Thursday, September 30, 2010

Prosecutor: Bias charges may come in webcast of sexual encounter

Prosecutor: Bias charges may come in webcast of sexual encounter

From the CNN Wire Staff
September 30, 2010 7:09 p.m. EDT

New York (CNN) -- New Jersey prosecutors said Thursday they are determining whether additional charges, including bias, may be brought against two Rutgers University students accused of invading the privacy of fellow student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide last week after his sexual encounter with another man was streamed online.
''The initial focus of this investigation has been to determine who was responsible for remotely activating the camera in the dormitory room of the student and then transmitting the encounter on the Internet,'' Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J Kaplan said.
''Now that two individuals have been charged with invasion of privacy, we will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges,'' Kaplan said in a statement.
On the evening of September 19, Rutgers student Dharun Ravi is believed to have sent a message by Twitter about his roommate, Clementi.
"Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
Video: NJ Gov: How will they sleep at night?
Video: Expert: Suicide linked to spying
Video: Sex spying linked to death?
Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, surreptitiously placed the camera in their dorm room and broadcast video of Clementi's sexual encounter on the internet, the Middlesex County prosecutor's office said. Ravi tried to use the webcam again two days later, on September 21.
"Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again," Ravi is believed to have tweeted.
The next day, Clementi was dead.
Authorities said the 18-year-old freshman committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York. A law enforcement source told CNN that Clementi's wallet and cell phone were found on the bridge.
The New York City Medical Examiner's office said Thursday that a body recovered a day earlier from the Hudson River is Clementi's. Spokeswoman Grace Burgess said the cause of death was ruled to be suicide by drowning and blunt injuries from the impact of the jump from the bridge.
A mobile status update September 22 on a Facebook page purportedly belonging to Clementi said: "jumping off the gw bridge sorry."
Ravi and his friend Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton, New Jersey, are each charged with two counts of invasion of privacy for the September 19 broadcast, according to the prosecutor's office. Two more counts of invasion of privacy were leveled against Ravi for a September 21 attempt to videotape another encounter involving Clementi, the prosecutor's office said.
Under New Jersey law, a person is guilty of bias intimidation if he or she commits a crime with the purpose of intimidating someone because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or ethnicity; or if the victim or victim's property was selected as a target because of the same factors.
"If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university's standards of decency and humanity," Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said in a statement Wednesday, when the news of Clementi's death broke.
Both Wei and Ravi surrendered to campus police -- Wei surrendered on Monday and was released on her own recognizance; Ravi surrendered Tuesday and was released on $25,000 bail.
Steven Altman, Ravi's attorney, had no comment Thursday. It was not clear if Wei had retained an attorney.
If convicted, the two students could face up to five years in prison.
Paul Callan, a professor of media law at Seton Hall University, said Ravi and Wei could face an additional charge if it turns out that the broadcast of Clementi's encounter was fueled by hatred of gay people.
Details about Clementi's sexual orientation are unclear. Rutgers University student Danielle Birnbohm, who lived next door to Clementi's and Ravi's room in the dorm, told CNN affiliate WPIX that Clementi was gay. "It was obvious," she said.
Ravi apparently tweeted a message on August 22, nine days before classes began at Rutgers. "Found out my roommate is gay?" the tweet, believed to be posted by Ravi, said, according to Topsy, a search engine that allows users to access tweets removed from Twitter. In that same tweet, the writer linked to a thread on
On another page on, someone posted a thread labeled "college roommate spying."
The user dubbed cit2mo wrote on September 21, a day before Clementi jumped from the bridge, "so the other night i had a guy over. I had talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine w/him. I checked his twitter today. he tweeted that I was using the room (which is obnoxious enough), AND that he went into somebody else's room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me making out with a guy. given the angle of the webcam I can be confident that that was all he could have."
Cit2mo asked readers what he should do, including whether to get another roommate. Cit2mo also said he didn't want to report his roommate and "then end up with nothing happening except him getting pissed at me...."
In another post, cit2mo wrote about his roommate.
"I guess what he was doing was...he was in another person's room, with other people... and so I feel like it was 'look at what a fag my roommate is' ... and the fact that the people he was with saw my making out with a guy as the scandal whereas i mean come on...he was SPYING ON they see nothing wrong with this?"
Several people who responded to cit2mo's post expressed outrage and said the webcam was an invasion of privacy. Cit2mo said he might talk with a resident assistant in the dorm.
Cit2mo later responded that he had reported the incident.
"He [the resident assistant] seemed to take it seriously... he asked me to email him a written paragraph about what exactly happened... I emailed it to him, and to two people above him...."
That post came at 6:17 a.m. on the day that Clementi disappeared. It was the last message cit2mo put on the forum.
CNN was unable Thursday to determine whether cit2mo was Clementi, but a laywer for the website said the posts were traced back to Rutgers. A label under cit2mo's name on the forum had been changed from "On the Prowl" to "In Loving Memory" Thursday.
"To me, it looks like that's the guy," said Chad Belville, attorney for Colorado-based BluMedia, which owns
Belville told CNN the company will keep the posts on the site.
"We don't want to cover up what happened. This is a learning experience. This is what gay men are going through," Belville said. "I hope we can reach out to some other isolated kids who really need some place to go."
In a later statement, BluMedia said " mourns the tragic loss of Tyler Clementi and the pain being endured by his friends and family. Tyler's death brings national attention to the fact that anti-gay bigotry is still alive and well, even in our universities. While Tyler's death has brought focus to the abuse gay men face every day, countless others continue to silently suffer. We hope that this tragedy will open the eyes of any who believe anti-gay bigotry causes no harm."
Rutgers won't comment on the chat forum because of an ongoing investigation, said Gregory Blimling, vice president for student affairs.
McCormick said the community was grieving for Clementi.
"I have spoken with Tyler's parents to extend my own and the university's deepest sympathies, and we will continue to respect the family's request for privacy," McCormick said in a statement Thursday. "It is up to us at Rutgers to honor this young man's life by reaffirming, and living up to, our commitment to the values of civility, dignity, compassion,and respect for one another."
The group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays cited several cases of young people it said were victims of hate crimes and severe bullying. "It's time to take a stand for youth, families and inclusive safer school laws and policies," the organization said.
Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay and lesbian civil rights organization Garden State Equality, said he was sickened by this incident.
"There are no words sufficient to express our range of feelings," Goldstein said. "We are outraged at the perpetrators. We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind. And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others' lives as a sport."
But Raj Ardeshna, 17, a senior at West Windsor Plainsboro High School North and a former classmate of both defendants, told CNN that the two were "terrific people."
"To know that two intelligent kids could get caught up in something like this is shocking to me," Ardeshna said. "The only rationale I've been able to come up with is that they thought they were being funny -- but I really couldn't tell you.
"Without a doubt they must both be filled with regret and are distraught over what happened to Tyler, and as cliched as it sounds -- they are both good people," Ardeshna said. "And they just turned 18 and they just went to college, and everyone slips up without understanding the consequences."
But Parry Aftab, the founder and executive director of, disagreed.
"These young people had to have known the devastating effects of their actions," Aftab said. "And while they may not have foreseen death -- they had to have known how much pain that this would cause."
Those who knew Clementi described him as quiet and an accomplished musician -- he played violin with the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, thousands of people joined memorial pages set up for Clementi, whose apparent tragedy began on the internet and continued to unfold there.
CNN's Kristen Hamill, Ross Levitt, Logan Burruss, Mark Norman, Swetha Iyengar, Mia Aquino, Kevin McKinnon, Moni Basu and Phil Gast contributed to this report.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Teen Pleads Guilty to Killing Sleeping Mother

Teen Pleads Guilty to Killing Sleeping Mother

Tylar Witt, 14 and Steven Colver, 19

PLACERVILLE, Calif. -- A teenager accused of plotting the murder of her mother entered a guilty plea in court today as part of a deal to get a reduced sentence.

Under the agreement, 15-year old Tyler Witt agreed to testify against co-defendant Steven Colver.

Witt and Colver are accused in the 2009 stabbing death of 47-year old Joanne Witt.

The teenager also agreed to tell prosecutors where they hid the knife used in the murder.

Prosecutors alleged Witt spiked her 47-year-old mother's drink with drugs, then called her Colver and let him into the house.

Witt's attorney maintains it was Colver who committed the murder and that girl was acting under Colver's influence.

However, Colver's attorney argues that Joanne Witt was already dead when his client arrived at the home.

Colver was 19-years-old and Witt 14-years-old at the time of the murder.

Prosecutors said the couple was upset after the mother sought statutory rape charges against Colver and gave sheriff's deputies her daughter's diary.

Eddie Fisher, Pop Singer, Dies

Eddie Fisher, Pop Singer, Dies at 86

Filed at 12:17 a.m. ET
Associated Press
Elizabeth Taylor, left, with Eddie Fisher and Ms. Reynolds, the couple she came between, in 1958.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eddie Fisher, whose huge fame as a pop singer was overshadowed by scandals ending his marriages to Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor, has died. He was 85.
His daughter, Tricia Leigh Fisher of Los Angeles, told The Associated Press that Fisher died Wednesday night of complications from hip surgery at a hospital in Berkeley.
"Late last evening the world lost a true America icon," Fisher's family said in a statement released by publicist British Reece. "One of the greatest voices of the century passed away. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch."
The death was first reported by Hollywood website
Fisher's clear dramatic singing voice brought him a devoted following of teenage girls in the early 1950s. He sold millions of records with 32 hit songs including "Thinking of You," ''Any Time," ''Oh, My Pa-pa," ''I'm Yours," ''Wish You Were Here," ''Lady of Spain" and "Count Your Blessings."
His fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to movie darling Debbie Reynolds — they were touted as "America's favorite couple" — and the birth of two children.
Their daughter Carrie Fisher became a film star herself in the first three "Star Wars" films as Princess Leia, and later as a best-selling author of "Postcards From the Edge" and other books.
Carrie Fisher spent most of 2008 on the road with her autobiographical show "Wishful Drinking." In an interview with The Associated Press, she told of singing with her father on stage in San Jose. Eddie Fisher was by then in a wheelchair and living in San Francisco.
When Eddie Fisher's best friend, producer Mike Todd, was killed in a 1958 plane crash, Fisher comforted the widow, Elizabeth Taylor. Amid sensationalist headlines, Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959.
The Fisher-Taylor marriage lasted only five years. She fell in love with co-star Richard Burton during the Rome filming of "Cleopatra," divorced Fisher and married Burton in one of the great entertainment world scandals of the 20th century.
Fisher's career never recovered from the notoriety. He married actress Connie Stevens, and they had two daughters. Another divorce followed. He married twice more.
Edwin Jack Fisher was born Aug. 10, 1928, in Philadelphia, one of seven children of a Jewish grocer. At 15 he was singing on Philadelphia radio.
After moving to New York, Fisher was adopted as a protege by comedian Eddie Cantor, who helped the young singer become a star in radio, television and records.
Fisher's romantic messages resonated with young girls in the pre-Elvis period. Publicist-manager Milton Blackstone helped the publicity by hiring girls to scream and swoon at Fisher's appearances.
After getting out of the Army in 1953 following a two-year hitch, hit records, his own TV show and the headlined marriage to Reynolds made Fisher a top star. The couple costarred in a 1956 romantic comedy, "Bundle of Joy," that capitalized on their own parenthood.
In 1960 he played a role in "Butterfield 8," for which Taylor won an Academy Award. But that film marked the end of his movie career.
After being discarded by Taylor, Fisher became the butt of comedians' jokes. He began relying on drugs to get through performances, and his bookings dwindled. He later said he had made and spent $20 million during his heyday, and much of it went to gambling and drugs.
In 1983, Fisher attempted a full-scale comeback. But his old fans had been turned off by the scandals, and the younger generation had been turned on by rock. The tour was unsuccessful.
He had added to his notoriety that year with an autobiography, "Eddie: My Life, My Loves." Of his first three marriages, he wrote he had been bullied into marriage with Reynolds, whom he didn't know well; became nursemaid as well as husband to Taylor, and was reluctant to marry Connie Stevens but she was pregnant and he "did the proper thing."
Another autobiography, "Been There, Done That," published in 1999, was even more searing. He called Reynolds "self-centered, totally driven, insecure, untruthful, phony." He claimed he abandoned his career during the Taylor marriage because he was too busy taking her to emergency rooms and cleaning up after her pets, children and servants. Both ex-wives were furious, and Carrie Fisher threatened to change her name to Reynolds.
At 47, Fisher married a 21-year-old beauty queen, Terry Richard. The marriage ended after 10 months. His fifth marriage, to Betty Lin, a Chinese-born businesswoman, lasted longer than any of the others. Fisher had two children with Reynolds: Carrie and Todd; and two girls with Stevens: Joely and Tricia.
Associated Press Writer Bob Thomas in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

10 Major New Health Reform Benefits Take Effect Today

Rep. John B. Larson

Rep. John B. Larson

Posted: September 23, 2010 01:44 PM

Major new health reform benefits take effect today to help keep health insurance companies accountable, lower health care costs, guarantee more health care choices, and enhance the quality of health care for all Americans.
Starting today, insurers will be required to:
  • Keep you covered when you get sick: Simple mistakes or typos will no longer be grounds for insurance companies to cancel your insurance.
  • Cover kids with pre-existing conditions: Your kids can no longer be denied health coverage just because they have a pre-existing condition like hay fever, asthma, or previous sports injuries. This protection extends to all plans, except "grandfathered" plans in the individual market.
  • Allow young adults to stay on their parents' plan up to age 26: Even if their first few jobs don't provide health benefits, your kids can still remain covered by your insurance.
  • Remove lifetime limits: You will no longer need to worry about your health insurer limiting the amount of coverage available through their plan if you face an expensive medical condition. This will help Americans who develop chronic conditions from taking drastic measures to avoid medical bankruptcy.
  • Phase out annual limits: Many plans include annual dollar limits on how much medical coverage can be obtained per year. On all non-"grandfathered" plans in the individual market, these limits will be phased out over the next three years.
For any insurance plan that goes into effect after September 23, 2010, your insurance company must:
Many other new benefits of the law have already taken effect, including rebate checks for seniors in the donut hole and tax credits for small businesses. Keep watching, as more rights, protections and benefits for Americans are on the way now through 2014.
To learn more about how health care reform is helping you, visit
(The 10 major new health reform benefits take effect today was also cross-posted on the House Democrats blog.)
Follow Rep. John B. Larson on Twitter:
Read more from Huffington Post bloggers:
Wendell Potter
Wendell Potter: New Health-Care Provisions Begin to Pay Off for All Ages

For those who think the law should be repealed, I ask them to just stop and think how their loved ones might already be better off than they were six months ago -- and how much better off we all will be when the law has been fully implemented in 2014.
Nigel Hamilton
Nigel Hamilton: History As Tragedy -- The Republican 'Pledge to America'

Can we fight the evil tide of know-nothingness that is sweeping the country and potentially handing congressional power over to a group of dimwits, determined to ruin the American empire?
Rep. Jim McDermott
Rep. Jim McDermott: Health Care Reform Benefits: Truth vs. Pure Politics

Six months after Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the sky is still there, grandma hasn't been euthanized, and there are no death panels. Today, just six months after becoming law, even more benefits of reform take effect.

Katy Perry Booted from Sesame Street - Video Included

Right click & watch on YouTube

Katy Perry Booted from Sesame Street

The pop star's outfits were apparently too racy for the children's show.

Katy Perry and Elmo perform 'Hot and Cold'
Katy Perry and Elmo perform 'Hot and Cold' (

NEW YORK -- Katy Perry's cleavage is fine for Russell Brand - not so for Elmo and Sesame Street.

The children's show says it won't air a taped segment featuring the " California Gurls" singer and Elmo. The pop star - who is known for her risque outfits - wore a gold bustier top as she sang a version of her hit "Hot N Cold." But some felt it was too revealing for the kid set.

Sesame Street said in a statement Thursday that in light of the "feedback we've received" after the bit was aired on YouTube, they won't include it on the show. While the show said it was still available on YouTube, it had been removed by the official Sesame Street YouTube channel. Other versions on YouTube have generated thousands of hits.

A rep for Perry said Thursday that Perry enjoyed her time with Sesame Street and Elmo, and pointed out that the clip is still online on her website.

Katy Perry katyperry Wow, looks like my play date with Elmo has been cut short! If you still wanna play see it at Tag you're it, Elmo!

Marlo Thomas links from Demi Moore

Demi Moore mrskutcher
Please give a warm welcome 2 the lovely Marlo Thomas who has gone live! @marlo_thomas

Marlo Thomas - I've launched this Facebook page so I can start creating a community with women about dreaming, laughing, and inspiring each other. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s big news!

Marlo Thomas - Take a look at my new video series, Hero Next Door. I'm finding and profiling amazing women -- just like you. Watch the first feature about Lu Picard of Torrington, Conn. -- and then nominate a Hero now by emailing!

The Hero Next Door: Lu Picard Part 1 - Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas - I've been in interviews all day for my new book, "Growing Up Laughing." I grew up in a comedian's home where there were lots of jokes and lots of laughter. But I'd really love to hear from you. Can you share a funny story about who made you laugh growing up?

France braces for day of strikes Thursday

France braces for day of strikes Thursday

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updated 12 minutes ago
Protesters are counting on people power to pressure the government to back down on its plan to up the retirement age from 60 to 62, with a second round of September strikes expected to hobble public transport, air traffic and schools across France.
Workers at the state-run train system, the SNCF, started their strike Wednesday evening, at 1700 GMT, getting an overnight headstart on other sectors that plan to walk off the job Thursday.
Union organizers hope to put more people in the streets — and off the job — than on Sept. 7, when at least 1.1 million people turned out to oppose President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to increase the retirement age in order to save the deficit-ridden pension system. As many as 231 protest marches are planned nationwide.
The strikes are seen as a test for the conservative Sarkozy. He has indicated he is willing to make marginal concessions but remains firm on the central point: increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62 and pushing back the age from 65 to 67 for those who want to ensure full retirement benefits.
As baby boomers reach retirement age and life expectancy increases, the government insists it is necessary to raise the retirement age so the pension system can break even by 2018.
The SNCF announced that one in two fast trains during the strike will be canceled, with regional services also only at 50 percent. The Eurostar to London was not expected to be affected and the Thalys train from Belgium was expeted to be only slightly hit, with nine in 10 trains running.
Paris commuters can expect uneven service in the Metro and long waits on suburban lines.
Many air travelers will be out of luck, with major disturbances expected in air traffic. Only 50 percent of flights operating out of Orly Airport, south of Paris, are expected to take off and 40 percent at the French capital's main airport, Charles de Gaulle, civil aviation authorities said. Other French airports also were expected to slow the pace as air traffic controllers join in the strike movement.
The main teachers union said more than one teacher in two would not show up for class.
"If the government remains deaf, we won't stop at this," said the head of the moderate CFDT union, Francois Chereque, in an interview in Wednesday's Le Parisien daily. "We are a lasting movement," he said.
Some unions at the SNCF railway have already called for new strike to continue beyond Thursday.
Even the Paris Opera is being hit by the job action. It announced Wednesday that a performance at the Garnier theater would be held in costumes but without scenery while the house would be dark at the Bastille Opera — on the site of the start of Thursday's Paris march.

Bentley issues US recall over 'Flying B' badge fault

Bentley issues US recall over 'Flying B' badge fault

Bentley 'Flying B' bonnet ornament
The Flying B could harm pedestrians in a crash
Bentley, the luxury British car maker, is to recall almost 600 vehicles in the United States because of a fault with the iconic "Flying B" bonnet ornament.
The winged statue is designed to retract if the car crashes but may fail when rusty, the recall notice said.
"This could increase the risk of injury to a pedestrian in the event of a crash," said the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Related stories

The recall affects the Arnage, Azure and Brooklands models, from 2007-2009.
For some Bentley fans, the "Flying B" is the car's crowning glory, says the BBC's Bethany Bell in Washington.
But there are fears that in the event of a crash, pedestrians could become impaled by the statue, our correspondent writes.
Bentley said it took the step to recall the cars after a dealer in Britain spotted the problem.
But the company said it was "not aware of any accidents or injuries" involving the famous statue, our correspondent adds.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

iJustine at 99,922 followers & on set at Criminal Minds / The Veronicas / Teenage Dream parody by Brit Taylor

Click on pic for larger pics.
99,922 Followers on 9-22-10 - One of the last screen shots in 5 figures.

Christopher Walken - The Angel of Death sketch

*********************** posted a new music video spoof. It's just as bad as all the others so GET EXCITED!! lol!

iJustine has been reincarnated!

# BonnieMcKeee Just wrote an awesome 'The Craft' inspired song with my two little witches @theVeronicas ! Love it!

# theveronicas NEW SONG: "HEART LIKE A BOAT": Last night Lisa & Jess debuted a brand new song called "Heart Like a Boat." Watch ...

  1. Eric Bentsen disasterpastor

    "TEENAGE DREAM" by Katy Perry MUSIC VIDEO Parody - BrittaniLouiseTaylor

Governor Race Tightens as Bloomberg Backs Cuomo

September 22, 2010, 9:49 am

Governor Race Tightens as Bloomberg Backs Cuomo

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg 
Michael Appleton for The New York Times Michael R. Bloomberg and Andrew M. Cuomo, just before Mr. Bloomberg endorsed Mr. Cuomo for governor.

Updated, 12:50 p.m. | 9-22-10

Andrew M. Cuomo’s painstakingly-constructed veneer of political inevitability began to crack on Wednesday, as a new poll showing his Republican opponent, Carl P. Paladino, within striking distance underscored growing strains within his campaign over how to grapple with Mr. Paladino’s unexpected strength in the race.
Just hours after the poll came out, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg publicly endorsed Mr. Cuomo, and much of the back-and-forth with reporters that followed focused on the coming fight with Mr. Paladino and his recent caustic comments about Mr. Cuomo.
Released Wednesday by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, the poll found that Mr. Cuomo, the state attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor, leads Mr. Paladino by just 49 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, driven by overwhelming support for Mr. Paladino by voters considering themselves part of the Tea Party movement.
The poll surveyed 751 New York voters defined by Quinnipiac as likely to vote in November — as opposed to earlier polls that surveyed all registered voters — and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Mr. Cuomo has for many months been the prohibitive favorite to be New York’s next governor and, accordingly, he has run a classic Rose Garden campaign for much of that time, tightly controlling his public appearances and in the last week refusing to engage with Mr. Paladino’s attacks on him.
But the new poll suggests that Mr. Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo real estate developer who romped to victory in the Republican primary last week, may prove to be more than a mere distraction.
At an appearance in Manhattan with Mr. Bloomberg, who announced that he would endorse the attorney general, Mr. Cuomo, looking somber, reiterated that he would not respond to Mr. Paladino’s more outrageous provocations, which have included suggestions that Mr. Cuomo lacks the back bone to face his attacks.
But Mr. Cuomo began to draw more a far more direct comparison to Mr. Paladino than he has in the last week, saying that he welcomed a debate over which candidate was better equipped to bring change to the state Capitol.
“In terms of the issues, that is a conversation that I’m excited to have,” said Mr. Cuomo. “Who has a better plan to change this state? Who has the experience to change this state? Who’s been part of changing Albany, versus who has been part of the pay-to-play system of Albany. That’s a dialogue I’m excited to have.”
Mr. Cuomo also sought to finesse the issue of outrage, arguing that while he understood voters’ anger at the political establishment, only he could harness it into a productive force for change.
“So we’re all angry!” Mr. Cuomo said. “Okay, what do you want to do? We can have an anger party, celebrate our anger. Or we can say let’s take that anger, let’s take the energy, let’s focus it and actually do something to correct the problem. Let’s actually have progress for the state. And that’s what my campaign is all about.”
Mr. Cuomo added, “My campaign says take the anger, understand the anger, acknowledge the anger, but use the energy and bring it to a positive place. Have a plan.”
September 15, 2010, 2:02 pm

Paladino Promises a Relentless Attack Against Cuomo

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Carl P. Paladino  
Carl P. Paladino, the winner of the Republican primary for governor, conducting a radio interview in his offices in downtown Buffalo on Wednesday morning.

BUFFALO — Fresh from having romped to a lopsided victory in the Republican primary for governor, Carl P. Paladino vowed Wednesday to attack Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo “like General Patton,” saying he would exploit Mr. Cuomo’s “immaturity” and his “ego.”
“We’re going to charge, charge, charge,” Mr. Paladino said in a wide-ranging 40-minute interview with The New York Times on Wednesday morning. “General Patton, when they told him to get up there to the bulge and bring his Third Army and help those soldiers up there — it didn’t matter who was in his way. He charged, charged, charged.”
Sitting in the corner office of his real estate company in downtown Buffalo, with his late son Patrick’s gray pit bull, Duke, at his feet, Mr. Paladino said he would assail Mr. Cuomo’s record as federal housing secretary. And he would seek to blame Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, for the broader dysfunction of state government.
“This guy Sheldon Silver, who he calls one of his best friends, was first to endorse him,” Mr. Paladino said referring to Mr. Cuomo. “I hold him as very much a part of this last government.”
Later, Mr. Paladino referred to Mr. Silver, the powerful Assembly speaker, as a “dictator.”
And, echoing a widespread conservative argument, he asserted that Mr. Cuomo had “lit the fuse” on the nation’s housing crisis by pushing to lower lending standards at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two quasi-public mortgage giants.
Asked what he saw as Mr. Cuomo’s vulnerabilities, Mr. Paladino replied: “His immaturity. His ego. I think insular is a very good word for him.”
Mr. Paladino did not elaborate in great detail, but said the first time he noticed those characteristics was when he saw that Mr. Cuomo, arriving at an event, waited for his car door to be opened rather than open it himself, and did the same when entering a building.
Mr. Paladino dismissed concerns that the Republican Party would be rocked by his nomination, saying he had already fielded a congratulatory call from the party’s state chairman, Edward Cox. “We’re on the same page,” Mr. Paladino said. “He’s getting on the bus with us and we’re all going to the dance together.”
Having spent some $3 million of his own money to win the primary, Mr. Paladino insisted he would not bypass heavily Democratic Manhattan and Brooklyn in the fall campaign, but did not make firm commitments, saying only that he would buy ads in the city’s costly television market “at the appropriate time.”
He did, however, give some specifics on his plans to taunt Mr. Cuomo into debating him, saying he would send thousands of duck calls to Tea Party organizations around the state.
Mr. Paladino also sought to explain his rationale for proposing turning prisons into dormitories where welfare recipients could be given classes on hygiene.
When he was in the military training troops at Fort Dix in New Jersey, Mr. Paladino said, “We had to teach them basic things,” even that they should clean themselves daily and brush their teeth twice a day.

Mexican New Yorkers Are Steady Force in Workplace

Mexican New Yorkers Are Steady Force in Workplace

Marcus Yam/The New York Times
Teo (last name withheld), a Mexican worker, has a job in a Brooklyn grocery.

Night and day, the heavy front door rarely stops swinging. Men and women pass one another at the entrance of a four-story building on 21st Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, on their way out to work, or back in for a few hours of sleep between shifts. They are line cooks, construction laborers, delivery men, deli workers, housecleaners and gardeners.

Now Arriving

Hard on the Job
This is the third in a series of articles examining the lives and impact of New York City’s fast-growing Mexican population.
Marcus Yam/The New York Times
Alex (last name withheld) comes home to his wife, Agnes, in Brooklyn about 8 p.m. after working at a grocery six days a week.

A dozen of the building’s 16 apartments are occupied by Mexicans, and most of those have two families per unit, sometimes more. Except for a few women caring for small children, all the adults — about 50 — are employed. Most work long hours, six days a week, for minimum wage or less. Some have two jobs.
The building is a microcosm of Mexican industriousness in New York City. And there are hundreds of others like it, bastions of low-wage work, crowding and hope.
In a time of widespread joblessness, Mexicans in New York have proved unusually adept at finding and keeping work. Of the city’s 10 largest immigrant groups, they have the highest rate of employment and are more likely to hold a job than New York’s native-born population, according to an analysis of the most recently available census data. They are even employed at a greater rate than Mexicans nationwide.
And as they have filled the city’s restaurant kitchens and building sites, they have acquired a reputation for an extraordinary work ethic.
“They put their heads down and work,” said John Delgado, business manager of Local 79, a general building laborers’ union in New York. “They’re very, very humble. They’re dedicated, whether they work half a day or a day and a half.”
That success, though, has a flip side. One reason Mexicans have found work in such numbers, experts say, is that many are illegal immigrants, and less likely to report workplace abuses to the authorities for fear of deportation.
“Illegal immigrants are very convenient,” said Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. “Employers are quite interested in employing people who are willing to work and to overlook some labor laws.”
Several tenants in the Bensonhurst building said they had held jobs that paid less than the minimum wage. The tenants, who asked that their last names be withheld because they feared being fired or deported, said they had never been paid overtime compensation, were routinely handed the least desirable tasks and were sometimes forced to work on their one free day.
“They can call me and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to come in tomorrow and work,’ ” said Francisco, 36, who lives in Apartment 3D with his wife and two other couples, and prepares food at a nearby deli. “There’s nothing I can do. I have to go work.”
Across the country, immigrants in general are more likely to be employed than the American-born. They tend to be more willing to move in pursuit of jobs and to take any job they can find, especially if they lack access to unemployment benefits. But Mexicans in New York still stand out in employment statistics, not only in the city but also in the nation.
About 75 percent of all Mexicans in the city between ages 16 and 65 are in the civilian labor force — either working or looking for work — according to calculations by the sociology department at Queens College for The New York Times, based on 2008 census data. Of those, about 96 percent have jobs. Among Mexicans nationwide, that figure is 94 percent.
The employment rate just for New York’s working-age Mexican men is even higher: 97 percent. Only Italians have a higher rate of employed men — 98 percent — though some analysts believe that the census underestimates employment rates for populations with high numbers of illegal immigrants, like Mexicans, because those without papers fear revealing their employment status.
A major reason the job rates for Mexican New Yorkers are so high is the disproportionate number of men and younger people among them, said Laird Bergad, director of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
About three of every five Mexican immigrants of working age in the city are men, according to the census data, and more than four of every five Mexican immigrants are in their mid-teens to mid-40s. Those numbers are smaller for Mexicans nationwide — in part, experts say, because the Mexican population in the American Southwest, where Mexican immigrants are concentrated in their greatest numbers, is more established.
Many Mexican men in New York left their wives and children behind when they came in search of jobs. Some of them say the absence of families makes it easier to endure the hardships they have faced, like poor living conditions, and to focus on work.
“Employers love them because they want to work as many hours as they can,” said Robert C. Smith, an associate professor at Baruch College and a leading expert on the Mexican diaspora in New York. “Americans expect accommodations to be made in their personal lives. But these guys have no personal lives.”
The separation can cause deep emotional stress. “It puts tremendous strain on them,” Mr. Smith said. “These guys are away from their families for years at a time. There’s a tremendous amount of loneliness and alcohol abuse.”
He added that while there was nothing intrinsic to their culture or character that made Mexicans better workers than others, a certain pride came with the toil.
Alex, 35, who lives with his brother and their families in Apartment 3C of the Bensonhurst building, said that the hardest tasks at the Manhattan supermarket where he works fell to him and other Mexicans at the bottom of the staff members’ pecking order.
“The Mexicans do the hardest work,” he said. “It’s not necessarily what we want to do, but it’s what we can get to survive.”
In New York, Mexican immigrants are most heavily concentrated in occupations that involve food preparation, according to data collated by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in New York. About 28 percent of all working-age Mexicans are in food-service jobs, while some 20 percent work in construction, the institute found.
The resilience of immigrants in New York has been put to the test during the economic downturn. According to a study released last month by the institute, unemployment rates increased for both immigrants and nonimmigrant New Yorkers from early 2008 to early 2010, but the rate for immigrants remained two percentage points lower than that of nonimmigrants.
The study also revealed that while the percentage of native-born residents in the city’s labor force fell as the worsening job market led many to abandon their search for work, that rate increased for immigrants, as family members with limited or no access to welfare payments and other safety-net protections sought jobs.
Indeed, while several Mexicans in the Bensonhurst building said they had suffered cuts in hours and even days during the worst months of the recession, none said they had gone without work for more than a few days at a time.
Still, most expressed a fear that their most recent paycheck could be their last.
Agustín, 45, who lives in Apartment 1A with four other men, left his wife and children behind in Mexico when he came to the United States in 2006 to find work. He spent most of the first few years picking up construction work around Brooklyn. But with the downturn in housing construction, he looked elsewhere, finding a job this year at a supermarket in Bensonhurst.
He now works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, he said, and is paid $4 an hour, more than $3 below the minimum wage. He sends whatever he can back to Mexico.
“I have a family, so I have to work,” he said late on a recent Sunday as he returned from his shift. He looked ragged.
“If I don’t work,” he said, “they don’t eat.”

Egg Producer to Apologize for Salmonella Outbreak

September 22, 2010

Egg Producer to Apologize for Salmonella Outbreak

WASHINGTON — An Iowa egg producer at the center of a nationwide outbreak of salmonella is expected apologize to a Congressional panel on Wednesday and admit that his family operation “got big quite a while before we stopped acting like we were small.”
“What I mean by that is we were big before we started adopting sophisticated procedures to be sure we met all of the government requirements,” Austin J. DeCoster said in testimony prepared for a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. He is the founder of an egg empire that has been linked over three decades to multiple deadly outbreaks of salmonella poisoning in many states.
Mr. DeCoster’s company, Wright County Egg, and another company, Hillandale Farms, recalled more than 500 million eggs last month after health officials traced salmonella bacteria that sickened more than 1,500 people to those companies.
A subsequent inspection by the Food and Drug Administration found that the barns of the egg producers were infested with flies, maggots and rodents, and had overflowing manure pits. Records unearthed by Congressional investigators showed that tests of Wright County Egg barns had shown the presence of toxic salmonella bacteria for years prior to the outbreak.
“We were horrified to learn that our eggs may have made people sick,” Mr. DeCoster, who is known as Jack, said in his prepared remarks. “We apologize to everyone who may have been sickened by eating our eggs.”
The egg producer’s frequent run-ins with regulators over labor, environmental and immigration violations at his operations have been well documented, and in his four-paragraph statement, Mr. DeCoster also accepted responsibility for mistakes that the company has made in complying with government regulations over the years.
Mr. DeCoster will tell the panel that Wright County Egg has for 10 years used employee training, additional monitoring and other steps that go beyond government requirements to ensure that his company’s eggs are safe.
“With all of these systems, we have made important strides, and I am proud of our work,” his statement says.
He does not explain, however, why those measures failed this year.
His son, Peter DeCoster, who is Wright County Egg’s chief operating officer, is expected to tell the committee that the company failed to test its eggs for the presence of salmonella bacteria despite environmental tests that showed that his barns were contaminated because “our perception was that egg test results always would be negative,” according to his written testimony.
After the company’s farms were linked with the present outbreak of salmonella, however, the company sent 70,200 eggs, enough to represent each farm, for testing.
“These tests confirmed that Wright County Egg was producing eggs contaminated with” salmonella, Peter DeCoster said in his prepared testimony.
In his written testimony, Peter DeCoster promised to vaccinate all of his flocks against salmonella, a relatively inexpensive measure that can be highly effective in preventing the spread of the disease but that is still not required by the F.D.A.
“By focusing on our flocks, our feed and our worker biosecurity protocols we intend to demonstrate our commitment to the production of eggs that are high quality and safe,” Peter DeCoster is expected to conclude.
He is also expected to tell the committee that the company suspects that contaminated feed was the culprit.
Inspection reports released by the F.D.A. in late August pointed to a feed mill operated by Wright County Egg as a potential source of the contamination. Officials said tests found salmonella in bone meal, a feed ingredient, and in feed given to young birds, which were raised to become laying hens.
In addition, the inspection reported birds roosting and flying about the mill. Nesting material was seen in parts of the mill, including the ingredient storage area and an area where trucks were loaded.

Malibu Must Remove Septic Tanks and Install Sewage Lines

Malibu Must Remove Septic Tanks and Install Sewage Lines

Malibu must replace septic tanks with sewage lines
Malibu must replace septic tanks with sewage lines

MALIBU -- The city's home and business septic tanks will soon be prohibited and the city will be required to install its first central sewage system and treatment facility after State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to ratify a recommendation by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The 5-0 vote in Sacramento was applauded by environmental activists and surfers who contended that Malibu had for too long delayed solving the problem of sewage from faulty septic tanks leaking into Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach.

Heal the Bay President Mark Gold said the move was long overdue. "We encourage Malibu to move forward with a clean water solution rather than pursuing the confrontational path of litigation. The state's action provides a future of "A" grades at Surfrider Beach."

Last November, the L.A. regional water board proposed a septic ban for about 550 businesses and residences in central and eastern Malibu.

Malibu officials had said the proposed zone was so large that the city could not devise a system capable of handling all of the waste water that would be produced.

The city presented a modified plan to the state board covering fewer homes and businesses. But in the end, the state water board backed the regional panel's proposal.

Malibu has 9 years to complete the central sewage system and treatment facility project.

The city incorporated in 1991 specifically to stop construction of a county sewer line because residents feared it would lead to massive development.

Censorship of the Internet Takes Center Stage in "Online Infringement" Bill

September 21st, 2010

Censorship of the Internet Takes Center Stage in "Online Infringement" Bill

Legislative Analysis by Richard Esguerra
Senator Patrick Leahy yesterday introduced the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (COICA). This flawed bill would allow the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to break the Internet one domain at a time — by requiring domain registrars/registries, ISPs, DNS providers, and others to block Internet users from reaching certain websites. The bill would also create two Internet blacklists. The first is a list of all the websites hit with a censorship court order from the Attorney General. The second, more worrying, blacklist is a list of domain names that the Department of Justice determines — without judicial review — are "dedicated to infringing activities." The bill only requires blocking for domains in the first list, but strongly suggests that domains on the second list should be blocked as well by providing legal immunity for Internet intermediaries and DNS operators who decide to block domains on the second blacklist as well. (It's easy to predict that there will be tremendous pressure for Internet intermediaries of all stripes to block these "deemed infringing" sites on the second blacklist.)
COICA is a fairly short bill, but it could have a longstanding and dangerous impact on freedom of speech, current Internet architecture, copyright doctrine, foreign policy, and beyond. In 2010, if there's anything we've learned about efforts to re-write copyright law to target "piracy" online, it's that they are likely to have unintended consequences.
This is a censorship bill that runs roughshod over freedom of speech on the Internet. Free speech is vitally important to democracy, which is why the government is restricted from suppressing speech except in very specific, narrowly-tailored situations. But this bill is the polar opposite of narrow — not only in the broad way that it tries to define a site "dedicated to infringing activities," but also in the solution that it tries to impose — a block on a whole domain, and not just the infringing part of the site.
We note that the DMCA already gives copyright owners legal tools to remove infringing material piece-by-piece, and to obtain injunctions requiring ISPs to block certain offshore infringing websites. The misuse of the existing DMCA provisions have had a tremendously damaging impact on fair use and free expression. By comparison, COICA streamlines and vastly expands this; it would allow the AG to shoot down a whole domain including all the blog posts, images, backups, and files underneath it. In other words, it's not just possible but probable that a great deal of legitimate, protected speech will be taken down in the name of copyright enforcement.
It is designed to undermine basic Internet infrastructure. When a user enters "" into their web browser, what responds is a domain name system server that tells the users' browser where EFF's website is located on the Internet. This bill would have the Attorney General prevent the players in that domain name system (possibly including your ISP) from telling you the truth about a website's location.
And it's not clear what a user would see in this situation — would it look like a "404 message," that simply says a site or page could not be found, without explaining why? Would users receive some kind of notice clarifying that the site they were seeking was made inaccessible at the behest of the government? Generally speaking, the bill forces all the Internet "middlemen" to act as if a part of the Internet doesn't exist, even though that page may otherwise be completely available and accessible.
COICA sends the world the message that the United States approves of unilateral Internet censorship. Which governments deny their citizens access to parts of the Internet? For now, it is mostly totalitarian, profoundly anti-democratic regimes that keep their citizens from seeing the whole Internet. With this bill, the United States risks telling countries throughout the world, "Unilateral censorship of websites that the government doesn't like is okay — and this is how you do it."
The bill's imbalances threaten to complicate existing laws and policies. The bill includes poorly drafted definitions that threaten fair use online, endanger innovative backup services, and raises questions about how these new obligations on Internet intermediaries are intended to fit with existing US secondary liability rules and the DMCA copyright safe harbor regime. Moreover, it seems easy to get on the blacklist — the bill sets up a seemingly streamlined procedure for adding domains (including a McCarthy-like procedure of public snitching) — but in contrast, it seems difficult to get off the list, with a cumbersome process to have a blacklisted domain removed.
And what do we get in exchange? Not much, if the goal is to actually limit unauthorized copying online. The bill gives the government power to play an endless game of whack-a-mole, blocking one domain after another, but even a relatively unsophisticated technologist can begin to imagine the workarounds: a return to encrypted peer-to-peer, modified /etc/hosts files (that don't rely on the domain name system for finding things on the Internet), and other tools, which will emerge and ensure that committed pirates have a way to route around the bill's damage to the DNS system.
To us, COICA looks like another misguided gift to a shortsighted industry whose first instinct with respect to the Internet is to try to break it. There are still many questions to be answered, but one thing is for sure — this bill allows the government to suppress truthful speech and could block access to a wealth of non-infringing speech, and the end result will do little to protect artists or mollify the industries that profit from them. Stay tuned for more analysis, information, and steps you can take to fight Internet censorship.