Saturday, December 31, 2011

Miami Herald rewrites history

This morning the Miami Herald took a look back at what it called "South Florida’s 10 most memorable moments of 2011", with a splashy front page graphic that answered the one remaining question I had about the paper: "Are there any editors left at Miami's only daily newspaper?"



Charlie Brooker's 2011 Wipe



Check out this look back at 2011 as seen by the BBC's Charlie Brooker. It's hilarious.

If you're pressed for time, fast forward to 20:00 to see Brooker's take on a few of his favorite TV commercials.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Miami Herald stumbles on Miami Beach police-involved shooting story [UPDATED]

UPDATED x1: Herald reporter Adam Beasley has since Tweeted several times clarifying his original Tweet - here and here and here - along with an apology.
**********


Today, the Miami Herald, in a rush to report the early morning police-involved shooting on Miami Beach, got a key detail or two wrong.

Let's check the Tweets.


Now comes Herald reporter Adam Beasley who compounded the mistake with some unfounded speculation. Turns out he was 100% wrong. But, it wasn't long before the erroneous information was spreading throughout the Twitter-sphere.


The Opium Group's publicist Vanessa Menkes jumped and schooled the Herald and Beasley on Journalism 101 and Miami Beach geography.


Luckily, the Herald's veteran Miami Beach reporter, David Smiley was close by. He stepped in just in time to separate the warring parties.



Note to Adam Beasley: To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: "Report but verify."



Thursday, December 29, 2011

The way we were...Hurricanes get ready 'to go to war'


Twenty-five years ago this week....

From the Miami News, Dec. 29, 1986: Number one-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes dresses the part as they get ready "to go war" with number two Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Click image to enlarge.

Some trash talk preceded the game. Miami News columnist Tom Archdeacon summed up the tense atmosphere:
The folks at the Fiesta Bowl won't soon forget the University of Miami football team - although if things keep going as they are they'd sure like to.

...Especially after a special party for the two teams was interrupted last night when Jerome Brown - after taking off his sweat suit to reveal his army fatigues - announced from the stage: "The Japanese didn't eat with the enemy before they bombed Pearl Harbor, either. Let's get out of here."

And then, a surprised crowd watched as Brown and the rest of the Hurricanes team got up and marched out of the combination steak fry and talent show.

As Miami retreated, Penn State punter John Bruno, who had been emceeing part of the program said, "...Yeah, but didn't the Japanese lose that war?"
Archdeacon continued with more pearls of wisdom from Brown:
"If the football field was meant for clean-cut guys, priests would be playing in the games," Brown said. "But the football field was meant for men out there trying to kill each other.

"That's why we wore the army fatigues out here on the plane. Wait till game day, even more of the guys will be wearing them. Those who don't have 'em are going to buy them here. We're on a mission."


A few years ago, freelance writer Michael Weinreb recounted how the idea of wearing army fatigues came about:
The idea? Two decades later, who can remember how the idea came about? According to Highsmith, it started with a few of the seniors, like him and like Brown, the incorrigible All-America defensive tackle. And then it spread, and it became the latest outlandish brainstorm of a team that felt like it could do absolutely no wrong, even as the improprieties and transgressions mounted and the self-righteous criticism came hard and fast.

They were thugs. They were outlaws. They were the Oakland Raiders of college football.

So when somebody came up with this new idea, the notion of wearing combat fatigues all week long, to show the world that they meant business, that they were there to do a job, they all seemed to think it made perfect sense. Johnson and Jankovich were already out in Arizona, so the players were flying out on their own, and there was no one to tell them otherwise.

It wasn't until they stepped off the plane in their fatigues and saw the Penn State players walking around in suits and ties that they realized what their outfits had wrought. This had already become the most hyped game in the history of college football, and now here was an organic story line: The bad guys had dressed the part.
The Fiesta Bowl was played Friday night, Jan. 2, 1987. The 'Canes lost to Penn State, 14-10.

Curfew comes to 'sleepy' Miami Lakes after near riot on Christmas night


-Video from martinezarie


Kudos to the Miami Herald's David Smiley and Christina Veiga for their after action report on a near-riot that occurred Christmas night in Miami Lakes.
Thousands of screaming teenagers running through a shopping center.

A movie theater manager who says her employees were attacked by a mob.

And a high school junior who is recovering from a gunshot to the chest. This was a Christmas to remember in Miami Lakes, though one town officials would like to forget.

In the wake of a chaotic Dec. 25 melee and shooting that caused police to declare a “countywide emergency” in the sleepy suburb off the Palmetto Expressway, town officials vowed to step up police presence at the outdoor Main Street mall, promising to enforce an 8 p.m. curfew and round up unaccompanied minors starting Friday.
As far as I can tell, not one of Miami's TV news outlets reported on this when it happened. But, since the curfew goes into effect tomorrow night, expect lots of coverage at 10pm on 7News and the rest of Miami's TV news corps! Guaranteed.

Veldora Arthur takes a trip

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-OixsO12EUPQ/TWrFrETpV-I/AAAAAAAACf0/2qRKBRzXnx0/00000veldora%252Barthur.jpg
Veldora Arthur
When Veldora Arthur - who was at one time the City of Miami fire department's highest ranking female - was sentenced on Dec. 16 to 57 months in federal prison for her role in a mortgage fraud case, U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz recommended that Arthur be imprisoned in South Florida to remain close to her children.

It appears that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has ignored that recommendation; at least for the foreseeable future.

The BOP's inmate locator page shows that Arthur is now located at the Federal Transfer Center (FTC) in Oklahoma City.

Arthur's projected release date is November, 2015.

The Ultimate South Beach New Year's Eve Party

What if those South Beach club flyers told the truth?


-via Facebook

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

South Florida journalists put away Christmas cliches for another year

Leo. The "Miracle" Yorkie that beat the Grinch.
It's that time of the year again.

The one week between Christmas and the New Year when we take down the tree, load it in the car and drive it to the recycling center. After that it's time to dismantle the holiday decorations and store them in the garage for the next 11 months.

And in newsrooms across the country, reporters, editors and headline writers are engaged in a similar task.

They're busy packing up their hackneyed, Christmas-themed cliches and story ledes. The phrases and story ideas that never fail to make an appearance in newspapers and on TV news shows starting somewhere around the first or second week of December.

The most popular holiday headline appears whenever there's a Christmas crime story to report....as in "Grinch steals Christmas - and family dog - from Morgan Hill family‎" or "Grinch Steals Family's Christmas." There are too many to count.

It's a cliche most headline writers find hard to resist. It's been in use for decades. And there's no sign it will ever go out of fashion.

I am happy to report that editors and writers at Miami's most trusted daily newspaper resisted the temptation to use the word "Grinch" in any stories this season.

However, last year it cropped up in a few stories.

The day before Christmas 2010, Herald sportswriter Joseph Goodman wrote, "[T]he Big 3 will hear enough boos Christmas Day at Los Angeles' Staples Center to make the Grinch envious..."

The "Grinch" was alive and well at Miami's TV news stations this year.

On Dec. 15, WSVN reported, "A South Florida woman is speaking out after a real-life Grinch stole her Christmas decorations."

CBS4 got an early start back in November with this line in a Black Friday story: "The Grinch is now trying to steal Thanksgiving and it won’t be much of a holiday for an unprecedented amount of people."

Next on the list of tired holiday themes is the sad, heart-tugging story with a happy ending.

Any other time of the year a sad story with a happy ending would be just that: a sad story that ends happily.

But a week or so before Christmas, a "happy ending" suddenly becomes a "Christmas miracle."

The day after Christmas, Channel 10's Roger Lohse reported...
A five year old Yorkie that disappeared during home burglary last week has been reunited with his owner.

The dog's name is Leo and if he could talk he could answer a lot of questions, like who broke into his owner's apartment on Friday and how he ended up on Miami Beach over the holiday weekend.

"It was like a Christmas miracle", said Leo's owner, Anita MacLannen.
Watch Lohse's report by clicking here. He trots out more cliches in his 2 minute report than most journalists use in an entire career.

Meanwhile, back at the Herald, at least one staffer managed to sneak a few Christmas cliches into his stories - two days in a row: "The NBA’s Christmas present to its fans: Allowing them to revel in the collapse of the Miami Heat one last time." -Herald sportswriter Joseph Goodman, Dec. 24, 2011

"Merry Christmas , basketball fans. It’s time to unwrap the NBA." -Herald sportswriter Joseph Goodman, Dec. 25, 2011

Here's one from sports columnist Greg Cote's Dec. 7, 2011 column: "What a remarkable time for South Florida’s major professional sports teams. It is Christmas season, and everywhere you look: Gifts!"

This year, the Herald managed to avoid doing a cliched, last minute Christmas shopping procrastination story...almost. "Some of the tents are still up, but all the merchandise is gone, and as Christmas Day creeps closer and closer, tree shopping procrastinators are running into a predicament: there’s nowhere to buy." -Jon Silman, Dec. 21, 2011

But, some references to Christmas in newspaper stories in December are inevitable.

Here are a few that were particularly well done: "The wish for a quieter Christmas Eve morning in the 1300 block of Northwest 66th Street turned deadly Saturday when a man allegedly stabbed the neighbor who asked him to turn down loud music, Miami Police said." -Elinor Brecher, Dec. 24, 2011

"A South Florida family got a big surprise on Christmas Day, but it wasn't delivered by a man in a big red suit." -Jared Goyette, Dec. 26, 2011

That's it for another year.

Will these tired cliches pop up in the media again next year? Is Santa fat?



Miami Police announce DUI checkpoint, December 29, 2011


MIAMI POLICE DUI CHECKPOINT


The Miami Police Department will be conducting a DUI checkpoint and Saturation Patrol on Thursday, December 29, 2011 at NW 2 Avenue & 20 Street.  This checkpoint will take place in the City of Miami’s Overtown NET Service area.  The checkpoint will be conducted during the hours of 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM.  The goal of this checkpoint is to identify and apprehend impaired drivers before they can kill or injure others. This checkpoint is part of the Holiday Season Impaired Driving Enforcement Wave. 

The message is simple, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.  Drinking alcohol and driving do not mix.  If you plan to consume alcohol, you should also plan not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle.  Unfortunately millions of drivers on America’s highways still think they are invincible, and they choose to jeopardize their safety and the safety of others on our roads.  There will be no spreading holiday cheer behind the bars of a jail cell.  Don’t let your 2011 holiday season end in an arrest or worse, death.  Remember, whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk.”

As you celebrate the holiday season enjoying traditions, food, family and fun, be reminded that the Miami Police Department will be out in force this holiday season from December 16, 2011, to January 2, 2012, to arrest anyone caught driving drunk behind the wheel.

This effort is in conjunction with the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”, “Lets Eliminate Aggressive Driving” and the “Buckle Up Florida: Click It or Ticket” campaigns. 

Members of the local media are invited and encouraged to support our effort by passing this information during their local news coverage.  For additional information, please call (305) 603-6525 or visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/Impaired.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

unBEARably adorable polar bear cub is melting hearts worldwide

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



NBC's Michelle Kosinski has the story of an impossibly cute polar bear named Siku that's become a YouTube sensation.

I had the choice of posting Michelle's story or a very depressing video of former Saturday Night Live regular Victoria Jackson going on about the Muslim brotherhood infiltrating the U.S. government.

I went with the polar bear. Thanks Michelle.


The most popular Random Pixels posts of 2011


Here a list of the top five most popular posts on Random Pixels this past year.

A throw-away line on a friend's Facebook status update was the inspiration for "Trying to keep clean in Miami." It's the year's most popular post - and the most popular post ever - on Random Pixels.

"Sarah Palin / Glen Rice sex story divides Miami Herald newsroom." Leaked emails from Miami Herald reporters offered an interesting glimpse at sharp differences of opinion that erupted in the newsroom over a Herald story about a decades-old sexual tryst Sarah Palin allegedly had with former Miami Heat player Glenn Rice.

Adding an old video of Sarah Palin from back in the day helped make "Glen Rice says he had sex with Sarah Palin in 1987" the number three most-viewed post this year on Random Pixels.

While doing research for another post last week, I stumbled upon some glaring examples of outright plagiarism on Huffington Post's Miami page.

The resulting post - "Is Huffington Post Miami guilty of theft?" - is less than a week old, but it's already the number four most-viewed post on my blog this year thanks to a link on Jim Romenesko's blog and over 100 Tweets and re-tweets.

Nathan Gibbs, a blogger at PBS.org's MediaShift called my post a "must read."

Back in October, I posted a list of Miami-Dade County employees who received lay-off notices. It was the fifth most-viewed post on Random Pixels this year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley says 'anchors aren’t supposed to cry.'

But, Friday night on the CBS Evening News, Pelley broke that rule.





Cincinnati Bengals Jerome Simpson flips into end zone

Hot trends on Google this Christmas day include searches for, 5. standing rib roast, 4. Rex Ryan, 3. prime rib recipe, 2. a Christmas story...and number one: Jerome Simpson.

Watch the video below to see why.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson somersaults over Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington and sticks the landing the end zone.





Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to all from Random Pixels




Conan O'Brien finds more evidence of Fed Ex deliveries gone wrong

Fed Ex is still trying to clean up a public relations mess left by one lazy employee who was caught on video manhandling a package.

Matthew Thornton, a senior VP at Fed Ex - and a spitting image of Herman Cain - has issued Fed Ex's not-so-sincere apology.

Now comes Conan O'Brien with some video that reveals more footage of lousy, lazy FedEx guys delivering packages.







Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rhode Island Dancing Cop, still traffic jamming at 64

Absolutely wonderful video of Tony Lepore, Providence, Rhode Island's dancing traffic cop.

By Darren Durlach of the Boston Globe.




Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is Huffington Post Miami guilty of theft?

Arianna Huffington is most famous for launching a website that posts thousands of stories a week, most of them written by people who don't get a dime for their work.

Much of what appears on HuffPost is written by bloggers who write for no pay. The fact that thousands will see their scribblings is apparently all the compensation they desire.

And then there's the serious stuff. Huffington Post "borrows" or "aggregates" - hundreds, perhaps thousands of stories a week from mainstream hard news websites.

Here's how it works: A newspaper pays a reporter to write a story. The reporter's story appears on the paper's website. Huffington Post then comes along and rewrites the story - adding no original reporting of its own - and posts the story on its site with a link to the original newspaper story.

It's a formula that's made Arianna Huffington a very wealthy woman.

Last February, AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million. The news didn't escape the attention of HuffPost's unpaid bloggers.

Arianna Huffington once boasted that "HuffPost [has] 148 full-time editors, writers, and reporters engaged in the serious, old-fashioned work of traditional journalism."

Last Nov. 30, Huffington announced the rollout of HuffPost Miami.

Huffington told her readers that HuffPost Miami would, "dig deeper in an effort to tell the stories of all the people who make up this unique city -- one that is a combustible blend of the old and the new, the glittery and the grimy, the transient and the entrenched. Our coverage will include the struggles that are familiar to cities all across the country but that have hit Miami particularly hard."

So, how's that working out? Let's check up on HuffPost Miami and see how they're practicing "the serious, old-fashioned work of traditional journalism."

For starters, Random Pixels has learned that HuffPost Miami has a staff of two. A third paid staffer has yet to be hired.

Maybe I'm naive, but where I come from it's a little hard to "tell the stories of all the people who make up this unique city" with a staff of just two or three.

So, what does the staff of HuffPost Miami do?

They're doing what made Arianna rich ... which ain't even close to "serious, traditional journalism", unless, of course you got your journalism degree from San Quentin or Raiford.

The HuffPost Miami staff is hard at work, busily stealing borrowing cutting and pasting aggregating stories they find on Miami's news sites.

And some in local media circles are starting to notice.

Today on Facebook, Miami Herald intern Jon Silman wrote, "The dream of any journalist? Why, Huffpost aggregation, of course. Thanks for the (sort of) link guys."

What Silman was referring to was HuffPost Miami's wholesale cut-and-paste job of his story on the family of a woman killed in a crash that won an almost $9 million judgment against Luis Cruz-Govin, the teen driver who caused the crash.

Instead of summing up the story in a few paragraphs and then linking to the Herald story, HuffPost Miami staffer Amanda McCorquodale rewrote Silman's story, cutting and pasting key details and elements from the story.

McCorquodale tries and fails to cover up her literary larceny with some shady sleight of hand that wouldn't fool Stevie Wonder.

Silman writes about a "partially consumed" bottle of cough syrup found in Cruz-Govin's car. In McCorquodale's story it becomes a "half-empty" bottle of cough syrup. Nice try Amanda.

Here are more examples:
From the Herald story: Myriam del Socorro Lopez was a passenger in a car driven by her husband, travelling eastbound on Bird Road, when Luis Cruz-Govin, 17 at the time, was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic in his father’s Subaru.

From the HuffPost story: In 2008, Myriam del Socorro Lopez was in the car with her husband on Bird Road when 17-year-old Luis Cruz-Govin, speeding and weaving, crashed into their vehicle. Lopez died on the scene.
______

From the Herald story: “The (defendant) was clearly a chronic texter,” Goldfarb said, citing the 127 texts Cruz-Govin sent on the day of the accident.

From the HuffPost story: Not only was Cruz-Govin speeding, according to the Herald, he was a habitual texter. On the day of the accident, records show he sent 127 texts, the Herald reports.
______

From the Herald story: According to the complaint, there was marijuana and cocaine in the Subaru, and a partially consumed bottle of Delsym cough syrup.

From the HuffPost story: Police also found marijuana and cocaine in [Cruz-Govin's] car as well as a half-empty bottle of cough syrup.
In another Herald story posted on the paper's website Monday evening, veteran staffer Andres Viglucci wrote about the Dade Heritage Trust's efforts to have the Miami Herald building declared a historic landmark.

By 9am Tuesday, Janie Campbell, "founding editor" of HuffPost Miami had copied and regurgitated Viglucci's story all over HuffPost Miami's homepage.

In her story, Campbell cuts and pastes entire quotes and chunks from Viglucci's story:
From the Herald story: In a statement to The Herald, Christian Goode, president of Genting’s Resorts World Miami subsidiary, called the Herald building “an affront to smart urban planning’’ because it blocks views of and public access to Biscayne Bay.

From the HuffPost story: Genting, [...] immediately responded with a statement declaring the One Herald Plaza "an affront to smart urban planning." (NOTE: Here Campbell attempted to change the phrase "the Herald building" in Viglucci's story to "One Herald Plaza" but neglected to edit out the word "the." Busted!)
______

From the Herald story: “It may be an uphill a battle, but it’s a worthwhile undertaking,’’ said Heritage Trust chief executive Becky Roper Matkov after the group’s board voted to proceed with the application, which is now being drafted. “I’m sure we will have a lot of opposition from monied interests. That hasn’t stopped us before.’’

From the HuffPost story: “I’m sure we will have a lot of opposition from monied interests," Matkov told the Herald, who are rent-free tenants in the building until 2013. "That hasn’t stopped us before."
______

From the Herald story: “There’s just one issue: Does it meet the criteria?’’ said historian Arva Moore Parks, former chairwoman of the city’s planning board, who supports the designation. “Then you have to follow the law.’’

From the HuffPost story: Historian Arva Moore Parks, former chairwoman of the city's planning board, told the Herald, "There's just one issue: Does it meet the criteria? Then you have to follow the law."
Random Pixels contacted Campbell today to get her side of the story. She declined to say anything on the record until she could get an OK from her bosses in New York.

Random Pixels also reached out to Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch this afternoon.

By phone, Hirsch declined to comment except to say, "I'll say what I have to say directly to the Huffington Post. There are some things we'll be discussing soon."

Others at the Herald agreed to talk with me on the condition I not use their names.

Of Huffington Post Miami's practices, one long-time Herald reporter told me, "Sure they link to our stories, but who's going to click through after they've read the entire story on the Huffington Post?"

Another Herald journalist was a little more direct: "We knew this was going to happen. The crop of people they hired couldn't get hired at the Herald," adding, "If you can't find an original story in this town on your own, then you ain't a journalist."


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fed Ex Customer Service Dilemma of the Day

File this one under "worst Fed Ex delivery ever."

Via BusinessInsider.com
FedEx doesn't exactly have a pristine reputation when it comes to customer service (neither do UPS and the USPS, for that matter), and this surveillance footage from someone's house isn't going to help that image any.

A FedEx delivery guy nonchalantly walks up to the person's home and chucks an unwrapped box over a fence taller than him and onto the driveway on the other side. Inside the clearly labeled box is a computer monitor, which was subsequently smashed.

The video was posted on YouTube by user goobie55 on Monday. Here's the description:
FedEx Guy Throwing My Computer Monitor

Here is a video of my monitor being "delivered". The sad part is that I was home at the time with the front door wide open. All he would have had to do was ring the bell on the gate. Now I have to return my monitor since it is broken.



Looking at pictures

"Splashing", Location: Batam, Riau Islands, Indonesia. (© Shikhei Goh)

From The Atlantic's In Focus photo blog:
After receiving more than 20,000 photo submissions from over 130 countries, the National Geographic Photo Contest 2011 concluded last month and the judging began. The winners were announced this week, with the grand prize awarded to Shikhei Goh for his capture of a dragonfly riding out a rainstorm in Indonesia. Goh was awarded $10,000 and a trip to the National Geographic Photography Seminar next year.
Click here for more images.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Your early afternoon time waster...Jesus visits Tim Tebow

From Saturday Night Live...Jesus drops in on Tim Tebow and asks him to "take it down a notch."



Saturday, December 17, 2011

The way we were...Coppertone girl has a wardrobe malfunction


25 years ago....

From the Miami News, Dec. 18, 1986.

Back in the day, there were two Coppertone signs in Miami.

One was on Biscayne Blvd. and the other was at the Golden Glades Interchange.

Both signs had been a part of the Miami landscape since 1959.

Miami News photographer J. Albert Diaz passed by the Golden Glades sign one day in 1986 and caught this wardrobe malfunction.


In 2004, St. Petersburg Times reporter Jeff Klinkenberg set out to find the girl on the sign.
Recently, I made a telephone call to a woman named Cheri Brand to ask if I could drive up to Ocala and talk to her about the Coppertone ad. There was silence on the phone; reporters learn to dread silence. Finally she said, "Oh, no. Not that. It's so old. You don't want to write about that. Really. Nobody cares."

The Coppertone Girl with the bare cheeks, now 48, was in no mood to bare her soul.

"You know," she said, "you don't want to talk to me. You want to talk to my mother. My mother is much more interesting than I'll ever be. Mother is the real story."

Usually, when somebody says don't talk to me, talk to my mother instead, a reporter comes down with the willies. The gray-haired mother produced by the reluctant interviewee turns out to be a saint who whips up apple butter by the gallon, or a kindly grandma who knits smiley faces on feathery quilts for shivering orphans, or a reincarnated Elizabeth Browning who minutes ago finished writing an 800-line poem about her cat, Slinky, and is looking for a publisher.

Not that there is anything regrettable about quilts, apple butter and cat poetry that always rhymes moon with spoon.

Joyce Ballantyne Brand, 86, was the opposite of an apple butter gal. I did not bring a martini shaker with me to Ocala, but I should have.


The most bizarre Burger King ad you'll ever see

TIME.com describes this bizarre Russian Burger King ad:
There’s fire-breathing, tattoo artists, hamburger turntables, burgers hidden under turbans, slo-mo dicing of tomatoes in mid-air, fog machines, dancers, seductive biting of lips, and a Die Antwoord-level of white-trash shtick.



Miami Beach police boat floats away

Here's a video that's been hiding out YouTube since last September.

One commenter wryly describes the action on a message board for Miami Beach cops: "That video depicts the MBPD [boat] floating away from Martinez and him getting wet after 10 years of sitting up in the dock master office."



Friday, December 16, 2011

Stuff we like

TCM Remembers memorial montage for 2011.

Song: "Before You Go" by OK Sweetheart.



Marine asks Michelle Obama for a date

It will be interesting to see if this works out.

From ABC News:
Marine Asks First Lady Michelle Obama to Marine Corps Ball

While sorting donations at the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign, this afternoon First Lady Michelle Obama received an unusual request.

Across a pile of race cars, the Associated Press reports Lance Cpl. Aaron Leeks invited Obama to be his date for next year’s Marine Corps Ball.

The 20-year-old Marine from Maryland told the AP, Obama said “she’d love to go.”

“Actually she said I’d need to speak to her husband, too, but she said she’d love to,” Leeks said.
Meanwhile, over at CBS News, they shortened the headline.

Back in the day, asking someone "to ball" meant an entirely different thing...and it wasn't about a fancy dance.

Click to enlarge.


Lincoln Road Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market this Sunday


Another Lincoln Road Antique Market takes place this Sunday, Dec. 18th.

The weather's going to be great.

Sunday's show will be the last event of 2011.

2012's first show is scheduled for Jan. 8.

For a complete list of 2012 dates, see the blue box in the right-hand sidebar. ------>>

See you there!


Veldora Arthur sentenced to 57 months in federal prison

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-OixsO12EUPQ/TWrFrETpV-I/AAAAAAAACf0/2qRKBRzXnx0/00000veldora%252Barthur.jpg
Veldora Arthur
Veldora Arthur, the City of Miami's first black female firefighter, and at one time the highest ranking female in the department, was sentenced Friday to 57 months in federal prison for her role in a mortgage fraud case reports the Straw Buyer blog.

According to the Straw Buyer blog, federal sentencing guidelines had called for a sentence of 57 to 71 months.

Will be updated when more becomes available.


DUI check point tonight in North Miami

North Miami police and other police agencies will be conducting a DUI checkpoint Friday night, Dec. 16 from 8pm to 2am in front of the North Dade Justice Center at 15555 Biscayne Blvd.

You've been warned.


DUI CHECK POINT SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY, DEC. 16 IN NORTH MIAMI

The North Miami Police Department will be conducting a Multi-Agency Christmas Holiday DUI Checkpoint and Miami-Dade County Wide Saturation on Friday December 16, 2011 during the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. located at 15555 Biscayne Blvd (Northbound).

This effort is in conjunction with the Florida Sustained DUI Enforcement Program, “2011 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" and the “2011 Buckle Up Florida: Click It or Ticket” programs.

The North Miami Police Department Traffic Unit will show zero tolerance for motorists who violate Florida’s traffic laws. All officers will be on alert to apprehend motorists who are driving impaired or with invalid driver licenses and ticket those who are unbuckled.

For more information on the Stop Impaired Driving program, and the Florida Click It or Ticket Program, visit their websites at www.stopimpaireddriving.org and www.clickitfla.com.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Un-Aired LOWE'S Commercial for "All-American Muslim"

The Lowe's Company has pulled their television commercials from TLC's new series "All-American Muslim" due to pressure from a Florida Christian Group.

Here's one of commercials that never aired.



An offer from the Miami Herald that's too good to pass up!

Click image to enlarge

Looks like the Miami Herald will try anything to reel in more subscribers!

The morning paper delivered by an adorable penguin?

Sign.
Me.
Up!



Gandhi Lora, convicted sex offender, still collects $7,200-per-month Miami-Dade police pension

Former Miami-Dade cop Gandhi Lora has collected more than $500,000 in state pension funds since his law enforcement career ended in 2005. (FDLE photo)

Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporters Anthony Cormier and Matthew Doig continue their series, "Unfit for Duty," with a story on disgraced police officers who still collect hefty pensions despite being convicted of serious crimes.

One of the disgraced cops cited in the story is former Miami-Dade cop Gandhi Lora. Before his arrest in 2003 on child pornography charges, Lora worked at Miami International Airport making $56,056 a year according to a Nov. 8, 2003 Miami Herald story.

Now, according to reporters Cormier and Doig, Lora collects a $7,200 monthly pension despite his conviction on child porn charges.
Gandhi Lora is no longer a working officer, but the former Miami-Dade cop still earns a state pension, which has paid him more than $500,000 since his law enforcement career ended in 2005.

The pension fund continues to pay him $7,200 each month - a decent wage considering that Lora is a registered sex offender convicted of possessing and promoting child pornography.

Every year, Florida's Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission takes the law enforcement certificates of hundreds of officers, ending their careers. But just because an officer loses his or her badge, it does not necessarily mean a loss of pension benefits. Existing laws protecting pensions are so strong that it is difficult to strip someone of their benefits, even if that person lost their job and their freedom after a felony conviction.
[...]
Lora, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, could not be reached for comment.

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said he was frustrated to learn that money from the state's pension fund was going to sex offenders.

"It's mind-boggling," Bennett said. "It's something that we have to get fixed."
Click here to see Lora's sexual offender flyer on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's website.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Your lunch hour time waster

Jimmy Kimmel Live - YouTube Challenge - I Gave My Kids a Terrible Present.

Jimmy Kimmel asked viewers to give their kids an early Christmas present and then upload their reactions to YouTube. The only requirement was it had to be a terrible gift.

One kid got old-batteries-and-onions. Another got a very ripe banana. And a cute blond girl got a half-eaten sandwich.

All of that and more, in your lunch hour time time waster!



17 Miami-Dade cops to lose take-home cars

From Local 10's Jeff Weinsier:
In a move that will save Miami-Dade taxpayers hundreds and thousands of dollars, several Miami-Dade police officers were told Tuesday that as of Jan. 3, they will have to use their own wheels to get to work.

Seventeen officers who live in Collier, Palm Beach and Monroe counties have now been told they have to park their patrol cars when there shift is over.

"I can tell you there will be sweeping changes that will go into effect Jan. 3. Those cars will be pulled back," said James Loftus, director of the Miami Dade Police Department.

Local 10 first exposed the issue two months ago, showing viewers video of a Miami-Dade police car parked in a driveway across the state in Naples. For years, the officer has been allowed to drive 1,210 miles per week to and from work in his county patrol car. It costs $10,000 in tax money for gas each year just for the commute for this one car.

The video outraged some Miami-Dade commissioners, who were in the process of cutting the budget.

According to records, 10 Miami-Dade officers live in Palm Beach, four live in Monroe and three live in Collier.

According to a memo, (below) as of Jan. 3, police vehicles will be restricted to the jurisdictional boundaries of Miami-Dade and Broward only.

"All vehicle privileges outside these jurisdictional areas are hereby rescinded," said the memo.

"I decided it's not in the best interest of the department. Sometimes we look at these things over a period of time and we try to be fair about it," said Loftus.

Memo on Take Home Cars


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WLRN 91.3 to Examine the Pros and Cons of Resort Casino Gaming in South Florida

WLRN-MIAMI HERALD NEWS’ LIVE TWO-HOUR SPECIAL “BETTING ON THE FUTURE” AIRS THIS WEDNESDAY ON 91.3 FM

Miami, FL – December 12, 2011 – WLRN-Miami Herald News will broadcast “Betting on the Future,” a live two-hour special report on resort casino gambling this Wednesday, December 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WLRN 91.3 FM.


Hosted by WLRN-Miami Herald News Anchor Phil Latzman, the program will explore the prospect resort casino gambling in South Florida, from a variety of angles. The special will feature panel of guests, including experts and lawmakers, offering perspectives from all sides of the issue, just as the state legislature prepares to convene and vote on key resort casino gambling, possibly changing the region forever.

Audience input is welcome during the show. Listeners can send their comments via email, phone calls or by following us on Twitter at #floridabet.

Guests include:

Miami mayor Tomás Regalado

Bob Jarvis, Nova Southeastern University law professor, gambling expert

Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald capitol bureau chief

Rep. Erik Fresen, state legislator

Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, state legislator

Mark Wilson, president and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

Frank Nero, Beacon Council president

Christian Goode, president, Genting Group's Resorts World Miami; former CFO Genting New York

Steve Geller, Genting lobbyist; former senate minority leader, attorney, lobbyist for Mardi Gras Gaming


After 46 years of newspapering, Jeff Klinkenberg shows no signs of slowing down



Jeff Klinkenberg, staff writer at the St. Petersburg Times - and one of Florida's great storytellers - reminded his Facebook friends today that his first byline was published 46 years ago in the Miami News.

In his most recent story, appearing in tomorrow's Times, Klink finds journalism's equivalent of a sweet spot. Literally.
Steve Melton, 62, holds a cane grinding every December at his Pasco County ranch as a reminder of a time when Floridians couldn't buy sugar in a bag at Publix. From the Panhandle to the Keys, folks of every race and creed grew sugar cane, harvested the stalks in the fall, squeezed the stalks into juice and then boiled the juice into sweet syrup they sprinkled into coffee or over pancakes or even meat. In the age before mass communication, a cane grinding was also a social gathering where Floridians might exchange news and gossip, tell jokes and share their dreams.
Read the complete story by clicking here.

Gay Vietnam vet looks Romney in the eye: ‘You can’t trust him’

Mitt Romney talks to Vietnam War veteran Bob Garon during a campaign stop at Chez Vachon Restaurant in Manchester N.H. Garon, who is gay, asked Romney his views on legalizing same-sex marriage. (BRIAN SNYDER-REUTERS)

The short video, below, pretty much tells me all I need to know about Mitt Romney.

Never mind Romney's oily, patronizing and condescending attitude towards the Vietnam vet; how ironic is that Romney - someone who went out of his way to avoid any kind of military service during Vietnam - can look a veteran in the eye and tell him that if he's elected president he'll oppose the vet receiving full rights that he fought for?

A commenter on YouTube sums up the video:
This is absolutely beautiful. Romney assumes that the old guy in the flannel shirt and the Vietnam veteran hat is a conservative and therefore safe. The beauty is in the way the gentleman structures the question so that Romney thinks it's a softball and he jumps into the anti-gay talking points with both feet. Awesome.

The absolutely best part is the staffer's lame attempt to extract Romney before he can do any more damage. Beautiful.

And, from the Washington Post:
[A]sked to assess Romney’s chances for the nomination, Garon said: “I did a little research on Mitt Romney and, by golly, you reporters are right. The guy ain’t going to make it.”

Why not?

“Because you can’t trust him,” Garon said. “I just saw it in his eyes. I judge a man by his eyes.”




Miami cop runs car up a pole

I can't wait to hear the official explanation for this.

Story here.



Meanwhile, at least one national media outlet is linking this to some other recent South Florida Keystone Kops incidents.

  • Last week, an off-duty cop was discovered passed out and drunk in his patrol car, the Miami-Dade, Fla., police department told local media. Instead of being cuffed and booked, Fernando Villa, 32, was allowed to go home after signing a form promising he would appear in court, the Miami Herald reported.

  • A feud between Miami Police and the Florida Highway Patrol culminated in one trooper getting his patrol car smeared with human feces.

  • A Lauderhill police officer allegedly shot at a fellow cop in November before driving off and ordering pizza.

  • In July, Miami Beach cop Derick Kuilan nearly killed two people after allegedly plowing into them on his police ATV while taking a woman for a boozy late-night joyride, according to the Miami Times. He was fired and is awaiting trial on reckless driving and DUI charges.





  • Monday, December 12, 2011

    Who's in charge at the Miami Herald?

    Another in a continuing series that tries to answer the question, "does anyone at Miami's once-great daily newspaper, actually edit or read anything that's posted on MiamiHerald.com?"

    Below is a screen shot of a story that was posted on the paper's website Sunday night at 9:34pm.

    A casual glance reveals at least three screw-ups.

    The most obvious mistake is the misspelling of "Coppertone," in the very first sentence.

    There's also an improper use of an apostrophe in the second sentence: "...and that fact has put it’s fate in doubt various times..."

    In the third paragraph, the writer drops a "c" from the company name Merck, turning it into "Merk."

    Eighteen hours following the story's posting, the errors remain uncorrected.

    Click to enlarge.

    Your lunch hour time waster

    From The Daily Show, April 11, 2001.

    George Bush's first 100 81 days as president.





    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    American Airlines pilot "apologizes" to Alec Baldwin


    via Cafe Mom:
    Playing the role of faux American pilot Captain Steve Rogers, who showed up to apologize to "American treasure" Baldwin, the actor was reminded by SNL Weekend Update host Seth Meyers that mobile phones are known to interfere with the communications systems on an airline. It was pretty much the point the airline attendants who say Baldwin abused them were trying to make when they pulled his word-building privileges on the plane. But get a load of his response:
    Would you really get on an airplane that flew 30,000 feet in the air if you thought one Kindle switch could take it down?

    Facebook friend Comment of the Day

    My Facebook friend, Gretchen, posted some thoughts on today's Miami Herald:
    I rag frequently on what's become of the once-great Miami Herald, but today's front page and local section are excellent--charter schools report, dirty MB PAL, love triangle crime, insightful local columns, casino debate and stadium nonsense. This is what newspapers cover. Buy it.
    And I'll add that if that's not enough of an incentive to buy the paper, perhaps the $632 worth of coupons will make you change your mind.

    On the downside, Gretchen told me in a private message: "I left off the part about it being delivered at 9am... but, at least I got it."


    Friday, December 09, 2011

    Rick Perry "Strong" ad inspires rampant creativity!


    Rick Perry's "Strong" ad is burning up the Internet in ways he probably didn't anticipate.

    It's "racked up more YouTube "dislike" votes than Rebecca Black's 'Friday.'"

    New parodies and memes of the ad are being posted on YouTube hourly.

    Here are three of the best.

    Way to go, Rick!

    "Brokeback Mountain" jacket ad, from TheComedyCouple.com



    From National Lampoon



    From Funny or Die (Caution: NSFW)




    Parallel parking in New York City

    How New Yorkers parallel park.



    From the archives: How New Yorkers hurricane-proof their cars.

    Your lunch hour time waster

    Local 10 early anchor Jason Martinez ate a Dunkin Donuts Munchkin during a commercial break this morning.



    Here's another of Martinez doing the WEPA.



    Miami Herald ... the good, the bad and the ugly

    Three stories posted in the past few days on the Miami Herald's website highlight the state of the paper these days...

    The good: In today's paper, the Herald's Carol Marbin Miller and Diana Moskovitz reveal another chapter in the heart-wrenching story of Nubia and Victor Barahona.

    Miller and Moskovitz report on "The grim tale of Laura and Julio Barahona’s futile efforts to find a savior for their niece and nephew ... contained in hundreds of pages of police reports and interviews released to the Miami Herald Thursday by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle."

    This is old-fashioned, no-punches pulled reporting which local TV stations will no doubt seize upon today and report without crediting the Herald.

    The bad: A Miami Herald editor who shall remain unnamed, posts a link Thursday on Facebook to a story about a worker who was fired from the Whole Foods Market on Miami Beach after complaining about raw sewage in the store, and who has now filed suit in federal court.

    When I point out that the story is two years old and was first reported by New Times when it happened, the editor responds by saying "The case was filed in federal court this week."

    Oh, okay, I see...raw sewage floods an upscale supermarket but it's not a story until a lawsuit is filed two years later. WTF?

    The ugly: A misspelled headline on the paper's website goes uncorrected for more than 24 hours, proving that no one at the paper bothers to read stuff once it's posted.


    Thursday, December 08, 2011

    Obama: "Ask bin Laden if I'm an appeaser"

    When asked to respond to Republican charges that he engages in 'appeasement,' President Obama said 'ask Osama bin Laden about that.'

    Bravo!



    Random Pixels Rules of the Road for Dummies

    (Seen today in North Miami)

    Okay, let's go over this once again.

    The law of physics prohibit you from using your car to occupy a space on the road that's already being used by another vehicle. That is all.

    video



    The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi strikes again...Fla. atty. general hands him a cup...of something



    After trying unsuccessfully Wednesday to get a urine sample from Florida governor Rick Scott, the Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi struck again.

    On Thursday he asked Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for a urine sample reports the Miami Herald's Mary Ellen Klas. "You supported the TANF drug test bill and I am just wondering if today you would be willing to undergo a drug test of your own as somebody who receives taxpayer money?" Mandvi asked Bondi.
    Bondi pulled out a plastic cup. "Well, that's very interesting that you should say that,'' she said. "Because as attorney general, I'm always prepared."

    "You have a sample of your urine!,'' Mandvi exclaimed. "Is this really your urine?"

    His cameras followed Bondi as she and her entourage walked away. "Thank you have a great day,'' Bondi said. "My name's on the top."

    It was, scrawled in Sharpie pen. "How do we know it's your urine,'' Mandvi asked incredulously. "How do we know it's not apple juice. Alright we will test this in the lab."
    [...]
    His cameraman noted, "She's a pretty woman." Mandvi agreed. "She just has incredibly beautiful smelling urine."

    Who's in charge at the Miami Herald?


    If you've ever wondered how many people at One Herald Plaza actually read their own product; I think I may have an answer: no one, apparently.

    Above, is a screenshot of a story that was posted on MiamiHerald.com Wednesday morning sometime after 5am.

    More than 24 hours after the story was posted, the misspelling in the headline has not been corrected.

    And so it goes.


    Sweetwater...still dirty after all these years (Part 2)

    Sarasota Herald Tribune reporters Matthew Doig and Anthony Cormier have another story today in their excellent series, "Unfit for Duty," which is taking a multi-part look at Florida police officers who keep their badges despite repeated instances of misconduct, and in many cases, criminal acts.

    (On Sunday, Doig and Cormier reported that Florida's dirtiest cop works at the Opa-Locka Police Department despite 40 internal affairs cases in 20 years.)

    In today's story the reporters reveal that troubled Florida cops often find second chances by finding jobs at smaller departments. Doig and Cormier found that some of Miami-Dade County's smaller police agencies employ troubled cops at a higher rate than that of larger departments.
    A Herald-Tribune computer analysis of the FDLE's misconduct cases and employee data supported the idea that the state's smaller agencies are a dumping ground for problem officers.
    [...]
    At the largest agencies, 3.9 percent of the officers had committed a violation serious enough that it had been sent to the FDLE, which decides whether to end an officer's career. At the smallest agencies, 8.1 percent of the officers had a misconduct case that put their career in jeopardy — more than twice as many.

    The difference is even more stark when comparing the state's largest agency with some of the smaller agencies that operate in its shadow.

    Four police departments in Miami-Dade County — Biscayne Park, Sweetwater, Opa-Locka and Hialeah Gardens — have, on average, 20.7 percent of their officers with a state misconduct case. Meanwhile the number is only 4.9 percent at the Miami-Dade Police Department.
    Cormier and Doig report that...
    Of the 19 Sweetwater police officers sent to the commission for misconduct, 12 were hired after incidents at other agencies, including six from the nearby Miami-Dade County or City of Miami police departments. The former Miami officers include Saul Fernandez, who faced discipline for a sex offense; Ignacio Menocal for cocaine possession; and Eduardo Demurias for indecent exposure.

    Sweetwater Police Chief Roberto Fulgueira said he personally vetted each of his officers before hiring them. He cited an old law enforcement expression: "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride."

    Normally used in reference to people, guilty or not, who have to ride in the back of a police car and spend time in jail, Fulgeria used the line to illustrate that an officer stained by a disciplinary incident is not necessarily an officer unfit for duty.

    "This stuff is supposed to follow you forever?" he asked. "For the rest of your career? Of course I'm going to give somebody a second chance."
    More information on the Sweetwater Police Department's dirty and sordid past can be found by clicking here and here.

    Your lunch hour time waster

    From a really bad 1980's TV show.




    Wednesday, December 07, 2011

    Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi hijacks Gov. Rick Scott's press conference

    UPDATE: Click here to see the Daily Show segment that aired Thurs., Feb. 2, 2012.





    UPDATED 1x below.

    Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi interrupted a press conference [Wednesday] by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to ask him to prove to the state taxpayers that he’s not on drugs by peeing in a cup.

    “You benefit from hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars every year, so would you be willing to pee into this cup to prove to Florida taxpayers that you’re not on drugs, that you’re not using that money for drugs?” Mandvi asked.

    Scott replied that he’s “done it plenty of times.”

    Mandvi then tried to pass a cup forward: “Would you pass this forward to the governor? We can all turn around, it’s fine.”
    -via Talking Points Memo

    -video via St. Petersburg Times

    UPDATE: Late this afternoon, Aasif Tweeted about his interaction with Gov. Scott and linked to my blog post.

    Click to enlarge.




    In case you missed it...

    Washingtonian Magazine profiles the brilliant former editor of Tropic Magazine, (1985-1990), Gene Weingarten in its December issue

    It's must reading for anyone who has fond memories of the Miami Herald's Sunday magazine.

    Among the story's highlights is an account of how a full-color photograph of Dave Barry flipping the bird ended up on the magazine's cover in September 1989. It's safe to say it was the first and last time an image like that would see the light of day in the pages of the Herald.
    In September 1989, Weingarten and company published a cover story about the new Orlando Magic basketball team in which they mocked the city of Orlando and referred to its team’s general manager as a weenie. The article was written by Dave Barry, whom Weingarten had hired in 1984, thereby launching the career of perhaps the most famous humor columnist of the late 20th century. The article’s stated purpose was to “whip up a mindless hatred on the part of our readership in hopes of creating a classic sports rivalry.” Below a photograph of Magic cheerleaders, rather than printing their actual names, Weingarten made up monikers like Flunky, Poobles, and Spaz.
    Click to enlarge.

    What may be most memorable about the issue is the cover photo. Pictured is Barry spinning a basketball on his middle finger. The cover line extends “heartfelt best wishes” to Orlando on the arrival of its new team.

    Weingarten somehow convinced the then executive editor of the Herald that flipping the bird “isn’t really offensive to people.” Turns out it really is offensive to people, and the paper got letters, lots of letters, including one from a mother who asked what she should tell her son when he asked why his hero, the great Dave Barry, was making an obscene gesture on the cover of a magazine. The executive editor later said running the photo was the only decision she ever regretted.