Saturday, October 4, 2008

O.J. Simpson Found Guilty on All Charges in Robbery-Kidnap Trial

LAS VEGAS — O.J. Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after he was acquitted of murder in 1995, was found guilty Friday of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

The 61-year-old former football star could spend the rest of his life in prison. Sentencing was set for Dec. 5.

A weary and somber Simpson released a heavy sigh as the charges were read by the clerk in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody.

Click here for photos.

The Hall of Fame football star was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at a hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said Simpson asked him to bring a gun.

The verdict came 13 years to the day after Simpson was cleared of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.

"I don't like to use the word payback," defense attorney Yale Galanter said. "I can tell you from the beginning my biggest concern ... was whether or not the jury would be able to separate their very strong feelings about Mr. Simpson and judge him fairly and honestly."

Simpson's co-defendant, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges in the Las Vegas case and taken into custody.

Simpson showed little emotion as officers handcuffed him and walked him out of the courtroom. His sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed behind him in the arms of Simpson's friend, Tom Scotto, who said "I love you" as Simpson passed by. As spectators left the courtroom, Durio collapsed.

Jurors made no eye contact with the defendants as they entered the courtroom. They declined to answer questions after the verdict was read.

Galanter said his client had expected the outcome, and in a courthouse conversation with an Associated Press reporter on Thursday, Simpson had implied as much.

Simpson said he felt melancholy and that he was "afraid that I won't get to go to my kids' college graduations after I managed to get them through college."

Galanter said it was not a happy day for anybody. "His only hope is the appellate process," he said.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said prosecutors would not comment until the case was "completely resolved."

Judge Jackie Glass made no comment other than to thank the jury for its service and to deny motions for the defendants to be released on bail.

She refused to give the lawyers extended time to file a motion for new trial, which under Nevada law must be filed within seven days. The attorneys said they needed time to submit a voluminous record.

"I've sat through the trial," Glass said. "If you want a motion for new trial, send me something."

Stewart's attorney, Brent Bryson, promised to appeal.

"If there was ever a case that should have been severed in the history of jurisprudence, it's this case," he said of unsuccessful attempts to separate Stewart's case from Simpson's because of the "spillover" effect.

From the beginning, Simpson and his lawyers argued the incident was not a robbery, but an attempt to reclaim mementos that had been stolen from him. He said he did not ask anyone to bring a weapon and did not see any guns.

The defense portrayed Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make a buck off his famous name, and police officers who saw his arrest as an opportunity to "get" him and avenge his acquittal.

Prosecutors said Simpson's ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; it was still a crime to try to take things by force.

"When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don't let anybody out of here!' — six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them — that's kidnapping," prosecutor David Roger said.

Kidnapping is punishable by five years to life in prison. Armed robbery carries a mandatory sentence of at least two years behind bars, and could bring as much as 30.

Simpson, who now lives in Miami, did not testify but was heard on a recording of the confrontation screaming that the dealers had stolen his property. "Don't let nobody out of this room," he declared and told the other men to scoop up his items, which included a photo of Simpson with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Four other men charged in the case struck plea bargains that saved them from potential prison sentences in return for their testimony. Some of them had criminal records or were otherwise compromised in some way. One, for example, was an alleged pimp who testified he had a revelation from God telling him to take a plea bargain.

Memorabilia dealer Thomas Riccio, who arranged and secretly recorded the hotel-room confrontation, said he netted $210,000 from the media for the tapes.

Similarly, minutes after the Sept. 13, 2007, incident, one of the alleged victims, sports-memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, was calling news outlets, and the other, Bruce Fromong, spoke of getting "big money" from the case.

Simpson's past haunted the case. Las Vegas police officers were heard in the recordings chuckling over Simpson's misfortune and crowing that if Los Angeles couldn't "get" him, they would.

During jury selection, Simpson's lawyers expressed fears that people who believed he got away with murder might see this case as a chance to right a wrong.

As a result, an usually large pool of 500 potential jurors was called, and they were given a 26-page questionnaire. Half were almost instantly eliminated after expressing strong feelings that Simpson should have been convicted of murder.

The judge instructed the jurors to put aside Simpson's earlier case.

In closing arguments, Galanter acknowledged that what Simpson did to recover his memorabilia was not right. "But being stupid, and being frustrated is not being a criminal," he said.

He added: "This case has taken on a life of its own because of Mr. Simpson's involvement. You know that. I know that. Every cooperator, every person who had a gun, every person who had an ulterior motive, every person who signed a book deal, every person who got paid money, the police, the district attorney's office, is only interested in one thing: Mr. Simpson."

Dog To Combat Smuggling Cell Phones Into Prisons

TAMPA, Fla. -- A cell-phone sniffing dog will help combat the problem of phones being smuggled into state prisons.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger says Razor the dog is trained to smell cell phones and will report to duty in mid-November.

Plessinger says the phones that are smuggled into prisons help inmates with everything from dealing drugs to plotting escapes.

A law took effect Wednesday making it illegal to smuggle the phones. Before, a visitor might have been barred from visiting a prison if caught sneaking a cell phone to an inmate, and the inmate might have been placed in confinement. But it wasn't against the law.

Razor will be the first dog in Florida's prisons used exclusively to sniff for cell phones.

Friday, October 3, 2008

£150 fine... for staying too long at the KFC

FAST food fan Natalie Jackson was hit with a £150 fine at KFC — for staying too long gorging on a monster-sized “family bucket”.

The trainee nurse and a pal plumped for FOURTEEN chicken pieces, SIX bags of fries and large COKES after driving to their local branch.

They spent an hour and a half scoffing the 5,456-calorie feast. Days later regular customer Natalie got the fine in the post for breaking the restaurant car park’s 75-minute limit.

Feast ... family bucket

Feast ... family bucket

The 24-year-old fumed yesterday: “It’s disgusting. I spend a lot of money in there. Now I’m never going back.”

Natalie — who eats at KFC three times a week — complained to restaurant bosses that she was unaware of signs warning of the time limit in Huddersfield, West Yorks.

The mega bucket, which busts the Health Department’s recommended 1,940-a-day calorie count for women, cost her £13.16p.

Natalie vowed there was fat chance of her paying the £150 — insisting: “It didn’t feel like I was in there all that long. We were hungry.”

Last night KFC said restaurant parking was contracted to private firm Civil Enforcement Ltd — but promised to review Natalie’s case.

A spokesman said: “A parking restriction was introduced to prevent non-KFC customers using the car park.

“The 75-minute time limit is designed to accommodate our customers who generally eat for about 30 minutes.”

Rosie O'Donnell's Really Big Show

Rosie O'Donnell's Really Big Show | 'Lethal Weapon 5'? Not So Fast | Superstars Will Rock for Obama

Rosie O'Donnell's Really Big Show

I told you back on July 28, and now it's being announced officially: Rosie O'Donnell is the new Ed Sullivan.

Rosie is getting her own live-from-New York variety show on NBC, with a test segment set to air on Nov. 26, the night before Thanksgiving.

After that, expect a launch soon after — probably February — and more likely on Sundays than Wednesdays. Part of the idea is to do the show from a Broadway theater. On Sundays, most of those shows are "dark" or closed.

"Rosie's Variety Show" will air at 8 p.m., so O'Donnell will have to watch it with certain kinds of material. In order for this project to work — and I think it will, amazingly well — she's got to observe the "family hour." Kids will be watching. Her own kids will be in the audience. Blue material will be verboten.

The next question is, who will be the house band? After seeing him host a PBS special last month in Boston, I recommend Rosie look up Chris Botti. The trumpet player is like a modern Doc Severinsen via Sting, and already has talk-show band cred following his stint on the short lived "Caroline Rhea Show."

And who knows? Maybe if Elisabeth Hasselbeck leaves "The View," she can be Rosie's Carol Merrill. Just kidding!

'Lethal Weapon 5'? Not So Fast

We're just catching up to reports (it started in Entertainment Weekly) that a "Lethal Weapon 5" could be in the offing. Not so fast.

Even though Shane Black, who wrote the first "Lethal Weapon," has floated out the idea of directing this one, there are a lot of obstacles.

For one thing, it's doubtful that director Richard Donner would return. Internet blogs are rife with rumors that it’s a matter of producer Joel Silver vs. Donner. But that seems far-fetched.

While anything’s possible, Donner’s dissatisfaction with Mel Gibson started with "The Passion of the Christ" and was only exacerbated by his antics in Malibu. Donner, who’s had more commercial success than almost any other Hollywood director, doesn’t need the headache of getting involved with Gibson now.

Similarly, it’s unclear how Danny Glover would feel about working again with a man whose broadcast racist comments. Glover made a lot of money on the four "Lethal Weapon" movies. It’s not like he "needs" this. He’s got lots of other projects.

Then there’s the whole question of whether Warner Bros. wants to be the first major studio to break down and have a Gibson film. Gibson’s current project, "Edge of Darkness," is an independent production outside of the studio system.

And what about the fact that "Lethal Weapon 4," released 10 years ago — long before Gibson’s career suicide — wrapped up everything that needed to be said for this long-in-the-tooth series? Gibson’s days of dislocating his shoulder and putting it back in place, or making Glover run around pretending to be horrified by his partner’s actions, are safely resolved.

The best plan for "Lethal Weapon"? Let sleeping dogs lie. Just ask Sylvester Stallone what it’s like to bring back ancient characters well past their prime. Ouch!

Superstars Will Rock for Obama

Maybe you’ve heard: Barack Obama is bringing out the big guns for fundraising.

Two rock superstars who rarely get together are combining forces for the Democratic presidential nominee. Both Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, hometown heroes of New Jersey and New York, are going to perform in Manhattan on Oct. 16 at a superstar fundraiser.

The event, at the Hammerstein Ballroom, is also shaping up as a family affair. I’m told that Billy will perform a duet with his singer daughter, Alexa. Their number will most likely be a reprise of Ray Charles’ "Baby Grand," which they did last May at the Rainforest Foundation concert at Carnegie Hall.

Springsteen and Joel should also generate some special guest-star firepower. I’m told that Springsteen’s E Street Band is likely to show up, include wife Patti Scialfa.

As for Alexa Joel — whose mom, yes, is Christie Brinkley — she’s getting the fundraising started Thursday night when she joins a bunch of hot indie acts — this very night — at the Highline Ballroom on West 16th St. in New York.

Among the other performers will be Cass Dillon, whom Billy selected to sing his anti-war song, "Christmas in Fallujah," earlier this year. Alexa makes another stop next Monday at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut to keep polishing up her much buzzed-about act.

Australian boy feeds zoo animals to crocodile

Australian boy feeds zoo animals to crocodile
Rare lizards and a turtle in Alice Springs reptile park were either eaten alive or bashed to death first

A seven-year-old boy broke into a zoo in central Australia and fed several live animals to a crocodile while bashing others to death with a rock.

The boy killed 13 animals worth around A$7,000 (£3,070), including a turtle, bearded dragons and thorny devil lizards after scaling a security fence at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre in the Northern Territory on Wednesday, said the zoo's director, Rex Neindorf.

In 30 minutes he used a rock to kill three lizards, including the zoo's beloved 20-year-old goanna, which he fed to a 3.3m (11ft) saltwater crocodile named Terry that weighs 200kg (440lb).

The boy was caught on security camera as he threw live animals to Terry over the two fences surrounding the crocodile's enclosure.

At one point he climbed over the outer fence to get closer to the crocodile. Neindorf said the boy's face looked blank in the footage. "It was like he was playing a game."

The animals were not rare but some would be difficult to replace, said Neindorf. "We're horrified that anyone can do this, and saddened by the age of the child."

Alice Springs police said they had identified the local boy but could not press charges because of his age. Children under 10 are not criminally liable in the Northern Territory.

"By all accounts he's quite a nasty seven-year-old," said Neindorf, who plans to sue the boy's parents. "If we can't put the blame on to the child, then someone has to accept the responsibility."

The zoo's security system, which relies on sensors, probably did not detect the boy because of his size, Neindorf sai

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Comic addict plots to kill parents to avoid cleaning room

A Japanese woman addicted to comics reportedly turned to the Internet to look for someone to kill her parents, after they asked her to clear out her cartoon-filled room.

News reports say the 36-year-old woman – who is unemployed and lives at home – filled up three rooms with several thousand comic books and videotapes she had collected with an allowance her grandmother sent her.

She reportedly became angry after her parents told her to throw away some of her comic books to make space for her sister who was planning to move in.

The reports say she posted a message on the Internet asking for someone to kill her mother, who manages a bar in Tokyo, and her father.

Police intervened after being notified are seeking to charge her with intimidation.

House sells for $1.75

House sells for $1.75
Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Saginaw home that hit the housing market at a cut-rate price sold Wednesday for less than the price of a McDonald's value meal.

The abandoned home on 1606 Perkins received eight bids on and sold for $1.75.

The high bidder was 30-year-old Joanne Smith of Chicago.

''I am going to try to sell it,'' she said of the house. ''I don't have any plans to move to Saginaw. I don't have any plans of moving from (Chicago).''

Smith moved to the Windy City five years ago from Miami. She has not seen the property and has not visited Saginaw.

Smith will pay additional charges, aside from the dollar and change it cost her to win the auction. Back taxes and a trash/weed cleanup bill will set the final price tag about $850. The fee is due by Tuesday, March 31, or the county will foreclose on the property.

''The people who I bought the house from, they are not giving me any information about it,'' Smith said. ''I know that the property is abandoned and that there are taxes owed on the house, but all I have is their e- mail.''

The Saginaw News could not reach the seller, Southern Investments, for comment. City tax records list an Arizona City, Ariz., post office box address for the owner.

The house has had at least a half-dozen owners since 1999, the Saginaw Area Geographic Information System Authority indicates on its Web site. Carolyn Malone purchased it for $2,000 in April 1999. Other owners include Church on the Rock; Saginaw County treasurer; RNR Investments, which bought it for $400 in December 2006; and Adam Walls, who bought it for $10 in January 2007. Southern Investments paid $26 in January 2008.

''I was trying to go see it, but I am not gonna make a 300-mile trip if I can't go in the house and see inside,'' Smith said. ''It could be haunted or something.'' v

Stop, (Ketchup) Thief! California School Board Trustee Suspected of Kidnapping Condiments

ORANGE, Calif. — A school board trustee known for his dark glasses, knit cap and rants at meetings is now suspected of condiment kidnapping.

Steve Rocco was cited for petty theft on Saturday after he put a ketchup bottle under his clothing and left the school's cafeteria, a Chapman University spokeswoman said.

Rocco must appear in court, and if charges are filed he could face 45 days in jail.

In 2005, the board reprimanded Rocco and told him to limit his remarks to school issues after he rambled about credit unions and his father's death. He sued the district for violating his right to free speech, but the case was dismissed.

Rocco's school board tenure will be over in November because of redistricting. He is running for the Santa Ana City Council.

McKinney: DoD shot 5,000 prisoners during Katrina

McKinney: DoD shot 5,000 prisoners during Katrina

posted at 12:15 pm on October 1, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

It wouldn’t be an election cycle without Cynthia McKinney’s lunacy, and fortunately she hasn’t shied away from providing it. Here, we watch as the Green Party’s endorsed presidential candidate accuses National Guard soldiers of committing 5,000 murders of prisoners in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:

If you think that this is the kind of insanity one normally hears from Alex Jones, well … you’d be right. The conspiracy theorists on the Left and the Right tend to embrace each other at a certain point, just south of rationality. For these people, little points like evidence and common sense provide no obstacles at all to paranoia and fantasy.

For instance, let’s skip past the extremely weak sourcing McKinney uses to make her charges and go right to some obvious points. Wouldn’t the families of these 5,000 prisoners wonder what happened to them? And which prisoners, specifically, have not been accounted for? At least a few names of people who were in Louisiana state custody before Katrina and then not in custody afterwards would provide a starting point for any investigation. And it’s possible to lose a few bodies in the Louisiana swamps, but not even that legendary territory could hide 5,000 of them at once without a few of the locals taking notice.

Normally, we’d dismiss this kind of idiocy, but this is no ordinary idiot. McKinney is a former member of Congress and a candidate for President on a party that wants to claim national legitimacy. This shows the intellectual level of the Greens, but it also puts in play yet another baseless conspiracy theory about Katrina and its aftermath. We’ll be hearing this lie for the next few years, thanks to McKinney.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Amazingly Creative Japanese Barcodes

Amazingly Creative Japanese Barcodes

What’s in a barcode? More than you might imagine, when idealized through the eyes of some very creative Japanese artists.

You will be amazed at what can be done with a few straight lines and a push to think outside of a very ordinary box.

barcode1 Amazingly Creative Japanese Barcodes picture
UPC symbols are ubiquitous and constant reminders that we are a civilization of consumers. Up until now, there was no distinguishing one from the other.

That’s all changed since a Japanese company named D-Barcode came up with some very creative and innovative ideas on how to make these uninteresting lines actually enjoyable to look upon.

It is said that barcodes are the bane of the modern graphic designer. Many distribution people compound the headache by insisting on conspicuous white rectangles, which may or may not fit the context involved. The changes are little and subtle, and yet at the same time, enormous.

Now picking up a bottle or box at the supermarket may bring a smile to your face, not because of a price reduction but rather form a funny unexpected face or form smiling back at you from the label on the back of the package.
barcode3 Amazingly Creative Japanese Barcodes picture
This enhancement of the consumer experience is brilliant on many levels. But why keep talking? Check out these cool barcodes below and judge for yourself!

japanese-barcodes-big-300x300 Amazingly Creative Japanese Barcodes picture

Happy barcodes!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm blind for three days at a time, says Natalie Adler

September 29, 2008 12:00am

A WOMAN whose eyes clamp shut for three days at a time, then open up for the next three, has baffled specialists.

Natalie Adler, 21, from Melbourne, has been locked in the extraordinary routine for four years. Doctors believe she may be the only person in the world with the condition.

"My eyes are closed for three days and then open for three days," Ms Adler said.

"Something happens overnight on the third night. I go to bed and I can open my eyes, and then when I wake up the next day I can't. Nobody knows why."

Ms Adler has undergone hundreds of tests since her life dramatically changed in mid-Year 11 at school.

"I woke one Sunday and my eyes were swollen. It was the day before an English exam," she said. After a sinus and staph infection she said, "I just never got better".

"My eyes started closing intermittently, really randomly, but within a few weeks they were closing for three days," she said.

Associate Professor Justin O'Day, head of the hospital's neuro-ophthalmology unit at the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital said: "Natalie's a mystery. She's a one-off, we don't have a diagnosis."

During "closed-eye days", Ms Adler's eyes are completely shut, except for a small slit in her left eye. On "open-eye days", they function normally, though the left eyelid can droop.

Ms Adler crams as much as she can into good days, which are marked months ahead in her diary. But some things can't be scheduled.

"On my 18th birthday, my eyes were closed, but on my 21st they were open, so I had a party," she said.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Man accused of posing as Dodger on field

LOS ANGELES - A man faces criminal charges for allegedly stealing a uniform from Dodger Stadium and posing as one of the team's players.

Ronald Higgins pleaded not guilty to several charges Friday, including burglary and trespassing.

The 47-year-old Higgins was arrested Wednesday morning after a security guard found him walking on the field in a Dodgers uniform and holding a glove with two balls. Higgins allegedly identified himself as a Dodgers player, but the guard recognized him from an earlier incident and called police.

Prosecutors say Higgins' clothes were later found in the bat boys' locker room. It was not immediately clear where he got the uniform.

If convicted, Higgins could spend nearly four years in state priso

Stunned Utah Resident Billed for 1.4 Million Gallons of Water

The city and a plumber couldn't find any pipe or lawn sprinkler leaks and say they found Baur's meter working properly.

For the period in dispute, the water meter was spinning continuously at 72 percent of capacity, said George Benford, Ogden's public services director.

"I've never heard of anybody using that much water," Benford said. "I can't imagine it. It's odd. That's the level you would use when you get to a manufacturing facility."

Bo Hoskins, an Ogden plumber, said, "It's pretty crazy."

The city called Rick Baur to let him know the bill was coming "so he wouldn't have a heart attack," said his wife, Monica. "I thought it was a joke, but they made us pay it."

Although the couple paid the $9,700, they aren't out of the woods yet. The city says they owe $1,700 for water usage in August.

Prisoners allowed to order out restaurant food

Prisoners allowed to order out restaurant food

Sun 28 Sep 2008, 2:27 GMT
[-] Text [+]

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian prisoners are set to be allowed to order meals from any restaurant they choose after a trial run during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan was deemed a success, a senior security official said on Saturday.

The state-run Al Ahram newspaper reported that prison authorities have been placing orders with restaurants and then handing them to prisoners about to break their fast.

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk in Ramadan, which started this year on September 1. The security official told Reuters the permission to order food would continue beyond Ramadan.

He said the prisoners were paying for the food. Asked about the favourite meals prisoners have ordered, he said they included meat Kebab and pizza.

The official asked not to be named, citing department policy.

It is not uncommon for prisoners in Egypt to receive meals from their visiting families. Egyptian human rights activists say conditions inside jails in the most populous Arab country are bad, with unclean cells and low-quality food.

Human rights groups also say torture is systematic inside Egyptian jails and police stations. The government denies this and says it prosecutes any officer who tortures detainees.

(Writing by Alaa Shahine; reporting by Matthew Jones)