Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tex. Teacher Accused of Taping Student's Mouth

Teacher Placed on Administrative Leave After Parents Report of 1st Grader's Mouth Being Taped Shut
SAN ANTONIO - Officials say a San Antonio elementary school teacher is on leave after being accused of putting transparent tape over a first-grader's mouth.

First grader Serenah Kelly said the teacher eventually removed the tape and told her to be quiet, but while it was on her mouth, she said she had trouble breathing.

She described the incident as frightening
Danny Kelly said his daughter was afraid to tell him about what happened the day before winter break.

But he said her classmates at Schertz Elementary told their parents, who called the principal.

School district spokeswoman Rebecca Villarreal said officials put the teacher on administrative leave as soon as the taping was reported.

An investigation is ongoing.

Villarreal said the district takes "all incidents like this very seriously

Vegas tourist sues after 'tragic' lap dance encounter!

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Unless you go home and file a federal lawsuit alleging the exotic dancer/hooker who came to your hotel room didn't live up to expectations. And when you complained to Las Vegas police, they threatened to arrest you (but didn't), instead helpfully suggesting you take your complaint to the Better Business Bureau.

And you want your $155 for the lap dance back, plus the 120 bucks you shelled out for the sex act, because, after all, you were drunk and unable to enter into a coherent business agreement. Oh, yes, and $1.8 million to make it all better.

Or that's what the Las Vegas Sun reports in one of those only-in-Vegas stories. The paper says Hubert Blackman, a student from New York City, filed a lawsuit earlier this month stemming from the Dec. 17 incident. He said he called Las Vegas Exclusive Personals to hire an exotic dancer to come to his room and strip. She offered to perform a sex act, which he paid for, but stayed only half of the hour he alleges they agreed on.

When the company wouldn't refund his money, Blackman called police, who reminded him prostitution is illegal and told him he could be arrested. Then they advised contacting the BBB to complain, Blackman told the Sun.

Upon returning home, Blackman filed suit (without the aid of an attorney), alleging the incident caused a mental condition for which he needs treatment.

In an interview, Blackman told the Sun that the dancer solicited him, but said he knew prostitution is illegal in Sin City.

The Sun reports the escort service said it notifies potential customers who say they're looking for sex that prostitution is illegal in Clark County.

In the totally I DON'T GIVE A DAMN department!

Regis Quit Over Pay Cut

Now we get it: Regis Philbin is leaving Live With Regis and Kelly because ABC executives were planning to cut his salary. TMZ reports that Philbin makes nearly $20 million a year, but his show has not been performing well and he takes a lot of time off. Philbin was apparently angry about the new offer, and announced on air that he would leave the show.
Co-host Kelly Ripa found out 15 minutes before the two went on the air, and was reportedly "furious" with him because she felt he disrespected her. The show's entire production team is angry at Regis as well for "blindsiding" them, according to TMZ.

anesthetic used in executions is discontinuing

Maker of anesthetic used in executions is discontinuing drug
Death penalty states could face long-term complications after the move by the only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental.
California may have to revise laws governing its three-injection protocol.

The sole U.S. maker of the anesthetic used in executions announced Friday it would stop manufacturing sodium thiopental to prevent its product from being used to put prisoners to death.

Discontinuance of the drug that has been in short supply nationwide for the past year portends long-term complications for death penalty states. Some, like California, might have to revise laws governing executions and those seeking supplies from foreign makers may be turned away by countries that condemn capital punishment.

In California, the legal guidance for carrying out executions was amended in August after three years of debate and deliberation. The state's new protocols specify use of sodium thiopental as the first drug in the three-injection sequence, and any substitution would require the state to again revise the protocols, said Elisabeth Semel, a UC Berkeley law professor and director of the law school's Death Penalty Clinic.

Legal challenges to lethal-injection procedures have kept executions on hold for five years in California, where 718 prisoners are on death row. Corrections officials' attempt to carry out the execution of murderer Albert Greenwood Brown in September was thwarted by the litigation, as well as by the expiration of the state's last few grams of sodium thiopental.

Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., stopped making its brand of sodium thiopental, Pentothal, at a North Carolina plant early last year because of an unspecified raw material supply problem. When Hospira attempted to move production to a factory in Liscate, Italy, near Milan, Italian authorities demanded assurances that the drug wouldn't end up in the hands of executioners. Hospira spokesman Dan Rosenberg said company officers couldn't make that guarantee and decided instead to "exit the sodium thiopental market."

"We cannot take the risk that we will be held liable by the Italian authorities if the product is diverted for use in capital punishment," Rosenberg said.

Sodium thiopental is a powerful barbiturate that has "well-established medical benefits" for patients, the spokesman said, adding that Hospira has never condoned its use in executions.

As Pentothal supplies have run out, some of the 35 states that allow capital punishment have had to postpone executions or obtain supplies of the drug from abroad.

Both supporters and opponents of capital punishment predicted the drug discontinuance would place new legal hurdles to executions.

"Long-term, I expect that the states will follow the lead of Oklahoma and switch to another drug without a supply problem," said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which is in favor of the death penalty.

"Short-term, this requires going through the cumbersome regulation process with comment-spamming by the anti-death-penalty crowd," he said, urging the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which carries out executions at San Quentin State Prison, to start the legal revision immediately "so as to have it completed before an actual supply problem delays and denies justice again."

Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization opposed to capital punishment that tracks death sentences, said states with the death penalty will now have to turn to a different anesthetic or seek sodium thiopental from a foreign supplier, "both of which have pitfalls."

Oklahoma has already executed two men using the anesthetic pentobarbital, commonly used to euthanize animals. But many states' statutes and protocols specify what drugs are to be used, and switching requires a lengthy legal review and submission for public comment, Dieter noted.

Importing sodium thiopental has raised questions about how to verify its purity and effectiveness, and the FDA has declined to take responsibility for vetting the imports, said Dieter.

California corrections officials imported a large quantity of sodium thiopental — enough for about 90 executions — from a British distributor in November, before a public outcry in Britain led to a ban on export of the drug to the United States. All European states have renounced the death penalty and many have legal restrictions against knowingly facilitating executions elsewhere.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has been reviewing California's new lethal injection procedures and is expected to rule soon on whether they comply with the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.


Olbermann, MSNBC part ways (Hate to see him go but he became too harsh and too self important thinking he was more important than the issues in fact becoming the same for the left as the extreme right in style and too absolute on issues)

Keith Olbermann took an unexpected bow from MSNBC on Friday, announcing on air in the last 10 minutes of his show that it would be his final episode of “Countdown.”

The departure was a stealth move, MSNBC insiders told POLITICO, with many top executives and on-air personalities kept out of the loop as the decision was made. It came, one insider said, “Out of the … blue!”

“This will be the last edition of ‘Countdown’,” Olbermann said at about 8:50 as he led into his final commercial break. “I will explain that, next.”

Neither MSNBC nor Olbermann offered a reason for the departure, but several sources close to the situation said its roots lay in Olbermann’s defiant reaction to being suspended after POLITICO discovered that he had donated to Democratic candidates without telling his bosses.

Although Olbermann’s political leanings were quite clear, the move violated NBC policy, and Olbermann’s response angered NBC News President Steve Capus in particular, according to former MSNBC anchor David Shuster.

“It’s no secret that Steve was particularly upset – justifiably so – with how he handled the suspension,” he said in an interview with Anderson Cooper.

On air, Olbermann hinted that he had just learned of the end of his show Friday, and suggested his departure was not voluntary. “I think the same fantasy popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I have been told: this will be the last edition of your show,” he said.

“You go to the scene from the movie ‘Network,’ complete with the pajamas and the raincoat, and go off on a verbal journey of unutterable vision and you insist upon Peter Finch’s gutteral resonance and you will the viewer to go to the window, open it, stick out his head and yell,” he continued. “You know the rest. In the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative.”

“Good night and good luck,” he said, quoting Edward R. Murrow, as he signed off for a final time.

Olbermann had two years left on the four-year, $30 million contract he signed in 2008. Insiders said discussions about his departure had been going on for some time.

The end of Olbermann’s contract coincided with the departure of NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker, three days after Comcast’s takeover of a majority share in the company was approved by the U.S. government.

Cooper opened his CNN show with the story, noting that the move was so sudden that some at MSNBC didn’t appear to get the memo as promos for this show were still airing after his final signoff.

He said his sources blamed the fallout from the merger and Zucker’s departure. Zucker was widely viewed as Olbermann’s “protector,” as Cooper put it.

Comcast distanced itself from any notion that it had something to do with the decision, releasing a midnight statement saying it had not yet closed its transaction with NBC Universal and so does not yet have operational control.

“We pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBCU’s news operations. We have not and we will not.”

While sources within MSNBC pushed back against the speculation that Comcast wanted Olbermann to leave for ideological reasons, many who worked with the cable network said Olbermann’s fiery personality was likely to run afoul of his new corporate bosses sooner or later, anyway.

A former sports journalist who made his name on ESPN — from which he also made an abrupt departure — Olbermann began hosting “Countdown” in March 2003. He had a famously fraught relationship with MSNBC executives. As the earner of the networks’ highest ratings, he wielded great influence, and sometimes clashed with MSNBC President Phil Griffin.

Griffin, who has known Olbermann for three decades, told New York magazine that “it’s always complex because of management and Keith.”

Their relationship hit a particularly rough spot after POLITICO reported that Olbermann had made political donations to three Democratic candidates without alerting his bosses, a move that violated NBC policy. He was suspended briefly, but was somewhat defiant about the affair, apologizing to his viewers but not his employer.

“You should also know that I did not attempt to keep any of these political contributions secret; I knew they would be known to you and the rest of the public. I did not make them through a relative, friend, corporation, PAC, or any other intermediary, and I did not blame them on some kind of convenient ‘mistake’ by their recipients,” he said at the time. “When a website contacted NBC about one of the donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.”

MSNBC confirmed Olbermann’s departure in a brief statement released just before 9 p.m. ET, as Olbermann wrapped up his on-air farewell. “MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract,” the statement said. “The last broadcast of ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’ will be this evening.

The network said it “thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

In a second statement, Griffin announced a reshaped primetime lineup that will begin Monday. “The Last Word With Laurence O’Donnell” will move two hours earlier to 8 p.m., “The Rachel Maddow Show” will continue to air at 9 p.m. and “The Ed Show” will move to 10 p.m. Cenk Ungur will fill in as the host of the 6 p.m. hour.

As the personality that led MSNBC into the progressive brand it recently embraced with its “Lean Forward” advertising campaign, Olbermann was the flagship liberal voice in the country, and the news of his departure was met with statements of support from the left.

“For nearly eight years, Countdown with Keith Olbermann led the charge against conservative misinformation in prime time. He was one of the few voices in the media willing to hold the Bush administration accountable and fight the right-wing smears against progressives and their policies,” said David Brock, the CEO of liberal watchdog Media Matters.

“Keith is an innovator and an extremely talented broadcaster who showed there was a market for progressive views on cable news. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him soon, and I eagerly await hearing of his next move. And on this evening, I wish him ‘good night and good luck’.”

Meanwhile, conservatives reveled in the moment. Andrew Breitbart responded with a one-word tweet: “OVERMANN.”

© 2011 Capitol News

Glenn Beck Brings a CUNY Professor Threats

On his daily radio and television shows, Glenn Beck has elevated once-obscure conservative thinkers onto best-seller lists. Recently, he has elevated a 78-year-old liberal academic to celebrity of a different sort, in a way that some say is endangering her life.

Frances Fox Piven, a City University of New York professor, has been a primary character in Mr. Beck’s warnings about a progressive take-down of America. Ms. Piven, Mr. Beck says, is responsible for a plan to “intentionally collapse our economic system.”

Her name has become a kind of shorthand for “enemy” on Mr. Beck’s Fox News Channel program, which is watched by more than 2 million people, and on one of his Web sites, The Blaze. This week, Mr. Beck suggested on television that she was an enemy of the Constitution.

Never mind that Ms. Piven’s radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.

In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck’s “false accusations” about Ms. Piven.

“Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response,” the group wrote.

Fox News disagrees. Joel Cheatwood, a senior vice president, said Friday that Mr. Beck would not be ordered to stop talking about Ms. Piven on television. He said Mr. Beck had quoted her accurately and had never threatened her.

“ ‘The Glenn Beck Program,’ probably above and beyond any on television, has denounced violence repeatedly,” Mr. Cheatwood said.

He said he had no knowledge of the threats against Ms. Piven, and noted that The Blaze was operated independently of Fox News.

Ms. Piven said in an interview that she had informed local law enforcement authorities of the anonymous electronic threats. But she added, “I don’t want to give anybody the satisfaction of thinking they’ve got me trembling.”

The interest in Ms. Piven is rooted in an article she wrote with her husband, Richard Cloward, in 1966. The article, “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” proposed that if people overwhelmed the welfare rolls, fiscal and political stress on the system could force reform and give rise to changes like a guaranteed income. By drawing attention to the topic, the proposal “had a big impact” even though it was not enacted, Ms. Piven said. “A lot of people got the money that they desperately needed to survive,” she said.

In Mr. Beck’s telling on a Fox broadcast on Jan. 5, 2010, Ms. Piven and Mr. Cloward (who died in 2001) planned “to overwhelm the system and bring about the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with impossible demands and bring on economic collapse.” Mr. Beck observed that the number of welfare recipients soared in the years after the article, and said the article was like “economic sabotage.”

He linked what he termed the Cloward-Piven Strategy to President Obama’s statement late in the 2008 presidential campaign that “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

Mr. Beck has invoked Ms. Piven dozens of times since. Conservative Web sites, like the ones operated by Andrew Breitbart, have also spent time dissecting her articles and speeches.

Ms. Piven came under additional scrutiny when she wrote in the liberal magazine The Nation this month that unemployed people should be staging mass protests.

Her assertions that “an effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece,” and that “protesters need targets, preferably local and accessible ones,” led Mr. Beck to ask on Fox this week, “Is that not inciting violence? Is that not asking for violence?” Videos of fires in Greece played behind him.

“That is not a call for violence,” Ms. Piven said Friday of the references to riots. “There is a kind of rhetorical trick that is always used to denounce movements of ordinary people, and that is to imply that the massing of people itself is violent.”

That, she said, is what Mr. Beck is doing, trying to frighten his viewers.

The Nation, which has featured Ms. Piven’s columns for decades, quoted some of the threats against her in an editorial this week that condemned the “concerted campaign” against her.

One such threat, published as an anonymous comment on The Blaze, read, “Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas ready and I’ll give My life to take Our freedom back.” (The spelling and capitalizing have not been changed.)

That comment and others that were direct threats were later deleted, but other comments remain that charge her with treasonous behavior.

Mr. Beck generally does not have guests on his hourlong Fox program, and Ms. Piven has not been invited to defend herself on the program. Neither Mr. Beck nor any of his producers have ever contacted her, she said.

The Center for Constitutional Rights said it took exception to the sheer quantity of negative attention to Ms. Piven.

“We are vigorous defenders of the First Amendment,” the center said in its letter to Fox. “However, there comes a point when constant intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods about a person can put that person in actual physical danger of a violent response.” Mr. Beck is at that point, they said.

Ms. Piven, for her part, said she was amazed that she was still being brought up on Mr. Beck’s show as recently as Wednesday.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of people who are just boiling with anger and hate,” she said.