Box Office Preview: Johnny Depp’s ‘Transcendence’ Preparing for Soft U.S. Debut

If pre-release tracking is correct, Johnny Depp‘s Transcendence may only cross $20 million in its North American debut, a soft start for the $100 million sci-fi epic.

That leaves the Easter weekend box office race up for grabs. Holdovers Rio 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier each have a shot at coming in ahead of Transcendence, which will have to combat dismal reviews.

Transcendence, marking Depp’s first return to theaters since last summer’s ill-fated The Lone Ranger, could make up ground overseas, where it is getting a coveted day-and-date release in China.

Alcon Entertainment co-financed the film with China’s DMG Entertainment, while Warner Bros. is handling domestic distribution duties. Summit International sold Transcendence overseas to independent distributors, covering much of the budget. Straight Up Films developed the project, and brought it to Alcon.

SUMMER BOX-OFFICE FORECAST: Studio-by-Studio Breakdown

Marking the directorial debut of cinematographer Wally Pfister — a favorite of Christopher Nolan‘s — Transcendence stars Depp as a brilliant scientist whose mind is uploaded into a computer after he is gunned down. Rebecca Hall and Morgan Freeman also star, while Nolan and his wife, Emma Thomas, served as executive producers.

Easter weekend sees three other new nationwide offerings — Christian film Heaven Is For Real, which debuted Wednesday, A Haunted House 2 and Disney documentary Bears.

Sony’s TriStar label remains hopeful that Heaven Is For Real will nab more than $20 million in its five-day debut. The movie, starring Greg Kinnear, took in a strong $3.7 million on Wednesday, enough to top the North American box office.

IM Global’s Haunted House 2 is looking like an easy win. The comedy-horror film, reteaming director Michael Tiddes and star Marlon Wayans, could take in more than $15 million for the weekend, although U.S. distributor Open Roads Films is opting for a more conservative $10 million.

Haunted House 2, a follow-up to the 2013 box office hit, cost just $3 million to produce. Wayans co-wrote the script with his longtime filmmaking partner Rick Alvarez.

Bears is expected to open in the $6 million to $7 million range. Directed by Alastair Fothergrill and Keith Scholey, the nature documentary follows a family of grizzly bears living in Alaska. John C. Reilly narrated the film.

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Box Office: Christian Film ‘Heaven Is for Real’ Wins Wednesday With $3.7 Million

Christian film Heaven Is for Real won the Wednesday box office race with a strong opening-day gross of $3.7 million from 2,417 theaters.

The TriStar movie — nabbing an A CinemaScore overall, and an A+ among moviegoers under the age of 35 — could gross north of $20 million by Easter Sunday, one of the top openings ever for a faith-based title.

Influential pastor T.D. Jakes, director Randall Wallace and Hollywood veteran Joe Roth teamed up to produce Heaven Is for Real, based on the real-life story of Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo, whose young son said he found himself in heaven during emergency surgery. The film is adapted from the pastor’s book of the same name, co-written by Lynn Vincent.

SUMMER BOX-OFFICE FORECAST: Studio-by-Studio Breakdown

Greg Kinnear plays Burpo in the movie, which is launching in roughly 2,400 theaters. Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church, Jacob Vargas and Nancy Sorel also star. Connor Corum plays Colton, the pastor’s son.

Heaven Is for Real is the latest in a string of recent faith-based movies prospering at the box office, including God’s Not Dead.

According to those with access to Wednesday matinee returns, Heaven Is for Real was fueled by traditional faith-based markets, including many cities in the South, as well as in the Midwest and in rural California.

TriStar, a division of Sony, decided to open Heaven Is for Real midweek in order to get a jump on the holiday weekend. On Friday, three mainstream movies open nationwide: Johnny Depp sci-fi epic Transcendence, horror-comedy A Haunted House 2 and documentary Bears.

Transcendence, from Alcon Entertainment, may have trouble hitting $25 million in its domestic debut, meaning it could lose to holdovers Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Rio 2.

Coming in at No. 2 on Wednesday was Marvel and Disney’s Captain America 2 with $3.5 million from 3,938 theaters. The blockbuster has now earned $170.6 million domestically.

Fox’s Rio 2 placed No. 3 with roughly $3 million from 3,948 locations for a North American total of nearly $70 million.

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Pope Francis’ first year filled with surprises

The following is a script from “Francis” which aired on April 13, 2014. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Nicole Young, producer.

You can tell a lot about a man by how he signs his name. Popes have a special way — the name followed by “P-P,” short for papa, and the appropriate Roman numeral. So, imagine the surprise around the Vatican print shop when the new pope started signing things “Francis,” just Francis. Humility has made the former Jorge Bergoglio a star far beyond the Catholic Church.

But don’t mistake his humility for weakness. “Just plain Francis” is also being signed on orders to transform institutions fossilized by tradition and stained by corruption. For Palm Sunday, we thought you’d like to hear from some of the people who know Francis best. But don’t ask them what he’s going to do next because, God only knows.

In St. Peter’s Square, March 2013, 100,000 faithful waited for a light to split the curtain. They’d adjusted their eyes to what they were accustomed to seeing, regal robes and a gold cross around the neck of a European. Instead they saw an emissary from the New World with a world of new ideas.

Robert Mickens: And he was just dressed so simply. There was no cape. There was no fur. There was no– and he was just standing there. And in a simple silver cross, evidently the one that he wore when he was in Buenos Aires.

Robert Mickens was among the believers in disbelief. He’s an American journalist covering the Vatican.

Robert Mickens: And then he started with by saying….

[Pope Francis: Buona sera.]

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Robert Mickens: “Buona sera,” “Good evening.” Popes don’t do that. They’d say, “Laudetur iesus christus,” or something like that. But the biggest thing was when he asked the people in the square to pray over him. Everybody keeps saying pray for me but that’s not what he said, he said, “Let’s pause for your prayer over me– that’s a blessing.” And he put his head down. You could have heard a pin drop.

For Francis and the Vatican that was the last quiet moment.

Since then, the halls of St. Peter’s have been ringing with commands, insiders out, outsiders in. Priests ordered from their cathedrals and into the streets. For pope number 266 there are a lot of firsts.

Robert Mickens: Nobody’s ever taken the name Francis. I mean that’s an extremely challenging program just in the name.

Scott Pelley: What did it mean to the Church?

Robert Mickens: He took the name Francis from Francis of Assisi, who is probably the most beloved saint you know among Catholics and especially non-Catholics. And you know had this great love for the poor, God’s creation, nature, peace. And what we’ve seen is that he lives very radically, very simply rather than some monarch prince or king or monarch pope.

“Nobody’s ever taken the name Francis. I mean that’s an extremely challenging program just in the name.”

His most radical decision came on his second day. He toured his 16th century palace, looking like a homebuyer whose realtor just didn’t get it. In here, he’d be kept behind a barrier of minders and schedulers. So he chose freedom in a Vatican hotel where he lives and dines with everyone else. His room “201″ is a key to the world. This leader of a billion Catholics demands to be in touch.

Elisabetta Pique: I knew that he would phone me. But I didn’t expect that he phone me so quick.

He phoned Elisabetta Pique 12 hours after his election. She’s an old friend–an Argentinian journalist. And her children were baptized by Bergoglio.

Elisabetta Pique: And two days later was my birthday and he phoned again so– but in that sense we have here the scandal of normality because he’s a normal man.

Scott Pelley: The scandal of normality?

Scandalous, checking out of a hotel, posing for a papal selfie, standing in the rain.

Elisabetta Pique: We see the scandal almost every day. Ten days ago when he went for a retreat, he wanted to go in the bus like the others and he didn’t want to go by helicopter or in his own car. This is why people love him, I think.

They loved him in a simple car in July but it was frightening when Brazil’s 130 million Catholics seemed to show up all at once. Francis responded by rolling down the window.

Elisabetta Pique: A lot of people was afraid. He asked specially that he didn’t want so much security. And he explain it very well. “If I go to visit you to your house, do I go with in a box, glass box? No. If I go to your house to visit you, I want to be with you, near you and I want to touch you.” And he said, “I know that someone, there always can be a crazy one that would do something. But I prefer this craziness to have this risk that there would be a barrier between me and the people.”

That’s physical courage in the tradition of the pope’s religious order, the Jesuits, who call themselves soldiers of God. These days, Jesuits are also known for intellectual courage–battling over ideas.

Abraham Skorka: I know him very, very well. That he’s a revolutionary. And he’s not a person who likes to go in the middle way, no, in the extremes.

To know the leader of the Catholic world it’s helpful to talk to a rabbi. Abraham Skorka of Argentina is an old, close friend.

Scott Pelley: You are the pope’s rabbi?

Abraham Skorka: Let us say so.

They met debating one of the greatest of all human conflicts — Argentinian soccer. Skorka’s team often chokes in the clutch–so the fans have a nickname.

Abraham Skorka: We receive the name of chickens.

Scott Pelley: The chickens.

Abraham Skorka: The chickens. Why? Not a lion, not a tiger, but a chicken.

Francis is a card-carrying member of a rival team, this is his actual membership card. His holiness couldn’t resist temptation though when he said this to Skorka.

Abraham Skorka: “I guess that this year we are going to eat chicken soup.” Ohhh, I received that as an aggression, as a real aggression. But, I understood that behind the joke was a message, “Look, we can joke together. We can speak on the same level.”

They did speak on the level, in a TV series and a book they wrote together. After all, “pontiff,” is Latin for “bridge builder.”

Scott Pelley: You learned that there could be conversation, common ground among the faiths?

Abraham Skorka: Yes.

Scott Pelley: But soccer, no?

Abraham Skorka: No. Never!

Jorge Bergoglio took his vows to heaven as Argentina went to hell. In the 1970s, many thousands vanished in the dictatorship’s mill of torture and death. Bergoglio helped hide opponents of the government. Still, Rabbi Skorka told us that Francis is troubled, like many in his generation, over whether he could have done more.

Scott Pelley: The pope keeps telling everyone who will listen that he is a sinner. Chief among sinners. Why does he say that?

Abraham Skorka: Because he’s showing a way. One of the great sins of the leaders throughout the world is that they used to appear before their people as perfect persons and perfect leaders. He’s teaching what a real leader must be.

We saw that lesson when the pope met an Argentinian adversary, President Cristina Kirchner once called him “medieval” for opposing her plan for gay adoption and same-sex marriage. Watch what happens. She’ll touch him and recoil, thinking it’s not allowed. See how he reacts. It seems Francis has kissed the past goodbye.

Scott Pelley: To my eye, when you see photographs of Bergoglio as archbishop in Buenos Aires, he looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He looks like a man who is tired. And now you see pictures of him as pope, when he does have the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he is smiling and light. Help me understand that.

“One of the great sins of the leaders throughout the world is that they used to appear before their people as perfect persons and perfect leaders. He’s teaching what a real leader must be.”

Abraham Skorka: He understood very, very well that his image must be an image of hope.

Scott Pelley: He understood how important it was that a tired old man didn’t shuffle out onto that balcony?

Abraham Skorka: Yes. That’s true. He changed.

He’s changing many things including the ancient ritual of washing feet on Holy Thursday as Jesus did with his disciples. With popes they’re almost always the feet of priests. But Francis cleansed and kissed teenagers in a criminal detention center. Two were women — unheard of — and two in the group were Muslim. When traditions like that wash away so easily, people begin to talk and there are some incredible Francis stories.

There’s the one about the pope sneaking out of the Vatican at night behind the wheel of a beat up old car to minister to the poor in Rome. And one of him driving the same car to the airport to pick up an old friend. The trouble is those stories and all of their variations not true. The people who work closely with the pope tell us that what he does do is pick up the phone and call a lot of people.

It’s a desk phone not a cell phone. His emails and tweets, we’re told, are sent by the staff.

Scott Pelley: Did he want to be pope in your estimation?

Elisabetta Pique: Well he himself– when he met one day people from Jesuit school and there was a little girl that ask him “Did you want to be a pope?” And he said, “You have to be crazy to want to be a pope.”

It is all consuming. At 77 he rises to every public audience: the blind, the deaf, the poor, the sick, the dying. Crazy or maybe just an old Jesuit soldier embracing his final orders.

When we come back, we’ll talk to President Obama about his conversation with the pope in Rome. And, hear what Francis did that no pope has ever done before.

popefrancis-parttwo.jpg

Last Friday, Pope Francis was reading a prepared script about children and families, when he stopped and did something that no pope has ever done. Off the cuff, he took personal responsibility for the rape and abuse of children by priests. He said, quote “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil…to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage done…” It was another advance from a pope of “firsts”. First from the Americas, first Jesuit. Before Francis was elected many expected the cardinals to select a younger man for the job because the sins of the Church were so great. But after a year, it appears the 77-year-old Francis may be equal to the task.

Scott Pelley: What did he inherit in the Vatican?

Robert Mickens: Oh, he inherited a mess.

Robert Mickens is an American journalist who has been covering the Vatican for more than 25 years.

Robert Mickens: He came in at a time when there was a great scandal. There were documents being leaked in the press about financial corruption, cronyism. There were even some sexual misconduct that was in these documents that were leaked. He had a very clear mandate from the cardinals that elected him. “Clean up the house.”

He’s cleaning with committees of cardinals and lay people, investigating sex abuse, the Vatican bank and reform of the ancient bureaucracy of the Church itself–starting with the executive offices at headquarters known as the Roman Curia–Latin for court.

Robert Mickens: He set up a council, a privy council of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on reforming the Curia and governing the universal church. Really? Governing the universal church? Most people overlooked that they thought he was going to come in an clean up the Vatican and reform the Roman Curia instead what Francis has embarked upon is a reform of the governing structure of the Church.

Scott Pelley: And the Church that he dreams of looks like what?

Robert Mickens: A missionary church, a missionary church that shows the mercy of God, a church that’s not wagging its finger at people, not scolding people, but is inviting people, walking with people, befriending people, he uses the word synodal, synod, synod means walking with not just for the Church but it’s for all humanity. He’s called the Church a field hospital after a battle.

The battlefield wounded that Francis speaks of are Catholics harmed by the Church and the wider world of the dispossessed. He said this about the media and public attention.

“This is what gets through today. If investments in the banks and elsewhere drop a little, ‘Oh, tragedy!’ ‘What can we do?’ But if people die of hunger…if they’re sick, no! [none of that] gets through.”

Gerald Lacroix: We’re a sleeping giant, we are, the Church is a sleeping giant.

To understand Francis we went to one of the people he handpicked. The career of Gerald Lacroix of Quebec City is similar to the pope’s, leading through the slums of Latin America. The pope has faith in Lacroix and so made him one of his first, new cardinals–although Francis didn’t mention that to Lacroix before the announcement.

Gerald Lacroix: Most of the time, I guess, from what I’ve heard, one or two or three days ahead of time they get a heads up. You know, get ready, the pope will announce such and such a day. But this time, Francis decided to do things differently.

Scott Pelley: He seems to decide to do a lot of things differently.

Gerald Lacroix: Yeah, yeah, it’s challenging but it’s wonderful, it keeps us on our toes.

Lacroix found out about his elevation in a divine message written on a tablet — his iPad woke him, dinging with notes of congratulations. Later, he got a letter from the pope.

Gerald Lacroix: The letter said this, “Now you being named a cardinal Gerald is not a promotion, it’s not an honor and it’s not a decoration, it is a call to widen your spirit and a call to serve.”

Scott Pelley: The pope has graced the covers of many magazines. There’s even a magazine dedicated just to him now, but he has described all of this attention as quote “offensive.” Why do you think so?

Gerald Lacroix: I think maybe it’s in a way, a way to tell us, “It’s not about me.” Of course, he’s very popular. He’s very attractive. He’s such a joyful man. That, in itself, makes him a star. But what he’s telling us down deep is, “It’s not about me. Turn to the Lord.”

And turn to the people. One of the first things Francis asked Lacroix to do was administer a questionnaire to the parishes. The pope wanted to know what people thought about same sex marriage, contraception and divorce.

Gerald Lacroix: We need to look at reality. We need to look where people are at. And we need to look at the Gospel and the teaching of our Church and see how we can help people from where they’re at, to grow.

Scott Pelley: You are abundantly aware of the urgent concerns that many Catholics have about the sex abuse scandals, about financial scandals at the Vatican. About the role of women in the church. What are we going to see in your estimation from this pope on those very important matters?

Gerald Lacroix: Just mentioning the sex scandal excuse me, always touches me because of lack of coherence and because of sin, so many people have been hurt in the United States, in Canada, in many other parts of the world. And that is absolutely scandalous, inacceptable. You talked about difficulties in economics, in the way we handle money, properties, he was, right from day one, very, very involved in making sure that those things change.

The pope surprised people in a news conference when he said, “If someone is gay and searching for the Lord and has goodwill, then who am I to judge him?” The pope has written, that then Church has a false sense of security with – quote — “rules that make us harsh judges.” He asked whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?

Robert Mickens: This upsets a lot of very conservative Catholics because he’s the one supposed to judge, you know? What he has done is he’s opened up discussion in the Church. There had been no discussion on issues like birth control, about premarital sex, about divorced and remarried Catholics. None whatsoever. There’s been no discussion for the last probably 35 years on that. He’s getting them to speak about it over the next two years. The pope says, “If there’s opposition if there, people disagree, that’s not a problem. We want discussion.” That’s something very, very new.

But on a couple of old controversies, Francis has closed discussion. Opposition to abortion will remain firm. He says the right to life is linked to every other human right. And the priesthood will remain male.

Scott Pelley: What are Francis’ limitations?

Robert Mickens: He’s gotta do some more with women. Because they are more than half the Church. And they are the ones that are effectively keeping the Church, you know, up and running. But they are not at the heart of decision-making.

Francis’ roadmap for the Church is in the first thing he wrote as pope called “Joy of the Gospel,” emphasis on “joy.” He writes “an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral.”

Scott Pelley: Does he get a perverse pleasure out of tweaking all the protocols of the Vatican and breaking all the rules?

“[Pope Francis has] gotta do some more with women. Because they are more than half the Church. And they are the ones that are effectively keeping the Church, you know, up and running. But they are not at the heart of decision-making.”

Robert Mickens: I wonder, I mean, I do. I think a lot of us do. He’s just being himself. I remember about a month into the pontificate a priest friend of his from Buenos Aires gave an interview and said, “‘You know I talked to him on the phone and I said to him Jorge, this is not a problem that you’re not living in the palace and not wearing the red shoes?’ And he said to me, he said, ‘Pepe if I did that I would look ridiculous, that’s not me.’”

Truth is, the pope loves a joke. And his holiness has a devilish wit. You can see it in the eyes after the “gotcha” punch line. And the mightier the audience the sweeter the punch. Two weeks ago, after meeting the pope for the first time, President Obama spoke with us at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Rome. He told us that Francis joked that for two men of great power it was really young people who ordered them around.

Scott Pelley: Can you give me a sense of what it’s like to be in the presence of Pope Francis?

President Obama: He is a wonderful man. He projects the kind of humility and kindness that is consistent with my understanding at least of Jesus’ teachings. His simplicity and his belief in the power of the spiritual over the material reflects itself in everything that he says and does. And I suspect my sense is that he’s a little bit uncomfortable with all the trappings of being pope.

Scott Pelley: Embarrassed by them?

President Obama: Well, he– you know, that’s not his style. And that is part of why I think he has been so embraced around the world. Because people get a sense that first and foremost he sees himself as a priest and as a disciple of Christ and as somebody who is concerned with, you know, the least of these.

Scott Pelley: What did the pope say to you in that meeting that inspired you?

President Obama: Well we spent a bulk of our conversation around issues of poverty and inequality, themes that he has been talking about quite a bit. And obviously issues that I care about deeply. The very poor finding fewer and fewer ladders to get into the middle class. Youth unemployment high. You know, these are chronic problems. And, you know, what the pope’s able to do in a way that no politician can do is to shake people’s conscience and to shine a light on the problem. It’s our job to come up with policies to do something. What the pope can do is to help mobilize public opinion.

Scott Pelley: But how practical is that? Stalin once said of the power of the papacy, “How many divisions does the pope have?”

President Obama: I’m a big believer in the power of conscience, the power of faith, the power of a message of hope. I think over time that’s what moves history. Tanks and divisions and dollars and cents, you know, all those things obviously make a difference. But ideas are the most powerful thing on Earth.

The power of the papacy comes laden with eight official titles. They start with the grand “bishop of Rome,” “vicar of Christ,” etc., etc., but the last title is the most modest, “servant of the servants of God.” Maybe in titles, Francis looks to the book of Matthew, “let the last, be the first.”

Robert Mickens: One man in one little tiny place in the center of the city of Rome can’t do everything. And no one should expect him to. But he is there as an icon, as the captain of the ship, in a sense. And now it’s– you know, it’s up to the rest of the Church to get with this very challenging program. And any Christian that’s not challenged, whatever you are, right, left, center, conservative, progressive, if you’re not challenged by Pope Francis, as one of my colleagues recently said, you’re not listening.

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Reid: Bundy supporters are ‘terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

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Reid: Bundy supporters are ‘terrorists’

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the supporters who rallied around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government are “domestic terrorists” and Bundy does not respect his country.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that Reid, D-Nev., made the comments at an event Thursday hosted by the paper called “Hashtags & Headlines.”

Federal land managers backed down in a weekend standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including armed militia members, showed up to protest federal officials seizing his cattle. Some protesters had their guns drawn and pointed toward law enforcement, some of whom were also armed. But ultimately, no shots were fired and the Bureau of Land Management reported that officials left over safety concerns.

Reid had harsh words for these supporters, saying the government cannot stop pursuing the issue.

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said, according to the paper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

Reid said he has been told a federal task force is being set up to deal with the Bundy situation, adding Bundy does not respect the U.S. or its laws.

“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”

Reid also suggested the supporters were dangerous to the community.

“They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?” he said.

Bundy has been at odds for years with the feds, who say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees. BLM long ago revoked Bundy’s grazing rights on that land after citing concern for a federally protected tortoise. Bundy, though, claimed ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century and has refused to pay the fees or remove his animals.

BLM officials have said they’ll continue their fight through the courts. 

Click for more from the Las Vegas Journal Review.

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ENDING ‘RE-HOMING’? Wisc. restricts parents from giving up adopted kids

Wisconsin adoption law.jpg

May 7, 2013: Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Reuters

Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation cracking down on parents who try to give away their adopted kids. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would bar adoptive parents from finding a new home for their children without court permission. The legislation sought to protect adopted children from the unregulated practice of “re-homing,” where adoptive parents use underground networks to find a new family for children they don’t want. 

“With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who sponsored the legislation, said. “Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead.”

The Wisconsin push comes after hundreds of parents were caught using social media sites to give away their adopted kids to strangers they met on the Internet. In some cases, that meant to predators and pedophiles.

Presently, there are no federal rules that prevent the practice of “re-homing” children — a term typically used by pet owners looking for new homes for their unruly animals.

Many nations don’t disclose if the children they are putting up for adoption are victims of physical abuse or mental trauma. The adoptive parents in these scenarios often are unable to adequately care for the children, and some are left looking for questionable outs, Kathy Ledesma, national project director for Adopt US Kids, told FoxNews.com.

Ledesma, who has worked in the past on international adoptions, says states aren’t funded to handle issues that arise with these types of adoptions. Because these parents are often stuck in a situation, they turn to underground networks to dump the children they don’t want or can’t care for.

The legislation comes following a series of reports from Reuters looking into the underground trade of adopted minors. 

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from parents of adopted children over a five-year period on a Yahoo Internet message board. The news agency found that, on average, one child per week was advertised for “re-homing” In total, 261 kids were offered up via Yahoo.

The kids on the site, offered up for “re-homing,” typically ranged in age from 6 to 14, although the youngest was 10 months old. Most had been adopted from other countries, including China, Russia and Ethiopia.

One reported case involved a Wisconsin couple. When couple Todd and Melissa Puchalla adopted Quita, a 14-year-old girl with a history of mental problems, from Liberia, they thought it would be easier. But after two years with the troubled teen, they decided to give her up, posting an ad on the Internet.

Less than 48 hours after posting the ad, Illinois couple Nicole and Calvin Eason contacted the Puchallas, saying they were interested in Quita. On Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Ill., ready to hand over Quita. They didn’t know anything about the Easons.

They reportedly didn’t bother doing a simple background check on the couple they were handing their child to. Had they, they would have found that child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children, including a newborn baby boy. The deputy who had taken the infant away said in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” Reuters reported.

Police reports also showed that children the couple baby-sat in the past had accused the Easons of sexual abuse. The only official document attesting to the Easons parenting skills was later found to be doctored by the Easons.

During her first night with the Easons, Quita told Reuters, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed. Nicole was naked, Quita said, according to Reuters.

In July 2009, Tom and Misty Mealey also welcomed the Easons to their Roanoke, Va., home. The Mealeys were prepared to give the Easons one of their children – a 5-year-old adopted boy from Guatemala they had adopted earlier.

Tom was a cop.

“It’s horribly embarrassing,” he told Reuters of being misled by the Easons. “The thought that I spent a career dealing with people like this is even more embarrassing. I wish we had done more.” 

Following the Reuters investigation, Yahoo shut down their Adopting-from-Disruption bulletin board. Yahoo also took down five other discussion boards.

The Reuters investigation also found a forum on Facebook, but that one remains active. Emails to Facebook for comment by FoxNews.com were not returned.

Puchalla, now 21, is enrolled  at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where she is studying social work. She lost her apartment over the summer and is now in temporary housing.

The little boy the Mealeys gave up is now 9-years-old. He is currently a ward of New York state.

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ENDING ‘RE-HOMING’? Wisc. restricts parents from giving up adopted kids

Wisconsin adoption law.jpg

May 7, 2013: Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Reuters

Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation cracking down on parents who try to give away their adopted kids. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would bar adoptive parents from finding a new home for their children without court permission. The legislation sought to protect adopted children from the unregulated practice of “re-homing,” where adoptive parents use underground networks to find a new family for children they don’t want. 

“With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law,” Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who sponsored the legislation, said. “Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead.”

The Wisconsin push comes after hundreds of parents were caught using social media sites to give away their adopted kids to strangers they met on the Internet. In some cases, that meant to predators and pedophiles.

Presently, there are no federal rules that prevent the practice of “re-homing” children — a term typically used by pet owners looking for new homes for their unruly animals.

Many nations don’t disclose if the children they are putting up for adoption are victims of physical abuse or mental trauma. The adoptive parents in these scenarios often are unable to adequately care for the children, and some are left looking for questionable outs, Kathy Ledesma, national project director for Adopt US Kids, told FoxNews.com.

Ledesma, who has worked in the past on international adoptions, says states aren’t funded to handle issues that arise with these types of adoptions. Because these parents are often stuck in a situation, they turn to underground networks to dump the children they don’t want or can’t care for.

The legislation comes following a series of reports from Reuters looking into the underground trade of adopted minors. 

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from parents of adopted children over a five-year period on a Yahoo Internet message board. The news agency found that, on average, one child per week was advertised for “re-homing” In total, 261 kids were offered up via Yahoo.

The kids on the site, offered up for “re-homing,” typically ranged in age from 6 to 14, although the youngest was 10 months old. Most had been adopted from other countries, including China, Russia and Ethiopia.

One reported case involved a Wisconsin couple. When couple Todd and Melissa Puchalla adopted Quita, a 14-year-old girl with a history of mental problems, from Liberia, they thought it would be easier. But after two years with the troubled teen, they decided to give her up, posting an ad on the Internet.

Less than 48 hours after posting the ad, Illinois couple Nicole and Calvin Eason contacted the Puchallas, saying they were interested in Quita. On Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Ill., ready to hand over Quita. They didn’t know anything about the Easons.

They reportedly didn’t bother doing a simple background check on the couple they were handing their child to. Had they, they would have found that child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children, including a newborn baby boy. The deputy who had taken the infant away said in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” Reuters reported.

Police reports also showed that children the couple baby-sat in the past had accused the Easons of sexual abuse. The only official document attesting to the Easons parenting skills was later found to be doctored by the Easons.

During her first night with the Easons, Quita told Reuters, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed. Nicole was naked, Quita said, according to Reuters.

In July 2009, Tom and Misty Mealey also welcomed the Easons to their Roanoke, Va., home. The Mealeys were prepared to give the Easons one of their children – a 5-year-old adopted boy from Guatemala they had adopted earlier.

Tom was a cop.

“It’s horribly embarrassing,” he told Reuters of being misled by the Easons. “The thought that I spent a career dealing with people like this is even more embarrassing. I wish we had done more.” 

Following the Reuters investigation, Yahoo shut down their Adopting-from-Disruption bulletin board. Yahoo also took down five other discussion boards.

The Reuters investigation also found a forum on Facebook, but that one remains active. Emails to Facebook for comment by FoxNews.com were not returned.

Puchalla, now 21, is enrolled  at the Milwaukee Area Technical College where she is studying social work. She lost her apartment over the summer and is now in temporary housing.

The little boy the Mealeys gave up is now 9-years-old. He is currently a ward of New York state.

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‘ROCK SOLID’ EVIDENCEAstronomers discover most Earth-like planet yet

earth-like-planet.jpg

April 17, 2014: This artist’s rendering provided by NASA on shows an Earth-sized planet dubbed Kepler-186f orbiting a star 500 light-years from Earth. Astronomers say the planet may hold water on its surface and is the best candidate yet of a habitable planet in the ongoing search for an Earth twin.AP/NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

“This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found. The results are absolutely rock solid,” University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, who had no role in the discovery, said in an email.

The planet was detected by NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope, which examines the heavens for subtle changes in brightness that indicate an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star. From those changes, scientists can calculate a planet’s size and make certain inferences about its makeup.

The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f, circles a red dwarf star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.

The planet is about 10 percent larger than Earth and may very well have liquid water — a key ingredient for life — on its surface, scientists said. That is because it resides at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone around its star — the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans can exist without freezing solid or boiling away.

The planet probably basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth, with an average temperature slightly above freezing, “similar to dawn or dusk on a spring day,” Marcy said.

The discovery was detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Lead researcher Elisa Quintana at NASA’s Ames Research Center said she considers the planet to be more of an “Earth cousin” than a twin because it circles a star that is smaller and dimmer than our sun. While Earth revolves around the sun in 365 days, this planet completes an orbit of its star every 130 days.

“You have a birthday every 130 days on this planet,” she said.

Scientists cannot say for certain whether it has an atmosphere, but if it does, it probably contains a lot of carbon dioxide, outside experts said.

“Don’t take off your breathing mask if you ever land there,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, a Harvard and Max Planck Institute astronomer who had no connection to the research.

Despite the differences, “now we can point to a star and know that there really is a planet very similar to the Earth, at least in size and temperature,” Harvard scientist David Charbonneau, who was not part of the team, said in an email.

Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed 961 planets, but only a few dozen are in the habitable zone. Most are giant gas balls like Jupiter and Saturn, and not ideal places for life. Scientists in recent years have also found planets slightly larger than Earth in the Goldilocks zone called “super Earths,” but it is unclear if they are rocky.

The latest discovery is the closest in size to Earth than any other known world in the habitable region.

Kepler-186f is part of a system of five planets, all of which are roughly Earth’s size. However, the other planets are too close to their star to support life.

Astronomers may never know for certain whether Kepler-186f can sustain life. The planet is too far away even for next-generation space telescopes like NASA’s overbudget James Webb, set for launch in 2018, to study in detail.

Kepler completed its prime mission and was in overtime when one of the wheels that keep its gaze steady failed last year. NASA has not yet decided whether to keep using the telescope to hunt for planets on a scaled-back basis.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/04/17/astronomers-discover-most-earth-like-planet-yet/

‘ROCK SOLID’ EVIDENCEAstronomers discover most Earth-like planet yet

earth-like-planet.jpg

April 17, 2014: This artist’s rendering provided by NASA on shows an Earth-sized planet dubbed Kepler-186f orbiting a star 500 light-years from Earth. Astronomers say the planet may hold water on its surface and is the best candidate yet of a habitable planet in the ongoing search for an Earth twin.AP/NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

“This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found. The results are absolutely rock solid,” University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, who had no role in the discovery, said in an email.

The planet was detected by NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope, which examines the heavens for subtle changes in brightness that indicate an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star. From those changes, scientists can calculate a planet’s size and make certain inferences about its makeup.

The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f, circles a red dwarf star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.

The planet is about 10 percent larger than Earth and may very well have liquid water — a key ingredient for life — on its surface, scientists said. That is because it resides at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone around its star — the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans can exist without freezing solid or boiling away.

The planet probably basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth, with an average temperature slightly above freezing, “similar to dawn or dusk on a spring day,” Marcy said.

The discovery was detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Lead researcher Elisa Quintana at NASA’s Ames Research Center said she considers the planet to be more of an “Earth cousin” than a twin because it circles a star that is smaller and dimmer than our sun. While Earth revolves around the sun in 365 days, this planet completes an orbit of its star every 130 days.

“You have a birthday every 130 days on this planet,” she said.

Scientists cannot say for certain whether it has an atmosphere, but if it does, it probably contains a lot of carbon dioxide, outside experts said.

“Don’t take off your breathing mask if you ever land there,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, a Harvard and Max Planck Institute astronomer who had no connection to the research.

Despite the differences, “now we can point to a star and know that there really is a planet very similar to the Earth, at least in size and temperature,” Harvard scientist David Charbonneau, who was not part of the team, said in an email.

Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed 961 planets, but only a few dozen are in the habitable zone. Most are giant gas balls like Jupiter and Saturn, and not ideal places for life. Scientists in recent years have also found planets slightly larger than Earth in the Goldilocks zone called “super Earths,” but it is unclear if they are rocky.

The latest discovery is the closest in size to Earth than any other known world in the habitable region.

Kepler-186f is part of a system of five planets, all of which are roughly Earth’s size. However, the other planets are too close to their star to support life.

Astronomers may never know for certain whether Kepler-186f can sustain life. The planet is too far away even for next-generation space telescopes like NASA’s overbudget James Webb, set for launch in 2018, to study in detail.

Kepler completed its prime mission and was in overtime when one of the wheels that keep its gaze steady failed last year. NASA has not yet decided whether to keep using the telescope to hunt for planets on a scaled-back basis.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/04/17/astronomers-discover-most-earth-like-planet-yet/

RCMP announce charges against Dutch man in Amanda Todd online bullying case

B.C. RCMP announced charges at a news conference late Thursday afternoon against a 35-year-old Dutch citizen in connection with the online sexual extortion of Amanda Todd, the B.C. teen who killed herself in October 2012.


‘This is truly a day we’ve been waiting for’- Carol Todd


“This is truly a day we’ve been waiting for,” said Todd’s mother Carol, her voice breaking as she fought back tears. “I always knew deep in my heart that what my daughter told me was the truth.”


Carol Todd

Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother fights back tears at a news conference and expresses her wish that her daughter’s story will help increase pressure on child predators worldwide. (CBC)


The man, whose identity has not been released, is facing five charges, including extortion, internet luring, criminal harassment and the possession and distribution of child pornography.


Coquitlam, B.C., RCMP Insp. Paulette Friel told reporters that authorities in the Netherlands arrested a Dutch citizen in January in relation to an investigation in that country involving Dutch victims. 


Friel says Coquitlam RCMP launched an investigation in December 2010 that involved more than 30 police officers. She says the investigation eventually expanded to include local and international investigators and experts.


The National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre says the investigation includes victims from Canada and other countries.


International investigation


Insp. Bob Resch says the majority of the victims identified in Canada are children.


“All the police forces and jurisdictions where those victims are located have been notified and been in contact with those victims and have advanced their investigations accordingly,” he said.


Amanda Todd

A Dutch man has been arrested in the Netherlands and charged in connection with the online sexual extortion of Amanda Todd. Todd is just one of many victims identified in an international investigation that involved experts and police around the world. (CBC)


Carol Todd says Amanda’s story has touched a lot of people around the world. She hopes the added attention will result in the arrest of more offenders who target young people.


“It is our hope that Amanda’s case will help the international community to work together to target and find those who commit crimes of exploitation against children and youth,” Carol Todd said.


Dutch media identified Todd


Earlier in the day, the Dutch media organization Omroep Brabant published news identifying Todd as one of the victims in the Netherlands case.


The journalist who broke the story in the Netherlands, Mathijs Pennings, told CBC News the man arrested is a Dutch national, who is accused of blackmailing numerous minors after recording their webcam activities. He is also alleged to have extorted older male victims for money.


His alleged victims include individuals from Europe, the U.K. and Canada, Pennings said.


The man allegedly told the Canadian girl to undress in front of a webcam, which she did, and then he saved those images in order to blackmail her, Omroep Brabant reported. 


Amanda’s mother told CBC that she was in shock at the news. She said RCMP told her there was an overseas development in the case two months ago.


“There were multiple people in those chat rooms,” Carol Todd said. “So this would hopefully be the first layer of many layers that they could uncover.”



Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/amanda-todd-case-rcmp-lay-5-charges-against-dutch-citizen-1.2614034?cmp=rss

‘Just like you, we struggle to understand what happened,’ says father of Calgary stabbings suspect

Calgary police Insp. Douglas de Grood, the father of stabbing suspect Matthew de Grood, fought back tears as he spoke about how shocked and devastated he and his wife are. 


“We are deeply saddened for what the families and friends of the victims are going through,” he said.


“Your lives have been turned upside down. We know words cannot ease your pain and suffering. Please accept our deepest condolences and know you are in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers.”


Matthew de Grood has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lawrence Hong, 27, Joshua Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, Zackariah Rathwell, 21, and ​Jordan Segura, 22. 


Matthew and Doug de Grood

Veteran Calgary police Insp. Douglas de Grood spoke this afternoon about his son, Matthew de Grood, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of five university-aged people. (CBC)


“Like any parent can tell you, a love for your child is unconditional, and we love Matthew dearly,” said de Grood, reading from a prepared statement. 


“Our Matthew is a great kid, full of love, kindness and respect for others.” 


De Grood said he and his wife, Susan, hope to see their son soon.


“Just like you, we struggle to understand what happened,” said de Grood. 


“We have received an outpouring of support from our extended family, friends and co-workers and even people we’ve never met. We thank each one of you for your support.”


De Grood is a 33-year veteran of the Calgary Police Service who has held leadership positions within the force. He is still on active duty.


The de Groods also have an older daughter named Nicole. 


Full statement 


I am Douglas de Grood, and I am an inspector with the Calgary Police Service.


But I’m here today not as a police officer but as a parent and a husband. I speak for my wife, Susan de Grood, as we are one voice.


We are shocked and devastated, and we are trying to make sense of what happened.


We are deeply saddened for what the families and friends of the victims are going through. Your lives have been turned upside down. We know words cannot begin to ease your pain and suffering. Please accept our deepest condolences and know you are in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers.


Our condolences also go out to the first responders who attended the scene. You had to detach from your emotions to do your job. Your professionalism was exceptional.


Like any parent can tell you, a love for your child is unconditional, and we love Matthew dearly.


Our Matthew is a great kid, full of love, kindness and respect for others. Growing up he received good grades in school and was active in a variety of sports.


As a young adult, he got a part-time job, entered university and became more involved in the community. He raised funds for charities through his passion for running.


He had a bright future ahead of him as he was about to start law school in the fall.


Just like you, we struggle to understand what happened.


We have received an outpouring of support from our extended families, our friends and neighbours, co-workers and even people we’ve never met.


We thank each one of you for your support.


We will never recover from this, but the collective support has helped ease some of the pain. We hope someday we will have answers as to why this happened.


Regardless, it won’t bring the victims back, but we would give anything to do just that.


Our final words are to you, the media. We ask that you respect our family’s privacy as we deal with this tragedy. Thank you for your co-operation.  


Not under suicide watch, says lawyer


Defence lawyer Allan Fay said the family has asked the media to respect their privacy during this difficult time.


“Give them the time and space they need to deal with this terrible tragedy,” he told reporters Thursday afternoon after the family made their statement.


Matthew de Grood is now being held in a secure psychiatric facility.


Fay once again reiterated that he is not aware of any mental health concerns with his client and said he has not been placed under suicide watch.


He said there has not been a court-ordered psychological assessment yet, but he understands the Crown prosecutor may request one at Matthew de Grood’s next appearance on Tuesday.


There have been reports in the media that the suspect’s mother had called police before the stabbings happened early Tuesday morning after receiving some worrying text messages, but Fay said he could not confirm that information.


“There have been a lot of reports in the media that the family doesn’t necessarily agree with,” he said.


Due to the suspect’s father’s position with the police force, Crown prosecutors will be brought in from Edmonton to handle the case. 


Gregg Lepp of Crown Prosecutor Services says that is to ensure impartiality.


“We would do the same thing if it were the son or daughter or relative of a prosecutor or a judge or a well-known defence lawyer — things of that sort,” he said. 


“So that’s why. Not that there would be a conflict, but just so the public has absolute confidence that there’s no personal stake in this whatsoever.”


Neil Wiberg and Stephanie Brown have been named as the two prosecutors assigned to the case.


Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/matthew-de-grood-s-father-just-like-you-we-struggle-to-understand-what-happened-1.2614266?cmp=rss

South Korea ferry: How long can passengers survive inside the ship?


Poor conditions and other obstacles mean rescue divers are facing the ”daunting task” of rescuing passengers who may have found air pockets inside a ferry that sank off South Korea’s southern coast.


But even if they have air to breathe, the threat of hypothermia is reducing their chances of survival. 


“It’s a very difficult operation and while there may be survivors, even if they’re found, it’s going to be hazardous to bring them to the surface,” said Kim Petersen, governor emeritus of the Maritime Security Council and president and chairman of Security Dynamics.


Twenty people, including a female crew member, at least five students and two teachers, were confirmed dead by coast guard officials Thursday night. But more than 270 passengers — many of them high school students — were missing and many are presumed dead. Coast guard officials put the number of survivors Thursday at 179.


air pocket

The working assumption is that some passengers may have been able to find air pockets in the vessel. (CBC)

The 146-metre Sewol now sits — with just part of its keel visible — in waters off Mokpo, about 470 kilometres from Seoul. The interior of that ship is the focus of the desperate search for survivors.


Currently, there are 178 divers feeling their way around inside the vessel, diving in teams, running multiple safety lines, searching in a grid fashion as they look for openings that could lead to voids where pockets of air could sustain life, Petersen said.


The working assumption, Petersen said, is that some passengers were able to find air pockets in the vessel. But with divers planning to pump oxygen into the ship to help any survivors, the question is whether or not they’re still alive. 



Prof. Gordon Giesbrecht, associate dean of kinesiology and recreations management at the University of Manitoba, said food shouldn’t be an issue, as someone could live for weeks without it. Although the general rule is that people can only last three days without water, some survivors of disasters have shown they can live longer,


Surviving hypothermia


map - KOREA

Map shows where South Korea ferry sinking occurred. (CBC)

This means passengers on the vessel  would die either by asphyxiation or hypothermia, he said. Surviving hypothermia could depend on how extensively the passengers have been immersed in water.


With water temperatures ranging from 10 C to 12 C, Giesbrecht said it’s unlikely that someone almost completely immersed in water could survive past 24 hours.


“People could be in enclosed spaces with trapped air anywhere from full immersion up to the neck, to very little immersion. And in that case, people could survive for days.”


However, with poor visibility and a strong current, divers are facing huge challenges finding surviving passengers.


“It’s just a daunting task,” Petersen said.


Any survivor who is found may be injured, suffering from hypothermia, and now have to be moved from a void deep inside the ship to the surface using scuba equipment they will most likely be unfamiliar with.


“The water is 10 C. It’s murky, it’s going to be pitch dark, it has to be the most frightening environment these desperate students could find themselves in, if there are any that’s still alive,” Petersen said.


“And then having to move through an environment that’s going to have numerous obstacles, for example metal edges, broken glass and then coupled with the current — all of which makes for a daunting rescue scenario.”


Petersen said it may take 15 to 20 minutes to follow the safety lines back through the maze of hallways and debris that would ultimately lead to the surface.


Rescue crew may also try to raise the vessel using a crane to try to extract any survivors, but that might require more time than would be available, Petersen said.




Once a survivor has been found, Giesbrecht said there’s no rush to get them out, even if they’re suffering from hypothermia.


“When you’re going to rescue somebody, speed isn’t the issue. If they’re still alive, they’re in a very stable situation so you can take your time, knowing that in an hour their temperature won’t drop.”



The rescuers should take the time to calm the passenger down, he said.


“You’ve got the person, they’re alive. If it took you an hour to get the person out of there, who cares.”


“Basically you’re going to teach somebody how to scuba dive in the worst possible conditions. Cold water, dark, survival situation. So you really have to take your time,” Giesbrecht said. 





Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/south-korea-ferry-the-daunting-task-of-rescuing-survivors-1.2613929?cmp=rss

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford launches re-election bid: ‘I won’t back down’

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford officially launched his re-election campaign before a crowd of supporters Thursday night — sticking closely to the issues he has stressed over his last four years as mayor. 


In a 30-minute speech, Ford pledged to fight special interests, to cut red tape and to keep taxes low if returned to office on Oct. 27. 


“I’m running on my record and my record is second to none,” Ford told the crowd at the Toronto Congress Centre, the same venue where he celebrated his election victory back in 2010. 


“I’m the most open hard-working mayor this city has ever had. I continue to pledge honesty and transparency.”


Ford touted his accomplishments — including his often-repeated line about having saved taxpayers $1 billion — but said little about his plans for the future, beyond his continued support for the Scarborough subway expansion, which has lingered as an issue among the other candidates. 


Rob Ford Campaign Launch 20140320

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford pledged to fight special interests, to cut red tape and to keep taxes low if returned to office on Oct. 27. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

His brother and campaign manager, Coun. Doug Ford, said during his short introductory speech that the campaign will reveal more details “in the coming months.”


Ford did not directly address the scandals that have marked his time as mayor, though he made a joke early on about facing “walls of reporters” outside his office. 


He described himself as an ordinary guy who has learned from his mistakes, also a familiar refrain, and thanked his supporters for their kindness and “spirit of second chances.” 


Ford then made references to others “throwing mud” at him. 


“No matter what challenges lay ahead, no matter what mud is thrown at me, my message couldn’t be clearer — I won’t back down,” Ford told the cheering crowd, amid chants of “Four more years” and “Rob is No. 1.” 


“I won’t back down from the issues that matter to you. I won’t back down from protecting taxpayer dollars. I won’t back down from putting people’s interests ahead of special interests.


“If you have my back when they start throwing mud … I promise you, Rob Ford will have your back for the next four years.”


The race to be Toronto’s next mayor also includes Olivia Chow, David Soknacki, John Tory and Karen Stintz. 





Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/rob-ford-launches-re-election-bid-i-won-t-back-down-1.2613334?cmp=rss

Portland, Ore., empties massive water reservoir after teen pees in it

Portland pee in reservoir

Portland drained a reservoir at its Mount Tabor facility after a teen was seen peeing into it through an iron fence. (Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian/AP)

Portland, Ore., officials pulled the plug and dumped 144 million litres of treated water Thursday after a teenager was spotted peeing into city reservoir. 



Security cameras caught a 19-year-old peeing through an iron fence into one of the reservoirs at the Mount Tabor facility in southeast Portland.



“The basic commandment of the Water Bureau is to provide clean, cold and constant water to its customers,” bureau administrator David Shaff said Wednesday. “And the premise behind that is we don’t have pee in it.”


‘The reality is our customers don’t anticipate drinking water that’s been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir.’- Jaymee Cuti, Portland Water Bureau



Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti said Thursday that test samples of water taken from the reservoir came back clean.



Shaff knew the urine posed little risk — animals routinely deposit waste without creating a public health crisis — but said the city has plenty of water to meet demand and he didn’t want to serve water that was deliberately tainted.



“There is at least a perceived difference from my perspective,” Shaff said.


“I could be wrong on that, but the reality is our customers don’t anticipate drinking water that’s been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir.”



The discarded water will be drained into the sewage system, eventually reaching a treatment plant before it’s dumped into the Columbia River.



Floy Jones, co-founder of the group Friends of the Reservoirs, criticized the decision to drain the reservoir, saying there’s no evidence any urine reached the water and it wouldn’t harm anyone if it did.



“It’s extremely wasteful,” she said.



It’s the second time in less than three years Portland has been forced to drain a water reservoir. In June 2011, the city drained a 28 million litre reservoir, also at Mount Tabor, due to a man peeing in it.  



The teen perpetrator in the latest incident was cited for public urination.

Source Article from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/portland-empties-144-million-litre-water-reservoir-after-teen-pees-in-it-1.2614558?cmp=rss

Convicted Drug Dealer Indicted for Selling Rhino Horns

“This is Lu,” the email began. “I got the giraffe from you.”

That email, say U.S. Justice Department officials, written to a confidential informant regarding a taxidermied giraffe, would initiate an effort earlier this year by Lumsden W. Quan (aka “Lu”), 46, of San Francisco and his boss, Edward N. Levine, 63, of Mill Valley, California, to sell two horns of the endangered black rhinoceros to a federal agent for $55,000. The attempted sale took place at a hotel in Las Vegas on March 19, 2014. Both men were arrested.

This indictment is the latest in a series of cases by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Justice as part of Operation Crash, a massive, nationwide criminal investigation into U.S. involvement in the international black market for rhino horn. (“Crash” is another word for a herd of rhinoceroses).

All rhinoceros species across Africa and Asia are under siege by poachers. (Read “Rhino Wars” in National Geographic magazine.) They supply the largely Vietnamese and Chinese demand for rhino horn powder as a traditional medicine and for decorative carved horns and $100,000 libation cups.

To date Operation Crash has resulted in 17 arrests and nine convictions, for, among others, a member of an Irish crime gang (the Rathkeale Rovers), New York and Chinese antiques dealers, and Chinese nationals, whose buyers have been in Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam. In many cases, traffickers are removing horns of taxidermy specimens, which is how talk about a mounted giraffe led to rhino horn.

“The service has made stopping the illegal trafficking in rhino horn a priority and directed our Special Investigations Unit, our elite complex investigation unit, to work this issue,” says Edward Grace, U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s deputy assistant director for law enforcement.

“Ten years ago agents involved in undercover investigations could buy an entire horn for $7,000. Now agents are spending $25,000 a pound to buy illegal horns,” he points out.

According to officials, since the launch of Operation Crash, investigators have documented the illegal sale and smuggling of hundreds of illegal rhino horns in the United States, worth a conservative estimate in excess of $50 million dollars on the street.

But the arrest of Levine exposes another element of big-time wildlife trafficking—narcotics.

Picture of a box of carved ivory tusks.

The Cartel Connection

In 1989 Levine was indicted in Florida along with Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, the Ochoa brothers, and nearly two dozen others on charges arising from their involvement in Colombia’s infamous Medellín cocaine cartel.

The connection between the wildlife trade and illegal drugs is longstanding. U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents have found illegal drugs hidden inside shipments of live wildlife. In the 1990s, South American drug traffickers famously stuffed cocaine-filled condoms into boa constrictors bound for the pet trade in Miami. All of the snakes in that shipment arrived dead, which is likely how they’d been shipped, since stuffing a dead snake is easier than stuffing a live one.

According to court records, in 1978 Levine obtained cocaine from Medellín-cartel conspirator Carlos Lehder and flew to California, where it was distributed. Levine also rented several safe-deposit boxes under the name “Michael Stark,” from which authorities seized roughly six million dollars.

After being indicted in 1989 on federal drug trafficking charges, Levine fled. He lived under the alias “Joel Watnick” until February 1995, when he was arrested outside his home in Oregon and later pleaded guilty to a distribution charge. He served two years, eight months and was released November 1997.

Authorities have long compared the size of the illegal wildlife trade to the trade in illegal narcotics and arms (usually placing it third). Now they appear to have a link.

“Operation Crash has documented how individuals involved in other nonwildlife-related crimes have branched out into wildlife crimes,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Grace. “This is a very disturbing trend, because wildlife crimes have now changed from a crime of opportunity to one of organized crime.”

“Operation Crash has led to the arrest and conviction of an illegal firearms dealer,” he says, “and now the arrest of a convicted felon who helped distribute drugs for a Colombian drug cartel.”

Follow Bryan Christy on Twitter: @bryanchristy or visit www.bryanchristy.com

Source Article from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/04/140417-rhino-horn-drugs-weapons-cartel-arrest-smuggling/

‘I won’t have anything to do with Doubtfire 2’

Mara Wilson in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire.

Mara Wilson in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire.
Source: Supplied

Mara Wilson today.

Mara Wilson today.
Source: Supplied



THE announcement of a Mrs Doubtfire sequel has the internet in a frenzy, wondering what the plot would be, where the original film’s cast has been these past 20 years and what exactly life is like right now.


Some people are clamouring for more cake faces, Robin Williams has reportedly already signed on, while others wish the classic would remain in the past. Joining the latter group is Mara Wilson, who played Natalie Hillard in the 1993 film. Wilson shared her feelings on the sequel via Twitter.

SEVEN THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT MRS DOUBTFIRE

“For the record, no, I do not have anything to do with the Mrs. Doubtfire sequel, nor will I,” Wilson wrote. “I’ve been in some mediocre movies, but I’ve never been in a sequel. And I have no interest in being in one now. Sequels generally suck unless they were planned as part of a trilogy or series. I think Doubtfire ended where it needed to end.”

This story was published with permission from Huffington Post.

The Mrs Doubtfire cast.

The Mrs Doubtfire cast.
Source: Supplied

Source Article from http://news.com.au.feedsportal.com/c/34564/f/632581/s/397dba0d/sc/38/l/0L0Snews0N0Bau0Centertainment0Cmovies0Cmara0Ewilson0Ewont0Ebe0Ejoining0Ethe0Emrs0Edoubtfire0Esequel0Cstory0Efnk850Az80E12268890A297690Dfrom0Fpublic0Irss/story01.htm

PepsiCo’s profit rises on snack sales



PEPSICO has reported a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit as the company slashed costs and sold more snacks around the world.


The company, which makes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Mountain Dew and Tropicana, said global snack volume rose two per cent in the period.

Global beverage volume was even from a year ago, including in its closely watched North American drinks unit.

Coca-Cola also reported flat volume in the North America market earlier this week.

Both companies have been offsetting ongoing declines in their flagship soda businesses by relying more heavily on other beverages, such as sports drinks, juices and bottled waters.

Even though beverage volume was flat in North America, PepsiCo managed to push up revenue, partly by introducing pricier new drinks such as Mountain Dew Kickstart, which is positioned as an energy drink for younger men.

Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston noted that a can of Kickstart costs $US1.99 ($A2.13), versus $US3.50 for a 12-pack of Mountain Dew.

He also noted that the company’s stepped-up marketing has strengthened the company’s brands, which in turn had allowed PepsiCo to charge higher prices.

The company planned to raise prices this year between two and three per cent in both snacks and drinks, he said.

For the quarter, the company earned $US1.22 billion, or 79 cents per share.

Not including one-time items, it earned 83 cents per share, above the 75 cents per share Wall Street expected.

A year ago, it earned $US1.08 billion, or 69 cents per share.

Revenue edged up to $US12.62 billion, higher than the $US12.39 billion analysts expected.

PepsiCo, based in New York, stood by its outlook for the year. It expects adjusted earnings per share to grow by seven per cent.

Shares rose two per cent to $US86.60 in premarket trading.

Source Article from http://news.com.au.feedsportal.com/c/34564/f/632570/s/39795c9b/sc/24/l/0L0Snews0N0Bau0Cfinance0Cbusiness0Cpepsicos0Eprofit0Erises0Eon0Esnack0Esales0Cstory0Ee6frfkur0E12268887574430Dfrom0Fpublic0Irss/story01.htm

PepsiCo’s profit rises on snack sales



PEPSICO has reported a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit as the company slashed costs and sold more snacks around the world.


The company, which makes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Mountain Dew and Tropicana, said global snack volume rose two per cent in the period.

Global beverage volume was even from a year ago, including in its closely watched North American drinks unit.

Coca-Cola also reported flat volume in the North America market earlier this week.

Both companies have been offsetting ongoing declines in their flagship soda businesses by relying more heavily on other beverages, such as sports drinks, juices and bottled waters.

Even though beverage volume was flat in North America, PepsiCo managed to push up revenue, partly by introducing pricier new drinks such as Mountain Dew Kickstart, which is positioned as an energy drink for younger men.

Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston noted that a can of Kickstart costs $US1.99 ($A2.13), versus $US3.50 for a 12-pack of Mountain Dew.

He also noted that the company’s stepped-up marketing has strengthened the company’s brands, which in turn had allowed PepsiCo to charge higher prices.

The company planned to raise prices this year between two and three per cent in both snacks and drinks, he said.

For the quarter, the company earned $US1.22 billion, or 79 cents per share.

Not including one-time items, it earned 83 cents per share, above the 75 cents per share Wall Street expected.

A year ago, it earned $US1.08 billion, or 69 cents per share.

Revenue edged up to $US12.62 billion, higher than the $US12.39 billion analysts expected.

PepsiCo, based in New York, stood by its outlook for the year. It expects adjusted earnings per share to grow by seven per cent.

Shares rose two per cent to $US86.60 in premarket trading.

Royals highlight of Easter Show



A SECURITY guard collapsed. The smell of Dagwood Dogs wafted across the Royal Easter Show. Bertie Beetle’s presence loomed large.


And a fully grown man stood in front of a haunted house screaming, “I love you William!”

It was just another ordinary day in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s extraordinary tour Down Under.

The royals arrived at the Sydney Showground just before 11am (AEST) on Good Friday, the third day of their 10-day tour of Australia.

As at Sydney Opera House on Wednesday and the Blue Mountains on Thursday, Prince William and Kate were greeted by wild cheers and applause.

It was a Hollywood entrance but just a fleeting glimpse for many of the hundreds of well-wishers who gathered to see the royals.

The couple stepped out of their motorcade in front of the Hollywood Horrors haunted house ride before being whisked inside to see fruit and vegetable displays.

William wore a dark suit with a blue tie, and Kate dazzled in a white dress.

They waved happily. William gave his shy smile. The crowd went wild again.

The couple were greeted by the president of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, Glenn Dudley, and his wife, Jennifer, before being taken to look at a fresh food display in the main exhibition dome.

A female security guard collapsed just before the royals arrived and was loaded into an ambulance.

It might have been the bright sunshine. It might have been the royal effect. Australians have warmed to William and Kate this trip.

“They’re such a lovely couple. They’re so much in love,” Margaret Bryant from Cowra told AAP.

She and her pals Margaret Wright and Marie Whiteman – all in their 80s – arrived in Sydney at 3am (AEST) to see the royals.

“I thought they were spectacular and I’m glad they’ve come,” Ms Wright said.

The royals saw sheep shearing, vegetables, showbags, skateboarding and snakes.

They greeted more crowds next to a carousel.

Then it was back on the Australian tour merry-go-round as the royals were whisked off to Manly for their second engagement of the day.

The couple were due at Bear Cottage children’s hospice before a visit to the beach to see a demonstration of surf lifesaving skills.

Just another day on the royals’ wild ride around Australia.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/FGQx8QArnuY/story01.htm

Anti-Islamic leader charged after shooting



THE controversial anti-Islamic leader Nathan Abela has been charged with hindering the investigation into a shooting at his home in Sydney’s west.


Officers were called to Cumberland Road in Greystanes just after 11pm on April 3 after shots were fired into a unit block.

The 24-year-old Abela claimed he had to duck for cover after someone knocked on his door and several shots were fired at his unit.

At the time, NSW police were investigating anti-Islamic comments the Australian Defence League (ADL) leader posted on Facebook.

On Thursday morning, police arrested Abela and charged him with hindering a police investigation.

He was also charged with entering enclosed lands and using a carriage service to menace or harass, relating to a separate incident.

After the April 3 shooting, a police spokesman said: “NSW Police respects the right to free speech but does not tolerate any offence that is motivated by hatred or prejudice against any group.”

Police have a bias-motivated crimes unit that investigates hatred- and prejudice-driven offences.

After the Greystanes shooting, NSW Community Relations Commission chairman Vic Alhadeff called for calm.

“We urge all parties to take a deep breath and let good sense prevail,” he said in a statement.

“This incident has the potential to cause serious disharmony, which is something all people of goodwill wish to avoid.

“There is no place for extremism of any kind in our society.”

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/HKQFcxkxj8c/story01.htm

Four rescued off Vic coast



FOUR people have been rescued after their boat began sinking off the coast of Victoria.


Three adults and a child were pulled from the water near McLoughlins Beach in South Gippsland by an air ambulance helicopter on Friday morning.

Flight paramedic Ben Meadley, who was winched down in the rescue, said that from above he could see two of the four were wearing life jackets and clinging to the boat.

“There were large waves sweeping over the boat and over the four people,” he said.

Mr Meadley said the four were cold, shivering and had been in the water for about half an hour.

One person suffered mild hypothermia but did not need hospital treatment, Ambulance Victoria said.

On the way back to its base, the air ambulance helicopter was diverted to a report of two surfers in trouble at Mallacoota, but they made it to shore without emergency assistance.

Mr Meadley has urged people this Easter weekend to wear life jackets if they get into a boat.

“If you are around water, take care and stay away from alcohol,” he said.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/WsNeA1dYZiA/story01.htm

New NSW premier to clamp down on lobbyists

NSW Premier elect Mike Baird during a press conference in Sydney

NSW’s new premier Mike Baird has pledged to clamp down on lobbyists and donations.
Source: AAP



ON his first day on the job as NSW premier, Mike Baird has promised to take the party’s integrity to a higher level and clamp down on lobbyists.


At Manly Beach on Friday morning, the newly-elected Liberal leader said what NSW needed was “the continued action that the government has taken – but taking it to a new level”.

“Everyone across NSW, they’ve waited for infrastructure, they’ve hoped for infrastructure, well it’s started to come,” he told the Seven Network.

The new premier said clamping down on lobbyists was also a priority.

“There is concern about the influence of lobbyists and donations, it’s something we have to clamp down on.”

He said the government that he has been part of, “hasn’t been anything other than a government of integrity.”

“But the community wants to see further assurances and protections.”

Mr Baird will spend Easter planning his new ministerial line-up, which is expected to be announced next week.

The former banker, who has been NSW treasurer, was elected Liberal leader unopposed on Thursday following Barry O’Farrell’s resignation after giving misleading evidence to NSW’s corruption watchdog about the gift of a $3000 bottle of wine.

On a sunny Good Friday, Mr Baird admitted the week had been incredible.

“None of us can really understand the events that happened. We’re in shock about the events that happened.

“We are going to do everything possible to provide this community – which we have done for three years – a government that they can be proud of.”

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/kJ1XzDsfI00/story01.htm

It’s fish on the menu this Easter

A worker places king prawns on display at the Sydney Fish Markets

Fifty thousand people are expected to flock to the Sydney Fish Markets on Good Friday.
Source: AAP



FIFTY thousand people are expected to flock to the Sydney Fish Markets (SFM) on what is the biggest trading day of the year.


“Good Friday is a very intense day. People associate Easter with seafood so what better place to come,” SFM general manager Bryan Skepper said.

About 370 tonnes of seafood is likely to be sold on Friday.

“It’s a big day because we do all of our trading in 12 hours,” SFM supply manager Gus Dannoun said.

Although the markets officially opened at 5am, Mr Dannoun said people started arriving at the Pyrmont site at 3am.

“People were in early but there’s plenty of seafood to go round for the rest of the weekend.”

Last year’s sales were estimated about $22 million, and Mr Dannoun expects it to be better this year.

And prices are on par with last year’s.

Mr Dannoun said prawns were selling very well.

“Snapper has been popular, salmon is always a hit, and its close cousin the ocean trout, but also the yellow-tail kingfish,” he said on Friday.

There’s also good whole-size barramundi, swordfish, blue-eye trevalla and tuna.

“The displays are full,” Mr Dannoun said.

“It’s what we expect this time of year.”

Mr Skepper added that Sydney’s fish market was one of the only fish markets open in Australia on Good Friday.

Fishmongers certainly enjoy the Easter period. Australians are estimated to spend $24.4 million during the festive weekend.

According to business analysts IBISWorld, Australians want even more seafood this year, with consumption projected to jump 20 per cent from 2013.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/_LsgcyS4WNM/story01.htm

It’s fish on the menu this Easter

A worker places king prawns on display at the Sydney Fish Markets

Fifty thousand people are expected to flock to the Sydney Fish Markets on Good Friday.
Source: AAP



FIFTY thousand people are expected to flock to the Sydney Fish Markets (SFM) on what is the biggest trading day of the year.


“Good Friday is a very intense day. People associate Easter with seafood so what better place to come,” SFM general manager Bryan Skepper said.

About 370 tonnes of seafood is likely to be sold on Friday.

“It’s a big day because we do all of our trading in 12 hours,” SFM supply manager Gus Dannoun said.

Although the markets officially opened at 5am, Mr Dannoun said people started arriving at the Pyrmont site at 3am.

“People were in early but there’s plenty of seafood to go round for the rest of the weekend.”

Last year’s sales were estimated about $22 million, and Mr Dannoun expects it to be better this year.

And prices are on par with last year’s.

Mr Dannoun said prawns were selling very well.

“Snapper has been popular, salmon is always a hit, and its close cousin the ocean trout, but also the yellow-tail kingfish,” he said on Friday.

There’s also good whole-size barramundi, swordfish, blue-eye trevalla and tuna.

“The displays are full,” Mr Dannoun said.

“It’s what we expect this time of year.”

Mr Skepper added that Sydney’s fish market was one of the only fish markets open in Australia on Good Friday.

Fishmongers certainly enjoy the Easter period. Australians are estimated to spend $24.4 million during the festive weekend.

According to business analysts IBISWorld, Australians want even more seafood this year, with consumption projected to jump 20 per cent from 2013.

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/newscomaunationalbreakingnewsndm/~3/_LsgcyS4WNM/story01.htm

Will ‘Company Doe’s’ Secrets Be Revealed After 4th Circuit Ruling?

“Company Doe’s” secrets could soon be revealed after a federal appeals court panel determined the corporation cannot keep product-safety litigation secret to protect its image.

The case involved the death of an infant, and the corporation wished to be only known as “Company Doe” in court papers to maintain confidentiality. But a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that sealing court records in this case violated the public’s constitutional rights to “obtain access to civil proceedings,” Reuters reports.

So when will “Company Doe” and its secrets be revealed? It’s still not quite clear.

Source Article from http://feeds.findlaw.com/~r/Decided/~3/q_Na2xFkpPc/will-company-does-secrets-be-revealed-after-4th-circuit-ruling.html

Ohio’s Out-of-State Gay Marriage Ruling On Hold Pending Appeal

A federal judge announced Monday that Ohio must recognize legally performed out-of-state gay marriages, but his order will not immediately go into effect.

Judge Timothy Black of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio determined that Ohio’s refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriages was “unconstitutional and unenforceable,” reports The Columbus Dispatch. The ruling avoided dealing directly with Ohio’s ban on performing in-state gay marriages.

With Black’s ruling stayed pending appeal, what can we learn from this federal decision on gay marriage in Ohio?

Source Article from http://feeds.findlaw.com/~r/Decided/~3/lgRp_CsUowo/ohios-out-of-state-gay-marriage-ruling-on-hold-pending-appeal.html

Unneeded Heart Stents Settlement: $37M for Mark Midei’s Patients

A $37 million settlement agreement has been reached between the former owner of a Maryland hospital and patients of Dr. Mark Midei who went through unnecessary heart stent procedures.

Although Midei wasn’t a party to the lawsuit, the settlement agreement seeks to do away with the class action lawsuits against Catholic Health Initiatives for Midei’s actions, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The settlement agreement must be finalized by a judge before it’s binding, but if approved on the current terms, as many as 273 patients could receive compensation.

Source Article from http://feeds.findlaw.com/~r/Decided/~3/wMvleHsWhYE/unneeded-heart-stents-settlement-37m-for-mark-mideis-patients.html

5 Things a DUI Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can’t)

What can a DUI lawyer do for you? An experienced attorney can do many things well that most DUI defendants would struggle to do passably.

And we aren’t talking about mundane things like changing the oil in your car. In a DUI case, your freedom could be on the line.

To press this point further, here are five things a DUI lawyer can do that you probably can’t do (or wouldn’t know how to do) on your own:

Ruth Draper’s Monologues: Theater Review


Ruth Draper(1884-1956) became the most influential of solo dramatic performers in the first half of the last century. Her carefully crafted characterizations of high society types set the template for the plethora of single performer shows ever since. Draper presented new shows of her works on Broadway some 10 times in 35 years, and toured extensively in the U.K. as well as internationally, sometimes in conjunction with her equally talented nephew, the dancer Paul Draper.

A supplely histrionic comedienne with a singular flair for vivid writing entirely through monologue, though often persuasively suggesting dialogue, Draper became so legendary that while few any longer remember her performances, it requires a certain ballsy presumption to attempt her extended sketches in competition with the wealth of contemporary critical praise that survives her. Annette Bening undertakes the somewhat daring enterprise of resurrecting four of her forty-odd pieces with a brisk, no-nonsense confidence.

The potential pitfalls are many: Draper writes of and incarnates a privileged class that no longer exists in remotely the same form she depicts, although it is present with a vengeance in its newer manifestations, a perception not lost on an opening night audience in Westwood, watching a star engage in what could be wrongly dismissed as audition exercises. Draper has been so pervasively imitated across generations of successors that her innovations have become commonplaces, and it could be tough to overcome the sensation of encountering a phenomenon of insects in amber.

PHOTOS: 35 of 2014′s Most Anticipated Movies      

Notwithstanding, Bening attacks the monologues with both humility and gusto. These represent an opportunity for both savage caricature and earnest empathy, and while Bening does uncannily capture the tone of Draper herself (on the evidence of her late-in-life recording of the climactic tour-de-force aria, “The Italian Lesson”), she also suggests some of the self-aware timing Rosalind Russell used to bring to her stylings on the self-absorbed. Draper constantly improvised on her established texts, and so too Bening is unafraid to bring on her own individual take while respecting the historic integrity of the rather delicately wrought satires. She understands that the heart of Draper’s portraits of chattering women resides in how they listen (or more accurately, don’t listen) to those with whom they converse.

These antique baubles can veer toward the arch or the precious, and while they may be classic in their own way (and certainly centrally important to the development of performance art), they are inevitably somewhat dated. Bening smartly walks the narrow line between acknowledging these studies for what they are and resisting the temptation to pump up their continuing relevance. She has the taste to treat them with admiring restraint, and the connoisseurship to do so faithfully. They require a combination of respect and abandon, and Bening brings both in right measure.

Whether playing an obsequiously positive poise instructor imparting positive reinforcement to her corpulent clients, an ambivalent and insecure debutante in the midst of her year of coming out, the domineering restaurant patron at a table of women whose diets forbid them to eat, or most poignantly and horrifically, a middle-aged dowager of appalling insensitivity continually interrupting her lesson in Dante’s Inferno to peremptorily order about her many children and servants, Bening clearly delineates the range of types with sharply observed body movements and inflections. These stylized mannerisms help elicit considerable compassion for the limited choices available to women of a certain prominence and attainment during an age that constrained the potential of even those privileged with material resources with a paucity of meaningful outlets for their individuality. These are shallow, oftentimes maddening people for whom it can be hard to sympathize. But it is some times impossible not to. 

Venue: The Geffen Playhouse, Westwood (through May 18)

Cast: Annette Bening

Director: Annette Bening

Writer: Ruth Draper, based on The Art of Ruth Draper by Morton Dauwen Zabel

Scenic Designer: Takeshi Kata

Costume Designer: Catherine Zuber

Lighting Designer: Daniel Ionazzi

Ruth Draper’s Monologues: Theater Review


Ruth Draper(1884-1956) became the most influential of solo dramatic performers in the first half of the last century. Her carefully crafted characterizations of high society types set the template for the plethora of single performer shows ever since. Draper presented new shows of her works on Broadway some 10 times in 35 years, and toured extensively in the U.K. as well as internationally, sometimes in conjunction with her equally talented nephew, the dancer Paul Draper.

A supplely histrionic comedienne with a singular flair for vivid writing entirely through monologue, though often persuasively suggesting dialogue, Draper became so legendary that while few any longer remember her performances, it requires a certain ballsy presumption to attempt her extended sketches in competition with the wealth of contemporary critical praise that survives her. Annette Bening undertakes the somewhat daring enterprise of resurrecting four of her forty-odd pieces with a brisk, no-nonsense confidence.

The potential pitfalls are many: Draper writes of and incarnates a privileged class that no longer exists in remotely the same form she depicts, although it is present with a vengeance in its newer manifestations, a perception not lost on an opening night audience in Westwood, watching a star engage in what could be wrongly dismissed as audition exercises. Draper has been so pervasively imitated across generations of successors that her innovations have become commonplaces, and it could be tough to overcome the sensation of encountering a phenomenon of insects in amber.

PHOTOS: 35 of 2014′s Most Anticipated Movies      

Notwithstanding, Bening attacks the monologues with both humility and gusto. These represent an opportunity for both savage caricature and earnest empathy, and while Bening does uncannily capture the tone of Draper herself (on the evidence of her late-in-life recording of the climactic tour-de-force aria, “The Italian Lesson”), she also suggests some of the self-aware timing Rosalind Russell used to bring to her stylings on the self-absorbed. Draper constantly improvised on her established texts, and so too Bening is unafraid to bring on her own individual take while respecting the historic integrity of the rather delicately wrought satires. She understands that the heart of Draper’s portraits of chattering women resides in how they listen (or more accurately, don’t listen) to those with whom they converse.

These antique baubles can veer toward the arch or the precious, and while they may be classic in their own way (and certainly centrally important to the development of performance art), they are inevitably somewhat dated. Bening smartly walks the narrow line between acknowledging these studies for what they are and resisting the temptation to pump up their continuing relevance. She has the taste to treat them with admiring restraint, and the connoisseurship to do so faithfully. They require a combination of respect and abandon, and Bening brings both in right measure.

Whether playing an obsequiously positive poise instructor imparting positive reinforcement to her corpulent clients, an ambivalent and insecure debutante in the midst of her year of coming out, the domineering restaurant patron at a table of women whose diets forbid them to eat, or most poignantly and horrifically, a middle-aged dowager of appalling insensitivity continually interrupting her lesson in Dante’s Inferno to peremptorily order about her many children and servants, Bening clearly delineates the range of types with sharply observed body movements and inflections. These stylized mannerisms help elicit considerable compassion for the limited choices available to women of a certain prominence and attainment during an age that constrained the potential of even those privileged with material resources with a paucity of meaningful outlets for their individuality. These are shallow, oftentimes maddening people for whom it can be hard to sympathize. But it is some times impossible not to. 

Venue: The Geffen Playhouse, Westwood (through May 18)

Cast: Annette Bening

Director: Annette Bening

Writer: Ruth Draper, based on The Art of Ruth Draper by Morton Dauwen Zabel

Scenic Designer: Takeshi Kata

Costume Designer: Catherine Zuber

Lighting Designer: Daniel Ionazzi