Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ebizauctions - Americans unload prized belongings to make ends meet

By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO – 17 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — The for-sale listings on the online hub Craigslist come with plaintive notices, like the one from the teenager in Georgia who said her mother lost her job and pleaded, "Please buy anything you can to help out."

Or the seller in Milwaukee who wrote in one post of needing to pay bills — and put a diamond engagement ring up for bids to do it.

Struggling with mounting debt and rising prices, faced with the toughest economic times since the early 1990s, Americans are selling prized possessions online and at flea markets at alarming rates.

To meet higher gas, food and prescription drug bills, they are selling off grandmother's dishes and their own belongings. Some of the household purging has been extremely painful — families forced to part with heirlooms.

"This is not about downsizing. It's about needing gas money," said Nancy Baughman, founder of eBizAuctions, an online auction service she runs out of her garage in Raleigh, N.C. One former affluent customer is now unemployed and had to unload Hermes leather jackets and Versace jeans and silk shirts.

At Craigslist, which has become a kind of online flea market for the world, the number of for-sale listings has soared 70 percent since last July. In March, the number of listings more than doubled to almost 15 million from the year-ago period.

Craigslist CEO Jeff Buckmaster acknowledged the increasing popularity of selling all sort of items on the Web, but said the rate of growth is "moving above the usual trend line." He said he was amazed at the desperate tone in some ads.

In Daleville, Ala., Ellona Bateman-Lee has turned to eBay and flea markets to empty her three-bedroom mobile home of DVDs, VCRs, stereos and televisions.

She said she needs the cash to help pay for soaring food and utility bills and mounting health care expenses since her husband, Bob, suffered an electric shock on the job as a dump truck driver in 2006 and is now disabled.

Among her most painful sales: her grandmother's teakettle. She sold it for $6 on eBay.
"My grandmother raised me, so it hurt," she said. "We've had bouts here and there, but we always got by. This time it's different."

Economists say it is difficult to compare the selling trend with other tough times because the Internet, only in wide use since the mid-1990s, has made it much easier to unload goods than, say, at pawn shops.

But clearly, cash-strapped people are selling their belongings at bargain prices, with a flood of listings for secondhand cars, clothing and furniture hitting the market in recent months, particularly since January.

Earlier this decade, people tapped their inflated home equity and credit cards to fuel a buying binge. Now, slumping home values and a credit crisis have sapped sources of cash.
Meanwhile, soaring gas and food prices haven't kept pace with meager wage growth. Gas prices have already hit $4 per gallon in some places, and that could become more widespread this summer. The weakening job market is another big worry.

Christine Hadley, a 53-year-old registered nurse from Reading, Pa., says she used to be "a clotheshorse," splurging on pricey Dooney & Bourke handbags. But her live-in boyfriend left last year, and she has had trouble finding a job.

Piles of unpaid bills forced her to sell more than 80 items, including the handbags, which went for more than $1,000 on a site called Now, except for some artwork and threadbare furniture, her house is looking sparse.

"I need the money for essentials — to pay my bills and to eat," Hadley said.

At, which helps novices sell things online, for-sale listings rose 66 percent from February to March, much faster than the 25 percent to 30 percent average monthly pace since the company was formed in September, CEO Maureen Ellenberger said. She said she was surprised to see that most of her clients desperately needed to sell items to raise cash.

For, a classifieds and business directory site, for-sale listings for January through March rose 10 percent from the previous year.

"We can definitely detect economic stress on the part of the consumer," said John Raven, the site's chief operating officer.

On Craigslist, Buckmaster said, three of the four fastest-growing for-sale categories are tied to gas — recreational vehicles like campers and trailers, cars and trucks, and boats.
Raven noted more and more listings for furniture, particularly in areas around Miami and Las Vegas and other regions hardest hit by the housing crisis.

Baughman, who runs eBizAuctions, said that over the past four months she's been working with mostly desperate sellers instead of mainly casual ones. Most are middle-class customers who can't pay their bills and now want to be paid up front for the items instead of waiting until they are sold, she said.

The trend may be hurting secondhand stores too. Donations to the Salvation Army were down 20 percent in the January-to-March period. George Hood, the charity's national community relations and development secretary, said that was probably partly because people were selling their belongings instead.

And secondhand buyers want better deals now as well, driving prices down. Secondhand merchandise online is going for 25 to 35 percent below what it commanded a year ago, estimated Brian Riley, senior analyst at research firm The TowerGroup.

"It won't hit the saturation point until the (economy) hits the bottom and right now, we don't know when that is," he said.

In Alabama, Bateman-Lee said that she only received $30 for her TV and $45 for her DVD player at a local flea market. She doesn't have too much left to sell, but she's going back to "sort through more things."

Her $30 water bill is due this week.

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Shooting Leaves Campus on Lockdown

Atlanta, GA 4/30/2008 03:10 PM GMT (FINDITT)

Florida Atlantic University cancelled classes Wednesday after a shooting at a party Tuesday night.

Police are looking for the gunman who fired two shots during a party on the FAU campus. One person, who is not a student at the school, was injured slight in the shooting at the University Village Apartments. It was not clear if the person was actually hit by a bullet.

The FAU campus is on lockdown. Classes were canceled at the Boca Raton campus and students are being told to stay in their dorm rooms while police continue their search.

A new alert system at Florida Atlantic was activated, which triggered sirens, mass e-mails and other announcements over a school communication system.

The new system was praised with controlling the student body after the shooting.
Florida Atlantic University president Marc Brogan said that the FAU campus will be on lockdown until either the gunman is caught or it is determined that he is no longer on campus.

Final exams were scheduled today, but will be postponed. Graduation is set for Friday and is expected to go on as scheduled.
Article Source:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

'Dancing' star Cristian de la Fuente injuries arm, status uncertain

By Christopher Rocchio, 04/29/2008

Cristian de la Fuente suffered an arm injury during last night's live Dancing with the Stars sixth-season performance episode -- and his professional partner Cheryl Burke apparently thinks it's worse than the original diagnosis.

Following de la Fuente and Burke's first performance of the night -- a Viennese waltz that earned them a 25 from the judges -- the couple performed a samba, and his left forearm was visibly in pain towards the end of the routine.

"Let's find out what's going on," host Tom Bergeron said once the routine was over. "What happened buddy?"

"I pulled a muscle," de la Fuente answered as the studio audience was silent. "I tried to keep going."

"Do you want to get the judges' [comments]. We can go to commercial?" asked Bergeron.

"I'm fine," replied de la Fuente, holding his left arm.

"You know what? Let's go to a break just so we can check this out," said Bergeron.

Once the live broadcast came back from break, de la Fuente's arm was wrapped with ice.

"The EMT diagnosed a severe muscle cramp in the arm. He said hopefully it will loosen up," said Bergeron.

"Live television," said de la Fuente.

"That's exactly right," said Bergeron. "It's really hard to comment right now," said judge Carrie Ann Inaba before Bergeron asked how the routine would be scored.

"You judge up until the point that the injury occurred. That was hard, because it was kind of just throughout the whole end. I'm really sorry we didn't get to see this routine because I was really looking forward to it. But I really appreciate that you went the whole round. You were there for Cheryl."

Fellow judge Len Goodman agreed with Inaba and called de la Fuente "brave."

"When you get an injury like that, just to carry on and keep going I thought was very brave," he said. "Well done."

"This is such an unfortunate event. You cannot predict what happens," commented Bruno Tonioli. "You did your best, and we appreciate that. We have to judge on what we saw, but I hope you are coming back because you are a great performer."

Once de la Fuente and Burke were backstage, Inaba, Goodman and Tonioli all scored the routine a seven for a combined score of 21.

"It hurts," de la Fuente told Dancing with the Stars host Samantha Harris. "It hurts the arm and it hurts that I couldn't do it. It's tough."

The telenevola actor was subsequently taken to the hospital and his status for tonight's live results show -- and the remainder of the competition -- is still unknown.

Burke later explained what happened during the routine.

"Well, we were doing the samba and then the first drop I do in his arms, I hear a crack," the two-time mirror ball trophy winner told Access Hollywood after last night's Dancing with the Stars broadcast. "I heard something pop, and I thought maybe I just stepped on my dress or something. All of a sudden, he couldn't dip me in the dip and I was like, 'What's happening?'"

Burke added she thinks "it's a little bit more than a muscle cramp."

"I believe that he's a strong man. He wouldn't just leave if it was a cramp in his arm," she told Access Hollywood. "He's actually in the hospital right now, so for sure it's something worse. I don't know what it is, but for sure there's something wrong."

Burke's fellow Dancing with the Stars professional Karina Smirnoff agreed that "it could not possibly be a pulled muscle." "He could actually have a torn meniscus in his elbow," Smirnoff told Access Hollywood. "I know last season when Mark Ballas was dancing with [Sabrina Bryan] he actually ripped the muscles and ligaments in his shoulder. He finished the dance with his arm hanging by his side." Ballas described de la Fuente's injury as "scary."

"You never know when these things are going to happen," he told Access Hollywood. "It's amazing to see him take an injury -- you know he felt it -- but he carried on. He was there for Cheryl... He was a soldier about it and we're all proud of him."

Ballas then said he "completely tore" his labrum and dislocated his shoulder during the fifth-season finale performance with Bryan -- an injury that required surgery two days after it occurred. "

I know how that feels, and I was proud of him tonight to carry on. That's tough," Ballas told

Access Hollywood.

Dorothy Dandridge Biography

Singer, actress. Born November 9, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio. Dandridge’s mother, the actress Ruby Dandridge, urged her two young daughters into show business in the 1930s, when they performed as a song-and-dance team billed as “The Wonder Children.” Dandridge left high school in the late 1930s and formed the Dandridge Sisters trio with her sister Vivian and Etta James. They performed with the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra and at the famous Cotton Club in Harlem, where Dandridge—who had a mixed racial heritage—early on confronted the segregation and racism of the entertainment industry.

As a teenager, Dandridge began to appear in small roles in a number of films, including the Marx Brothers film A Day at the Races (1937) and Drums of the Congo (1942). In 1945, she married Harold Nicholas of the dancing Nicholas Brothers (with whom she performed in the 1941 Sonja Henie musical Sun Valley Serenade); during their turbulent six-year marriage, Dandridge virtually retired from performing. A daughter, Harolyn, was born with severe brain damage in 1943; as Dandridge was unable to raise her herself, she placed the girl in foster care.

After her divorce in 1951, Dandridge returned to the nightclub circuit, this time as a successful solo singer. After a stint at the Mocambo club in Hollywood with Desi Arnaz’s band and a sell-out 14-week engagement at La Vie en Rose, she became an international star, performing at glamorous venues in London, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, and New York. She won her first starring film role in 1953’s Bright Road, playing an earnest and dedicated young schoolteacher opposite Harry Belafonte.

Her next role, as the eponymous lead in Carmen Jones (1954)—a film adaptation of Bizet’s opera Carmen that also costarred Belafonte—catapulted her to the heights of stardom. With her sultry looks and flirtatious style, Dandridge became the first African-American to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Though many believed she deserved to win, Dandridge eventually lost the award to Grace Kelly (The Country Girl). Still, after the phenomenal success of Carmen Jones, Dandridge seemed well on her way to becoming the first non-white actress to achieve the kind of superstardom that had accrued to contemporaries like Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner. In 1955, she was featured on the cover of Life magazine, and was treated like visiting royalty at that year’s Cannes Film Festival.

In the years that followed her success with Carmen Jones, however, Dandridge had trouble finding film roles that suited her talents. Her only other great film was 1959’s Porgy and Bess, in which she played Bess opposite Sidney Poitier. She turned down the supporting role of Tuptim in The King and I because she refused to play a slave. It was rumored that she would play Billie Holliday in a film version of Lady Sings the Blues directed by Orson Welles, but it never panned out. In the racially disharmonious 1950s, Hollywood filmmakers could not seem to create a suitable role for the light-skinned Dandridge, and they soon reverted to subtly prejudiced visions of interracial romance. She appeared in several poorly received racially and sexually charged dramas, including Island in the Sun (1957), co-starring Belafonte and Joan Fontaine, Tamango (1959)—in which she played the mistress of the captain of a slave ship—and Malaga (1960).
Read more here

Report: Alleged Jimi Hendrix Sex Tape Set for Release

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
A Los Angeles porn company is planning to release a film supposedly showing guitar legend Jimi Hendrix having sex with two women, according to a report in the New York Times on Tuesday.
According to Vivid Entertainment, the film, which has no audio, allegedly shows Hendrix having sex with two women in a dimly-lit bedroom, the Times reports.

Vivid, which has also released sex tapes featuring Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee and Kim Kardashian, among others, says that the tape is authentic, and will be offered for sale in stores and for download Online, according to the Times report.

Click here to watch the tape.

“I believe that we did our due diligence, and as a result of that clearly believe that it’s him,” said Steven Hirsch, Vivid’s co-chairman told the Times. “If they said that it wasn’t him, I would never have put it out.”

Some who knew Hendrix, who died of a drug overdose in 1970 at the age of 27, disagree. Kathy Etchingham, one of his girlfriends from the 1960s, says the man in the film couldn’t be Hendrix.

“He would never have allowed anyone to see that,” she told the Times. “In private he was very shy and would cover up.”
Article Source:,2933,353018,00.html

Monday, April 28, 2008

Roger That: Roger Clemens and Mindy McCready?

Posted by Heather Muse at 9:50 AM, April 28, 2008

Wow, we did not see this coming on a rainy Monday morning. (Hey! It's a rainy day and Monday, something that always brings me down.) The Daily News drops a bombshell about Roger Clemens and his "SECRET AFFAIR." Their exclusive reports that for a decade, the Rocket had been carrying on with country singer Mindy McCready.

This is quite the big scoop, but what I'm really interested in is how the story is presented on the front page. The "SECRET AFFAIR" allegations are shocking enough, but it's curious why McCready's name isn't mentioned on page 1. The photo of her on the front has her eyes closed, and she almost looks like Paris Hilton. Could this be a clever ploy by the art department to sell more papers by making it look like Clemens spent a few years in Paris? Probably not.

As a person who likes to slice with Occam's razor as much as possible, I think it's probably just that McCready's country-star status might not play as much in the Big Apple. Keeping it mysterious cuts off any chances for a reader to say, "Huh, who?" and dismiss the story before the reader's fifty cents hits the newsstand.

The News takes care of the "just who is Mindy McCready?" section pretty deftly. For those who are not familiar with the musical products of Nashville, McCready first burst onto the scene in the mid-1990s. She's faced a number of career and legal woes that would make one hell of a country song. (Drug addiction? Check. Abusive relationship? Check. Arrest record? Check.) Now she's staging a comeback via documentary, and, yes, the requisite reality show. (No word on the network, but the title, Mending Mindy, sounds remarkably similar to VH1's other redemption-themed reality shows, Breaking Bonaduce and Saving Sizemore.)

New York, however, is a sports town, not a country-singing, tear-in-your-beer town, so the important question is, "How does this affect Roger?" Well, a lawyer for Clemens's former trainer Brian McNamee—whom Clemens is suing for defamation—says that this information benefits his client, as "If it's proved that [Clemens]'s a philanderer, his reputation is already damaged…Anything is fair game, including his claim of sanctimonious purity."

For the record, Clemens denies a sexual relationship with McCready, whom he first met in a karaoke bar in Florida when she was 15 and he was still pitching for the Red Sox. Clemens, lawyer, Rusty Hardin, issued this statement to the Daily News on behalf of Clemens:

"He flatly denies having had any kind of an inappropriate relationship with her…He's considered her a close family friend…He has never had a sexual relationship with her."

Miley Cyrus’ Vanity Fair Pictures Arrive

Mon, 28 April 2008 at 12:33 am
The Vanity Fair photo spread of Miley Cyrus has been released! As always, here are some of the interview highlights:

On Sex and the City: “It’s my favorite show! I love it! Obviously not the scenarios. But if you watch Sex and the City, like the way the friends are, the way that it’s dry and they all have distinct characters—that’s a thing we try to do on our show.”

On the infamous semi-topless shot: “No, I mean I had a big blanket on. And I thought, This looks pretty, and really natural. I think it’s really artsy. [And] it wasn’t in a skanky way.… And you can’t say no to [photographer Annie Leibovitz]. She’s so cute. She gets this puppy-dog look and you’re like, O.K.”

On whose career trajectory she’d like to follow: “Before, I’d say like Hilary Duff. But there can’t be a thousand Hilary Duffs. Then that doesn’t make Hilary special. And there can’t be a thousand Miley Cyruses, or that doesn’t make me special. That’s what a star is: they’re different. A celebrity is different. So, no, mostly I want to make my own path.”

On being well-adjusted to the fame and public attention: “That’s just my personality. I don’t get shaken or stirred up over anything. Which can be a problem sometimes. I’m just, like, so no emotions. I just don’t let things faze me. I’m very much like my dad. My dad’s like this.”
On being pals with paparazzi camped out of her gated home. “Sometimes there’ll be like 40. Sometimes 20, sometimes 30. Sometimes two. I’ll stop and I’ll do the picture. It’s really funny. They’ll buy our dinner and whatever. We’ve become friends.”

To see the behind-the-scenes pictures of Miley, her country superstar father Billy Ray, and momager Tish, visit You can also read the full article here.

Rebate relief languishes in Legislature

By Bob Johnson • The Associated Press • April 26, 2008

Alabama residents will begin receiving federal economic stimulus tax rebate checks next week -- about $600 for most single taxpayers and $1,200 for most families -- but they may not be able to spend it all in one place.

Barring quick action by the Alabama Legislature, some of the federal tax rebate will have to go to pay state income taxes. A bill that would exempt the federal rebate checks is stalled as the Legislature enters the final six days of the 2008 regular session.

The bill to exempt the rebates from state income taxes is waiting to be considered in the House and still must go to the Senate. The bill is stalled behind the state's education budget and a controversial corporate income tax measure.

Debates on the corporate income tax bill and the $6.3 billion education budget are expected to take up all of the time in the House next week, leaving just two days for the bill to pass in time to be considered in the Senate.

Early in the session, Gov. Bob Riley and the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the House and Senate had made it a priority to exempt the rebate checks from income taxes. But since the bill by Rep. Terry Spicer, D-Elba, was approved by the House Education Appropriations Committee in March it has been sitting on the calendar in the House.

"It is in line to be considered," House Speaker Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia, said.
Spicer said he hoped to be able to bring the bill to the floor for a vote after the House passes the education budget.

The bill was amended by the education appropriations committee to remove an incentive for businesses that's offered in the federal tax rebate package.

The federal package allows businesses to increase the amount that they deduct for the depreciating value of equipment. State law ties Alabama's depreciation schedule for businesses to the federal schedule, which means Alabama's schedule would go up automatically under the federal legislation. But the House committee voted to allow businesses to take only the current deduction.

Committee chairman Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, said the change in the business deduction was made to prevent a loss of about $59 million in tax revenue that goes to the state's education budget. Article Source:

Friday, April 25, 2008

'Baby Mama' is hoping to deliver this weekend

It carries an edge as it competes with 'Sarah Marshall' and 'Harold & Kumar.'

By Josh Friedman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 25, 2008

The folks behind Universal Pictures' new comedy "Baby Mama" must feel a bit like the guy in that old pop song: "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

"The female buddy movie starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, opening today on the final weekend before the summer movie season, had been scheduled to come out a week ago. But when Universal shuffled its slate, shifting "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" out of the comedy-loaded summer line-up and into the April 18 slot, it also pushed "Baby Mama" back a week to today.

So "Baby Mama" will vie for comedy fans not only against "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" -- the stoner romp from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. that figures to be its rival for the No. 1 spot at the box office -- but also against "Sarah Marshall," which skewed female in its opening weekend.

Consumer tracking gives the PG-13-rated "Baby Mama" a slim edge over the R-rated "Harold & Kumar," a sequel to the 2004 cult favorite "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," so it could top the charts with an opening in the $15-million to $18-million range.

One thing is certain: Considering its target audience, "Harold" figures to attract the longest lines at the concession stands.

Twentieth Century Fox's "Deception" -- which only sounds like a Michael Douglas-Sean Young thriller you might have seen on an airplane in the 1980s -- also opens nationwide, but it looks headed for a mere $5 million or less this weekend.

Universal executives, who moved "Sarah Marshall" up from its May 30 release date partly to get away from the heavily female "Sex and the City" and also to avoid a pileup of films from prolific producer Judd Apatow, say the jostling will have a "negligible" effect on the box-office results this weekend for both of its comedies.

"Baby Mama," which cost about $30 million to produce, is less racy than "Sarah Marshall," they note, and different enough from the male-oriented "Harold & Kumar" that both new films can find their audiences.

"Baby Mama," an odd-couple tale about a successful, infertile businesswoman who hires a flaky working-class gal to be her unlikely surrogate, is the strong first choice for this weekend among females, especially those under 25, according to tracking polls.

"Harold," which reunites John Cho and Kal Penn as the pot-smoking pals with a knack for finding trouble, is tracking well among males under 25, especially teenagers, but its restrictive rating could hurt.

Even so, "Harold" needed to retain its R-rated edge to satisfy fans of the franchise, and it looks like a solid bet to turn a profit. Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, screenwriters of the original, wrote and directed this one.

The low-budget original grossed only $18.3 million domestically during its full theatrical run, but performed like a mini-Austin Powers movie on DVD, racking up more than $30 million in sales.

The sequel, produced for $12 million, has a chance to zoom past the original at the box office in a single weekend, said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner. The studio handles New Line's releases under the recent consolidation by corporate parent Time Warner Inc.

Fellman said he couldn't recall a movie that did as little box office as the first "Harold & Kumar" yielding a follow-up. But because of the franchise's higher profile now, he said the new one would flourish.

"I don't think this is our Academy Awards run for the year," Fellman said, "but these guys have made a funny movie along the lines of 'Superbad.' "

"Deception," an erotic blackmail drama starring Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams, could crack this weekend's top five -- but only because the overall market remains slow.

Moviegoers and theater owners are eagerly awaiting next week's summer kickoff. Paramount Pictures' "Iron Man" will benefit from pent-up demand for popcorn escapism: Early tracking and positive buzz point to an opening of at least $60 million.

2010: D-day for the Internet as it hits full capacity?

Doom-filled warnings arrive from AT&T this week. The company says that without substantial investment in network infrastructure, the Internet will essentially run out of bandwidth in just two short years.

Blame broadband, says AT&T. Decades of dealing with the trickle of bandwidth consumed by voice and dialup modems left AT&T twiddling its thumbs. The massive rise of DSL and cable modem service in the 2000s has had AT&T facing a monstrous increase in the volume of data transmissions. And that's set to increase another 50 times between now and 2015. That's enough, says AT&T, to all but crash the system.

In response, AT&T says it's investing $19 billion to upgrade the backbone of the Internet, the routers, servers, and connections where the bulk of traffic is processed.

Of course, AT&T is using this breathlessness in part to point fingers beyond simple broadband use. Web video (especially high-definition video) is the most commonly mentioned bandwidth hog. AT&T says video alone will eat up 80 percent of traffic in two years vs. just 30 percent now. One wonders how YouTube doesn't collapse under the pressure. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, many are wondering whether this is prelude to AT&T announcing (or not announcing, but doing anyway) a traffic prioritization/shaping system like Comcast has been tinkering with... and which has earned it nothing but scorn. Net neutrality (which would forbid premium pricing for certain Internet applications and destinations) is a topic that continues to be hotly debated on Capitol Hill, and telcos are anxious to kill the idea since they'd love to be able to charge additional money for different kinds of web traffic. If the whole Internet is about to crash, well, that makes AT&T's argument all the more compelling, doesn't it?

Article Source:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kenneth Keith Kallenbach is Dead

It was just reported on the Kidd Chris Show moments ago, that Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, Howard Stern Wackpacker and erstwhile comedian has died.

The story is that Kenneth caught pneumonia while in jail and died of complications thereof.
Details about the death of Kenneth Keith Kallenbach are sketchy as of right now. But the funny(?)man has left the building, reports HalfNinja blog.

"According to Steve Langford, Kenneth Keith Kallenbach’s mother told Howard 100 news that Kenneth had died at a hospital currently awaiting trial," writes

Wikipedia on Kenneth Keith Kallenbach

Kenneth Keith Kallenbach

Kenneth Keith Kallenbach appeared several times on the Howard Stern Television Show in the early 1990s, and is famous for his ludicrously unsuccessful attempts to blow smoke out of his eyes, which once resulted in his vomiting on camera. During a "Howard Stern Celebrity Bowling Match" (including participants "Grandpa" Al Lewis, Jessica Hahn, Young MC, Pat Cooper, Marilyn Michaels and Frank Stallone), Kallenbach pulled a cooked chicken out of his pants, rubbed it all over his face, then proceeded to light firecrackers taped to his genitals. Show producer Dan Forman then removed him from the studio.

Kallenbach is now on Sirius and has participated in many Howard Stern shows. A video of his comedy was shown on Maximum Exposure and many other shows. He has also released new DVD of his comedy show called "American Icon". Kenneth Keith Kallenbach has been in many different TV shows, movies and commercials. He has a band, "The Kenneth Keith Kallenbach Band". He does stand-up comedy. He writes and directs and acts in his own comedy sketches. He released a sketch comedy DVD nationally called "American Icon".

On Thursday, April 24, 2008, it was reported on the Stern show that Kallenbach died of pneumonia while in police custody for a probation violation related to an alleged attempted abduction.

FHM Magazine Names Megan Fox The Sexiest Woman in the World

Atlanta, GA 4/24/2008 04:26 PM GMT (FINDITT)

Transformers co-star Megan Fox was awarded the top spot on FHM Magazine's annual 100 Sexiest Women in the World list.

Fox was followed by Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba, who was FHM Magazine's winner last year. Elisha Cuthbert, Scarlett Johansson, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Hilary Duff, Tricia Helfer, Blake Lively and Kate Beckinsale rounded out the top 10.

Fox also beat out various celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie (No. 12), Rihanna (No. 14), Kim Kardashian (No. 17), Paris Hilton (No. 77) and Britney Spears (No. 100).

Fox debuted on the list in 2006 at No. 68 and ranked at No. 65 in 2007.

Fox, whose first big break was Transformers, has received a lot of attention for her looks, as well as her unique tattoos. Fox has a tattoo of a poem written on her ribcage, as well as another tattoo of a Shakespeare quote written on her right shoulder.

Fox also has a tattoo of Marilyn Monroe on her arm, her boyfriend's name on her bikini line and a star on her ankle.

Pictures of Megan Fox have been searched heavily online, especially since her role in Transformers. According to IMDB, Fox is starring alongside Kirsten Dunst in How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, which is set to be released in October.

FHM Magazine said nearly 9 million votes were cast for the 14th edition of the annual poll, which was held on their website,

For more pictures of Megan Fox, please check out the photo gallery that accompanies this press release.
For more Entertainment News, please go to

Global rice shortage hits wallets in Silicon Valley

By Ken McLaughlinMercury News
Article Launched: 04/24/2008 02:19:23 AM PDT

At the Asian supermarket 99 Ranch, the price of jasmine rice has already doubled this year. Across the street, Costco is rationing its 50-pound bags of discounted rice - if you can get them at all. And some Asian restaurants are even reconsidering their longstanding policy of refilling rice bowls for free.

The worldwide rice shortage has come to Silicon Valley.

"There is no rice," said Rita Patel of San Jose, a native of India who couldn't find any at Costco on Hostetter Road in northeast San Jose on Tuesday night.

In a valley where nearly 30 percent of residents are of Asian descent, people are increasingly frustrated by the soaring cost of the staple of Asian cuisine. Economists blame the price increases on everything from lean harvests overseas to trade restrictions.

Patel had always depended on Costco for a constant supply of basmati rice, which along with jasmine rice is one of the "aromatics" preferred by so many Asians here.

"Just two weeks ago, jasmine was $20 for a 50-pound bag. Now it's $34," said Imelda Cunanan, manager of Goldilocks, a restaurant and bakery in San Jose's Pacific Rim Plaza that specializes in Filipino cuisine. "Some people are crazy about this."

Cunanan warns that the era of Asian restaurants graciously handing out free refills of rice bowls may soon go the way of complimentary windshield cleaning at gas stations.

"For me it's hard," said Rhonda Zulueta, an Apple project manager of Filipino descent dining at Goldilocks on Tuesday night who routinely eats steamed rice for breakfast.

Triple-digit increases

The average cost of exported rice has shot up 300 percent in a year. Every variety has seen enormous price increases - from Uncle Ben's long-grain rice to medium-grain rice like Calrose, the main variety grown in California's Central Valley. But because the Bay Area has so many Southeast Asians, Indians, Chinese and Filipinos, it's the imported jasmine and basmati that are in the greatest demand.

Latino restaurants have been hurt, too, but the price of the standard long-grain rice that is the staple of Mexican diets hasn't gone up nearly as much as the imported aromatics, said Rob Francis, executive chef of Aqui Cal-Mex Grill in Willow Glen. Most of the rice he buys is grown domestically, Francis said.

This week, Jossette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, warned that 100 million people are being driven into poverty by a "silent tsunami" of world food prices that has sparked worldwide riots and caused untold deaths from hunger. One child is now dying every five seconds from hunger-related causes, the U.N. says.

Prices of rice, wheat and corn have skyrocketed in recent months because of rising fuel prices, drought, more demand for food in China and India and other emerging nations, and the trend of using crops for biofuel rather than food.

As food prices soar, countries such as Vietnam and India have imposed restrictions and even outright bans on exporting rice to keep the lid on food inflation, said Nathan Childs, an expert on global rice markets at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The restrictions lead to a classic economics lesson: low supply, high demand, increased prices.
"We've never dealt with rice prices this high," Childs said.

Stockpiling begins

The impact in Northern California, of course, hasn't been nearly as devastating. But store owners have reported that Asian shoppers recently began stocking up to avoid future increases. The problem was most noticeable at Costco, which because of long-term contracts has been able to sell jasmine for about half the price of Asian supermarkets such as 99 Ranch.
At 99 Ranch on Wednesday, 25-pound bags of Three Ladies jasmine were on sale for $22.99. Costco was selling bags twice as big for a dollar less.

Which no doubt explains why the daily shipment of rice at Costco is swept up by customers in less than half an hour while the jasmine rice at 99 Ranch is plentiful.

"There are a lot of people who want to hedge their bets by buying rice now," said John Booth, Costco's regional operations manager. But the company is trying to prevent hoarding by limiting customers to their previous buying habits, tracked through their membership cards.

"You can't go spend $50 on a membership, then buy 50 pallets of rice," he said. "We have an obligation to make sure our normal members get their fair share of rice."

Asian restaurants, too, are struggling to keep rice prices from going the roof.

Goldilocks just raised its price for a serving of jasmine rice to $1.50 from $1.20. But that 25 percent increase doesn't nearly cover the wholesale costs, said Linda Rose, purchasing manager for the Newark-based Goldilocks chain.

"We're sensitive to price - particularly rice, because for our customers it's a staple," said Rose, whose vendors have warned her to brace for another doubling in price.

Of two dozen Asian shoppers interviewed at 99 Ranch and Costco - immigrants from China, Vietnam, India and the Philippines - none said they planned to cut back on a food so common in Asian kitchens.

Along with the rising price of gas, it has just become another painful part of balancing the family's budget, said Zack Yu, a native of China who lives in San Jose.

But his family of four will never go without rice. "We will buy it because there is no choice," Yu said. "It's just like gas."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Olympic skater Grishuk victim of date-rape drug

From wire reports
Article Launched: 04/23/2008 06:54:01 AM PDT

SANTA ANA - Residue found in a glass of wine consumed by two-time Olympic gold medalist figure skater Oksana Grishuk tested positive for the date- rape drug GHB, authorities confirmed Tuesday.

Grishuk, who skated under the name Pasha Grishuk, was at a business meeting at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point on April 12 when she had the tainted wine.

"She was attending a business meeting with at least one other man," said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The 36-year-old former professional skater who won gold medals for ice dancing in 1994 and 1998 had a drink in the lounge, then moved to the restaurant to have dinner and ordered wine, Amormino said.

"She started feeling weird and sick and, when she went to drink from her wine glass, she noticed a partially dissolved pill," Amormino said. "She poured the rest of the drink out of the glass, took the pill out and called police."

When deputies and firefighters arrived, Grishuk told them she also had a drink in the lounge, and they retrieved the glass. Both glasses from the lounge and the restaurant tested positive for GHB, Amormino said.

Grishuk was checked out at a hospital and released, he said. GHB, or gamma hydroxy butyrate, can cause breathing problems, loss of conscious and, in some cases, death.

Investigators are awaiting the results of toxicological tests done on blood that was drawn that night, Amormino said.

"It's still an open active investigation," Amormino said in response to a question about suspects.
Amormino said detectives were still interviewing witnesses.

Their investigation will be turned over to prosecutors with the Orange County District Attorney's Office for the filing of charges.

KCAL9 reported that Grishuk lives part-time in an Aliso Viejo gated community and at some point gave ice-skating lessons, but she has not been seen there for about five months.
Article Source:

Tattle: License shows Beyonce, Jay-Z hitched


Philadelphia Daily News


IT'S OFFICIALLY official, even if neither she nor he is talking.
A signed wedding license bearing the names of Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z (aka Shawn Carter) has made its way to the Scarsdale, N.Y., town clerk, confirming that the pair did indeed wed April 4.

The license came in last Friday's mail, said Scarsdale Clerk Donna Conkling. It also was signed by the person who officiated at the ceremony - but nobody's saying who that was.

There was a celebrity-studded party at Jay-Z's apartment in Manhattan April 4, with guests including Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce's former Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

The couple, notoriously hush-hush about their personal lives, have been dating about six years and have collaborated on several hits, including "Crazy In Love."
We hope they stay that way.
Wedding on, wedding off

Kanye West and his fiancee, fashion designer Alexis Phifer, have reportedly broken off their engagement, according to They'd been dating on and off since 2002.
Phifer was seen Thursday night in New York without her engagement ring at an "Evening in Vogue" event where her clothing line was featured. West was scheduled to perform last night in Los Angeles.

Lots of Miley-age already

Teen entertainment juggernaut Miley Cyrus is writing a memoir - maybe more of a Momoir.
The star of the Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" series has packed a lot into her first 15 years, but Disney said the book will focus on advice Cyrus has gotten from her mom, Leticia.
"I hope to motivate mothers and daughters to build lifetimes of memories together and inspire kids around the world to live their dreams," Miley said in a statement.

(Dad is country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, who stars with her on the show but maybe isn't much help elsewhere.)

Wonder if there'll be a chapter on how the family's handling those racy photos of a Miley look-alike that have been flashing around the Internet recently.
Remembering Federici

Fans and friends will pay tribute to original E Street Band member Danny Federici tonight at the Stone Pony, the Asbury Park, N.J., club where Bruce Springsteen and the band got their start.
Federici died at age 58 Thursday of melanoma. He had performed with Springsteen since the late '60s. A memorial fund has been set up in Federici's memory at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Connor Will do
Connor Cruise, son of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, will play Will Smith's son in the drama "Seven Pounds," People magazine said. The 13-year-old will have a minor role, and he had to audition for it, too.
Streisand declines

Barbra Streisand has pulled out of a celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary next month, according to an official announcement. No reason was given.

Streisand was among the marquee names slated to attend a Jerusalem convention hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres beginning May 13. She was to perform the Hebrew prayer Avinu Malkeinu, "Our Father Our King."

Sambora: DUI
Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora copped a plea yesterday in his drunken-driving case, pleading no contest to driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher after being stopped by cops in Laguna Beach, Calif., on March 25 for driving erratically.
A second charge of driving under the influence was dismissed. His BAC registered 0.13, according to

Ava, his 10-year-old daughter with ex-wife Heather Locklear, was in the car, along with an unidentified woman and another child, and there had been reports that child-endangerment charges were considered.

Sambora has a few local ties, Dan Gross tells us:
_ He's a minor owner of bandmate Jon Bon Jovi's Philadelphia Soul Arena football team.
_ He just purchased a multi-million-dollar luxury condo at the Residences at Two Liberty Place.
_ He briefly lived here while recording an early Bon Jovi record.
Heaven's helping her

Televangelist Juanita Bynum will talk about the end of her marriage to minister Thomas W. Weeks III, in a two-part "Divorce Court" tomorrow and Friday.
You were expecting something else on "Divorce Court"?

The details are sobering. Weeks is on probation for assaulting Bynum, who called her six-year marriage "very wrong and very unhealthy."

A transcript of the show obtained by the Associated Press quoted Bynum as saying she would always love Weeks but decided to "love me more."

Weeks pleaded guilty in March to assaulting Bynum on Aug. 21 in a hotel parking lot near Atlanta. According to police, Weeks choked, stomped and kicked her.

He was sentenced to three years' probation, and made to do community service and to undergo counseling.

"I was just trying to make it work because I don't like losing relationships," Bynum told Judge Lynn Toler on the syndicated show. "All of this just kept getting swept under the rug . . . So you begin to adapt to a very wrong and very unhealthy marriage." *
Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

Tattoo - a love story through the ages


RICARDO Malcolm smiles nervously as he waits for the needle to touch his shoulder as the smell of antiseptic fills Ink River Tattoo Parlour in Vincent.

For a short while, Malcolm seems to be distracted by his unusual surroundings.
Relaxing, he makes a joke and plays a soccer game on his cellphone. But, within minutes of Paul Botha’s inking needle drilling into his shoulder, Malcolm wants to throw in the towel.

It’s his first tattoo and he had not anticipated the relentless pain as Botha begins the one-and-half-hour session to etch Italian master Leonardo da Vinci’s face on his body forever.
Malcolm chucks his phone to one side, forgetting the game as he bites down hard on his lower lip, furiously twitching his knee.

“Are we there yet,” Malcolm mumbles to Botha who responds with an irritable, “No, I’m still going to put in colour”.

“My God, this is worse than going to the bush. It’s tough,” Malcolm says of his R600 ordeal.
For every design that adorns the walls of tattoo parlours around the world, there is a different reason to have it.

Every single person who has been lured into the world of body art will offer a unique explanation for having it done.

Many go back – again and again – until their own skin has been transformed into a walking, breathing picture gallery.

For East London primary school teacher, Bradd de Klerk, it appears to be an obsession that began with a small tattoo on his back in 1998, when he was just 16 years old.

He is in the process of transforming his upper body into an artwork that tells an oriental story of courage, wealth and prosperity. Just two weeks ago he had a big dragon and a peony flower inked on his back. A colourful Japanese Koi covers his entire left shoulder. His DJ stage name, Buska, decorates his lower back. All this at a cool price of R7200. Today, he will return to Davide Di Raffaele to have the dragon shaded.

De Klerk, however, is quick to insist that there is nothing obsessive about saving up money to return to Di Raffaele’s tattoo parlour in Nahoon.

“I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed because there are certain areas I wouldn’t tattoo. I think if I was obsessed I would have gone mad and tattooed my face and everything.

“Personally, I won’t touch my face but I’m a bit addicted. So I still have got quite a bit of space to cover up if I have to. I prefer to do things where I can keep them covered because of my profession,” De Klerk explains.

Similarly, Janine Klopper seems to have been bitten by the tattoo bug. Barely 20 years old, she’s had three tattoos done on her body in a space of a year; her most recent one being a tribal tattoo on her arm.

It all started with a small rose on her shoulder. A week later, a tribal heart on her lower back followed.

“I don’t really have a specific reason for doing it. I just love the art and the fact that you can put anything you like on your body,” says the college student.

Her parents initially didn’t approve of their daughter having a tattoo but today her father, Chris, flaunts Jesus’s cross on his shoulder. After Janine’s session, he makes an appointment to have another one done.

And then there are the artists, the masters who trace designs on their clients’ skin, painstakingly – and painfully – draw the lines and colour in the patterns.

East London has three tattoo and piercing parlours – Body Graphix owned by Di Raffaele, brothers Paul and Tony Botha’s Vincent Ink River Tattoo and married couple, Desrei and James Holman’s Alien Station in Vincent. They specialise in tattooing, piercing and permanent make-up.

Di Raffaele and Tony used to be friends; in fact, Botha claims he taught the younger man all he knows about tattooing. He still keeps a picture of the young Di Raffaele being tatooed by him in his shop.

They worked together years ago and then Di Raffaele left to open his Nahoon studio where he now works with his wife, Rushin, who does all the piercing which, incidentally, is a whole other world of the bizarre and exceptionally painful.

A quick chat to Rushin brings forth a photo album that I wished afterwards I had never opened. There, a different East London is exposed – genital piercing abounds here. A picture of a penis’ head cut in half sends an involuntary wince of pain and shock down my spine. Rushin says most clients believe these piercings enhance sexual pleasure.

But back to tattoos.
Manuela Gray of Wildlife Tattoos in Cape Town said the industry has grown to such an extent that local artists have started collaborating with their international counterparts.
Next year, Cape Town will host Southern Park Ink Exposure – a convention that will draw artists from across the world.

“This is the first event of its calibre in this country. It will give credit to our craft as well as opening local artists to designs that are huge internationally. It is a nice opportunity to meet people who do the same thing that we do,” says Gray, the convention organiser.

Cape Town is believed to be the empire of the tattoo industry. This is where artists like Di Raffaele get their bodies inked. But, unlike in East London, Cape Town’s municipality and the Department of Health, together with artists, have to adhere to rules and regulations to guard against hazardous waste being dumped near households or the tattooing of underage children.
Buffalo City Municipality has a draft environmental health by-law underway that regulates the physical space where tattoos are done.

There is no deterrent in the proposed bylaw about tattooing underage children.
Those rules are left to individual artists.

Di Raffaele, for instance, will not tattoo certain body parts like the face, throat, hands or toes.
Looking at how people are so caught up in the body modifying industry, it’s difficult to believe that the practice has been around since the fifth century. Back then, various cultures adopted it, turning it into a rite of passage to mark status, rank and bravery.

“In the old days Amabaca (a Xhosa tribe) used to cut their children and put charcoal in the wounds. And when the missionaries came and said it’s evil, they (Africans) continued cutting but stopped using the ash. Tattooing is definitely not new to Africans. The modern generation thinks you have to be from Europe to have a tattoo,” explains Tony Botha.

In modern times, tattoos evolved with different generations. In the 1960s, it was associated with those who were considered to be society’s rebels. The bikers came and made the art their own. Gangsters and prisoners use tattoos as a mark of belonging. Today the hip-hop and pop generation have taken it to another level by introducing new funky designs.

But, by far, the most grotesque association with tattoos came in the 20th century when Jews were forcibly tattooed at concentration camps in Nazi Germany.

A few hours after Malcolm has manfully sat through his ordeal, I call him to monitor his recovery. While he is happy with the Da Vinci tattoo on his shoulder, he is adamant that Paul will never see him again.

I, however, who had been totally anti-tattoo when I embarked on the story, am now thinking that a Chinese symbol that depicts my star sign on my shoulder might just do the trick for me.
l Ricardo Malcolm is an alias.
Article Source:

Man Stuck In Elevator For 41 Hours

New York, NY -- Video of a man stuck on an elevator for 41 hours has become an Internet phenomenon.

This surveillance camera footage is from Nicholas White's ordeal in New York's McGraw-Hill building's elevator.

The video quickly spans through the entire 41-hour incident.

White got stuck in the elevator nearly 10 years ago. But the video just recently surfaced and was posted on YouTube by The New Yorker magazine.

White won an undisclosed settlement after filing a lawsuit.

Source: CNN
Copyright: 2008

Red Lights Over Phoenix Cause "Phoenix Lights" Sighting Monday

Atlanta, GA 4/22/2008 05:47 PM GMT (FINDITT)

Red lights over Phoenix, Arizona, officially known as "The Phoenix Lights", were seen Monday night, prompting speculation of a UFO over the city.

The first sighting of the red lights over Phoenix was in 1997, prompting the sighting to be dubbed "The Phoenix Lights". The lights were originally spotted in March of 1997 by thousands of people in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

The lights reportedly appeared in a triangle formation and moved slowly across the sky at a height of approximately 1,000 feet. Many witnesses claimed that the lights lined the edges of a V-shaped aircraft.

Since then, the sighting has not been seen until Monday night.

Deer Valley airport, Luke Air Force Base, Sky Harbor, DPS and Phoenix Police could not explain where the lights originated from in 1997 or in 2008. Due to the unorthodox formation and speculation, it is believed that the lights were that of a UFO.

American Idol: Andrew Lloyd Weber Week

Broadway. The lights, the sights, the sounds. Few masters of Broadway music will definitely be remembered: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil and of course, Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Expect tunes from Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera, to be sung this Tuesday on American Idol as the remaining six contestants battle it out for retention in the race. Will David Cook do another rock rendition? Will Jason Castro sing his way with another stringed instrument? Will David Archuleta once more charm audiences with his smile?

There are questions, but Tuesday night has all the answers.

Article Source:

American Idol - April 22 Elimination Odds Recap

Kristy Lee Cook's departure has left 6 contenders still aiming to be crowned the American Idol of season 7; this is the recap of this week's elimination odds heading into the April 22 show.

I've got to admit it.....I like to bet on the odds to win American Idol but nothing beats the excitement and instant gratification betting on elimination odds gives.

And (FINALLY!!) the fine folks at (visit Web site here) posted the American Idol elimination odds. I really couldn't wait and here they are:

Syesha Mercado (+115) is the most likely to be voted off this week, at least according to today's elimination odds. This week the songs are dedicated to the talents of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Chances are Syesha should be able to find something to work for her voice therefore, unless something extraordinary happens, she should be just fine.

The tunes from Webber just might spell trouble for Brooke White (+125), Jason Castro (+330) and Carly Smithson (+240) as well.

Andrew Lloyd Webber should fit right into the show tunes style of David Archuleta (+2500) and obviously David Cook (+2000), who can make anything work for him. For the record Archuleta continues to lead in the odds to win American Idol (-140) while Cook trail at Even Money.

What to do then and whose elimination odds to bet on this week? It's always hard to say, especially before tonight's performance... let me share who I bet on and why.

I bet $20 on Carly's elimination at +240. She's been struggling for weeks and she's been too often among the least vote getters. Last, but not least, she's the only remaining non American contestant...

Everything else equal I see her packing tomorrow, in which case I'll be cashing in $48 :)
I also dropped $10 on Jason Castro, more out of greed than anything else. I see him as a viable back-up for this week's elimination round.

Logon to if you wish to place a bet on the American Idol elimination odds. Odds will come off the board tonight at 8pm EST therefore there are at least twelve hours to get in the game and place your bets.

Good Luck!

Article Source:

TOW Entertainment News - Published April 22 2008 - 8.15am EST

Jordin Sparks Cancels Shows Due To Vocal Cord Condition

A doctor has ordered "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks to take a break from singing if she wants to protect her voice after she suffered an acute vocal cord hemorrhage.

According to a statement issued by the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park where Sparks was scheduled to perform on Sunday, the 18-year-old singer, who was supposed to start touring with Alicia Keys as her opening act, is suffering from "an acute vocal cord hemorrhage."

A vocal cord hemorrhage is when a blood vessel on the vocal cord ruptures. It can result in permanent vocal cord damage, so it is important that people suffering from this condition have absolute voice rest.

"All of her April activities have been postponed or canceled so she can take care of her voice properly," 19/Jive Records spokeswoman Wendy Washington was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.

Sparks, who also canceled a gig in Penn State at Earth Day show and an appearance on the "Live with Regis and Kelly show" last week, is expected to make a full recovery and join Alicia Keys sometime in May.

Sparks, who claimed to be a big fan of Alicia Keys, is on vocal rest and is expected to make a full and complete recovery," according to a statement from 19/Jive Records. "Sparks has been going nonstop over the past two years and now she's going through the normal course of learning how to manage and care for her voice."

The youngest "American Idol" winner ever (Sparks was only 17 when she won the sixth edition of the talent contest) released two hit singles, "Tattoo" and "No Air," while her self-titled album which debuted last year also made it in the top ten on the charts.
Article Source:

Oprah called anti-Christian cult leader

April 18, 2008

Emergent Church Spreading Spiritual Cancer

Marsha West

In the Sixties the counterculture rejected consumerism, individualism, traditional values and ideas, and protested against their parent’s middle class values. Thus began an all out assault on what had made America prosperous for two centuries.

Now a similar assault on historic orthodox Christianity is underway that’s gaining momentum. Some Christians believe a paradigm shift is taking place in the Church and as a consequence “everything must change.” This is anything but good news for Christendom, my friends. In a radio interview with Worldview Network’s Brannon Howse, Professor Peter Jones of Westminster Seminary warned listeners that the Christian theistic West has been turning back to pagan, pantheistic monism. Many in contemporary western culture now hold to a pantheistic belief in the unity of nature and God, of body and spirit -- all is One.

Pantheism is a major tenet of the New Spirituality movement (NSM), once called the New Age movement. Other names used are Self-spirituality and Mind-body-spirit. The movement is largly eclectic with inspiration drawn from all the major world religions, which include Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shamanism, Wicca, the metaphysical New Thought movement, and Neo-Paganism, to name a few. The goal of NSM is a shift in “planetary consciousness.” Their focus is not only on the West but also on the entire planet!

NSM is producing a movie to promote the new paradigm. In an article on Christian Worldview Weekend [1], Brannon Howse gives details: “New Spirituality gurus like Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, alongside leftist environmentalists like Al Gore and religious figures such as Archbishop Desmond TuTu. Their message is the same, as though it was taken from the same script. ‘A massive worldwide phenomenon is in progress, offering seeds of great hope for the future…We are in the middle of the biggest social transformation in history, THE SHIFT.’”

In order to move the West away from theism, the shifters must first reinvent biblical Christianity. Enter Oprah Winfrey. It would seem Oprah has been planning The Shift for many years. In 1987 she read the late Eric Butterworth’s book “Discover the Power Within You.” His book changed how Oprah looked at life and religion. She was convinced that Jesus didn’t come to teach us about His divinity, as the Bible teaches, but to teach us about our divinity! (Oprah’s code word is “Christ consciousness.”) She recommended Butterworth’s book to her audience and sales soon skyrocketed.

Who was Eric Butterworth? A theologian, lecturer and author who delivered the message of the Unity School of Christianity (part of the heretical Metaphysical movement) that “looks within” to find Christ. “Try telling someone in the Metaphysical movement…about the wages of sin…and they will look at you as though you are an anachronism — a throwback to a less-enlightened age. The ideas of an enslaving sinful nature, of being alienated from God, and of God's wrath are, to them, extremely offensive.” [2] He considered sin ''self-inflicted nonsense.''

In 1987 Forbes magazine summarized Eric Butterworth’s message thus: ''We alone have the power within us to solve our problems, relieve our anxieties and pain, heal our illnesses, improve our golf game or get a promotion.'' [3]

But this article is not about Oprah’s spiritual poison, it’s about spiritual deception that’s spreading like cancer in Christendom. (More on Oprah’s latest attempt to indoctrinate the masses through the occult teaching “A Course in Miracles” in my next article.)

In John 8:31-32 Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

There is a growing movement afoot in the postmodern Church that does not abide in God’s Word; hence they do not know the truth. The movement calls itself “Emergent” or “Emerging Church” (ECM) and it’s emerging away from orthodox Christianity, spreading its spiritual cancer throughout the globe. ECM change agents have made inroads into evangelicalism, big time. What they preach is a counterfeit social gospel. They say they bring a “message of peace.” Their hope is to make Christianity more palatable to the world. Sounds altruistic, doesn’t it? But don’t believe it! In order to accomplish their lofty goal, the shifters must first repackage the Church.

So they’re touring the country, promoting their social gospel and message of peace to the masses. Prominent ECM leader Brian McLaren is spearheading the “Everything Must Change” tour. According to McLaren’s website the planet is in Deep Shift…

A time of transitionre




But really, it’s all about re-shaping the true Gospel of Jesus Christ into a false gospel and re-imaging Jesus Christ into the New Age Cosmic Christ!

McLaren created Deep Shift to provide spiritual guidance for organizations who are open to this. On the website he states that he will work with leaders, “inviting them to discover where the gifts of their people and God’s purposes in the world meet. Deep Shift provides support as leaders make their own personal deep shift and guide their organizations through the transition and transformation necessary to ignite the loving energy of people to work for the good of the world. As guides, we provide coaching, consulting, and resources for people leading in deep shift — faith community and church leaders, nonprofit leaders, ethical business leaders and others.”

Maharishi McLaren’s re-imaging of the modern Church is on it’s way -- whether evangelicals want re-imaging or not. The transformation, he boasts, “is for the good of the world.”

You may not have heard about The Shift yet, but you will – soon! Shifters, like pod people, are in our midst. Some of your friends and acquaintances could be shifters, only you don’t know it yet. Shifters have wormed their way into church leadership (pastors deacons, elders), worship services, Bible studies, Sunday school, seminaries, Christian schools, youth groups, camps. They lecture, write for Christian news sources and they’re all over the Internet. Now they’re touring the country. Many shifters are familiar faces on TV and have become media darlings. Browse through your local Christian bookstore and you’ll find their names lined up on shelves. Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Marcus Borg, Dallas Willard, Leonard Sweet, Erwin McManus, Phyllis Tickle, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Scot McKnight, Eddie Gibbs, Ryan Bolger, Jeff & Sherry Maddock, Peter Rollins, to name a few. Every one of them are theological liberals!

But shifters are offended when they’re labeled liberal. And besides, liberal is so yesterday! And let’s be honest here; liberal has a negative connotation, thanks largely to vociferous conservatives (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Joseph Farah, James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Phyllis Schlafly, Brannon Howse, Don Wildmon, Matt Drudge, Melanie Morgan, Tony Perkins and Hugh Hewitt – whew!) who are on the front lines of the culture war exposing liberalism’s globalist, big-government, radical feminist, rabid environmentalist, pro-abortion, anti-gun, peace at any cost, gay rights, anything goes, sick twisted agenda. Balking at being called liberal, they hide behind the trendy term, “progressive.” Many “Progressive Christian” leaders are highly critical of the Christian Right and their role in politics. (See link 9 below)

ECM’s beginnings

In his article, “Understanding the Emergent Church” Walter Henenger says that while some of ECM’s leaders came of age in the “new paradigm” churches of the Sixties and Seventies, “the real starting point was the mid-1980s, when Gen X ministries began catering to youth culture. Often organized as churches-within-a-church, they adopted cutting-edge ministry methods but generally retained the structural DNA of their parent megachurches.” But in the late Nineties they came to realize that they had failed to connect with postmodern people. During a 1997 meeting of the Young Leaders Network, pastor Doug Pagitt turned the discussion to the subject of postmodernism. “Light bulbs appeared over heads around the room,” continues Henenger, “and postmodernism has been the organization’s focus ever since. The Young Leaders Network soon morphed into the Terra Nova Theological Project, which eventually became Emergent. Its leaders went from niche marketers of religious services to global heralds of a massive, irresistible paradigm shift. Heady stuff.” [4]

A brief explanation of modernism and postmodernism is in order. In his article “Preaching to the Post/Modern Choir” [5] Shane Lems offers this pithy definition:

“Modernism embraces definite truth, absolutes, foundations, rationalistic thinking, and certainty, while postmodernism embraces emotions, authenticity, community, tolerance, and denies unquestionable foundations. Modern preaching highlights the propositional, didactic, and intellectual while postmodern preaching stresses the narratival, communal, sensual, and authentic.”

What exactly is ECM?

Well for one thing Emergents believe that the monologue of the Christian Right is over and a new “conversation” (a term they prefer over movement) is “bringing together a wide range of committed Christians and those exploring the Christian faith in wonderful ways,” boasts Brian McLaren, “and many of us sense that God is at work among us. As would be expected, there have also been criticisms.” [6] I must digress for a moment to pose a question to Pastor McLaren: If God is now at work in the postliberal ECM as its leaders contend, was God not at work in the movement to Reclaim America for Christ for several decades? Just thought I’d ask.

What is ECM’s mission?

According to Emergent leader, Tony Jones, “At a basic level, Emergent's mission is no different from any other group of Christ-followers: we want to follow Christ and we want to help others follow Christ. Of course, where it gets tricky is when we start talking about what it looks like to follow Christ. All along, Emergent has been about the melding of theory/theology and praxis, and we want to promote fresh, creative, and imaginative thinking about each. It seems that many organizations get to emphasize one side over the other in the theory-praxis equation, but we really are going to struggle to keep both of those in an equal, reflective symbiosis. What does it mean to be the church? What does it mean to follow Christ? We want to serve as a catalyst for conversations that attempt to answer those two questions, and to bring together the most creative people we can find for those conversations. But, conversation alone leads to paralysis by analysis, which is why we have always made sure that conversations are led primarily by practitioners rather than theoreticians and consultants.” Huh?

ECM’s missional concern

Emergents are concerned about being missional in a postmodern world. “The word missional emphasizes a return to the church’s identity as existing for the world—to be God’s stewards over creation, to be a light to the nations, to be witnesses of the inaugurated kingdom of God on earth.” [7] In this regard Emergent leaders have been critical of evangelicalism. They believe evangelicals have not been effectively missional in a postmodern world. Naturally, many evangelicals find this view arrogant and self-righteous. Sadly, ECM’s arrogance has caused division between them and evangelicals.

What is the ECM protesting?

“Whatever the Emerging Movement is,” explains Scot McKnight, “it is clearly a protest movement. Sometimes it can appear to be cranky, but there is substance and there is focus in what the Emerging Movement is protesting. And, though sometimes the resolutions fall flat or fail to materialize or collapse into the unworkable, there are genuine resolutions being worked out. What is the Emerging Movement protesting? Let me count the ways,” quips McKnight. “That’s not an attempt to be funny,” he assures us, “there is a list of at least ten items the Emerging Movement is protesting, and most would agree that it has its finger on some hot buttons. And let it be said that its primary focus in protestation is the evangelical movement and, sometimes but not always, the mega-churches that so clearly define and set the tone for the evangelical movement.” [8]

One hot button issue is abortion. Because they’re mostly liberals, many Emergents are pro-aborts. It pains me to do so, but I’ll let this go and move on.

Here’s the rundown on some of what ECM believes, from an article by Joseph Farah posted on [9]:

Capital punishment is wrong, despite the clear, unequivocal biblical commandments to take life for life.

Most Christians are too war-like and are guilty of "not loving our enemies."

Universal health care should be provided by government.

Poverty should be eliminated by the U.S. government, not just in the U.S., but throughout the world.

The minimum wage should be significantly increased.

The U.S. should sign the Kyoto Protocol as a step toward solving the phantom crisis of global warming.

The U.S. should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and address the real problem of terrorism by creating a Palestinian state and addressing the root cause – poverty.

We should make condoms available throughout the Third World to fight AIDS.

Farah lists more of ECM’s beliefs but I’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so I’ll move on. (In the article [9] he exposes Red Letter Christians, a movement headed by Tony Campolo and Jim Wright who are trying to “seduce evangelical Christians into anti-biblical, socialist, tyrannical politics.”)

ECM is also about “rediscovering spirituality”

“Emerging church practitioners are happy to take elements of worship from a wide variety of historic traditions, including Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox church, and Celtic Christianity. From these and other religious traditions emerging church groups take, adapt and blend various historic church practices including liturgy, prayer beads, icons, spiritual direction, and lectio divina.” [10] In other words, whatever unbiblical practice floats your boat.

ECM’s Quaker influence

“The Religious Society of Friends…although not born from a conflict with modernism, has nonetheless influenced the emerging church movement through mystics such as Richard Foster. This influence is often seen in the mystical tendencies of emergent worship and devotion. Some emerging churches mirror the Quaker rejection of church hierarchy while valuing the sacred as a personal, subjective experience, others utilize their particular denominational structures for church leadership.” [11]

Bringing God’s kingdom to earth

“To Brian McLaren,” says Pastor Gary Gilley, “the most prolific emergent writer, the ultimate goal of Jesus (and God) is the kingdom of God, brought to earth. Just how is the kingdom brought to earth? Through our good works. McLaren states, ‘I hope that they [his neighbors] and I will become better people, transformed by God’s Spirit, more pleasing to God, more of a blessing to the world so that God’s kingdom (which I seek, but cannot manipulate) comes on earth as in heaven (emphasis mine).’” [12]

A new path

Many shifters, like Campolo and Wright, are hard-core leftists who are doing everything in their power to lead the Church down a new path, away from Sola Scriptura, into what Pastor Ken Silva calls the “emerging cult of the new liberal theology” and a “spiritual cancer.” Without Scripture, how is it possible to establish what is true about God? Oh, I know! To find answers you must get in touch with your “inner self” through meditation! To that end ECM leaders urge believers to embrace unbiblical contemplative prayer and other occult practices. (I addressed this topic in Christians are mixed-up…in mysticism! If the link doesn’t work, scroll down to Recommended Reading.)

Many shifters, like Campolo and Wright, are hard-core leftists who are doing everything in their power to lead the Church down a new path, away from Sola Scriptura, into what Pastor Ken Silva calls the “emerging cult of the new liberal theology” and a “spiritual cancer.” Without Scripture, how is it possible to establish what is true about God? Oh, I know! To find answers you must get in touch with your “inner self” through meditation! To that end ECM leaders urge believers to embrace unbiblical contemplative prayer and other occult practices. (I addressed this topic in Christians are mixed-up…in mysticism! If the link doesn’t work, scroll down to Recommended Reading.)

On the website, Pastor McLaren points visitors to the new path:

“We hope this is a beginning for you to be on this new path, believing in Jesus in a new way, ready to act for change in your own life, in your community, the public and the world. We hope this is a beginning for you to connect with new people who are on this same path and journey for encouragement, support, relationship and depth.” [13]

The part that bothers me the most is “believing in Jesus in a new way.” What does he mean? Could he be referring to the “Cosmic Christ?”

McLaren makes clear his intentions for 2008 on when he says, “Rather than accepting invitations in 2008, I'll join a creative team of friends to develop and present about ten regional gatherings, half in the winter/spring and half in the fall. These gatherings will be called ‘Deep Shift 2008.’" [14]

McLaren’s mission? (My comments in brackets)

“DeepShift will call people to a deep shift in their thinking about [Jesus Christ], faith, church life, mission, ministry, art, justice, leadership, community, and worship. It will emphasize deep personal inner transformation [through contemplative prayer] integrated with deep organizational transition as well, in the context of the ‘Generous Orthodoxy’ I write and speak about.”

McLaren on hell and the cross

In a 2006 interview McLaren calls the doctrine of hell “false advertising for God.” "[T]his is one of the huge problems with the traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with Jesus' teaching, then I won't say the only and I certainly won't say ... or even the primary or a primary meaning of the Cross ... is that the Kingdom of God doesn't come like the kingdoms of this world by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes thru suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice right? But in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that's not really true. At the end God get's his way thru coercion and violence and intimidation and uh domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn't the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God." [15]

In my research I ran across a panel discussion on You Tube, “Let's Talk Post-Modernism and the Emergent Church.” [16] Here highly regarded orthodox theologians R.C. Sproul, Albert Mohler and Ravi Zacharias had a “conversation” about postmodernism, modernism, liberalism, and ECM.

The main thrust of ECM, the scholars say, is its rejection of modernism and its embrace of postmodernism. Why reject orthodoxy? Because the orthodoxy are absolutists. Absolutists want to reinsert categories of right and wrong, whereas postmodernists balk at doctrinal assertions. They gave as an example Brian McLaren’s position on homosexuality in a Time Magazine interview. Following is the excerpt from Time: “Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.’ That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think.” So McLaren suggested a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. And what will we do in the meantime? He went on to say, “[W]e'll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they'll be admittedly provisional. We'll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we'll speak; if not, we'll set another five years for ongoing reflection.” [17]

Um…the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, Brian. (Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 6:9-10,)

McLaren’s wishy-washy comment on homosexuality obviously did not go over well with the panel. Near the end of the discussion Albert Mohler commented that his response to the homosexual question is the very essence of postmodernism. He then cautioned, “It is the abdication of Christian responsibility. It is the abdication of Christian conviction and it is a cave in of Christian courage. We do have an answer! And it’s not like we don’t know what it is!”

As R.C. Sproul said so well, ECM appeals to Christians “who don’t want to have to deal with theological conflict.” These same folks relativize doctrine, and that makes Sproul angry. He then points out that disagreeing doctrinally is a “bad thing.” Looking rather grim-faced he said, “We can’t be satisfied with it. Because truth is too important to kill it in the streets for the sake of peace! You can’t do it!” Bravo!

Ravi Zaccaris puzzled, “These men and women who were the progenitors of this [movement]…what brought this about? Are they bored with God?!” The problem, he explained, is “Non critical people listening to this stuff absorb it.” After reading McLaren’s books, Zaccaris wonders what he believes at present. “Maybe something on Monday, something else on Tuesday?” he said grimly. “He’s an anti-doctrinal individual. It’s pitiful to see something like this actually gain currency.”

The Emergent movement is most definitely gaining currency, especially with young people and those who are dissatisfied with mainline evangelicalism. Which is the reasonit’s imperative that committed Christians take a deeper look into the “conversation.” Listen carefully to the language to see whether or not what a person purports is within the pale of orthodoxy. In other words, check to see if it’s biblical. Because if the “conversation” doesn’t line up with Scripture, it’s not from God. And if it’s not from God…it’s from the pit of hell.

In another You Tube video I came across, Todd Wilken, host of Issues Etc., was interviewing Pastor and author John MacArthur on his response to ECM. [18] MacArthur believes the problem is that Emergent leaders have a non-Christian attitude. Moreover, they have a “very worldly, carnal, unsanctified approach to the Bible.” With regard to truth, he made this comment: “Truth is everything, and the truth is contained in the Bible.” He also mentioned that progressives “do not accept the authority, inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. They do not accept that everything in the Bible is absolutely true and that it is clear that it can be and must be understood and applied.” And the reason they reject it? According to MacArthur, “They don’t like a lot of the things it says.”

Scott Diekmann, a Christian apologist who believes “segments of the ‘Evangelical’ Church are in danger of compromising the Gospel at crucial points” wrote an 8-part article on ECM. In part 8 he states that part of the problem with Emergents is that “some have substituted the doctrines derived from the inerrant and inspired Word of God with a doctrine based on an uninspired melding of Scripture, experience, mysticism, and imagination. That lack of Scriptural fidelity has at times led to a redefined Gospel, a message that is predominantly Law rather than Gospel, and pastors who have failed to present the whole counsel of God.” [19]

What this is really all about is truth. False teachers stare at Truth but fail to recognize the identity of truth. Jesus himself said, “I am truth…” Thus we know that Truth is an aspect of God Himself. Christianity is the only truth because it is anchored in the Person of Jesus Christ. Moreover, truth is crucial to a realistic worldview. Which is why committed Christians mustn’t buy into the lie that truth is a matter of preference or opinion. In case you haven’t notices, in our postmodern culture we are experiencing the death of truth – and the death of truth could mean the death of civilization! I wrote this down, but I don’t remember who said it. “Truth is true if no one believes it. A lie is a lie if everyone believes it.” And that’s the truth!

Before I wind this up, I want to stress that celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and “Progressive Christian” leaders are pressing a large number of believers into apostasy, even into rank heresy. This is a serious threat to the Church! The threat shouldn’t be taken lightly nor tolerated. So ECM and “New Spirituality” must be thoroughly understood and debunked. What’s more, committed Christians must expose shifters for what they are -- occultists!