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Fri, 17 Sep 2021
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Over-the-top amenities for the uber-rich

© Jim Bartsch /July 26, 2010
Designer Steve Hermann's Glass Pavilion is cantilevered over grass to make it look as if it is floating on air.
Moats, walk-in safes, wellness suites and dental chairs are among the features that home designers and builders use to capture the imaginations of wealthy buyers.

If you thought Southern California mansions could hardly get more outlandish, consider the latest must-have feature: A moat encircling the property.

Other exclusive amenities include dental chairs, botox stations and wine "cellars" that somehow made their way into the kitchen. It's all part of growing competition among designers, architects and developers for the attention of ultra-wealthy buyers.

Moats are making their biggest splash since medieval times.

At Jennifer Lopez's former home in Bel-Air, which recently resold for $10 million, an arched footbridge and a cobblestone driveway cross a stone-lined waterway that encircles the French-style villa.

In Brentwood, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady included the water element at their newly completed European-style estate. Luckily for the neighbors, the couple's moat looks more like a winding stream than a means of defense.

Cow Skull

After a month of trying, I still can't sign up for Obamacare

© Webpro
After a month of trying, I still can't complete an application to join the D.C. Health Exchange. For a week, the Obamacare marketplace asked me to prove my citizenship, my daughter's existence, and my fixed address in the District of Columbia, but it would not allow me to submit the requested material.

That changed, slightly, yesterday when it started allowing me to submit those things, which I did, but it must now validate them via a person. Perhaps this is why Barack Obama's staff had to physically visit the D.C. exchange in order to sign up the president for Obamacare.

It also apparently keeps losing all of my family's personal information, so I'm having to type my name, address, Social Security number, as well as a) a fixed address or b) whether I'm incarcerated or c) or whether am a member of an American Indian or native Alaskan federally protected tribe.

And despite selecting "send me all messages via email" it doesn't actually do that - the messages just sit in my account at the D.C. exchange, which tells me when I log in that I have a message there. Which I can't read because when I click on it my computer asks me to select a program to use to access whatever it is and no matter what I select it just displays a bunch of random characters. Word, WordPerfect, Microsoft reader, and PDF are not helping with this - but why would they use that sort of program for a message like that?

Heart - Black

Grinch Zombie: Woman arrested for stealing toys donated to neighbors

© Barnstable PD
Janice Tully
A Hyannis woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing toys that were donated through the Toys For Tots program.

On Christmas Eve, two neighbors say 49-year-old Janice Tully gave them a ride to pick up donated toys for their five children at the Barnstable Police Department and the Independence House.

The victims say Tully abruptly left the Independence House without them after filling her trunk with approximately $500 worth of toys. The victims were stranded and had to take a taxi home.

When Tully returned home, she told her neighbors the toys were gone.

Candida Pina was one of the victims. "I said 'why are you doing this to my children, not to me, why are you doing this to children at Christmastime?'" Candida told WBZ-TV.


Porn actress's naked revenge photos on Catholic campus land her in jail

An adult model was sentenced to jail time for sneaking onto the campus of her former Catholic high school to take raunchy photos, which included the highly unorthodox use of a crucifix on herself.

Valerie Dodds was found guilty in a bench trial last month of trespassing and public nudity for the May 13 stunt at her former high school, and Judge Thomas Fox sentenced her Friday to 45 days in jail.

Dodds filed notice of an appeal and was released later the same day on $75 bond.

The 19-year-old Dodds performs under the name Val Midwest, and she said she posed for the photos and posted them online as revenge against former classmates and teachers at Lincoln Pius X High School who criticized her for her post-graduation career choices.

"Everyone at my high school had something rude to say to me when I started my website and so this is my tribute to all of you lol," Dodds wrote on her website. "I held nothing back I used my fingers, my toys and even my crucifix in my p*ssy! I used every part of the school I could get into, payback is a b*tch ha ha."


Late surge in web buying blindsides UPS, retailers

© Bloomberg
An unexpected surge of online orders in the past few weeks appears to have strained the limits of delivery and fulfillment infrastructure at retailers and parcel carriers. An employee stacks items to be shipped at the Amazon.com fulfillment center in Phoenix, Ariz., earlier this month.
Some Christmas Packages Aren't Delivered

A surge in online shopping this holiday season left stores breaking promises to deliver packages by Christmas, suggesting that retailers and shipping companies still haven't fully figured out consumers' buying patterns in the Internet era.

Companies from Amazon.com Inc. to Kohl's Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., having promised to deliver items before Dec. 25, missed some delivery target dates.

United Parcel Service Inc. determined late Tuesday that it wouldn't deliver some goods in time for Christmas, as a spike in last-minute shopping overwhelmed its system. "The volume of air packages in the UPS system did exceed capacity as demand was much greater than our forecast," a UPS spokeswoman said.

Consumers were reporting missing deliveries from FedEx as well, although a FedEx spokesman said the company wasn't experiencing significant delays.

Americans tend to go online for a bigger proportion of their Christmas shopping than for their buying during the rest of the year. This year, the trend's acceleration apparently took some stores and carriers off-guard.


Oregon citizens creating armed patrol groups after sheriff's budget cut

© North Valley Community Watch
North Valley Community watch members prepare to check on a home.
When budget woes reduced the sheriff's department in one rural Oregon county to a bare-bones force, residents decided to take matters into their own hands -- creating armed patrol groups in defiance of local officials.

Their decision has raised safety concerns with the county government, which would prefer residents instead hike their own taxes to fund the hiring of trained deputies. But despite the risks, the move stands as a unique, some would say innovative, response to one of the country's most severe local budget crunches.

The government in Josephine County, where nearly 70 percent of the land is owned by the U.S. government, had long relied on federal timber subsidies to pay the bills. When the feds terminated the funds, county officials scrambled to pass a May 2012 tax levy to make up a nearly $7.5 million budget shortfall.

However, the county's residents voted against the levy, and as a result the Josephine County Sheriff's Office was gutted. The major crimes unit closed, dozens of prisoners were released from the county jail and the department reduced operations to Monday-Friday, eight hours a day.

The Sheriff's Office then issued a press release announcing their deputies would only be responding to what they deemed "life-threatening situations."

Ken Selig -- who was the longest-serving law enforcement officer in all three local agencies when he was forced to retire from the department due to cuts -- told FoxNews.com he found the sheriff's declaration unacceptable. And he felt compelled to guard his community's vulnerable members.

Heart - Black

'Detective of the Year' pleads guilty to secretly videotaping his nude stepdaughter

Keith Tabron
A D.C. officer named "Detective of the Year" in 2012 has pleaded guilty for secretly videotaping his adult stepdaughter as she changed clothes and showered.

Metropolitan Police Department detective Keith Tabron pleaded guilty in July to multiple counts of video surveillance with prurient intent. He was accused of setting up a network of surveillance cameras to spy on the young woman in the bathroom and in her bedroom.

A spokesperson for the State's Attorney's Office told WNEW that the victim was the daughter of Tabron's estranged wife and was staying at the detective's home because she had "fallen on hard times."

The woman found one of the cameras in her bathroom. After calling her cousin, another camera was discovered in her bedroom. Both cameras were wired back to Tabron's home office.The State's Attorney for Prince George's County charged Tabron with 50 counts of secretly videotaping the woman over a nine-month period.

Comment: The prosecutors gave this predator a slap on the wrist. It's more important to protect the image of the police department and the career of D.C.'s 'Detective of the Year' than the rights of his victim.
See how that works?


Christmas night fight between sisters over apple fritters ends in stabbing


Contisha Q. Hayes, 21, of Callis Oval, was charged with felonious assault and booked into the Summit County Jail for stabbing her sister, Tamara D. Delaney, 21, who was transported to Akron City Hospital where her injuries do not appear to be life threatening.
One sister is hospitalized and another is in jail after an argument over apple fritters ended in a stabbing.

Akron police say they were called to the 900 block of Springdale Street around 11:30 p.m. Christmas night for a reported stabbing.

Investigators say one sister was in the kitchen making apple fritters when two other sisters "started to play fight" over the treat.

At one point, police say, one sister pulled the hair of the other sister.

Bad Guys

India's rape culture: 20 year old woman gang-raped on Christmas Eve

India christmas gang rape
A 20-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped on Christmas Eve in south India, media reports said on Friday, the latest in a string of sexual attacks reported in the country.

The reports of the latest assault came two days before India was due to mark the first anniversary of the death of a student who was gang-raped on a bus in an attack that shocked the nation.

The woman who was assaulted on Christmas Eve told police she was abducted by three men while sightseeing with friends in Karaikal, a port city in Puducherry, the Times of India newspaper and TV networks reported.

One of the men raped her at a secluded spot before freeing her, the Times said. She called for help but then another group of seven men attacked her as she was being escorted to a safe place, the paper said. Six of the men raped her, it added.

Comment: India gang-rape account: 'Police argued amongst themselves instead of calling an ambulance'
Gang-rape epidemic: India mourns victim, proposes chemical castration for offenders
Swiss tourist gang raped in India, say police
Psychopaths in our midst: Gang-raped Indian girl commits suicide
Further attacks on women in India raise doubts over crackdown

Heart - Black

Knockout Game: Mom punched while walking with young daughter

Police described the suspect in the assault as a 5-foot-8 man, 180 pounds, with short braids. He wore a black wool cap, green jacket and dark jeans, police said.
A mother was sucker punched while crossing a Midwood street with her 7-year-old daughter in broad daylight, police said.

The 33-year-old mother was near the intersection of 12th Street and Elm Avenue in Midwood about 2:45 p.m. Saturday when a man approached her from behind, swung at the back of her head and knocked her to the ground, police said.

Nothing was reported stolen. The woman sustained minor injuries to her hands and knees, police said.