Nov 26 2008

Breaking: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai, India – American Hostages Taken

Category: UncategorizedTim @ 2:09 pm

CNN has breaking news this afternoon about attacks in India:

(CNN) — Several people have been killed in a series of coordinated attacks targeting sites popular with tourists and business people, according to police and CNN’s sister network in India.

Ongoing battles between police and gunmen were reported at two five-star hotels by CNN-IBN.

Gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades attacked targets including the hotels, a cafe, and a train station, police say.

Police confirmed two deaths but IBN said at least 18 people were killed in the coordinated strikes, according to IBN.

The attacks included five shootouts and two grenade attacks, said a police officer who answered Mumbai’s police control room line.

IBN reported an ongoing battle at the five-star Oberoi Hotel where gunmen have reportedly taken hostages after searching out people with U.S. or British passports.

On the CNN.com Live Video stream, they are reporting that the terrorists were targeting Americans. They are now listing as many as 45 dead.

The timing of this attack on a holiday could not be coincidence. More as this story develops.

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Nov 26 2008

MTV to Host Obama Inauguration Event: “Be the Change Inaugural Ball”:

Category: Entertainment,PoliticsTim @ 9:00 am

MTV knows a good party when they see one. The network has decided to throw a Ball for the Obama inauguration:

The network announced Tuesday that it will host the “Be the Change Inaugural Ball” at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington on Jan. 20. The event will be televised live across MTV’s many channels and platforms, including MTV and MTV.com.

Why is MTV throwing the ball? Here is what they say on their press release:

The event will celebrate the massive youth-voter turnout in this month’s presidential election and an active commitment from America’s youth to impart positive social change through volunteer service. ServiceNation is an organization that campaigns to increase support for expanding national service programs like the Peace Corps and Americorps. In September, it hosted a forum with Obama and Senator John McCain, in which both presidential candidates agreed on the importance of community involvement.

A record 24 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2008 presidential election, accounting for 18 percent of the 133.3 million voters who hit the polls. It marked the third major election in a row with increased youth-voter numbers, and for the first time in 20 years, the number of young voters surpassed the number of voters over the age of 65.

One can bet the line-up for this event will read like a Hollywood who-s-who. One thing is certain, after her comments, Lindsay Lohan’s invitation will be lost in the mail.

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Nov 26 2008

Michael Vick Pleads Guilty to State Dog Fighting Charge

Category: UncategorizedTim @ 8:00 am

In an attempt to return to the NFL as soon as possible, Michael Vick appeared in court yesterday to face the music:

Michael Vick pleaded guilty yesterday to a state dogfighting charge in Sussex, Va., and was sentenced to a suspended jail term.

The resolution of the state charges against Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who is serving a 23-month federal prison sentence and is on indefinite suspension by the NFL, could hasten his prospective return to football. With no further charges pending against him, Vick becomes eligible to serve the final portion of his federal prison sentence in a halfway house.

“I want to apologize to the court, my family and to all the kids who looked up to me as a role model,” Vick told the judge during yesterday’s hearing, according to the Associated Press.

Getting into a halfway house may not signal Vick’s return to the NFL. For that, he will need the blessing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

But there’s no guarantee when or if he’ll get into a halfway house, and a messy bankruptcy case is just beginning to make its way through the court.

Once the NFL’s highest-paid player, the 28-year-old Vick has lost nearly all the record-breaking $130 million from a 10-year deal he signed with Atlanta in December 2004.

Although NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t ruled out reinstating Vick, he hasn’t said he will.

“Mike takes full responsibility for his actions and is ready to move forward and will let his actions speak for him,” Vick’s agent Joel Segal said outside the courtroom. He wouldn’t talk specifically about Vick’s NFL future.

$130 million lost, ouch. I wonder if he is eligible for a government bailout…

If Vick does come back, which NFL team will take him?

Upon release from prison, Vick plans to apply for re-instatement to the NFL. The NFL would not comment on Tuesday’s proceedings, according to spokesman Greg Aiello. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is on record as saying Vick won’t play for the team again.

The Falcons will have the option of releasing him and taking a major salary-cap hit. They also could attempt to trade Vick, like Dallas did with embattled Tennessee cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones last season.

“Mike is working out and staying in great shape,” said Joel Segal, Vick’s agent. “We talked yesterday, and he told me he was about 208 [pounds] and he looked great.”

There will be controversy surrounding any team that acquires Vick.

“I hope they’re prepared to face the dog lovers of America,” Kansas City president and general manager Carl Peterson said. “There are going to be a lot of problems. People love their pets, and particularly dogs. There will be protests, people expressing their thoughts — even though he’s served his time.”

You can bet there will be controversy. He will have been away from the game for 2-3 years and be trying to play the toughest position in football. I’m sure he has done a good job “staying in shape,” but prison shape and NFL game shape are two very different things. Add to that the stigma of having a quarterback who admitted to throwing family pets into the ring with vicious attack dogs to watch them get mauled and you will have a tough sell to the fans.

In the end, I’m sure some team will take a flier on Vick because of the potential up-side he has. Personally, I don’t think you are given that many chances for greatness in your lifetime and I’m not sure Vick deserves to take a spot that may prevent another more deserving individual from fulfilling their dream.

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Nov 26 2008

Video: Eric Scott’s Jet Pack Flight Over Colorado’s Royal Gorge

Category: Sci/Tech,VideoTim @ 7:13 am

Jet packs; a device you can put on your back that allows you to fly, are simply the coolest thing going. We’ve all fantasized about strapping a jet pack on to fly to work or just to get away. Well, Eric Scott decided to take his jet pack and fly over the Royal Gorge:

It’s 1,500 feet across from cliff to cliff, and more than 1,000 chilling feet down to the bottom of the Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River near Canon City, Colo.

“You’re going to see me on the other side. This isn’t an ‘Evel-Knievel, get-a-lot-of-media-out-and-just-screw-it-up’ gig, you know,” stuntman Eric Scott told CBS station KCNC-TV correspondent Rick Sallinger prior to the flight.
[…]
With spectators watching heart in hand, Scott ascended–and 21 seconds of suspense later–was back standing on terra firma, on the other side of the gorge.

“Concrete never felt so good,” he said.

Too cool. Here is video from the flight:

For another perspective, here is TV coverage of the event:

Here is more video from an earlier attempt to fly into the gorge and return to the launch sight. What’s cool here is, you get to see what he sees from the helmet cam. That is a long way down.

Time to buy one of these babies!

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Nov 25 2008

Somali Pirates Strike Again – Hijack a Yemeni Ship

Category: EconomyTim @ 9:29 am

The Somali pirates are at it again, this time hijacking a Yemeni ship:

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Somali pirates have hijacked a Yemeni ship loaded with steel, officials said on Tuesday, and one of Asia’s biggest shippers said it was diverting vulnerable vessels away from the dangerous Gulf of Aden.

Scores of attacks this year have brought the pirates millions of dollars in ransoms, hiked up shipping insurance costs, sent foreign navies rushing to the area, and left about a dozen boats with more than 200 hostages still in pirate hands.

Yemen’s official SABA news agency said the Yemeni ship MV Adina was travelling from Mukalla port to the southern island of Socotra and had been due to dock on November 20 with 507 tonnes of steel.

Yemeni security sources said the authorities were in touch with the pirates, who were demanding a $2 million ransom.

This is apparently the same group who hijacked the Saudi supertanker a couple of weeks ago:

Meanwhile, a spokesman for pirates holding a Saudi supertanker loaded with crude oil has told the BBC a ransom has not been determined. The spokesman said the pirates have spoken to company intermediaries, but found them to be untrustworthy.

Pirates seized the Sirius Star Nov. 15. The supertanker was carrying 2 million barrels of crude oil worth that has been estimated to be worth about $100 million.

Untrustworthy? I would think pirates are untrustworthy. The continued hijacking of ships is costing millions of dollars and has to be having an impact on the troubled world economy. What is being done to combat these pirates?

Peter Swift, head of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) suggested that warships could begin monitoring vessels leaving Somali waters, rather than attempting to patrol the entire Gulf of Aden and a significant part of the Indian Ocean.

He said the other option was a blockade around Somalia.

However, Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on Monday that the alliance was not considering any naval blockade.

He said that such action has not been endorsed by the UN Security Council. Nato has four warships on duty in the area.

Looks like politics is playing a key role in the success of the pirates. The companies are sending some of the most valuable cargo in the world across the a vast ocean and hoping they are not captured. Seems to me that it is high time for a serious display of naval power in the area; one displayed though a coordinated effort involving many countries would be best. A global effort of organized attacks on these pirates with conviction and dedication will make the shipping lanes safer. We should be past the age of piracy on the high seas by now. Our economy cannot afford to pay ransom for resources.

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Nov 24 2008

Barry Manilow, Cruel and Unusual Punishment for Colorado Noise Offenders

Category: Entertainment,HumorTim @ 2:11 pm

A Fort Lupton, Colorado judge has taken extreme measures to prevent repeat noise offenders:

Fort Lupton Municipal Judge Paul Sacco says his novel punishment of forcing noise violators to listen to music they don’t like for one hour has cut down on the number of repeat offenders in this northwestern Colorado prairie town.

About four times a year, those guilty of noise ordinance violations are required to sit in a room and listen to music from the likes of Manilow, Barney the Dinosaur, and The Platters’ crooning “Only You”

“These people should have to listen to music they don’t like,” said Judge Paul Sacco for a segment about the program that aired Friday on Denver’s KUSA-TV.

This is not the first time someone has been punished with Barry Manilow. In 1989, the US used a dose of Manilow to try and drive former Panama strongman Manuel Noriega from the Vatican Embassy and a couple of years ago, in suburban Sydney, officials used Barry Manilow to prevent people from gathering at the Cook Park Reserve.

I’m not sure what Barry would have to say about this use of his music, but I think there are some who would consider this cruel and unusual punishment!

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Nov 24 2008

Man With Samurai Swords Shot at Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Hollywood

Category: EntertainmentTim @ 7:29 am

This is one of those stories that can only come from Hollywood:

A security guard at the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Centre in Hollywood on Sunday shot and killed a man wielding two samurai swords, police said.

Police detained the guard for questioning but said that a surveillance tape at the facility backed his claim that he fired his semiautomatic handgun to protect himself and two colleagues.

“The evidence is very clear the security officers were defending their safety,” said Deputy Chief Terry S. Hara of the Los Angeles Police Department.

I would tend to think that a man coming at guards wielding two samurai swords would constitute an immediate threat. What is not clear is why the man who was described as being in his 40s would attack the Celebrity Centre. What is the Celebrity Centre anyway?

The Celebrity Centre includes a seven-story Norman-revival landmark that towers over the Hollywood freeway and used to be a residential hotel for movie stars.

The castle-like facility now serves as “a home for the artist, a place where he can come and learn, attend seminars, meet other artists and even perform at our many showcases and events,” according to the center’s Web site.

Well, that clears it up. Let’s see, a 40-year-old man with ties to Scientology wielding samurai swords…


Nov 24 2008

Father of Abraham Biggs Comments on His Son’s Online Suicide

Category: Kids & Technology,ParentingTim @ 6:45 am

The story of Abraham Biggs and his online suicide continues to make waves in the press and online. Yesterday, Biggs’ death was confirmed to be suicide and many on the Internet are wondering if they had a hand in the death of this young man:

Biggs’ father, Abraham Biggs Sr., said those who watched, and the website operators, share some blame in his son’s death. “I think they are all equally wrong,” he said. “As a human being, you don’t watch someone in trouble and sit back and just watch.”

Some viewers contacted the website to notify police, but the police did not arrive in time.

Whitworth said the anonymity of the Internet may cause some users to behave in ways they wouldn’t in person.

“Those individuals who were egging Mr. Biggs on in essence were able to depersonalize,” he said. “They would not do it face to face, but in the computer medium they were able to absolve themselves of any personal responsibility for their actions.”

They are “absolutely not” absolved, he said, but they also cannot be held accountable.

Anonymity does provide the opportunity to act in a way that would never occur face-to-face. We’ve all done things while driving that we would never do in person. I bet most people have sent emails that would never be discussed in public. So, are the online viewers partially responsible for Biggs’ death?

The video and blog postings have since been removed from the sites, but Crane, who has seen both, said that at first viewers thought the suicide was a hoax.

“The bloggers said that Biggs had threatened to kill himself before and had faked it, so at first they didn’t believe him,” said Crane. “Gradually, as you read the blog further into the day the bloggers start commenting on how Biggs isn’t moving.”

Crane said comments on the thread included an exchange about whether the image of Biggs’ motionless body was a still photograph or a video, and eventually resulted in one of the site’s visitors calling the police, who tracked down the teen through his computer IP address.

According to Wired magazine, online viewers watching the video ranged from “OMG” — Internet slang for oh my god — and LOL — an abbreviation for laughing out loud.

OK, many thought it was not real, but still… LOL and OMG? Why are we finding ourselves in a place where a young man can commit suicide while thousands look on and even encourage the act?

Montana Miller, an assistant professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said Biggs’ very public suicide was not shocking, given the way teenagers chronicle every facet of their lives on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

“If it’s not recorded or documented then it doesn’t even seem worthwhile,” she said. “For today’s generation it might seem, `What’s the point of doing it if everyone isn’t going to see it?'”

She likened Biggs’ death to other public ways of committing suicide, like jumping off a bridge.

The story of Abraham Biggs, in my perspective, is one of a troubled young man who wanted attention and fame. He tried various means to gather that attention ultimately reaching-out to the Internet in a way that could be recorded for history. Online, he engaged in a peer-group that ultimately did not kill him, but did not prevent his death either. The death of Biggs will leave a scar on many and reminds us all how fragile the human psyche can be.

For those of you who did not take him seriously and encouraged what you thought was a joke, you will have your own conscious to deal with. For the rest, especially the parents in the crowd, please talk to your kids and make sure they have options in the face-to-face world to help them deal with problems.

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Nov 22 2008

Florida Teen Abraham Biggs Commits Suicide Live Online with Webcam

Category: Kids & Technology,ParentingTim @ 4:57 pm

Very disturbing news out of Florida this week:

A Florida teenager who used a webcam to live-stream his suicide Wednesday was reportedly encouraged by other people on the Web site, authorities told ABCNews.com.

“People were egging him on and saying things like ‘go ahead and do it, faggot,’ said Wendy Crane, an investigator at the Broward County Medical Examiner’s office.

Abraham Biggs, 19, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., had been blogging on an online body-building message board and had linked to his page on Justin.tv, a live video streaming Web site, where the camera rolled as he overdosed on prescription pills, according to Crane

And there’s more

”He would say things weren’t going well in life,” said Natasha Mazzolino, who met Biggs, 19, about a year ago in the computer lab where he worked at Broward College. “He was having problems with his girlfriend and problems at home.”

Mazzolino said Biggs Jr. spent a lot of time on the Internet and while his suicide was shocking, his decision to broadcast his death was not. Internet users who claimed to have interacted with Biggs online referred to him as a ”troll” — someone who spends many hours online — and said he had threatened to kill himself before.

”He was very much into the Internet. If this is something he was going to do this is how he was going to do it,” Mazzolino said.

Biggs ingested a lethal mixture of three different drugs early Wednesday, then continued to blog about it while others watched online and egged him on, the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office said.

The end of the video — which shows Pembroke Pines police busting into his bedroom and discovering his body — remained up on LiveVideo.com as of Friday morning.

I know we live in a voyeuristic society, but this is going way too far. This kid was obviously troubled and I suspect the majority of “viewers” did not believe the events were real, but they were. What has been interesting is the reaction to this event. One of the advantages of social networking is, there is a felling of family out there and people tend to help others out.

Take this video from TomWiki for example:

A good sentiment for an awful situation. People will often find a way to cry out for help, we just have to make sure we are listening.

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Nov 22 2008

Valentine Nebraska’s “Butt Bandit” Caught With His Pants Down

Category: HumorTim @ 9:00 am

This story cracks me up:

Police have arrested a man suspected of leaving greasy, graphic imprints on the windows of stores, churches and schools in a small Nebraska town. A 35-year-old man was caught in the act by police early Wednesday morning, Cherry County Attorney Eric Scott said Friday. The man hasn’t been charged yet, but authorities believe he is the vandal some townsfolk have dubbed the “Butt Bandit.”

Beginning in spring of 2007, a mystery vandal visited businesses at night, pressing his naked behind – sometimes his groin, sometimes both – on windows. The marks were made with lotion or petroleum jelly, and while police had earlier worried copycat criminals were getting involved, Scott said they now believe it’s “the act of a lone deviant.”

“This isn’t normal behavior for Valentine, Neb.,” Scott said. “It’s an embarrassment for the hardworking people who live here.”

Wait, a guy from Valentine goes around making “impressions” on local shop windows. Oh the humanity! This adds an entirely new meaning to “stained” glass windows at the local churches. Maybe he was just providing creative bun advertising for the local bakery. Could Valentine be the secret hangout of Joe the Plumber?

The best part of the story was the concern by police over copycat criminals or was it copycrack criminals?

This has been a big news year for Nebraska. First, we had the Safe Haven Law/teenager dumping ground and now we have the vertical smilings of the Butt Bandit. Nebraska rocks!


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