Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain's judgment, experience and temperament

John McCain's choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate either surprised, confounded or delighted voters depending on their political leanings.

After thinking about his choice for a day I've come to the conclusion that his choice reveals so much about his judgment and the judgment he would exercise if he is elected president.

Obama and McCain have been running for the office for almost two years. Most voters by now have formulated opinions on both men.

But here comes John McCain, with a little over two months before the election, foisting an unknown, unqualified and untested woman on the American electorate.

His pick of Palin is both demeaning and disrespectful to his supporters in general and his female supporters in particular. Does he actually believe that intelligent women will vote for a candidate for the second highest office in the land just because she's a woman?

And Palin yesterday, also displayed some of that same disrespect for women with a dash of Republican hypocrisy, by linking herself with Hillary Clinton and the "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling." Sisters-in-arms don't ya know!

However Palin, earlier this year characterized Hillary as a "whiner."

Paul Begala, political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and a counselor to Clinton in the White House also raises the issue of McCain's judgment in this commentary written for CNN and posted yesterday.
"For a man who is 72 years old and has had four bouts with cancer to have chosen someone so completely unqualified to become president is shockingly irresponsible. Suddenly, McCain's age and health become central issues in the campaign, as does his judgment.

"For months, the McCainiacs have said they will run on his judgment and experience. In his first presidential decision, John McCain has shown that he is willing to endanger his country, potentially leaving it in the hands of someone who simply has no business being a heartbeat away from the most powerful, complicated, difficult job in human history."

Begala elaborated last night on Larry King Live.

Begala argues that McCain has picked an untested woman he'd only met once before offering her the job.
"The more I think about it, the more shocked I am. Larry, I'm a dad. Here's why. I'm a dad. You're a dad. Most of the people on this panel are parents. There's a moment when you have to sit down, in my case with my wife and our lawyer, and we wrote a will, because now we have to be responsible for those children if, god forbid, we die. Does anyone plausible believe that after one meeting, John and Cindy McCain would trust Sarah and whatever his name is Palin them to raise their daughter if they were to die. Of course not.

"You wouldn't hand that responsibility over to somebody you had only met once. He is now entrusting the fate of 300 million families, 300 million people, not to mention three million people in the armed services, to her based on one meeting. It's astonishingly reckless. I know he wants the political pop from it. I guess that's his calculation. But there's no reasonable, responsible person who would make a decision that consequential on so little personal knowledge."

Begala mentioned McCain's four bouts with cancer but I'll take it a step further.

Watching McCain over the past two years, it's obvious to even the most casual observer that his behavior at times is .... well, quirky.

You won't find anything in the mainstream media about this but I have serious doubts that John McCain, if elected, would be able to complete a full first term.

That's why his pick for vice president was so important. In that respect McCain has failed a major test.

And that should be enough to frighten anyone.

Friday, August 29, 2008

BREAKING NEWS!!! Charlie Crist reacts to McCain's pick

Click image to enlarge

Just saw this on the Herald's website. Looks like Charlie can breathe a little easier now.

You read it here first!

On Wednesday I speculated - somewhat tongue-in-cheek - on the prospects that Hurricane Gustav might put a damper on the Republican National Convention which is scheduled to kick-off on Monday in Minneapolis.

Well, there's news today from no less an authority than the Washington Post, that the Republicans are considering postponing the convention.

The Post reports that "the threat is serious enough that White House officials are also debating whether President Bush should cancel his scheduled convention appearance." He's almost out of office but it looks like he's finally starting to get it. Better late than never.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds told the Post, "Senator McCain has always been sensitive to national crisis."

Here are some pictures of McCain being sensitive during our last national crisis on August 29, 2005 - the day Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans - by celebrating his birthday with Dubya.

But it took McCain almost three years to show how sensitive he really is by finally getting around to visiting New Orleans ...after clinching the GOP nomination.

However, if the GOP goes forward with their convention, maybe John McCain can show his sensitivity by jumping on a plane and heading for New Orleans immediately after giving his acceptance speech.

How cool would that be?

Sarah Palin hates polar bears and other fun facts!

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Republican Party Pooper!

Click image to enlarge.

The Republican National Convention gets underway next Monday in Minneapolis which coincidentally is when some forecasts show Hurricane(?) Gustav making landfall at -- perhaps -- New Orleans. (And at least two Republicans probably don't need any reminders that it's been just three short years this Friday, August 29 since Katrina hit New Orleans.)

I hope for the sake New Orleanians that the Gustav fizzles before it even gets to their embattled town.

But if it does make landfall anywhere along the Southeast or Gulf coast, it will be interesting to see what the reaction of the current Republican administration will be this time around...AND the effect it'll have on their little soiree in Minneapolis.

I'm wondering also if McCain will be mentioning this when he makes his acceptance speech.

It looks like Gustav is already on the mind of the convention planners. Look at the screenshot (above) I made tonight when I visited their website!

Does this mean the honeymoon is over?

Ullysses Daniel Alonso, the brand new husband of former Univision hottie Myrka Dellanos, is in legal hot water with Pinecrest cops according to news reports surfacing today.

Local 10 is reporting that Alonso, 26, turned himself in Monday for physically assaulting Dellanos, who is 18 years his senior during an argument that took place back on Aug. 8 inside their home.

The couple have been married just 5 months according to a marriage license application filed with the Clerk of the Court back in March of this year.Dellanos told PEOPLE En ESPAƑOL in December: "When I am in a relationship with a person, it's because I think it is something serious, and I think we could spend the rest of our lives together."

How do you say "time to lawyer up" in Spanish??

Monday, August 25, 2008

Turn over a rock and look what crawls out

Members of a group called "Just say No Deal" - women who allegedly supported Hillary Clinton but now support McCain - try to take over the Chris Matthews show today in Denver.

But listen closely as they give some telling clues as to who they really are.

The first woman says they "didn't like how the democratic process played out," so they've formed a group called "Clintons 4 McCain." Let's see; we had a primary and Hillary finished second behind Obama and we're not happy. Maybe we should do two out of three.

And watch as the right-wing nut of the day, Cristi Adkins, tries to trot out the old lie of Barack Obama attending a madrasa in Indonesia. She's got a 17 page report don't ya know.

Matthews to his credit presses her for proof and she keeps changing her story: "We didn't say he was a Muslim, we said he registered as a Muslim!"

She wants us to believe that she's a Clinton supporter but

listen to her as she talks to Sean Hannity back on June 10 and rails against Hollywood and the "left-wing news nut media." Sure sounds like a Hillary supporter to me.


Ask Random Pixels

Today we dip into the Random Pixels mailbag to find out what you're thinking about. This week we received a lot of e-mails like this:
Yo RP dude!

Do you know when Daddy Yankee is going to endorse John McCain?

I think they are both so chill!

Peace out!
Curious on Calle Ocho
Thanks for your e-mail "Curious." Before today I had no idea who Daddy Yankee was but as luck would have it Daddy Yankee announced today that he is endorsing John McCain.

Your e-mail and today's news piqued my curiosity about Daddy Yankee.

I hit Google and learned that he's a "reggaeton" star and that he recorded the song "Gasolina."

That provided a little more context. McCain was being endorsed by a singer who would give credence to his energy policies.

But I wanted to know more. I e-mailed my friend Eliott Rodriguez at Channel 4 News who is a big reggaeton fan and asked him if he could tell me anything about Daddy Yankee.

He wrote back: "He’s huge with Hispanic teenage girls."

That told me a little more but I was still intrigued by the fact that McCain would turn to a Puerto Rican hip-hop star to endorse his candidacy and his energy policies.

Perhaps there was some sort of hidden meaning in the lyrics of "Gasolina."

Maybe the august Wall Street Journal would have an answer. Without too much trouble I found this dispatch on the Journal's Washington Wire blog by reporter Elizabeth Holmes.

Holmes's blog post contained this cryptic paragraph about the song:
"Many in the press corps joked about the intersection of the song (with its lyrics, when translated into English, are: “She likes gasoline,” he says. “Give me more gasoline!” a woman responds) and McCain’s energy policy. In fact, Washington Wire is told the phrase has nothing to do with the traditional meaning of gasoline."
What exactly was the press joking about? I was left with more questions than answers.

It was time to call my friend Elizannette, a 26 year-old Dominicana. If anyone would know, she would.

"Oh, yeah, Daddy Yankee! He's a reggaeton singer," she said, beautifully rolling the "r" in reggaeton.

She also told me that she's not a big reggaeton fan but added: "I'll dance to it if I have to."

But I pressed on: "What is the song 'Gasolina' about?"

"Well," she answered "it's about, you know...."

"No, I don't know."

A little embarrassed she continued: "Let's just put it this way; he's not singing about fossil fuels or offshore drilling."

Ohhhhhh OK, now I get it.

But does McCain?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Brits behaving badly

Have you ever looked around on South Beach on a weekend and wondered how so many drunks can fit on such a small island?

Well, we're not alone. The Greek Islands have become the Mediterranean equivalent of South Beach for rowdy British tourists.

A report in The New York Times today reveals that vast numbers of British citizens on holiday are rapidly wearing out their welcome in some European countries including Greece.

And judging from a British Foreign Office report titled “British Behavior Abroad” that's quoted in The Times story, the favorite pastimes of vacationing British citizens are, in no particular order:
  • Drinking
  • Puking
  • Getting arrested
  • and Dying...yes, dying!
  • and more drinking

    The report says that 1,591 British tourists died in Spain from April 2006 to March 2007. During the same period 2,032 Brits were arrested.

    The mayor of Malia, Greece, Konstantinos Lagoudakis, succinctly sums up the behavior of British tourists like this: "They scream, they sing, they fall down, they take their clothes off, they cross-dress, they vomit."

    American tourists are also helping to keep Spanish jails filled up. They came in at No. 2, behind the UK with 1,415 arrests.

    And this TIME Magazine story says that in 2007 60% of the Brits returning from Mallorca, Spain reported that they'd been drunk on at least five days of their one-week holiday. Nice!

    So what's at the root of all this debauchery?

    One Brit told The Times: “We have stressful jobs, and we don’t get much time off, and we like to enjoy ourselves and have a good laugh. And we love a bargain.”

    Who says those stuffy Brits don't know how to have fun?
  • Friday, August 22, 2008

    Playing "Gotcha! journalism"

    One of the most important rules in the game of "Gotcha! journalism" is to get your facts straight and all your ducks in a row before making accusations.

    Today, Broward New Times' Bob Norman, the paper's Sun-Sentinel Criticizer-in-Chief, posted a brief item on his blog about the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo breaking a story that was picked up by the AP and subsequently published on the Sun-Sentinel's website.

    Norman linked to a post on the Herald's political blog where Caputo quibbles over the fact that the Sentinel posted the AP story on their website but deleted any mention of the Herald running the story first.

    This is the line on the Sun Sentinel's website that rankled Caputo: "The threat was first reported by a South Florida newspaper on Thursday."

    I'm sure both Caputo and Norman are adequate journalists but I've got them both beat when it comes to remembering stuff. The reason for that is because I'm old!

    Caputo joined the Herald a short five years ago. I've been living in Miami and reading the Herald since 1960. Yes, I'm pulling rank!

    Kudos to Caputo for breaking the story but on the journalism Richter scale it hardly measured a ripple. Caputo's "scoop" was a mere 235 words. Certainly no one's going to compare it with Woodstein's Watergate reporting.

    But the story was his baby and he had every right to beat up on the Sun-Sentinel for "borrowing" it.

    However had Caputo done a little research he would have discovered that when it comes to "borrowing" stories and running them without attribution, the Herald has more skeletons in their closets than a big city medical examiner.

    As soon as I saw Caputo's blog post I immediately recalled this classic Jim Mullin piece from the June 12, 1997 issue of Miami New Times.

    In it Mullin documents how the Herald systematically "borrowed" stories from the Daily Business Review about a Port of Miami scandal. The DBR had been running stories on irregularities at the port for some eight months when the Herald started "borrowing" their stories without attribution.

    DBR editor Ed Wasserman (who is now a Herald op-ed columnist) was so pissed that he spent thousands of dollars on a billboard that was erected at "Biscayne Boulevard at Thirteenth Street, [and] angled so that it point[ed] directly at the Miami Herald's headquarters across the street."

    The billboard displayed images of the DBR's front pages with the dates they appeared and the Herald's pages with dates they appeared which were after the DBR's run dates.

    The billboard also carried this legend: "Don't wait for the Herald to catch up."

    The point here is that Caputo is taking the Sun-Sentinel to task for something the Herald has routinely practiced over the years. Remember; I've got an excellent memory! ;)

    So Marc, if you're thinking about erecting a billboard across from the Sun-Sentinel, my advice would be: DON'T!

    Some more advice: Next time you you challenge someone to a game of "Gotcha!" you might want to do a little more research!

    John McCain's crib

    click image to enlarge

    I found this on MTV's Cribs website today. However, it might be a little late for him to go after the youth vote.

    NOTE: Inspiration from this Washington Post story.

    The safest city in America is....

    .....Grafton, Wisconsin.

    The police there have eliminated crime completely and now find themselves with lots of time on their hands.

    So they're arresting people who haven't returned overdue library books.

    Heidi Dalibor, 20, was recently arrested, handcuffed and fingerprinted after she failed to return a couple of library books.

    When the local TV stations found out, they did what TV stations everywhere do best. Not exactly the crime of the century.

    To me, this seems like an abuse and misuse of police resources. This case wasn't a criminal matter, it was a civil matter. Perhaps the library should use a collection agency to collect fines and let the police tackle more important problems.

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Breaking News! Jim DeFede quits radio gig

    UPDATED @ 9:20pm
    Jim Defede has abruptly quit his afternoon radio show on WFTL. DeFede has held down the 4pm to 7pm slot since January after leaving WINZ last year.

    DeFede was on the air yesterday. In an e-mail to Random Pixels he wrote: "I left wftl today." He didn't elaborate. I've followed up and asked him to comment further.

    Who knows; maybe he's going back to WINZ. After all, his webpage is still online!

    DeFede is also an investigator and commentator for CBS4 News.


    Jim DeFede responds by e-mail:

    From: Defede, Jim (
    Sent: Thu 8/21/08 9:07 PM

    Hi Bill,

    Here is what I would say about my time at WFTL:

    Even though WFTL is a strange little right-wing radio station with a weak signal in Dade, I still thought I could help them out.

    I gave them an irreverent and funny show that featured dozens of local and national politicians from both sides of the aisle.

    Unfortunately I never meshed with the rest of the station so rather than continue working there, I asked them to buy me out of the remaining 14 months of my contract. We were able to reach a deal this week and my time at WFTL is now over.

    Leaving WFTL will free me up to do even more with CBS4 News.

    I wish the folks at WFTL all the best.
    Sent using BlackBerry

    How to avoid getting a traffic ticket

    You've been 19’ed!

    19 is police radio code for a traffic stop.

    Anyone who likes being pulled over by the police raise your hand now.

    That’s what I thought, no one.

    Let’s face it, being pulled over for a traffic infraction ranks right up there on the annoyance scale with root canal and being audited by the IRS. The most obvious way is to get out of being written a ticket is to obey traffic laws. But if you read this to the end I’ll give you two or three other sure-fire ways to avoid being written up.

    And if you do get stopped there are some ways to make your experience a little less stressful.

    Just so you know, I am not a cop. These tips are gleaned from my own experiences and from interviews with actual traffic enforcement cops. What follows is not the final word; your mileage may vary.

    The first thing to realize is that being pulled over for a broken tail light is not the end of the world. (NOTE: This rule does not apply if you’ve just robbed a bank and the money dye-pack has exploded coating you and everything in your car with a lovely shade of red.)

    In most cases, if you are stopped for a minor infraction you’ll be on your way in less than five minutes. The officer takes your license and swipes it through a device that looks like a Palm pilot. The device reads your information and then the officer inputs the information about your infraction and the info is transferred to a portable printer that generates the citation. It’s all over in less time than it takes to smoke a cigarette.

    If you’ve been stopped by a traffic enforcement cop whose primary job is to enforce traffic laws, chances are there is nothing you can say to change the cop’s mind.

    No amount of tears, profanity or foot stomping will change that. It’s just a fact of life. You can make things go smoothly by not acting stupid. Stupidity during a traffic stop tends to make the situation spin out of control quickly and then pretty soon things like this happen.

    In a 10 or 20 years of making traffic stops on the street, the average cop has written tens of thousands of tickets. They’ve seen it all. Just like you wouldn’t want someone to show up at your office and tell you how to do your job, the same holds true for cops. The streets are their office.

    Don't disrespect a cop by telling him how to do things in his office.

    A few more pointers:

    First thing to remember is that NO ONE ever calls the police and says: “Hey, I’m having a wonderful day, can you send an officer over so I can share some fresh-baked cookies with him.”

    Talk to cops the way you’d like to be talked to and your courtesy will likely be returned, even if you happen to run across a cop who’s arrogant or rude; there are some out there. Smile, sign the ticket and then go to court if you think he's wrong.

    If you live in a small town like Miami Beach there’s a strong possibility you may run across that officer again if you screw up. Cops have very good memories. If you were courteous, he'll remember and if you acted like a jerk the last time you met, he'll remember that too.

    Chances are that if you get pulled over for speeding you may not get out of being written for that but you might escape being written for a burned out tail light or a seat belt infraction. But if you start talking smack you're gonna get lots of tickets.

    Some things cops don’t want to hear:
  • “I pay your salary.”
  • “Can’t you cut me a break?”
  • One officer told me that he doesn’t want to hear how many people on the force you know, however, he adds that if you insist on doing this at least get their rank right and pronounce their name correctly.
  • “You must have made a mistake.” This one is especially annoying to cops. I can tell you that having ridden with a few cops, they don't need to make stuff up and stop innocent people. They have more than they can handle with "real" offenders.

    One cop I talked with says he never cuts breaks on red light runners and stop sign runners. You're gonna get a ticket. Some will give you leeway on speeding and look the other way if you are going less than 15% over the limit.

    After spending a shift with one cop it dawned on me that traffic enforcement is like shooting fish in a barrel. You’d be amazed at how many people routinely break the law behind the wheel. Many drivers apparently think that cops are blind.

    A note on radar detectors: they don’t work.

    Here on Miami Beach they use laser, not radar. Laser works very differently from radar. The laser gun sends out a beam of laser light that is so narrow and precise it must be aimed with an optical sight, like those used by sharpshooters.

    Many officers aim at the grille or headlight. The speed of the vehicle is determined in less than a second. One officer told me that he once stopped a guy for speeding who had a $1,300 jammer. It caused the laser to start acting erratically, but only after it recorded the guy’s speed.

    OK, so is it possible to get out of being written a ticket? Sure.

    Here are a few actual instances of people who escaped being written:

  • Woman was stopped for speeding. She told the cop that she’d just had a sudden and unexpected bowel movement. Suddenly an odor that came from the car told him she wasn’t lying. She didn't get a ticket.

  • One cop stopped a guy for running a stop sign near a hospital. When he approached the car the guy pointed to his thigh, somehow he'd managed to run a six-inch piece of rebar through his leg. The cop let him go.

  • A few years ago one cop told me he stopped a guy for speeding on Washington Avenue. When he approached the driver he realized that it was a well-known Miami Beach restaurateur. Sitting beside him was his head chef who’d just severed one of his fingers. He got out of the ticket and was given an escort with light and sirens to the hospital.

    So, you can get out of a ticket, but the price may be high!

    Happy motoring.
  • Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Even more bad news for the Herald

    A few items of interest from the Miami media scene today:

  • McClatchy Falls to Record Low After Drop in Ad Sales
    from Bloomberg News
    McClatchy Co. [stock], publisher of the Miami Herald, plunged the most in eight months to a record low after reporting a 19 percent drop in July advertising sales as U.S. newspapers continue to be staggered by the economy.
    McClatchy, which owns 30 daily newspapers, fell 36 cents, or 9 percent, to $3.65 at 2:56 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, its biggest one-day drop since Dec. 14, when the shares fell 10 percent. A year ago today, the stock traded for more than $22.

  • Jim Mullin, editor and publisher of Biscayne Times, has just launched a re-designed website for his paper. Mullin, the storied editor of Miami New Times for 18 years, bought the monthly paper in January of 2007. The paper covers neighborhoods along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor from downtown northward.

  • Things at The MiamiSunPost aren't looking so good. The feisty Miami Beach weekly has fallen on hard times. My sources say they are bouncing checks and in some cases have stopped paying contributors and freelancers.

    A former SunPost insider tells me that the paper is no doubt feeling the effects of the real estate advertising downturn that's affecting all newspapers but adds that the paper has been on a slide since publisher Andrew Stark left last year. Stark had been at the helm of the paper since 1995.

    Long-time editor Erik Bojnansky left the paper in February and managing editor Rachael Lee Coleman's name recently disappeared from the masthead.
  • Lots of storm pics!

    photo by Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post
    The Palm Beach Post has one of the better newspaper website slide shows of more than 100 pics from tropical storm Fay. It looks like they had photographers everywhere the rain was falling and the wind was blowing. We can count ourselves fortunate here in Miami-Dade that Fay didn't get any closer!

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    We dodged a bullet

    Click to enlarge
    Is it just me or did the Herald go a little overboard with their coverage of "The Storm of the Century?" Here's a screenshot from their website Monday night.

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Thinking about water

    Just got back from Publix where I picked up some bread, tuna, ground beef and some tasty snacks.

    What I didn't buy was water. Not that there wasn't any. My Publix on Miami Beach had it everywhere. It was hard to miss.

    Even before you got in the store they had pallets of it stacked right at the front door.

    The shelves where you normally find one gallon jugs were empty but someone was re-stocking them.

    They had 24-bottle cases stacked at the checkout lanes.

    So my question is: why is it when there's a a little wind blowing in the Caribbean do people get an uncontrollable urge to buy water?

    I remember years ago going to Publix and watching in amazement as about 10 people stood in line at those "water machines" waiting to fill up empty plastic jugs.

    Whatever happened to good old tap water? We all have faucets in our homes.

    Save those plastic Arizona ice tea jugs and when the the wind starts blowing off the coast of Haiti, just go nuts and fill 'em up from your tap!

    The problem is that we've all been brainwashed into thinking that something's wrong with tap water. People who buy bottled water because they think it's "cleaner" are probably the same people who think they're helping education by playing the lottery. If lottery proceeds really went towards education we wouldn't be reading stories like this. But I digress.

    Lee Klein of Miami New Times just happens to have some interesting facts on water in this week's issue of the paper.

    One of the main points in Klein's article is that you've already paid for much of the bottled water sitting on the shelf at Publix. A good percentage of it comes from municipal water sources. That's right, it's just tap water that's been run through a carbon filter. Nothing you can't do yourself.

    I've plucked a few other highlights from Klein's article for your consideration:

  • "Water is water," Garrison Keillor once wrote. "If you want lemon flavoring, add a slice of lemon. You want bubbles, stick a straw in it and blow."

  • Jonathan Eismann, chef/owner of Pacific Time, can't fathom why "people are complaining about gas being $4.50 a gallon. Meanwhile they're paying nine bucks a gallon for water."

  • Dasani's [marketed by Coca Cola] Florida stock comes from Broward County, which buys its water from the City of Hollywood Water Treatment Plant, which secures its supply from the Biscayne and Floridan aquifers. It has been estimated that the average bulk cost paid for public water is between one and two cents a gallon. At a Publix supermarket in Miami Beach, a 20-ounce single-serve bottle of Dasani costs, with tax, $1.50 — or $10 to $20 a gallon, about 500 to 1,000 times the price.

    But if you're heading out to Publix go right ahead and stock up on water, they've got plenty.

    Or maybe pass up just one purchase of water this weekend and buy some clean water for some people who really need it.
  • Friday, August 15, 2008

    Geographically challenged at the Herald

    Image from the Herald's website at about 2:45pm today. It was corrected shortly after I made this screenshot but the question is why it went live in the first place. Don't they even bother to proofread?

    Trying to beat the odds; a death in Newark

    From The New York Times October 24, 2007.
    NEWARK--After every cataclysm had struck — after his father had died and his mother had fallen ill with heart disease, after one older brother had gone into jail and another into a psychiatric hospital, after exhausting the welcome at a sister’s home and moving into a shelter, after shuttling through 13 schools by the eighth grade — after all of that, Bukhari Washington clung to one vision.

    Somehow, he would still attend Christ the King Prep.

    By last spring, he had been admitted to the school, the first new Catholic high school to open in this epically troubled city [of Newark] in half a century. Come September, he was to enter with the first 100 freshmen. Donors had put forward not only tuition for Bukhari, but also money for his school uniform of blue blazer, pressed trousers and striped tie.

    Yesterday morning Bukhari's dream was cut short.

    The 15-year-old Newark boy was killed in his bed Thursday morning by a stray bullet fired by a young neighbor handling a military-style assault rifle downstairs.

    Bukhari's girlfriend, Shakima Gatewood told the Newark Star-Ledger:

    "He wasn't a gangbanger or nothing," Shakima said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "He was a regular kid."

    Just a regular kid who had a thirst for knowledge and who wanted to beat the odds.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    More bad news at Miami Herald

    "In other words, it's a huge sh*t sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite." -Lt. Lockhart in Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket"

    via Romenesko:

    "Publishers at McClatchy newspapers [which includes the Miami Herald] told their staffs Thursday: "We are implementing an across-the-board, one-year wage freeze effective September 1, 2008. This means that if you are scheduled to receive a merit or salary review between September 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009, your review will occur one year later than scheduled. ...This freeze is being instituted across all of McClatchy, including at corporate and McClatchy Interactive."
    A source at the Miami Herald tells me that they've received a memo similar to this which was sent to employees at the McClatchy-owned Herald in Rock Hill SC.

    My source also says that raises at the Herald in recent years really haven't kept up with inflation anyway and adds that some young reporters are being paid as little as $15 hour so this freeze just pours salt on open wounds.

    He's not drunk, he's just happy!

    Was Bush drunk at the Olympics? There's certainly a lot of photographic evidence to support that observation.U.S. President George W. Bush stumbles as he and his wife Laura, front, arrive to watch the swimming competitions in the National Aquatics Center at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008.
    (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

    Perhaps he wasn't drunk. Maybe he's just happy that he's got only 158 days left in office. And in that respect, we're in total agreement.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    The way we were....

    Thanks to Eliott at CBS4 for the link!

    A very laid back trip in time....

    Some great color scenics of the University of Mia-muh, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne in this 1950Technicolor ad for Chevrolet.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Legal briefs from Louisiana

    On Friday, a new law will take effect in Louisiana, making cockfighting illegal. Louisiana is the last state in the Union to allow the blood sport.

    However I'm here to report that you can still buy frozen daiquiris at drive-thru windows throughout the state.

    They sell them in Styrofoam cups with lids which are considered closed containers. It's legal just as long as you don't poke a straw through the lid.

    Apparently hard drinking Louisianans - and the Louisiana legislature - don't consider frou-frou girlie drinks like daiquiris hard liquor!

    Hey, this is the state that once elected Huey Long governor and where 10-pound rats inhabit the swamps - which some Louisianans consider good eatin'!

    They also have a saying in Louisiana that half the state is underwater and the other half is under indictment. Any questions? Florida looks downright civilized by comparison.

    So while Louisiana's laissez-faire attitude on humans consuming alcohol behind the wheel continues unabated, the state's poultry will be living out the rest of their days safely as pacifists.

    I'll drink to that!

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    The Miami Herald's very own Ugly American!

    The Herald's Dave Barry is offering up some of his platinum-plated wit this week with his dispatches from Beijing. The only thing sadder than his infantile attempts at humor are the Herald editors who think this crap is funny and who continue to print it.

    Obama's VP pick? Check your inbox!

    From Washington Post political blog "The Trail"
    "Last night, in a cell phone text message that was quickly followed by an e-mail linking back to a new page on his Web site -- -- aides to Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) campaign wrote: "Barack will announce his VP candidate choice through txt message between now & the Conv. Tell everyone to text VP to 62262 to be the first to know! Please forward."

    Meanwhile, John McCain is still trying to get a handle on the Internets:
    "I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself."

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Happy Birthday, Madonna...and thanks!

    My photos of Madonna in the National Enquirer, (top) and Paris Match, (bottom)
    Valentine’s Day, 1992.

    I'm on assignment for the Associated Press staking out Jose Canseco’s house in Coral Gables…along with some of Miami’s finest journalists. Canseco was arrested the night before for ramming his wife’s car in a fit of ‘roid rage.

    He’s out on bond and holed up inside his house.

    We want him to come out so he can tell us his side of the story and let us get some pictures. He’s having none of that.

    It’s going to be a long day. Boredom starts to set in.

    But someone has a copy of the N.Y. Post and I pass the time by reading it.

    A tiny 4-line item on the gossip page catches my eye. It says that Madonna is in Miami to shoot pictures for a new book that will deal with her “sexual fantasies.”

    Suddenly, I’m not bored anymore.

    Jose finally emerges at 6pm just as all the TV stations are going live. We get the pictures and leave.

    The next day I head over to Miami Beach to look around and see if I can spot Madonna…doing anything.

    I come up empty-handed and drive home. I decide to take the afternoon off and drive to the beach on Key Biscayne.

    I pass by Vizcaya and at SE 32nd Rd. I see a hand-lettered sign that says ”CREW” which usually means that some sort of production is underway. An arrow points right and that’s where I go.

    I drive slowly down Brickell Ave. looking right and left when I come upon the gate to a large waterfront house. The front lawn is bustling with activity and I spot what appears to be a topless woman.

    I get out of my car and creep up to the hedges. Still not sure what’s taking place.

    They appear to be setting up some sort of shot. I peer at the scene through a 300mm lens mounted on my Nikon and see a topless blond woman wearing nothing but high heels and a black thong with a cottontail attached.

    A dozen people are scurrying about---the photographer, Steven Meisel and his assistants, grips, make-up and hair people and a few bodyguards.

    I have stumbled upon Madonna’s Miami photo shoot.

    I start shooting, almost sure that they’re going to hear me and come outside the gates and beat the crap out of me.

    But I get the pictures and hurry to a one hour lab to get them processed. I call my agency in New York and they tell me to Fed Ex the film that night.

    I have the first photographic evidence of Madonna’s new book “SEX” that won’t be released for another 8 months.

    My film arrives in New York. The next day my agency scrambles to make prints and by that night they are on a Concorde to all of the European photo agencies.

    The pictures are marketed in each country to the highest bidder.

    In England, the tabloid SUN outbids everyone and within a few days my pictures are in print. Soon the pictures are the talk of Europe appearing in France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

    In the U.S. the National Enquirer wins the rights to the pictures and prints them in the centerfold.

    The gossip columns start printing items on my coup and two weeks later the word finally reaches the Miami Herald. A photo editor calls me and says they are doing the story and do I happen to have a picture or two I could let them have?

    I explain that publications all over the world have paid thousands of dollars for the rights to print the pictures and I add that I’m pretty sure the Herald’s not willing to fork over that kind of money for my images. He agrees. Conversation over.

    Pretty soon papers and magazines are doing stories on me and how I got the pictures. One writer says that I made a million dollars from the pictures. Not even close. But I did very well.

    Anyway, I just read on the Washington Post website that Madonna is turning the big five-oh this week.

    So if you’re reading this, Madonna, let me wish you a very happy birthday.

    Oh, and by the way, thanks for everything!

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    The White House Interrogation Room

    The White House now has its very own interrogation room. After all, you never know when a terrorist might show up in the neighborhood.

    Pukitzer Prize winning reporter Ron Suskind recounts a frightening incident in his new book, "The Way of the World," that happened when a Pakistani national who is also a graduate of Connecticut College passed by the White House one morning and stopped to fiddle with his I-pod while cars passed through a White House gate.

    "He turns as a large uniformed man lunges at him. The backpack!” the man yells, pushing Usman against the Italianate gates in front of Treasury and ripping off his backpack. Another officer on a bicycle arrives from somewhere and tears the backpack open, dumping its contents on the sidewalk. […]

    "Usman is trundled from the SUV, escorted through the West Gate, and onto the manicured grounds. No one speaks as the agents walk him behind the gate’s security station, down a stairwell, along an underground passage, and into a room — cement-walled box with a table, two chairs, a hanging light with a bare bulb, and a mounted video camera. Even after all the astonishing turns of the past hour, Usman can’t quite believe there’s actually an interrogation room beneath the White House, dark and dank and horrific."

    More here.

    Random Pixels Web Surfing Tip o' the Day

    If you want to look at porn sites on the Internet, don't do it at work!


    "Steven Rocky Loiacono, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s webmaster has been suspended and is slated to be fired next week after spending much of his time at work looking at explicit, pornographic websites.

    "He also used programs designed to camouflage and hide the activity, the report states, adding that he intentionally deleted information from city computers to cover his tracks."

    Hey, the dude was hungry!

    While Tremayne Durham sat in an Oregon jail for two years awaiting trial on murder charges he apparently developed a mighty hatred for jail food.

    So last month he agreed to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for some of his favorite fast food. Lots of it!
    KFC chicken.
    And some Popeye's chicken.
    And mashed potatoes.
    And coleslaw.
    And carrot cake.
    And ice cream.

    Last Wednesday a judge sentenced him to life in prison with no parole for 30 years.

    After the sentencing his attorney said that Durham got to feast on more food that was part of the original deal.
    Some calzones.
    And lasagna.
    And pizza.
    And ice cream.

    Durham will start his sentence as soon as they can find a prison cell that he can fit in.

    COMING SOON! Two sure-fire ways to get out of a traffic ticket!

    Bookmark this page, tell your friends, wake the kids, bring in the dog and put out the cat!

    Coming to Random Pixels in the next few days; I'm going to reveal two proven, cop-tested excuses that will get you out of being written a traffic ticket! I'll also tell you what not to say to a traffic cop if you're stopped. Stay tuned!

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Buying some time for The Herald -- UPDATE

    Back on July 1, I wrote a long post that listed seven suggestions that I believed might help the Herald reverse circulation losses and increase revenue.

    My first suggestion in part was:

    "Why not use to provide breaking news but hold back posting non-breaking news and longer feature stories on the site? Print them in the morning paper instead. Once they've been published then they can be posted on the site.

    "The way they're doing it now would be like Publix giving away fresh-baked bread everyday and then charging for the leftover stale loaves the next day."

    There's no evidence that any of my suggestions reached anyone in power at the Herald.

    But today, Mike Leary, managing editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote in a memo to staffers that the Inquirer, starting today is:
    "...adopting an Inquirer first policy for our signature investigative reporting, enterprise, trend stories, news features, and reviews of all sorts. What that means is that we won't post those stories online until they're in print."

    Interesting. And from my vantage point it certainly makes sense. I wish I could take credit for inspiring the Inquirer's move.

    In any event, perhaps someone in power at the Herald will eventually get wind of the Inquirer's new policy and follow suit. And they won't even have to give me credit for coming up with the idea. They can just say that they got it from the Inquirer!

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    David Ovalle: doing all the heavy lifting at the Herald

    If you read this blog on a regular basis you know I have major issues with the the work the Herald has been producing lately.

    I won't mention any names, but some writers at the paper are not pulling their weight **coughcoughjoanfleischman** and make it seem like producing two 700-word columns a week is a major task with a degree of difficulty that's akin to brain surgery.

    Not so with Ace Crime Reporter David Ovalle.

    Ovalle, who was named Best Herald Writer by Miami New Times in 2007, has been on a tear lately, producing a virtual tsunami of copy.

    Just look at Ovalle's output since Saturday.

    He's written, by my count, six very compelling stories that rank right up there with the crime reporting of the legendary Edna Buchanan.

    Ovalle's stories are so much more than the dreary who, what, when, where, why crime stories that some less imaginative reporters churn out.

    Brace yourself for the inevitable O. Henry-like twist when you read an Ovalle tale. His "nut graphs" drip with irony.

    Consider Ovalle's Saturday piece on Miguel Molero, a man burdened with crushing debt.
    "More than $315,000 in debt, Miguel Molero went to the bank but not for help. Instead, he attempted to rob a Brink's armored truck in Homestead, police said, and was shot dead by the driver."

    Five more Ovalle stories appeared on the Herald's website today.

  • Drunk guy repeatedly calls 911.
    "[Police] returned and found him lying on the floor inside his home, surrounded by 40 to 50 empty Natural Ice beer cans. The room reeked of alcohol."

  • Man shot by police gets hit again with drug charges.

  • Motorist steals donation bucket from homeless guy."He snatched the bucket and took the hell off," Marino said. "I almost fell to the ground and into the bushes. All my change went all over the place."

  • 2 Dade cops on the mend after being hit by car.

  • Killer escapes justice by dying in jail."...Miami detectives were ready to charge Juan C. Borrego for stabbing an East Little Havana woman to death 11 years ago. Death took him first."

    The Herald could use a few more scribes like David Ovalle.
  • Saturday, August 02, 2008

    Saturday night boogie woogie!

    Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Ron Wood and Paul Shaffer and others recorded live in 1986 at the historic nightclub, Storyville, in New Orleans.

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Would you be caught dead wearing this?

    The New York Times offered up incontrovertible proof Thursday on the lack of sanity and complete disconnect that torments the gurus and czars who hand down fashion decrees.