I’m not sure that is that big of a deterrent. Not only is Carmelo an established players while Favors is anything but. Additionally, hopefully ‘Melo can put together a Wade like pitch to Chris Paul and other free agents this coming summer.
Has that ever happened? A top 3 pick gets traded, not on draft day, but in the fall before ever playing for the team that drafted him?

Source: Denver Listening to Trade Offers for Carmelo Anthony [FanHouse]

by RDM.

Paris Hilton Kicked Out of Japan

Finally, Paris Hilton’s arrest for cocaine is paying off just the way she wanted. She’s just been detained by immigration in Japan after arriving on a private jet this morning and is currently sequestered to Narita airport (above) where she’s contemplating bolting the country entirely. TMZ reports:
A source close to Paris tells us she flew to Japan on business and was questioned by immigration authorities as she got off the plane. Immigration authorities are allowing Paris to stay at an airport hotel until the matter is resolved. For her part, Paris hasn’t decided whether to stay or leave.
Paris’ rep tells TMZ, “Paris Hilton was delayed by immigration authorities at a Japanese airport this evening after arriving for business obligations planned many months earlier. Paris was contractually bound to her business trip and didn’t want to let down her brands and many Asian fans.”
Dear Mr. President,
Because I remember Pearl Harbor, I felt it wise to beseech you on this grave matter. Do we really have to let Paris Hilton back into the U.S? I mean, seriously, morale is low, and now we’re about to let Japan make us look like silly bitches. Again. I’m not even asking you to shoot her plane out of the sky. (Although I’m not not asking you.) Just direct it to Antarctica. That’s all.

Do right by your country, sir. Unless you really are a secret Kenyan ninja.
Oh, no, I di’int,
- The Superficial

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Clip

"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps movie clip"
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps movie clip

Right now the much awaiting movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps has a clip on release. This movie clip was named as Face Off it ensures the fans want walk away with that ease from the movie. Really the tale of a trader and a young man who seeks to know about the how to make the life worth with every thing possible joining up another man who is so ashamed with his past and want to have a better start for life. Good to see the movie was released few of the clips just nearing the release and it was held until 24 September 2010.

Right now there are so many who are dies to see Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps clip with more extended routine of these two traders. This movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps will not only making the people noisy about what they been seen on it. Some times it may rise to use them in real life because so many things about having to make money and loosing all ends up for nothing was so accurately put into a drama from it. Good to see that also in this movie clip they been able to use the golden rule of hiding the most important facts about their trading and some how it shown the difficulties they are about to face with near future plans.

Oliver Stone was the director of this movie and right now he might have big hopes to get climb ahead with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps movie at box office. How ever this movie was so much keen to prompt a better additions about the money crisis happen to be around almost any where in the world and trading been not the easiest thing to do. Shia LaBeouf and Josh Brolin is starring on this movie clip and with them in the movie Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan are playing few of the main roles.

NY Jets Braylon Edwards Arrested For DWI (Mugshot)

The New York Jetswide receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), having twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system, after his Range Rover was pulled over around 5:15 am in New York on Tuesday (September 21).
NY Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum says, “We are very disappointed in Braylon’s actions this morning … We are reviewing the information with the league and will impose the appropriate disciplinary measures.”
The 27 year-old is in big trouble with The Jets. Braylon had been at a charity event hosted by his teammate Jerrico Cotchery and he might have drunk one too many, but that is no excuse for his behavior since The Jets provide a car service for all their players.
The Jets players can get wasted all they want and just need call their private chauffer to drive them home safely. No kidding.
[image: Fox5]

Bristol Palin On Dancing With The Stars

I finally had to break down and watch Dancing With The Stars to see how Bristol Palin did. Not terrible, but certainly not very good. Sadly, I'm predicting Margaret Cho as the first to go. TMZ claimed earlier today that Sarah Palin was to be in the audience and in the event of a security breach, the safety of the elder Palin "has a higher priority than Bristol. " This clip may have a brief life on YouTube. posted by Joe

Does Teresa Lewis Deserve to Die?

by Diane Fanning

On Thursday, the State of Virginia plans to execute a woman for the first time in 98 years.  In 2002, Teresa Lewis, who was married and living near Danville,  Virginia, in rural Pittsylvania County, had an affair with Matthew Shallenberger. On the night of October 30, Teresa intentionally left a door unlocked when she got into bed with her husband.
Shallenberger and his partner-in-crime Rodney Fuller used that door to enter the trailer where Teresa lived with her 51-year-old husband Julian and 25-year-old stepson Charles. Shallenberger went to one end of the home and shot the sleeping Julian in the back. At the other end of the trailer, Fuller killed Charles. The motive was $350,000 in insurance money.

After the shooting, Teresa took money from her dying husband's wallet and waited 45 minutes to call police.  Despite the delay, Julian was still alive when the deputies arrived and told them, "My wife knows who done this to me."  He died moments later.

Shooting men in their sleep is a horrible act.  Nonetheless, I am disturbed by the imminent execution of Teresa Lewis.  I am not bothered because she's female.  After all, although 10 to 12 percent of all homicides are committed by women, they comprise just 2 percent of the population on death row.  I believe strongly in equity in the justice system.  Justice demands that there should be no gender bias just as there should be no racial bias.

There are three different issues that do trouble me:

1. Teresa Lewis didn't fight the charges; she pleaded guilty before the judge.

It seems illogical to me that someone who admitted guilt would be given a death sentence.  It seems the state would want to encourage perpetrators to acknowledge their responsibility.  It saves taxpayers money, it saves victims' family members from the anguish of a trial, and it settles the issue in a speedier manner.  But when someone does plead guilty and still gets the maximum penalty, it discourages every-other killer from making an honest plea.

2. Teresa Lewis did not pull the trigger

Fuller appeared first before the judge.  He pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against his two co-conspirators.  He was given a life sentence.  Shallenberger decided to go to trial ,but in the middle of the proceedings, he changed his plea to guilty.  The same judge said that it wouldn't be fair to give Shallenberger a death sentence when the other killer received life.  He gave the second triggerman the same sentence as the first.

The same judge decided the fate of Teresa Lewis.  She pleaded guilty, taking her chances with the judge.  Unlike the two men, she had no criminal record, no history of violence and had cooperated with authorities.  Nonetheless, the judge sent her to death row saying that she was more culpable because she was the mastermind.

But was she?  Before committing suicide, Shallenberger cast doubt on her dominant role in the crime.  In an editorial in the Washington Post, author John Grisham wrote that in the sworn affidavit from a private investigator, "Shallenberger described Lewis as not very bright and as someone who could easily be duped into a scheme to kill her husband and stepson for money.  According to the investigator, Shallenberger said, 'From the moment I met her, I knew she was someone who could be easily manipulated.  From the moment I met her I had a plan for how I could use her to get some money.'"

Shallenberger wanted cash to set up a drug distribution ring and become an accomplished hitman. In a 2003 letter, he wrote: "I met Teresa in a Walmart in Danville, Virginia.  From the moment I met her I knew she was someone who could be easily manipulated.  Killing Julian and Charles Lewis was entirely my idea.  I needed money and Teresa was an easy target."

In a 2004 affidavit, Fuller corroborated that statement: "As between Mrs. Lewis and Shallenberger, Shallenberger was definitely the one in charge of things, not Mrs. Lewis."

3. Teresa Lewis is borderline for mental retardation

Her IQ, tested once at 73 and a second time of 70, places her just above the threshold where the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision would have prohibited her execution.  Nonetheless, it is still low enough to indicate that she did not have the mental capacity to plan and execute the scheme.  "She does not have the basic skills necessary to organize and lead a conspiracy to commit murder for hire," Grisham wrote.

In addition to her intellectual limitations, three different psychology experts have declared Lewis suffers from "dependent personality disorder." making it difficult for her to carry out even the most simple of daily tasks without the help of someone else.  On top of that, Grisham added, a long list of physical ailments, enabled her to develop "an addiction to pain medications and this adversely affected her judgment."

No one is advocating for Teresa's release for prison.  They are calling for the commutation of her sentence from death to life.  In addition to John Grisham, her clemency plea is supported by Amnesty International, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights and a number of Christian groups, including the one led by long-time prison chaplain the Reverend Lynn Litchfield. 

Governor Bob McDonnell recently refused to give Teresa a stay of execution.  All that stands between her and death is a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court.

U.S. Poverty Rate Rises; Americans Pessimistic on Economy

The nation’s economy isn’t faring well, and Americans know it. Three-fourths of working Americans are very concerned about their long-term financial futures, according to a study by Principal Financial Group. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Principal’s grim findings hit the Internet the same week as the U.S. Census Bureau’s equally discouraging poverty report. America may be the richest country in the world in terms of total gross domestic product, but how does the U.S. stack up with other nations on a per-citizen level?
Comparing America’s Poverty Rate

While the rich have grown richer, many working-class Americans have lost money in recent years, in part due to upper-class tax cuts and globalization. The economy’s balance has taken a pronounced shift to favor the wealthy, leaving 14.3% of U.S. citizens below the poverty line in 2009. The most recent numbers show the worst poverty rate America has seen in 15 years.

Let’s take a look at how America’s current situation compares to the rest of the world, with some help from the CIA World Factbook.

Compared to the entire globe, America’s poverty level is exceptionally low. The country’s 2009 rate makes the U.S. the 28th-least impoverished country out of the 141 nations listed. Of the 27 countries with fewer poor citizens than America, a few stand out:
  • China has an 8% poverty rate, which runs contrary to the popular conception of China as a crowded country with a large underclass.
  • Developed western countries such as Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom all have poverty rates just a bit lower than that of America.
  • Lithuania, Serbia and Austria, three Eastern European countries, enjoy some of the world’s lowest poverty rates. Lithuania’s 4% rate is Europe’s lowest.
  • Just 0.95% of Taiwan‘s citizens are impoverished, the world’s best mark. The Asian island nation has a poverty rate more than 30 times better than the world average of 32.5%.
That leaves 113 countries with worse poverty situations than America. Here’s a look at a few notables:
  • Nations with comparable-but-higher poverty rates include Vietnam, Jamaica and South Korea.
  • India, long known for its iniquity and oppressive caste system, has a below-average poverty rate of 25%. India boasts one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
  • South Africa, which overcame the oppressive Apartheid regime in 1994, still struggles with 50% poverty.
  • Most of the world’s most impoverished countries are in Africa. Eight of the 10 highest poverty rates come from Africa, topped by the 80% rates in Liberia, Chad and Zimbabwe.
What’s Happening to America?
A number of factors have come together to result in a perfect storm of sorts that has impacted the U.S. economy negatively over the past two-plus years. The recession has eliminated job opportunities as companies have made staff reductions to cope with underwhelming sales numbers. The real estate market and economy collapsed in 2007, leaving homeowners underwater on mortgages and banks teetering on the edge of collapse. The government has pulled out all the stops to turn the economy around, but nothing has worked to this point. Unemployment is hovering just below 10% and showing no sign of steady improvement.
These developments have left Americans feeling pessimistic about their economic standing. Just 19% of U.S. employees feel extremely happy about their financial well-being, a sharp decrease from the previous quarter. While just 28% of American workers thought the economy would improve in the next year, 39% thought the economic situation would worsen.

Video: Iran's president to address UN Al Jazeera

Breaking News: 9 NATO troops killed in helicopter crash

KABUL, Afghanistan — A NATO helicopter crashed Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, killing nine international troops in a region where forces are ramping up pressure on Taliban insurgents. It was the deadliest chopper crash for the coalition in four years.

The cause was not immediately clear. The Taliban claimed to have shot down the helicopter, but NATO said there were no reports of hostile fire.

It happened in Zabul province — rugged terrain where helicopters are heavily used to transport military troops spread over mountainous areas with few roads.

The nationalities of the service members who died have not been released. One other coalition service member, an Afghan National Army soldier and a U.S. civilian were injured.

So far this year, 525 U.S. and NATO forces have been killed in Afghanistan, surpassing the 504 killed last year. This year has been the deadliest for international forces since the war began in 2001.

The helicopter crash occurred in northwestern Zabul province, according to a NATO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the location of the crash. Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Zabul, said the helicopter went down in Daychopan district.

"I was sitting taking my tea," said Nakeemullah, 20, who works transporting livestock in the area. "I heard noise and I went outside to see what happened.

"I saw a lot of smoke in the sky," said Nakeemullah, who uses only one name. "It was far away for me, but I could see that it was a helicopter and it went down on the backside of the mountain where I couldn't see."

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The Misunderstood Tea Party Movement

 by Publius
From the UK’s Telegraph (where we often go to find stories not covered by our lame media):
First they were ignored. Then they were derided as the tools of Big Money. Then they were branded as racists, the unhinged, the unwashed, the paranoid, the subversive and the ignorant – or some combination thereof.

Now, they stand accused of aiding and abetting the enemy by splitting the Republican party and giving Democrats hope for the November mid-terms. It has been a rough ride for members of the Tea Party in the 19 months since their movement sprung up.

But each insult and attempt to marginalise them seems only to have stiffened their resolve and swelled their numbers. Polling indicates that they are now more popular than either Republicans or Democrats. Despite all the claims they are extremists, around half of the electorate now identifies with the Tea Party and up to a quarter view themselves as members.

The time for them to be taken seriously is long overdue. The Tea Party will be pivotal in November. It has ripped up the playbook for the 2012 Republican primaries. Asnd it could just end up kicking President Barack Obama out of the White House.

Christine O’Donnell’s Senate primary victory in tiny Delaware last week rocked the world of the Republican establishment in Washington. Widely portrayed as a kook and bitterly opposed by the Republican party, she defeated Mike Castle, a moderate Republican who had held continuous political office in the state since 1965.
Castle was widely regarded as a shoo-in against the Democrat on November 2nd. O’Donnell is a political novice and a patchy campaigner. The secret of her win? Endorsements by Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, and the Tea Party.

Oh, and Delaware primary voters didn’t give a fig about Castle’s electability. As far as they were concerned, he was a professional politician who was a RINO – Republican In Name Only – who could not be trusted. In the Senate, he might switch parties or vote with the Democrats to give Obama a bipartisan sheen. And, after 45 years in office, why not give someone else a chance?

The Tea Party has often been portrayed as a fringe group within the Republican party or a support network for Palin.

Dig deep and you will find that it is neither. There is, of course, a problem with the word “it”. Although the Tea Party is referred to as a single entity, it is really a loose conglomeration of some national organisation and a plethora of groups formed in local neighbourhoods all over America. Standing for Taxed Enough Already, it took its inspiration from the 1773 Boston Tea Party protest against British colonialists.

A desire for small government, lower taxes and fidelity to the United States Constitution binds members together. There is a prevailing mood of anger towards Washington and a sense of having been conned. Mention the $700 billion (£448 billion) bailout, health care reform or cap and trade legislation and they will go into conniptions.

But beyond that, the Tea Party is a vast, teeming muddle of opinion and impulses. Many of its strong supporters don’t attend public meetings. “The Tea Party is more an attitude than anything organised,” one Southern conservative told me.
Read the whole thing here.

Bruno Mars Busted for Cocaine Possession, Mug Shot Revealed

Bruno Mars
Following his arrest early Sunday morning in Las Vegas, Bruno Mars was all smiles in this newly released mug shot. More details have emerged on the “Just the Way You Are” singer’s run-in with the law.

Though it was previously revealed that he was busted for narcotics possession in the bathroom of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, TMZ has learned that the hitmaker was in possession of 2.6 grams of cocaine, discovered on his person after security guards confronted him.

Bruno was released shortly after his arrest, heading down to Texas to do radio promo. “Texas is dope! Im in dallas rite now looking foward to meeting some folks @ the radio stations. tune in for a special live performance,” he tweeted.

The setback comes amidst a busy promo schedule for Mars. He will release his debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans on Oct. 5, followed by his tour kickoff with Maroon 5 and OneRepublic, and his “SNL” debut on Oct. 9.

The Great Recession ended last summer: It’s official

The Great Recession endedThe Great Recession is officially over — and has been for more than a year.

The panel of economists that is the widely accepted arbiter of business cycles has called an end to what is now officially the longest U.S. economic downturn of the post-World War II era. The recession ended in June 2009, 18 months after it began in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s business cycle dating committee.

But the committee took pains to make clear that it was not asserting that the economy has returned to full health.
“In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity,” the committee said in statement published on the NBER’s Web site. “Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.”

In other words, economic activity peaked at the end of 2007, fell for a year and a half, and has been rising since then. But it hasn’t risen back to its pre-recession levels yet. Moreover, the committee said, “any future downturn of the economy would be a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in December 2007.”
The committee moves slowly and cautiously in its pronouncements, aiming not to characterize the economy in real time but rather to establish historical benchmarks for when periods of economic expansion and contraction begin and end. It waits until ample economic data is available and has been revised, and hence there are often long delays between the onset or end of a recession and the NBER’s call. The recession that began in December 2007 was not formally designated one until a year later.

The committee defines a recession as “a period of falling economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.” The designation of June 2009 as an end date for the recession conforms to a view that many economic analysts have held for some time.

According to the committee, such indicators as gross domestic product and industrial production appear to have bottomed out in June 2009. Others, however, particularly involving employment, did not begin expanding until December 2009.

The business cycle dating committee consists of eight top macroeconomists, chaired by Stanford University’s Robert Hall. Only seven participated in the decision, however: David Romer, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, is on leave as his wife, Christina Romer, was until recently serving as a top adviser to President Obama.

Remembering Kenny McKinley, Denver Broncos WR and Dad: Fans Pay Tribute

Posted by ToniFitz76 
Kenny McKinley
Kenny McKinley leaves behind a young son
Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend how things like this happen. Kenny McKinley, a promising 23-year-old Denver Broncos wide receiver, was found dead yesterday by a friend who had been out with his young son. McKinley apparently committed suicide, and his death has left the Broncos, as well as the University of South Carolina, where he played college ball, reeling. His is the third Broncos player death in three years, coming after Damien Nash’s sudden passing and Darrent Williams’ drive-by shooting.

McKinley’s friends and colleagues are having a hard time understanding what went wrong for McKinley. He had a young son, whom he recently took on a trip to his alma mater, and a generally sunny disposition. Teammates and coaches are describing him as a man whose smile lit up a room.

But he apparently was wrestling with many personal demons. His second season with the Broncos began after a frustrating first year in which he was injured and saw little playing time. Many college superstars have trouble making the transition to backup in the NFL, where they’re just one of many talented players, and his coaches and teammates suggested that was a jarring transition for McKinley.

Here’s what fans are saying about him on Twitter:

lomaxgr: RIP Kenny McKinley; think about his poor son … Never forgotten in #Bronconation
angelrobinson33: @LilLex24 plz tell me that Kenny McKinley’s death is not tru…. plz. can’t be true… why?
MyNJJETS: Broncos WR Kenny McKinley found dead in apparent suicide- You have to just wonder what was so terrible? Sad…….

dragonfly4334: I am still in shock over Kenny McKinley. It is so difficult to imagine what he was going through that led to his
oldcrow_: R.I.P — Kenny McKinley.

CupCAKER: we’ve lost #11 – Kenny McKinley #27 – Darrent Williams and #29 – Damien Nash.
Add your own tributes below.