The boss of security company Blackwater, which is being investigated for shooting deaths in Iraq, has been accused of a series of crimes including murder and weapons smuggling.
Accusations in sworn affidavits lodged at a Virginia court state founder Erik Prince either murdered or had killed former employees co-operating with federal investigators.
The company, which was recently renamed XE, was the most prominent of an army of private security companies employed by the Pentagon and State Department to protect military convoys and guard U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
The claims against Mr Prince are being made by two former employees including a former Marine.
In the court papers, lodged on Monday night, the employees have sworn themselves anonymously as John Doe No 1 and John Doe No 2, saying they feared for their lives if their identities were revealed.
In one of the statements, John Doe 2, who worked for Blackwater for four years, alleged that Mr Prince 'views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,' The Times newspaper reported.
He further claimed that Mr Prince's companies 'encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life'.
He added: 'He sought every opportunity to deploy men to Iraq in order to earn more money from the United States government.'
Thursday, August 6, 2009
A 26-year-old man who was once a would-be pop star has been arrested along with three co-workers on suspicion of stealing pachinko balls from a pachinko parlor where they work in Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture, police said Wednesday.
The four, including Kazuki Matsumoto who belonged to entertainment agency Johnny & Associates that has famous pop music groups like SMAP under its wings, are suspected of removing equipment that counts the number of balls from pachinko machines and stealing around 3,300 pachinko balls on the night of Dec. 25 last year.
[...] The police said the four, who have admitted to the charges, divided the proceeds worth about 8,000 yen after cashing the balls. The four were quoted as saying by the police that they did it "on a routine basis."
A federal judge has cleared the way for the government's seizure of a creationism theme park in Pensacola owned by a couple convicted of tax fraud.
A ruling by U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers states that the nine properties that make up Dinosaur Adventure Land as well as two bank accounts associated with the park will be used to satisfy $430,400 owed to the federal government.
Kent Hovind, who founded the park and a ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, is serving 10 years in federal prison for failing to pay the Internal Revenue Service more than $470,000 in employee taxes.
He was found guilty in November 2006 on 58 counts, including failure to pay employee taxes and making threats against investigators.
The conviction culminated 17 years of Hovind sparring with the IRS. Saying he was employed by God and his ministers were not subject to payroll taxes, he claimed no income or property.
What would you do if you saw an crocodile walking down an airplane aisle? Perhaps you'd rub your eyes, shake your head to clear any cobwebs, clean your glasses-- if you wore them and ask, "Is that a crocodile?"
Wouldn't a crocodile be about the last thing you'd expect to see walking down an airplane aisle? Particularly if it were pushing the drink cart? Just kidding about the drink cart, but there was a crocodile.
The crocodile created an uproar on an EgyptAir flight last Friday when it was seen peppering its trip down the aisle with forays underneath the seats. The flight, on its way to Cairo from Abu Dhabi, was not the most relaxing ride for the thirty passengers who did what they could to avoid the reptilian stowaway.
I say stowaway because no one claimed responsibility for the crocodile's presence on board. Maybe the crocodile was looking for a free ride to the Giza Zoo. That's where it ended up once the crew caught it and the plane landed.
Midtown Lunch has got the scoop!
Just because so much has been written about street vendors verbally threatening other street vendors doesn’t mean that people should get the impression that it never gets physical. In fact earlier today two ice cream vendors got into a fist fight over the corner of 6th Ave and 50th Street. The cops were already on scene when I walked up, and an ambulance showed up shortly thereafter (although it looked like only one vendor was hurt, and it was just a black eye.) I’m not sure exactly what happened because both the Police sergeant and the vendors pretty much refused to talk to me- but it looked like the vendors were given the opportunity to press charges and both get arrested, or make up with each other and just receive tickets. It looked to me like they both chose citations (natch), and the ice cream truck left pretty soon thereafter.
As contentious as you normally hear the relationship is between cops and vendors, this interaction looked pretty civil. I guess the cops mind less when the vendors are beating up each other.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
On his own 48th birthday, US President Barack Obama Tuesday turned the spotlight on a reporter also celebrating her special day, who pitched up at the White House in the year he was born.
Obama sang “Happy Birthday” and presented Helen Thomas, the doyenne of the White House press corps, with cupcakes and a single candle to celebrate her 89th birthday, before planting a kiss on her cheek.
The outspoken Thomas, who has covered every president since John F. Kennedy, spoke quietly to Obama, who ignored reporters’ shouted questions about his own birthday and ex-president Bill Clinton’s mercy mission to North Korea.
“Helen wished for world peace, (and) no prejudice, but she and I also had a common birthday wish,” Obama said.
“She said she wishes for a healthcare reform bill,” Obama said, referring to his signature domestic reform legislation, working its tortuous way through Congress.
North Korean President Kim Jong Il has pardoned and ordered the release of two U.S. journalists, state-run news agency KCNA said Wednesday.
The announcement came after former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with top North Korean officials in Pyongyang to appeal for the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been arrested while reporting from the border between North Korea and China.
"Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it," the news agency reported. "Clinton courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.
"The meetings had candid and in-depth discussions on the pending issues between the DPRK and the U.S. in a sincere atmosphere and reached a consensus of views on seeking a negotiated settlement of them."
The report said Clinton then conveyed a message from President Obama "expressing profound thanks for this and reflecting views on ways of improving the relations between the two countries."
It added, "The measure taken to release the American journalists is a manifestation of the DPRK's humanitarian and peace-loving policy.
"The DPRK visit of Clinton and his party will contribute to deepening the understanding between the DPRK and the U.S. and building the bilateral confidence."
DPRK is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the nation's official name.
The two American journalists had been held in the reclusive communist nation since their arrest in March.
Earlier in the day, White House Secretary Robert Gibbs said Clinton was on a "solely private mission to secure the release of two Americans."
Ling and Lee are reporters for California-based Current TV -- a media venture launched by Clinton's former vice president, Al Gore.
The two were sentenced in June to 12 years in prison on charges of entering the country illegally to conduct a smear campaign. Since the United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, efforts to resolve the issue had been handled through Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea.
A mysterious 'alien like' creature horrified holidaymakers after it washed up on a beach on the Gower Peninsula in Wales.
The writhing mass of tentacles, which measured 3ft from end to end, was described by a zoology expert today as 'like something out of Doctor Who'.
Hundreds of people flocked to Oxwich Beach near Swansea to catch a glimpse of the monster.
But fears of a UFO invasion were put to rest as scientists revealed it was a seething mass of goose barnacles that was swept up from the depths of the ocean by bad weather.The barnacles - long writhing stalks or pendulates, tipped with shells - are normally found deep below the waves, but were washed up clinging to a log.
Professor Paul Brain, of Swansea University, said: 'One child screamed out that it resembled something from Dr Who and I would have to agree with her - it made very bizarre viewing.
'In fact they were probably the biggest specimens of free-floating goose barnacles I've seen.
'The log is about two metres long and as thick as a telegraph pole so I wouldn't be surprised if there were a couple of thousand barnacles on there.'
Holidaymaker Rebecca Porter said the log was like 'a large living sea monster'.
She said: 'The stalk on which the puffin-shaped head sat on was soft and rubbery and moved like a snake.
'They appeared to be attached to a piece of driftwood but it could hardly be seen as it was densely covered with these huge tentacles that opened and closed, thrusting out fronds like uncurling ferns.'
Monday, August 3, 2009
Police in Fraser, Michigan, reported that a 54-year-old man assaulted a female friend with whom he was playing Monopoly on Saturday night. Police appeared to believe that the woman's offense, refusing to sell the man Park Place and Boardwalk, did not justify being punched in the face.
The angry Monopoly player, who probably had also gotten stuck using the thimble, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery.
This is the most serious board-game-related assault of which I'm aware since the 2007 incident involving a fatal dispute over a game of Yahtzee.
A beauty pageant for landmine victims has been cancelled by the Cambodian government, which branded it an insult to disabled people.
Authorities said the contest, due to launch on Friday, would damage "the dignity and honour" of participants.
Twenty women were to have competed for the title of Miss Landmine and the prize of a high-tech prosthetic limb.
Norwegian organiser Morten Traavik expressed disappointment, but said the contest would go ahead on the internet.
He said the result would be announced on 31 December. The website shows photos of the contestants, with missing limbs, wearing crowns and dresses. They are aged from 18 to 48.
Between four and six million landmines are thought to have been laid in Cambodia during its three decades of civil war.
A teenager who was 'decapitated' in a junior car race crash has amazed doctors by returning to the track.
Chris Stewart, 14, looked odds-on to die after his skull and neck were separated, reports The Sun.
Only six people in the world are known to have survived the injury - and Chris is the first to make a full recovery.
He underwent a seven-hour op to reattach his skull to his spine using titanium plates and screws.
Mum Debbie, 43, said: "We didn't know if he'd even survive, walk or talk. So it's unbelievable he's back driving again."
Chris was 12 when his car hit a barrier, trapping him, as he led the race in September 2006.
Paramedics steadied his head, a one millimetre movement either way could have killed him, and took him to Southampton General Hospital.
Doctors told Debbie and fiancé Paul Cornell, 50, that Chris had only a seven per cent chance of survival and the op was his only hope.
Nine months later he was walking - after learning to speak and eat. And doctors cleared him to drive earlier this year.
Debbie has outlawed car racing, but allows go-karting as it's "more controlled". Chris is now a regular at a track near his home in Fareham, Hampshire.
D'oh: Catholic bank owned shares in birth control pill companies.
Yipes: Scorned women superglue cheating husband's member.
ZombieWatch: Amusement park workers sent to Zombie Boot Camp (with video).
Duh: Video gamers hooked for life.
Dorky: 5 snacks that are shaped like the universe.
A notorious sleaze merchant could be on the hook for nearly $100,000 after opening an unauthorized Subway sandwich shop that doubled as an after-dark strip club.
A federal magistrate has recommended slamming Anthony "Cousin Vinny" Agnello with triple damages for serving up deli delights by day and nudes at night, according to a report filed Tuesday.
Magistrate Frank Maas said Agnello -- who gained infamy after supplying the stripper for a wild high-school party in 2001 -- should pay the fast-food giant's corporate parent $90,000, plus another $7,900 for its legal fees.
Doctor's Associates Inc., which operates Subway, estimated Agnello took in about $23,000 in profits from the eatery last year.
Agnello -- who last year told The Post he started slinging sandwiches because "the money in stripping isn't as profitable as it used to be" -- did not return calls.
FORT WORTH, Texas — At first, fire officials suspected that carbon monoxide or some other poisonous fumes might have sickened almost 150 people at a Fort Worth bank call center.
What they learned was they were fallen by perfume.
MedStar ambulance spokeswoman Lara Kohl says 34 people were taken to hospitals, 12 by ambulance, after reporting dizziness and shortness of breath at the Bank of America call center. She says another 110 were treated at the scene and released.
Fort Worth fire Lt. Kent Worley says hazardous material specialists checked for carbon monoxide or other hazardous fumes, but found nothing.
A worker told a fire investigator that two co-workers became ill after someone sprayed on perfume. When a supervisor announced on the office intercom that those feeling ill should leave, dozens did — including some from other floors.
East Colombia's delicacy, hormigas culonas, almost literally translated as big ass ants, made a gastronomic evolutionary leap after two businessmen decided to market them not just regularly friend, but with lemon and spicy barbecue flavor.
The ants are traditionally eaten in the Santander department, bordering Venezuela. The insects are huge, hence the 'big ass ants' nickname and usually are eaten deep fried.
Two locals came up with the idea to spice the ants and put them in a little colorful box, so they can be eaten as snacks and not only fresh from the frying pan.
The inventors of the flavored insects are now working on cheese-flavored and chocolate-flavored ants and hope to be allowed to export the new delicacy so other parts of the world can enjoy the Santander department's culinary novelty.
A New York City woman who says she can't find a job is suing the college where she earned a bachelor's degree.
Trina Thompson filed a lawsuit last week against Monroe College in Bronx Supreme Court, The New York Post reports. The 27-year-old is seeking the $70,000 she spent on tuition. Thompson says she's been unable to find gainful employment since she received her information technology degree in April.
She says the Bronx school's Office of Career Advancement hasn't provided her with the leads and career advice it promises.
Monroe College spokesman Gary Axelbank says Thompson's lawsuit is completely without merit.
The college insists it helps its graduates find jobs.
Armed with explosives, two men are heading to Mongolia's desert to find the fabled acid-spitting and lightning-throwing Mongolian death worm.
The worm- allegedly found in the country's Gobi Desert- has never been documented but locals strongly believe it exists.
The worm- about 1.5m long- apparently jumps out of the sand and kills people by spitting concentrated acid or shooting lightning from its rectum over long distances.
New Zealand resident and journalist David Farrier will spend two weeks trying to verify the worm's existence.
He and cameraman Christie Douglas will make a documentary about their adventure.