Mankind is by far the greatest of all time...
Wall Street Journal reports -
LOS ANGELES -- A federal judge here sentenced Johnny Ray Gasca, a movie pirate caught red-handed several times, to seven years in prison, less time than he might have received under harsher laws he inspired.
Mr. Gasca, a New Yorker who was discovered filming movies with a handheld camera three times in 2002 and 2003, became the poster boy for movie piracy. His brazen conduct led in part to Congress's 2005 toughening of movie piracy laws to make illegal filming a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Mr. Gasca often enlisted friends to sit beside and in front of him at movies, so no one would stand up and interrupt his filming. He often snuck into pre-release screenings. When caught taping "Anger Management" in 2003, he dumped his tape into his friend's popcorn and escaped, but was later caught. In early 2004, he told his lawyer he needed to buy cold medicine and then escaped from a drug store. It took federal agents more than a year to track him down in a Florida motel, where he was found with stacks of movies and copying equipment.
Judge Dean D. Pregerson sentenced Mr. Gasca to one year for each of the three piracy charges, the maximum penalty under the older law. Under the new law, he could have received up to three years for each incident. The remaining four years stem from other charges, including false use of a Social Security number, witness retaliation, and escape.
After his sentencing, Mr. Gasca stood up and said the case was a conspiracy by the government, according to prosecutor Elena Duarte. Mr. Gasca's attorney did not respond to a call for comment. In July, Mr. Gasca told CBS News that he was working on a novel version of his previously written screenplay, "The Prince of Piracy."
The movie industry pushed hard for the tighter laws for in-theater pirates because they are the first link in elaborate distribution chains that create the millions of illegal DVDs that are sold world-wide.
All Things Considered, November 3, 2006 · Members of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs have reacted with shock to news that their senior pastor, Ted Haggard, has stepped down after allegations were aired that he had a sexual relationship with a male prostitute.
The evangelical leader has admitted that he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from the man. But Haggard, who has been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, denied having sex with him.
Thursday, the man, Mike Jones, told the Associated Press that over the course of three years, he and Haggard had sex dozens of times.
The New Life Church's acting pastor told parishioners Thursday night that Haggard acknowledged that some of the charges were true. When Haggard spoke to local reporters Friday, he said he bought drugs from Jones, but that he did not have a sexual relationship with him.
Haggard has also resigned as President of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Inside the cavernous foyer of the church, the scene was very much business as usual Friday. Christian pop played from speakers in the ceiling, and banners advertising the upcoming Christmas show hung from the ceiling. In the church's bookstore, a sign advertising "Pastor Ted's" books was still prominent.
Friday morning, in a corner of the vast parking lot at the 14,000-member church, teenagers Joclyn Garcia and Terra Bear came to pray before school, something they say they do fairly often.
The young women said they were shocked to learn that Haggard had admitted that some of the allegations against him were true.
"I thought it was elections, with the timing," they said. "Thought it was a complete scam. Now that he's admitting to it, its just hard. It's just heartbreaking to comprehend."
Terry Collins, an outreach volunteer who comes to the church every day, said that in the face of their pastor straying, the congregation needed to unite.
"Pastor Haggard, he's made some mistakes," Collins said. "I'm going to try to be a positive example."
Eric Whitney of member station KPCC reports.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6430392
From correspondents in New Orleans
September 19, 2006 08:23am
COUNTRY singer-songwriter Willie Nelson and several fellow musicians were charged with misdemeanor drug possession by Louisiana police after a search of their tour bus today turned up marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.State police spokesman Willie Williams said the bus was stopped early this morning about 7 miles east of Lafayette, Louisiana, for a routine commercial inspection, and a state trooper smelled marijuana inside the bus.
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The blog isn't called Random Stupidity for nothing!
| || |
|Recent finish||16th, Premier League||4th, AFC North|
|Glory Days||Early English soccer dynasty with 6 titles, 5 FA cups pre-WWI; beat Bayern Munich in '82 Euro final.||Paul Brown, Otto Graham and Jim Brown. Enough said.|
|Home city||Industrial hub with surprisingly hip downtown.||Industrial hub with surprisingly hip downtown.|
|Last won title:||1981||1964|
|Stadium||Villa Park, Birmingham.||"The Dawg Pound."|
|Fans||Sports Guy says: "By all accounts, they have the most miserable, self-loathing fan base in the [Premier League.]"||Loyal, passionate, given to tossing dog treats at opposition.|
|Bitter rivals||Birmingham City||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Most painful moment(s)||Relegated to Third Division, 1969.||"The Drive" and "The Fumble."|
|Ozzy Is Everywhere||Birmingham: Home town of Ozzy, Black Sabbath.||Cleveland: Home of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.|
LONDON -- Another billionaire NFL owner is set to take over an English soccer club.
Cleveland Browns' owner Randy Lerner put in a $118.8 million bid Monday to buy Aston Villa, one of the oldest clubs in English soccer. Last year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer took over Manchester United, one of the world's most popular soccer teams.
The Aston Villa board recommended the transaction to shareholders and said owners of 56.85 percent of the shares were committed to the deal. Lerner is expected to take over within months.
"The basis for acquiring Aston Villa is that it is a storied club dating from the 1870s with periods of treasured memories and glory," Lerner said. "The opportunity to be a part of strengthening Villa's business operations and facilities represents a broad set of challenges that I'm eager to take on."
Villa chairman Doug Ellis, who has run the Birmingham-based club for more than 30 years and owns 39 percent of the stock, put the team up for sale last year.
Lerner's takeover vehicle, Reform Acquisitions Ltd., offered $10.37 per share, the principals announced to the London Stock Exchange on Monday. That represents a premium of about 47 percent more than the closing price on Sept. 16, 2005, the last day before the offer period. Many English soccer teams are listed on the stock market to raise money from investors.
Lerner, the former chairman of credit card giant MBNA, took over as the Browns' principal owner following the death of his father in 2002. Through MBNA, he's had extensive business dealings in Britain.
As a young man, Lerner served as equipment manager for the Cleveland Cobras of the American Soccer League.
"I never picked up so many smelly uniforms, socks and towels in my life," Lerner said in 2004 when recalling his first venture into pro sports. "I liked sports and my dad knew the Cobras owner, so he figured this would be a good learning experience for me, to start at the basic level."
Lerner would be the fourth foreign owner of a Premier League club.
Chelsea has been revolutionized since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich took over the club two years ago and invested part of his fortune to buy a team of superstars. The Blues have won the last two league titles.
Last month, another Russian, Alexandre Gaydamak, took over at Portsmouth.
Villa, which opens the 2006-07 season at Arsenal on Saturday, posted a loss of $16.8 million in the last full financial year, and lost $2.2 million the year before.
"It's a club with a rich pedigree but in recent decades, it's been a bit thin on success," said Stephen Jones, a Birmingham-based investment manager with Brewin Dolphin Securities. "For a Premier League club, its finances are pretty solid."
Villa, established in 1874, is one of only four English teams to win the European Cup -- Europe's top club competition. The team has struggled recently and hasn't won the English Premier League title since 1981.
"It's inevitable they will have to go out and spend, given that they haven't won the league in more than 20 years and finished close to the relegation zone last season," said Henk Potts, an equity strategist with Barclays Capital.
The bottom three clubs in the 20-team English Premier League get demoted to a lower division each season.
Potts said Glazer and Lerner targeted English soccer clubs in a bid to boost the appeal of the sport and the league in the United States.
Targeting the U.S. market could "revolutionize the game of football and take it from being the English Premier League ... and turn it into the global club league," he said.
------------------------------------So the Browns owner is going to buy a soccer team that has won since 1980, maybe that can transfer some karma to the city of Cleveland.