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Kara Menini

John Edwards didn't take stand before defense rested case this morning

Spectators shocked

John Edwards was not called to the witness stand before the defense rested their case Wednesday morning.

John Edwards and onetime mistress and Rielle Hunter have stayed silent in the case against Sen. John Edwards that is looking to punish him for accepting up to $1 million from two donors in an effort to hide his then-pregnant mistress from his wife and supporters.

The financial corruption trial against John Edwards has yet to see the prosecution, who has the opportunity to call rebuttal witnesses. After that, the jurors will see closing arguments from both sides.

John Edwards is facing six felony counts of accepting $1 million in unreported campaign donations at a time with the law stated that individual political contributions were limited to $2,300 for the election cycle.

Spectators were surprised to not see John Edwards on the stand. Kieran Shanahan, a former federal prosecutor who has been following the trial said, “Remember, the defense told this jury John Edwards is not afraid of the truth, and I think that was foretelling that he will take the stand.”

Shanahan said of the situation, “The only logical reason for making these payments at the time they were made was exactly what John Edwards has been saying: ‘I’m trying to protect my wife from finding out I’m the father of Rielle Hunter’s baby.”

MSNBC reported, “Another major point of the defense argument is that Edwards didn’t know what the money from Baron and billionaire oil heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon was being used for, a contention that was supported Tuesday by John Moylan, who worked in both of Edwards’ presidential campaigns. Moylan testified that Edwards was shocked to learn in August 2008 — several months after the fact — that Mellon had been paying to help support Hunter and keep her from the public eye. The money was given through checks falsely labeled as furniture purchases through Andrew Young, who was once a top aide to Edwards and is now his chief accuser.”

Living organ donors could see compensation in the future

NPR polls Americans on how they feel about compensation

A good portion of Americans would support a change in law to compensate living organ donors, NPR reports.

There is a shortage of organs for donations that groups around the country have been trying to combat. Years of work has gone into recruiting more donors but the numbers simply aren’t growing. Although the federal law bans payment for organs, many people are starting to wonder if compensation for three kinds of donations from the living is an easy compromise. The three kinds of donations are kidneys, bone marrow and a portion of liver big enough to help a failing liver recover. NPR took a poll with over 3,000 adults around the U.S. and it seems that most Americans approve of the compensation. 60% supported compensation in the form of credits for health care needs, 46% supported compensation in the form of tax credits and tuition reimbursement and 41% saw cash as an acceptable form of compensation.

Although some believe that giving compensation for organ donation would undercut a system that runs on altruism, what does that matter if it saves more lives?

Dr. Stuart Youngner, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University’s med school said, “I think the market has become such an important guiding principle in so many areas of lives, including health care, that it becomes harder to say why shouldn’t a person who donates organs make some money too. Altruism is very, very important, but in this case the lives of people are very, very important.”

A book by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein called, “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness” also discusses the issue of the dwindling number of organ donors. Their position is a little sneakier as they suggest that simply making the default option for driver’s licenses as “Yes I am an organ donor” will significantly increase the number of organ donors because most people are simply too lazy to change it.

NPR reported, “It seems worth noting that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March affirmed an earlier decision that compensating people for marrow cells drawn from their blood wouldn’t run afoul of the federal law banning payment for organ donations.”

Zodiac Killer "identified" in new book

Former highway patrol man claims the Zodiac Killer was protected

Anyone remember the Zodiac Killer?

The Zodiac Killer, who terrorized Northern California nearly four decades ago, is back in the news. Former California Highway Patrol officer Lyndon Lafferty is the author of “The Zodiac Killer Cover-Up: The Silenced Badge” which claims that there was a massive cover-up that prevented the Zodiac Killer from being caught.

The Zodiac Killer claims to have killed 37 people in the late 60s and early 70s and earned his nickname because he would send local newspapers and local enforcement clues and taunts about his murders. He would prove his identity as the murderer by giving details of the crime scene that only police would know. However, the police could only link the Zodiac Killer to five murders in 1968 and 1969 and no one was ever arrested.

Lafferty claims in his new book that the police knew who the killer was and that he was protected, “The police departments in general were acting under the authority of the Solano County sheriff, so they were instructed you do not investigate this man until you have permission from the judge. It’s been very traumatic, and it’s been frustrating beyond belief,” he wrote. Lafferty used alias to protect himself from persecution and never identifies the killer by name. The L.A Times reported that Lafferty “and other lawmen investigated the suspect in the early 1970s but were stymied by ‘power brokers’ in Solano County. Lafferty claims the killer was motivated by jealousy because his wife was having an affair.”

Lafferty claims in his book, “I am the only person who can testify under oath that these things were absolutely true. My satisfaction is telling my story as it happened.”

According to Lafferty, the Zodiac Killer is now a 91-year-old recovering alcoholic who lives in Solano County.

The San Francisco police officially closed the Zodiac Killer case in 2004 but thought they had a break two years ago when a partial DNA profile was taken from one of the envelopes that contained Zodiac Killer letters. The evidence proved that the only suspect that was ever named, Arthur Leigh Allen, was cleared. Allen died of a heart attack in1992.

Billy Bob Thornton blames insecurities for divorce with Angelina Jolie

Thornton felt he “blew it” with Jolie

Billy Bob Thornton has written a book that includes the reasons for his and ex-wife Angelina Jolie’s divorce almost a decade ago. “The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts,” tells of the insecurities Billy Bob Thornton felt when he was married to the then up-and-coming “Girl, Interrupted” actress.

Billy Bob Thornton told ABC that he “blew it” with Jolie.  “I didn’t think I was good enough for her. She has one way she wanted to live her life and I had another way to live mine and I was just too insecure,” Billy Bob Thornton said.

Although the famous couple had been so dedicated to one another, even to go as far as wearing a vile of each other’s blood as jewelry, they were only married from 2000 until 2003. Billy Bob Thornton said, “When you’re in a relationship, any two celebrities or whatever, you know, I think that puts on a lot of pressure. When Angie and I got married, during that time, I was more famous than she was to start with and then she becomes this big thing, it’s hard in these relationships.” He continued, “I did feel like the Phantom of the Opera hiding in the catacombs…People have actually said that I didn’t deserve to be with her.”

Billy Bob Thornton took responsibility for his failed marriage, which is something that is hardly ever seen with celebrities and civilians alike. “We had a great time together,” Billy Bob Thornton said. “We had a great marriage and I chickened out because I didn’t feel good enough. That’s all that happened. It was no big deal, we never hated each other.” This statement is not only proved by the fact that they still remain friends, but it can be seen in Jolie’s forward for his upcoming memoir.

Angelina Jolie wrote, “Some people walk through life able to quiet the voices in their heads. He can’t. And I, and everyone else who knows him well, we love him for it. I know one thing: The world would certainly be a hell of a lot more dull if that man weren’t in it.”

Flesh eating bacteria victim Aimee Copeland is recovering well

Father of victim says daughter is communicating through lip reading

The flesh eating bacteria that claimed Aimee Copeland’s leg may not claim her remaining foot and fingers, something that doctors had been anticipating.

The flesh eating bacteria has kept Copeland in intensive care in an Augusta hospital with a ventilator, but the 24-year-old is still smiling, laughing and communicating by mouthing words to her family.

Copeland’s father, Andy, said of her good spirits, “The nurses commented that the ICU that we’re in sounds like a game show.” The family makes a game out of lip reading, “She really has fun with it, and we all end up laughing,” said her father after describing how her request for a laptop was mistaken for a “lamb chop.”

The medication Copeland is on for combating the flesh eating bacteria has left her to not remember the accident.  Her father said, “I don’t know that she’s aware yet that she’s lost her left leg.” He is excited for his daughter to become strong enough to communicate, butn he knows it’ll be bittersweet because she will also learn and comprehend her situation. “It’s going to be sweet because she finally, we can communicate with her. But at the same time, it’s going to be bitter because there will be certain things revealed to her that will be painful.”

Andy Copeland told the Associated Press (AP) that doctors now believe they will be able to save the palms of Aimee’s hands, her fingers and her right foot; parts of her body that her family believed she would have to lose just days ago. “The doctor can’t fathom a reason for why she’s improved the way she has. Her spirits are extraordinarily high. I am absolutely amazed,” Andy Copeland told AP.

The flesh eating bacteria victim has shifted her questions from where she is to how her sister’s boyfriend is doing, a sign to her father of his daughter’s resilience.

However, Andy Copeland told the AP, “She’s going to be here for months. She’s going to need to regrow skin that was removed. She’s going to need to learn to use prosthetics. She’s going to still be on dialysis for a while.” Aimee Copeland not only has to deal with an amputation but also kidney failure and other organ damage that was caused by the flesh eating bacteria.

Copeland’s father went on Good Morning America to talk about his daughter’s condition with the flesh eating bacteria that has a rather high mortality rate. “I believe we’ve had victory over death here,” he said. “And that’s not something that happens every day.”

Solar eclipse will be visible to East Asia and West North America

Annular eclipse should last about four minutes

A solar eclipse of the annular kind will occur this Sunday, May 20th.

The solar eclipse will be best viewed throughout Eastern Asia and Western North America. The sun will be blotted out by 94 percent by the moon, leaving a “ring of fire” in the sky for a few minutes. Other parts of the U.S. and Canada will be able to see part of the solar eclipse but the East Coast will completely miss it as the sun will have set before the solar eclipse begins.

The Huffington Post gives a great description in the solar eclipse that is scheduled for Sunday, “Annular eclipses are similar to total eclipses in that the moon lines up with the sun dead-on. But in this case, the moon is close to apogee—the farthest point from Earth in its elliptical orbit around our planet—so it’s a smidge too small in the sky to cover the solar disk completely. As a result, a ring of bring sunlight will still blaze around the moon’s circumference.”

Even though Sunday’s solar eclipse will cover most of the sun, it is still dangerous to look directly at it. There are several safety tips out there for watching the solar eclipse with care, and one will make you feel like a kid again. A pinhole projector is an easy way to indirectly watch the moons path, but if you would like to watch it directly, many experts suggest buying a No. 14 welder’s glass.

The solar eclipse is guessed to begin around 5:30 p.m. PDT and is expected to last about four and a half minutes. The Huffington Post gives a timeline of the solar eclipse:

5:24 p.m.: Eclipse begins
6:38 p.m.: Maximum eclipse
7:42 p.m.: Eclipse ends
7:52 p.m.: Sunset

The Huffington Post also suggests the best places to view the upcoming solar eclipse including Joshua Tree, Malibu Canyon, and the Griffith Observatory. Many places in the West are also planning viewing parties.

John Travolta in third sexual assault lawsuit

“Victim” number three has been identified

John Travolta is in hot water for the third time with another sexual assault suit surfacing. This time, the victim claims that John Travolta offered him money in exchange for sex on a Royal Caribbean cruise during a massage. This third alleged victim is the first to be identified.

John Travolta reportedly offered Fabian Zanzi $12,000 in 2009 to have sex. Zanzi said, “He hugged me and asked me to do a massage.”

Earlier in the week, John Travolta was hit with a $2 million civil lawsuit by two anonymous masseurs. MTV reported that these allegations are “a complete fiction and fabrication.” Marty Singer spoke on Travolta’s behalf, “None of the events claimed in the suit ever occurred. The plaintiff, who refuses to give their name, knows that the suit is a baseless lie. It is for that reason that the plaintiff hasn’t been identified with a name though it is required to do so.”

Singer also said of Zanzi, “This individual is simply hopping on the bandwagon to get his 15 minutes of fame by coming up with a story for the first time with something that supposedly happened over three years ago. Nobody has ever heard from this guy before. No lawyer has contacted us.”

However, MTV reports that one of the John Does was advised to preserve any hotel surveillance tapes from the night of the alleged incident. An unidentified source close to the case said, “The surveillance video will be crucial evidence in the case because it shows Travolta going to the spa the next day after it is claimed the incident occurred, looking for the masseur, because he wanted to see him again, which all detailed in the lawsuit. Travolta was told the masseur wasn’t available and he left. The masseur was extremely upset when he left Travolta’s room, which would have been captured on the camera in the hallway as well.”

John Travolta has been fighting rumors that he is gay for years, and these recent allegations aren’t helping his straight image.

The suit filed is 14 pages and charges John Travolta with assault, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Mitt Romney bully story works its way out of the cracks

Witnesses to hazing incident led by Romney recall it as “senseless”

The Mitt Romney bully story is one that sheds a different light on the Mormon presidential candidate. The Mitt Romney bully story goes something like this; he didn’t like the look of the new kid because he had long dyed blond hair and decided to cut it off. His friends pinned the kid down and Romney cut off his hair. In an act that seems like an extreme form of hazing, it seems strange that Mitt Romney doesn’t remember being a bully.

In a Washington Post story, that chronicles the events of the Mitt Romney bully incident by first-hand accounts from Romney’s classmates that helped him do it: Matthew Friedman, Phillip Maxwell, Thomas Buford and David Seed. They all attended the prestigious Cranbrook School, which was known for its manicured fields and sharp looking students who were required to wear suits jackets and ties.

“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me. What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do,” said Buford, who was one of the ones to restrain John Lauber, the long-haired new kid. Friedman claims Lauber “was just easy pickin’s” when Romney first targeted him for his looks. Friedman recalls Romney saying, “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” Some reports say that Romney and his friends targeting Lauber because they thought he may have been gay.

Friedman felt guilty for not stopping the Mitt Romney bully incident, and when he ran into Lauber in the mid 90s at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, he finally got to apologize. He said, “I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation.” Lauber responded, “It was horrible,” and a description of how frightened he was. “It’s soemthign I have thought about a lot since then.”

Romney has “apologized” for the incident; though, he claims that he doesn’t remember his role as a bully. He said, “Back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that. I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.”

According to the Washington Post, Romney laughed when he said, “I don’t remember that incident. I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the farthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case.”

Romney added, “I’m a very different person that I was in high school, of course, but I’m glad that I learned as much as I did during those high school year. I’m quite a different guy now. I’m married, have five sons, five daughters-in-law, and now 18 grandchildren.” Well, we certainly hope he didn’t have grandchildren in high school.

“There’s going to be some that want to talk about high school,” said Romney. “Well, if you really think that’s important, be my guest.”

Oldest Mayan calender discovered, end of the world not in our lifetime

Sorry doomsday activists

The Mayan Calendar that supposedly has predicted the end of the world (December 21 of this year, by the way) has been cancelled out thanks to a new discovery.

The oldest Mayan calendar has just been discovered deep in a Guatemalan rainforest by Boston University’s archeologist William Saturno. This Mayan calendar goes well beyond this year’s doomsday prediction.

In 2010, Saturno was mapping the ancient Maya city of Xultun in northeast Guatemala when one of his undergraduate students made the discovery. The student decided to take a peek into an old trench that has been dug out by looters. The student reported to Saturno that he had seen traces of ancient paint, a comment which Saturno didn’t think would bring about anything worthwhile. CS Moniter reported that Saturno “felt he had a responsibility to excavate the room the looters had tried to reach, if only to be able to report the size of the structure along with the paint finding.”

That’s when he saw a mural of a kind and the oldest Mayan calendar, to date. “The calendar seemed to have been added after the murals were completed, as some of the numbers cover up painted figures on the wall. It’s almost as if an ancient scribe got sick of flipping through a document to find his timkeeping chart and decided to put it on the wall for at-a-glance reference,” reported CS Moniter.

The complicated hieroglyphics of the Mayan calendar is a big find because the only other calendar and astronomical tables came from the Dresden Codex, which dates back around the 11th or 12th century. This new Mayan calendar, painted in black and red, is dated around A.D. 800.

In case you forgot, CS Moniter gives an understable explanation of why 12-21-2012 has been the doomsday prediction for so long: “The Maya recorded time in a series of cycles, including 400-year chunks called baktuns. It’s these baktuns that have led to rumors of an end-of-the-world catastrophe on Dec. 21, 2012—on that date, a cycle of 13 baktun will be complete. But the idea that his means the end of the world is a misconception. In fact, Maya experts have known for a long time that the calendar doesn’t end after the 13th baktun. It simply begins a new cycle.”

Take a breath of relief because archaeologist David Stuart of the University of Texas who helped decipher the new discovery, “The Mayan calendar is going to keep going for billions, trillions, octillion of years into the future; numbers we can’t even wrap our heads around.”

Chris Andersen involved in child pornography investigation

Denver Nuggets is down one player due to search at Andersens house

Chris Andersen of the Denver Nuggets has been excused indefinitely from all his team-related activities after a search was done on his home.

Chris “Birdman” Andersen is under investigation by the sheriff’s department Internet Crimes Against Children unit. It has been confirmed that property of Chris Andersen had been removed from his house but nothing specific has been confirmed.

P. Solomon Banda of the Associated Press released the following statement about the investigation surrounding Chris Andersen.

“Sheriff’s spokesman Ron Hanavan confirmed that the search took place Thursday. Andersen has not been arrested and Hanavan said no arrest warrant has been issued. The department began investigating Andersen in February after receiving information from a law enforcement agency in California. Hanavan declined to release details, including the nature of any pending charges, citing an ongoing investigation. He said they’re asking that the case be sealed. Andersen answered the door at his Larkspur, Colo., home, about 40 miles south of Denver, and let deputies in, said Deborah Sherman, another sheriff’s spokesperson. ‘He did cooperate. He spoke with deputies,’ Sherman said. The unit investigating Andersen investigates child porn, Internet luring, child predator and child pornography.”

Chris Andersen did not play in Game 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers, but he hasn’t had much playing time this season anyway.

Nuggets coach George Karl said on Thursday before the game, “For me right now, I think I’m at a stage where I don’t know enough information. I think we all were advised probably not to talk about it until we know the information. The only thing I will say is I trust Chris. In my years with him, he’s been fantastic. I think he’s really grown as a person. We’re going to support him and stand by him.”