February 8th, 2012
MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. – A father who was upset after a Tennessee couple deleted his adult daughter as a friend on Facebook has been charged in the shooting deaths of the couple, authorities said Wednesday.
The victims had complained to police that Marvin Potter's daughter was harassing them after they deleted her as a friend on the social networking site, Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said Wednesday.
Potter, 60, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in last week's slayings of Billy Payne Jr. and his girlfriend, Billie Jean Hayworth. The couple was shot to death in their Mountain City home in the far northeast corner of the state. Their 8-month-old baby was found unharmed in Hayworth's arms.
James Curd and Marvin Potter
February 8th, 2012
By Jason Linkens
On last night's edition of his eponymous Fox News show, Sean Hannity briefly took a trip to his smile-time fantasy world when he had this conversation with Frank Luntz:
HANNITY: I know the president will say, 'Well, we got bin Laden.' Putting that aside...
LUNTZ: And the public gives him credit for that.
HANNITY: They do. The public does give him credit for that. But it wouldn't have happened if he had his way, and I think that can be proved as well on tape.
Oh, really? That would sure be interesting. You see, if President Barack Obama really didn't want to take out bin Laden, he sure had an odd way of showing it. The easiest way to avoid going after bin Laden would be to say something like -- I don't know ... bin Laden is "one person" and that you "really just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with you." Which isn't necessarily the height of awfulness, mind you, there's numerous ways to confront al Qaeda and the threat they represent.
But killing bin Laden, nevertheless, seems for all the world like something Obama was really into doing. As ABC News reported, the president "authorized the development of a plan for the United States to bomb bin Laden's compound with two B-2 stealth bombers dropping a few dozen 2,000-pound bombs" back in March. But when it became clear that this mission would preclude any possibility of obtaining physical evidence to attest to bin Laden's demise, the plan was scrapped in favor of what would become "Operation Geronimo" -- the riskier Navy Seals raid on the compound. And to that end, a replica of bin Laden's compound was erected at Bagram Air Force Base's "Camp Alpha." There, the Seals practiced the raid, making two dry runs in April ahead of the May mission.
This is all a very convoluted and, ultimately, ineffective way of demonstrating that you didn't really give a crap about killing bin Laden, let alone actively not wanting to kill him. Here's a hint: If you really don't want a terrorist mastermind to get killed, you should probably not assign the task to highly trained military professionals, and then give them a practice facility, two stealth helicopters and a hero dog to carry out the task. When you do that stuff, things tend to run, inexorably, in the "let's try to kill bin Laden" direction.
But Hannity says that some "tape" can prove otherwise. (And you know, it's an election year ... there's always some tape that's supposed to be floating around!) I'd be interested in seeing that tape, obviously. But I don't think that's going to happen. Meanwhile, here's a tape of Sean Hannity, a few days after Obama's inauguration, bitching about how Obama had "softened his stance" on killing bin Laden.
Interestingly enough, at one point, Hannity says of Obama's "softened" policy, "Isn't this precisely what President Bush has done? Marginalize bin Laden by chasing him into caves where he's been unable to harm us?" For starters, he wasn't in a cave (as it turns out)! But listening to Hannity praise Bush's approach to bin Laden, I can't help thinking that he sounds like a guy who wouldn't have killed bin Laden, if he had his way.
Conservative Refocus Retort:
Indeed, Jason, but perhaps you didn't seen the alternative game of inner-West Wing drama that sources say actually unfolded between Jarret, Obama and a number of other staff members:
In the insider explanation, Valerie Jarrett, the Mao loving adviser, tried to continually way-lay Obama into avoiding the Bin Laden decision altogether. Obama, being the leftwardly malleable POTUS, seemed to heed Jarrett's council at every turn. In fact, it was the military/intelligence officials who actually overruled Obama at ultimately taking out Bin Laden, as it turns out.
It was Panetta who executed a constant work-around when faced with the President's maddeningly persistent hesitation regarding Osama Bin Laden's demise. The debate to invade Bin Laden's compound had been in the works since August 2010 according to numerous accounts. Hillary Clinton, who had known of the President's hesitation, became livid when Obama never took a position on the intensifying argument to take out Bin Laden while the opportunity was still available. The insider states that Clinton's State Department actually began leaking small amounts of information in an effort to goad the President into acting.
Here again it was the tentative Jarrett who feared for her President's standing should the SEAL campaign fail, and she also feared that the Muslim world and the Mideast would destabilize as a result of any attack on Bin Laden. As the situation continued to unfold and more facts became known, it was Petraeus who had nearly locked down the President's decision to allow him to bomb Bin Laden with little collateral damage; however, Jarrett, once again, moved Obama into a position of neutrality, thereby angering Panetta and much of the staff. In fact, it was at this juncture that Gates made the decision to retire from his position as SecDef.
At this point, the insider states that Panetta began maneuvering the President masterfully into a position that assured that the mission would be tried. Panetta convinced Obama that the leaks were increasing to the point that eventually word would get out. If Obama failed to act before Bin Laden disappeared again, the President's re-election hopes would whither and die in a cloud of Presidential malpractice. At this point, Obama, knowing that an on the ground attack would both require more time and preparation, as well as allowing the President greater time to make a final decision, gave the go ahead for Panetta to plan for an on the ground take down by special forces, also intending that Panetta would be left with sole discretion as the fall-guy should the plan fail. But what Obama and the calculating Jarrett did not know was that Panetta had already planned for this possibility well in advance and had, in fact, been planning for it for months. The operation was ready to go within hours.....
So, the insider story has quite a different spin altogether. Is it true? Only the players know for sure, but from everything I have seen, this far more keeps in character with the true Obama than the one which is constantly being parlayed, at least from his liberal worshipers. In order to read the rest of the story, click on the following link and scroll down to the header "The Missing Maoist" :
Top Stories at Huffington
February 8th, 2012
The Sydney Morning Herald
Opening a scientific frontier kilometers under the Antarctic ice, Russian experts have drilled down and finally reached the surface of a gigantic freshwater lake, an achievement the mission chief likened to placing a man on the moon.
Lake Vostok could hold living organisms that have been locked in icy darkness for some 20 million years, as well as clues to the search for life elsewhere in the solar system.
Touching the surface of the lake, the largest of nearly 400 subglacial lakes in Antarctica, came after more than two decades of drilling, and was a major achievement avidly anticipated by scientists around the world.
"In the simplest sense, it can transform the way we think about life," NASA's chief scientist Waleed Abdalati told The Associated Press in an email on Wednesday.
The Russian team made contact with the lake water Sunday at a depth of 3,769 meters, about 1,300km from the South Pole in the central part of the continent.
Scientists hope the lake might allow a glimpse into microbial life forms that existed before the Ice Age and are not visible to the naked eye. Scientists believe that microbial life may exist in the dark depths of the lake despite its high pressure and constant cold - conditions similar to those believed to be found under the ice crust on Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus.
Valery Lukin, the head of Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, said reaching the lake was akin to the Americans winning the space race in 1969.
"I think it's fair to compare this project to flying to the moon," said Lukin, who oversaw the mission and announced its success.
American and British teams are drilling to reach their own subglacial Antarctic lakes, but Columbia University glaciologist Robin Bell said those are smaller and younger than Vostok, which is the big scientific prize.
"It's like exploring another planet, except this one is ours," she said.
At 250km long and 50km wide, Lake Vostok is similar in size to Lake Ontario. It is kept from freezing into a solid block by the more than two-mile-thick crust of ice across it that acts like a blanket, keeping in heat generated by geothermal energy underneath.
Lukin said he expects the lake to contain chemotroph bacteria that feed on chemical reactions in pitch darkness, probably similar to those existing deep on the ocean floor but dating back millions of years. "They followed different laws of evolution that are yet unknown to us," he said.
Studying Lake Vostok will also yield insights about the origins of Antarctica, which is believed by many to have been part of a broader continent in the distant past.
And the project has allowed the testing of technologies that could be used in exploring other icy worlds. "Conditions in subglacial lakes in Antarctica are the closest we can get to those where scientists expect to find extraterrestrial life," Lukin said.
Drilling through the ice crust in the world's coldest environment brought major technological challenges.
Temperatures on the Vostok Station on the surface above the lake have registered the coldest ever recorded on Earth, reaching minus minus 89 degrees Celsius. Conditions were made even tougher by its high elevation, more than 3,300m above sea level.
The effort has drawn fears that the more than 60 tons of lubricants and antifreeze used in the drilling may contaminate the lake's pristine waters. Bell said the Russian team was doing its best "to do it right" and avoid contamination, but others were nervous.
"Lake Vostok is the crown jewel of lakes there," said University of Colorado geological sciences professor James White. "These are the last frontiers on the planet we are exploring. We really ought to be very careful."
February 8th, 2012
Mitt Romney sought to shake off his bruising losses in three battleground states as his campaign promised Wednesday to spend heavily on coming contests to regain his position as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.
But the defeats suffered by the former Massachusetts governor in Tuesday's primary and caucuses in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri exposed lingering weaknesses in Mr. Romney's standing with conservatives.
The losses to a newly resurgent Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, also showed a lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Romney in states where his campaign declined to spend significant time and money.
Although the contests didn't directly award GOP delegates, the voting patterns revealed warning signs for Mr. Romney, who has won just three of the eight GOP contests so far: New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada.
His loss in Minnesota—Mr. Romney was third after Mr. Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas—came despite the prominent backing of the state's recently retired GOP governor, Tim Pawlenty, who ended his own unsuccessful bid for the nomination last summer. Mr. Romney even lost in Mr. Pawlenty's home county.
In Missouri, Mr. Romney failed to win a single county in a state seen as a crucial battleground in the November general election. The Romney campaign dismissed the outcome because turnout was small. But the 250,000 voters who cast ballots Tuesday amounted to nearly twice the number that voted the Iowa caucuses earlier this year.
Mr. Romney also didn't win any counties in Minnesota, a state where the Republican Party is dominated by religious conservatives who were attracted to Mr. Santorum's campaign.
In Colorado, Mr. Romney won just 16 of the state's 64 counties. Mirroring patterns of support in other states so far, he fared best in more-affluent communities. He won in Denver and surrounding suburban counties, but that support failed to overcome Mr. Santorum's tallies in the rest of the state.
Two of Mr. Santorum's upsets came in states that Mr. Romney won four years ago, Colorado and Minnesota. In both, despite a superior campaign organization, Mr. Romney's vote tallies shrank from his 2008 totals.
"We didn't devote a lot of money and time to the states yesterday," Mr. Romney said Wednesday in Atlanta, seeking to play down his losses. "We were spending our time and money in Florida and Nevada."
He then took jabs at both Mr. Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was positioned until just days ago as Mr. Romney's top rival.
An emboldened Mr. Santorum boasted Wednesday that his campaign took in $250,000 overnight. He campaigned Wednesday in Texas, which holds its election in early April, and was headed to Oklahoma on Thursday.
Mr. Santorum's campaign plans to make a serious push in Michigan, Mr. Romney's home state. "We're trying to show that we're the alternative to Mitt Romney in every state, and Michigan is no different," said Santorum campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley.
Mr. Santorum has won four contests—in Iowa on Jan. 3 and the three states that voted Tuesday. Mr. Gingrich scored his lone upset win in South Carolina last month.
Mr. Romney's team plans to paint Mr. Santorum as a Washington insider with a penchant for costly public spending projects. Mr. Romney gave a preview Wednesday. "I think a lot of us feel that the Republican party lost its way in the past," he said. "Republicans spent too much money, borrowed too much money, earmarked too much, and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have to be held accountable."
Mr. Romney's campaign promised to spend big in coming weeks, with an eye toward contests in Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28, and the March 6 Super Tuesday that spans 10 states.
Tuesday's vote was the latest turn in a careening GOP nominating contest, with Mr. Santorum's victory a blunt reminder of Mr. Romney's uncertain hold on his party's base.
"If I were in Boston today, I would be very concerned," said Ed Rollins, who has advised numerous Republican presidential campaigns. "The reality is that conservatives want an alternative, and Romney just isn't making the sale."
Arizona Sen. John McCain, who lost 20 state contests on the way to the GOP nomination in 2008, disagreed. "I don't think it's a problem for Romney," he said.
Mr. Gingrich, who posted poor showings Tuesday in Colorado and Minnesota, is betting on a strong performance in Southern states that vote on Super Tuesday. He campaigned Wednesday in Ohio, one of the March 6 primary states.
Mr. Gingrich toured a Cleveland manufacturing plant and talked about the economy, but he didn't discuss Tuesday's losses. Campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond said the outcomes were "a demonstration of how weak Romney is among conservatives in the party."
An independent group supporting Mr. Romney, Restore Our Future, went on the air Wednesday in Ohio with a campaign ad saying Mr. Gingrich carries "tons of baggage" and Republicans risk losing the election if he is nominated.
All the candidates will now be out raising money, with Mr. Romney holding the advantage. His campaign had some $19 million at the end of 2011, and though it has spent heavily on ads since, it is expected to have much more cash on hand than rivals.
Mr. Romney travels to Washington, D.C., for a fund-raising appearance Thursday that asks for $1,000 to attend, $2,500 to pose with the candidate and $10,000 to join a policy roundtable led by former government officials.
Mr. Gingrich, meantime, will head west to California early next week for eight scheduled fund-raising events. His campaign, which is some $600,000 in debt and has less than $2 million to spend, hopes to raise about $1 million, an aide said. The campaign said it raised $5.5 million in January and hoped to match that this month.
Winning Our Future, a so-called super PAC supporting Mr. Gingrich, apparently has little left to spend. The group spent some $6 million in Florida and more than $3 million in South Carolina, said Rick Tyler, a strategist for the group. That means it has spent most of the $10 million from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife—the group's two main benefactors. Mr. Tyler declined to comment on the group's finances.
Mr. Santorum now has at least 72 delegates, according to an estimate by the Associated Press, which makes certain assumptions about how some delegates will be allocated. He is second to Mr. Romney, who leads with 112 delegates. Mr. Gingrich has 32, and Rep. Ron Paul has nine.
It takes 1,144 delegates to claim the GOP presidential nomination.
—Danny Yadron, Dante Chinni, Patrick O'Connor and Sara Murray contributed to this article.
February 8th, 2012
NBC 6 Miami
By Daniel Arkin
Just in time for Valentine's Day, a Florida judge ruled on Tuesday that a man involved in a scuffle with his wife treat her to an evening at a local bowling alley and a romantic meal at Red Lobster.
Judge John Hurley ordered that Joseph Bray, 47 and his wife Sonja, 39, also visit a marriage counselor.
Hurley handed down this ruling instead of setting bond or slapping Bray with a prison sentence after he deemed domestic violence charges leveled by Bray's wife to be "very, very minor."
According to Bray's arrest affidavit, Bray and his wife got embroiled in a spat after he failed to wish her a happy birthday. Bray's wife claims that her husband shoved her against a sofa and grabbed her neck.
The judge, citing Bray's otherwise clean record and the incident's apparent lack of serious violence, did not consider Bray's behavior a major offense. However, Bray must follow the stipulations of Hurley's ruling very closely if he wants to avoid potential jail time.
"He's going to stop by somewhere and he's going to get some flowers," Hurley said at a hearing, according to Florida newspaper Sun Sentinel. "And then he's going to go home, pick up his wife, get dressed, take her to Red Lobster. And then after they have Red Lobster, they're going to go bowling."
Hurley noted that he would not typically treat a domestic violence charge in a similarly jocular or light-hearted manner.
"The court would not normally [make this ruling] if the court felt there was some violence but this is very, very minor and the court felt that that was a better resolution than the other alternatives," Hurley said.
According to Google Maps, there is a Red Lobster conveniently located in Plantation, Florida—Bray's city of residence—adjacent to a Kohl's and nearby the Broward Mall.
Fortunately for Bray and his wife, the Plantation Red Lobster receives high marks in Google Maps' Review section.
Google user Georgia Valente writes that "of all the Red Lobsters in South Florida," the couple's dinner destination is "quite possibly the best."
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