Daily Archives: October 29, 2008

North Carolina reporting near record cold temperatures

Charlotte Observer | Oct 28, 2008

By Steve Lyttle

Snow is accumulating this afternoon in the North Carolina mountains, and the rest of the Carolinas is shivering in the first cold outbreak of the season.

Temperatures that are more than 15 degrees below normal for this time of year, combined with strong northwest winds, are making today uncomfortably chilly in the Charlotte metro region.

But the cold snap is more pronounced in the mountains, where the strong winds are accompanied by snow showers.

The National Weather Service said that up to 3 inches of snow had accumulated by midday in some parts of the mountains. Snow is still falling this afternoon, and a dusting is even being reported in some lower elevations, such as Asheville.

Related

Record low temperatures forecast for Fort Myers
The cold temperatures, gusty northwest winds, and mountain snow are the result of a flow of unstable cold air being pumped into the Southeast by a storm system over the Northeast and a strong high pressure system. Chilly weather is expected to continue through Wednesday, and the National Weather Service has issued frost and freeze warnings for the area tonight.

Forecasters say the cold will bring an end to the growing season in much of the region.

Temperatures in Charlotte reached 52 degrees by 1 p.m. That eliminated a chance of today becoming the coldest day ever for Oct. 28 in Charlotte. The record for chilliest high temperature on the date is 49 degrees, set in 1976.

Temperatures are forecast to tumble into the middle and upper 20s tonight, then rebound back into the 50s Wednesday.

Warmer weather is expected by late in the week. Forecasters say Halloween should feature nice conditions, with clear skies and highs in the upper 60s. Milder weather also is forecast for Saturday, before another cold snap hits the region Sunday and Monday.

School systems opened late this morning in Watauga, Yancey, Haywood, Avery, Madison and Mitchell counties. The National Weather Service said that at 11 a.m., a number of sites had reported snow on the ground.

Less Money Means More Egg Donors

Fertility clinics across the country — from Atlanta to Los Angeles — told ABCNews.com that they have seen an increase in the number of women seeking information or actively donating eggs in the past six months, with many women saying the economy is motivating them. (Getty)

Related

More Women Selling Their Eggs
Donors Can Earn Thousands; Increases Seen As Result Of Rough Economy

Mothers may not tell after donor egg, sperm birth

Woman selling their eggs motivated by sagging economy

Donor Says Women Should Understand ‘There’s a Child Out There That’s Part of Them’

ABC News | Oct 27, 2008

By JUJU CHANG and KIRAN KHALID

Bethany Grinstead is a very fertile stay-at-home mother of five young children. The 26-year-old says her good fortune with fertility is helping her make money as an egg donor.

“I’m very passionate when it comes to kids and being able to help my family financially as well was another motivating factor,” Grinstead said of being an egg donor.

Good genes and looks have made Grinstead a valued donor. She has already donated twice, and made $5,000 each time. The first time she produced 18 eggs, the second time 22. Some donors make up to $10,000 each time they donate.

As she prepares for her third donation, she said the shaky economy is very much on her mind.

“My boyfriend is in real estate, and with the housing market the way it has been, we do struggle,” she said. “But I want to stay at home with my kids. The kids are growing up, and we’ll need [the money] for college and stuff.”

Doctors and others in the fertility industry say they’re seeing a dramatic uptick not just in new donors but, as with Grinstead, in repeat donors looking to pay the bills.

“I have been involved in the reproduction industry since 1990, and I have never seen this kind of an increase in the number of applications with eggs, sperm donors or surrogates,” said Cathy Ruberto, a registered nurse who owns a fertility clinic in Naples, Fla.

Declining Standards?

Fertility experts across the country have reported a 30 to 40 percent increase in applicants. But there is concern that the spike may inspire a decline in standards for donors.

Nancy Block, a registered nurse at the Center for Egg Options in El Segundo, Calif., says there are also very few standards in the industry.

“It’s important that there’s some standards set for egg-donor recruiters,” Block said. “Anyone can get a business license to do egg donor recruiting.”

Her organization is calling for a national registry to protect the rights of the unborn child. Medical records about the donor are only kept for 10 years, for instance, depriving children of information about their medical and genetic inheritance down the road.

Thailand plans to block websites insulting to the royal family

AFP | Oct 28, 2008

BANGKOK (AFP) — The Thai government is considering spending up to 14 million dollars on technology to block websites it deems insulting to the country’s monarchy, the communications minister said Tuesday.

The army chief and prime minister have recently accused unnamed groups of defaming the royals, a grave crime in Thailand that carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, but which media groups say is often used as a political tool.

The royal family’s role in politics has been a touchy subject in recent months as street protests by an anti-government group claiming loyalty to the monarchy drag on. The king has not commented on the recent turmoil.

“There is a growing number of websites that attack the monarchy, and the ministry is consulting to buy a blocker that costs between 100 and 500 million baht (2.8 and 14 million dollars),” said communications minister Mun Patanotai.

“More than 80 percent of these websites are from overseas,” he added.

Mun told reporters that his ministry had recently received more than 1,000 complaints about websites slighting the royal family.

Thailand made headlines around the world last year when it blocked the popular video-sharing website YouTube after clips started appearing mocking the deeply-revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

This and similar moves to implement tougher laws controlling cyberspace prompted press freedom watchdogs to warn of increasing censorship after a coup that overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat had earlier Tuesday threatened to prosecute anyone who tried to drag the monarchy into politics.

“The government, officials, military, police, and every Thai must all uphold the monarchy,” he told reporters.

“I have already ordered (officials) to decisively prosecute anyone who criticises the monarchy — no faction should use the monarchy.”

Members of the protest group the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) drape themselves in yellow — the colour associated with the king — and frequently make reference to the royal family.

Two PAD supporters died in clashes with police on October 7, and many members claimed the support of the queen when she made a rare appearance at the funeral of one of the dead protesters.

She has also donated hundreds of thousands of baht to cover the medical expenses of those injured in the clashes.

Woman blew whistle on Obama death plot

Satanic literature recovered from Cowart’s room

Daughter was driver for conspiring neo-Nazi pair

Memphis Commercial Appeal | Oct 28, 2008

By Bartholomew Sullivan

It all began with a mother’s call to the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department in Brownsville, Tenn., last Wednesday night.

The unidentified woman told authorities her daughter had just acted as the driver for a planned burglary in Crockett County that was abandoned when two neo-Nazi skinheads chickened out at the sight of dogs, Haywood County Sheriff Melvin Bond said Tuesday morning.

The getaway-driver daughter is the girlfriend of Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn. Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Ark., are in custody, charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a federal firearms licensee and making threats against a major candidate for president.

“This particular young lady is in fear of her life now, bless her heart,” said Bond.

Besides telling of her daughter’s unwilling role in the burglary attempt, the mother had a more intriguing story. The two men were planning to rob a gun shop, go on a killing spree and end up at the inauguration ceremonies in Washington where they would try to kill President-elect Barack Obama.

When the young woman came into the Sheriff’s Office last week, she was “so convincing” that deputies instantly took her story seriously, Bond said.

“She started telling us about acts she had heard about,” and she “didn’t want to be involved with those acts,” he said.

Haywood County contacted Jackson, Tenn., police, the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Troy Klyce in Crockett County, where Cowart lived.

“Troy and his men saw the seriousness of this and took it under consideration and contacted the (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), then went to the location,” Bond said.

Neither Cowart nor Schlesselman was there, but authorities got permission from a resident to search Cowart’s room.

“They recovered some satanic literature, the floor plan of a gun shop in Jackson and all these different things,” Bond said. “Then they set and did a surveillance of the residence until the subjects drove up and they took them down without incident.”

One of them — Bond did not know which one — was armed with a handgun.

Haywood County deputies were present when the men admitted to a plot to kill students in a predominantly black school, go on a killing spree and end up in Washington ready to kill Obama, Bond said.

“My officers said that when the Secret Service asked them, ‘You know, you couldn’t make it that close (to Obama) by any means,’ they said, ‘Yeah, but we would die trying.’

“I’ve never seen or heard of anyone who would just admit to so many different factors and not try to cover them in any type of way,” Bond said.

Bond said he believes more people are involved in the conspiracy and authorities are trying to break the code on a Web site for more information.

On the night of Oct. 22, Bond said he had a sense that the department was involved in something big.

“I said, ‘Gentlemen, let me advise you of something. If any truth comes about this particular situation, we could have the No 1 story in the whole US of A, and I believe it materialized,” he said. “I’m just glad we went ahead and moved on it as quickly as we did.”

Bond, who calls Brownsville a “pretty smooth little town,” said “this is a one-in-a-million incident.”

According to federal authorities, last Tuesday night, Cowart and Schlesselman, armed with knives and handguns, targeted a home in Bells to rob. They aborted the plan when they encountered a dog in the backyard and two vehicles next to the house.

Later they went to a Wal- Mart in Brownsville where they bought food, nylon rope and two ski masks to use in their next home-invasion attempt or gun-store robbery, authorities said.

While in that area early Wednesday, Cowart used a .22-caliber pistol to shoot out a window at Beech Grove Church of Christ, a 60-member church. No one was hurt.

The young woman from Brownsville didn’t know about the church shooting, Bond said, so officials didn’t connect Cowart and Schlesselman to that incident until the pair confessed to it.

Cowart has hired attorney Joe Byrd Jr. of Jackson to represent him.

Schlesselman has been declared indigent and will be represented by M. Dianne Smothers of the federal public defender’s office in Jackson.

Both men were arrested Oct. 22 and held on state charges until a federal criminal complaint was filed under seal last Friday, according to Leanne Jordan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. The complaint was unsealed Monday at their first court appearance.

Both remain in federal custody and will appear in federal court in Memphis on Thursday for a detention hearing to determine whether a bond should be set. The hearing will be before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerald Cohn.

Ron Paul could be spoiler in Montana presidential race

Paul could help Obama carry a state that has backed the Republican presidential candidate all but two times since 1948

Associated Press | Oct 28, 2008

By MATT GOURAS

KALISPELL – Along a stretch of Highway 93, signs supporting former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul almost outnumber those of the party’s presidential nominee, John McCain.

It’s been months since Paul officially left the race, and yet a series of circumstances has the Texas congressman right in the middle of the presidential race in Montana. Political observers say Paul, on the ballot as a third-party candidate, will likely draw some votes away from McCain.

And if the race is close, Paul could be the difference.
“Ron Paul is the wild card,” said David Hart, who oversaw Paul’s campaign in Montana during the primary. “A lot of people are not happy with that.”

In parts of western Montana, Paul attracts independent-minded voters who are drawn to a libertarian message. Only in Montana does Paul appear on the ballot as a Constitution Party candidate.

“People are just fed up with the mainstream parties,” said John Stokes, owner of Z-600 AM radio station in Kalispell. “Folks see this country is on a downward slope, and not adhering to the Constitution.”

Stokes has erected a large “Ron Paul Revolution” sign outside the station and uses his talk show to promote Paul. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Paul gets 8 percent to 10 percent of the vote in Montana on Nov. 4.

None of this would have been possible without Paul’s supporters, who put his name forward as the Constitution Party of Montana candidate. Paul later asked the secretary of state’s office to remove his name from the ballot, but state officials said they couldn’t.

Paul has not been campaigning in the state and has even asked supporters to write in Chuck Baldwin, the national Constitution Party candidate. Paul did not respond to requests for an interview.

During the GOP primary, some of Paul’s strongest support came in Montana. He won Missoula County’s Republican caucus in February and received about a quarter of the vote in the state’s June primary n even after it was clear McCain was the party’s presumptive nominee.

Now he could play spoiler to McCain, whose lead in the polls in Montana has diminished. A recent MSU-Billings poll had the presidential race within the margin of error, with Paul drawing 4 percent.

Democrat Barack Obama has been sinking money and resources into Montana in attempt to turn the traditionally red state blue. McCain has largely ignored the state, although the Republican National Committee will begin independently airing ads in Montana this week.

“Absolutely he (Paul) will pull some votes from McCain,” said MSU-Billings political scientist Craig Wilson. “It potentially could make it competitive.”

Gov. Brian Schweitzer agrees. The Democrat is supporting Obama and believes Paul could help Obama carry a state that has backed the Republican presidential candidate all but two times since 1948. The last time a Democrat won Montana was in 1992, when third-party candidate Ross Perot siphoned some votes from Republican George H.W. Bush.

“That’s why they are tied,” Schweitzer said, referring to Paul’s popularity in Montana.

Schweitzer said those who vote on the gun issue will have trouble backing either Obama or McCain. The Montana Shootings Sports Association has told members that a principled voter should choose Paul over McCain.

The McCain campaign has brushed aside worries about Paul, insisting the race is between McCain and Obama.

Hart, who worked for Paul during the primary, said plenty of people in Flathead County will still vote for Paul. While many Paul supporters have said they will vote for McCain, others want to choose “principle over party,” Hart said.

Hart still receives requests for yard signs, and he often obliges by handing out leftovers from Paul’s primary campaign. Hart, who is also getting more involved in the local Republican Party, understands there could be some hurt feelings if Paul steals some votes from McCain.

“If Obama were to carry Montana, they are going to point a finger at me,” he said. “But the reality is they should be looking in the mirror.”

Obama’s law firm led charge benefiting socialist party

Evidence indicates Democratic candidate was member of radical political group

WorldNetDaily | Oct 27, 2008

By Aaron Klein

JERUSALEM – The law firm at which Sen. Barack Obama served as counsel led a legal charge to overturn state bans on allowing politicians to run as members of more than one party.

A primary benefactor of the case – which the firm took to the Supreme Court – was the radical leftist New Party, which has close ties to the Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland law firm, where Obama was employed until 2004.

The information comes amid evidence that emerged last week showing Obama belonged to the New Party, which sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda.

In 1997, Davis, Miner and Barnhill’s Madison, Wisc.-based partner Sarah Siskind reportedly went to the Supreme Court to lead the main fight to allow electoral “fusion,” which enabled candidates to run on two tickets simultaneously, attracting voters from both parties. The New Party relied on fusion and went defunct in 1998, one year after Siskind lost the Supreme Court case.

Siskind is the wife of Joel Rogers, a socialist activist and University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor who was the co-founder and national chair of the New Party. Siskind, who worked with Obama at the firm and later donated to Obama’s presidential campaign, was also a key attorney representing the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which maintained a close alliance with the New Party.

The New Party, formed by members of the Democratic Socialists for America and leaders of an offshoot of the Communist Party USA, was an electoral alliance whose aim was to help elect politicians to office who espouse its policies. Among New Party members was linguist and radical activist Noam Chomsky.

Several blogs, including Powerline, previously documented that while running for the Illinois state Senate in 1996 as a Democrat, Obama actively sought and received the endorsement of the socialist-oriented New Party, with some blogs claiming Obama was a member of the controversial party.

Obama’s “Fight the Smears” website claimed the presidential candidate was never a member of the New Party.

But the New Zeal blog dug up print copies of the New Party News, the party’s official newspaper, which show Obama posing with New Party leaders, list him as a New Party member and include quotes from him.

The party’s Spring 1996 newspaper boasted: “New Party members won three other primaries this Spring in Chicago: Barack Obama (State Senate), Michael Chandler (Democratic Party Committee) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary). The paper quoted Obama saying “these victories prove that small ‘d’ democracy can work.”

The newspaper lists other politicians it endorsed who were not members, but it specifies Obama as a New Party member.

New Ground, the newsletter of Chicago’s Democratic Socialists for America, reported in its July/August 1996 edition that Obama attended a New Party membership meeting April 11, 1996, in which he expressed his gratitude for the group’s support and “encouraged NPers (New Party members) to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration.”

Becoming a New Party member requires some effort on behalf of the politician. Candidates must be approved by the party’s political committee and, once approved, must sign a contract mandating they will have a “visible and active relationship” with the party.

Following the initial reports of Obama’s purported membership in the New Party, Obama associate and former Chicago New Party activist Carl Davidson posted a statement on several blogs claiming his former party was not socialist, but he admitted it worked with ACORN.

“[The New Party] was a pragmatic party of ‘small d democracy’ mainly promoting economic reforms like the living wage and testing the fusion tactic, common in many countries but only operational in New York in the U.S. The main trend within it was ACORN, an Alinskyist outfit, which is hardly Marxist,” wrote Davidson.

But the socialist goals of the New Party were enumerated on its old website.

Among the New Party’s stated objectives were “full employment, a shorter work week, and a guaranteed minimum income for all adults; a universal ‘social wage’ to include such basic benefits as health care, child care, vacation time, and lifelong access to education and training; a systematic phase-in of comparable worth and like programs to ensure gender equity.”

The New Party stated it also sought “the democratization of our banking and financial system – including popular election of those charged with public stewardship of our banking system, worker-owner control over their pension assets, community-controlled alternative financial institutions.”

Many of the New Party’s founding members were Democratic Socialists for America leaders and members of Committees of Correspondence, a breakaway of the Communist Party USA. Obama attended several DSA events and meetings, including a DSA-sponsored town hall meeting Feb. 25, 1996, entitled “Employment and Survival in Urban America.” He sought and received an endorsement from the DSA.

According to DSA documents, the New Party worked with ACORN to promote its candidates. ACORN, convicted in massive, nationwide voter fraud cases, has been a point of controversy for Obama over the presidential candidate’s ties to the group.

In 1995, the DSA’s New Ground newsletter stated, “In Chicago, the New Party’s biggest asset and biggest liability is ACORN.

“Like most organizations, ACORN is a mixed bag. On one hand, in Chicago, ACORN is a group that attempts to organize some of the most depressed communities in the city. Chicago organizers for ACORN and organizers for SEIU Local 880 have been given modest monthly recruitment quotas for new New Party members. On the other hand, like most groups that depend on canvassing for fundraising, it’s easy enough to find burned out and disgruntled former employees. And ACORN has not had the reputation for being interested in coalition politics – until recently and, happily, not just within the New Party.”