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Pink Slip – March ’13
Facebook may have put MySpace out of business but there’s nothing like quality face time when the message is a matter of life and death. Using a Facebook page to notify a mom that her son had died may have sounded like a good idea to Lt. Stefan Schindler, a Clayton County Police detective, because his department hadn’t been able to reach her. But the mother, Anna Lamb-Creasey, had already been calling hospitals and jails in her Atlanta, Ga.-suburb for weeks trying to find out what had happened to her 30-year-old son Ricky Lamb so they couldn’t have been totally clueless. But it sounds like they were. The detective’s message came from an account belonging to a “Misty Hancock,” someone unknown to the family, and went into a folder labeled “Other” with a profile photo of the Atlanta rapper TI, where it languished because the mom and her daughter assumed it was spam. Finally, out of desperation, they called the number listed and the detective finally gave her the bad news: her son had been struck and killed by a driver as he was crossing a highway. He’d been in a morgue for almost three weeks.
The case is still pending, but one of Indiana’s senior judges, Lisa Traylor-Wolff, stands accused of having sex in jail with her 26-year-old client, Scott Wampler, a serial offender serving 40 years in prison. Wampler had been convicted in 2011 of breaking into a house, tying up two women at gunpoint and stealing their money. We don’t know much about the accommodations of the Miami Correctional Facility in Peru, Ind., but we’re pretty sure that the locked prison visiting room is no honeymoon suite. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications now claims she’d begun an affair with Wampler before he was jailed, and the Indianapolis Star reports she continued the relationship as his appointed public defender when she represented him as he appealed his conviction. Maybe she’s a good attorney, but we think she granted her client the wrong kind of service and she should have known better.
The Donald may not have much hair upstairs as he used to, but is he running low on cash too? Is that why he’s out to make the former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin pay him $5 million because she dared claim—on her Facebook page—that his beauty pageant was “fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent and in many ways trashy”? That last part must have really stung. Trump sued her on behalf of the Miss Universe Organization, which includes the Miss USA pageant, which he owns. He said her malicious accusations cost him a $5 million sponsorship from British Petroleum. She’s amazed that BP visited her page. Trump got an arbitrator, a retired federal judge, to back him up and recently he asked a U.S. District Court judge to confirm the award that would send the 27-year-old brunette to the poor house. She won’t back down: the contest is rigged. This whole thing is just not right, on so many levels, but maybe a pound of flesh would suit him better. If so, he should cut that deal, and then leave her alone.
President Obama has lots of opposition; in fact, his presidency is supporting a whole conservative industry profiting from his time in office. One of those overly ambitious guys is Ben Shapiro, who writes for the right-wing web site Breitbart.com. He took a legitimate inquiry from a Daily News journalist, Dan Friedman, and turned it into a wildly stupid rumor that rocked the internet—just because Shapiro and his ilk are so hungry to drag Obama down. In this instance, Friedman had called a Congressional Republican source to wonder whether Chuck Hagel, then Obama’s embattled nominee to be secretary of defense (since confirmed by the Senate), had ever given speeches to controversial groups that might scuttle Hagel’s chances. For instance, Friedman joked, had Hagel ever given a speech to the Friends of Hamas or the Junior League of Hezbollah? Of course, those groups were hypothetical but when the source blabbed to Shapiro—another no-no because the query was supposed to be confidential—the hypothetical part became more than theoretical. Shapiro rashly called the White House for comment on the false allegation that Hagel had given a speech to the Friends of Hamas. Understandably, the spokesman hung up on him. But Shapiro played it this way: “Secret Hagel donor?: White House spox ducks question on ‘Friends of Hamas.’” There used to be a motto at the Wall Street Journal’s copy desk: “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.”
Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army
The personnel in this army unit is waging their cyberwarfare against American targets from a 12-story building near Shanghai. An American computer security firm, Mandiant, recently traced the systematic disruptions of more than 140 U.S. firms ranging from telecom, transportation, high-tech, and aerospace businesses and other groups to these shady operatives that call themselves the Comment Crew or Shanghai Group. They don’t sound like a rogue operation. More likely they are fully aligned with that part of China’s ruling elite which encourages industrial espionage, intellectual property theft, black market rip-offs, phony products, unsafe pharmaceuticals, dangerous working conditions and corrupt currency manipulation. In other words, they’re just not nice people.
Remember that Northern California woman who was convicted of planting a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili? That was in 2005 when she wanted to sue the restaurant for the disgusting deed that she’d actually done herself. Recently Ayala, 47, was arrested for making up another story, although this one had nothing to do with fast food, thank goodness. She claimed her 26-year-old son, a felon according to news reports, had been shot in the ankle by two unknown assailants. But she really sent police on a wild goose chase because her kid had shot himself, and he wasn’t supposed to have a firearm and ammo. The truth is best served cold.
Oscar Pistorius and Hilton Botha
They call Pistorius the “Bladerunner” for his prosthetic prowess at the Olympics and they dub Botha “Inspector Clouseau” for the way the South African police detective has botched the murder investigation of the death of Reeva Steenkamp, the blonde model shot to death in Pistorius’s bathroom on Valentine’s Day. Four times at least. As she cowered behind the door. The sprinter told prosecutors he thought she was an intruder. Botha, the first forensic sleuth to arrive, contaminated the crime scene with his blundering and contradicted his own testimony on the stand during Pistorius’s bail hearing. Now Botha is off the case because a 2011 attempted murder case against him and two other cops has been reinstated—they’re charged with firing on a packed minibus taxi. We don’t know if Pistorius has a leg to stand on—he sobbed as he recounted the tragic night—but neither man gets our vote of sympathy.
Remember what happened aboard the Carnival Triumph last month? A fire broke out and left the ship powerless in the Gulf of Mexico for five days. Some 4,200 passengers coped with overflowing toilets, the stench of shit everywhere, no electricity and nothing but cold food—if they had the stomach to eat anything. Remember what happened to the Carnival Splendor? In 2010 the cruise ship lost power when a fire knocked out its electrical systems and stranded 4,500 passengers off the California coast. Arison—the lucky bastard—was not on board either time. He is the chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator. If his company doesn’t learn its lesson and install a back-up plan, then he belongs in the brig. Let him be the example for an unregulated industry that looks like it has pirates at the helm.
Many colorful public figures serve in the New York State Assembly but perhaps Brooklyn’s Dov Hikind should not have donned blackface, an Afro wig, and an orange basketball jersey when he attended a costume party celebrating the Purim holiday. The conservative Orthodox Jew did not do the Brooklyn Nets any favors. The constituents in his predominantly white district may not see the harm of his minstrel show but the offensive stereotype runs deep. And, witting or not, he perpetuated it. If he had to find comic relief in the NBA, Hikind would have been better off impersonating James Dolan.
The worse thing Fire Island’s nude bathers should have to fear is a severe case of sunburn, but now Fire Island chief ranger Lena Koschmann plans to slap their fannies with some serious fines if they’re caught in the buff. Okay, so there are no lifeguards, bathrooms or trash cans on Lighthouse Beach, the most popular venue for letting it all hang out, as they say, but surely the authorities didn’t have to be so prudish to the nudists. The chief didn’t have to confront this conundrum in Alaska, her previous post, but the bare truth here is that these folks like to celebrate their natural state and New York is the place to do that right, within reason of course. We could understand if the rangers—six on staff are responsible for overseeing 32 miles of sand and surf—wanted to look the other way. But now they’ll have their hands full on that strip.
Sadly, Italian elections have become a long-running gag but giving Beppe Grillo, a former comedian, the power to make or break Italy’s political future is no laughing matter. The hoarse-voiced, shaggy-haired anti-establishment 64-year-old entertainer says he was merely the spokesman for the Five Star Movement and didn’t really anticipate that his party would actually have to govern in parliament. But the M5S, as it’s known, won enough seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the senate to make this jokester the key player in this embattled country’s future. And by splitting the left, disillusioning his grassroots supporters and making a grand nuisance of himself, he’ll just end up handing over the keys to the demagogue Silvio Berlusconi and let that corrupt billionaire clown around with the eurozone’s third-largest economy, which could adversely affect the world. And that’s no joke.