Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Buy Lemonade, Help The Federal Government Out

It's heartwarming -- an 11-year-old Girl Scout from Houston opening a lemonade stand to help victims of Ike.

Sunkist, which has a whole PR effort devoted to getting these lemonade-stand-for-a-cause stories out, was enraptured with Rama Imad and her friends: "They will be raising money for FEMA, in order to contribute to Hurricane Ike relief throughout Texas," a press release said.

Say what now? FEMA and the federal government are so cash-strapped they're taking donations from kids running lemonade stands?

Market meltdown, trillion-dollar deficit, what hast thou wrought?

We checked, and it turns out the proceeds will not go to FEMA.

"She originally wanted them to go to FEMA because they had come to her street when her family was affected by the storm," Sunkist spokeswoman Deanna Talamantez tells Hair Balls. "But we've found that they don't take donations, so the money will instead be going to the Red Cross."

Yeah, but what about the deficit?

Anyway, feel free to give to some non-governmental entity by buying lemonade from 9 am til noon this Saturday at the Food Town at 10902 Scarsdale.

FEMA will just have to get by on its own, we guess.

-- Richard Connelly

Original here

Jury orders Target to pay $3 million in civil case

By Eric Connor • STAFF WRITER

A federal jury has ordered Target Corp. to pay a Greer woman $3.1 million after the jury found that the company distributed information that wrongly accused her of trying to pass a counterfeit bill while shopping.

The jury ruled in favor of Rita Cantrell following a three-day civil trial in U.S. District court in Greenville, according to a judgment filed Thursday.

In 2006, Cantrell brought a civil defamation lawsuit against Target alleging libel and negligence.

The suit alleged that a Target loss-prevention employee was responsible for an email distributed to dozens of other businesses and law enforcement agencies that warned them to be on the lookout for her after she tried to buy items from two Target stores with a legitimate $100 bill, according to a complaint filed in Greenville federal court.

In its answer to the complaint, Target denied wrongdoing and said that the email communication was "made in good faith."

The email led the U.S. Secret Service to question Cantrell while she was at work at a Belk’s department store in Greenville, where she was employed in the store’s loss-prevention department, the complaint alleged.

Agents reviewed the bill -- which was an older, 1974 series $100 bill -- and determined she had done nothing wrong, according to the complaint.

The jury awarded Cantrell $100,000 in actual damages and penalized Target with $3 million in punitive damages, according to the judgment.

The lead attorney for Target, Knox Haynsworth, referred questions about the judgment to Target’s corporate office Thursday. The office couldn’t be reached to comment.

In its answer, Target says that its employee sent the email only to a loss-prevention employee at another department store and who also served as theft task force’s communication liaison.

In February 2006, Cantrell was a customer at Target’s locations on Woodruff Road and Wade Hampton Boulevard and was questioned at each location by employees when she tried to pay for merchandise with a $100 bill, which was rejected because it was a 1974 series bill, the complaint alleges.

A loss-prevention employee for Target composed an email that was distributed to a group known as the Carolina Organized Retail Theft Task Force, according to the complaint.

The employee’s email -- the contents of which included images of Cantrell shopping and allegations that she had tried to pass a counterfeit bill and had shoplifted -- was sent to 31 members of the group, according to the complaint. Members included local, state and federal law enforcement offices, malls, department stores, home-improvement stores and grocery stores, the complaint alleged.

The Secret Service went to Cantrell’s work and subjected her to a "custodial interrogation," but after looking at the $100, determined the bill was genuine and cleared her of any criminal activity, the complaint alleged.

Following the interview, Cantrell was provided a copy of the email, according to the complaint.

"Every aspect of Rita’s life was harmed by Target," said Bozzie Boggs, a Greenville attorney who helped represent Cantrell during the trial.

Original here

Body of Jennifer Hudson's Nephew Likely Found

By Gabriel Snyder

The Jennifer Hudson saga continues to get bleaker and bleaker with news that the dead body of her 7-year-old nephew may have been found in the back of a white SUV on Chicago's West Side. Hudson had offered a $100,000 reward for the safe return of Julian King, but he appears to be the third victim of a domestic dispute on Friday in which the Dreamgirls Oscar winner's mother and brother were both killed. CNN is reporting that Hudson's brother-in-law has been taken into custody as a "person of interest." Expect a full-on media frenzy to ensue in a reminder that no matter the economic climate, when celebrity and crime mix, ratings surge.

Original here

Japan's Nissin recalls 500,000 noodles over insecticide fears

TOKYO: Japan's Nissin Food Products Co. said Friday it was recalling half a million cups of instant noodles over fears of insecticide contamination in the latest food safety scare to rock the country's consumers.

A 67-year-old woman vomited and felt numbness on her tongue after eating Nissin's Cup Noodle this week in the Tokyo suburb of Fujisawa, the city's health office said late Thursday.

The product was made at a Nissin factory in Japan. A series of previous scares have involved food imported from China.

The health office said on inspecting the Cup Noodle they had discovered paradichlorobenzene, the key chemical in bug repellent, but no puncture or other abnormality in the cup.

Nissin was voluntarily recalling around 500,000 cups made on the same factory line the same day, a company spokesman said.

They were sold at supermarkets in Tokyo and neighbouring areas with most of them already gone from store shelves, he said.

"We apologise for causing trouble to Cup Noodle lovers," Nissin president Susumu Nakagawa told reporters late Thursday.

However, he denied the possibility of contamination at the factory, saying it had never used or stored the insecticide and had seven security cameras watching manufacturing lines.

"It is unthinkable that the contamination occurred at our production lines," he said.

The noodles scare spread Friday as another company, Myojo Foods Co. of Tokyo, said it found instant noodles laced with paradichlorobenzene and naphthol, also used as bug repellent.

A man "poured in hot water and noticed chemical smells," said a health official in Yososuka, southwest of Tokyo. The man was unhurt as he did not eat the noodles.

Nissin, based in the western Japan city of Osaka, created instant ramen noodles as Japan's economy grew rapidly after World War II. Aimed at busy people on the go, it has since become a multibillion-dollar industry.

Japan has been on alert after a series of health scares involving food, mostly made in China.

Earlier this month one woman fell sick after eating frozen green beans imported from China, which were found to contain thousands of times the permissible level of pesticide residue.

Original here

Gas prices drop record amount

(CNN) -- A 53-cent drop in gas prices over the last two weeks has set another record, and the publisher of a national survey predicted Sunday that prices will continue to decline -- but at a slower pace.

The average price of self-serve, unleaded gas in the United States as of Friday was $2.78 a gallon.

The average price of self-serve, unleaded gas in the United States as of Friday was $2.78 a gallon.

The average price of self-serve, unleaded gas in the United States as of Friday was $2.78 a gallon, compared to $3.31 on October 10, said Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the nationwide Lundberg Survey.

The 35-cent price reduction measured on the 10th, which brought the average price to $3.31, was the largest drop in the six-decade history of the survey, she said.

The all-time high average was $4.11, set on July 11, according to Lundberg, and prices have been dropping ever since.

She attributed the price reductions to crude prices and demand.

"It is those same two factors that will decide what gasoline prices do from here. I think they will probably keep falling, but more slowly," Lundberg said.

The price of crude oil is the more dominant determinant, she said. Oil Cartel OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said Friday it would cut production by 1.5 million barrels per day starting in November.

Oil prices have fallen by more than half from $147 a barrel in July because of lower demand due to tough economic times, especially in the United States. On Friday, the price of crude closed at $64.15 a barrel, Lundberg said.

"The price of oil doesn't seem likely to jump up substantially any time soon and, considering the U.S. economy, it seems likely that oil prices will stay in their current neighborhood," she said.

The Lundberg Survey is based on responses from more than 5,000 service stations nationwide.

On Friday, Wichita, Kansas, posted the lowest gas price of $2.26 a gallon. The highest prices were in Anchorage, Alaska, $3.50, and Honolulu, $3.48.

Other prices include:

San Francisco, California $3.37

Chicago, Illinois $3.12

Portland, Oregon $2.91

Miami, Florida $2.87

Manchester, New Hampshire $2.79

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania $2.79

Denver, Colorado $2.72

Milwaukee, Wisconsin $2.65

Atlanta, Georgia $2.57

Houston, Texas $2.50

Jackson, Mississippi $2.46

Original here

Syria: US choppers attack village near Iraq border

Associated Press Writer

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - U.S. military helicopters attacked an area along Syria's border with Iraq Sunday, killing eight people, the Syrian government said.

The Syrian report comes just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq told reporters that American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he said was an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

A government statement carried by the official Syrian Arab News Agency said Sunday's attack was on the Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, five miles inside the Syrian border. Four helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction, firing on the workers inside, shortly before sundown, the statement said.

The U.S. military in Baghdad did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The area is near the Iraqi border city of Qaim, which had been a major crossing point for fighters, weapons and money coming into Iraq to fuel the Sunni insurgency.

Iraqi insurgents seized Qaim in April 2005, forcing U.S. Marines to recapture the town the following month in heavy fighting. The area became secure only after Sunni tribes in Anbar turned against al-Qaida in late 2006 and joined forces with the Americans.

On Thursday, U.S. Maj. Gen. John Kelly said Iraq's western borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan were fairly tight as a result of good policing by security forces in those countries but that Syria was a "different story."

"The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side," Kelly said. "We still have a certain level of foreign fighter movement."

He added that the U.S. was helping construct a sand berm and ditches along the border.

"There hasn't been much, in the way of a physical barrier, along that border for years," Kelly said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original here