Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pictured: The cow that was zapped by lightning - and survived

By Cher Thornhill

It has certainly been flame grilled but this extraordinary cow is still standing.

The poor creature was struck by lightning and left with blistering burns. You would expect it to have been cooked alive.

But the cow miraculously survived, apparently unperturbed by the ordeal, and is already back roaming the meadows.

Flame grilled cow

Flame grilled: This poor cow was struck by lightning but, in a rare freak of nature, lives to the tell the tale

Professor of Physical Geography, Jon Nott of James Cook University, said the event was rare but entirely feasible.

He said: 'Cows are susceptible to lightning strikes because both sets of legs are on the ground.

'But, more often than not, they die from it.'

He added: 'The electricity from a lightning strike would enter the front set of legs and exit out the back legs so, based on the picture, it is possible it happened.

'While I can't explain the knee wounds, the ankle wounds would be consistent with those of lightning.'

The cow is believed to have been struck by the bolt in Gladstone, Queensland, Australia, last month.

But if it wasn't for its horrific wounds, you could hardly tell the animal had suffered.

Perhaps it has drawn comfort from the old wive's tale. After all, we are all told that lightning never strikes in the same place twice.

Original here

My Blog Ate My Career


If this were Facebook, my status update might read this way: "Linda is . . . terrified that her reckless blogging and social networking has rendered her utterly, irrevocably unemployable." In another life, I was a CNN head writer and senior producer. These days, Google my name, and in a few clickety clicks, you'll find a sorry list of intimate grotesqueries I've catalogued about myself for all the world to read.

I would like to work again full time. And if I were applying to be, say, Flava Flav's girlfriend or an unhinged Real Housewife on Bravo, I might well prove qualified. But would I blame a proper boss in this brutal job market for ignoring me because of my online shenanigans? No. The fact is: I wouldn't hire me either. Further, I'm not sure I'd let me in the PTA, or even near my kid. An employer typically looks for someone trustworthy, helpful, courteous. My attributes, etched forever in the digital record, read like a perversion of the Boy Scout Law.

Disloyal I compared some unnamed news anchors I had worked for to my toddler -- discussing their flatulence, their bald spots, their screaming red-faced tantrums -- and declared my toddler more mature.

Sexist I wrote that Sarah Palin's recipe for Middle East peace was Tater Tot Casserole.

Petty I resolved this New Year to fire 10 Facebook friends for non-responsiveness.

Sanctimonious I decided to get my next Pap smear done by a Sikh doctor, in a purely political act, after hearing that other patients were unjustly scared of him and his turban.

Histrionic I accused my husband of having spiritual intercourse with his beloved snow blower.

Disrespectful I surmised that the only thing Hillary Clinton and Rocky Balboa might have in common is that they can both break thumbs.

Unneighborly I said a nearby home with wildly overgrown grass needed what I called a "Lawnzilian," the landscape version of the scorched-earth Brazilian bikini wax.

Insensitive After watching an aging, ailing cigarette addict on YouTube, I declared that while I had done some things I wasn't proud of, smoking through a trach hole wasn't one of them.

Unstable I declared myself an "out and proud suburban pill popper" and joked about helping myself to an "extra slice of Klonopin" for dessert one very bad night.

Lazy/Pathetic I admitted to lolling around, moonily watching YouTube clips of Ice Castles, Yentl, and the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice. Pugilistic/Hyperbolic I accused Al Gore of killing Christmas, for helping to turn my son into a tiny eco-terror. My boy kept shutting off our tree, wagging a little finger at me about wasting power.

Polyamorous I said I would gladly apply to be Bill Paxton's fourth wife on the polygamist soap opera Big Love. I declared my irrepressible longing for comedian Russell Brand, actors Jon Hamm and Hugh Laurie, and legal whiz Jeffrey Toobin. (I know, go figure. The heart wants what it wants.) I said I wanted to have a million of 1982 Bono's babies. (2009 Bono, not so much.) I also said that various women I admired were turning me gay, which proved me to be both polyamorous and cliche.

Just Plain Mean I wrote a satire piece about Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke failing to stimulate the economy and resorting to Cialis.

Now, if I were in my 20s, this might all be filed under the things the "yoots" do these days in the digital era. But I'm old enough to remember analog, Atari, Bill Clinton. A boss has every right to judge me by what I've put out there. So does my son. I can see him, a decade from now, reading this stuff, with that defeated look that you see sometimes on Jerry Springer when kids try to get their dissolute mothers to stop acting like overstuffed teenage tarts. And I can hear him say, "For God's sake, Mom, stop talking about your cervix, step away from that computer, take those horrifying pictures down, grow the hell up, and get a job."

If only I could.

Linda Keenan writes for The Huffington Post and She lives in Wellesley and invites you to friend her on Facebook. E-mail her at

Original here

Judge clears dead Texas man of rape conviction

Recent DNA tests in a 1985 rape case point to Texas inmate Jerry Wayne Johnson, who is seen being escorted into court Friday in Austin, Texas. The hearing is being held in the case of Timothy Cole, whose photo is on the right.

AUSTIN, Texas - A man who died in prison while serving time for a rape he didn't commit was cleared Friday by a judge who called the state's first posthumous DNA exoneration "the saddest case" he'd ever seen.

State District Judge Charles Baird ordered Timothy Cole's record expunged.

Cole was convicted of raping a Texas Tech University student in Lubbock in 1985 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He died in 1999 at age 39 from asthma complications.

DNA tests in 2008 connected the crime to Jerry Wayne Johnson, who is serving life in prison for separate rapes. Johnson testified in court Friday that he was the rapist in Cole's case and asked the victim and Cole's family to forgive him.

"I'm responsible for all this. I'm truly sorry for my pathetic behavior and selfishness. I hope and pray you will forgive me," Johnson said.

The Innocence Project of Texas said Cole's case was the first posthumous DNA exoneration in state history.

"I have his name," Cole's mother, Ruby Cole Session, said after the hearing. "That's what I wanted."

Cole and his relatives for years claimed he was innocent, but no one believed them until evidence from the original rape kit was tested for DNA. Cole had refused to plead guilty before trial in exchange for probation, and while in prison, he refused to admit to the crime when it could have earned him release on parole.

The Innocence Project pressed for a hearing to start the process of clearing Cole's name. Cole's family now wants Gov. Rick Perry to issue a formal pardon.

'He could have been a father'
Michele Mallin, the rape victim in the case who originally identified Cole as her attacker, said she felt guilty that the wrong man went to prison. The Associated Press does not typically identify rape victims but Mallin, now 44, has come forward publicly to help clear Cole's name.

Confronting Johnson after his testimony, Mallin told him she was "going to try to forgive you, but it's going to take a long hard time. ... No woman deserves it. No person deserves what that man got. He could have been a father, he could have been a grandfather right now."

Mallin picked Cole out of a photo lineup that included at least six other pictures. All were standard jail mug shots except for Cole's photo, which was a Polaroid. Mallin later identified Cole in a live lineup and again at trial.

She said Lubbock officials had portrayed Cole as a violent criminal and a thug while investigating her case. The Lubbock County district attorney's office did not participate in the hearing.

Gary Wells, an Iowa State University professor and expert in witness testimony, said Friday that improperly conducted lineups could be manipulated and that witnesses tend to select the person who looks most like the perpetrator.

"If the real perpetrator is not in the lineup, it's a horrible strategy," Wells said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Original here

Boston Cop Accused Of Escorting Porn Stars To Club

(AP) A Boston police officer is being investigated for allegedly helping two gay porn stars cut through traffic to get to a nightclub. Police said the officer, whose name has not been released, has been placed on desk duty for allegedly using his cruiser to escort a car from Logan International Airport to the Roxy nightclub last October.

A law enforcement official close to the investigation confirmed Friday the escort was for Aden and Jordan Jaric, a couple from Sacramento, Calif., who perform in live strip shows and pornography as "Brangelina." The official was not authorized to speak about the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A phone listing for the Jarics could not immediately be found.

Boston police learned of the alleged escort after a photo of a police cruiser in one of Boston's highway tunnels, along with comments about the trip, were posted on a blog.

The night after the Jarics were at the Roxy, they performed a show at a Providence, R.I., male nude club called Trixx All Male Revue.

Providence police uncovered the photograph while investigating a report of explicit sexual activity at the Trixx show. When they realized the photo was of a Boston police cruiser, they contacted the city, the law enforcement official said.

The official said it appears the officer escorted the men from Logan airport to the Roxy, but not to Providence.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Original here

Boy allegedly forced to use hands to unclog toilet

EAGAN, Minn. – An elementary school principal could be disciplined for allegedly forcing a 6-year-old boy to unclog a toilet with his bare hands. The principal of Rahn Elementary has been on paid leave since mid-December while the school district investigated a complaint from the boy's parents. The school board proposed disciplinary action on Thursday. The nature of the discipline wasn't made public.

The boy's parents claim their son told them the principal made him clean out a toilet bowl that the boy had accidentally clogged on Dec. 12. The boy told his parents he wiped himself with paper towels, instead of toilet paper, causing the clog.

The principal declined to respond to the claims Thursday. He also didn't say what disciplinary action was proposed and whether he'd appeal.

Original here

Drug-dealing milkman spared jail

LONDON (Reuters) - A milkman who admitted he delivered cannabis as well as pints to elderly customers to ease their aches and pains, was spared jail Friday.

Robert Holding, 72, from Burnley, told police he supplied the drug to 17 customers after detectives raided his home and found nearly 6oz (167g) of cannabis in an egg crate in the van he used for deliveries.

"He said he sold the cannabis to existing customers because they were old and had aches and pains," said prosecutor Sarah Statham.

"He said he sold a 9oz (255g) bar about every three weeks and sold it for a relatively cheap value. He said that customers left him notes saying, for example, 'Can I have an ounce this week or can I have an eighth.'"

Holding, who admitted supplying and possession of the drug at a previous hearing, was given a 36-month prison sentence suspended for a year at Burnley Crown Court Friday, the Press Association reported.

Judge Beverley Lunt told him the sentence was "an act of mercy" because he visited his wife, who has Alzheimer's disease, every day in a care home.

"You were not some philanthropist helping out the elderly out of the good of your heart. You dealt drugs for profit in a calculated way. It was a business," the judge told him.

His lawyer Philip Holden said his client "wasn't making much of a profit" and that his oldest client was 92.

"Word had got out that he was a man who could supply cannabis to those of a certain age with aches and pains and he misguidedly believed he was providing a public service," he said.

After the verdict Holding insisted he had not made money from his drug dealing.

"They (the customers) enjoyed it, they saved a lot of money while I was doing it and I only did it for a short time," he said.

However Neil Standage, area crown prosecutor for East Lancashire, said there was no evidence that he was only supplying elderly people with painful ailments.

"This might make it sound like what he was doing was harmless. It wasn't," he said.

Original here

Survey Says: S.F. Teens Give Birth at Half State Rate -- But are Shot Dead at Twice State Rate

By Joe Eskenazi

If only they could teach San Francisco students to dodge bullets

A yearlong survey of San Francisco's students has revealed that the city's youth is right on par with the state average -- but not in the manner you'd guess. Our teenagers give birth at only half the frequency of their peers throughout California. Yet they also are murdered at twice the state clip. So everything evens out, right?

"That's a morbid way of looking at it, but that's exactly what the data is telling us," acknowledges Marlo Simmons, coordinator of the city's Adolescent Health Working Group, which released its survey late last month (you can read it all right here).

The 77-page report is a dream come true for local Cliff Clavens; Imagine the response at parties if you broke the ice by querying "Did you know that 1,600 folks aged 12 to 24 are homeless in San Francisco?" or "Did you know that whites make up 45 percent of all San Franciscans but just 19 percent of those 24 or younger?" or even "Did you realize that 94 percent of murdered San Franciscans under the age of 25 are high school dropouts?"

But, in short, one impression is hard to miss: San Francisco ostensibly done a relatively good job keeping our young people from smoking, doing drugs, and impregnating one another -- but not from killing one another.

Some of the most eye-catching data the survey recorded dealt with teen sexuality. Who would have thought that in sex-positive San Francisco, 28 percent of teens would report having engaged in sexual intercourse -- only a little more than half the state average of 48 percent?

Simmons and others are keen to chalk that one up to early and effective sex education programs in schools. They may well be right -- but it warrants mentioning that this survey was given to high school students. Many of those having sex early and often may well have dropped out of high school.

Somewhat confoundingly, while San Francisco teens have less sex than their peers statewide, they engage in high-risk sexual behavior at a nearly identical rate. Simmons explanation: Just a few folks are skewing the data by engaging in scads of risky behavior (this is a variation on the "Keith Richards has done all the drugs" jokes, only it's serious).

You know what puts the damper on a positve report about the youth of today? Murders. Lots of murders. Of the 98 recorded homicides in San Francisco in 2007, 35 of the victims were 24 or younger. When you consider that this age group only represents about 10 percent of San Francisco's population, young folks are slain at an extremely disproportionate rate.

Other grim tallies from the survey:

  • Youth homicide is the leading cause of death among youth ages 15-24 in
    San Francisco (30 per 100,000), and is nearly twice the statewide rate;

  • African American and Latino youth are greatly overrepresented in
    homicides, with 90 percent of young homicide victims in 2007 being
    either African American (54 percent) or Latino (37 percent).
Why might this be? Hopefully we'll have some answers for you later this week.

Original here

Mother Charged With Child Abuse, Torture

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. - A metro Detroit mother of five was charged with child abuse and torture Wednesday after she called the police on herself.

Reyna Valentina, of Hamtramck, is accused of putting her 4-year-old daughter inside a heated oven and burning her eyes with a metal object.

"She stated that, 'Mom cooks me like a turkey in the oven," said Hamtramck police Detective Ben Bilecki. "The youngest daughter also said, 'Mama gave me the boo boos in my eyes.'"

The 40-year-old mother is also accused of beating her 6-year-old with a metal bar.

Valentina has been charged with two counts of first-degree child abuse and two counts of torture.

Valentina's children are ages 9 months old, 4 years, 6 years, 8 years and 9 years old.

"All of the kids are terrified of their mother, the defendant in this case. They do not want to go back to her," Bilecki said.

Valentina's husband, Randy, said his wife is a good mother but is suffering from mental illness.

"Reyna is a fantastic mother. She's a very loving mother. She has a mental illness that she's dealt with for 20 plus years since she was a child," he said. "The things that she has done are only when she's off medication. When she's ill, those things present themselves."

Randy said that when his wife is on medication and keeps up with her therapy, "She's perfect."

The children have been taken into protective custody.

Officials told Local 4 the children have been removed before.

If convicted, Valentina could spend the rest of her life in prison. Her preliminary exam is set for Feb. 12.

Original here

The 6 Most Insane Moral Panics in American History

By Geoff Shakespeare

What's wrong with kids these days? Not enough, apparently, since grown-ups seem to feel the need to just make shit up. Even the flimsiest evidence can convince parents and lazy journalists alike that there is some new, horrible threat to our moral character.

Often these turn out to be grossly exaggerated. Or, as in cases like the ones below, completely fucking retarded.

Comic Books

We Heard About It From:

The Evil Genius Dr. Frederic Wertham.

The "Threat:"

1954 was a different time in America. The streets were safer and kids played just about anywhere they wanted. Coca-Cola was only five cents a bottle and every kid had a comic book rolled up in his back pocket. There were superhero comics, crime comics, romance comics and horror comics. If you forget the rigidly enforced social rules, the racism, bad haircuts and constant threat of nuclear annihilation, the early 50s were a pretty sweet time to be a kid.

And then this fucker showed up to ruin everyone's fun.

Frederic Wertham. Or maybe George Burns. Who could tell?

Fredic Werthem was a respected psychologist who fought to integrate the mental health care system, refused to serve in a racial-segregated army and was a pioneer in working with troubled youth. Having conquered all of the real world problems, he then decided to devote his life to bullshit.

During his time working with young offenders, Wertham noticed that many of them were fans of comics. Forgetting his education and lifetime of experience as a scientist, Wertham assumed that comics must be somehow responsible for the trouble these kids were in.

His 1954 book, Seduction Of The Innocent, outlined what he saw as the depraved effect of comics on kids. Granted, some comics in the 50s--especially the horror comics published by E.C. Comics--were pretty gruesome.

Dr. Wertham is inexplicably shocked by the contents of Shock Illustrated.

But Wertham didn't just go after stories of cold-blooded murder and busty dames. Oh, no. We went after the superheroes, too.

In his mind, Wonder Woman was a lesbian who got off on bondage (we wish!) and horror of horrors, Batman and Robin were actually gay lovers. His evidence for Batman being gay? He wore a dressing gown. Honestly. That, combined with the fact that he had flowers in his house and had a butler, were proof to Wertham that Bruce Wayne and his young ward Dick Grayson were performing Bat-sodomy behind the scenes.

The lynchpin of Wertham's case against the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder (okay, that does sound a little gay) were panels like these:

Hey, if two dedicated crime fighters can't spend a little time under the tanning lights together, then something's gone terribly wrong with the world.

Leaving questions of Batman and Robin's perversions aside, Seduction Of The Innocent was a huge bestseller and the tempest that Wertham stirred up led to the end of horror comics and the introduction of the Comics Code, which basically meant that superheroes lost what little balls they had left, and Batman always kept a discreet distance from Robin- at least in public.

But it wasn't all bad. E.C. Comics, faced with the cancellation of all its horror and true crime comics, threw all of its effort into perhaps the single greatest corrupter of America's youth: Mad Magazine. Mad Magazine then led to the publication of Cracked, which eventually led to this very website. So, the next time you're enjoying an article about sexy cartoon characters you can thank the overactive gay-obsessed imagination of one Dr. Fredric Wertham.

Rainbow Parties

We Heard About It From:

The Queen of Believing Anything, Oprah Winfrey.

The "Threat:"

"Rainbow Party." Doesn't sound too bad, right? It could be a coloring party for kids, or a house decorating get-together. Maybe some kind of friendly gay pride thing.

But no, according to a guest featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, rainbow parties were wild, oral sex parties that were being held by teenagers all over America. At these orgies, each girl would wear a different shade of lipstick and as they each serviced a lucky guy in sequence, it'd leave a "rainbow" of colors on his dong.

The story was so widely believed that sex educators across the country started to investigate. Simon & Schuster quickly published a young adult novel imaginatively entitled Rainbow Party to warn of the non-existent danger. Don't bother reading it. We flipped right to the end and the party never happens. Turns out the girl's dad comes home early, so the party gets canceled. Fucking douche!

It didn't matter, the damage was done. Once the teen literature industry dips its filthy beak into something, the moral panic is on.

But alas, as awesome as these parties sound, they turned out to be absolutely, tragically, untrue. According to that wicked cool newspaper for kids, The New York Times, sex educators couldn't find any evidence of even one rainbow party having taken place, ever.

Teens were aware of the slang, but no one had ever been to an actual Rainbow Party. And that's remarkable because it just sounds so totally plausible, and not like something a 15-year-old boy thought up during a masturbation fantasy. Relieved, the busybodies of the world went back to worrying about their neighbor's uncut grass.

Jenkem, A Drug Made of Poo

We Heard About It From:

A bunch of dumb local TV stations and a bunch of dumber local sheriffs.

The "Threat:"

Could American kids ever sink so low that they would actually suck on the fumes from raw sewage to get high? If you're an American kid, you're probably saying no. If you're a small town cop who hates teenagers or a lazy local television reporter, you'd say "hell, yes!"

It started with a message board post from a kid calling himself "Pickwick" (Shitbreath was already taken) where he claimed to have made and tried the poop fume drug "jenkem," a practice that supposedly originates from Africa.

"Okay, so when you said you wanted to do some bowls, you meant actual... okay."

Soon the boys in blue at the Collier County Sheriff's Office took action.

They released a law enforcement bulletin claiming that "jenkem is now a popular drug in American schools" using the pictures that Pickwick had posted.

The only problem, besides the idiotic assumption that because one kid in the country may have tried it, it was now "popular in American schools," was that Pickwick made it all up.

His "jenkem" was actually a mixture of flour, water, beer, and Nutella. Nevertheless, the story spread like a foul stench through local media outlets and sheriffs' offices, until parents were told they should smell their kid's breath for shit when they came home.

There is still no record of anyone in the U.S. doing this for real (that we can find). Here is where you'd be tempted to scold the rumor mongers for planting the idea and thus encouraging kids to try it. But we're guessing even with detailed instructions most of you wouldn't be tempted to start collecting fermented shit in your closet. Not for this, anyway.

Dungeons & Dragons

We Heard About It From:

Anti-occult campaigner Patrica Pulling, author Rona Jaffe, Jack Chick and others.

The "Threat:"

When most people think of Dungeons & Dragons, they picture a group of people--usually male--sitting around a table with some books, odd-shaped dice and, in particularly sad cases, costumes.

But it's just harmless, escapist fun, right? And they're doing it with friends! That alone puts it above most geek pastimes. So what's the problem?

Well, according to some, D&D is either an occult training manual used to lure youngsters into Satanism, or it's a dangerous fantasy world that traps teenagers and leads them to madness, suicide or murder.

Artist's depiction of an actual D&D "party."

The moral panic started like a lot of them do: with a death and an idiot. In 1982, Patricia Pulling's teenage son committed suicide. Looking for answers, she turned to his D&D hobby as explanation for his death. Pulling sued the makers of D&D, T.S.R. Inc., and for some bizarre reason, her son's school principal. Why him? Because the mother accused him of placing a "D&D curse" on her son shortly before he died.

Luckily for the defendants, they had a Dexterity score of 17 and Gilligar's Gloves of Legal Protection and easily made the saving throw. Both cases were thrown out of court.

It helps that this was their judge.

But Pulling couldn't let a good panic die. She formed one of the most politely named protest groups of all time, Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons (B.A.D.D.) and began touring the country lecturing on the nonexistent evils of the game. Luckily, her goofball propositions about the occult dangers of the game never met with any support outside the usual crazy demographic. That would have to wait for the publication of a sleazy mass market paperback and Tom Hank's first big break.

This is not Photoshop.

Once again we see that moral panics may hatch from people with too much time on their hands, but lazy journalism gives them their wings. In 1979, James Dallas Egbert disappeared in a series of steam tunnels under Michigan State University. Assuming he was a nerd after hearing his name, local newspapers reported that he had committed suicide (or was killed) during a real life session of D&D.

Their phones apparently broken, they failed to discover that he was in fact not dead, but was hiding at a friend's house after a failed suicide attempt. Reporters also failed to learn that he was addicted to drugs and clinically depressed.

The story might have died there, but a columnist for Cosmopolitan named Rona Jaffe saw an opportunity and wrote a thinly fictionalized version of the events in a book called Mazes and Monsters. It was later turned into the above terrible TV movie starring a young, then unknown Tom Hanks.

But alas, his burgeoning star power wasn't enough to keep the panic going. Geeky teenagers were left to enjoy their 12-sided die, Yoo-Hoo and adolescent power fantasies in peace while Tom Hanks went on to make the most beloved television series of all time, Bosom Buddies. We don't know what became of him after that.

Backwards Messages in Rock and Roll

We Heard About It From:

A few Christian DJs and parents who don't understand their kids.

The "Threat:"

From the seductive swivel of Elvis's hips to John Lennon saying he had a bigger dick than Jesus, rock music has always been considered the soundtrack to our moral decay. This belief reached the heights of its retardedness during the furor over backwards subliminal messages.

"Good point, AC/DC, I should kill the president."

After two kids attempted suicide in 1985, their parents accused the heavy metal band Judas Priest of hiding subliminal messages in their songs to convince listeners to commit suicide. The technique was as simple as writing the songs so that, when played backward they would convey a message. What if the listener never bothered to reverse their turntable? That's okay, the message can still be conveyed thanks to that secret part of the brain that hears everything backwards. Don't ask us to explain it! It's science!

Anyway, a few Christian DJs got wind of the story and decided to fan the flames, playing records backwards for signs that bands were trying to kill their fans. Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and even Jefferson Starship were all alleged to have place secret messages encouraging their fans to give it up for Satan.

Satan's messengers.

Everyone was so caught up in the moral panic fun, that they forgot to ask the obvious question. Why the hell would rock bands want to kill off their customers? Rob Halford of Judas Priest said at the time that if they were going to put subliminal messages in their songs, they would have gone with something like "buy more records" or "don't forget to pick up Judas Priest t-shirts and keychains at fine stores everywhere."

The case against Judas Priest was eventually thrown out in 1990 when the judge realized it was completely fucking insane. The panic would have continued, but, luckily, the CD was invented; making backwards messages impossible to hear. Then gangsta rap hit the mainstream and suddenly parents wished they could have the backwards Satanism thing back.

Satanic Ritual Abuse

We Heard About It From:

Michelle Smith, author of Michelle Remembers and Oprah's even less skeptical colleague, Geraldo Rivera.

The "Threat:"

In 1980, a book called Michelle Remembers told the horrifying story of Michelle Smith's years of alleged ritual abuse at the hands of a cult called "The Church Of Satan." The book, written with her psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Pazder, became an explosive best-seller and touched off one of the most damaging moral panics of all time.

In the book, Pazder and Smith describe horrible abuse meted out upon her as a child. Her abusers were said to be a just one sect of a worldwide cult that was torturing and murdering children and adults all over the globe.

The book claims that Smith was involved in an 81-day ritual where not only Satan, but Jesus, Mary and the archangel Michael made an appearance. This was so convincing that suddenly reports were coming from all over the country of Satanic cults masquerading as daycares and schools.

School principal.

People were being accused left and right of organized rituals involving torture, murder and rape. Law enforcement agencies and even prosecutors used Michelle Remembers as a guide when they were forming their cases.

The only problem was that all the witnesses were usually either very young children or clinically insane adults. No one was actually convicted of Satanic abuse, probably because the fact that the whole thing was bullshit was visible from outer space. Then again... if there was a worldwide Satanic conspiracy, can you imagine how awesome their lawyers must be?

Original here

Could your marriage survive a year of total, brutal honesty?

Truthful couple

The lies just trip off a bloke’s tongue: “Yes, you look gorgeous. No, your bum doesn’t look too big. Of course you haven’t put on weight.”

Whether he’s being polite to save her feelings or fibbing for an easy life, there’s one inescapable truth. Marriages and relationships survive on white lies.

As kids we are taught that honesty is the best policy but what happens if you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to your wife for a year?

Welshman Cathal Morrow, 43, did just that with 39-year-old Patti, his wife of five years and the mother of his two sons.

Academic Cathal, now living in Madrid, is writing a book about his experiences.

The home truths were not always easy to take and there were some tears and tantrums. But was the total honesty the making or the breaking of their marriage?


When I started this challenge in February last year telling the truth to the missus was not easy. I reckon I told about six white lies a day and that was fine.

If Patti asked me whether her dress made her look fat it might have sounded like a question.

But, as every man knows, it was really a prompt for immediate reassurance along the lines of: “Of course not darling, you look fantastic.”

That’s how I’d always answer before my mission – taking the easy route, fibbing.

If I was sitting on the sofa and Patti asked me the question every man dreads: “What are you thinking about?” I’d come up with a flippant reply such as football, money or anything else to avoid the terrible truth.

Now I had to be honest. If I was daydreaming about an ex-girlfriend, or about sex, I had to tell my wife.

But when I did I was in for a shock. Instead of being angry or jealous she simply shrugged it off.

Staying with Patti’s parents, I had always kept quiet as I don’t see eye-to-eye with her mum, Maria, who was critical about our lives and how we were raising the kids Borja, four, and Elkin, two.

But we spent four months under the same roof when we first relocated from Wales to Spain and I decided keeping quiet was as much as a lie when I had so much to say. So, I told Maria what I thought.

Surprisingly, Patti actually seemed to approve and even Patti’s mum took it better than I had expected.

Patti, who is Spanish, will often cook traditional Spanish food, like tripe, which I secretly did not like. This year I’ve had to tell her straight.

Throughout our marriage, Patti has always asked my opinion about the clothes she buys and her weight. She goes through stages where she’ll eat loads and, to be honest, it shows.

Before, I went on auto-pilot and made reassuring noises about how lovely she looked. Now, when she asks me if I think her bum looks big, I’ll tell her it does.

It might sound cruel. But what I’ve learned over the past year is that how you tell the truth matters. So I’ll say “yes, your bum does look bigger, but I like it that way”. And I honestly do.

Another time white lies used to arise was when I was going out with the lads.

I’d fly to meetings in London and stay at a friend’s house while Patti stayed in Madrid looking after the boys. When she asked me on the phone what I’d done with my mates, I’d avoid telling her we went to the pub because she’s probably been bored stuck at home and no man wants to risk an ear-bashing.

But now I’ll tell her the truth, that we went for beers.

I’ve discovered that the fear of people’s reaction to the truth is often much worse than the reality of it.

There have been times where we’ve been out for a meal and a pretty woman has caught my eye. If Patti asked if I was looking at her, I’d feign surprise. Now I’ll admit, yes, I was looking at her and I found her attractive but Patti has nothing to worry about.

The year-long experiment’s almost over now and I’m so glad I did it.

I really feel it’s made our relationship stronger. Like a lot of men, I don’t like talking about feelings. But now I have to.

And because of it, I think Patti and I have become much stronger.


I thought Cathal was mad when he first told me he wanted to spend a year telling only the truth.

I didn’t think he could do it – not because he’s dishonest – but because the British are always so polite. And part of that is telling the odd white lie to not offend anyone.

Original here

Fla. man issued 50 traffic citations in one day

This undated photo obtained Friday, Jan. 6, 2009 from the Palm Beach County, AP – This undated photo obtained Friday, Jan. 6, 2009 from the Palm Beach County, Fla. Sheriff's Office shows …

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – Elvis has left the vehicle. A man was arrested on more than 50 traffic citations — all in one day. Police said Elvis Alonzo Barrett, 46, fled from police trying to stop him for a traffic violation Thursday morning. Police said he ran through red lights, crashed into another car and a fence. Police said they found crack cocaine and a crack pipe in his car.

Barrett faces several charges, including fleeing and eluding and reckless driving.

He was also issued more than 50 traffic citations on charges including speeding, running red lights, and not wearing a seat belt.

Police said Barrett has a lengthy criminal history and his driver license was suspended.

A phone number listed for him was not in service Thursday night.

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7 Helpful Tips For the Child Who Made My Flight Hell

By Anthony Layser

Every Saturday we ask some of our favorite writers to fill in for us. Today, we have former writer Anthony Layser, who is now the deputy managing editor of and the recent recipient of a nut shot courtesy of the gods of airline seating assignments.

Various religions, child protective agencies and a 1974 made-for-TV movie starring Linda Blair all contend that we are born innocent. This is false. We are actually born savages. Names like "preschooler" and "tot" do little to convey the viciousness that resides in the hearts of these tiny insane human beings.

During a recent New York to Los Angeles flight, I experienced the multifaceted wrath of one such little girl. Maybe it was the fluctuating cabin pressure or the veterinary pharmaceuticals I'd (inadvertently) taken in place of my usual preflight tranquilizers; but as I stepped off the flight, I knew what it was to have been emotionally raped by a toddler. My search for guidance concerning this troubling episode led me to consult the website of Dr. Phil McGraw--a rich bastion of insights. The following recounts my tormentor's behaviors with corresponding advice from the eminent television psychologist's site.

Using Airplane Seating As A Repelling Site

Upon arriving at my assigned row, I found a woman on the brink of collapse as a curly-haired child -- let's call her Mothra -- bounded from the floor up to the middle seat, then back to the floor, then up to the window seat using the magazine pockets for footholds. As she attempted the maneuver again, I quickly slid by and took the window seat. I offered Mothra a friendly smile. She responded with the wide eyes of a mad scientist receiving an unexpected visit from a future test subject.

Disciplinary Advice from

"Dr. Phil says you're sending your child a mixed message. 'If you give in some of the time, you're tough some of the time, what you have is called the intermittent reinforcement schedule. It creates the most resistant maladapted behavior of all.'" Seriously.

How I Should Have Responded:

By smiling at her chimp-like seat gymnastics, I sent Mothra the first in a series of intermittent reinforcement signals. In retrospect, I should have snarled and/or growled.

Sadistically Unplugging My Headphones

I specifically book with airlines that offer satellite TV, because I enjoy drifting in and out of consciousness to the rhythms of canned sitcom laughter. Sadly, Mothra had no interest in satellite TV or artificial guffaws. Like Pavlov's dog, she quickly learned that my eyes would jerk open and the plea, "Please, I beg you, stop doing that," would result every time she removed my headphone plug from the armrest jack.

Disciplinary Advice from

"Children need to be able to determine with 100 percent certainty that forbidden behavior will be met with consequences. For example, Dr. Phil advised a mother whose daughters wouldn't get out of their pajamas to tell them: 'If you don't change out of your pajamas, then you're not going to have your pajamas anymore. I'm going to take your pajamas and we're going to throw them away.'" Seriously.

How I Should Have Responded:

I should have threatened to steal an article of Mothra's clothing.

Unleashing Incomprehensible Tirades

Mothra removed my headphone plug from the armrest no less than a dozen times before her mother decided she should be taken to the restroom. Had I known that unplugging headphones was her way to signal she needed to urinate, I would have walked her there myself. Upon returning, Mothra's mother took pity on me and had the child sit in the aisle seat. Mothra immediately tried to scale her mother in what I can only assume was yet another attempt to silence the audio from my satellite TV feed. As the woman grappled with her menacing spawn, Mothra let out screeching banshee howls that bore into every eardrum throughout the plane's cabin.

Disciplinary Advice from

"Follow the Fast-Food Rule ... Always repeat back [her] 'order' (what [she] wants) before you tell [her] your 'price' (what you want)." Seriously.

How I Should Have Responded:

These outbursts were so angry and guttural, that I truly believe they were calls for the total breakdown of society (a few could have been baby obscenities). Following the Fast-Food Rule, I should have repeated back her order of "Anarchy, anarchy, anarchy" before telling her my price, "Only if you place yourself in an overhead storage bin."

Wiping Saliva On My Black Coat And Bag

Judging by the amount of times Mothra shoved her hands in her mouth, one might assume her miniature paws tasted of dark chocolate or foie gras. This resulted in everything she touched being christened with a shiny film of saliva. This included my black coat and laptop bag which, by flight's end, looked as though it had been attacked by banana slugs.

Disciplinary Advice from

"It helps to think of your toddler as sort of a caveman. With all their grunting and grabbing, toddlers often seem quite primitive. To communicate with them, you have to speak in a primitive and almost prehistoric type of language." Seriously.

How I Should Have Responded:

In nonsensical language, I should have explained to Mothra that she was spreading potentially harmful germs and defacing private property. According to, that particular statement involves two throaty grumbles, four loud squawks and a fart noise.

Turning Complimentary Pretzels Into Paste And Sculpting It

As soon as the airline staff handed out complimentary pretzels, Mothra tore into her single-serving pouch, flinging pretzels across her tray table. She then chewed them, spit them back up onto the tray table and proceeded to play with the moist sludge. Mothra's mother was somehow napping through this, which allowed her daughter to toil for what seemed like an eternity. Until now, I've tried to brush off this memory as a pet med-fueled hallucination.

Disciplinary Advice from

When your child starts to misbehave, deprive [her] of something [she] values ... "Whatever [her] currency is, [she] needs to know, When I do A, I lose B.' Take it away and [she] doesn't see it again ... Make a ceremony out of it." Seriously.

How I Should Have Responded:

I should taken the liberty to remove the mess myself, depriving the child of her prized spit up-turned-Play-Doh. To bring ceremonial flair, I could have given a rousing address about how nausea had spurred me to action.

Staring Into My Soul

When not thrashing, screaming or fashioning regurgitation, little Mothra spent much of the trip looking upon me with unblinking eyes. Standing on her seat cushion, Mothra's two-and-a-half foot frame would loom over me as her expressionless orbs scanned my being from a few inches away, daring me to return a glance. Sometimes I would turn to see if she was still looking. She was, and when I peered back I found only darkness in her soul, and a little slobber on her chin.

Disciplinary Advice from

"A very effective consequence for undesirable behavior is isolation, with no social reinforcements. Find a room or place that is devoid of stimulation to put them in when the bad behavior occurs ... If you like, install a video camera in the room so you can keep an eye on your child from another room." Seriously.

How I Should Have Responded:

Since it was nearly impossible to isolate Mothra on a plane -- bar locking her in an overhead bin (as I had fantasized) -- I should have just ignored her and used my cell phone camera to safely determine whether or not her soul-gazing had subsided, rather than stoking her behavior by actually looking over. I also could've pretended I was invisible and that Mothra was actually peering out the window -- amazed at being 40,000 feet above her typically subterranean lair.

Being Conscious For All But The Final Eight Minutes Of The Flight

Mothra's final piece of villainy was simply falling asleep. Exactly eight minutes before the plane touched down, she partook in the exact pleasure she had denied me the previous five hours. The gesture displayed a purity of spitefulness so impeccable that I suddenly had a vision of Mothra's future as a successful Somali pirate or, at the very least, a big-time divorce lawyer.

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