Archive for August, 2011

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Amy Winehouse performing in Berlin in 2007

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Amy Winehouse‘s family has released the results of the late singer‘s toxicology tests, which reveal that no illegal drugs were present in the singer’s system at the time of her death, the AP reports.

The final tests showed that alcohol was present, but how it affected Winehouse has yet to be determined. Chris Goodman, a Winehouse family spokesman, released a statement today saying, “Toxicology results returned to the Winehouse family by authorities have confirmed that there were no illegal substances in Amy’s system at the time of her death.”

It was previously suspected that Winehouse died of alcohol withdrawal while others have reported that she had taken hard drugs the night before her death. The new report does not detail why the singer died. Her family is awaiting the full investigation, which is set to begin in October.




CENTRE HALL, Pa. (AP) — A couple of Pennsylvania newlyweds are behind bars after police say they were caught shoplifting food from a supermarket for their wedding reception.

The Centre Daily Times reports 32-year-old Arthur Phillips III and his bride, 22-year-old Brittany Lurch, were arrested Saturday after taking more than $1,000 in merchandise from a Wegmans supermarket in Centre Hall.

Patton Township police say the couple was captured on surveillance footage loading a shopping cart and leaving the store without paying.

Phillips and Lurch are each charged with misdemeanor counts and are being held on $2,500 bail.


A gigantic, white rat was killed after being speared with a pitchfork at the Marcy Houses in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

Jose Rivera, a Housing Authority worker, was clearing a rat hole when three of the mutants popped out, The New York Daily News reports, but he was only able to nab one. It appears to be almost three feet long, including the tail.

Naomi Colon, head of the Marcy Houses Tenant Association, told the News there have been sightings of the humongous rats for at least six years.

Residents described some horrifying confrontations with the rodents to

“In one day eight big size rats were killed,” said a Marcy Houses resident who declined to be named for fear of reprisal from city or property management. They were found in and around the buildings of the Nostrand-Myrtle avenue section of the property and have been seen on the playground. “They come out at night and the daytime,” said another resident who also did not want to provide a name.Even before the mega-rats appeared, residents say the infestation of average rats was a problem. One resident recently described a frantic scene in which rats began scrambling across the nearby playground: “Adults had to grab children and run because a lot of rats came on the playground. The kids were screaming.”


An expert at the Wildlife Conservation Society told the News the slain monster was likely a Gambian pouched rat, and was probably an escaped or discarded pet.

Importing Gambian pouched rats to the United States was banned almost a decade ago after they caused an outbreak of monkey-pox that sickened 100 people.

Even the normal, Norway rats are huge at the Marcy Houses– where Jay-Z was famously “raised in the projects, roaches and rats“.

Pam Davis, 43, told the News, “They’re here day and night. We don’t dodge bullets. We dodge rats.They’re so big, they should charge them rent.”

Earlier this summer, pest control experts warned staff cuts to the Pest Control Bureau would cause a “rat epidemic” in the city.

Officials in a popular stretch of coastal North Carolina ordered all visitors to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irene, which damaged homes in the Bahamas Wednesday as it churned toward the U.S. East Coast.

Irene, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, could jump to Category 4 strength by Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said. Federal emergency management officials had a simple message for those in or near the path: Be prepared.

Dare County, North Carolina — home to Manteo, Nags Head, Duck and Kitty Hawk — was taking no chances. A mandatory evacuation for tourists was to take effect 8 a.m. ET Thursday. Residents could stay for now, but they were advised to ready themselves for Irene.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse closed Wednesday evening. Other venues, including the Wright Brothers National Memorial visitors center, also were shuttered.

Gallery: Hurricane Irene intensifies

Irene reaches Category 3 near Bahamas

Florida prepares for Irene

Irene strikes Turks and Caicos

“They are taking precautions,” Sydney Jenkins, bar manager at Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop in Manteo, said Wednesday evening. “It’s now more or less whether it’s even going to hit us.”

“This is a huge storm,” said CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. “The cloud field is more than 800 miles across. The tropical storm force winds extend out 200 miles from the center.”

The strengthening came as the storm pounded central and southeastern Bahamas. Rainfall of 6 to 12 inches was expected in the Bahamas, with 15 inches possible in some places, the Miami-based Hurricane Center said.

At 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Irene was moving northwest at 12 mph and was between Rum Cay and Long Island, 185 miles southeast of Nassau. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 60 miles and U.S. weather officials predicted significant storm surge.

“We are urging persons in central Bahamas to exercise extreme caution,” said Capt. Stephen Russell, head of the National Emergency Management Agency in the island chain.

No injuries had been reported as of Wednesday evening, but extensive structural damage from wind was reported on Acklins and Crooked islands, Russell told CNN. Numerous homes had been blown off their foundations.

Russell had no information on rainfall amounts. Electricity was out in some locations.

Irene whipped through the island of Mayaguana, the mostly easterly island in the chain, and moved into Long, San Salvador and Cat islands, which are not heavily populated.

About 65% of the country’s population is on New Providence, home to Nassau. Projections showed the island being outside of hurricane-force winds, Russell said. “We hope the system makes a gradual turn to the northeast.”

After it makes the turn, Irene could threaten large sections of the Eastern Seaboard, from the Carolinas into the Northeast.

But, forecasters said, it was too soon to predict how it would affect the United States because of the “cone of uncertainty.”

Even if Irene doesn’t touch land or glances off the U.S. coast, “the waves are going to be tremendous,” said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Swells generated by Irene will begin affecting the Southeast’s coast Thursday.

“On the forecast track, the core of Irene will move across the southeastern and central Bahamas through tonight and over the northwestern Bahamas on Thursday,” the Hurricane Center said.

Irene forced more than a dozen cruise ships to change their itineraries in the Caribbean, reported.

Those ships include the Carnival Sensation, which had been docked in Freeport, Bahamas, but was coming back to Port Canaveral, Florida, late Wednesday.

Irene has prompted the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation to recommend strongly that people with plans to travel to the Bahamas in the next few days postpone their trips.

The storm will curve northward as it nears the United States, with most of the latest projections suggesting the storm will avoid landfall until it is north of North Carolina. The storm is expected to arrive off North Carolina by Saturday morning.

The storm approaches as Americans increasingly are relying on social media to prepare for and keep abreast of disasters. According to two American Red Cross surveys, the increased use of social media and mobile technology has caused response agencies “to engage with people in times of disaster and to include information from social networks in their response efforts.”

North Carolina officials expect the storm to weaken to a Category 2 before it moves near Cape Hatteras on Saturday afternoon. Coastal areas could see about 6 inches of rain and tropical storm force winds.

Many counties were taking a wait-and-see attitude on evacuations. Warren Lee, emergency management director in New Hanover County, North Carolina, said shelters likely will be opened. “If the storm stays on current track, we don’t expect a major impact and we will not issue an evacuation order plan right now.”

Some computer models suggest New York or New Jersey could be hit.

“Everywhere from North Carolina to Massachusetts remains in the cone of uncertainty,” Jeras said. “Worst-case scenario, we could be looking at two landfalls, or we could be lucky and get a brush instead of a direct hit. … Even if Irene doesn’t make landfall in the United States, it may very well bring flooding rains, damaging winds and power outages to the Northeast. Planning is critical, and everyone needs to be ready with a disaster plan and a safety kit.”

Chris Martin, an employee at Endeavor Seafood in Newport, Rhode Island, said a bridal shower is scheduled Sunday in Portsmouth for his fiancee. “We’re hoping to have it outside.”

Martin is hoping the hurricane, if it actually affects the state, will not arrive until Monday.

Hyde County, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, declared a state of emergency for Ocracoke Island and the county’s mainland, along with a mandatory evacuation for all visitors and a voluntary evacuation for residents. The mandatory evacuation will extend to residents beginning 5 a.m. Thursday, Hyde County Emergency Services said.

Ocracoke is reachable only by boat or private plane.

While forecasts showed the storm “moving further from the coast and toward the sea,” North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue said Wednesday, “we must all prepare for the worst.”

In Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks, locals who insist on staying through the storm were planning “hurricane parties” as they stocked up on water, canned food and flashlight batteries, said CNN iReporter Penelope Penn, who was in the area Tuesday.

“The water was so calm and the sky so clear at the Outer Banks last night. It truly is calmest before a storm,” Penn added. On Wednesday, Penn was in nearby Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The last major hurricane to strike the United States was Wilma in 2005, which was a Category 3 at landfall, Jeras said. Hurricane Katrina, earlier the same year, was also a Category 3 at landfall. The most recent hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Ike in 2008, which hit near Galveston, Texas, as a Category 2.

Gloria in 1985 was the most recent hurricane to hit New York. It was a Category 3 at landfall, the National Hurricane Center said. In 1991, Hurricane Bob hit Massachusetts, a Category 2 at landfall.

Bill Read, director of the Hurricane Center, said Irene could cause problems with flooding in Northeastern states that have already had lots of rainfall this summer.

Widespread damage is possible from the coastal Carolinas all the way up to the Canadian Maritimes, including the major cities of the Northeast, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

Irene is expected to pass well east of Florida, so only minimal effects are expected Thursday and Friday as the storm moves northward toward the Carolinas. But the U.S. Coast Guard is worried boaters in south Florida are taking the threat too lightly.

Officials expect heavy rip currents and beach erosion in Miami. “The most prudent thing to make sure mariners are not out this time tomorrow,” Capt. Chris Scraba said.

South Carolina state officials decided not to order evacuations. Boaters and swimmers were urged by the Coast Guard to stay out of the water.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck northern Peru on Wednesday, authorities said.

The quake’s epicenter was about 350 miles (570 kilometers) northeast of the country’s capital, Lima, and 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Pucallpa, Peru, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Authorities at the Geophysics Institute of Peru said no victims or significant damage had been reported. At least one aftershock had been recorded, the institute said.

Lima residents felt a brief, but strong, tremor.

The quake struck around 12:45 p.m. near Peru’s border with Brazil at a depth of about 90 miles (145 kilometers).

A man fell Monday off Half Dome, Yosemite National Park's renowned granite formation in the Sierra Nevada.

A 17th person has died in Yosemite National Park, which has been experiencing a higher than usual number of fatalities this year, authorities said.

Authorities have identified a man who fell Monday evening off Half Dome, the park’s renowned soaring granite formation in the Sierra Nevada, park officials said Wednesday.

The person, whose body was recovered Tuesday at the base of Half Dome by rangers, was identified as Ryan Leeder, 23, of Los Gatos, California, park officials said.

The incident appears to be accidental and remains under investigation, park spokesmen said Wednesday.

The 17 deaths are about twice the usual rate at Yosemite, officials said.

Authorities are searching for answers to explain the recent rash of deaths at the national park in California.

In July, near Yosemite’s beautiful Mist Trail, a young man lost his footing, slipping close to the edge of a waterfall. A female companion frantically grabbed for him but stumbled.

Another hiker followed and the three were swept over the powerful 317-foot Vernal Fall. Authorities at Yosemite National Park are still searching for two of the bodies.

That month was the busiest July for the park since 1985, with 730,487 visitors, park officials said. Last year, the park recorded 4,047,880 visitors, according to a statistical chart provided by park spokesmen.

While five visitors have died this year from natural causes, the others were accidental and often preventable, officials said.

Rangers say some visitors partake in dangerous practices such as hiking treacherous trails in flip-flops, climbing over safety rails to take better pictures or swimming perilously close to waterfalls.

Witnesses told park authorities that the three hikers who were swept over the waterfall in July had climbed over a safety rail.

“We don’t station a ranger in every possible dangerous place that’s out there,” said Kari Cobb, a park ranger. “People have to come here and realize that Yosemite is nature, and it is a very wild place.”

Bill Ott, a hiker, said he has seen people swimming in dangerous waters.

“We saw a number of people wading just steps from going into the faster water. It’s crazy. Just crazy,” he said.

Visitor Tim Timmerman said he has a plan to keep his family safe.

“We aren’t worried because we think if you stay where you’re supposed to stay, you’re safe and it’s exciting,” Timmerman said. “It’ll be a little scary for them, but it’s not dangerous if you do what you’re supposed to do.”

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Apple CEO Steve Jobs has resigned and will be replaced by former Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, the company said late Wednesday. Jobs will stay on as Apple’s chairman.

Apple made no mention of Jobs’ health in its statement about the change, but Jobs alluded to it in the letter of resignation he sent to Apple’s board on Wednesday and later released publicly.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come,” wrote Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January. Cook has been filling in as the company’s leader. (For more on Tim Cook, see Fortune’s landmark profile: “Tim Cook: The genius behind Steve“)

Apple’s (AAPLFortune 500) board took pains to praise Jobs, who lead a historic turnaround for the once-ailing company. Apple shares were briefly halted in after-hours trading as Apple announced its leadership change. When trading resumed, shares dropped 5%.

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” board member Art Levinson said. “In his new role as chairman of the board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

Apple’s fans flocked to Twitter and other social-media sites to mark and mourn the CEO torch-passing. “The end of an era!” one Twitter user wrote, while another voiced the fears many share: “I pray it’s not bc [because] of his health.”

In January, Jobs said he would take another medical leave of absence, two years after a six-month sabbatical during which he received a liver transplant. Although it was his third medical leave of absence, he continued to make Apple’s major strategic decisions while Cook took over the day-to-day operations.

Cook has nearly 30 years of experience in the computer industry, serving in leadership roles at IBM (IBMFortune 500), Intelligent Electronics and Compaq before joining Apple in 1998.


Jobs made his last public appearance in June when he unveiled iCloud, a free wireless storage and syncing service, at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Jobs received a standing ovation when he took the stage.

Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 from his family’s garage with Steve Wozniak. Nine years later, Jobs parted ways with Apple after disagreements with management. He returned as a consultant in 1996 and became interim CEO a year later. In 2000, he took the job permanently.

In his second run as CEO, Jobs led a Phoenix-like resurrection that transformed Apple from a bumbling also-ran to the second-largest company in the world by market value. Billion-dollar products like the iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and most recently the iPad have made Apple the envy of all tech competitors.

“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role,” Jobs wrote in his resignation letter. “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”


Six years ago, Jobs delivered his only commencement speech — one that is often cited as the speech of his life. “Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new,” he told the crowd at Stanford University. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

It was a powerful talk, given the CEO’s history of illness. Jobs was diagnosed with a treatable form of pancreatic cancer in 2004. Since then, both his health and how the company would run without him have been topics of intense speculation.

Tim Cook, who will take Jobs’ spot, quickly gained the favor of the notoriously hard-to-please CEO. Cook was named COO in 2005 after having “been doing this job for over two years,” Jobs said at the time. Jobs even gave him an office near his in Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.

As COO, Cook has been responsible for Apple’s product sales and operations, overseeing the company’s manufacturing, distribution and inventories, as well as negotiating with wireless networks that carry the iPhone. He organized Apple’s successful retail store strategy, and he is in charge of ensuring that Apple’s new products launch without any setbacks or major glitches.

Design and marketing, however — which fell directly under Jobs’ purview — is not Cook’s forte.

Still, some analysts that follow Apple say they believe Steve Jobs built up a resilient culture over the past 14 years, cultivating strong teams that can continue to innovate without him. Many of those teams pulled off very ambitious projects while he was on leave, including the iPad 2, iOS 5 and the new MacBook lineup.

“One of the most important things that Steve Jobs did in Apple 2.0 is rebuilding the culture,” said Mike McGuire, analyst at Gartner. “But it’s not quite the ‘cult of Steve’ like many believe. He built incredible teams that didn’t quite have free reign, but had plenty of room to innovate. It’s going to be hard work, but Apple will be fine without him.”  To top of page


Authorities on Sunday identified a person of interest in one of two shootings at a preseason football game between cross-bay rivals the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders on Saturday night at Candlestick Park, an event peppered with numerous fights in the stands and an assault that left a man unconscious in a bathroom.

Authorities were still sifting through evidence and puzzling over whether any of the incidents involved fans from the opposing teams. One of the shooting victims was wearing a T-shirt imprinted with a derogatory phrase about the 49ers, according to police.

The violence occurred during and after the 49ers’ 17-3 victory in their home stadium. Videos taken by fans and posted online depict fights and aggressive behavior in the stands during the game. Callers to a Bay Area radio show Sunday described navigating a gantlet of drunk and abusive fans in order to reach the restroom.

Sgt. Michael Andraychak of the San Francisco Police Department said Sunday that police and stadium security officials take note of games between teams with a particularly strong rivalry or whose fans have a history of violence. The 49ers-Raiders fit both those criteria and extra police were assigned to Candlestick Park on Saturday.

In the two parking lot shootings, a 24-year-old man was shot multiple times in the stomach about 8 p.m. and managed to drive himself to a stadium security office for help, Andraychak said. He was hospitalized in critical condition. In another attack, a man in his 20s was shot numerous times but sustained lesser injuries, according to police.

About an hour before the shootings, a 26-year-old man from San Rafael was assaulted and beaten  unconscious in a bathroom. He was hospitalized in serious condition, police said. The suspect in that incident was described by police as a Samoan or Pacific Islander between 25 and 30 years old, weighing 225 to 260 pounds and 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-5-inches tall.

The names of the victims have not been released.

Andraychak said no suspects were in custody and that although the shootings were being investigated as separate incidents, they were possibly related.

Man Swallows Ring

A home repairman who swallowed a diamond wedding ring he was trying to steal earlier this month has been sentenced to 12 days in prison.

Wilfredo Gonzalez-Cruz was performing repairs at a couple’s home in Cicero, Illinois when the husband approached him and said that his wife’s ring had gone missing. Gonzalez-Cruz had apparently stolen the ring and stashed it in his shoe.

The two men struggled for a moment, during which time the handyman got the ring out of his shoe and swallowed it, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Cicero police took Gonzalez-Cruz to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, where X-rays revealed that the ring was in his stomach, NBC Chicago reports (see photo). He was then locked in a rubber room with multiple bedpans and given medication to “force the ring’s expulsion,” according to Cicero town spokesman Ray Hanania.

Gonzalez-Cruz could have faced a sentence of up to three years for the felony theft charge. Instead, he was given a 12-day stint in prison, according to the Associated Press, with two years of additional probation.

The ring, meanwhile, was returned to the couple on August 8th, “after thorough cleaning,” Hanania said.

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