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US: 'Cash for kids' judge gets 28 year jail sentence

mark ciavarella
© Mark Moran / The Citizen's Voice via AP
Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella.

A former Pennsylvania judge who rendered guilty verdicts in exchange for over $1 million in kickbacks from a for-profit youth rehabilitation center will spend up to 28 years in prison, following his sentencing hearing last Thursday.

Over the weekend, CNN sat down with the mother of one of his victims, a young man who was so distraught by his unjust incarceration that he committed suicide.

"It's justice in the sense that he is going to pay for what we've been dealing with for the last eight years," Sandy Fonzo, the boy's mother, told the network. "True justice, I don't think there could ever be. He'll never live the sentence that I live."

This video is from CNN, broadcast Sunday, August 14, 2011.

Fish

Vandals kill, mutilate catfish raised for school project

Vandals killed 31 catfish at Woodland High School near Sacramento that were being raised as part of a Future Farmers of America project.

Several students had been working on a project raising channel catfish to show at the Yolo County Fair this week, the Woodland Record reported.

One student arrived at the campus Sunday morning and discovered all of the fish dead, either poisoned by a liquid herbicide or mutilated.

Bad Guys

Texas, US: Self-Proclaimed 'Vampire' Allegedly Breaks into Woman's Apartment

Image
© KTRK
Lyle Bensley, 19, is accused of breaking into a woman's apartment on Galveston's Seawall Boulevard.
A Galveston man is under arrest following a bizarre incident in a woman's apartment over the weekend.

Lyle Bensley, 19, is accused of breaking into a woman's apartment in the 7800 block of Seawall Boulevard early Saturday morning. According to Galveston Police Captain Jeff Heyse, Bensley, who was wearing only boxers at the time, hissed and growled at the resident while biting her. The woman managed to get away and called 911.

Bensley was arrested a short time later and reportedly told police he was a vampire. He has been charged with burglary of a habitation, intending to commit a felony. Bond has been set at $40,000.

Captain Heyse said Bensley was referred to a deputy who handles mental health issues.

Heart - Black

US: Jeremiah Lee Wright Decapitated Own 7-Year-Old Disabled Son; Chopped up Body to Spite Mom: Cops

Jeremiah Lee Wright
© Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office
Jeremiah Lee Wright, 30, is charged with first-degree murder for killing his 7-year-old son, Jori Lirette.
A Louisiana man has been arrested for decapitating his 7-year-old disabled son and leaving his head by the side of a road for his mother to see, cops said.

Jeremiah Lee Wright, 30, told police he did it because he was tired of taking care of the boy, who suffered from cerebral palsy and required a wheelchair and feeding tube, authorities told The Daily Comet newspaper.

The grisly slaying was discovered Sunday afternoon when a passing motorist spotted Jori Lirette's severed head lying by the side of a road in Thibodaux, La., the paper reported.

Alarm Clock

How America Could Collapse

Abandoned factory infrastructure
© Unknown
Abandoned factory
A few months ago, a friend in the entertainment industry told me of a new business model in Hollywood: hoarding videotapes. Apparently, the earthquake in Japan knocked offline a Sony factory that makes certain types of tape. That factory was also in the tsunami zone, so now there's a serious tape shortage threatening the television industry. The NBA scrambled to get enough tape to broadcast the NBA finals; one executive told the Hollywood Reporter, "It's like a bank run."

In the last few years, economists have spent a lot of time and energy thinking about bank runs. A bank run happens when depositors think a bank is weak and scramble to get their money out before it collapses. "Tight coupling" of financial institutions, like when banks are overly dependent on each other, can create a cascading series of problems for the system itself. We saw this with Lehman Brothers when it went bankrupt. Its AAA-rated debt instruments lost value unexpectedly; that caused money market funds that held those presumably safe bonds to suddenly lose value. A shadow bank run was the result, as investors rushed to withdraw from the money market funds.

Worryingly, there's been very little consideration of how systemic collapses can happen in another, perhaps more dangerous realm - the industrial supply system that keeps us in everything from medicine to food to cars to, yes, videotape. In 2004, for instance, England closed one single factory, which caused the United States to lose half of its flu vaccine supply.

Barry Lynn of the New America Foundation has been studying industrial supply shocks since 1999, when he noticed that global computer chip production was concentrated in Taiwan. After a severe earthquake in that country, the global computer industry nearly shut down, crashing the stocks of large computer makers. This level of concentration of the production of key components in a globalized economy is a new phenomenon. Lynn's work points to the highly dangerous side of globalization, the flip side of a hyper-efficient global supply chain. When one link in that chain is broken, there is no fallback.

Chess

Belarus counting on Russian support to overcome U.S. sanctions

Image
© RIA Novosti. Alexey Nikolsky
Mikhail Myasnikovich
Belarus is relying on support from Russia and Kazakhstan, with which it is building a customs union, to overcome the consequences of U.S. sanctions, Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said on Monday.

"Russia has always supported the republic of Belarus," he said at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. "A united position will make our integration associations even firmer and more reliable. A friend in need is a friend indeed."

The U.S. and the EU imposed sanctions against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, as well as against other officials and companies over a crackdown on the opposition. On August 11, the U.S. imposed additional sanctions against four major Belarusian state-owned enterprises.

Dollar

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

Our leaders have asked for "shared sacrifice." But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as "carried interest," thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they'd been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It's nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill - the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf - was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income - and that's actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine - most likely by a lot.

Eye 2

Jersey, Channel Islands: Six members of two families butchered to death in knife rampage

Image
© PA
Sealed off: The scene in St Helier where six people were stabbed to death yesterday, including three children
Six people, including three children, were murdered in a knife massacre on Jersey yesterday.

The victims, who are members of two Polish families, suffered horrific injuries during the attack.

Two of the children who died were aged five and six, according to neighbours. Two women and a man were also killed.

After having life-saving surgery, a 30-year-old man was arrested in hospital on suspicion of murder. He had apparently tried to kill himself.

The Polish embassy confirmed that the victims were all members of two families.

Neighbours said they lived together in a large, rented Victorian flat in St Helier, the Channel island's capital.

Witness Andre Thorpe said he saw police shouting at a woman leaning from a window ledge as they desperately tried to get into the property.

Mr Thorpe, 50, said: 'As I was heading past, two ambulances and four police cars all came racing towards me. They all jumped out of the cars and were trying to get into one property, with some officers trying to get around the back.

Eye 2

Sexual predator: Senior German conservative politician admits to 'affair' with 16 year old girl

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© The Local
The crocodile tears of a predator who got caught: Christian von Boetticher
The designated leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union in Schleswig-Holstein has resigned after intense internal party pressure over his love affair with a 16-year-old girl.

Christian von Boetticher, 40, who was set to lead Chancellor Angela Merkel's party in its fight to retain power the north German state next May, stood down from that position on Sunday night after a more than two-and-a-half hour meeting with his state party leadership.

"Yes it is true, I fell in love with a young woman in the spring of 2010, and was with her for several months," he told a press conference.

"It was quite simply, love," he said, in tears, admitting that at the time the girl was just 16 years old.

"I would like to apologise with all my heart to all those people who I have disappointed and who placed great hope in me."

Cell Phone

US, California: Hackers Protest Bay Area Rapid Transit Decision to Block Cellphones

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© The Associated Press / myBART.org
This screen shot taken from myBART.org shows a page from the website after it was hacked by the hacker's group Anonymous on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) district officials said they were attempting Sunday to shut down the hacker's group website that lists the names of thousands of San Francisco Bay area residents who are email subscribers of a legitimate BART website.
San Francisco's mass transit system prepared for renewed protests Monday, a day after hackers angry over blocked cell phone service at some transit stations broke into a website and posted company contact information for more than 2,000 customers.

The action by a hacker group known as Anonymous was the latest showdown between anarchists angry at perceived attempts to limit free speech and officials trying to control protests that grow out of social networking and have the potential to become violent.

Anonymous posted people's names, phone numbers, and street and email addresses on its own website, while also calling for a disruption of the Bay Area Rapid Transit's evening commute Monday.

BART officials said Sunday that they were working a strategy to try to block any efforts by protesters to try to disrupt the service.

"We have been planning for the protests that are said to be shaping up for tomorrow," BART spokesman Jim Allison said. He did not provide specifics, but said BART police will be staffing stations and trains and that the agency had already contacted San Francisco police.