Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brooke Shields Upset Mother Checked Out of Nursing Home by Reporter

Brooke Shields Upset Mother Checked Out of Nursing Home by Reporter

Written by: Karen Benardello

Brooke Shields is livid at, and considering taking legal action against, the New Jersey nursing home where her mother Teri is living after she was checked out by a tabloid journalist, PEOPLE Magazine is reporting.

The actress was taken by surprise on Thursday, May 14 when police notified and informed her that an unauthorized person checked her mother, who suffers from dementia, out of the home. Teri was found talking to the reporter, who Brooke believes works for The National Enquirer, at a restaurant near the assisted living center. Brooke believes the tabloid wanted to run a story about her, but the magazine denies the claim, saying the reporter was just having lunch with a friend.

“For her safety, she has temporarily been in a senior living facility, a very difficult decision for me,” the actress told PEOPLE about her mother. Brooke felt her mother was being taken advantage of, and called the reporter’s actions reprehensible and disgusting.

In response, The National Enquirer posted a story on its web site on the following day, saying there was nothing behind the story and the reporter was simply an old friend looking to catch up with Teri. In fact, the post even claims that she’s the one that asked the reporter to take her out to lunch and to run some errands. The tabloid also claims that the nursing home gave the reporter permission to take Teri out for the day, and there was no wrongdoing from any party.

Capt. Thomas Shine of the Old Tappan Police Dept. said the journalist was interviewed at the restaurant, and no charges have been filed as of yet. However, there is an ongoing investigation into the nursing home. “The part we’re investigating here is who allowed her to leave the facility,” Shine said. “It appears that there were some permissions that were given for Mrs. Shields (Teri) by the family, be they written, be they verbal-we’re investigating-to allow her visitation for a variety of different reasons.”

Brooke also told PEOPLE that she plans to file suits against not only the journalist, but the nursing home for their alleged lack of security measures as well. “I intend to take every lawful action against all who were involved or who authorized this despicable act,” she said.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stern, Two Doctors Plead Not Guilty in Smith Case

Stern, Two Doctors Plead Not Guilty in Smith Case

Written by: Karen Benardello

Howard K. Stern and two doctors pleaded not guilty in a short hearing on Wednesday, May 13, to charges they conspired to provide thousands of prescription pills to Anna Nicole Smith before her death two years ago.

The former model and actress’ lawyer-turned-boyfriend, along with Drs. Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor, appeared in Superior Court to set the stage for a preliminary hearing.

The three defendants stood with their lawyers before Court Commissioner Kristi Lousteau, who had ordered that documents in the case be sealed. The three agreed to delay the matter until June 8 for setting of the preliminary hearing date. Steve Sadow, Stern’s lawyer, said he wanted the preliminary hearing to begin as soon as possible.

Stern and the two doctors declined to comment outside court, but Sadow was outspoken, exclaiming: “He did not commit a crime, period!” Sadow also said he had filed a demurrer, a legal document claiming that the law under which Stern is charged does not apply to him. “The statute deals with medical practitioners,” he said. “He is not a doctor.”

Kapoor’s lawyer, Ellyn Garafalo, also spoke, saying he continues to practice medicine and his patients have been supportive. “We have no doubt Dr. Kapoor will be exonerated,” she also said.

Prosecutors are alleging that Stern was the principal enabler in a conspiracy to provide Smith thousands of prescription pills. But the three each face six counts, including conspiracy, and up to five years, eight months in prison if convicted.

Craigslist Erotic Services Section Will be Replaced by Adult Services Section

Craigslist Announces That Erotic Services Section Will be Replaced by Adult Services Section

Written by: Karen Benardello

Classified ad giant Craigslist has announced that it will replace its "erotic services" section, which critics have call a front for prostituiton, with a staff-reviewed "adult services" category.

Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster called the internal monitoring an acceptable compromise for users and law enforcement. The new ads would require an increase in posting price, up to $10 from $5. There is also going to be a reposting charge of $5.

However, some law enforcement officials have said the website hasn't lived up to an agreement it signed in November with state attorneys generals to better monitor ads and delete blatant prostitution ads. NY State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said he had notified Craigslist about a prostitution-related case that implicated the site. "Rather than work with this office to prevent further abuses, in the middle of the night, Craigslist took unilateral action, which we suspect will prove to be half-backed," Cuomo said.

The announcement came after a lawsuit was filed in a Chicago court after an Illinois sheriff investigated the site. The change has also come after a Boston med student was charged with kiling a masseuse he allegedly met through an erotic ad on Craigslist. During the beginning of this month, a Hauppauge, New York woman was also charged with aggravated assault after allegedly osting a Craigslist "casual encounters" ad, in which she sent callers seeking sex to one of her neighbors.

Craigslist attorney Eric Brandfonbrener told a federal judge on Wednesday, May 13 that the charges would satisfy concerns in the lawsuit filed by the Illinois sheriff, Thomas Dart. "My expectation is that it will be moot," Brandfonbrener said. The sherrif's office said that it won't drop the suit, though, until it sees details and the plan is recorded in court.

Lindsay Lohan To Act Again

Lindsay Lohan To Act Again:
Excited to be Remembered for Starring Again in Movies

Written by: Karen Benardello

Lindsay Lohan has officially signed on to star in the independent fantasy comedy "The Other Side," with fellow actors Woody Harrelson, Giovanni Ribisi, Dave Matthews and Alanis Morissette.

The movie focuses on grad student Lohan, who must spend the summer working at a scientific institute on a remorte island, Variety has reported. Lohan's role in the movie was first reported by PEOPLE magazine.

This is the actress' first big-screen role since 2007's horror flop "I Know Who Killed Me." Lohan's last movie, "Labor Pains," went straight to cable television. Lately, Lohan has garnered attention solely for her on-again, off-again relationship with DJ Samantha Ronson, and the media has also focused on her dwindling bank account.

Director David Michaels told Variety that Lohan is looking forward to being noteworthy for her work once again. "Lindsay's very aware of people's perceptions of her. She's really committed to doing what she has to in order to change that."

Lohan's mother and manager, Dina, has also thrown her support behind the movie, saying "It's a wonderful cast and it's shooting on the East Coast, which we are excited about." "The Other Side" is scheduled to begin filming in October on an island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lindsay Lohan Tells Ellen Her Breakup with Samantha Ronson Came as a Surprise

Lindsay Lohan Tells Ellen Her Breakup with Samantha Ronson Came as a Surprise;
Now that She's Single Though, She Wants to Focus on Her Career

Written by: Karen Benardello

Lindsay Lohan is proclaiming that her breakup with DJ Samantha Ronson "came out of nowhere," but now that she's single, she is focusing on her career again.

"I had no idea what was going on," the actress told Ellen DeGeneres on her show. "I just hadn't seen her in, like, a week. She, like, disappeared."

Lohan's confession to Ellen was the first time the former Disney teen queen spoke publicly about her break-up with Ronson. Undoubtingly, she spoke to the talk show host, who had her own high-profile split with actress Anne Heche in 2000.

Though the actress kept quiet on the exact details of the split, she did adamantly claim that infidelity wasn't the cause. "I don't believe in cheating on someone. I watched my father do that to my mother my entire life."

When Ellen asked Lohan if she felt she had "lost her career" after the breakup, like she had with Heche, Lohan agreed. " forget who you are because you're more concerned about being with the other person," Lohan said, adding that she has a movie lined up to begin filming in October.

Lohan also told the talk show host that the news the Ronson family sought a restraining order against her came as a surprise, which also included being banned from a launch party for Charlotte Ronson's (Samantha's sister) new clothing line. "It came out of nowhere. I've supported Charlotte and I've never done anything for people to assume I'm dangerous."

But Lohan also hopes the split won't be permanent, as she said "I really care about Samantha."

Selma Haeyk Already Renews Her Vows

Selma Haeyk "Marries" Husband for the Second Time:
The Two Renew Their Vows in Venice

Written by: Karen Benardello

Selma Haeyk and her French magnate husband, Francois-Henri Pinault, have tied the knot again, for the second time. The Mexican-born actress's spokeswoman, Jillian Fowkes, said they renewed their vows in a ceremony at Venice's La Fenice opera house. The two orginally married in a small civil ceremony in Paris last Valentine's Day.

The second time around, the couple made it a weekend-long ceremony, starting witha cocktail party at Punta della Dogana, a museum owned by the groom's father, Francois. The ceremony's guests included actresses Penelope Crus, Ashley Judd and Charlize Theron; U2 frontman Bono; Vogue editor Anna Wintour; and former French president Jacques Chirac.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Demonstrators Demand Georgia's President Resign

Demonstrators Demand Georgia's President Resign:
Feel Mikhail Saakashvill Lost His Right to Lead Country After Last Year's War with Russia

Written by: Karen Benardello

Tens of thousands of demonstrators demanded that Georgia's president, Mikhail Saakashvill, resign, as they feel he lost the right to lead the country after last summer's humiliating war with Russia. The demonstration, which was peaceful, took place outside parliament in Tbilisi. Opposition leaders vowed that the demonstration wouldn't stop until the president steps down.

The demonstrators' most bitter criticism of Saakashvill was how he handled the August conflict,which resulted in the loss of Georgian teritory as separtists and their Russian allies took full control over two of the country's regions. The war badly strained Russia's relations with the west, particularly the U.S., which has been a strong supporter of Geogia.

The demonstration was times to coincide with the 20th anniversary of an anti-Soviet protest that was crushed by soilders, which resulted in 20 deaths. The 1989 protest galvanized Georgia's fight for independence.

Oprah Defends Girls School In Wake of Second Scandal

Oprah Defends Her South African Girls School In Wake of Second Scandal

Written by: Karen Benardello

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey admitted in an interview with the newspaper The Weekend Argus that she has made several mistakes at her elite South African school for girls, but she also said that she remains proud of its success.

The recent expulsion of four girls and suspension of three others was the second scandal to hit the Leadership Academy for Girls, which opened in 2007, and is meant to groom students from deprived backgrounds. A dorm matron is also currently on trial for abuse and sexual assault.

"I have made several mistakes and one of them was being over-protective of the girls, which has made an impression that he school is isolating them from society," Winfrey told the newspaper.

The South African media reported that the seven girls were accused of trying to force other students into relationships, particularly sexual ones. Though Winfrey herself hasn't commented on the circumstances of their expulsion and suspension, she did say that "Those girls...said they knew they were breaking the rules."

The cases are bad publicity for both the school and Winfrey, who promised former South African President Nelson Mandela to give poor girls a quality education and prepare them for leadership posiions. But "The majority of girls are thriving, really fulling the dream and vision I had," Winfrey is insisting. "They are really exceeding any expectaions I had for them."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Temple University Health System Hurting Itself

May 2009 National Article, National Scene Magazine

Temple University Health System Hurting Itself:

Public Outcry Over Proposed Closing of Northeastern Hospital in Port Richmond, PA

Written by: Karen Benardello

The staff and patients of Northeastern Hospital in Port Richmond, Pennsylvania received good news on Thursday, April 9 when officials of the Temple University Health System, which operates the hospital, agreed to delay their plan to convert it into an outpatient-care facility by July 1. The delay, which will last for 30 days, will give local elected leaders a chance to analyze Temple’s decision to close the hospital and offer possible alternatives.

However, “They’re not guaranteeing anything,” said state Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, one of the four politicians who have criticized Temple for excluding leaders and the public from the decision-making process. “They’re holding off…so we can explore all the issues we should have been exploring months ago, when they weren’t talking to anybody,” he also said.

Temple announced that Northeastern couldn’t continue to operate as an inpatient hospital on March 23, because it was losing considerable amounts of money: $6.6 million in the 2008 fiscal year, which is projected to rise to $15 million during this fiscal year. As an outpatient facility, Northeastern Hospital would cut down on expenses by just providing prenatal care, lab work and radiology services.

If the change goes through, more than 800 jobs will be lost. But some, including Jerry Silberman, the local leader of the union that represents the hospital’s nurses, are trying to stay optimistic of the news of the delay. “But Temple’s style of negotiating is to not negotiate, so we’ll see how this goes,” Silberman said.

There has also been public outcry over the belief that Temple values their profits over patients, and it will close the hospital even though some, including Taylor, have described it as a lifeline for the residents of Port Richmond, Fishtown, Kensington and Bridesburg. In response, John Buckley, Northeastern’s chief executive, told the Daily News that the hospital was threatening to jeopardize the remainder of Temple’s health system, as more than 53 percent of its patients use Medicaid, which only compensates the hospital for 75 percent of the cost to treat patients.

Buckley also told the newspaper that many of the estimated 48,000 people who visit Northeastern’s emergency room every year are there for primary care. He also stated that the hospital needs about $100 million of upgrades and renovations, and the hospital has also had a difficult time recruiting physicians and specialists.

At several community meetings, Taylor and Silberman suggested several actions the public can take to show Temple that they believe closing Northeastern is a mistake. While Taylor threatened to cut off more than $150 million in funding Temple receives from the state, Silberman suggested that residents and hospital workers turn to the courts to file a restraining order against Temple to halt their transition plans.

While many businesses need to be cutting down on their expenses during this current recession, hospital and health care should not be one of them. While people can do without such luxuries as traveling and fancy cars until the economy turns around, everyone is entitled to, and should receive, medical treatment all of the time. The officials of the Temple University Health System should remember that such an action is inhumane, and should reconsider their decision to close Northeastern Hospital.

Is Afghanistan’s President Finally Listening to Western Leaders?

May 2009 International Article, National Scene Magazine

Is Afghanistan’s President Finally Listening to Western Leaders?

After Urging of Foreign Leaders, International Criticism, Afghan President Hamid Karzai Reviewing Law that Makes it Legal for Husbands to Rape Wives

Written by: Karen Benardello

After receiving international criticism over the new ruling that many believe makes it legal for husbands to rape their wives, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said during a news conference on Saturday, April 4, that the law will be examined and will be sent to the country’s Justice Ministry for review. If the parliament finds that it violates Afghanistan’s constitution or Shariah law, “measures will be taken,” Karzai said.

Karzai signed the law into effect last month in an effort to regulate the Shiite community, which makes up 10-to-20 percent of the country’s 30 million people. Many people and organizations, including the United Nations Development Fund for Women, are outraged over the law, as Article 132 legislates the frequency of sexual relations between Shiite husbands and wives. The article directly says “the husband has a right to sex every fourth night unless the wife is ill.”

Many western countries have urged Karzai to review the law, especially after he spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton about it. But during the news conference, Karzai said he studied the law earlier in the day and didn’t see any problems with it. Instead, he complained that the Western media had mistranslated it, and instead focused on an article that restrict Shiite women’s rights to leave their homes.

Karzai said he also feels that the law should be reviewed by Afghan scholars and religious leaders. “I ordered the justice minister to review the law, and if there is anything that would contravene the country’s constitution or Shariah law or the freedom our constitution gives to Afghan women, without any doubt there will be changes in it, and again it will be sent to the parliament of Afghanistan,” Karzai said.

If this law stays intact, women’s rights will have taken a step back. Afghanistan seemed to have taken a step in the right direction after the Taliban government, which banned women from appearing in public without a body-covering burqa and a male escort from her family, fell in 2001. The passing of this law in the first place just shows what a major step-back the American government and troops have had in Afghanistan since invading the country after the September 11th attacks.

Have Our Neighbors to the North Finally Determined Our Northern Boundary in the Sky?

May 2009 National Scene Magazine Space Article:

Have Our Neighbors to the North Finally Determined Our Northern Boundary in the Sky?

Canadian Scientists Believe they Have Found Boundary Between Earth’s Atmosphere and Outer Space

Written by: Karen Benardello

Much debate over where exactly the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space lies has surfaced over recent years, but researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada have announced they finally know the answer. With the data they collected from the Supra-Thermal Ion Imager, scientists at the university confirmed that space begins 73 miles above Earth’s surface.

During the new study, which is detailed in the April 7th edition of the Journal of Geophysical Research, the Ion Imager detected the boundary by tracking the winds of Earth’s atmosphere and charged particles in space. The discovery is important because the ability to gather in the area is difficult, since it’s too high for balloons and too low for satellites.

The data also “allows us to calculate energy flows into the Earth’s atmosphere that ultimately may be able to help us understand the interaction between space and our environment,” David Knudsen, a project scientist at the university, said. “That could mean a greater understanding of the link between sunspots and the warming and cooling of the Earth’s climate as well as how space weather impacts satellites, communications, navigation, and power systems.”

However, this announcement has not been made official yet, as there are many conflicting opinions over where outer space exactly starts. While some astronauts say space begins 50 miles above Earth’s surface, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), which sets aeronautical standards and is the world governing body for aeronautics and astronautics world records, recognizes scientist Theodore von Kármán’s calculation of 62 miles.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the U.S. government doesn’t even have a set boundary standard because it feels it would complicate the issue of overflight rights of satellites and other orbiting bodies. But NASA unofficially has set the 76 mile-mile mark as their re-entry altitude because that’s where shuttles switch from steering with thrusters to maneuvering with air surfaces.

While this discovery doesn’t directly affect the lives of many people, it is helpful for astronauts and scientists. Knowing exactly where the Earth’s atmosphere ends and where outer space begins can help them determine how to continue to sustain and protect human, animal and plant life.

Suspect in Shawn Johnson Case Told Officer of Plan to Meet Her

Suspect in Shawn Johnson Case Told Alabama Officer of Plan to Meet Her During Traffic Stop:
Officer Let Him Continue to California Anyway

Written by: Karen Benardello

The man who authorities are saying tried to break onto the hit ABC series "Dancing with the Stars" to meet contestant Shawn Johnson has admitted his plan was "a little bit crazy."

The man, 34-year-old Robert O'Ryan, was pulled over at 1:30 am on March 19 on Interstate 10 in Loxley, a small town east of Mobile, Ala., for driving erratically. The half-hour stop only resulted in O'Ryan receiving a ticket for not having insurance and driving with an expired license plate.

O'Ryan told the officier of his plan to meet and propose to Johnson, who he said he only spoke to in his dreams. The officer, a 27-year police veteran, decided to let him continue with his trip to the set, and didn't see a need to search the car. The Loxley police department are stating that the officer, who didn't recognize the gymnast's name, had no way of knowing O'Ryan's intent.

O'Ryan did make it to Los Angeles, and was arrested after a shotgun and handgun, which were both loaded, duct tape and love letters to Johnson were found in his car. He is still in police custody. According to the Associated Press (AP), the Johnson family obtained a three-year restraining order against him, as she feared for her life.

Charlie Sheen's Son Max Doing Fine

Actor Charlie Sheen's Son Max Doing Fine:
Hospitalized Because of Low Weight, Not Heart Condition, As Previously Reported

Written by: Karen Benardello

Actor Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller's twin son Max did remain in the hosptial for several weeks after his March 14 birth, Sheens' rep, Stan Rosenfield, told, but not for the reason previously reported.

"Charlie and Brooke's infant son remains in the hospital, not because of a heart condition as reported, but because he has not gained the weight necessary to leave the hospital," Rosenfield said. "Max is expected to reach the weight requirement shortly and will join his brother Bob at home. The Sheens...assured everyone that both Bob and Max are fine."

Sheen told Us that the weight issues is very common among infants who were born premature, like his twin sons. Max and Bob are the first children for the couple, but the "Two and a Half Men" star has two daughters, Sam, 4, and Lola, 3, with ex-wife Denise Richards, and 24-year-old daughter Cassandra from another marriage.