Friday, October 31, 2008

LA Times Refuses to Release Tape of Obama Praising Controversial Activist

Video of farewell party shows Obama toasting 'friend and dinner companion' tied to PLO worker with questionable past.

The Los Angeles Times is refusing to release a videotape that it says shows Barack Obama praising a Chicago professor who was an alleged mouthpiece for the Palestine Liberation Organization while it was a designated terrorist group in the 1970s and '80s.

According an LA Times article written by Peter Wallsten in April, Obama was a "friend and frequent dinner companion" of Rashid Khalidi, who from 1976 to1982 was reportedly a director of the official Palestinian press agency, WAFA, which was operating in exile from Beirut with the PLO.

In the article - based on the videotape obtained by the Times -- Wallsten said Obama addressed an audience during a 2003 farewell dinner for Khalidi, who was Obama's colleague at the University of Chicago, before his departure for Columbia University in New York. Obama said his many talks with Khalidi and his wife Mona stood as "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases."

On Wednesday, John McCain's campaign accused the newspaper of deliberately suppressing information that could establish the link between the Democratic presidential candidate and the former PLO spokesman.

"Khalidi was a frequent dinner guest at the Obama's home and at his farewell dinner in 2003 Obama joined the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers in giving testimonials on Khalidi's role in the community," McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said in a written statement. "The election is one week away, and it's unfortunate that the press so obviously favors Barack Obama that this campaign must publicly request that the Los Angeles Times do its job -- make information public."

Khalidi is currently the Edward Said professor of Arab Studies at Columbia. A pro-Palestinian activist, he has been a fierce critic of American foreign policy and of Israel, which he has accused of establishing an "apartheid system" of government. The PLO advocate helped facilitate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in the early '90s, but he has denied he was ever an employee of the group, contradicting accounts in the New York Times and Washington Times.

The LA Times said that it won't reveal how it obtained the tape of Khalidi's farewell party, nor will the newspaper release it. Spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said the paper is not interested in revisiting the story. "As far as we're concerned, the story speaks for itself," she said.

The newspaper reported Tuesday evening in a story on its Web site that the tape was from a confidential source.

"The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it," the Times' editor, Russ Stanton, said. "The Times keeps its promises to sources."

In recent months Obama has distanced himself from the man the Times says he once called a friend. "He is not one of my advisers. He's not one of my foreign policy people," Obama said at a campaign event in May. "He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel's policy."

But on the tape, according to the Times, Obama said in his toast that he hoped his relationship with Khalidi would continue even after the professor left Chicago. "It's for that reason that I'm hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation -- a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid's dinner table ... [but around] this entire world."

A number of Web sites have accused the Times of purposely suppressing the tape of the event -- which former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn reportedly attendedSullivan said she would not give details of what else may be on . the tape, adding that anyone interested in the video should read the newspaper's report, which was its final account.

"This is a story that we reported on six months ago, so any suggestion that we're suppressing the tape is absurd -- we're the ones that brought the existence of the tape to light," Sullivan said.

The Los Angeles Times endorsed Obama for president on October 19.


See the original LA Times story: "Palestinian See A Friend In Barack Obama"

Obama Behind The Headlines

This concerns me as a scientist, as a citizen....


The New York Times reported that, while campaigning in Iowa in December 2007, Obama boasted that he had passed a bill requiring nuclear plants to promptly report radioactive leaks. This came after residents of his home state of Illinois complained they were not told of leaks that occurred at a nuclear plant operated by Exelon Corporation.

The truth, however, was that Obama allowed the bill to be amended in Committee by Senate Republicans, replacing language mandating reporting with verbiage that merely offered guidance to regulators on how to address unreported leaks. The story noted that even this version of Obama's bill failed to pass the Senate, so it was unclear why Obama was claiming to have passed the legislation. The February 3, 2008 The New York Times article titled "Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate" by Mike McIntire also noted the opinion of one of Obama's constituents, which was hardly enthusiastic about Obama's legislative efforts:

"Senator Obama's staff was sending us copies of the bill to review, and we could see it weakening with each successive draft," said Joe Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Ill., where low-level radioactive runoff had turned up in groundwater. "The teeth were just taken out of it."

As it turns out, the New York Times story noted: "Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama's campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers."


Southern Ghost Stories & Legends: The Bell Witch

Final in a Series...

The tormenting spirit of America's best-known poltergeist case.

ADAMS, TENNESSEE, in 1817 was the site of one of the most well-known hauntings in American history – so well known that it eventually caught the attention and then the involvement of a future president of the United States.

Known as The Bell Witch, the strange and often violent poltergeist activity that provoked fear and curiosity in the small farming community has remained unexplained for nearly 200 years, and is the inspiration for many fictional ghost stories, including the recent film, The Blair Witch Project. The facts of The Bell Witch case share little in common with the mythology created for The Blair Witch Project, except they both attracted a great deal of public interest. And because it really happened, The Bell Witch is far scarier.

The Historical Record

One early account of The Bell Witch haunting was written in 1886 by historian Albert Virgil Goodpasture in his History of Tennessee. He wrote, in part:

A remarkable occurrence, which attracted wide-spread interest, was connected with the family of John Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about 1804. So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the "Bell Witch." This witch was supposed to be some spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The freaks it performed were wonderful and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfiture of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary. A volume might be written concerning the performance of this wonderful being, as they are now described by contemporaries and their descendants. That all this actually occurred will not be disputed, nor will a rational explanation be attempted.

The Vengeful Ghost

What was the Bell Witch? Like most such stories, certain details vary from version to version. But the prevailing account is that it was the spirit of Kate Batts, a mean old neighbor of John Bell who believed she was cheated by him in a land purchase. On her deathbed, she swore that she would haunt John Bell and his descendents. The story is picked up by the Guidebook for Tennessee, published in 1933 by the Federal Government's Works Project Administration:

Sure enough, tradition says, the Bells were tormented for years by the malicious spirit of Old Kate Batts. John Bell and his favorite daughter Betsy were the principal targets. Toward the other members of the family the witch was either indifferent or, as in the case of Mrs. Bell, friendly. No one ever saw her, but every visitor to the Bell home heard her all too well. Her voice, according to one person who heard it, "spoke at a nerve-racking pitch when displeased, while at other times it sang and spoke in low musical tones." The spirit of Old Kate led John and Betsy Bell a merry chase. She threw furniture and dishes at them. She pulled their noses, yanked their hair, poked needles into them. She yelled all night to keep them from sleeping, and snatched food from their mouths at mealtime.

Andrew Jackson Challenges the Witch

So widely spread was the news about The Bell Witch that people came from hundreds of miles around hoping to hear the spirit's shrill voice or witness a manifestation of its vile temper. When word of the haunting reached Nashville, one of its most famous citizens, General Andrew Jackson, decided to gather a party of friends and journey to Adams to investigate.

The General, who had earned his tough reputation in many conflicts with Native Americans, was determined to confront the phenomenon and either expose it as a hoax or send the spirit away. A chapter in M. V. Ingram’s 1894 book, An Authenticated History of the Famous Bell Witch – considered by many to be the best account of the story – is devoted to Jackson’s visit:

Gen. Jackson's party came from Nashville with a wagon loaded with a tent, provisions, etc., bent on a good time and much fun investigating the witch. The men were riding on horseback and were following along in the rear of the wagon as they approached near the place, discussing the matter and planning how they were going to do up the witch. Just then, traveling over a smooth level piece of road, the wagon halted and stuck fast. The driver popped his whip, whooped and shouted to the team, and the horses pulled with all of their might, but could not move the wagon an inch. It was dead stuck as if welded to the earth. Gen. Jackson commanded all men to dismount and put their shoulders to the wheels and give the wagon a push, but all in vain; it was no go. The wheels were then taken off, one at a time, and examined and found to be all right, revolving easily on the axles. Gen. Jackson after a few moments thought, realizing that they were in a fix, threw up his hands exclaiming, "By the eternal, boys, it is the witch." Then came the sound of a sharp metallic voice from the bushes, saying, "All right General, let the wagon move on, I will see you again to-night." The men in bewildered astonishment looked in every direction to see if they could discover from whence came the strange voice, but could find no explanation to the mystery. The horses then started unexpectedly of their own accord, and the wagon rolled along as light and smoothly as ever.

Attack on Jackson?

According to some versions of the story, Jackson did indeed encounter The Bell Witch that night:

Betsy Bell screamed all night from the pinching and slapping she received from the Witch, and Jackson's covers were ripped off as quickly as he could put them back on, and he had his entire party of men were slapped, pinched and had their hair pulled by the witch until morning, when Jackson and his men decided to hightail it out of Adams. Jackson was later quoted as saying, "I'd rather fight the British in New Orleans than to have to fight the Bell Witch."

The Death of John Bell

The torment of the Bell house continued for years, culminating in the ghost’s ultimate act of vengeance upon the man she claimed had cheated her: she took responsibility for his death. In October 1820, Bell was struck with an illness while walking to the pigsty of his farm. Some believe that he suffered a stroke, since thereafter he had difficulty speaking and swallowing. In and out of bed for several weeks, his health declined. The Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, tells this part of the story:

On the morning of December 19, he failed to awake at his regular time. When the family noticed he was sleeping unnaturally, they attempted to arouse him. They discovered Bell was in a stupor and couldn't be completely awakened. John Jr. went to the medicine cupboard to get his father’s medicine and noticed it was gone with a strange vial in its place. No one claimed to have replaced the medicine with the vial. A doctor was summoned to the house. The witch began taunting that she had place the vial in the medicine cabinet and given Bell a dose of it while he slept. Contents of the vial were tested on a cat and discovered to be highly poisonous. John Bell died on December 20. "Kate" was quiet until after the funeral. After the grave was filled, the witch began singing loudly and joyously. This continued until all friends and family left the grave site.

The Bell Witch left the Bell household in 1821, saying that she would return in seven years time. She made good on her promise and "appeared" at the home of John Bell, Jr. where, it is said, she left him with prophecies of future events, including the Civil War, and World Wars I and II. The ghost said it would reappear 107 years later – in 1935 – but if she did, no one in Adams came forward as a witness to it.

Some claim that the spirit still haunts the area. On the property once owned by the Bells is a cave, which has since become known as The Bell Witch Cave, and many locals claim to have seen strange apparitions at the cave and at other spots on the property.

An Explanation?

A few rational explanations of The Bell Witch phenomena have been offered over the years. The haunting, they say, was a hoax perpetrated by Richard Powell, the schoolteacher of Betsy Bell and Joshua Gardner, with whom Betsy was in love. It seems Powell was deeply in love with the young Betsy and would do anything to destroy her relationship with Gardner. Through a variety of pranks, tricks, and with the help of several accomplices, it is theorized that Powell created all of the "effects" of the ghost to scare Gardner away.

Indeed, Gardner was the target of much of the witch's violent taunting, and he eventually did break up with Betsy and left the area. It has never been satisfactorily explained how Powell achieved all these remarkable effects, including paralyzing Andrew Jackson’s wagon. But he did come out the winner. He married Betsy Bell.


University of Tennessee - Dept of History
See also: Ghosts of Tennessee,
The Bell Witch


Fed Adds $21 Billion To Loans For AIG

The American International Group said Thursday that it had been given access to the Federal Reserve's new commercial paper program, allowing it to reduce its reliance on a costlier emergency loan from the Fed. The company said it would be able to borrow up to $20.9 billion under the new program, raising its maximum available credit from the Fed to $144 billion under three different programs. The credit includes an earlier emergency loan of $85 billion from the Fed that carries a much higher interest rate.

A.I.G.'s big borrowings underscore the company's bewilderingly rapid decline. When it suddenly faced a cash crisis in mid-September, the original estimate of the amount it needed was just $20 billion. A few days later, the Fed stepped forward with its $85 billion credit line. And now, the stunning size of that original bailout has grown by almost 70 percent.

A.I.G.'s cash needs could grow even further. Much of the cash it needs is being used to meet collateral calls from its derivatives counterparties, and the precise collateral triggers and amounts are not public information. In general, the derivative contracts cost A.I.G. more as the real estate markets decline. The company's financial products division did a lot of business in that type of derivative, called credit-default swaps.

By the same token, if real estate prices rebounded, A.I.G. has said, it could call some of the collateral back. In addition to the $85 billion credit line and the $20.9 billion commercial paper program, A.I.G. has a $38 billion facility from the Fed that provides liquidity for the company's securities-lending business. A.I.G. said on Thursday that it was currently using about $18 billion of this facility.

By tapping the newest source of money from the Fed, A.I.G. was able to reduce the amount it had borrowed under the original $85 billion line of credit, said a spokesman, Joe Norton. He said the company had currently drawn down $65.5 billion from that loan, compared with about $72 billion a week ago.

The Fed extended the original $85 billion line of credit at a steep price. On the part of the loan that A.I.G. draws down, it must pay an interest rate of 8.5 percentage points over the three-month Libor, an index rate for inter-bank lending. On the unused portion, A.I.G. must pay a fixed rate of 8.5 percent. In addition, the Fed added a 2 percent commitment fee to the total balance when it started the loan.

Mr. Norton said A.I.G. had incurred interest and fees of about $331 million so far. The Fed also took a majority stake in A.I.G. in exchange for the bailout, angering shareholders, who were almost completely wiped out. The commercial paper program is much cheaper. The interest rate changes every day, but in the four days since the Fed started the program, the highest rate was just 3.89 percent. A.I.G. is not the only participant. The Fed offered the program to all issuers of commercial paper in the nation to restart the stalled credit markets.

Mr. Norton said A.I.G. would use the newest source of funds for working capital, to refinance existing commercial paper, and to make voluntary prepayments on the $85 billion loan. He said that such voluntary prepayments would not reduce the total amount of the credit line available. If, by contrast, A.I.G. sold business assets and used the proceeds to pay down the loan, Mr. Norton said, the $85 billion balance would be reduced accordingly.

Some Banks May Tell U.S. To Keep Bailout Cash

The American Bankers Association complained on Thursday that bankers around the country were "extremely upset" about how the Treasury Department was trying to offer them billions of dollars in fresh capital.

"These bankers believe they are being asked - in some cases pressured - to participate in a program they did not want and do not need," wrote Edward L. Yingling, president of the American Bankers Association, in a blistering letter to the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr.

Saying he had "deep concerns with the lack of clarity about the program," Mr. Yingling said the confusion had grown sharply this week over what the government's purpose was. The bank lobbying group said the main confusion was over whether the purpose of the program was to shore up healthy banks, as Mr. Paulson has insisted, or to rescue failing ones.

Mr. Yingling said he was alarmed that lawmakers in Congress were criticizing the Bush administration for its reluctance to impose tougher restrictions on banks that accept government money. Some Democratic lawmakers have complained that banks are taking taxpayer money with one hand while paying out dividends to shareholders with the other. Some policy makers have also complained that banks are not lending enough and might be paying their executives too much.

Since the Treasury Department introduced its plan, officials have stressed that their goal was to strengthen healthy banks and get them to revive their lending. Officials are also encouraging the takeovers of sick banks by healthy ones, as they did last week when the Treasury approved the bailout program's purchase of $7.7 billion of preferred shares in PNC Financial Services and rejected an application from National City Bank, based in Cleveland. National City quickly agreed to a takeover by PNC.

But the focus on healthy banks has created baffling contradictions. Healthy banks have been reluctant to take the government money, in part because they feared being stigmatized as needy or vulnerable. Mr. Paulson essentially strong-armed several of the country's biggest banks into participating when he announced the program earlier this month.

To attract healthy banks into the program, Treasury officials also imposed as few restrictions as possible for those that received money. Banks could still keep paying dividends. They had only limited restrictions on executive bonuses and compensation. And the government would not force the banks to make loans they did not want to make.

But that only raised the question: why was the government trying to give those banks money in the first place?

Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York attorney general, sent letters to the nine biggest financial institutions on Wednesday, demanding a "detailed accounting" of the next round of bonuses they planned to pay.

Mr. Yingling said many healthy banks might want to take advantage of the Treasury's offer, but not if they had to suspend dividends or accept restrictions on executive pay.

"It would make no sense for a well-capitalized bank with solid earnings to agree to a program which would greatly lower the value of its stock," Mr. Yingling wrote.


Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, WSB

Is Obama Promising Too Much Just To Get The Win?

Obama Lays Plans to Kill Expectations After Election Victory

Confident in an Election Day win, the campaign looks to lower supporters' expectations on concerns their hopes of 'change' are unrealistic, a senior aide says

Barack Obama's senior advisers have drawn up plans to lower expectations for his presidency if he wins next week's election, amid concerns that many of his euphoric supporters are harboring unrealistic hopes of what he can achieve.

The sudden financial crisis and the prospect of a deep and painful recession have increased the urgency inside the Obama team to bring people down to earth, after a campaign in which his soaring rhetoric and promises of "hope" and "change" are now confronted with the reality of a stricken economy.

One senior adviser told The Times that the first few weeks of the transition, immediately after the election, were critical, "so there's not a vast mood swing from exhilaration and euphoria to despair."

The aide said that Obama himself was the first to realize that expectations risked being inflated.

In an interview with a Colorado radio station, Obama appeared to be engaged already in expectation lowering. Asked about his goals for the first hundred days, he said he would need more time to tackle such big and costly issues as health care reform, global warming and Iraq.

"The first hundred days is going to be important, but it's probably going to be the first thousand days that makes the difference," he said. He has also been reminding crowds in recent days how "hard" it will be to achieve his goals, and that it will take time.

"I won't stand here and pretend that any of this will be easy -- especially now," Obama told a rally in Sarasota, Florida, yesterday, citing "the cost of this economic crisis, and the cost of the war in Iraq." Obama's transition team is headed by John Podesta, a Washington veteran and a former chief-of-staff to Bill Clinton. He has spent months overseeing a virtual Democratic government-in-exile to plan a smooth transition should Obama emerge victorious next week.

The plans are so far advanced that an Obama Cabinet has been largely decided upon, with the expectation that most of his senior appointments could be announced shortly after election day.


FOX News, Reuter's

80s Music Flashback

What could be more appropriate for Halloween than these two videos?
'Cause busting makes me feel good....

The film score of Ghostbusters! was composed by Elmer Bernstein, notable for its use of ondes martenot (a staple of Bernstein's 1980s work) and also the Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer. Orchestrators contributing to the film were Peter Bernstein, David Spear and Patrick Russ. The first film sparked the catchphrases "Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!" and "I ain't afraid of no ghost(s)". Both came from the hit theme song written and performed by Ray Parker, Jr. The song was a huge hit, staying #1 for three weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and #1 for two weeks on the Black Singles chart. The song earned Parker an Academy Award nomination for "Best Original Song".

The music video produced for the song is considered one of the key productions of the already booming music video industry, and was a #1 MTV video. Directed by Ivan Reitman, produced by Jeffrey Abelson, and conceptualized by Keith Williams, the video integrated footage of the film in a specially designed, haunted house made entirely of neon. Film footage was intercut with a humorous performance by Parker, and featured cameo appearances by celebrities who joined in the call and response chorus, including Chevy Chase (who was considered for the role of Egon), Irene Cara, John Candy (who was considered for the role of Louis Tully), Nickolas Ashford, Melissa Gilbert, Jeffrey Tambor, George Wendt, Al Franken (Yuck! Forgive me fellow Conservatives), Danny DeVito, Carly Simon, Peter Falk, and Teri Garr. The video ends with footage of the four main Ghostbusters actors in costume and character, dancing in Times Square behind Parker, joining in the singing.

Michael Jackson's Thriller is a 13-minute music video (cut down here to 9:27) for the song of the same name released on December 2, 1983 and directed by John Landis who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jackson. The mini-film music video was broadcast on MTV three weeks before Christmas 1983. It was the most expensive video of its time, costing $500,000 (USD), and the Guinness World Records in 2006 list it as the "most successful music video", selling over 9 million units.

"Thriller" was less a conventional video and more a full-fledged short subject or mini-film; a horror film spoof featuring choreographed zombies performing with Jackson. The music was re-edited to match the video, with the verses being sung one after the other followed by the ending rap, then the main dance sequence (filmed on Union Pacific Avenue, Los Angeles) to an instrumental loop, and finally the memorable finish: the choruses in a "big dance number" climactic scene. During the video, Jackson transforms into both a zombie and a werecat (although makeup artist Rick Baker referred to it as a "cat monster" in the "Making of Thriller" documentary); familiar territory for Landis, who had directed An American Werewolf in London two years earlier. Co-starring with Jackson was former Playboy centerfold Ola Ray. The video was choreographed by Michael Peters (who had worked with the singer on his prior hit "Beat It"), with significant contributions by Jackson. The video also contains incidental music by film music composer Elmer Bernstein (Ghostbusters! and Ellery Queen fame), who had previously also worked with Landis on An American Werewolf in London starring 80s heart-throb David Naughton. The video (like the song) contains a spoken word performance by horror film veteran Vincent Price. Rick Baker assisted in prosthetics and makeup for the production.

Jackson, at the time a Jehovah's Witness, added a disclaimer to the start of the video, saying:
“Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.”

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!

Welcome to Halloween - observed on October 31st, the eve of All Saints' Day. Its pagan origins can be traced to the Celtic festival of Samhain, celebrated in ancient England and Ireland to mark the beginning of the Celtic new year. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on Samhain eve, and witches, goblins, black cats, and ghosts were said to roam abroad. The night was also thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. The pagan observances influenced the Christian festival of All Hallows' Eve, celebrated on the same date. The holiday was gradually secularized and was introduced into the U.S. by the late 19th century. Still associated with evil spirits and the supernatural, it is celebrated by children in costume who gather candy by ringing doorbells and calling out "trick or treat," "trick" referring to the pranks and vandalism that are also part of the Halloween tradition.

In English Folklore: The eve of a major Catholic festival, All Saints (1 November), assigned to this date in the 8th century; next comes All Saints (2 November), instituted c.1000 AD as a day to pray for the dead. In England since the 19th century, and increasingly in the 20th century, it has acquired a reputation as a night on which ghosts, witches, and fairies are especially active. Why this should be is debatable.

Currently, it is widely supposed that it originated as a pagan Celtic festival of the dead, related to the Irish and Scottish Samhain (1 November) marking the onset of winter, a theory popularized by Frazer. Certainly Samhain was a time for festive gatherings, and medieval Irish texts and later Irish, Welsh, and Scottish folklore use it as a setting for supernatural encounters, but there is no evidence that it was connected with the dead in pre-Christian times, or that pagan religious ceremonies were held (Hutton, 1996: 360-70).

Anglo-Saxon texts never mention this date. Bede notes that the native name for November had been Blod-monath, ‘Blood Month’ (when surplus livestock was slaughtered to save fodder, and some offered as sacrifices), but does not pinpoint one day as significant. From the Middle Ages through to the 19th century, there is no sign in England that 31 October had any meaning except as the eve of All Saints' Day, when bells might be joyfully rung (as also on Christmas Eve and Easter Eve). Mournful tolling marked All Souls' Day, as a call to prayer for the dead. Reformers naturally objected to both, and under Elizabeth I ‘the superstitious ringing of bells at Allhallowtide, and at All Souls' Day, with the two nights before and after’ was prohibited (Strype's Annals quoted in Hazlitt, 1905: 299). But prayer for the dead proved tenacious; there are scattered references from the 16th to the early 19th centuries to people praying in the open fields at night by the light of straw torches or small bonfires, especially in Lancashire and Derbyshire (Wright and Lones, 1940: iii. 109; Hutton, 1996: 372-4). Contrary to popular opinion, the link with fire is fairly late in England, the first allusion being from 1658, though implying a well-established custom: ‘On All-Hallow e'en the master of the family anciently used to carry a bunch of straw, fired, about his corn’ (Sir William Dugdale, quoted in Hutton, 1996: 373). Early folklorists overstressed this aspect, pursuing solar symbolism and a parallel to the Beltane fires.

Folklore collections of the later 19th and 20th centuries make remarkably little mention of Halloween in England (as against Scotland), and what there is comes mainly from northern counties. Most quote Scottish sources, especially Robert Burns's poem ‘Halloween’, and it may well be that some customs detailed below were imported from Scotland to England through literary influences and fashions in Victorian times. Writing in the 1950s, Iona and Peter Opie demonstrated that Halloween was popular among children living to the north and west of a boundary running roughly south-west from the Humber to the Welsh border and then down the Severn, while those to the south and east hardly even noticed it (they celebrated November the Fifth instead). Modern factors have eliminated this distinction, but its former presence supports the suspicion that Halloween was originally Scottish.

The most common 19th-century references are to love divinations. All over the country, young people would lay two nuts (in some areas, two apple pips) side by side in the fire, named after themselves and their loved ones, to see whether they exploded or not; in the south, it was generally held that a loud pop was a good sign for the match, but northerners regarded this as bad. As on so many other nights, girls would put something under their pillows to dream of husbands: rosemary and a crooked sixpence (Addy, 1895: 80), or, in Herefordshire, a sprig of churchyard yew (Folk-Lore Journal 4 (1886), 111). An eyewitness account from Norfolk describes five men sitting all night round a pitchfork on which was placed a clean white shirt, believing that the sweetheart of one of them, ‘were she true to him’, would enter and remove it (Major Charles Loftus, My Life 1815-1849 (1877), 302-3; quoted in Wright and Lones, 1940: iii. 114-15).

Apples and nuts, readily available at this time, were a traditional Halloween food (hence its other name, ‘ Nut-Crack Night’), and appear in several old games now revived for children's parties. Players have to catch in their teeth apples floating in water, or hanging from a string, or balanced on a heap of flour. Whereas Scottish children disguised themselves and went house visiting, English ones more commonly attended a fancy dress party indoors; they also traditionally played at scaring people with lanterns of hollowed turnips or swedes, carved into faces and with lighted candles inside (Punkie Night). In Yorkshire, they called this Mischief Night and played tricks on all and sundry.

Halloween is one of the few festivals whose popularity has increased, not declined, in recent years. Since about 1980, the media have shown growing interest, shops are full of scary masks and witches' hats, and children have taken to roaming the streets in costume, knocking on doors, saying a rhyme, and expecting money or sweets. They use pumpkins, not turnips, as lanterns. A hundred years ago, children's visiting customs of this type were commonplace, but they have declined so sharply that this new variant is surprising. It is clear from the use of the American term ‘Trick or Treat’ that it was a direct import from America, familiar to children from comics, cinema, and TV; a contributory factor was the tendency of schools and British children's TV, at about the same time, to present it as a safer alternative to Guy Fawkes Night. There have been howls of protest in this country against the Americanization of British culture, the danger to children out at night, and/or the alarm caused to the elderly. Most vociferous is the backlash from fundamentalist Christians, and even many mainstream clergy, arguing that celebrating supernatural evil forces is morally dangerous, and the fact that it is ‘fun’ makes it worse. Neo-pagans added fuel to this fire by claiming Samhain is older than All Saints, and was hijacked by the Church. This moral battle still rages, and many schools have opted to ignore Halloween, for the sake of peace.

Facts and Figures
(courtesy of the US Census Department press release for Halloween; all data is for the US)

  • The first city to officially celebrate Halloween was Anoka, Minnesota, in 1921.
  • Illinois led the country in pumpkin production last year with 497 million pounds. It was followed by California, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which each produced over 100 million pounds. A total of 1.1 billion pounds was produced in 2005 for a value of over $106 million.
  • There are 36.1 million potential trick-or-treaters: children aged 5-13. There are 108 million households for them to visit.
  • California is the prime location for chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 136 as of 2004. Pennsylvania is next with 122. The countrywide total is 1,241, and they employ 43,322 people and ship $12.5 billion worth of goods.
  • California is also tops in non-chocolate confectionary manufacturing establishments (76), out of a total of 515 such establishments, which have 22,234 employees who ship $7.2 billion worth of goods.
  • Per capita consumption of candy was 26 pounds in 2005, much of it during Halloween time. That must make it more challenging for Americans to fit into the outfits provided by the 2,497 formal wear and costume rental establishents that operated in 2004.

And finally, here are some appropriate Halloween travel destinations:

  • Transylvania County, North Carolina
  • Tombstone, Arizona
  • Pumpkin Center, North Carolina
  • Cape Fear, North Carolina
  • My Ex-boyfriend's House {just kiddin' ;)}
Make it fun and keep it safe!


Links: History Channel, Halloween is Here!, Halloween Blogs

The Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, University of Miami - Dept of History

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bill Clinton: Obama Got Lots of Help on Economic Crisis Response

Bill Clinton says at a rally that Barack Obama called a round of advisers during the height of the economic crisis and said, "tell me what ... to do."

Barack Obama cultivated the image of a cool and collected leader during the height of the economic crisis last month, when lawmakers on Capitol Hill scrambled to draft a workable bailout package after a meltdown on Wall Street. And when John McCain suspended his campaign to dive head first into the fray, Obama's campaign accused the Republican of being "unsteady." But to hear Bill Clinton tell it, the Democratic nominee didn't quite have a handle on the situation himself.

"I haven't cleared this with him and he may even be mad at me for saying this so close to the election, but I know what else he said to his economic advisers (during the crisis)," Clinton told the crowd at a Wednesday night rally with Obama in Florida. "He said, 'Tell me what the right thing to do is. What's the right thing for America? Don't tell me what's popular. You tell me what's right - I'll figure out how to sell it.'"

Clinton said when the crisis broke, Obama called his own advisers as well as those of the former two-term president, Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffet and others.

"He called those people. You know why? Because he knew it was complicated and before he said anything he wanted to understand," Clinton said. "That's what a president does in a crisis."

The seeming praise may come off as a backhanded compliment, especially since Obama repeatedly accuses McCain of admitting he doesn't know much about the economy. McCain's campaign said Clinton's remark shows Obama was uncertain when Wall Street seemed to be on the verge of crumbling.

"Barack Obama had no idea what the right thing to do is or at least that's Bill Clinton's impression," McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said.

"It's disturbing that ... Barack Obama's response to this is 'Tell me what to do and I will sell it,'" Goldfarb added. "That's been Barack Obama's entire campaign -- is one big sales job."

That's exactly what it is - one big sales job.


Associated Press, Reuter's

360 Degrees: Blog Sponsor Ad - October 08

Ayers and Obama: Some Things To Consider

I know that no Liberal-Socialist loving Democrat would every dare reading facts on their own - they're just not that way. They believe in spin, the mainstream media an the like because they have no facts to base their opinions on.. It's pure EMOTION. They're Sheeple, as a colleague once referred to them, and they are doomed to repeat history, and might, despite our vigilance, take us all with them to hell.

So, for the rest of us who like vindication and justification for our centered reality, here's this little item....

There's no doubt that University of Illinois at Chicago Professor William Ayers has become Barack Obama's biggest nightmare, far surpassing Reverend Wright. That's because Ayers was a terrorist. He actually hurt Americans during the Vietnam War days. He admits it. And after all these years, Ayers is still not repentant.

In 2002, Ayers gave an interview to a radio station in California. Now portions of that interview have surfaced on the Net for the first time.

BILL AYERS: "I considered myself partly an anarchist then. I consider myself partly an anarchist now. I mean, I'm as much an anarchist as I am a Marxist, which is to say, you know, I find a lot of the ideas in anarchism appealing. We create felons by having these kind of archaic, puritan drug laws that make no sense whatsoever in any logical way. So in that sense, I still feel like kind of an anarchist. I don't feel like the rules apply.

And if they don't apply, I don't feel like you should follow them. Is one of those regrets that I took extreme measures against the United States at a time of tremendous crisis? No, it is not. I don't regret that. There is a struggle over various religious fundamentalisms, Jihad being the most visible. But the religious fundamentalism of the Christians and the Jews is equally troubling."

He's quite a guy.

Now, during that time that interview was taken, 360 has learned that Barack Obama had frequent contact with Ayers. They were both on the board of the Woods Fund in Chicago. They were both involved with the criminal justice issues together. Obama does not deny that, and this seems to be more than just a casual relationship.

In 1997, Barack Obama gave the Chicago Tribune a blurb for Ayers' book. And a short time later, Michelle Obama organized a panel held at the University of Chicago featuring Ayers and Obama, among others. So there's no way that Obama did not know Ayers was a radical. It is simply not possible.

The question now becomes is this an important issue for you, the voter? For someone like Colin Powell, it is not. But others believe it is important.

The end game on this is that Bill Ayers is a bad guy, a bad American, an unrepentant terrorist, and Obama knew it. Yet, for whatever reason, continued the association.

Now, that's important. How important? That's a decision you have to make.


Human Nature

An FBI Warning...An Honest Girl...Guilt Is A GOOD Thing...A Foreclosed Homeowner Gets It Back...A Thin Line Between Love & Hate...King Solomon's Mines...and Ladies In Red Make Men Drool

FBI Warns of 'Anthrax' Letters Sent to Media Outlets

The FBI is warning media outlets to be vigilant about opening their mail after a California man was arrested on suspicion of sending more than 100 hoax letters labeled "anthrax" to newspapers and TV stations.

Marc M. Keyser, 66, sent more than 120 envelopes containing a compact disc that had a packet of sugar labeled "Anthrax Sample" along with a biohazard symbol, the FBI said in a news release. The CD was titled "Anthrax: Shock & Awe Terror." None of the packets has so far tested positive for hazardous material, the agency said. Authorities did not say what was on the CD.

More mailings will probably be received over the next few days, authorities warned. Recipients should contact their local FBI office, said FBI agent Steve Dupre. Dupre said the arrest is not connected to another series of bogus mailings containing a white powder that were sent to financial institutions and announced by the FBI last week.

Keyser was taken into custody without incident at his home in Sacramento on three counts of sending a hoax letter, the FBI said. At least some of the packages had Keyser's return address on them, said Dupre. Keyser is being held at the Sacramento County jail and was expected to make his first court appearance Thursday. It wasn't known Wednesday evening whether he had a lawyer. The investigation began after The Atlantic magazine received a letter Monday, Dupre said. The Charlotte Observer newspaper in North Carolina received an envelope Tuesday.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer newsroom was evacuated briefly Wednesday after an editor opened a package that the FBI says appears to be connected to the other mailings. The Seattle Times reported it received a similar package. The FBI collected the Post-Intelligencer's envelope. Seattle FBI spokeswoman Robbie Burroughs said it appeared to be part of a wave of mailings that originated in Sacramento, Calif.

"Out of an abundance of caution," she said the material would be sent to a lab for testing "but the assumption is that it is sugar."

The letters also were received Wednesday by at least one Sacramento television station, The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper and the office of Republican Congressman George Radanovich in Modesto. A McDonald's restaurant in Sacramento also received a package. Radanovich's office was evacuated early Wednesday after a staffer opened the mailing. Some employees went to a hospital for precautionary examinations and were released with a clean bill of health.

Radanovich spokesman Spencer Pederson said the congressman was at a meeting in Fresno when the package was opened. Pederson said later Wednesday that the office had been cleaned as if the substance were anthrax. One entrance to the Union-Tribune was closed for part of the afternoon after a large envelope labeled "anthrax" was opened in the newsroom.

Members of a hazardous materials team, all wearing full protective suits, went into the building to test the package. The Associated Press office in San Diego is also in the building but did not receive a threatening mailing. Anthrax mailed to congressional offices and others in 2001 killed five people and sickened 17.

Girl Returns $1000 Found in Thrift Store Videotape

The best bargain at the Salvation Army thrift store in Kailua-Kona was a Richard Simmons videotape. But Mikela Mercier, 11, decided to pass up the chance to buy the tape for a few coins after she found a surprise inside: $1,000 in $100 bills. Mikela says that when she discovered the money while browsing through the used tapes, she immediately looked for her mom who was inside the dressing room and told her they needed to turn it in.

Store manager Jimmy Thennes put out a news release on the discovery, praising Mikela for her honesty. Her mother, Jodi Mercier, says she is very proud of her daughter who she says knew it belonged to the Salvation Army so the agency can help more people in need.

Woman Buys Foreclosed Home, Gives It Back to Owner

A Texas woman went to a housing auction distraught about the prospect of watching strangers bid on her foreclosed home. Then one of those strangers bought it back for her. Now Tracy Orr can return to her Pottsboro home, making payments to the woman who unexpectedly and impulsively bought it for her.

"It means so much to all of us," Orr told Dallas television station WFAA. "It's not just a house."

Marilyn Mock said she was acting on instinct on Saturday when she decided to buy a house she had never seen for a woman she had never met. Mock was at the foreclosure auction to help her 27-year-old son bid on a house when she struck up a conversation with Orr, who was crying about losing her home.

Orr had bought the house for $80,000 in 2004 but fell behind on the payments. She lost her job a month after taking out the loan, and earlier this year she lost the house. On the spot, Mock decided to buy it, eventually bidding $30,000.

"She didn't even know if I had a job or was a nut case," Orr said in a story for Wednesday's online edition of The Dallas Morning News. "She didn't even see a picture of the house."

Mock told a crying Orr she could stay in the house, making payments to her instead of a bank.

"She needed help. That was it," Mock told the newspaper. "I just happened to be there and anybody else would have done the same thing."

Orr said she hopes others will do as Mock did.

"More than my house, she gave me something inside, and that's more important than material or financial things," she said. The two are waiting on final approval from Fannie Mae before visiting the home. Mock's son also got a home at the auction.

Guilt, Not Religion, Makes People Do Good

Religion and its promotion of empathy get undue credit for our unselfish acts. Instead, it's our less-than-virtuous psychological perception that a moral authority is watching us that promotes altruism, a new review essay suggests. The essay is based on two psychologists' re-examination of dozens of studies that have dealt with the relationship between religious participation and so-called prosocial behavior , a term that includes charity, cooperation, volunteerism, honesty, trust and various forms of personal sacrifice.

The Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan is a classic example. The upshot is surprising: While religion can play a role in fostering altruism, it is far from the only institution capable of doing so and it might not work the way we assume, says review co-author Azim Shariff, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia.

To the extent that religion does promote altruism, it might actually be effective because adherents think that some authority figure is watching them to make sure they "do the right thing," or because they want to maintain their reputations as righteous followers of religious teachings.

Also, studies that do show a link between altruism and religion are often based on self-reports -- subjects saying they did something unselfish, rather than direct observation of them doing so. This type of data is notoriously unreliable.

"We found little or no evidence that empathy plays any role in religious prosociality," said lead author Ara Norenzayan, a UBC social psychologist, adding that jury is still out.

Religious types might engage in unselfish generosity coming from a place of empathy or compassion, but there is currently no data to support this, he said. Humans are evolved to be acutely sensitive to our reputations as do-gooders in our social groups because this promotes strong cooperative bonds that help the species. This psychological mechanism was originally unrelated to religion, the authors write in the Oct. 3 issue of the journal Science.

The review also shoots down the idea that religion is necessary to make people choose to engage in altruistic behavior -- or do something that benefits others at your own personal expense. Religion has no monopoly on good behavior today, Norenzayan said.

In fact, the courts, police, cameras, credit records and other justice-related authorities can serve the same purpose nowadays, encouraging proscial behavior among large groups of strangers.

"The fact that many non-religious people act as cooperatively as religious ones, and that many predominantly secular states are as (and often more) stable and functional as predominantly religious ones, attests to this," Shariff told LiveScience.

Not to mention that not all religiously inspired prosocial behavior is good -- it can have a "dark side," the authors say. Charity is obviously for the good of all, but giving for the group at your own expense is very undesirable when taken to extremes, as in the case of suicide bombers, who make the ultimate sacrifice. Similarly, kamikaze pilots in World War II made a prosocial sacrifice with their fatal flights -- it was for the good of their nation's war effort but they killed and bombed others, which is very antisocial.

Also, altruism is sometimes extended only to the "worthy" or excludes certain people. Shariff stresses that he and Norenzayan have no axe to grind with religion.

The essay they wrote "is only out there to help understanding," Shariff said. The desirability of religion and its ability to get at the truth is an issue best left to philosophers and theologians, Norenzayan said. The writing of the essay was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant.

Richard P. Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center who has done research on spirituality and medicine but was uninvolved in the new review essay, said he agreed that empathy, compassion and altruism can be induced in society without religion.

"I don't believe there is any evidence to support the necessity of religion for prosocial behavior," Sloan said. "There are people who make the argument that altruism and prosocial behavior evolutionarily preceded the development of religion for a long time. You can see evidence of altruistic behavior in humans dating back for a long time."

King Solomon's Mines Possibly Found in Jordan

The fictional King Solomon's Mines held a treasure of gold and diamonds, but archaeologists say the real mines may have supplied the ancient king with copper. Researchers led by Thomas Levy of the University of California, San Diego, and Mohammad Najjar of Jordan's Friends of Archaeology, discovered a copper-production center in southern Jordan that dates to the 10th century B.C., the time of Solomon's reign.

The discovery occurred at Khirbat en-Nahas, which means "ruins of copper" in Arabic. Located south of the Dead Sea, the region was known in the Old Testament as Edom. Research at the site in the 1970s and 1980s indicated that metalworking began there in the 7th century B.C., long after Solomon. But Levy and Najjar dug deeper and were able to date materials such as seeds and sticks to the 10th century B.C.

"We can't believe everything ancient writings tell us," Levy said in a statement. "But this research represents a confluence between the archaeological and scientific data and the Bible."

Their findings are reported in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study: Brain Draws Thin Line Between Love and Hate

It turns out there really is a thin line between love and hate, as far as your brain is concerned, that is. A new study reveals that the brain's "love" and "hate" circuits share identical structures. Both include regions known as the putamen and insula which are linked to aggression and distress.

"Hate is often considered to be an evil passion that should, in a better world, be tamed, controlled, and eradicated," said Professor Semir Zeki, of University College London, who carried out the brain scan study.

"Yet to the biologist, hate is a passion that is of equal interest to love," he said. "Like love, it is often seemingly irrational and can lead individuals to heroic and evil deeds. "

To find out how two opposite sentiments can lead to the same behavior, Zeki's team scanned 17 male and female volunteers while they looked at pictures of individuals they hated, as well as familiar "neutral" faces. Researchers found that both love and hate de-activate zones within the cerebral cortex of the brain. The cerebral cortex plays a key role in memory, attention, thought, and consciousness. Love, however, causes the biggest de-activation in this area of the brain, however, drawing the thin line between love and hate.

"A marked difference in the cortical pattern," said Zeki, "is that, whereas with love large parts of the cerebral cortex associated with judgment and reasoning become de-activated, with hate only a small zone, located in the frontal cortex, becomes de-activated."

Red on Women Drives Men Wild

Red may be the color of love for a reason: It makes men feel more amorous towards women, a new study reports. From ancient rituals to those red paper lace hearts on Valentines, red has been tied to carnal passions and romance in many cultures over the course of history. In five psychological experiments, University of Rochester psychologists tested how different colors affected men's attitudes towards women .

In one experiment, test subjects were shown a picture of a woman that was framed by either a red or white border and asked to answer a series of questions, such as: "How pretty do you think this person is?" Other experiments contrasted red with gray, green or blue (keeping saturation and brightness levels the same between the different hues). In the final study, the shirt of the woman in the photo was digitally colored red or blue.

In this experiment, men were questioned not only about their attraction to the woman, but about how they would plan a hypothetical date with her. For example, one question asked: "Imagine that you are going on a date with this person and have $100 in your wallet. How much would you be willing to spend on your date?"

In all the experiments, women shown framed by or wearing red were rated significantly more attractive and sexually desirable by men than the exact same women shown with other colors. When wearing red, women were also more likely to be treated to a more expensive outing.

"It's fascinating to find that something as ubiquitous as color can be having an effect on our behavior without our awareness," said study team member Andrew Elliot.

The study, detailed in the Oct. 28 online edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is said to be the first to scientifically document the effects of color on behavior in relationships.

Elliot and his co-author Daniela Niesta said the effect could be due to societal conditioning, though they attribute it to deeper biological roots because non-human male primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees, are known to be attracted to females displaying red. The red effect applied only to males and only to their perceptions of attractiveness; it did not change their ratings of the pictured women in terms of likability, intelligence or kindness.

Other research suggests that the effect of color depends on the context. In a previous study, Elliot and his colleagues showed that seeing red in competitive situations, such as sporting events , leads to worse performance. Another recent study suggests that referees favor red-clad competitors because of a subconscious bias for the color.

* * * * * *

And, yes, I look REALLY good in RED!


FBI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, San Diego Union-Tribune, Associated Press, WFAA-TV, University of British Columbia, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Columbia University Medical Center, University of California @ San Diego, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

UPDATE: Cops Say Slain Teacher's Husband Staged Flat Tire Scene

The Long Island man charged with killing his teacher wife choked her to death and then staged an elaborate scene to make it look like she was abducted after her car got a flat tire, police said this evening. Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey told reporters that William Walsh, 29, tried to cover his tracks after he killed Leah Walsh during an argument overnight Saturday.

"We allege that William Walsh choked his wife to death, staged a scene to make it look like her car had gone off the highway ... staged text messages," Mulvey said. "Mr. Walsh should not enjoy one nanosecond of freedom for the rest of his life."

William Walsh was arrested late Wednesday and charged with 29-year-old Leah's murder, two days after she was reported missing. He faces 25 years to life in prison, according to Nassau County Det. Lt. John Azzata.

"Mr. Walsh went with a friend to Atlantic City and returned between the hours of 2 and 3 a.m. Sunday," an emotional Azzata told reporters Thursday. "Sometime after that, Mr. Walsh and the victim, Leah, got into an argument. This escalated into a physical confrontation, which escalated into the death of Leah Walsh."

Azzata said the couple's fight was over William Walsh's "possible infidelity" and said Walsh might have had "one girlfriend or several girlfriends." On Sunday, after allegedly killing Leah, William did his laundry at a nearby Laundromat and even went to McDonald's, according to Azzata. Then, before dawn on Monday, he took his wife's body from their house, placed it on the floor of the car and drove around Long Island "in the cover of darkness" looking for a spot to dump it, Azzata said.

"Ultimately, he removed Leah from the vehicle, dragged her across the cold ground and left her in weeds," said the homicide detective, his voice catching.

The husband is then believed to have driven the black Ford Focus to a spot along a highway 13 miles away, faking a flat tire by letting the air out, according to Azzata. The tire showed no sign of damage. Azzata said that a passerby saw a man running from one car to another, yellow car on the roadside early Monday morning and driving away. William Walsh has a yellow car, he said.

The teacher's body was found at 7:57 a.m. Wednesday. The couple had no history of domestic violence but were separated for a time more than a year ago. William Walsh confessed to the crime after several hours of interrogation, according to Azzata. He has no prior criminal record.

Long before her disappearance and murder, William had been "very abusive" toward his wife and lied to detectives about his marital problems, the New York Post reported Thursday. Nassau County police said they arrested Walsh because of inconsistencies in his alibi and his story about what had happened to Leah, sources told the Post.

Leah Walsh was planning to divorce her husband, according to friends. A neighbor of Leah's parents in Rockville Centre, N.Y., said the couple fought constantly when they lived there.

"I heard him being very abusive to her verbally, cursing," the neighbor, who asked not to be identified, told the Post. "Cursing, 'F- - - you!', screaming at the top of his lungs, and she was just very distraught."

The special education teacher's abandoned car was found with a flat tire Monday on a Long Island highway, about 13 miles from another highway where her body was found Wednesday morning. William Walsh made several tearful public pleas to help find his missing wife, but police said they arrested him after the identity of the body was confirmed Wednesday evening. Before the discovery of the body, he spoke to reporters outside the couple's Bethpage, N.Y., home and appealed for information about his wife's whereabouts.

"I miss her more than anything," he said, noting her dedication as a teacher. "She loves her children. She wouldn't just leave them. Something had to have happened."

Detectives interviewed the husband on Tuesday, but police said at the time that it was a routine part of the investigation. The couple had a "huge fight" Saturday night, according to a text message Leah Walsh sent her college friend Lucas Bean. Bean told the Post that Walsh's husband "went berserk on her" after coming back from a trip to Atlantic City. Leah was texting Bean during the argument in the car.

"She told me the marriage is over. [She said,] 'I'll tell you why when I talk to you. It's something really, really bad,'" Bean, a friend from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told the paper.

"[She said] she was definitely getting a divorce," he added. "There was no way she could stay with him after what he'd done. I never found out what it was [about]."

The couple were married for three years and have no children, police said. Her parents declined to speak to reporters. Leah Walsh worked with autistic children at a private school in Glen Cove. Police believe she usually left for work between 6:15 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

At about 6:30 a.m. Monday, a state Department of Transportation vehicle left a sticker on the side window of her car indicating it had mechanical problems. The doors were locked, and the woman was nowhere in sight.

Definitely shades of Laci Peterson


New York Post, FOX News New York

MTV Begins To Show Music Videos Again -- but Only Online

MTV's decided to fight fire with fire.

This week, the music channel that once showed music videos put up about 16,000 archived videos on a new Web site, , all for free and, so far, without ads.

Want to see Madonna? There are 128 videos, interviews, performances and other bits of footage of the Material Girl.

Guns N' Roses? Five videos, two live performances and five other artists just talking about Guns N' Roses.

Why all this? One word: YouTube.

For the past year and a half, the video-sharing Web site and its parent company, Google, have been fighting a massive copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by Viacom, MTV's parent company.

YouTube's reached agreement with other major media companies over showing copyrighted clips, but not Viacom. In fact, Viacom's request for details on millions of YouTube users forced an outcry from privacy advocates and led the two sides to reach a compromise on the data. Names will be separated from IP addresses, which identify each computer on the Internet.

While the lawsuit drags on, Viacom figures it can beat YouTube at its own game. Judge for yourself.