Monday, August 31, 2009
The two firefighters were killed when they drove off the side of a treacherous road in the Mt. Gleason area, south of Acton, around 2:30 p.m., said Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant. They were later identified as Arnaldo Quinones, 35, of Palmdale and Tedmund Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County.
More than 12,500 homes were threatened and 6,600 were under mandatory evacuation orders Sunday night. Eighteen residences have been destroyed, fire officials said, mostly in the Big Tujunga Canyon area.
Pray for the two fallen firefighters, pray for their comrades still battling this blaze, pray for the residents affected."We started thinking smart and came up with a plan," said Greg Lievense, 54, an engineer at the nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory. One neighbor began stockpiling ladders and flashlights. The group organized into three-member teams and agreed no one would be alone through the emergency. "We broke up into 'ember shifts' " Lievense said, with each group taking turns peering into the eaves and backyards of their neighbors, searching for glowing embers or flames and responding if possible. They developed an emergency signal -- three long honks of a car horn -- which would mean that a home was on fire or that they would all have to leave, he said.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
An eternal flame
You asked nothing more
You embody a quality
O fallen comrades,
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) was years ahead of the curve when it came to Take Your Dog to Work Day. The constant presence of his three Portuguese water dogs in his Russell building office helped humanize their owner and brought a sense of fun to a workplace known for rules and formalities.
Now, lobbyists, staffers and other Hill dwellers say they mourn not only the passing of Kennedy but also he end of a unique chapter in Capitol Hill’s canine history. With their black curly hair, floppy ears and bouncy gait, Kennedy’s dogs became a part of the lawmaker’s nearly 47-year Hill tenure.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
By the way, I am curious to know - who picked up the tab to fly the body (and presuambly, his family) from Boston to Washington D.C.?
Mr. Kennedy’s grandchildren offered intercession prayers as part of the Eucharist. One, Max Allen, the 12-year-old son of his daughter Kara, used Mr. Kennedy’s words to plead for passage of universal health care legislation, “for what my grandpa called the cause of his life, as he said so often: in every part of this land, that every American will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.”
I gotta admit, though - I would have liked to listen to Placido Domingo sing Panis Angelicus.
We now find out that President Obama will eulogize the Senator at his funeral, an indignity which, following on the heels of the Notre Dame fiasco, leaves faithful Catholics feeling sullied, desecrated and dehumanized by men who seem to look for opportunities to slap the Church in the face and do so with impunity simply because they have positions of power. It is not enough for Kennedy to have been a "great guy behind the scenes" as we have seen him referred to even by his political opponents. It is also not praiseworthy to put a Catholic rhetorical veneer on his leftist politics that did nothing to advance true justice as the Church sees it or to advance the peace of Christ in this world. Every indication of Senator Kennedy's career, every public appearance, every sound bite showed an acerbic, divisive and partisan political hack for whom party politics were much more infallible than Church doctrines. Whatever one's political affiliation, if one is only "Catholic" to the extent that his faith rhymes with his party line, then his Catholicism is a fraud.
Senator Kennedy needs to be sent to the afterlife with a private, family-only funeral and the prayers of the Church for the salvation of his immortal soul. He will not be missed by the unborn who he betrayed time and time again, nor by the rest of us who are laboring to undo the scandalous example of Catholicism that he gave to three generations of Americans.
The Jacksons issued a statement following the coroner's release: "The Jackson family again wishes to commend the actions of the Coroner, the LAPD and other law enforcement agencies, and looks forward to the day that justice can be served."
Friday, August 28, 2009
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping that the "Great California Garage Sale" will turn government clutter like surplus prison uniforms and office furniture into cash to bulk up the state's depleted finances.State officials estimate the giant two-day yard sale being held at a state warehouse will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to clearing out office products, the state is also selling unclaimed property from state parks and items confiscated by law enforcement, said California Department of General Services spokesman Eric Lamoureux."This is a win-win for the state and for shoppers," Schwarzenegger said in a statement Tuesday announcing that a selection of items also would be sold on eBay and Craigslist. "Together we are eliminating waste and providing great deals in this tough economy."
Schwarzenegger also has autographed 15 car visors in an effort to fetch more money during the sale Friday and Saturday.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I was meant to be eccentric and Southern . . ."I frequently disagree with priests who get themselves printed in various places but generally it's not with the contents but the tone. My mind is usually at ease, but my sensibilities seldom so. Smugness is the Great Catholic Sin. I find it in myself and I don't dislike it any less."
Anti-abortion groups are gearing up for a battle in the fall over health-care legislation, another headache for Democrats who already face concerns about the measure's cost and reach.
Most versions of the Democratic health plan would create subsidies for lower-income people to buy private health insurance. If that insurance includes coverage for abortion, as many existing private plans do, it effectively means federal taxpayers are subsidizing abortion, critics of the legislation argue.
“If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed,” the comedian Paul Mooney, sporting an Afro, says in the documentary “Good Hair,” which won a jury prize at the Sundance film festival and comes out in October. “If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.”
The United Nations is recommending that children as young as five receive mandatory sexual education that would teach even pre-kindergarteners about masturbation and topics like gender violence.
The U.N.'s Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a 98-page
report in June offering a universal lesson plan for kids ranging in age from 5-18, an"informed approach to effective sex, relationships" and HIV education that they say is essential for "all young people."Turner was disturbed by UNESCO's plans to explain to children as young as nine about the safety of legal abortions, and to advocate and "promote the right to and access to safe abortion" for everyone over the age of 15.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Young men who contract sexually transmitted diseases often view their afflictions as an affirmation of their manhood, a new Swedish study shows.With other male friends slapping on the shoulders and offering encouraging comments about “success with the ladies”, young men who contract diseases such as chlamydia or genital warts can come to view their infection as a badge of honour, rather than a serious health problem.
Hell in a handbasket, people . . .
Monday, August 24, 2009
Junk-food taxes are often mentioned as a way to help fund a restructuring of the healthcare system, though no one in Congress has endorsed them.The notion is catching on with the general public, however. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll last month found that 55% of respondents favored a tax on unhealthful snack foods, up from 52% in April. Support for a soda tax rose to 53% from 46%.
Junk-food taxes are also unfair, because the poor would be hardest hit, said fiction writer Julie Cochrane of Marshall, Va.: "I am not about to raise taxes on a single mom scraping by on a low-wage job." Still, the logic of a junk-food tax seems clear. Fattening foods tend to be cheap, and fresh produce and lean cuts of meat are often the priciest. A tax could help offset that imbalance, nudging people to eat more of what they should and less of what they shouldn't.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The Obama White House is abuzz with talk of witchcraft by first grandmother, 72-year-old Marian Robinson, who lives in the White House residence. A close friend of Michelle Obama says the president is furious at his mother-in-law after learning that she was practicing Santeria, an African spirit cult, in the White House.
The president was “totally in favor” when his mother-in-law moved into the White House as a live-in babysitter for 11-year-old Malia and 8-year-old Sasha. Obama reportedly told Michelle that her mother will have to go back to Chicago if she does not “stop this witchcraft mumbo-jumbo immediately” and ordered the Secret Service to not allow Marian’s friend to return to the White House.
Oh, 'cmon . . . it's a curse to some.
And to others living in Van Nuys, California, it's a living.
As one customer mentioned in a review:
And all of the queries as to why I'm not doing porn get annoying. I TRIED doing porn once and accidentally smashed the camera when I was fully aroused and turned around too quickly. ...I also gave my leading lady a concussion, broke a window in the next room, and, well, impregnated 3 different women in a 5 block radius. It was a little mortifying.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
As a person of faith, I support health care reform, and I'm tired of shouting, disruptions and distortions preventing an honest debate.Over the next 40 days, I commit to doing my part as a person of faith to promote health care reform. I commit to taking actions like writing my representatives, attending events, and telling my friends about our efforts to make the faith community a positive force for health care reform.
A Nebraska man who stole a painting of the Virgin Mary to finance an abortion for a teen he raped has been convicted of first-degree sexual assault and felony theft.Aurelio Vallerillo-Sanchez, 39, of Omaha pleaded no contest to the charges Friday and faces up to 70 years in prison when sentenced in October, Douglas County prosecutor Brenda Beadle said Saturday.Beadle said Vallerillo-Sanchez fled to Mexico with the 300-year-old painting worth $100,000 and the pregnant teen in March 2007."The plan was that when they got to Mexico, she was to undergo an abortion," she said.
When an abortion wasn't possible, Vallerillo-Sanchez pushed to have the baby given up for adoption, Beadle said: "He wanted to do everything he could to get rid of this baby 'cause it was evidence against him."
The teen returned to Nebraska after giving birth, the prosecutor said.
The state's first black governor yesterday blamed his political woes -- and those of President Obama -- on a white-dominated media that he accused of taking part in an "orchestrated" attack campaign."Even our own reporters from our own community buy the public line, which is, 'We're going to get rid of David Paterson.' "
Paterson cited critical stories about his late-night partying at a Chelsea nightclub on the eve of a painful budget announcement as proof of the media's bias.
"The next victim on the list -- and you see it coming -- is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than try to reform a health-care system . . . only because he's trying to make change," Paterson said.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Travel icon Arthur Frommer says he won't be spending his tourism dollars at the Grand Canyon, or anywhere else in Arizona, because the state's laws allow people he described as "thugs" and "extremists" to openly carry firearms.
The author of budget-travel guides said on his blog Wednesday that he was "shocked beyond measure" by reports that protesters openly carried guns and rifles outside a Phoenix building where President Barack Obama spoke on Monday.
They wouldn't do it in Arizona, though. Because their, the citizens carry guuuuuuunnnnssssss!
Wait, didn't Obama just spend his tourism dollars at the Grand Canyon? Oh, that's right - he spent ours.
A former swimsuit model found naked and dead in a suitcase last weekend was identified by the serial number from her breast implants, a California district attorney's office spokeswoman said Friday.Detectives were unable to identify 28-year-old Jasmine Fiore using fingerprints or dental records because her body had been disfigured, and was missing fingers and teeth, the spokeswoman, Farrah Emami, said.
The man convicted of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, two decades ago received a boisterous welcome when his plane landed in his native Libya on Thursday.A large crowd, waving flags and honking horns, greeted al Megrahi at the military airport in Tripoli.
Song: Grace Kelly
Thursday, August 20, 2009
But if you go to the Brooklyn Public Library seeking a copy of “Tintin au Congo,” Hergé’s second book in a series, prepare to make an appointment and wait days to see the book.“It’s not for the public,” a librarian in the children’s room said this month when a patron asked to see it.The book, published 79 years ago, was moved in 2007 from the public area of the library to a back room where it is held under lock and key.The move came after a patron objected, as others have, to the way Africans are depicted in the book. “The content is racially offensive to black people,’’ a librarian wrote on Form 286, also known as a Request for Reconsideration of Library Material.
So the Brooklyn library, like most others, routinely offers access on its shelves to hot-button works like Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” or Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Capricorn,” which has a naked couple on its cover.
For tourists at the Grand Canyon Sunday, the political star power of President Barack Obama and the First Family temporarily eclipsed the landmark's majestic natural beauty.
John Edwards will move the mother of his love child into his North Carolina neighborhood so he can help raise their 18-month-old baby, the National Enquirer reported Wednesday.The Enquirer also reported that Elizabeth Edwards, who is stricken with cancer, was furious when her husband told her of his parenting plans.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill "has informed families and other interested parties that he has reached his decisions on the applications for prisoner transfer and compassionate release," a government statement said.
Sky News, citing unnamed sources, reported Wednesday that al-Megrahi will be released from prison on compassionate grounds.
An Oklahoma judge on Tuesday overturned a state law that required women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound and a doctor's description of the fetus.Her ruling also overturned provisions in the law that allowed doctors and other healthcare providers to refuse to take part in an abortion for moral or religious reasons, required certain signs to be placed in clinics where abortions are performed, and prohibited wrongful-life lawsuits arguing that a disabled child would have been better off aborted.
"The ultrasound provision takes away a patient's choice about whether or not to view an ultrasound, and it requires physicians to provide information to their patients that the physicians do not believe is medically necessary," Toti said. "It's an affront to women's autonomy and decision-making power, and it's also an intrusion to the physician-patient relationship."
Political columnist Robert Novak, a diehard conservative, pugilistic debater and proud owner of the "Prince of Darkness" moniker, died yesterday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 78."I had a terrific time fulfilling all my youthful dreams and at the same time making life miserable for hypocritical, posturing politicians and, I hope, performing a service for my country," Novak wrote in his memoir, "The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years reporting in Washington.""Always love your country -- but never trust your government," he would tell young people as they started out on their lives as adults."That should not be misunderstood . . . What I am advocating is to not expect too much from government and be wary of its power, even the power of a democratic government in a free country."Ours is one of the mildest, most benevolent governments in the world. But it, too, has the power to take your wealth and forfeit your life . . . A government that can give you everything can take everything away."A son of Jewish parents, he converted to Catholicism at age 67 after attending Catholic services for several years.
Rest in peace, Bob.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
IT’S a spectacular day at Harmony Playground in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, with children swinging and running through sprinklers. An “icy man” with his pushcart of fruit ices stands near the jungle gym, as parents look toward the gated entrance. A second ices vendor enters, also setting up shop inside the playground’s cast-iron fence.Vicki Sell, mother of 3-year-old Katherine, tenses when the vendor starts ringing his little bell, over and over, hoping her daughter doesn’t have the typical Pavlovian response.
Ever since Katherine had an inconsolable meltdown about not being able to have a treat, Ms. Sell has been trying to have unlicensed vendors ousted from the park. She has repeatedly called the city’s 311 complaint hot line, joining parents nationwide who can’t stand the icy man or his motorized big brother, the ice cream man.“I feel kind of bad about having developed this attitude,” she said. “I want Katherine to have the full childhood experience and all. But it’s really predatory for them — two of them — to be right inside the playground like this.”
Monday, August 17, 2009
It was in July 2008 that Officer Porcello, then 35, and her 68th Precinct partner, Eddy Ennis, responded to a 911 call at Gasper Musso's Bay Ridge apartment.The World War II vet was a diabetic and had accidentally mixed up his medications. He had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.Porcello asked him where his family was."Look around you, kid. I'm all alone. I have nobody," he replied."I said, 'What do you mean you have nobody? I'm here now. I'll be your friend. You're going to be my grandpa now' " Porcello said she told him.She was a regular visitor at the hospital, keeping him company, helping him pay his bills and bringing him newspapers.When Musso died on Nov. 15, she carried out his dearest wish -- to be buried near his mother on Staten Island -- and paid for the funeral and headstone.
The thugs entered a world of hurt when they barged into Augusto's Harlem restaurant-supply shop, Kaplan Bros. Blue Flame Corp., Thursday afternoon, pulling out a 9mm pistol and pistol-whipping an employee as they demanded cash.
"I told them there wasn't any money. 'Take your gun, put it in your pocket, and go home.' They had a chance to leave," Augusto said.
But they didn't listen.
So Augusto, 72 -- known to most as "Gus" -- channeled his inner Dirty Harry and pulled out the Remington shotgun he had hidden under his desk for 20 years. He opened fire three times, peppering all four men with buckshot.
"I had to shoot them. It was a tough thing to do," he said. "I have to live with that. I'm sad that there are mothers and fathers who lost sons."But Augusto's beaten employee -- who would only give his name as J.B. -- had little sympathy."S- - - went real bad for them, not for me," he said. "I'm breathing. They dead."
Augusto and his employees tried to get back to business as usual yesterday, although it wasn't easy. When a woman came to place a candle outside the shop, J.B. angrily kicked it across the pavement.
"Who's this for?" he demanded of the startled woman. "For the guy who died? F- - - him!"
I would like to express my outrage at a billboard I recently saw in Jacksonville, Florida.My embarrassment turned to outrage as I was sitting at home contemplating that distasteful, disgusting billboard. I can’t believe that PETA would be so disrespectful as to use the terms “whales” and “blubber” when referring to obese people. I wish there was something I could do. I’ve already written to them expressing my outrage at their malicious terms and asked them to take it down.
A new PETA billboard campaign that was just launched in Jacksonville reminds people who are struggling to lose weight — and who want to have enough energy to chase a beach ball — that going vegetarian can be an effective way to shed those extra pounds that keep them from looking good in a bikini.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Three sourpuss Parks Department agents put the squeeze on a 10-year-old girl in Riverside Park yesterday, slapping the tyke with a $50 ticket for hawking lemonade without a permit.The father-daughter team was able to sell 10 glasses of the ice-cold drink for 50 cents each and the dozen chocolate chip cookies they baked.But their day turned into the pits at 3 p.m. when the heartless pack of city sticklers iced their operation."They approached us nonchalantly but then surrounded us," the peeved papa recalled. "They were very hostile as soon as they approached, saying 'Where's your permit? Where's your permit?' "
He's marking the transition to the big 4-0 tonight with a 40-course mega-meal, much of which he will prepare. Mega, as in the need for 640 plates and 240 wine glasses, which wiped out a rental outfit with everything but its Christmas settings. ("It's not like I had 640 plates in the cupboard," he said.)
And mega, as in the price tag.
"Probably about $2,500," he said. "I figure you only turn 40 once. 'What do I do when I turn 80?' is the real question."
The only rule: The food must be French. (Saunders and his wife visit France every year, always staying in the same room in the same Paris hotel.)
Choosing the guests wasn't easy, said Saunders, who worries about those he left off the list. He chose friends who had cooked unforgettable meals for him, those who had traveled to France and appreciate all things French, and family members.
The Adventurecorps Badwater Ultramarathon is infamous in endurance sports circles. It is the running equivalent of summiting Everest, the ultimate test of mental fortitude, a hippy communion with the desert of epic highs and lows (literally -- the race starts at 280 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, covers three mountain ranges for descents and ascents totaling 9,000 feet and ends halfway up Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States).
For all the nonsweaters out there -- consider how long it takes to drive from Baltimore to New York. Now imagine running that distance...without sleep...with 10,000 blow dryers pointed at you the entire time.
The oldest runner this year was 67-year-old Arthur Webb, who has finished 10 consecutive Badwaters. Race officials using walkie-talkies (there's no cell service in Death Valley) counted him out at mile 17 where he cramped and jumped in a pool to cool down.
Time, ice and a few massages later, Webb was on the course again, not stopping until he crossed the finish line more than 40 hours later.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Statement From The Chicano Mexicano Prison Project:"Once again, major violence between Raza and African prisoners has erupted within the United States Concentration Camp (Prison) System, this time at Chino California State Prison. Beginning at 8:20 PM, on Saturday evening (Aug. 8, 2009), African and Raza (Latino) prisoners, in the most brutal fashion, slashing, cutting, hitting each other with anything that could get their hands on, battled against each other for more than 11 hours. Over 200 hundred were hurt, several were critically injured with severe head injuries or stab wounds.Blood was spilled by everyone. Many of those involved will be scared and maimed for life, both physically and mentally. ""But this latest violence is nothing new. Nor was it the worst. For years, not only in California, but also throughout the United States, Raza and African prisoners have been at each other throats. Those of us who should know better –the social activists and so-called educated– should be clear about the root causes of this horrific violence that continues, unabated, decade after decade, and how it only serves to keep both nations oppressed and colonized; and most importantly, what we must do about it."While some refused to see or accept the truth, the reality is that the prison wars between Raza and Africans are nothing but the old strategy of divide and conquer, which the European (white) colonialist-capitalist system has successfully used against our people for more than 500 years. The 'hand of white supremacy' behind the recent hostilities should be obvious to everyone."
Joshua has been taking the bus to his local Whole Foods in New York City every five days for the past two years. This week, he said he'll go elsewhere to fulfill his fresh vegetable and organic produce needs.
"I will never shop there again," vowed Joshua, a 45-year-old blogger, who asked that his last name not be published.Like many of his fellow health food fanatics, Joshua said he will no longer patronize the store after learning about Whole Foods Market Inc.'s CEO John Mackey's views on health care reform, which were made public this week in an op-ed piece he wrote for The Wall Street Journal.
- Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
- Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
- Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.
"While Mackey is worried about health care and stimulus spending, he doesn't seem too worried about expensive wars and tax breaks for the wealthy and big businesses such as his own that contribute to the deficit," said Lent.A commenter on the Whole Foods forum, identified only by his handle, "PracticePreach," wrote, "It is an absolute slap in the face to the millions of progressive-minded consumers that have made [Whole Foods] what it is today.""You should know who butters your hearth-baked bread, John," wrote the commenter. "Last time I checked it wasn't the insurance industry conservatives who made you a millionaire a hundred times over."
Friday, August 14, 2009
The onetime Beverly Hills resident, who died 23 years ago at the age of 81, will be moving out of the crypt above Marilyn Monroe's resting spot at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery. Poncher's wife intends to sell the crypt, said to have once been owned by Monroe's former husband, Yankee great Joe DiMaggio.So although the plaque on Poncher's crypt reads: "To the man who gave us everything and more," his wife, Elsie, is hoping that he has just a little more to give. She wants to use the money to help pay off the $1.6-million mortgage on her 1 3/4 acre Beverly Hills home.Elsie Poncher plans to start the bidding at $500,000 when she places the crypt on EBay, making it -- on a per-square-foot basis -- one of the most expensive pieces of real estate on the market.
When he was dying, Elsie said, her husband approached her with a request. "He said, 'If I croak, if you don't put me upside down over Marilyn, I'll haunt you the rest of my life.' "Right after the funeral, Elsie said, she told the funeral director of her husband's wish. "I was standing right there, and he turned him over," she said.
BTW, down a little ways from Marilyn and in the ground is Don Knotts. Okay, now that I could see, bidding on a plot next to him. Except I'd be a nudge for eternity, constantly poking him and asking, "C'mon, do Barney Fife again for me . . . c'mon!"
The team facing Yankees ace A.J. Burnett a few weeks back at Yankee Stadium has to go down as the oddest in baseball history.
For one thing, it plays only at night. The players have no choice. Even one minute of sunshine can kill them.They're from Camp Sundown, in Craryville, N.Y., and they live life on the other side of the sun. All of them have the rare disease known as XP -- xeroderma pigmentosum. If kids with XP catch the slightest UV ray, they can and do develop cancerous tumors. Even fluorescent lights fry their skin like boiling oil. Most of them don't live to be 20.So how could they take the field at Yankee Stadium? Because this was 3 a.m. Superstar right-handers should be tucked into bed by then, yet there was Burnett, throwing Wiffle-ball splitters and chasing down line drives.To get the kids out of the bus and into their VIP suite for the game, Yankees media-relations director Jason Zillo -- the man who dreamed up the whole night -- had to take them on a rat's route of back staircases and tunnels to avoid any fluorescent lights. After the Yankees beat the A's 6-3, the stadium lights had to be dimmed to 30 percent. Once they were, all the kids came running onto the field with smiles that could've lit up the Bronx.They high-fived Derek Jeter, ran madly around the bases and wallowed in the instant carnival the Yankees had set up -- from the magician to the bouncy castle to reliever Alfredo Aceves strolling the yard, strumming his guitar while Cashman sang the Police's "Message in a Bottle." For one night, at least, these kids found out they are not alone in being alone.
Former presidential candidate John Edwards will admit he is the father of his former campaign aide's 18-month-old baby, a TV news station in North Carolina reports.The news comes a day after the National Enquirer reported that a secret DNA test proved Edwards' paternity.