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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hairdresser turns robber into sex-slave

Olga (image from

A hairdresser from the small Russian town of Meshchovsk has subdued a man who tried to rob her shop, and then raped him for three days in the utility room, reports.

The incident occurred on Saturday, March 14. The working day was coming to an end at a small hairdressers, when a man armed with a gun rushed in and demanded the day’s earnings.

The frightened employees and customers agreed to fulfill his demand, but when the shop’s owner, 28-year-old Olga, was handing the money to the robber, she suddenly knocked him down on the floor and then tied him up with a hairdryer cord. The 32-year-old Viktor couldn’t have known that the woman was a yellow belt in karate.

Olga locked the unlucky robber in the utility room and told her colleagues that she was going to call the police – but didn’t do so. When everybody left home, she approached the man and ordered him to ‘take of his underpants’ threatening to hand him over to the police if he refuses to cooperate.

After that Olga raped her hostage for three long days. She chained Viktor to the radiator with pink furry handcuffs and fed him Viagra.

She eventually let the man go on Monday, March 16, saying: “Get out of my sight!”

Viktor went straight to hospital as his genitals were injured, and then to the police.

Olga was resentful when she was taken by the police.

“What a bastard,” the woman said about Viktor. “Yes, we had sex a couple of times. But I’ve bought him new jeans, gave him food and even gave him 1.000 roubles (around $ 30) when he left.”

After that she wrote a notice to the police claiming the man tried to rob her shop.

Both Olga and Viktor may now face prison terms. The woman could be convicted of rape, while the man of robbery.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Simon Cowell to Susan Boyle: "Get yourself together"
By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES - Television's Simon Cowell said on Friday he was embarrassed at his initial reaction to British singing sensation Susan Boyle, but warned that just because she is a hit with fans, she is not a winner yet.

Cowell, the creator and a judge on "Britain's Got Talent," said he was fed up with stories about the hair, eyebrows and cats of the never-married 47-year-old Boyle, and he urged her to focus now on winning the television talent competition.

"She has got four weeks to prepare for the biggest night of her life, and she has got to sing better than she sang before with all those expectations on her. But it could all go horribly wrong for her because there are so many other distractions," Cowell told TV reporters in Los Angeles.

"Get yourself together sweetheart for the big one -- the semi-final. Shut the door, choose the right song and come back as who you are, not who you want to be," he said.

Boyle, a spinster who lives alone with her cat, became one of the world's hottest celebrities last week after surprising judges with her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" on the popular talent show. Her performance has been watched over 50 million times on YouTube.

"We were all guilty on the panel of judging her before she sang, and we got it utterly wrong. You watch it back and it is embarrassing," said Cowell, who is well-known as the acid-tongued judge on TV talent contest "American Idol."

"Britain's Got Talent" is open to anyone regardless of age or performing skills. It has 40 versions worldwide and the fourth season of the U.S. version, "America's Got Talent," kicks off on NBC on June 23.

"I am seriously thinking now we should hold two more open auditions off the back of Susan Boyle. You don't have to be a singer who is 47 and never been kissed, but just someone who says 'I think I am talented, and I don't think people are going to judge me because of the way I look'," he said.

Recording executive Cowell, who has an option to sign Boyle if she wins the British talent show, shuttles weekly between Los Angeles and London as the judge on "American Idol" and "Britain's Got Talent."

But he dismissed suggestions that his life was stressful. "It's only stress when it doesn't work," he said. "I don't feel under any stress whatsoever when something like the Susan Boyle thing emerges. It is honestly the best feeling in the world."

'Golden Girls' star Bea Arthur dies at 86
TV News
April 25, 2009, 2:55 PM EST

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Beatrice Arthur, the tall, deep-voiced actress whose razor-sharp delivery of comedy lines made her a TV star in the hit shows "Maude" and "The Golden Girls" and who won a Tony Award for the musical "Mame," died Saturday. She was 86.

Arthur died peacefully at her Los Angeles home with her family at her side, family spokesman Dan Watt said. She had cancer, Watt said, declining to give further details.

"She was a brilliant and witty woman," said Watt, who was Arthur's personal assistant for six years. "Bea will always have a special place in my heart."

Arthur first appeared in the landmark comedy series "All in the Family" as Edith Bunker's loudly outspoken, liberal cousin, Maude Finley. She proved a perfect foil for blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), and their blistering exchanges were so entertaining that producer Norman Lear fashioned Arthur's own series.

In a 2008 interview with The Associated Press, Arthur said she was lucky to be discovered by TV after a long stage career, recalling with bemusement CBS executives asking about the new "girl."

"I was already 50 years old.

I had done so much off-Broadway, on Broadway, but they said, 'Who is that girl? Let's give her her own series,'" Arthur said.

"Maude" scored with television viewers immediately on its CBS debut in September 1972, and Arthur won an Emmy Award for the role in 1977.

The comedy flowed from Maude's efforts to cast off the traditional restraints that women faced, but the series often had a serious base. Her husband Walter (Bill Macy) became an alcoholic, and she underwent an abortion, which drew a torrent of viewer protests. Maude became a standard bearer for the growing feminist movement in America.

The ratings of "Maude" in the early years approached those of its parent, "All in the Family," but by 1977 the audience started to dwindle. A major format change was planned, but in early 1978 Arthur announced she was quitting the show.

"It's been absolutely glorious; I've loved every minute of it," she said. "But it's been six years, and I think it's time to leave."

"Golden Girls" (1985-1992) was another groundbreaking comedy, finding surprising success in a television market increasingly skewed toward a younger, product-buying audience.

The series concerned three retirees — Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan — and the mother of Arthur's character, Estelle Getty, who lived together in a Miami apartment. In contrast to the violent "Miami Vice," the comedy was nicknamed "Miami Nice."

As Dorothy Zbornak, Arthur seemed as caustic and domineering as Maude. She was unconcerned about the similarity of the two roles. "Look — I'm 5-feet-9, I have a deep voice and I have a way with a line," she told an interviewer. "What can I do about it? I can't stay home waiting for something different. I think it's a total waste of energy worrying about typecasting."

The interplay among the four women and their relations with men fueled the comedy, and the show amassed a big audience and 10 Emmys, including two as best comedy series and individual awards for each of the stars.

In 1992, Arthur announced she was leaving "Golden Girls." The three other stars returned in "The Golden Palace," but it lasted only one season.

Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in New York City in 1922. When she was 11, her family moved to Cambridge, Md., where her father opened a clothing store. At 12 she had grown to full height, and she dreamed of being a petite blond movie star like June Allyson. There was one advantage of being tall and deep-voiced: She was chosen for the male roles in school plays.

Bernice — she hated the name and adopted her mother's nickname of Bea — overcame shyness about her size by winning over her classmates with wisecracks. She was elected the wittiest girl in her class. After two years at a junior college in Virginia, she earned a degree as a medical lab technician, but she "loathed" doing lab work at a hospital.

Acting held more appeal, and she enrolled in a drama course at the New School of Social Research in New York City. To support herself, she sang in a night spot that required her to push drinks on customers.

During this time she had a brief marriage that provided her stage name of Beatrice Arthur. In 1950, she married again, to Broadway actor and future Tony-winning director Gene Saks.

After a few years in off-Broadway and stock company plays and television dramas, Arthur's career gathered momentum with her role as Lucy Brown in the 1955 production of "The Threepenny Opera."

In 2008, when Arthur was inducted in the TV Academy Hall of Fame, Arthur pointed to the role as the highlight of her long career.

"A lot of that had to do with the fact that I felt, 'Ah, yes, I belong here,'" Arthur said.

More plays and musicals followed, and she also sang in nightclubs and played small roles in TV comedy shows.

Then, in 1964, Harold Prince cast her as Yente the Matchmaker in the original company of "Fiddler on the Roof."

Arthur's biggest Broadway triumph came in 1966 as Vera Charles, Angela Lansbury's acerbic friend in the musical "Mame," directed by Saks. Richard Watts of the New York Post called her performance "a portrait in acid of a savagely witty, cynical and serpent-tongued woman."

She won the Tony as best supporting actress and repeated the role in the unsuccessful film version that also was directed by Saks, starring Lucille Ball as Mame. Arthur would play a variation of Vera Charles in "Maude" and "The Golden Girls."

In 1983, Arthur attempted another series, "Amanda's," an Americanized version of John Cleese's hilarious "Fawlty Towers." She was cast as owner of a small seaside hotel with a staff of eccentrics. It lasted a mere nine episodes.

Between series, Arthur remained active in films and theater. Among the movies: "That Kind of Woman" (1959), "Lovers and Other Strangers" (1970), Mel Brooks ' "The History of the World: Part I" (1981), "For Better or Worse" (1995).

The plays included Woody Allen's "The Floating Light Bulb" and "The Bermuda Avenue Triangle," written by and costarring Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna. During 2001 and 2002 she toured the country in a one-woman show of songs and stories, "... And Then There's Bea."

Arthur and Saks divorced in 1978 after 28 years. They had two sons, Matthew and Daniel. In his long career, Saks won Tonys for "I Love My Wife," "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "Biloxi Blues." One of his Tony nominations was for "Mame."

In 1999, Arthur told an interviewer of the three influences in her career: "Sid Caesar taught me the outrageous; (method acting guru) Lee Strasberg taught me what I call reality; and ('Threepenny Opera' star) Lotte Lenya, whom I adored, taught me economy."

In recent years, Arthur made guest appearances on shows including "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Malcolm in the Middle." She was chairwoman of the Art Attack Foundation, a non-profit performing arts scholarship organization.

Arthur is survived by her sons and two granddaughters. No funeral services are planned.

25 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Your Body and Health
Fascinating facts on nutrition, exercise, sex and more.

In the spirit of those annoying, addictive, you-know-you're-reading-them-even-though-you-wish-you-weren't Facebook notes popping up everywhere, presents its list of 25 random things you might not know about the human body, nutrition and exercise, sex, sickness, and health. Go ahead: Pass it on to your friends.

1. Rinsing your nose with salt water can help keep you healthy and ward off allergy symptoms. Nasal irrigation is a cheap and easy way to find relief if you have spring allergies, nasal congestion, stuffy noses or post-nasal drip, says Dr. Melissa Pynnonen, co-director of the Michigan Sinus Center and an assistant professor in the University of Michigan's department of otolaryngology.

2. Dogs can smell cancer and low blood sugar. The Pine Street Foundation, a cancer-education and research center in San Anselmo, Calif., published a study showing it was possible to train dogs to identify, based on breath samples, which patients had lung and breast cancer. Now the organization is recruiting ovarian cancer patients and dogs for a new study. In diabetics, the presence of ketones—substances made by the body during the metabolic process—can be smelled in urine and on the breath when blood sugars are high. Dogs can pick up on other smells that humans can’t when glucose levels drop.

3. Researchers at Cornell University found that people who pass through an entryway near the kitchen tend to eat 15 percent more than those who use the front door.

4. You're more likely to have a heart attack on a Monday, or up to three days after you've been diagnosed with the flu or a respiratory tract infection. The risk of dying from a heart attack increases by a third during outbreaks of the flu and related respiratory diseases, found researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The study authors estimate that 90,000 coronary deaths could be prevented a year in the United States if more heart patients simply got a flu shot.

5. You can't get a tan from your computer screen. The Computer Tan Web site was created as a hoax to raise awareness about skin cancer.

6. Obese people spend approximately $485 more on clothing, $828 on extra plane seats, and $36 more on gas each year than their thinner counterparts. Researchers say an overweight driver burns about 18 additional gallons of gas a year. Plus-sized clothing costs 10 percent to 15 percent more than smaller-sized clothes. When it comes to jet fuel, a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicineestimated that the extra weight of obese Americans caused airlines to spend $275 million to burn 350 million more gallons of fuel.

7. Smokers are four times as likely to report feeling unrested after a night's sleep than nonsmokers. Smokers often experience withdrawal symptoms at night, thus causing periods of restlessness and waking. Smokers were also 1.69 times as likely to develop hearing loss than non-smokers, as smoking may affect antioxidative mechanisms or the blood vessels that feed the auditory system.1

8. Eating fruits and vegetables may help the human body make its own aspirin. Findings from the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistryindicate that study participants who received benzoic acid, a natural substance in fruits and vegetables, could make their own salicylic acid, the key component that gives aspirin its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

9. A 20-minute nap can improve your overall alertness, boost your mood, and increase productivity. William Anthony, co-author of The Art of Napping at Work (Larson Publications, 1999),says the post-nap boost can last for several hours. In addition, your heart may reap benefits from napping. In a six-year study of Greek adults, researchers found that that men who took naps at least three times a week had a 37 percent lower risk of heart-related death.

10. Your kitchen sink is dirtier than your bathroom: There are typically more than 500,000 bacteria per square inch in its drain. The faucet, basin, and sponge are crawling with germs as well. Bacteria colonies with a total population exceeding 50 million can live on a single dirty sponge. And just think—that's what you use to wipe down countertops, forks and drinking glasses.

11. Four out of five doctors in the UK don't work out enough. Heavy workloads, lack of time and poor motivation contributed to the lack of exercise.2

12. Baking soda can whiten teeth, garlic can help treat athlete's foot, and honey can soothe a hangover.

13. Using a food diary can double a person's weight-loss efforts. Your food diary makes you accountable to yourself and provides you with clues on where the extra calories are sneaking in.

14. Regular exercise can lower a woman's cancer risk—but only if she's getting enough sleep. The National Cancer Institute followed 5,968 women for almost 10 years, during which 604 of them developed some form of cancer. Women in the top half of physical activity levels showed an approximate 20 percent reduction in cancer risk compared to those who exercised less. For a segment of those women, sleeping less than seven hours per night had a decreased benefit to exercise. Their cancer risk was greater than those who exercised but slept more—but still lower than those who exercised the least.

15. Watching yourself run in a mirror can make a treadmill workout go by faster and feel easier.

16. Third-hand smoke—the particles that cling to smokers' hair and clothing and linger in a room long after they've left—is a cancer risk to young children (and pets).

17. Walking against the wind, in the water, or while wearing a backpack burns about 50 more calories per hour than walking with no resistance. People who wear pedometers also tend to burn more calories and lose more weight.

18. Trained sexologists can infer a woman's orgasm history by observing the way she walks.3 In other research news, men find women who wear red sexier than those who wear "cool" colors such as blue and green.

19.Foreign accent syndrome and exploding head syndrome are real (but very rare) medical conditions. The American Sleep Association explains that a person with exploding head syndrome experiences a a loud, indecipherable noise that seems to originate from inside the head.

20. Vitamins don't seem to help older women guard against cancer or heart disease.

21. Some men experience pain, headaches, or sneezing as a result of ejaculation. The increased activity in the nervous system during orgasm may be the culprit in triggering headaches.

22. Germ-killing wipes can spread bacteria from one spot to another if you reuse them. Researchers at the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University in Wales issued their concern on the use of the wipes in hospitals and the importance of a routine surveillance program in reducing risks of infection to patients.

23. Oatmeal, citrus fruits, and honey can boost your sex drive and improve fertility. Oats produce a chemical that releases testosterone into the blood supply, increasing sex drive and orgasm strength. Vitamin C found in citrus fruits improves sperm count and motility, while vitamin B from honey helps the body use estrogen, a key factor in blood flow and arousal.

24. Twenty-nine percent of Americans say they have skipped filling a prescription due to the cost, and 23 percent use pill splitting as a way to save money.

25. Facebook may be good for your health: Studies show that staying in touch with family and friends can ward off memory loss and help you live longer.

10 Surefire Ways to Tick Off Your Co-workers
By Kate Lorenz, Editor

Let's face it, not everyone gets along perfectly. To be successful in your work, you at least need the respect and support of others -- your customers, suppliers, co-workers and management. But sometimes, despite your best efforts to win their support, bad habits creep into your daily work life and drive others crazy.

Here are 10 surefire ways to make sure your efforts to win their support don't backfire. If any sound familiar, you could be leaving your co-workers fuming.

1. Is it always all about you?
Are you preoccupied with your own career path and looking good at the expense of others? Do you put others down while you pump yourself up? Instead, conduct yourself in such a way that other people will want to see you succeed -- let their genuine support and admiration of who you are pull you to success.

2. Answering cell phone calls during meetings.
A surefire way to aggravate people is to consistently respond to calls, e-mails and pagers when in conversation with others. This sends a message that they are less important than the caller. Let the calls go and return them when your current conversation is over. If you are expecting an urgent call, alert those present. They will appreciate that you value their time and that you stay focused on matters at hand.

3. Sending voice mails that go on and on and on.
At the end of a voice message, replay it and hear how you sound. Difficulty in getting to the point? Just like giving a speech - state your objective or main message first and follow it with brief, supporting sub-points. Some people prefer voice mail, some e-mail - each workplace has its own expectations.

4. Acting like a bureaucrat.
Do you drag out turnaround times and play control games? Do you create obstacles or barriers for others to do their work? Making mountains out of molehills is another surefire way to alienate people. Teach people how to navigate your organization efficiently, knowing when to stick with the rules and when to break them.

5. Reading the newspaper or hammering on your laptop during training sessions or meetings.
Yes, there are way too many meetings and you've got more important things to do. Yet doing non-relevant tasks when there is a set agenda sends a clear message that this event or these people are unimportant to you. Instead, be fully focused - chances are if you completely engage, you will make important contributions while you show you are a committed team player.

6. "I'm like, ya know..."
You are your words even more so in virtual relationships. You may be communicating with people worldwide who know you only by the sound of your voice or the tone of your e-mails. Become conscious of how you use language and stop communicating in ways that cause you to sound inexperienced or unprofessional. Ask those you trust and respect for feedback.

7. Doing your bills at the office.
Whether you are paying your bills, planning your wedding, or placing an online order for a special gift, avoid doing them on office time. People understand short personal calls and respect emergencies, but they don't appreciate seeing you get paid to manage your life.

8. Skirting around the dress code.
Ask 10 companies to define business casual and you have 10 different definitions. Dressing for work has never been more complicated - especially if you work at multiple locations. Prioritize matching your customer's dress code and if visiting more than one on a given day and the codes conflict, go for a classic, neutral look and be prepared to flex - adding or losing a jacket or tie between locations.

9. Taking it too easy on telecommute days.
Run a few errands and throw in a load of laundry? Hey, you're a hard worker and deserve work-life balance. Telecommuting can be a tremendous win-win but if you stretch it to its limits, you may blow the policy for yourself and others. Meet your deadlines, be readily available during business hours and do great work -- skip the temptation to make it appear like you are working but you're really not.

10. Acting unethically.
Make sure you are clear on your organization's ethics policies and have the courage and conviction to uphold them. It's easy to draw the line on major violations but watch for the subtle ways you may be pulling others in the wrong direction to achieve goals -- massaging numbers or data, violating copyright, or providing misleading information. Raise the ethics bar high and hold yourself and others to it.

Early video of Susan Boyle singing emerges
Britain’s The Daily Mirror found a two decades-old video of the singer
Access Hollywood

Scottish reality show singer lights up the Internet and captures attention across the globe.

It’s been a big week for Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle. She got a makeover, admitted she has actually been kissed, and she tackled several new interviews across the globe. But it was also a time for her fans to look back.

On Friday morning, Britain’s The Daily Mirror, published a video they obtained of the “Britain’s Got Talent” breakout star, singing over two decades ago in a pub.

The clip, filmed at a golden wedding party for Boyle’s beloved parents — Patrick and Bridget — shows a short-haired Susan in a wide collared-dress, emotionally singing for the room.

Boyle appeared as shy as she came across in promo spots for “Britain’s Got Talent,” and it appears she was shy while singing to her family as well.

In the clip, Boyle kept her arms folded across her chest, while one hand rested on her face. Still, her stance did nothing to detract from the beauty of her voice.

“It was a very emotional night. It goes quiet when Susan sings, it always does,” Susan’s brother Gerry said, recalling the evening, 23 years ago. “She always has that effect.”

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How To Float Alive On A Freelance Life
by Cityzen | Jill V. Palarca

Being a Freelancer is not a very popular mode of income earning here in the Philippines. I know a handful of people, mostly involved in graphics, video editing or writing who have been successful in peddling their expertise. I also know some who unfortunately have to go back to a regular job for many reasons. Fortunately, I have managed to thrive on being a full-time freelance writer for the past 4 years.

Going Freelance is indeed a leap of faith. I know a lot of people who drag themselves to work everyday. They complain about their jobs but whenever I dare them to quit and seek their calling, they always say that they cannot live with the risk of not earning regularly. That's a practical reason. Nobody really wants to go hungry. With prices going up and glaring on our various domestic responsibilities, it's no wonder why most people would rather get stuck on a desk.

But to those who are tinkering with the idea of going freelance, let me assure you first that it's one of the most fulfilling decisions I have ever made in my life. As with everything else, it has its Pain and Pleasure. The pain of course is unstable income. The pleasure is increased income. So basically there's a median point to it. Like with everything else, success can be achieved with strategy. I'm not a big expert on this but based on my experience, let me share to you the Top 10 things I have learned:


If your boss doesn't say "Don't be a stranger!" after he gives you your exit interview then freelancing might be a little challenging. Even if you hated your boss, it would be better to be at least "showbiz-friendly" to him/her. In my case, when I resigned from a popular music channel after slaving for about 5 years, it was a good thing that I was still friends with "most" of the key people there who eventually gave me freelance projects. You will find out sooner or later that it's a small world after all. You will still need these people to give you jobs, and their recommendations can also land you some. It's all about networking. Be ma-chika because the sad truth is more than half of the time, you may not get projects based on your talents but rather on the basis of a peer recommendation. It's not what you know but it's who you know!


That's not a typo. I mean to write "last" instead of "first". It only means that in the freelance world, you're only as good as your last project. This is so true especially when you're working with a client for the first time. I had the misfortune of experiencing this during my first foray into hard-core freelancing. I've had excellent work prior to accepting this certain project but of course they can only believe what they see. So regardless of my extensive work portfolio, this first-time client could not look past the mediocre script I presented. That explains why I haven't received a call from them ever since. Tsk tsk.


Being on a pajama payroll (my term for working from home) should not give you any license to be a slacker. Working from home may have reduced the tensions of an office but it can increase distractions. In my case it's the Internet (blogging, surfing, Diner Dash games, hehe), cable TV, cooking, cleaning, washing the dishes, folding the laundry, attending to my son (tutoring him, and most of the time just wrangling with him to keep him behaved), errands (groceries, bill payments, etc). or if you're single, the bed!

So even if you are not in an office cubicle anymore, working from home should still entail some form of order. Contrary to popular belief, working from home requires a more scheduled clockwork lifestyle because aside from work, each day will surely be dotted with domestic demands.


Still on the issue of schedules, I really suggest that as much as you should keep a working week calendar, freelancers should still keep weekends as weekends. That's one major pet peeve I have about clients. Just because they know that you're a freelancer, you are immediately perceived as a beggar. It's true that we are grateful to receive gigs from them but freelance professionals are no different from regular employees. I still go to Church every Sunday and I would like to keep it that way, thank you very much. But of course, freelancers can't just bellow at their clients and say "Don't bother calling or texting me on weekends, I'm not available." Unless, the project deadline or the event really lands on a weekend, I highly suggest keeping your weekends sacred by not replying to any text message or e-mail. This will send the message that you are currently engaged. If they do call, don't pick up right away. If it's really urgent, they will text. I always base my decision to reply on the magnitude of the emergency. If they don't send an SMS, then I get a hint that it's not an SOS.


I guess this applies to everyone who's earning, but more especially for freelancers like me. Since the biggest con in freelancing is the unstable income, you should be able to have good stewardship of your finances to reduce the probability of a hand-to-mouth existence. In my sphere of freelance writing, I concentrate on 3 areas: Events, Television and Marketing. The Events industry would be the highest paying of all and this is where I really get the thickest slice of the butter. The going rates for scripts range from P8,000-P25,000 per event, depending on the scale of the event. So this is where the pleasure of freelancing comes in. Imagine, what one person can normally earn in a month can be earned tax free on one night.

Another good thing about writing for events, especially the corporate ones, is that they're fairly easy to do; your creativity is not that challenged but gets stirred anyway; and most of all, they require the least time of client correspondence. There are only 3 major phases in this line of work: A) The Initial Project Meeting/Brainstorming, B) The Writing/Editing Session (which you do at home and editing by client is done via e-mail), and C) The Event Day, where the writer's main task is to just make sure the script continuity is observed and assist the host with any additional info or any on-the-spot changes. 99% of the time, you can get your check (talent fee) immediately right after the event. Just make sure the field accountant is within sight.

Check delays rarely happen in on-ground event projects but this is a common nightmare in Television. Ugh. Another con in television writing is the excruciatingly low talent fee. Creatively, it's the best place to be but if you'd rather be monetarily successful, then it's not enough to write for only one TV show, especially when you're writing for a major network.


Just a little less than a month ago, I was faced with 3 prospective TV projects but now I'm getting the sense that they may turn out be mere cold calls. As a freelancer, cold calls are frequent especially when you're looking at TV gigs. That's because putting together a TV show is a more tedious and longer process than a corporate event. Sometimes, the usual problem is the budget issue. Many times before I have fallen prey into putting in some writing and brainstorming work for a TV show in development, only to find out later that the project is going to be shelved.

In the events industry, especially the corporate accounts, project shelving rarely happens. They do once in a while but more often than not if a producer calls me for a corporate event writing gig, it's already all systems go.


This is the trickiest thing I have ever encountered in my freelance career - quoting my talent fee! Basically, it is really beneficial to know your worth. Setting a standard rate allows the producer some space for negotiation. As a freelancer, I only agree to pay cuts depending on the scale of the event, financial reputation of the client, or if it's a favor being done for a friend. Once in a while, I do pro-bono work for the events of PAWS (Philippine Animal Welfare Society) not only because one of its program directors is my suki events producer but also because it's one of the causes that I believe in. Doing goodwill will definitely do a freelancer good. Even if they're done for free, you can still add them to your work portfolio. Plus, don't underestimate the power of networking. These events open up to more prospective clients in many ways.


I learned this the hard way. I had the most number of projects during the same period of my wedding preparations! Suicide, right? Indeed. Sitting on the laurels of being On Demand can easily turn into Greed! At that time, I thought I was doing myself a favor. By taking in as much projects as I can then I can add more moolah to my wedding budget. God proved me wrong. Some of my projects suffered because I had too much on my plate. I was already spreading myself too thinly. Of course, as freelancers, we are always faced with the uncertainty of income that's why sometimes we can fall desperately into these traps of over-booking ourselves. I know some people who can handle it very well but to those mere mortals like me, I suggest to take note of the waves in the events industry. The really lean months are usually after Summer. Yes, I'm currently experiencing some work drought in the middle of storm season. Then they only start to pick up in October to December, then January-February might have some dip but it can immediately pick up in March all the way to May.

In connection with Tip # 7, I advise that you only take a pay cut on the first project (if the pay cut was due to budget constraints). If the 2nd project with the same events producer involves a bigger project for a financially fit company then it's just fair to gracefully set a higher talent fee. But then again, that all really depends on your discernment. If you're strapped for cash then I think scraps will do. Ouch!


Since income is unstable, one of the flipsides of freelancing is independent management of paperwork. As regular employees, we get to enjoy healthcare, some insurance and we have the company's finance department filing our taxes and SSS contributions for us. As a freelancer, you are solely on your own. It was such a hassle filing my ITR early this year. It pays though to have an accountant friend who can teach you the "tricks" to check and balance your returns. It's so easy to be irresponsible about acquiring these benefits especially if you're single because there's a false notion that you still don't need it. But believe me it pays to be good on paper, especially when you're applying for things like credit cards or loans.


You know what, among all of the tips that I have shared to you, there's no other strategy or survival tool that I can really attest to be 100% effective than prayer! The best way to keep floating alive on a freelance life is to hold on to your Faith. Amen!

* About the Author:
Jill is a full-time freelance writer for events, television and marketing support. She is crazy over cupcakes and madly in love with her husband. She blogs at

By Paul Proctor
April 23, 2009

“America’s Pastor,” Rick Warren, was caught last week trying to have it both ways in the same-sex marriage debate, leaving many Christians who viewed his contradictory statements regarding California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage, shocked and disappointed after comparatively viewing them on YouTube. Having chronicled his penchant for pandering and posturing in past articles over the years, it was certainly no surprise to me.

For the ever-pragmatic church growth movement crowd – those who believe that the end justifies the means – this is standard operating procedure – just business as usual. CGM gurus call this doing “whatever it takes” and being “all things to all men,” as if the Apostle Paul encouraged compromise and hypocrisy in 1st Corinthians 9:22.

You can view Warren’s conflicting YouTube video clips at the Lighthouse Trails Research website by clicking on the link immediately below:

Rick Warren on Larry King: Changes Statements on Homosexual Marraige

John Lofton also took Warren to task for these and other gross inconsistencies on his American View radio program, which is well worth taking time to hear.

Then came a young lady from California named Carrie Prejean. In fact, she presently holds the title of Miss California USA. Prejean competed last Sunday night for the national crown in the televised Miss USA Pageant, and after scoring very well, found herself in the top five.

Each of the top-five contestants are traditionally asked a final question by one of the pageant judges as part of the competition and receive a score based upon the answers they give – a score they hope will secure them the title of Miss USA.

By all reports, Miss Prejean was highly favored to win – that is, until she received her controversial question from homosexual judge, Perez Hilton, who asked her this:

"Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage; do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?"
Here’s the answer she gave under tremendous pressure in front of millions of viewers:

"Well, I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. Um, we live in a land that you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what? In my country, and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be – between a man and a woman. Thank you."
In fact, in an interview on The Today Show the next morning, Prejean told host Matt Lauer:

“And, you know, I was ready for my question – and…and when I heard it from him, I knew at that moment, after I had answered the question, I knew that I was not going to win because of my answer…because I had spoken from my heart – from my beliefs and…and for my God,” adding later in the interview, “…it’s not about being politically correct for me – it was being biblically correct.”
And, because of her honest answer, Perez gave Prejean a very low score, which cost her the crown – taking instead, 1st Runner-up.

Whatever you may think of pageant girls, this one from Rick Warren’s own home state, didn’t compromise her convictions to please an audience and get what she wanted – she courageously stood by those convictions even though she knew it would cost her the crown for which she had worked so hard.

Pageant girls have been in the news a lot in recent years, mostly because of their unfortunate off-stage behavior, confusing and uneducated remarks and embarrassing onstage falls – all for the amusement of critics and onlookers. But Sunday night’s pageant controversy, however awkward and uncomfortable it was for some, brought us a brief display of faith and courage that even “America’s Pastor” couldn’t muster for the cameras.

So, thank you, Carrie Prejean, for showing America and “America’s Pastor” what being a Christian really means by willingly sacrificing an earthly crown, and all that comes with it, for the heavenly crown that awaits you.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” – James 1:12

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Apple under fire over iPhone 'Baby Shaker'

WASHINGTON (AFP) - - Apple came under fire after an application for the iPhone called "Baby Shaker" was briefly approved for sale in the company's online store.

The program, which reportedly appeared in Apple's App Store on Monday and cost 99 cents to download, allowed a user to shake an iPhone screen to make a baby stop crying.

After enough shakes, the hand-drawn baby pictured on the screen stopped wailing and a large red "X" appeared over each eye.

Silicon Valley technology blogs reported that the application, from an outside developer called Sikalosoft, was pulled from the App Store several hours after, a website which reviews iPhone applications, revealed its existence.

Tens of thousands of applications for the iPhone have been created by independent developers, but Apple has strict control over which ones are featured in the App Store.

The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, a New York-based group which seeks to prevent brain injuries from so-called Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), strongly condemned the "Baby Shaker" application.

In a statement, it also demanded "a personal apology to parents of SBS victims and survivors" from Apple chief executive Steve Jobs.

"Apple, Inc., which notoriously and routinely rejects new apps from developers with a 'rigorous' vetting process, nonetheless apparently allowed this horrible application to be sold through its store," the Foundation said.

"They're basically saying that killing babies is OK," Patrick Donohue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, told AFP by telephone.

He said he had contacted Apple but had yet to hear back from the company.

The appearance of the "Baby Shaker" comes as California-based Apple prepares to celebrate the billionth application download from the App Store.

A counter at was at more than 995 million downloads at 0030 GMT on Thursday and the billionth download mark was expected to be passed within the next few hours.

New ancient Egypt temples discovered in Sinai
By Hadeel Alshalchi,
Associated Press Writer

CAIRO - Archaeologists exploring an old military road in the Sinai have unearthed four new temples amidst the 3,000-year-old remains of an ancient fortified city that could have been used to impress foreign delegations visiting Egypt, antiquities authorities announced Tuesday.

Among the discoveries was the largest mud brick temple found in the Sinai with an area of 70 by 80 meters (77 by 87 yards) and fortified with mud walls 3 meters (10 feet) thick, said Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The find was made in Qantara, 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) east of the Suez Canal. These temples mark the latest discovery by archaeologists digging up the remains of the city on the military road known as "Way of Horus." Horus is a falcon-headed god, who represented the greatest cosmic powers for ancient Egyptians.

The path once connected Egypt to Palestine and is close to present-day Rafah, which borders the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Archaeologist Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud, chief of the excavation team, said the large brick temple could potentially rewrite the historical and military significance of the Sinai for the ancient Egyptians.

The temple contains four hallways, three stone purification bowls and colorful inscriptions commemorating Ramses I and II. The grandeur and sheer size of the temple could have been used to impress armies and visiting foreign delegations as they arrived in Egypt, authorities said.

The dig has been part of a joint project with the Culture Ministry that started in 1986 to find fortresses along the military road. Hawass said early studies suggested the fortified city had been Egypt's military headquarters from the New Kingdom (1569-1081 B.C.) until the Ptolemaic era, a period lasting about 1500 years.

In a previous find, archaeologists there reported finding the first ever New Kingdom temple to be found in northern Sinai. Studies indicated the temple was built on top of an 18th Dynasty fort (1569-1315 B.C.).

Last year, a collection of reliefs belonging to King Ramses II and King Seti I (1314-1304 B.C.) were also unearthed along with rows of warehouses used by the ancient Egyptian army during the New Kingdom era to store wheat and weapons.

Abdel-Maqsoud said the fortified city corresponded to the inscriptions of the Way of Horus found on the walls of the Karnak Temple in Luxor which illustrated the features of 11 military fortresses that protected Egypt's eastern borders. Only five of them have been discovered to date.

Big Man Tries Beckett
By Charles McGrath

Nathan Lane, left, as Estragon and John Goodman as Pozzo in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” which is now in previews at Studio 54.
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

IN his dressing room last week John Goodman stood up, emitted a long, blaring foghorn blast and then announced in a loudspeaker voice, “Now docking. ...” He was describing his Act I entrance as Pozzo, his first theatrical role in four years, in the Roundabout Theater Company production of “Waiting for Godot,” which opens April 30 at Studio 54.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
John Goodman in his dressing room. He is back onstage for the first time since 2005 in a new production of “Waiting for Godot,” in which he plays Pozzo.

Mr. Goodman is a big man — he’s 6 foot 3, and his weight these days hovers around 300 pounds — and in his Pozzo getup he seems even bigger. He wears a derby, boots and a voluminous riding suit with jodhpurs, and when he comes onstage, at the end of a long rope attached to his hapless slave, Lucky (played by John Glover), he does seem a bit like an ocean liner. Vladimir and Estragon (played by Bill Irwin and Nathan Lane) look astonished, and rightly so.

Pozzo is the least sympathetic and in some ways the trickiest character in “Godot.” He cruelly mistreats Lucky, and yet he is as lost and vulnerable as all the others. He is “an insecure gasbag who needs to be listened to and have things done for him,” as Mr. Goodman put it. “He’s like the Macy’s blimp no one wants to look at.” Pozzo spouts a lot of fustian and hot air, and Mr. Goodman said he was still trying to figure out the right voice for it. His Pozzo speaks in a deep, Goodmanesque rumble but with a lordly British accent.

“It’s just a voice I heard in my head,” Mr. Goodman explained, “along with all the other voices there — the barking dogs and the rest. I need to make it more distinctly American, sort of like Bill Buckley. I’m trying to make it more a patrician Yankee voice, but I worry that’s not going to sell. It’s going to sound like a bad English accent. So it’s something I’m still searching for.”

Mr. Goodman is good at voices. In the course of a hour or so he imitated Peter O’Toole, Joe Franklin, a pretentious critic and an aged horse, complete with snuffling and foot stomping. But there were also sighs, long pauses, Beckett-like silences and moments when Mr. Goodman’s inner critic would cut him off midsentence.

Mr. Goodman, as anyone knows who has seen one of his several “Saturday Night Live” performances, can be a very funny man. His huge face is rubbery and expressive, made for comedy. He moves lightly and is a more than decent blues singer.

Over four decades, appearing in roughly three movies a year, he has played a king, a governor, Babe Ruth and a Stone Age caveman, Fred Flintstone. On “The West Wing” he has been a Republican speaker of the House who temporarily takes over for the president. But as is so often the case with actors his size, he is more often the second banana, the comic foil. His most famous role is Dan Conner, the henpecked husband on “Roseanne.”

In person Mr. Goodman is not the stereotypical jolly fat man. For all his success, he remains full of self-doubt. Compliments make him wince, and his conversational default mode is self-deprecation. He sometimes seems to be eyeing himself with suspicion.

Mr. Goodman’s friend Tom Arnold, whom he got to know during the years he starred on “Roseanne,” said: “John is much too hard on himself. He’s got that thing. I have it too. That fat kid thing. No matter what, we look in a mirror, and that’s what we see. It comes out in a lot of different ways. I’ve seen him pounding walls over a line in a sitcom. Probably it wasn’t even a good line, but John thinks he should have done it better.”

Mr. Goodman, who said he quit drinking a year and a half ago, is trying these days not to beat up on himself so much. “I could never please myself,” he explained. “That’s part of what fuels the alcoholic, I guess. You set yourself impossible goals, and then you kick yourself because you’re not good enough. But I can’t do that every night. I don’t have the energy anymore.”

He added: “I don’t know how much the old Jackie Daniels franchise ruined my memory, which is going anyway, because of my advancing decrepitude. I had a 30-year run, and at the end I didn’t care about anything. I was just fed up with myself. I didn’t even want to be an actor anymore.” Indicating his dressing room and the stage, a floor below, he said, “But this is nice. I like this way it is now — now that I’m in my dotage.” (He gave his age as 84, but he is only 56.)

In an e-mail message Mr. Arnold said he thought Mr. Goodman’s blue-collar roots had something to do with his temperament. He’s a “Midwestern boy who comes from a place where accepting praise and accolades is physically painful and even the hint of confidence in one’s talents is sin No. 1,” he wrote.

Mr. Goodman was born and grew up in Affton, Mo., a working-class suburb of St. Louis. His father, a letter carrier, died when Mr. Goodman was 2, and his mother raised him, a younger sister and an older brother while working as a waitress and a drugstore cashier. He played football in high school — badly, he says — and also acted a bit. He went to junior college for a year and then transferred to Southwest Missouri State. He “wasted a year in the keg,” he said, but then discovered Southwest’s unusually good drama program. Among his classmates were Kathleen Turner and Tess Harper.

In 1975, with a modest bankroll from his brother, Mr. Goodman moved to New York and scrounged for acting work. He found an apartment at Ninth Ave and 51st Street, not far, as it happens, from his current digs at Studio 54. He gave up waiting and bartending, he said, because nobody would hire him. Instead he appeared in dinner theater, did voice-overs and commercials. If you needed a beefy, construction-worker type, Mr. Goodman was your man. He was also the guy who slapped himself in a commercial for Mennen Skin Bracer.

“I did anything I could put my hands on,” he said. “I didn’t have any fallback skills. Eventually I got my Equity card and started making enough money to become a full-time alcoholic.”

Mr. Goodman with Roseanne Barr in "Roseanne."

In 1978 he appeared with Nathan Lane in a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that had, he said, shaking his head, a “disco slant.” “I weighed about 178, and I was Oberon,” he added. “I coulda been a contender.”

The film that put Mr. Goodman on the map was probably “Revenge of the Nerds” (he was the football coach), but he began attracting critical attention with the string of movies that he made with the Coen brothers: “Raising Arizona,” “Barton Fink,” “The Big Lebowski” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Walter, the hotheaded, paranoid, buzz-cut Vietnam vet in “Lebowski” remains his favorite part. In all the Coen brothers’ movies, come to think of it, he plays someone who is either menacing or about to erupt. He’s like a tank of volatile, pressurized hydrogen.

Merrick Morton/Gramercy Pictures
Mr. Goodman at right with Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski.”

And of course Mr. Goodman will forever be associated with Dan Conner, the working stiff he played so memorably on “Roseanne,” giving the part not just size and humor but also an edge of melancholy. Mr. Goodman now looks back fondly on the “Roseanne” years, but for a while, he said, he felt trapped in the show.

“I resented it at the time,” he said. “It’s one of those arrogant things that happen to you when you don’t realize the breaks you’re catching.” He added: “I don’t feel this way anymore, but for a couple of years I put myself above the material. I hate saying it, but it’s true, and I’m ashamed of it.”

20th Century Fox
Mr. Goodman in "Barton Fink" with John Tuturro.

Mr. Goodman hadn’t acted onstage since 2005, when he was Big Daddy in an acclaimed Los Angeles production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and he was initially reluctant to appear in this “Godot.” “I was frightened,” he said. “And I wanted to spend my daughter’s last semester of high school with her, whether she wanted it or not.”

When he is not working, Mr. Goodman lives with his wife, Annabeth Hartzog, and daughter, Molly, in New Orleans, where he moved from Los Angeles a dozen years ago because he was fed up with what he called “collateral tabloid damage.” He dreamed of just fishing and watching “SpongeBob,” he said, until he thought: “You’re an idiot. This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal. It will never come by again.” He sighed. “The New York exposure, the caliber of the other actors, the play itself, which I’d read but never seen — I didn’t think I was up to it all. I had no confidence in myself. So it’s just a matter of throwing myself under the bus and crawling my way out.”

Anthony Page, the director of the production, said: “ ‘Godot’ is actually a very hard play to learn. Nothing is apparently very logical, and there’s nothing to guide you except the words until you get into it.” As for Pozzo, “It’s a very difficult part to take in if you’re not used to being onstage.”

Talking about the early rehearsals Mr. Goodman said: “I was beating my head against the wall. I was trying to hang myself in the jail cell. I couldn’t learn my lines. I came in with them, but I have to know what I’m doing before I can really say them. So I knew them, but they didn’t want to come out, and I worried about holding everyone else up.”

He stood up, took a long swig of Fiji water and went on: “Right now I feel I need to bring things down a bit. I don’t trust myself to make things clear. It’s just a matter of rocking back and trusting the material and the people I’m with.” He added, talking about the previews: “Pozzo is one of those fortunate roles. It’s not quite actor-proof, but it’s been playing so well. The house is listening. The language is beautiful. You just have to trust it — a lot more than I trust myself.”

Mr. Goodman is “wonderfully game,” Mr. Page said, adding: “He has this large, outsize character, and he keeps trying things. And his size is so amazing. He has a wonderful, odd sense of humor that just takes off, a wonderful gift for spontaneous playing.”

Mr. Page knew Beckett and worked with him on an early revival of the play at the Royal Court Theater in London in 1964. “Beckett was very precise,” he recalled. “He didn’t want theories or any level of intellectualizing. He paid a lot of attention to the tone of voice and to the relationships among the characters. And he cared a great deal about the silences and the pauses.”

Pointing to the set, a barren, rocky mountain pass designed by Santo Loquasto, he added: “I feel a bit guilty. Beckett’s stage directions call for a bare stage. But I felt that in such a big theater, with such a large stage, we had to have a set. I don’t know whether he would have approved.”

About the cast, he said, he felt more secure. “Beckett was very free about actors,” he said. “And these performances — oh yes, I think he would have approved of them.”

Mr. Goodman said: “Right now I’d rather be here than anywhere. I’d rather be here, trying to find the goddamn part, and I hope I never do find it, because I don’t want to slide into complacency. What would I do then? Start cockfights in my dressing room?”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Couple's noisy sex woke their deaf neighbour
By Alaistair Taylor

Bedroom ... noisy Caroline with hubby Steve
North News & Pictures Ltd

RANDY Caroline Cartwright was fined yesterday—over sex sessions so noisy they woke her partially deaf neighbour.

Din-doors ... couple's home

Caroline, 47, was served with a noise abatement notice last year over her bedroom antics with factory worker hubby Steve, 46.

But the couple’s raucous romps continued — with fed-up neighbours reporting “moaning, groaning, screaming and even SLAPPING”.

One said the racket was like domestic violence.

Environmental Health officials built up a catalogue of 23 recordings, made through one neighbour’s soundproofed walls.


And Sunderland JPs heard the tapes on headphones before declaring the romps a “statutory nuisance”.

Rachel O’Connor, who taped the sessions in Washington, Tyne and Wear, said: “I heard sounds of a sexual nature—really loud. It came from both parties.”

Partially-deaf Margery Ball told officials she had not had a full night’s sleep in two years due to the Cartwrights—wed 25 years.

Anne Dimmock, who also lives close to the pair’s terraced home, said: “It’s a very loud noise. I thought it was domestic violence, it was that unnatural.”

Caroline denied breaching the abatement order, telling JPs: “I can’t understand why people ask me to be quiet. It’s normal to me.”

But she was found guilty and fined £200 with £300 costs. She also got an Asbo banning excess noise including screaming or shouting.

Thursday to be 'Talk Like Shakespeare Day', thou scurvy knave; keep random insult generator handy
By Chris Jones

On Monday, Mayor Richard Daley is to announce that Thursday, William Shakespeare's 445th birthday, is to be "Talk Like Shakespeare Day," an occasion for Chicagoans to import the spoken words of the Bard of Avon into their everyday conversations.

Because today is April 20 rather than April 1, we'll assume the mayoral proclamation is both legit and sincerely made. Soft! On Thursday, verily, haply we'll hear Shakespearean language in all kinds of Chicago settings. Alack! Prithee! Mark me well!

At City Hall, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) to Ald. Richard Mell (33rd): "Foolery, sir, doth walk about the orb like the sun. It shines everywhere."

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, in impromptu statement outside home: "Thieves for their robbery have authority, when judges steal themselves."

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald (when told): "Foul devil, for God's sake hence, and trouble us not;

"For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell, Fill'd it with cursing cries and deep exclaims."

At O'Hare, Terminal 1 announcement: "Any unattended baggage will be picked up by the Chicago police department. And remember, journeys end in lovers' meetings. Every wise man's son doth know."

On the Red Line, the CTA voice guy: "To be Bryn Mawr, or not to be Bryn Mawr. That is the question."

At City Hall news conference, Daley, cross-gartered like Malvolio: "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you."

Miss. woman gets shot in head, makes tea
Woman with a bullet through her brain offers deputy something to drink
The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A Mississippi woman who was shot in the head not only survived but made herself tea and offered an astonished deputy something to drink, authorities said Friday.

Tammy Sexton, 47, remained hospitalized three days after being wounded by her husband, who killed himself after he shot his wife. She is expected to fully recover.

"There's no way she should be alive other than a miracle from God," said Sheriff Mike Byrd of Jackson County, Miss.

Byrd said deputies were looking for Sexton's husband, Donald Ray Sexton, earlier in the week to give him a document ordering him to stay away from his wife. Court records show he was convicted of domestic violence and put on probation April 9 for six months.

He showed up at their home in rural Jackson County in southeast Mississippi about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday and confronted his wife as a relative ran next door to call police, the sheriff said.

"She was at her bed, and he shot her right in the head," Byrd said. "Then he went out on the back porch and shot himself."

The slug from a .380-caliber handgun struck Tammy Sexton squarely in the forehead, passed through her skull and exited through the back of her head, Byrd said. A deputy arrived within minutes and was greeted by the woman.

"When the officer got there she said, 'What's going on?' She was holding a rag on her head and talking. She was conscious, but she was confused about what had happened," he said. "She had made herself some tea and offered the officer something to drink."

Byrd said the bullet apparently passed through the lobes of the woman's brain without causing major damage. She was rushed to a Mobile hospital by a helicopter.

While such cases may be rare, medical journals confirm people have been shot in the head with little or no lasting injury.

"It's bizarre. You just don't hear of something like this. Somebody gets shot in the head and they're dead," Byrd said.

Who boycotted, who walked out of racism talks
By The Associated Press

Here are countries that are boycotting the U.N. conference on racism in Geneva this week:







_New Zealand


_United States

Here are countries that walked out of the conference to protest the attack on Israel by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

_European Union members, including:






_Czech Republic (has left the conference for good)



















_St. Kitts and Nevis

In quotes: Ahmadinejad speech

Diplomats have walked out of a UN conference on racism during a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Here are some key quotes from his address:

"The victorious powers [of the world wars] call themselves the conquerors of the world, while ignoring or down-treading the rights of other nations by the imposition of oppressive laws and international arrangements."

"Following World War Two, they resorted to making an entire nation homeless on the pretext of Jewish suffering. They sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine. In compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive, racist regime in Palestine."

"It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defending those racist perpetrators of genocide, whilst the awakened consciences and free-minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutality and the bombardment of civilians of Gaza."

"[Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were] a clear example of egocentrism, racism, discrimination or infringement upon the dignity and independence of nations."

"Today, the human community is facing a kind of racism which has tarnished the image of humanity. In the beginning of the third millennium, the word Zionism personifies racism, that falsely resorts to religion and abuses religious sentiments to hide hatred."

"Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and their supporters of political and international means... Governments must be encouraged and supported in the fight aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism and moving towards reforming the current international mechanisms."

"You are all aware of the conspiracy of some powers and Zionist circles against the goals and objectives of this conference... It should be recognised that boycotting such a session is a true indication of supporting the blatant example of racism."

Auschwitz tattoos help victims reunite
Two men find each other after surviving concentration camp 65 years ago
The Associated Press

Israelis visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 19. The annual Israeli memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust of World War II begins at sundown Monday.
Sebastian Scheiner / AP

JERUSALEM - As terrified teenagers 65 years ago, Menachem Sholowicz and Anshel Sieradzki stood in line together in Auschwitz, having serial numbers tattooed on their arms. Sholowicz was B-14594; Sieradzki was B-14595.

The two Polish Jews had never met, they never spoke and they were quickly separated. Each survived the Nazi death camp, moved to Israel, married, and became grandfathers. They didn't meet again until a few weeks ago, having stumbled upon each other through the Internet. Late in life, the two men speak daily, suddenly partners who share their darkest traumas.

"We are blood brothers," said Sieradzki, 81. "The moment I meet someone who was there with me, who went through what I went though, who saw what I saw, who felt what I felt — at that moment we are brothers."

The twist of fate doesn't end there. Two brothers who were with them in the tattooist's line have made contact since hearing of their story.

'This is my victory'
One of the brothers joined them for a reunion on Sunday at Israel's Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. With tears in their eyes, the three embraced warmly and caught up on painful memories in Hebrew and in Yiddish.

"This is my victory," Sieradzki said.

The meeting came a day before Israel marks its annual Holocaust remembrance day beginning Monday night, commemorating the 6 million Jews murdered in World War II.

The four survivors, with the consecutive serial numbers, are among hundreds of thousands of survivors who poured into Israel at the birth of the Jewish state. An estimated 250,000 are still alive in Israel, carrying the physical and emotional scars of that era.

"It is never forgotten, not for a moment," Sieradzki said. "It's like an infected sore deep inside that hurts every time it is exposed."

The unlikely reconnection began when Sholowicz's daughter found a Web site that detailed Sieradzki's odyssey from Auschwitz to Israel. It struck her as eerily similar to her father's.

All the same elements were there — being separated from parents and siblings and never seeing them again, searching for scraps of bread to eat in the Polish ghettos, surviving the selection process of Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous Auschwitz camp doctor who decided who would live and who would die. They endured Nazi death marches to two other camps in which any emaciated prisoner who fell behind was shot in the head.

Careers in the military industry
Later, both moved to Israel, fought in its 1948 war of independence, and made careers in its military industry.

Still, the two men never met and the name Sieradzki on the Web site didn't ring a bell. Then Sholowicz, 80, saw the man's number and he froze.

"I rolled up my sleeve and sure enough — I stood exactly ahead of him in line at Auschwitz," he said. The discovery "was a moment of great emotion, great excitement. We went through it all together. We are like two parallel lines that never met."

He called Sieradzki the next day. They recently met halfway between their homes in Haifa and Jerusalem, and a photo of them and their tattoos appeared in an Israeli newspaper.

Sieradzki says it is astounding that both survived the Holocaust and lived this long.

Never thought about tomorrow
In Auschwitz, "I used to think about getting through the moment, the hour, at most the day," he said. "I didn't think about the next day, because I didn't think I was going to live to see the next day."

He can never forget arriving at Auschwitz and seeing Mengele, who with a flick of a thumb decided fates. Those too old, too young, or too ill were sent to the gas chambers and the crematoria. Those fit enough to work were stripped, shaved and tattooed and then forced into labor.

He never noticed the others in line with him. "At that moment, everyone was busy with their own thoughts," he said. "I don't remember who was in front of me and who was behind me."

In an even more unlikely development, Sieradzki recently discovered who stood behind him in line for tattoos — Shaul Zawadzki and his older brother Yaakov, serial numbers B-14596 and B-14597. They too survived Auschwitz and made it to Israel.

"It's unfathomable that something like this could happen. I'm still in shock," a shaking Yaakov Zawadzki, 82, said at Sunday's reunion.

Burden of old memories
He said his brother could not make the meeting both because he had to care for his ailing wife and because he could not bear the emotional burden of bringing up the old memories.

Like many survivors, Sieradzki, who in Israel took on the Hebrew name Asher Aud, also kept silent for more than half a century. Only when he returned to Poland in the early 1990s did he open up. He founded an organization of the former residents of his hometown of Zdunska Wola and resurrected the Jewish cemetery there. The organization's Web site is what first drew the attention of Sholowicz's daughter.

"I felt like I was closing a circle," Sieradzki said of visiting Poland. "If God kept me alive to tell of what happened, then it was worth staying alive."

Now that story includes a new chapter he shares with three others, bound together forever by the numbers inked deep into their arms.

"Our fate was to be together either in life or in death," Sholowicz said. "Now we have life."

Iran's leader sparks walkout, shouts of 'shame'
Western diplomats leave U.N. race meeting, protesters throw objects
The Associated Press

European Union delegates walk out as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticizes Israel during a U.N. conference on racism.
Laurent Gillieron / EPA

GENEVA - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West of using the Holocaust as a "pretext" for aggression against Palestinians, prompting European diplomats to walk out Monday from a speech disrupted by jeering protesters in rainbow wigs tossing red clown noses at the hard-line leader.

A U.N. racism conference on the eve of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day disintegrated into chaos moments after Ahmadinejad became the first government official to take the floor. Two protesters in wigs tossed the noses at Ahmadinejad as he recited a Muslim prayer to begin his speech.

A Jewish student group from France later took credit for causing the disturbance, saying members were trying to convey "the masquerade that this conference represents."
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'The pretext of Jewish suffering'
Ahmadinejad restarted his talk and delivered a speech that lasted more than a half-hour, saying the United States and Europe had helped establish Israel after World War II at the expense of Palestinians.

"They resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering," he said.

That prompted a walkout by some 40 diplomats from Britain and France and other European countries that had threatened to leave the conference if it descended into anti-Semitism or other rhetoric harshly critical of Israel, which marred the U.N.'s last racism gathering eight years ago in South Africa.

The United States and eight other Western countries were already boycotting the event because of concerns about its fairness.

Meanwhile on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that there will be no second Holocaust at the opening ceremony of Israel's annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews who were killed by the Nazis of Germany and their collaborators during World War II.

Netanyahu criticized the U.N. conference as an anti-Israel event. He also blasted the president of Switzerland for meeting with Ahmadinejad, whom Netanyahu called a Holocaust denier who wants to perpetrate another massacre of Jews.

Netanyahu declared that Israel will not "allow Holocaust deniers to carry out another Holocaust against the Jewish people."

During his U.N. speech, Ahmadinejad went on to accuse Israel of being the "most cruel and repressive racist regime."

Protesters held placards reading "This is a circus. A racist cannot fight racism," and repeatedly interrupted the speech with shouts of "Shame! shame!" and "Racist! racist!"

Later, about 100 members of mainly pro-Israel and Jewish groups tried to block Ahmadinejad's entrance to a scheduled news conference.

'To accuse, divide and even incite'
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon met with Ahmadinejad before his speech and said he had counseled the Iranian leader to avoid dividing the conference. Ban later said he was disappointed Ahmadinejad had used his speech "to accuse, divide and even incite," directly opposing the aim of the meeting.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned Ahmadinejad's speech and Ban's meeting with the Iranian leader.

"It is unfortunate that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deemed it appropriate to meet with the greatest Holocaust denier of our time, the head of a U.N. member state who calls for the destruction of another UN member state. This matter is especially severe, as it took place on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day," Israel said.

Ahmadinejad has been praised by some in the Muslim world for calling for Israel's destruction and for other anti-Israeli comments. The hard-liner has often used international forums to criticize Israel including at last year's U.N. General Assembly where he said Israel was on "a definite slope to collapse."

English translation of excerpts from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the U.N. racism conference:

“Following World War II, they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering. They sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine. In fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.”

“It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defend those racist perpetrators of genocide, while the awakened, conscious and free-minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutalities and bombardments of civilians of Gaza.”

“Ladies and gentlemen: What are the root causes of U.S. attacks against Iraq, or invasion of Afghanistan? Was the motive behind the invasion of Iraq anything other than the arrogance of the then-U.S. administration and the mounting pressures ... to expand their sphere of influence, seeking the interest of giant arms manufacturing companies, affecting another culture with thousands of years of historical background, eliminating potential and practical threats of Muslim countries against the Zionist regime? Or, to control and plunder energy resources of the Iraqi people. Why indeed were almost a million people killed and injured, and a few more millions were displaced and became homeless? Why indeed have the Iraqi people suffered enormous losses amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars? ... Wasn’t the military action against Iraq planned by the Zionists and their allies in the then-U.S. administration, in complicity with the arms manufacturing companies, and the owner of the world?”

“The United States and its allies not only have failed to contain the production of drugs in Afghanistan, but also the illicit cultivation of narcotics multiplied in the course of their presence. The basic question is what was the responsibility of the then-U.S. administration and its allies? Did they represent countries of the world? Have they been mandated by them? Have they been authorized on behalf of the people of the world to interfere in all parts of the globe, and of course mostly in our region? Aren’t these measures a clear example of egocentrism, racism, discrimination, or infringement on the dignity and independence of nations?”

Ladies and gentlemen: Who is responsible for the current global economic crisis? Where did the crisis start from? From Africa? From Asia? Or was it first from the United States?”

“Dear friends, today, the human community is facing a kind of racism that has tarnished the image of humanity. In the beginning of the third millennium, the world Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion, and abuses religious sentiment to hide their hatred and ugly faces. However, it is of great importance to bring into focus the political goals of some of the world’s powers and those who control huge economic resources and interests in the world, and mobilize all their resources, economic and political influence, and world media to render support in vain to the Zionist regime, and maliciously to diminish to indignity and disgrace this regime.”

Source: The Associated Press

But his comments Monday could also further strain efforts to improve relations with the United States, Israel's top ally. Iran has been mostly lukewarm to overtures from President Barack Obama, but last week Ahmadinejad said the Islamic Republic was ready for a new relationship with Washington.

'Vile and hateful speech'
Alejandro Wolff, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations, denounced "the Ahmadinejad spectacle" and the Iranian president's "vile and hateful speech."

"It's inaccurate. It shows disregard for the organization to which he is speaking, the United Nations, and does a grave injustice to the Iranian nation and the Iranian people," Wolff told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.

"We call on the Iranian leadership to show much measured, moderate, honest and constructive rhetoric when dealing with issues in the region, and not this type of vile, hateful, inciteful speech that we all saw ... this morning," he said.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman said Britain would return to the talks but "unreservedly condemns his offensive and unacceptable remarks."

"He ascribed all the problems relating to racism in the modern world to Israel and the Jewish state, and that was enough for me to walk out," British Ambassador Peter Gooderham said.

In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned what he called "an intolerable call to racist hate" and urged a firm reaction by the European Union.

Ahmadinejad's speech also took aim at the United States for its role in the global economic crisis and at Western countries for imposing unfair economic conditions on the developing world. Among his more brazen claims was the allegation that Zionists instigated the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in concert with weapons manufacturers.

Iran's state TV broadcast pictures showing some delegates cheering and other delegates leaving the conference.

"The president confidently continued his speech despite efforts by some Western diplomats to disrupt his address," it said.

Popularity waning in Iran
But Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel remarks may not be well-received among many others in Iran. Ahmadinejad is up for re-election in June, but his popularity has been waning as Iran's economy struggles with high-inflation and unemployment. Many have criticized Ahmadinejad for spending too much time on anti-Israel and anti-Western rhetoric and not enough on the country's economy.

Ahmadinejad, as head of state, had the right to speak and did not need a U.N. invitation to the weeklong event aimed at stamping out intolerance worldwide.

Joining the U.S. as boycotters were Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and Poland.

And even before Ahmadinejad's speech, Israel withdrew its ambassador from Switzerland on Monday in a harsh diplomatic response to a pre-conference dinner shared by Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz and Ahmadinejad. In their Sunday night conversation, Merz pressed the case of a jailed American journalist in Iran, acting in Switzerland's role as the official representative of U.S. interests in Iran.

The Swiss government said it also took up other "unresolved cases" of U.S.-Iranian relations in the meeting, which occurred Sunday night hours after Obama said the United States would communicate with Iran about journalist Roxana Saberi through Swiss intermediaries.

Speaking directly after Ahmadinejad's speech, Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the Iranian leader's comments "run counter to the very spirit of dignity of the conference."

Ahmadinejad "has made Iran the odd man out," he said.