Eye Witness News: Cara Ellison To Celebrate Birthday With Cruise, Party In Greek Isles

Despite her company’s recent hardships, Eye Witness News has learned that Cara Ellison is planning a lavish cruise and party in the Greek Isles to celebrate her 27th birthday. But not everyone is in the mood to celebrate. “Cara Ellison is a heartless bitch,” says Tina Horowitz who lost her job as a business analyst at Ellison Lunar Exploration in March when the company mandated 2% layoffs. “I can’t believe that while I am struggling to find work in this economy she would have the nerve to spend millions on a stupid party.”

Others don’t have a problem with the troubled energy magnate enjoying herself. “The indictment has caused a lot of upheaval in her life, even if she doesn’t show it much,” says an unnamed source who is close to Ms. Ellison. “I think she wants to forget about her problems for the short term.”

Ellison’s problems began earlier this year when a federal grand jury indicted her on 753 counts of securities fraud, insider trading, and various other offenses. The indictment was followed by the dismissal of many of the company’s executives, including Owen Kind, the CFO who had been with the company since the company was created in 2001. Sources have revealed to Eye Witness News that Owen Kind was one of Ellison’s personal friends, a member of the old guard. His dismissal caused consternation on Wall Street, and the stock dropped nearly 15% on the day it was announced. The stock has not gained in the intervening weeks. In the meantime, the company laid off 2% of the staff in subsidiaries Ellison Lunar Exploration, Cara Ellison Space and Cara Ellison Earthworks. The lay-offs were especially bitter for employees because of perceived greed on the part of executives. Ms. Ellison disclosed that her personal bonus for the year was $2 billion and others, including Owen Kind, took bonuses worth up to $500 million.

Last week, lobbyists associated with Cara Ellison Corp were seen at the White House, fueling speculation that Ellison was asking for a bailout. However, that did not come to fruition. Ms. Ellison announced that her company would not accept TARP funds.

When Eye Witness News caught up with Miss Ellison in the parking garage at her office, she said that her company is in strong shape. “Cara Ellison Corp. is one of the few companies that are actually doing well right now.”

Tina Horowitz scoffs. “If it’s doing so well, why did I get laid off? A freaking cruise? She’s a bitch.”

When asked for a comment about Ellison’s upcoming birthday party, company spokesman Perry Kanaly said that he does not comment on the private lives of employees. He did, however, confirm that Ms. Ellison’s birthday is June 15 and when we attempted to arrange an interview with her, we were told that Ms. Ellison will be traveling on that day and her calendar is full.

Because It's Sunday

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Ferris Bueller House For Sale

Remember Cameron Frye’s awesome house? Remember that amazing garage where Cameron’s dad kept the Ferrari? Well it can be yours! (Or mine, if you want to buy it for me! Yes, I would like to own the home of the best friend of the The Sausage King of Chicago. So sue me.)

It truly is a gorgeous piece of property. Check the link for deets.

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Made In Ireland

I realize I am easily amused. But today I noticed that on the bottom of my dental floss is the message: MADE IN IRELAND. I’ve literally never seen that anywhere. China, sure. Zimbabwe, once in a while. USA, occasionally. Ireland, wtf?

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The Reader

I read The Reader in 1999; it was an Oprah book so it was everywhere that year. One could not appear in public with the book without being pelted with questions, “Isn’t it divine? Isn’t it amazing? A wonderful book…”

The book left me cold. I remember very little from it – only that Hannah was a Nazi prison guard and she had an affair with a young boy. Then she’s tried for war crimes and is found not guilty because she could not read. I think there was a piece of evidence, like an order she supposedly wrote, that proved conclusively she could not have done what they accused her of because she was illiterate.

I chose to see the movie version because Kate Winslet is in it. My instinct was correct. She is an amazing actress. Sometimes she appears to completely German, so of that era, that I blink my eyes and wonder if there is some sort of special effect, some trick of lighting or makeup to make her appear so vivid. There isn’t.

Her uncombed hair, rapidly tied back in a knot, her svelt body, the strange cant of her eyes and grim mouth are all effects, but the acting comes from inside her. She meets a young boy, Michael; she helps him home one afternoon. He returns to her home and she asks him to do some housework for her. He gets filthy so she tells him to take a bath. Such a strange juxtaposition of her strict, efficient, joyless exterior, and the obvious sensuality in her face. Before he gets into the bathtub, she stands behind him, not touching him, and kisses his shoulders. Her hand reaches around, gently taking his penis in her hand and she whispers, gravely, “This is why you came back.”

The boy is so very young. Maybe just fourteen or fifteen. The camera allows you to see his perfect contoured buttocks, his long legs, his narrow shoulders. The scene changes abruptly. Hannah is on top of him, her breasts exposed, her whole body rocking back and forth atop the boy. At no time while watching did it register that this was a moral trespass. Of course, you think, of course it happened this way.

The sex is filmed beautifully and honestly. The second time they are together, she drapes her leg over his shoulder and the winces; it is so honest that for a moment you feel like you’re watching something that should not be filmed at all. It is too private.

In another scene, she kisses his chest, lower, to the flat, perfect expanse of his belly. It is absolutely perfect. It is the kind of tenderness that makes you suffer in its absence.

After a fight, the boy comes into the bathroom where she is in the tub. Milky water does not obscure her breasts or the blurred triangle between her legs. This is what I mean by honesty. The camera shows you exactly what the boy sees. She is very angry, stiff with anger. “You do not mean enough to upset me!” she shouts. The boy says that he is sorry. He has never been with a woman before. He sits down on the edge of the tub. Her expression does not change, but you can see that she is changing. You see that she recognizes that he is very young and his youth affords him a measure of forgiveness.

“Do you love me?” he asks.

Her eyebrows betray a scrim of bewilderment when she realizes the answer. Very subtly, terrifyingly, she nods her head yes.

He reads to her. She lies in his arms and he reads her books. The love affair is beautiful but it is quickly overshadowed by the trial. The boy is watching but Hannah does not see him. He is older. Hannah is aged. She is accused of writing a report describing how, as a guard, she allowed a group of women to burn and die. The door was locked from the outside and she did not open the door. She is accused of writing the report. The other female guards testify that she wrote the report. The judge asks for a writing sample, and Hannah, overcome with shame, quickly changes her story and admits that she wrote the report.

The boy, a law student, knows this is not true. He goes to visit her in the prison where she is being kept but changes his mind. He returns to his college and makes love with another student.

The next day, Hannah is found guilty of murdering 300 people. The boy watches in silence. Hannah is sentenced to life in prison, and then she turns and looks at him squarely. He is weeping.

I think this is a flaw in the book. I don’t recall it very well, but I don’t believe it went into the significance of this. The movie makes it clear that he understood that she was guilty of those crimes. She slaughtered old women and babies. She sent them to their deaths. She was matter of fact about it, explaining at trial that they had to make room for the new Jewesses who arrived every day. “Where could we put them? What would you do?” Evil, horrible. And he loved her anyway. Michael is unique among movie characters because he is not so overcome with love that he will forgive genocide. He knows right from wrong. He loves her, and he allows her punishment to happen with no interference from him. It is painful for him. But that is what makes his silence so moving.

Many years pass. He sends Hannah some tapes in prison. He sends a tape of himself reading “The Odyssey” by Homer – the first book he read to her when they were first lovers.

One day in prison, when Hannah is very old, she goes to the prison library and checks out “The Lady With The Little Dog” by Checkov. Michael has sent her a tape of him reading this, and again it was a book he read to her as her lover. It is almost painfully poignant watching her learn to read as an old woman by listening to her lover’s voice, looking at the words on the page, watching it finally click in her mind.

Michael receives a letter. It is from Hannah. It says, in firm childish writing, “Thank you for the latest, kid. I really liked it.”

She writes new letters: “Please send me more romance.”

He does. He receives more letters:

“I think Schiller needs a woman.”

“Are you getting my letters? RightWrite me.”

He does not. Nor does he visit. He simply sends the tapes.

After being in prison for twenty years, a parole officer calls Michael and informs him that Hannah is up for parole. “If you do not take responsibility for her, Hannah has no future at all,” she says. “Thank you for letting me know,” he replies.

He arrives at the prison. The beautiful woman of his youth is gone, replaced by an elderly grey-haired woman. He is holding back – a lot. He tells her that he has a friend who will give her a job and he has found a place for her to live. Details, details.

At one point he asks her if she thinks about the past and she says, with the slightest glimmer of hope, “With you?”

“No, not with me,” he says firmly. There is a lot of silent traffic between them. A lot. He tells her that he will pick her up in a week, when she is paroled. They do not hug goodbye. The lack of contact made me ache. But it is not the worst part.

She takes all of the books that he has sent her and all of the books checked out from the prison library and she stacks them on her desk and she hangs herself.

Michael arrives to collect her. The prison administrator tells him that she has died. Hannah has written a will. She wants her little bit of money to go to the one daughter who survived the fire, “and tell Michael I said hello.” Only then does Michael cry.

In New York, Michael finds the daughter who survived the fire. She’s an urbane New York woman living in a penthouse. Chic furniture. Lovely jewelry and clothes. Michael hands her a small tin with the money, Hannah’s tin. The woman takes the tin and gives back the money.

Michael takes his daughter to a church where he spent an afternoon with Hannah. Hannah has been buried in the cemetery there.

All this, the second half, is less powerful than the first half. I am too much reminded of its literary origin, everything is just too neat and self-referential. The only “sloppy” thing is the fact that he never forgave her while she was alive, that he could not touch her in prison. I appreciate that honesty. The cemetery, the tin, the stacks of books as a platform to hang herself are all too literal for me. But the love story is honest and disastrous, hurting everything it touches. The filmmaker found some pictures to make the Truth come true.

Hueston To Remain On The San Bernardino Case

The political situation in San Bernardino is spiraling out of control. And who better to suss out the truth than John Hueston, currently handling the lawsuit against former tax assessor Bill Postmus and five others. After a three-month investigation, Mr. Hueston uncovered such crimes as certain employees only working seven hours a day instead of eight.

But Mr. Hueston is not finished with San Bernardino County yet. The Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether to double — to $500,000 — the contract with the Orange County law firm of Irell & Manella.

The problem with hiring John Hueston is that you’re hiring John Hueston. He’s a weasel: sneaky, underhanded, dishonest, and not blessed with any intellectual depth.

The District Attorney this week brought charges against another of Postmus’s staff, citing the report that John Hueston issued as proof of Rex Gutierrez’s wrongdoing. Naturally, Hueston is taking credit for the arrest – which is angering the District Attorney. Hueston’s unquenchable desire for power would be funny if not for the frightening consequences.

Before this is over, I expect at least half a dozen new arrests, and Hueston will be there, cheerleading all the human misery he can drum up.

No God In Southern California

Yesterday I sent beautiful Tracey a link to this story about a couple who were cited by the San Diego police for having a Bible study in their home. I thought it was crazy but didn’t give it much thought until I saw how passionate Tracey is about the subject. I re-read it this morning and I must say, this is very ominous.

A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold Bible studies in their home, 10News reported.

Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife.

Broyles said, “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say amen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say praise the Lord?’ ‘Yes.'”

Whoa whoa whoa. Why is a County official asking private citizens these questions? That sounds icky.

The county employee notified the couple that the small Bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of County regulations, according to Broyles.

Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed “unlawful use of land” and told them to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit” — a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“For churches and religious assemblies there’s big parking concerns, there’s environmental impact concerns when you have hundreds or thousands of people gathering. But this is a different situation, and we believe that the application of the religious assembly principles to this Bible study is certainly misplaced,” said Broyles.

News of the case has rapidly spread across Internet blogs and has spurred various reactions.

Broyles said his clients have asked to stay anonymous until they give the county a demand letter that states by enforcing this regulation the county is violating their First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion.

Broyles also said this case has broader implications.

“If the county thinks they can shut down groups of 10 or 15 Christians meeting in a home, what about people who meet regularly at home for poker night? What about people who meet for Tupperware parties? What about people who are meeting to watch baseball games on a regular basis and support the Chargers?” Broyles asked.

Broyles and his clients plan to give the County their demand letter this week.

If the County refuses to release the pastor and his wife from obtaining the permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

The comments to this story vary from “yeah, Bible Thumpers shouldn’t clog up neighborhood streets” to the more salient point that the United States Constitution guarantees our rights to worship however we see fit:


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

While I’ve never been religious, I bristle when I hear stories of Christianity being threatened in this country. Whether or not I agree with the tenets of Christianity, I must agree that the country was founded on those values and for that reason I respect them, even if I do not practice them in daily life.

San Diego County should have the same respect I do, but if not, that’s okay. What is not okay is disregarding the Constitution for the sake of petty politics.

It's About The Latvian Hookers, Stupid

Bloomberg schools us on the real metrics of the economy. Do you use dry bulk shipping numbers, housing starts, or even the hemline analysis to predict what the economy is doing? Well you have it all wrong. It’s all about extramarital affairs and hookers. Who knew the economy could be so prurient?

Besides Eliot Spitzer?

So here are two benchmarks we should all be monitoring more closely: extramarital affairs and the price of Latvian hookers. Both are telling us that there is still plenty of trouble ahead.

These two measures were proposed recently as reliable economic barometers, and they warrant consideration. Economists often say “animal spirits” play a role in keeping the wheels of the business cycle turning. They have given little advice on how we should measure those spirits. Now we may have the answer.

In the U.K., a Web site called http://www.illicitencounters.co.uk allows married people who are planning to play a few matches away from home to meet up with each other. It has at least 300,000 members, indicating that the British have more on their minds than just the work expenses of politicians and the threat of unemployment.

Bull-Market Affairs

The Web site crunched its traffic and membership numbers and found that there was a big increase in both when there was a turning point in the FTSE-100 index, which measures the leading companies listed in London. When the market collapses, people plot affairs. And when the bulls rage, the same thing happens. When it is trading sideways, they stick with their partners.

“It has to do with people’s confidence levels,” says Rosie Freeman-Jones, a spokeswoman for the site. “When the markets are up, they think they can have an affair because they feel they can get away with anything. When the market hits the bottom, they are looking for a way to relieve the pressure.”

In a similar vein, John Hempton, who runs the financial blog Bronte Capital, has monitored the health of the Baltic economies based on the price of Latvian sex workers — currently about 30 lati ($60) for the standard service.

“The contractual terms of prostitution are short (an hour, a night) and entry to the industry is unconstrained,” he says. “That means that the prices are very flexible.”

Price Collapse

True enough. His argument is that since the prices have collapsed by about two-thirds in a year, Latvia and the other Baltic states are still in big trouble with deflation lurking.

This benchmark may well be a valid way to get a snapshot of the economy. If prostitution was legal in all countries, it would probably make a good index for central banks to track. There could be few better ways of checking when we will flip from inflation to deflation and vice versa.

Of course, it is possible to detect some attention-seeking here. Illicit Encounters is trying to drum up some customers with an eye-catching press release. In the calm and reasoned space that is the blogosphere, it isn’t unheard of for people to try and cause a stir just to become well-known. You have to shout to get yourself heard on the Internet.

Even so, there are two interesting points to be made about the use of sex as a measuring stick for the economy and markets.

New Methods

First, the world is going through a traumatic time. All the conventional tools for predicting the course of the economy have been pretty useless. Certainly none of the standard models was telling us two years ago that we were heading into the greatest crisis since the Great Depression. So it isn’t surprising that some people are turning to alternative methods instead.

Next, the one thing we discovered in the last year is that a modern global economy can turn faster than a Formula One driver going into a tight corner. We slipped into a serious recession in the blink of an eye. We are going to need indicators that move just as fast if we are to have any chance of keeping up. What better than these two?

Right now, they are telling us we aren’t over the worst yet. Affairs increase when the market turns. Traffic soared in November as the markets collapsed, but it hasn’t surged again. The message: The jump in share prices of the past two months is a bear-market rally, not the start of a genuine recovery.

As for the Latvian hookers, there is no sign of prices recovering yet. The message: The International Monetary Fund should remain on high alert. And so should most of Europe’s banking system.

Infidelity Web sites and Latvian escorts can say a lot about where the economy is heading. Just be discreet if you decide to follow these two benchmarks.

Wow.

Sotomayor Rules Against Teen In "Douche Bag Case"

Sonia Sotomayor’s rulings have become scrutinized since President Obama nominated the “wise Latin lady” to the Supreme Court, but she probably didn’t anticipate the famous “Douche Bag case” becoming part of the public debate.

NBC affiliate in Connecticut reports:

In August 2007, Judge Sonia Sotomayor sat on a panel that ruled against an appeal in Doninger v. Niehoff.

Avery Doninger was disqualified from running for school government at Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington after she posted something on her blog, referring to the superintendent and other officials as “douche bags” because they canceled a battle of the bands she had helped to organize.

The case went to court and in March 2008, Sotomayor was on a panel that heard Doninger’s mother’s appeal alleging her daughter’s free speech and other rights were violated. Her mother wanted to prevent the school from barring her daughter from running.

Sotomayor joined two other judges from the 2nd Circuit in ruling that the student’s off-campus blog remarks created a “foreseeable risk of substantial disruption” at the student’s high school and that the teenager was not entitled to a preliminary injunction reversing a disciplinary action against her, Education Week reports.

In their opinion, the judges said they were “sympathetic” to her disappointment at being disqualified from running for Senior Class Secretary and acknowledged her belief that in this case, “the punishment did not fit the crime.”

However, the judges decided they were not called upon to determine if school officials acted wisely.

“As the Supreme Court cautioned years ago, “[t]he system of public education that has evolved in this Nation relies necessarily upon the discretion and judgment of school administrators and school board members,” and we are not authorized to intervene absent “violations of specific constitutional guarantees.”

The ruling in this case has come under heavy criticism from some civil libertarians. Some say this case presents a solid rationale for rejecting Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the seat of retiring Justice David Souter.

“The continual expansion of the authority of school officials over student speech teaches a foul lesson to these future citizens,” Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told the New Britain Herald. “I would prefer some obnoxious speech [rather] than teaching students that they must please government officials if they want special benefits or opportunities.”

The issue of free speech in schools is one that I became interested in after students were expelled for wearing anti-Obama t-shirts to high school during the election. I also recall students being kicked out for wearing pro-GITMO shirts and American flags.

I believe that students are in school to learn and part of their education is learning to interact with people who do not have the same sensibilities as oneself (“tolerance” in Liberal speak, when referring to anti-Conservative rhetoric.) The student in this case had every right to call the administrators as douche bag; it wasn’t on school property and it was the student’s privately held opinion.

The fact that freedom of speech is continually being defined in ever more narrow terms is disconcerting. The fact that a child can’t call the superintendent a douche bag teaches her what, exactly? That she should be a docile student who doesn’t dare speak up?

I am glad these cases are being reviewed. I am thrilled that the girl who called her superintendent a douche bag is being repeated and amplified because a new douche bag is about to be confirmed onto the Supreme Court. Circle of life.

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