Joan Rivers Dead at 81

September 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Breaking News, Featured, Latest Top Stories, Local News, Top Stories

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Joan Rivers, after spending one week in critical condition passed away on September 3, 2014.

Joan Alexandra Molinsky is an American writer, comedian and Actress best known for co-Hosting the Fashion Police show. Her death comes sadly, after being moved to a private room at the hospital where she was being monitored. Family and friends were keeping their fingers crossed in hope and prayer that Rivers would make a recovery.

Joan and Melissa Rivers

Her daughter Melissa Rivers, who flew in from California had released this statement before the death of Joan Rivers.

“My mother has been moved out of intensive care and into a private room where she is being kept comfortable. Thank you for your continued support.”

It is still unknown how much later She passed away, after the release of Melissa’s statement on River’s official website. Not much more is known at this time as news comes in about the death of Joan Rivers.

Legal action could be taken against the Upper East side clinic, where Rivers went last week for a visit to her doctor before going into cardiac arrest.

 

Peaceful Freedom Activists Attacked in Cuba

August 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, National News

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Human rights lobbyists say pro-Government mobs in Cuba have launched an attack on critics organising marches in Santiago, the island’s second largest city.

838cubaPresident of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz says the attacks, the third in as many weeks, marked a relatively rare use of physical violence against the dissidents.

He says the new wave of attacks has concerned activists and has blamed the violence on President Raul Castro.

Former political prisoner, José Daniel Ferrer Garcia said the worst violence came at the end of efforts by government opponents to stage street marches demanding the release of all political prisoners.

Mr Ferrer said about 20 members of Ladies in White, an organization of women relatives of political prisoners, were punched and kicked by a government-organized mob as they left mass at the Santiago cathedral.

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Moscow Subway Terror Bombing Kills 38 People

March 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, National News, Top Stories

MOSCOW -38 people are dead, and dozens are injured after two female suicide bombers blew themselves up on Moscow’s subway Metro system at the peak of rush hour.

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Witnesses described panic at two stations, with commuters falling over each other in dense smoke and dust as they tried to escape the worst attack on the Russian capital in six years.

The head of Russia’s main security agency said preliminary investigation places the blame on rebels from the restive Caucasus region that includes Chechnya, where separatists have fought Russian forces since the mid-1990s. Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB, told President Dmitry Medvedev the bombs were filled with bolts and iron rods.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who built much of his political capital by directing a fierce war with Chechen separatists a decade ago, vowed that “terrorists will be destroyed.”

In the wake of the explosions, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced a “heightened security presence,” NBC News reported.

The first blast just before 8 a.m. (12.00 a.m. ET) tore through the second carriage of a train as it stood at the Lubyanka metro station. The explosion killed at least 23 people.

The headquarters of the FSB, Russia’s main domestic security service and the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, is located in a building above the station.

Another blast about 40 minutes later wrecked the second carriage of a train waiting at the Park Kultury metro station, killing 14 more people.

“I heard a bang, turned my head and smoke was everywhere. People ran for the exits screaming,” said 24-year-old Alexander Vakulov, who said he was waiting on the platform opposite the targeted train at Park Kultury.

“I saw a dead person for the first time in my life,” said 19-year-old Valentin Popov, who also was standing on the opposite platform. “Everyone was screaming. There was a stampede at the doors. I saw one woman holding a child and pleading with people to let her through, but it was impossible.”

Surveillance camera footage posted on the Internet showed motionless bodies lying in Lubyanka station lobby and emergency workers treating victims.

Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu said the toll was 38 killed and 105 injured, according to Russian news agencies.

Dogfighters get creative as Vick spotlight fades

August 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Crime, Featured, National News, Top Stories

(CNN) — When pro quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty to bankrolling a dogfighting operation in 2007, there was a spike in reports of dogfighting in the United States.

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But when the headlines faded, the blood sport grew stronger and went even more underground, with thugs taking inventive precautions to keep police at bay, animal cruelty experts say.

“They know it’s just not smart to have large crowds anymore, so we’ve seen fights where you’ve got the two handlers, a referee and Web cams everywhere broadcasting the fight on the Internet,” said Mark Kumpf, an investigator based in Ohio who directs the National Animal Control Association.

Fights are also being staged on the move — in 18-wheelers. “These guys are very sophisticated,” Kumpf said. “If you’re driving down the road, there could be dogs in that truck driving next to you that are dying.”

Dozens more dogfighting cases have been investigated and prosecuted since the Vick case, said Alison Gianotto, who runs the database PetAbuse.com.

The computer programmer, horrified when a neighbor’s cat was set on fire eight years ago, created the California-based organization to track animal cruelty cases and animal abusers.

The database, which logs media stories, has also become a popular place for law enforcement to send reports.

“There’s not a central body keeping track of what’s happening nationally, which is unfortunate when you consider that a lot of these cases cross state lines,” she said.

Still, detectives, animal welfare professionals and prosecutors agree that the attention the Vick case has brought to dogfighting has been positive because more people are inclined to report their suspicions. Dogfighting is illegal in all states; penalties vary but usually include heavy jail time or steep fines.

The National Football League suspended Vick indefinitely in August 2007 after he pleaded guilty to a federal charge of bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in Virginia. Vick, 29, was freed from federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 20 and returned to Virginia to serve the last two months of his 23-month sentence in home confinement.

“At the height of attention on the Vick case, things quieted down across the country with some of these dogfighters getting out of the business,” veteran animal abuse investigator Tim Rickey said. “But then, the headlines went away, and people thought the attention was off. It just started right back up, almost stronger than before.”

“Every Saturday night in every county in Missouri, there is a dogfight going on,” Rickey said.

While the Vick case was making its way through the court system, Rickey, who directs the animal cruelty task force at the Humane Society of Missouri, was initiating what would become an 18-month investigation linking dogfighting rings in eight states.

That probe led to the July 8 arrest of 28 people from eight states. As many as 400 dogs were confiscated in raids coordinated by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, Rickey said. He said it was the largest such case involving dogfighting in the U.S.

While those involved with the national case declined Monday to give details about that investigation, CNN spoke with several detectives across America who have worked other dogfighting cases. Among the abuses they’ve uncovered:

• Dogs with missing ears and patches of skin

• Animals with teeth shaved down to the bone

• “Vets” who have used leg splints that are to tight to “treat” animals in dogfighting rings

• Contraptions, usually fashioned out of wood, much like a treadmill, that force chained dogs to run or be choked.

Detective Keith Coberly of the police vice squad in Dayton, Ohio, described a case he recently investigated that resulted in the convictions of three men.

A neighbor called police when she saw a mangled dog that had apparently escaped from a home where investigators found 60 chained pit bull terriers, many being starved and wallowing in their own waste. There were thousands of hypodermic needles scattered across the ground.

“They were using steroids on the animals,” he said. “There was one dog — in such bad shape, man — tethered to a logging chain, and another was kept in a two-foot shed without ventilation or food.”

The suffering is incalculable, and the cost of caring for the animals is steep.

Because the national investigation originated in Missouri, the state is harboring about 400 of the rescued dogs, some that have had puppies recently.

“These dogs are bred to attack each other, so just caring for them is a tremendous job. You have to keep them separate, and you have to protect volunteers who are devoting 12, 14 hours of their day,” Rickey said. “And we’re doing all of that in this economy.”

Investigating dogfighting is dangerous — and hugely popular in Russian mafia circles and with drug traffickers in Mexico, experts say.

Dogfighting is reliant on word of mouth, and on what one undercover officer described as “bad character” references. “If you can get someone to vouch for you, a match is set up,” Kumpf said. “They’ll have everyone go to a hotel and come pick you up and drive you around in an unmarked van.” Driving around town helps shake any police tail, he said.

Those betting on fights aren’t likely to get paid on site any more. Money is often kept at another location, making it more difficult to make arrests.

In late July, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated Vick, who said on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night that he cried in prison because of the guilt he felt about dogfighting.

Vick’s agent announced Thursday that the former Atlanta Falcon signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, which reportedly could be worth more than $6 million.

“I hope people realize [dogfighting] is not just about Michael Vick,” Rickey said. “It’s a lot bigger than him.”

Record number foreclosure filings posted in July

August 13, 2009 by  
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Foreclosure plague: No cure yet

The housing market is still sick, with a record number of foreclosure filings posted in July.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The foreclosure plague continued to devastate last month.

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There were more than 360,000 properties with foreclosure filings — including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — an increase of 7% from June and 32% from July 2008, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed homes. In fact, one in every 355 U.S. homes had at least one filing during July.

“July marks the third time in the last five months where we’ve seen a new record set for foreclosure activity,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Despite continued efforts by the federal government and state governments to patch together a safety net for distressed homeowners, we’re seeing significant growth in both the initial notices of default and in the bank repossessions.”

The jump occurred as several foreclosure moratoriums phased out. They were initiated by many states to give the administration’s foreclosure-prevention efforts time to work. But for many help did not come: The modification and refinancing programs have met with less success than hoped.

“It’s starting to reach more and more people, but we have to do better and make sure the program reaches the millions of folks we intended it to reach,” said Jared Bernstein, an economics adviser to vice president Biden.

The picture would be even worse, however, without the programs.

“Each of these programs nips away at the problem of excess supply,” said Doug Duncan, cheif economist for Fannie Mae, “and fights against declining prices. … The hope is that the aggregated programs will result in less loss than would happen in the free market.”

Out of their homes

RealtyTrac statistics revealed that more than 87,000 properties were repossessed by lenders, effectively sending many families out of their homes. There have been a total of 464,058 repossessions — or REOs in industry parlance — so far this year (through the end of July).

“We’re seeing more option ARM resets, triggering defaults and more prime loans, which are failing due to job losses,” said RealtyTrac spokesman Rick Sharga.

That is resulting in more filings on higher priced homes, for two reasons: 1. option ARMs were typically used for more expensive properties; 2. borrowers using prime loans generally had better credit and were able to afford more expensive houses.

Best and worst

The worst hit areas continue to be in the “sand states,” with California posting the highest number of total filings, 108,104, and Nevada posting the highest rate of foreclosure at one for every 56 homes.

The other hardest hit states are Arizona, at one filing for every 135 homes, and Florida, at one for every 154. Las Vegas, with one for every 47 homes, had the highest rate among metro areas. That’s Sin City’s 31st consecutive month topping the list.

These were bubble states, where home prices soared and banks financed mortgages for anyone who could fog a mirror.

“We’re seeing the highest levels of foreclosures in the markets that had the highest appreciation [during the boom] and the worst lending practices,” said Sharga.

Little Tikes recalls 1.6 million toys

August 13, 2009 by  
Filed under National News, Special Report

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Recall is due to a potential choking hazard from plastic nails included in Workshop sets and Trucks products.

NEW YORK — Little Tikes Co. is recalling about 1.6 million toys because of a choking hazard, a government agency said Tuesday.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of Little Tikes Workshop Sets and Trucks after it received a report that an 11-month-old boy was hospitalized after getting a plastic nail lodged in his throat.

The boy made a full recovery, the release said.

Little Tikes, based in Hudson, Ohio, said the plastic nail is about 3-1/4 inches long by 1-1/4 inch in diameter and comes in red or blue colors.

The plastic nails were sold with a variety of Little Tikes children’s products, and the recall includes the Electronic Project Workshop; Little HandiWorker Workhorse; Home Improvements 2-Sided Workshop; Swirlin’ Sawdust Workshop; and Black Pickup Truck with Tools.

Little Tikes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The affected toys were sold at retailers nationwide and online, from March 1994 through June 2009, for between $25 and $100. The products were manufactured in the U.S. and China.

Customers can call Little Tikes at 800-791-2737 or visit www.littletikes.com for more information about model numbers and UPC codes of the affected products.

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