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November 11, 2007

Obama Pushes For Higher Soc. Sec. Tax

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama said that he would increase the amount of income taxed for Social Security in an appearance on Meet the Press sunday. According to Yahoo news, the Illinois senator has "objected to benefit cuts or a higher retirement age" while supporting a "doughnut hole" to shield middle-income earners from paying more.

"I think the best way to approach this is to adjust the cap on the payroll tax so that people like myself are paying a little bit more and people who are in need are protected," he said.

According to USA today, "Clinton has said growing the economy will pump more money into Social Security's coffers. She also has said she would create a bipartisan commission to recommend solutions." Obama has decried this solution as avoidant.

"It's not sufficient for us to just finesse the issue because we're worried that, well, we might be attacked for the various options we present," he said.

November 4, 2007

Bizarre Cross-Border search ends

A 13-year-old student and his 25-year-old teacher were taken into police custody after fleeing to mexico in order to "create a romantic life," CNN reports. Nebraska residents Kelsey Peterson, 25, and Fernando Rodriguez, 13, were traced to the Mexican border town of Mexicali after Rodriguez called home to ask for money.

"'They didn't have a very well-defined plan, it was basically to continue driving into Mexico to hide," said Alfredo Arenas, the Baja California state police official who detained Peterson. "This was a mutual agreement to flee after the story came out that they were having sex.'

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who may be victims of sex crimes, but the boy's name had been widely publicized as police searched for him." (CNN)

Peterson was taken into FBI custody Saturday. She faces charges of kidnapping, child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Nebraska as well as federal charges of transporting a minor across state lines or a foreign border for sexual activity, U.S. Attorney Joe Stecher said. Rodriguez, on the other hand, was turned over to relatives in the southern state of Guanajuato. Because of his illegal immigration status, he will most likely be required to stay there.

"Anytime you have an adult taking advantage of a child, this is a child 13 years old, it becomes priority," Stecher said via Miami's Local 10 news. "It's a manipulative crime. You talk about a 13-year-old. How much influence has been put on them for this and you don't know what direction it will turn."

One more for the folks:

"In letters, the boy called Peterson his "Baby Gurl" and said their relationship was "just not about the sex but that it was pretty good," according to the court documents." (CNN)

October 28, 2007

Society hits new low.

With the release of Saw IV, Society hit a new low this weekend. CNN reports that Saw IV was number one at the box office this weekend, earning $32.1 million and beating out the closest competition by $20 million. The surprising figures prove that Americans have no taste at all, a notion long suggested by hipsters and elitists the world over. "There's just something inherently gruesome and compelling about these movies," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "I don't know what that says about society in general, but it certainly works at the box office." While Dergarabedian may be referring to society's penchant for violence, more disturbing is the fact that people still watch the films, described as "crap," "trash" and "bourgeoisie capitalist hog-wash" by reputable sources.

While society has yet to announce further plans for self-effacement, the American public remains cautously aware.

October 21, 2007

Women take charge... IN SPACE

For the first time in NASA history, a women will command both the Int'l Space Station (ISS) and the shuttle en route to the ISS. In a revolutionary coincidence, shuttle commander Pamela Melroy and station commander Peggy Whitson will both serve during the launch of the space shuttle DIscovery. Yahoo reports:

"Their male crewmates offer plenty of praise. One of them β€” Daniel Tani β€” will report to both. He'll fly up on Discovery and swap places with an astronaut who has been living on the space station since June, and stay on board until another shuttle comes up in December.

'The joke has been that my life recently is run by women,' said Tani, who is married with two young daughters. 'I have two bosses at work. I've got three bosses at home and as it was pointed out recently, much of the time when we're running the robotic arm, I'm the assistant to Stephanie' Wilson, a shuttle crew member."

The mission is the first of its kind in 50 years of space travel. Whitson was originally supposed to be off-duty by the time the shuttle docked, making the coincidence even more surprising.

Barbara Streisand's coif slowly, tragically melting

A wildfire raging in Malibu, California, has caused a "number" of buildings to be destroyed and thousands of residents to be evacuated. The BBC is (bewilderingly) reporting that the homes of Mel Gibson and Barbara streisand are in the area. The fire is believed to have been caused by dry tinder and a power cable blown over by strong winds.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the situation is still not resolved. "This fire is zero percent contained, which means we're at the mercy of the wind," Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich said. In addition, one resident was killed and four firemen were injured as the blaze spread across the hills. "There could be homes threatened by the end of the day Sunday if the fire continues to push to the south and southwest," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stanton Florea said in a radio interview.

October 14, 2007

Hannah Montana reveals ticket gouging shame

Disney's hit show "Hannah Montana," ostensibly about a washed-up country star and his daughter, is now in tour, and its first outing has revealed the seedier side of live performance to happily oblivious middle-America. CNN reports that thousands of fans have experienced the ravages of ticket brokers since the tickets went on sale.

TIcket brokers are agencies that buy concert tickets in bulk and re-sell them at outrageous prices. In fact, this secondary industry is worth $2 billion annually, a tify profit when the tickets average out at $63 market price. After finding tickets in the $350-2000 range, Von Milden, concerned mother, said, "it's price gouging."

Indeed it is. While five states limit brokering and Ticketmaster has filed suit against brokers, much more needs to be done before this problem is truly solved. Hopefully, the massive attention that this scandal is sure to draw will point to a better, lower-priced future.

October 7, 2007

Five Killed in Wisconsin Rampage

A Crandon, Wisconsin law enforcement employee went on a shooting spree early Sunday, killing at least five people. Much remains unclear about the situation at this time, although details have started to surface.

The Star Tribune reports that although authorities would not confirm whether or not the suspect was dead, they have stated that they "are not looking for anybody anymore." The BBC is reporting that "unconfirmed reports" say that the police have shot and killed the suspect.

An acquaintance of the suspect, Karly Johnson, said that the victim's included the suspect's ex-girlfriend, Crandon High School students, and recent graduates. Another local said that the shooting happened at a party hosted by the suspect's ex-girlfriend.

The town, a close-knit northern Wisconsin community, has been devastated by the attacks. "If there's five or six children or kids, young adults, whatever, involved in this, I'd know every one of them - the community's that small and that tight-knit," said Bud Evans, an elder at Crandon Praise Chapel, in an interview with BBC.

September 23, 2007

Detroit's Mayor Faces Lifetime Piling Up

Detroit's Mayor Kwame KIlpatrick is facing tough times for his career and his city, Time reports. Kilpatrick, an excessive leader called the first "Hip-Hop Mayor" by mogul Russell Simmons, has faced criticism for everything from his inaguaral "club-crawl" and ubiquitous earring to alleged misconduct and concealment of police records. His latest gaffe is a $6.5 million payout rewarded by a MIchigan jury to two police officers who claim to have been "retaliated" against after investigating misonduct by Kilpatrick. Par for course for Time's worst mayor in America 2005.

More interesting and alarming, though is the state of his city. "Much of Detroit remains an urban war zone, having seen its population more than halved from a 1950s peak of nearly 2 million. Unemployment stands at roughly 14%. About 47% of the city's residents over age 16 are functionally illiterate," Time reports.

"Yet, for much of Kilpatrick's tenure, parts of Detroit have experienced an economic turnaround similar to those that have taken place in Chicago and Washington. Million-dollar lofts are being built along the Detroit River. Homicides are down by 17%, and non-fatal shootings have dropped by 9% in the last year. Kilpatrick sliced the city government's job rolls from about 21,000 to 13,800. He cut property taxes partly to retain what remains of the city's middle class," the article continues.

Still, Kilpatrick is optimistic. "We have to change our national and international image," he says. "There are lots of things going on here that people don't know about. We're still trapped on what was happening here in the 1980s. We need to make sure that we erase all of that. We need a lot of things to happen, and they are happening. But we need to tell the world about it," he told Ebony.

Man finds creative new uses for false leg

Jereme James has been charged with smuggling stolen banded iguanas into the U.S. James stole the iguanas while visiting a nature preserve in Fiji, and was believed to be breeding the animals with the intention of selling them, BBC reports. Officials found four more banded iguanas upon raiding James' house.

James had constructed a special compartment in his prosthetic leg for moving the creatures. The species is endangered and protected by laws intended to preserve the species.

The false leg has yet to comment.

September 16, 2007

Stealing Your Lunch - Literally

A new report released by the Office of the Inspector General has something very interesting to say about what government officials and conference attendees are eating – specifically, your money, CNN reports that government conferences cost taxpayers $7 million in food costs between 2005 and 2006. The report, released Friday, lists $5.00 bottles of water and soda, $3.00 cups of coffee, and $4.00 cookies as contributing to the budgetary bloat. (all prices are per unit)

β€œThe 128-page report does not suggest laws were broken, although it questions the Justice Department's judgment when it comes to the cost of its events,β€? the article said.

The Report aims to reform government spending and prevent further extravagant budgeting, concluding by suggesting the implementation of new record-keeping standards, budgetary implementation, and over-sight when planning conferences.