Monday, December 31, 2007

Headlines: Sara Jane Moore Released on Parole

Sara Jane Moore, one of two women who tried to assassinate Gerald Ford in 1975, was released on parole today after serving thirty-one years of a life sentence. Moore was imprisoned in 1976 after pleading guilty to attempted assassination of the then President of the United States. She fired at Ford with a .38 caliber revolver following his address to a World Affairs Council at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco on September 22, 1975.

Moore’s efforts were thwarted by Oliver Sipple. The former marine grabbed her arm, causing the shot to ricochet off the hotel, missing Ford. Moore’s attempted assassination was the second in 17 days for the President. The first attempt came on September 5, 1975 by a member of the Charles Manson Family, Lynette Fromme, who was tackled to the ground before she could fire. Fromme is also serving a life sentence for attempted assassination.

Moore expressed to the press in 2006, follow Ford’s death, that she was “very glad” that she hadn’t succeeded in her attempt on his life. She sited her radical political convictions as the motivation for the crime, having become involved with radical leftists in the 1970s. She further stated that she knew she was wrong to try.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Scam Alert: Style Runway Running Away With Your Money

Many people across the world have been cheated this Christmas by a scam site running under the names Style Runway, Fashion Putz, Fashion Runway and many others. The site offers allegedly authentic designer brands for huge discounts but, as is often the case, it is too good to be true.

Hundreds of Internet consumers have ordered through their site which offers delivery in 5-7 business days, but have either never received their goods or have received cheap imitations weeks after the promised delivery date. When the customers placed their order they invariably were sent a confirmation email without a tracking code and told that it would take 2-3 business days before a tracking code would be available.

For those that did receive their shipment, the products were sent from China without return address information or packing slips. The clothing is cheaply made and falls apart without even being washed. Others waited months without receiving anything. The phone number for the company has been disconnected, emails go unreturned and the live chat is rarely operational.

Several customers who got tired of waiting for their purchases attempted to cancel their order but were told that the item had already shipped or were simply not answered at all. Others were told that the item was out of stock and were charged repeatedly for their purchases. On occasion, customers were informed that their credit card had been declined and were asked to resubmit their card information. Scam comment sites are cropping up all over the Internet and the list of victims is growing. One site found here has over 100 comments from customers that have been taken in by this Israel based company.

If you are considering a purchase from a site that you are unfamiliar with, it is important to do some research. Investigate with the Better Business Bureau or Google the name of the company for rip off alerts. It is always best to stick with sites that are well known and have good reputations. Whenever possible, utilize PayPal to protect your personal information and remove the risk of repeated charges. If you are unfortunate enough to get scammed, do other consumers a favor and report the company immediately.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Headlines: Banazir Bhutto and Democracy Assassinated

It is a sad day for democracy today following the assassination of Pakistani Prime Minister Banazir Bhutto. One of Bhutto’s Security Officials open fired on the Prime Minister’s entourage before detonating a suicide bomb, killing Bhutto and at least fifteen others. This attack from within brings to light how infiltrating terrorism has become at even the highest levels of security.

Al Qaeda made an early statement claiming responsibility for the atrocity but the claim remains unconfirmed by U.S. Officials who say it will take several days to determine who is at fault. Several other organizations have made claims of responsibility on Internet chat rooms known to be used by Islamic militants but such postings are infamously unreliable.

Banazir Bhutto represented the strongest American supporter in Pakistan and her death is a substantial blow to U.S. relations in the Middle East. The question remains whether President Bush will see this as a substantial enough attack to require American intervention. Will Pakistan be the new Afghanistan in regard to U.S. Military movements?

With her death, Bhutto takes with her Pakistan’s greatest hope for peace and democracy. Although supporters anticipated a rigged election, Bhutto was still gaining popularity among the citizens of her country. Pakistan now faces difficult times and possible civil war.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Headlines: Tiger Runs Amuck: Gobbles Patrons

Apparently Christmas was a tough time of year for 4-year old Tatiana, a Siberian tiger at the San Francisco Zoo. Last year around this time, driven by her seasonal desire to practice the tiger family tradition of eating people for Christmas, Tatiana took a bite out of a zoo keeper. That was just an appetizer for this year though. Last night, Tatiana stole the keys to her enclosure and made a break for it.

At approximately 5pm Pacific Time, after the zoo was closed but before everyone had left, the 300-pound tiger escaped and attacked three people. The first one was too hot, the second one was too cold, and the third one was just right but police shot her to death before she could properly enjoy her holiday feast.

There is some speculation as to whether Tatiana was provoked into attacking the three men, two of whom were brothers but so far, no one is talking. The truth of the matter is, “the tiger was acting as a normal tiger does”, said Manual Mollinedo, the zoo director. After all, how would you feel if you were locked in a cage on Christmas while loads of hams, turkeys and bowls of figgy-pudding paraded themselves outside of your enclosure? There is just something about the holidays which inspires people, and apparently tigers, to practice their family food traditions.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Book & Movie Reviews: I am Legend

I've always had a preference for reading the book before I go see the movie. Sometimes this makes movie going frustrating, as the film rarely meet expectations after you have read the book. One notable exception was What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. The slim novel was a great read and was greatly enhanced by the visual effects of the movie. Because of this, I had high hopes for I am Legend, also written by Richard Matheson. Too bad my hopes were crushed.
The Book:
I am Legend is a short novel, almost a short story really. It follows the life of the main character who has survived a plague. The plague is a bacteria that turns the living into vampires that are slightly smarter then their dead counterpart, and are constantly trying to attack our hero. Matheson does a superb job with character development, following the character through his routine of self preservation, killing vampires, searching for a cure and trying to prevent himself from going mad during his ordeal.

The best part of I am Legend was the very thing that sets it apart from all the other vampire stories you've heard. Our hero has been going out and killing off the vampires in his neighborhood. What he doesn't know is that the living vampires have actually been creating a new society. In their realm of understanding, he is a murderer and a criminal, bent on destroying their families and way of life. He is eventually captured and put on trial for his crimes.

The Movie:
It is a shame that the one thing that set the book apart was apparently not important enough to make it into the movie. I'm afraid to say, this movie was just another action/horror genre flick that will be quickly forgotten.

Will Smith does do a good job of creating a character and holding the movie together despite having the screen to himself for a good portion of the film. The action scenes are decent, the vamps are shallow in character but acceptable. Someone decided to alter the ending to include a religious twist that I thought was both unnecessary and untrue to the original story. The main character's daughter plays a small role in the movie that is crucial to the new ending but the foreshadowing is so transparent, I puked a little in my mouth.

Overall, I give the book four out of five stars but the movie gets a begrudging three out of five.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Headlines: Mortal Kombat Inspired Murder

How many times do we have to tell you, don’t imitate video game violence or we will take your toys away!

The video game censorship argument is in the headlines again after two teens killed a 7 year-old girl earlier this month in Johnstown, Colorado. The teens admit to being intoxicated and practicing Mortal Kombat inspired martial arts on the child. In a statement to police, one of the suspects stated that he kicked her until she fell down and didn’t get back up.

The two teens were charged as adults in the case that took the life of the girl they were babysitting on Dec 6, 2007. “There is no such defense as, ‘The video game made me do it.’ It won’t even act as mitigation at sentencing if these teens are convicted,” legal analyst Scott Robinson stated regarding the situation.

If convicted, the teens face up to 48 years in prison for felony child abuse resulting in death. Among Zoe Garcia’s injuries were a broken wrist, bleeding in the neck, multiple bruises, and swelling of the brain. For such a brutal murder, it seems that 48 years is barely enough. Hopefully these two teens will meet someone in prison that tells them to, “GET OVER HERE!”

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Entertainment: R. Kelly: Day in Court

Oh that R. Kelly, back in the news again after missing his court date yesterday. Kelly was charged with child pornography in 2002 after allegedly videotaping himself having sex with a 13 year-old girl.

Judge Vincent Gaughan expected the hear testimony today from an expert, comparing the vein pattern of Kelly’s hands with those of the man in the video. This evidence could have proven Kelly’s involvement though the woman who prosecutors suspect in the case, claims that she is not the girl in the video and has testified to that effect before a grand jury.

Kelly’s hearing was postponed from today until Thursday morning when Judge Gaughan ruled that Kelly had been delayed by circumstances beyond his control. Kelly, who is in the midst of a 45-city tour, was delayed en route to Chicago from Sacramento when a Utah State Policeman pulled the bus over and cited the driver for not keeping logs regarding rest times. The Officer instructed the driver to pull over at a motel and sleep for eight hours before proceeding. This caused Kelly to arrive in Chicago three and a half hours late for his scheduled hearing at 9:00 a.m.

Prosecuting Attorney, Shauna Boliker, requested that a warrant be issued for Kelly’s arrest but Gaughan continued the warrant until 9:00 a.m. Thursday.

Kelly appeared today for his hearing today as promised. Judge Gaughan is expected to set the trial date during today’s appearance.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Entertainment: Britney Spears: Custody

Nobody's life is under the microscope more then that of celebrities, which you would think would make them more careful, particularly when it comes to parenting. Britney Spears is a prime example of how, even when scrutinized, celebrity parenting isn't easy.

On Monday, December 1, 2007, Britney and Kevin had their day in court. The decision was not unexpected, as Britney lost custody of her two children, Sean Preston and Jayden James, to their father Kevin Federline, effective on Wednesday. Ironic perhaps, since two years ago Federline was one of America's least-loved celebrities and the national opinion of Britney was much more favorable. Nothing like the paparazzi to change the world's opinion.

From panty-less partying to shaving her head, Britney has been a woman ready to snap as she suffered through brief rehab stints and ongoing court battles with her ex. Though the court's decision to remove her custody rights may be sad, it is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to the confused star. Perhaps with this blow, Britney will get inspired to commit to a rehab program less known for coddling their patients and eventually prove to the world that we were right the first time in picking her over Kevin for the "Parent of the Year" award.