Disbarred Miami lawyer charged with selling guns stolen from Iraq’s Hussein family

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey have charged a disbarred Miami-area lawyer and three other people with hatching a scheme to sell a cache of stolen guns that once belonged to the family of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Prosecutors say David Ryan, 48, a one-time personal injury lawyer from Pinecrest, obtained at least seven guns that had been smuggled out of Iraq and then tried to sell them, with the help of others, through a New Jersey sporting goods store. Officials with Iraq’s embassy in Washington confirmed that the guns had been taken from Iraq, and that they are considered property of the Iraqi government, court records show.

Two of the pistols in the arsenal are stamped with the initials “Q.S,” believed to be the initials of Qusay Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, the second son of Saddam Hussein and the one-time heir to Hussein’s seat. Qusay Hussein was killed by U.S. soldiers in a raid in Mosul, Iraq, in July 2003.

Also among the weapons: A Chinese-made pistol with the flag of Yemen on the grip, two German pistols with gold inlay and two Cosmi 12-gauge shotguns.

Ryan and three other men were arrested Dec. 19 on charges of conspiracy to transport stolen firearms and conspiracy to sell stolen property Ryan also was charged with unlawfully mailing firearms. He was released on $250,000 bail.

Ryan’s lawyer, Miami attorney Edward O’Donnell IV, said Ryan believed the guns had been obtained legally, and he believed his attempts to sell the guns were legitimate. O’Donnell said Ryan showed the guns to a licensed firearms dealer in Miami, and he shipped them to New Jersey through a licensed dealer.

“The people he got them from are not criminals,” O’Donnell said. O’Donnell would not say how Ryan obtained the guns, and the arrest report does not provide details about Ryan’s acquisition of the weapons.

Investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said Ryan first contacted a Pittsburgh man, Karlo Sauer, last spring seeking an appraisal of the guns and e-mailing Sauer photographs of the weapons, which were stored somewhere in Florida, court records show. Sauer then contacted two New Jersey men, Howard Blumenthal and Carlos Quirola, who in turn tried to find buyers for the weapons last summer.

ATF agents then learned of the scheme and used undercover informants to try to set up a deal to buy the guns for $160,000, court records show.

Ryan then shipped six of the guns by mail from Miami to the sporting goods store in Ridgefield., N.J., and flew to New York on July 17 to try to close the deal, investigators said. Ryan later told one of the informants that he was “100 percent, absolutely, completely and totally positive that these guns are from Iraq,” and Ryan said they had been appraised at more than $1 million, according to the arrest report.

According to the arrest report, Blumenthal and Quirola both acknowledged to ATF agents that they knew the guns had been stolen or taken out of Iraq without proper approval.

When ATF agents interviewed Ryan on Aug. 7, he gave them a seventh gun from the same weapons cache, which he retrieved from Security Arms International gun store, 13981 S. Dixie Hwy. in Palmetto Bay, according to the arrest report.

Ryan worked as an attorney for 13 years until 2010, when he was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court after auditors found that he had misused money he held in a trust account for his clients, records show. Ryan also filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, but his petition was dismissed after he failed to submit follow-up paperwork, court records show.

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Sony No Longer Shipping PlayStation 2 in Japan

You may have grown up with it. Your children may have, too.

Sony‘s PlayStation 2 home game console, released in 2000, was one of the most popular game consoles of all time, rivaled in sales only by the different kinds of Nintendo DS handheld console. It continued to be sold new on store shelves until just recently, even years after Sony launched its PlayStation 3 successor.

Now, however, Sony’s sent out its last shipment of new “PS2″ consoles for the Japanese market, according to Japanese gaming news site Famitsu (as reported by Polygon’s Emily Gera). Some other regions are continuing to receive shipments for now, but the heart of the PlayStation 2 phenomenon has finally stopped beating.

A gaming legend

Japanese PlayStation fans saw thousands more titles released in their language than English-speaking players. The PlayStation 2 was especially well-known for its role-playing games, such as the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, which was designed so closely around the PS2′s capabilities that its Windows PC version uses almost entirely the same graphics and controller-based interface.

New PS2 games continue to ship; Final Fantasy XI is even getting a full-fledged, retail-boxed expansion pack this March. It’ll only support the PS2 in Japan, however, where dedicated players continue to use the original “fat” PS2 consoles with the hard drive expansion slot. Internationally, it will only support the PC and Xbox 360.

PS2 games in a post-PS2 world

The first PlayStation 3 consoles — infamous for the silence which ensued at the Sony event where their price at launch was announced to be “599 U.S. dollars” — were backwards-compatible with the vast majority of PlayStation 2 and original PSOne games. Sony achieved PS2 backwards compatibility, however, by including the PS2′s actual “Emotion Engine” and “Graphics Synthesizer” chips inside each PS3, essentially making it two game consoles in one (and helping to drive up that launch price).

A redesign bumped down the price some, but at the cost of removing the Emotion Engine chip, which caused the redesigned PS3 consoles to sometimes have bugs or fail to play certain games. Today’s PS3 consoles lack both chips, which means that while they play PSOne games just fine, they don’t support PS2 game discs at all and can’t be upgraded to do so.

The legend lives on?

Sony has made HD remakes of certain PS2 titles, and republished others for the PS3 under the “PlayStation 2 Classics” brand. Dozens of such titles have been re-released as digital downloads in the PlayStation Network store.

This method of playing a PS2 game on the PS3, however, involves essentially buying the game again (assuming that it’s even in the store), sort of like Sony’s method of playing PlayStation Portable games on the Vita. Even rebuying the games for the PS3 doesn’t ensure continued playability on modern Sony consoles; the upcoming “PlayStation 4″ (not its actual name) reportedly won’t be able to play games made for the PS3.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
Linux/Open Source News Headlines – Yahoo! News

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Somber farewell for man pushed to his death in subway

Friends of the hardworking, humble immigrant shoved to his death last week in front of the 7 train by a Muslim-hating madwoman today gathered for an emotional farewell in Queens at the Coppola-Migliore funeral home in Flushing.

Sunando Sen, 36, was remember as a man of “quiet strength” by Lorcan Otway, a lawyer and longtime friend, who noted that Sen years ago left Bangladesh to escape oppression, and was involved in human rights issues here, helping Hindus.

Sen’s mentally ill alleged killer, Erika Menendez, 31, has told cops she pushed Sen because she hates Muslims and Hindus.

Matthew McDermott

Farewell for subway push victim Sunando Sen.

“He didn’t have a hateful bone in his body,” Otway said of Sen. “He approached everything with a calmness. The remarkable man he was should teach us a lesson. I wish people could know the greater loss to the community.”

Sen’s body, wrapped in cloth and covered with flowers, lay in a blue-grey casket. Sarker and others recited traditional prayers, chanted and burned incense. They put bananas and rice in his casket, followed by yogurt and milk – a sendoff ritual meant to give Sen what he needs as he travels into the next world, friends said.

Sen had no family here, and his parents in India have died. But he fashioned a family from the friends he made in New York, said Bidyut Sarker Sen’s boss at the Manhattan print shop where he’d worked for 15 years.

"I feel like I lost a family member. The neighborhood, the shop, was his family,” said Sarker, who helped pay for Sen’s burial. “Customers are coming in and crying. "

Sen, whom friends said had recently opened his own printing shop on Amsterdam Avenue, was “a gentleman” and exceptionally smart. He got a scholarship to New York University and earned a master’s degree in economics, and was trying for a PhD at Columbia before dropping out because he couldn’t afford it, friends said.

Sen taught himself graphic design, Sarker said, and was “extraordinarily talented,” Otway noted.

“He was working well below his education,” Otway said.

Sen’s body was cremated at a cemetery after the ceremony.

Meanwhile yesterday, police said they were called by Erika Menendez’s family members at least five times prior to last Thursday’s train-shoving because Menendez had gone off her prescribed meds.

Menendez is being held without bail. She has replaced her court-appointed lawyer Queens lawyer Joseph DeFelice. He did not return calls.

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Florida colleges a bargain, says Kiplinger

Though Florida’s in-state tuition costs more than double what it did only a decade ago, many of the state’s public universities are still a good value, according to the latest annual “Best Values in Public Colleges” list compiled by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Florida schools have long fared well in the magazine’s rankings, with this year being no exception. Six of Florida’s 12 state schools made the top 100, with two — the University of Florida and New College of Florida in Sarasota — keeping their place in the top 10, though both schools slipped slightly from their spots a year ago.

UF landed at No. 3 in this year’s rankings, down from No. 2 last year. New College, meanwhile, slipped two spots from No. 5 to No. 7.

In the case of both schools, Kiplinger’s praised what it described as a combination of strong academics and relative affordability. Though Florida’s price of tuition keeps rising, it is still among the lowest in the country — 40th out of 50 states, according to the College Board.

Kiplinger’s also noted UF’s strong retention rate.

“Students stick around, with only 5 percent leaving after freshman year,” the magazine wrote. “And although Florida is a big school — with 16 colleges, more than 150 research centers and institutes, and the largest undergraduate enrollment in our top 10 — it’s still selective, with a 43 percent admittance rate.”

New College is the complete opposite of UF in terms of size (it enrolls less than 850 students) but Kiplinger’s found it also offers “solid academics” along with the lowest total cost of attendance — $16,181 — of any of the top 10 schools. That figure combines the $6,783 annual tuition and fees with other college expenses such as room and board.

Lower in the Kiplinger’s rankings, four other Florida schools were also recognized. Florida State University came in at No. 26, the University of Central Florida landed at No. 42, the University of South Florida was No. 57 and the University of North Florida was No. 64.

Braulio Colón, executive director of the Florida College Access Network, said Florida families looking for a tuition bargain shouldn’t limit their search to state universities. Florida’s community colleges, Colón said, are high-quality, cost about half as much as state universities, and boast a guaranteed-transfer agreement that is the envy of many other parts of the country. Students who earn an associate in arts degree from a Florida community college are guaranteed admission to a state university, though it may not be to the student’s preferred school.

Long term, Colón said, Florida must overhaul its student financial aid system if it wants to maintain college affordability. The state’s largest college aid program is Bright Futures scholarships — some of which are awarded to affluent families who could afford to pay for college on their own. Helping students with demonstrated need must become more of a priority, Colón said, or college costs could eventually spiral out of reach for some families.

“We are at a turning point, right now, as a state,” Colón said.

To see the Kiplinger list go to: http://www.kiplinger.com/reports/best-college-values/

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Manhunt continues for Miami man suspected of killing ex-girlfriend

Miami police detectives on Sunday were still looking for the man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend outside a Little Havana drugstore Friday afternoon.

Investigators said Ifrain Quintana is armed and extremely dangerous. Quintana is believed to be driving a 2001 Blue Ford Explorer with a Florida tag.

Quintana is wanted for questioning in the daylight shooting of Ariadna Gonzalez Campa, 42.

Police said Quintana confronted Gonzalez on Friday afternoon along Southwest Fifth Street and Eighth Avenue, taunted her then shot her multiple times in front of La Milagrosa drugstore.

Among those urging him to turn himself in is his mother, Katileydi Quintana, who on Saturday made an emotional plea on Miami Herald’s newspaper CBS4 for him to come forward.

“Turn yourself in,” she told him over the phone. “Call me.”

He said Quintana acted out of jealousy and Quintana’s mother agreed.

“You did it out for love. For love...” Katileydi Quintana said.

Quintana said her son needs psychiatric help.

Gonzalez’s 19-year-old son waited for word about his mother shortly after she was rushed to the Jackson Memorial Hospital. The young man broke down on the sidewalk when police told him his mom didn’t make it.

“I want justice for the man who did this,” he told CBS 4

Anyone who sees the suspect or has information about the shooting should call Crime Stoppers at 305- 471-8477.

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ET Flashback: Eddie Murphy Talks '48 HRS.'

"Roxaaaaanne!" After getting raves for his hilarious sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live in the early '80s, Eddie Murphy turned the spotlight on a movie career in 1982 with his first big-screen effort: 48 HRS. ET's Mary Hart sat down with the funnyman in the days before the movie broke big with a revealing interview in which he got candid about stepping out of his comfort zone and getting serious onscreen.

Video: Eddie Murphy's Funny Friends Honor Actor

"I'm looking forward to the movie coming out, and if my acting looks bad in the movie, which I don't think it will, I'm covered: It's like, 'Well, his forte is in comedy,'" he said with a laugh, adding faithfully, "If you're in a catatonic state, [director Walter Hill] can go in the editing room and make you win awards."

Released 30 years ago this month, the sidesplitting action-comedy finds Eddie in fine form as Reggie Hammond, a man doing time for a robbery who is plucked from behind bars to help hard-edged cop Jack Cates (played by Nick Nolte) nab a pair of vicious cop killers. The pair have 48 hours to get the bad guys -- if they don't kill each other first!

Comparing Nolte to a "big brother," Eddie complimented, "Nick's a great guy to work with and a real good actor, real intense actor -- he makes you act."

Video: Emmy Flashback: Eddie Murphy '83

Of course, Eddie's outdoor interview had its share of sidetracked comedic moments, not to mention his trademark laugh, and a few moments in which he poked fun at Mary. Distracted at one point, he observed, "You see those two butterflies just now, trying to get with it?" Watch and enjoy a slice of the veteran comedy star in his prime: humble and hilarious.

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MetroNorth train hits car, halting Connecticut service

REDDING, Conn. — Metro North train service has been suspended on the Danbury line following a train accident involving a car.

A Metro North spokesman said the train struck a car in Redding on Sunday afternoon. The train had no passengers and there was no information about whether there were injuries involving the car.

Bus service will ferry passengers between Danbury and South Norwalk.

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Week brings startup launches, social media advice for 2013

Jared Kleinert, a South Florida entrepreneur, plans to soon launch Synergist, a platform that allow social entrepreneurs to meet potential co-founders online, collaborate and crowdfund their new projects. He also just launched AliveNDead, a blog about risk-taking, and he interns for a Silicon Valley startup.

And when he’s not doing all that, he’s going to class — he’s a junior at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton.

Lester Mapp is CEO and founder of the new Miami-based startup called designed by m. His team has just designed a sleek, ultra-thin aluminum iPhone bumper and launched the project on Kickstarter. After just a few days, Mapp is already more than a third of the way to his $20,000 fund-raising goal.

Read about both these entrepreneurs on The Starting Gate blog, where there’s also a post on the most pressing issues facing small businesses in the coming year — taxes, healthcare, lending and a skilled worker shortage, for starters.

And as you are ringing in the New Year, you may be resolving to beef up your business’ social media strategy. Susan Linning's guest post offers five top tips for boosting your social media effectiveness. Among them: Go beyond retweets and make your posts original, fun and personal (but not too personal.) Use visuals, too. Find this and other news, views and tools for entrepreneurs on the blog, which is at the bottom of MiamiHerald.com /business.

Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg and Happy New Year to all.

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UM student documents the emotional growth of young dancers as they prepare for Nutcracker performance

University of Miami visual journalism student Monica Herndon spent several months photographing the advanced ballet students of the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet/Miami Conservatory in preparation for their annual Nutcracker held in conjunction with the New World School of the Arts.

The young dancers spent hours in class and rehearsal each week. They do not even reach the advanced level until they put in their approximately “10 thousand hours” of practice, according to director Ruth Wiesen.

At that point, the dancers begin to work on their artistry, while still perfecting their ballet technique.

“Moving Past Technique” explores the emotional growth of young dancers as they strive for perfection in their training. The voices in the piece are Karina Fernandez, 15, and Daniella Bernal, 15.

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NORAD Santa trackers draw record number of phone calls, social media followers

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.NORAD says it drew a record number of phone calls and social media followers during its NORAD Tracks Santa operation on Christmas Eve.

The North American Aerospace Defence Command said Friday volunteers answered more than 114,000 calls, up 12,000 from 2011.

NORAD’s Santa Facebook page had more than 1.2 million followers, up from about 1 million last year. More than 129,000 people followed on Twitter, up from 101,000 last year.

NORAD got 11,000 emails, up from 7,700 in 2011.

More than 1,250 volunteers answered phone calls, including first lady Michelle Obama.

NORAD Tracks Santa began in 1955 when a newspaper listed the wrong number for children to call Santa. They wound up calling the Continental Air Defence Command, NORAD’s predecessor.

The operation is based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Social Media News Headlines – Yahoo! News

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Best of 2012 Lists Movies TV Fashion Scandal

ETonline has spent the last week showing love to the Best of 2012 -- from film to television to fashion and celeb scandals, we reviewed and ranked the last 365 days, bringing you only the best!

In case you missed any of our Year End Roundups, they're all available below!

12 Most Exciting Stars of 2012

12 Best TV Shows of 2012

12 Biggest Celebrity Scandals of 2012

12 Most Gorgeous Gowns of 2012

12 Best Movies of 2012

12 Favorite Celebrity Couples of 2012

12 Most Memorable News Stories of 2012

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Bronx mom in Newtown 'scam' also solicited funds claiming they were for Hurricane Sandy relief

Alleged scammer Nouel Alba leaves Hartford Ct. Federal court after making $50K bail.


Alleged scammer Nouel Alba leaves Hartford Ct. Federal court after making $50K bail.

The Bronx mom accused of posing as the aunt of Newtown massacre victim Noah Pozner to collect bogus charity donations also solicited funds she claimed were for Hurricane Sandy relief, The Post found.

Nouel Alba -- out on $50,000 bond in the alleged Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting scam – set up at least two organizations in the wake of the devastating October superstorm and asked folks to send money for victims to her personal PayPal account or home address.

Sources said yesterday that New York law enforcement is “aware” of Alba’s post-storm solicitations.

Just days after Hurricane Sandy, Facebook pages, Web sites and blogs sprung up on the Internet, listing Alba’s personal gmail account and Clason Point home on Beach Avenue as contacts.

One group – the NYC Hurricane Relief Fund – claimed to be “a registered charity” whose “founder [has] been funded by the Alba family,” and whose home served as “a drop off location and distribution center.” The charity vowed to find clothing, kitchen appliances, mattresses, furniture and shelter for devastated Sandy families, and claimed “we assign someone to manage each family to ensure that they receive most of the things they need to get back on their feet.”

“100 % of all proceeds goes toward these families,” boasted the site. It provided a tax-ID number that does not show up in state or IRS record databases.

Another charity, Operation Hurricane Sandy Relief for Teachers and Students, ostensibly collected money, backpacks and school supplies. Alba also personally set up an Amazon “wish list” for donated school items, her online footprint shows.

All of the Alba-connected hurricane relief sites have been disabled but cached versions remain online.

Connecticut authorities said yesterday that Alba used Facebook, the phone and texts to solicit donations for a “funeral fund” for her “nephew” Noah after the Newtown bloodbath that killed the little boy, 19 of his classmates and 6 educators.

Alba asked that funds be sent via her personal PayPal account or direct bank deposit, according to a federal complaint against her.

The twisted Alba, 36, even told prospective donors that she had to enter Sandy Hook Elementary School after the bloodbath and identify her “nephew” for police — and said the child had “11 gun shots in his little body.”

Noah’s family has said Alba is no relation.

Alba allegedly sent out her first calls for cash within hours of the shooting.

The next day, she said in an online posting that a funeral fund had been set up “for my brother and families,” according to the complaint in Hartford federal court.

Alba allegedly claimed in a text to one mark that she met President Obama with other family members and he “hugged us even cried [sic] with us.”

Several people were duped into giving donations, the complaint says, although she refunded them before her arrest. Alba was charged with lying to federal agents and released on a $50,000 bond.

She has denied setting up the Newtown donation sites and claims she was framed by Facebook enemies, the feds said.

“I thought it was a really rotten thing to do and I am glad she got caught,” said Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel of Newton, a friend of the Pozner family.

Additional reporting by Doug Auer

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New rule puts cloak of privacy on children’s apps

Unbeknown to the lucky children who unwrapped tablets or smartphones this holiday season, new rules issued in Washington to protect their privacy on those devices could have profound implications for the future of the Internet and mobile apps.

The Federal Trade Commission recently updated the 14-year-old Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rule, or COPPA, to cover smartphones and social media. The revised rule expands the list of “personal information” that cannot be collected from children under 13 without parental consent to include location, photographs and videos. It forbids child-directed apps and websites to track children’s activities on the Internet or to pass their data on to other companies without their parents’ knowledge. Third-party operators also will be liable for information gathered from child-oriented sites.

Privacy advocates say the changes set the stage for adult consumers to demand the same kind of privacy protection themselves.

The tech industry, which lobbied against the changes, warns that over-regulation of data collection will stifle innovation, increase costs for consumers, and put some app developers and websites out of business.

One trade group, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, published a cartoon that depicts Santa wielding a mallet labeled “NEW REGS” to smash children’s tablets and smartphones. The distraught youngsters clutch their broken devices and wail as a grinning elf offers them a box of safety goggles. “Don’t let the FTC steal Christmas,” the caption reads.

“We suspect this will dramatically diminish the number and kind of new education tools which are built for kids,” said Tim Sparapani, vice president for law policy and government relations with Application Developers Alliance, an industry association. “We were in the midst of an incredible innovative cycle which had great potential for advancing educational apps for free or nearly free. … The FTC’s actions threaten to grind that to a halt.”

Companies will have to hire lawyers and designers and build specially designed servers in order to comply with the new regulations, Sparapani said. “That might be the difference between you staying in business and thriving and hiring new people and closing up shop.”

Online advertising models rely on data culled from browser cookies, IP addresses and click histories to provide targeted ads to consumers based on their location, past purchases, web-surfing habits and other details.

A report issued earlier this month by the FTC found that many mobile apps for children collect personal information without letting parents know who has access to the data or how it will be used.

Almost 60 percent of the apps reviewed by FTC staff transmitted data from a child’s device back to the app developer or to an advertising network, analytics company or other third party. Using information from multiple apps, the third parties could develop detailed profiles of children based on their behavior in the apps, the report stated.

This practice of digital profiling is at the heart of an ongoing battle in Washington over whether data mining should be regulated by the government, and if so, how.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced a bill in 2011 that would task the FTC with creating a “Do Not Track” option online, a concept modeled on the agency’s Do Not Call registry, which allows consumers to opt out of phone calls from telemarketers. Consumers would have to give explicit permission for their personal information to be used by websites or apps for targeted ads.

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Nonprofit with state contracts pays its top exec $1.2M

A nonprofit company that holds two dozen state contracts to care for troubled juveniles in Florida pays its chief executive more than $1.2 million a year in salary and benefits, most of it courtesy of taxpayers.

Outraged, the state Department of Juvenile Justice says the money paid to William Schossler is excessive and should be spent to help kids. The state wants the hefty paydays to stop.

"It was never the department's intent that such a large share of the funding would go to compensate the top administration of your corporation instead of into direct services for our youth," wrote Gov. Rick Scott's juvenile justice chief, Wansley Walters, in a Dec. 12 letter to Schossler. "That is something that neither the department nor the citizens of Florida can abide."

Schossler, 65, of Chiefland, is president of The Henry & Rilla White Foundation, a Tallahassee-based nonprofit that has done work for the state for more than two decades. Named for Schossler's grandparents, the foundation manages residential treatment beds, provides counseling and therapy to troubled children after they complete residential care, and has programs to divert kids from delinquency.

In the current budget year, the foundation's 23 juvenile justice contracts statewide have a total value of $10.2 million.

The battle between the state and the foundation surfaces at a time when legislators are promising a more in-depth review of state contracts with private vendors, which comprise more than half of the state's $70 billion annual budget yet receive only token scrutiny.

Legislators rarely probe the details of contracts, but Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has challenged senators to exhume contract details in agencies' budgets to see how money gets spent.

In what it called a routine review of contracts, the Department of Juvenile Justice discovered that Schossler earned $397,940 in salary and $862,837 in other compensation in 2010, according to the foundation's Form 990 filing with the IRS.

The previous year, Schossler made $382,906 in salary and $579,914 in bonuses and incentive compensation, that year's IRS filing shows.

Schossler, who worked for 15 years in state corrections and social services jobs, said the foundation board of directors decided he deserved a boost to his retirement package after years of building up the foundation. Some of the compensation was in the form of land that the foundation no longer needed, he said.

"You work your butt off for 25 years, and then you get ready to retire, and somebody decides to pay you some retirement money and somebody doesn't like that," Schossler said.

One of the foundation's board members is Schossler's sister, Linda Durrance, the board secretary. He said she is required to abstain from votes on compensation matters.

Henry and Rilla White were longtime residents of Bronson, a crossroads town and the county seat of Levy County, where he was a teacher and superintendent. They also ran White's Grocery, according to the foundation's website, www.hrwhite.org, which defines quality as "constantly striving for the best and gearing ourselves for the unexpected."

The unexpected is what happened when Schlosser met with Walters earlier this month.

When Walters ordered the foundation to propose a "plan of action" to cut salary overhead, the foundation responded with a report arguing that Schlosser's salary and benefits are within the range of those paid to CEOs of similarly sized nonprofits. The 2009 report was done by Compensation Resources of Upper Saddle River, N.J.

Walters disagrees and says Schossler's bottom line reveals a "disparity" compared to other non-profits that provide similar services for the state.

"There is no way that over the past couple of years you can have the level of executive compensation rise without seeing a reduction in services," Walters said in an interview.

Walters has directed the state agency to retool how it works. A big part of that exercise, called the "Roadmap to System Excellence," is a review of contracts with private vendors, which make up about two-thirds of the agency's budget.

In the Roadmap plan, Walters proposes ending contracts for aftercare services with vendors like the White Foundation and replace them with state oversight by juvenile probation officers, which she says will save nearly $12 million.

Schossler says that would be a serious mistake and a step backward to the days when juvenile justice was mostly about protecting state jobs.

"This is a hell of a way to do business, throwing me under the bus," Schossler said of Walters' criticism.

The foundation opposes the elimination of its funding under Walters' reorganization proposal.

For now, Schossler makes no apologies for his pay and benefits package.

"If there's something wrong here, I'm sure my board will fix it, but there's nothing wrong here," Schossler said. "If anything, my board thinks I'm underpaid."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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iOS apps see Christmas sales spike shrink in 2012

Distimo just released its statistics on Christmas Day app downloads and revenue growth… and the download spike is far smaller than it was last year. Back in 2011, Christmas Day iOS app download volume spiked 230% above the December average. This year, the increase was just 87% — far below industry expectations. The revenue spike came in at 70%.

[More from BGR: Google names 12 best Android apps of 2012]

Interestingly, iPad downloads increased by 140% this Christmas, implying that the iPhone download bounce was really modest.

[More from BGR: New purported BlackBerry Z10 specs emerge: 1.5GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 8MP camera]

A few weeks ago, AppAnnie released statistics showing that iOS app revenue growth had stalled over the summer of 2012, whereas Android app revenue growth was relatively strong at 48% over a five month period. Both Distimo and Appannie are respected companies and their analytics are closely followed by app industry professionals. Could it be that the pace of iPhone app revenue growth has slowed down sharply from 2011 levels, even if Distimo and AppAnnie numbers aren’t entirely accurate?

This article was originally published by BGR

Gadgets News Headlines – Yahoo! News

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Crawling All Over Pattinson's Face in 'Cosmopolis'

Twilight vamp Robert Pattinson plays a bloodsucker of an altogether different kind – the Wall Street kind – in his new movie Cosmopolis, on Blu-ray and DVD New Year's Day, and the film's director David Cronenberg tells ETonline that he was actually quite impressed with what Rob brought to the table, and that after the baggage of casting -- once you get to that point when you're on set and cameras are rolling -- "Twilight is irrelevant."

Video: Robert Pattinson Smells of Sex in 'Cosmopolis'

"He surprised me every day with good stuff," says Cronenberg. "I don't do rehearsals, and I try not to shape the actor's performance at first. I want to see what his intuition is going to deliver. And then if there's a problem then I start to shape it, nudge it, manipulate it a little bit. I did very little of that with Rob."

Based on the novel by Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis follows one day in the wild life of multi-billionaire asset manager Eric Packer, who travels aimlessly through the streets of New York City in his limousine while conducting investment trading from the back seat. As the day progresses, it devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.

"He absolutely would say to you right now, 'I had no idea what I was doing at any time,' and he would mean it," says the veteran director of Rob's performance. "I think he really didn't realize how good he was. … He was surprising himself, but he was surprising me by his accuracy. It was just dead on. I mean, by the end of it we were doing one take. Honestly the whole last scene, the whole last shot in the movie with him and Paul [Giamatti] -- one take. And it's a long take as well. And it's very emotional, and very subtle. One take for both of them, it was so good. … In fact, we finished the shoot five days early, and a lot of that was due to Rob."

Video: Robert Pattinson on Playboy Role in 'Cosmopolis'

Of course, when Cronenberg first cast Rob, he had to overcome what he calls Twilight "baggage," explaining, "You often have to consider what we call baggage for an actor, and you have to decide whether it's a problem or not. I hate the idea of it because I know I'm going to be on the set with the guy at three in the morning shooting in the streets of Toronto, and none of that stuff is relevant. We're just two people trying to make the movie work. So his past performances, or his fame, or lack of it, or whatever the factor is, is at that point irrelevant. What's relevant only is what we can do creatively with each other.

"On the other hand, when you're financing a movie you have to have lead actors who have some weight and some substance and will attract investors so that you can get your movie financed, so it's a weird situation," he continues. "Aside from the fact that yes, he was an exciting and interesting, surprising choice in terms of how investors viewed it -- and it worked because we got the financing for the movie -- after that Twilight is irrelevant, you know?"

What mattered most to Cronenberg was that his lead could carry the scene and had the proper charisma: "It starts very simply with is he the right age, does he have the right look, does he have the right presence onscreen?" he says. "He is in absolutely every scene in the movie, and that's really quite rare. Even in a movie with Tom Cruise, you don't see Tom in every scene. But in this case you do, and so he has to have some charisma. You have to want to watch him for that long and that intensely, because I knew I was going to be crawling all over his face with the camera."

Video: Robert Pattinson's First ET Interview

Of course, it wouldn't be a David Cronenberg film without a little oral or anal fixation – themes prominently placed in such films of his as Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers and Videodrome – and there's an especially amusing scene during Cosmopolis in which Rob gets examined by a doctor in his limo and discovers that he has an "asymmetrical prostate."

"Orifices are the entry and exit of our bodies, and that really talks about identity and where the boundaries of an individual identity end and where the environment begins," says a straight-faced Cronenberg, adding with a laugh, "I could do an academic analysis of my own movies, but that wouldn't help me create [my new] movies. … You could do that analysis and make those connections amongst the movies, and you'd be correct."

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UFT won't sign new teacher evaluation agreement without wage increase guarantee, city officials claim

The teachers’ union has refused to sign a long-awaited agreement with the city on a new teacher evaluation system unless it gets a guarantee of wage increases in the next contract, Department of Education officials charged today.

They claim the union also sought to derail talks on the rating system, which started in April, by mandating that the city confirm how many schools it will close next year first, according to a complaint filed by the DOE.


In a letter to the state Public Employee Relations Board, DOE officials said the union recently refused to negotiate details of the evaluations at all until questions of how it would be implemented were answered first — which they claim violates state bargaining law.

Following an email by UFT President Michael Mulgrew outlining that “ultimatum,” the union canceled meetings on December 18 and 19, the DOE claims.

The agency has until Jan. 17 to get its evaluation system approved by the State Education Department or else it will forfeit $250 million in state education aid.

“We remain prepared to negotiate all outstanding issues required to get to an agreement on teacher evaluation, but, unfortunately, Mr. Mulgrew’s failure to bargain in good faith and insistence on including issues unrelated to teacher evaluation is unacceptable and illegal,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement.

Mulgrew said his union has been waiting since last week for the DOE to schedule a meeting on the roll-out and implementation of the evaluations, which he insisted is fair game in the bargaining talks.

In its filing today, the DOE called it putting the cart before the horse.

“The idea that this is not a subject of bargaining is ludicrous,” Mulgrew told The Post. “I’m sitting in downtown Manhattan, my phone’s not ringing and it’s up to them to set up the meeting.”

He said he’s prioritizing talks on the roll-out of the system because the DOE had already botched initial preparations, such as by not providing the proper training.

Asked whether his union was seeking promises of future wage increases in the current talks, Mulgrew declined to say.

“I’m not negotiating in public,” he said.

The most recent teachers’ union contract expired in October 2009, although its terms have remained in effect ever since.

Talks on a subsequent contract stalled largely because the city said it couldn’t match the pattern of raises given to other public employees — of 4 percent annually — after the economy soured in 2009.

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Royal Caribbean orders third Oasis-Class vessel

Royal Caribbean Cruises announced Thursday that it has contracted with STX France to build a third Oasis-class vessel for delivery in mid-2016. In October, the cruise line announced it planned another sister ship to the successful Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

The contract, subject to financing and other conditions, includes the transfer of Pullmantur’s Atlantic Star. STX France has also provided the company with a one-year option for the mid-year 2018 delivery of a fourth Oasis-class vessel at similar pricing.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, with 16 decks and 2,700 staterooms, are the largest cruise ships in the world. The ships sail weekly to the Caribbean from their home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

Miami Herald Staff

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Kendall’s Dadeland Mall to get new Microsoft Store

Microsoft announced Wednesday it’s opening six new permanent stores in early 2013 - and one will be at Dadeland Mall in Kendall.

“We’re thrilled to ring in the New Year by announcing the locations of our first new store locations for 2013,” said Jonathan Adashek, Microsoft’s general manager for sales and marketing, in a news release.

An official opening day for the store has not been released.

For the holidays, Microsoft had a temporary store at Dadeland Mall near Abercrombie & Fitch.

Other permanent Microsoft Stores set to open soon are in San Antonio; Beachwood, Ohio; San Francisco; Salt Lake City and St. Louis, the release said.

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Samsung expects to ship more than half a billion phones in 2013

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Partiers Feel Cruel 'Aftershock'

A group of partying touristas in Chile find themselves facing the wrath of Mother Nature and – even worse – human nature in the disaster thriller Aftershock, and we have a first look at the trailer.

Related: What Scares Eli Roth?

Aftershock producer and co-writer Eli Roth seems to quite like being in front of the camera these days, with the Hostel director playing a single guy just looking to meet girls with his pals at an underground nightclub when a devastating earthquake rocks the South American country. Stumbling among the rubble in an effort to survive, society erupts into chaos and Eli and his pals find themselves face-to-face with escaped prisoners looking to exploit their newfound freedom any way they can.

Related: Eli Roth Helps 'Raiders' Fan Film Find Cult Status

In addition to Ariel Levy, Nicolas Martinez, Lorenza Izzo, Natasha Yarovenko and Andrea Osvart, Selena Gomez also stars in the film directed by Nicolas Lopez, rocking theaters in 2013.

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Repairs underway for collapsed wall in Chelsea building

Repairs are underway on a landmarked Chelsea building that was evacuated when part of a structural wall fell to the sidewalk.

The seven-story building at 655 Sixth Avenue was emptied on Tuesday night when the wall failed on the building’s West 20th Street side.

Workers began constructing a sidewalk bridge around the collapsed area today. They don’t expect to start working on the structure itself until tomorrow.

Residents of the wing of the building that fronts on West 20th Street were barred from returning to their homes.

Apartments and businesses on the Sixth Avenue side of the building were allowed back inside yesterday morning. The building, which dates to 1875, has retail on its first floor and condos upstairs.

R. Umar Abbasi

655 Sixth Avenue.

“The building won’t fall. They don’t build buildings like this anymore,” said Maurice Laboz, 75, a real estate developer who has lived in the building’s penthouse for five years.

No one was injured by the collapse.

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90-year-old real estate baron, philanthropist Jay Kislak is forever young

Real estate baron Jay I. Kislak discovered a Fountain of Youth of sorts that springs from an inquisitive and acquisitive mind.

At 90, Kislak is wheeling and dealing in real estate, and he’s exploring history and art with the fervor of a man generations younger.

The patriarch of The Kislak Organization marked 74 years in real estate this year, 59 spent in Miami.

While he has long since appointed a protégé, Thomas Bartelmo, as president and CEO of the diverse family-owned real-estate businesses, Kislak remains chairman. And he is a regular at the headquarters in Miami Lakes.

That is, when he’s not off to Maine for the summer.

Or busy chairing a blue-ribbon commission named by the U.S. Interior Secretary to orchestrate the 450th anniversary in 2015 of the founding of St. Augustine.

Or jetting off to evaluate a possible acquisition. (Kislak recently looked at the potential for real estate development in North Dakota, booming with shale oil, but decided to pass.)

Kislak’s empire has gone through dramatic changes over the years. He built — and eventually sold — commercial banking, mortgage servicing and insurance firms.

Today, with annual revenue in excess of $28 million, his organization focuses on the commercial brokerage business started by his father, Julius Kislak, in Hoboken, N.J., more than a century ago; on owning a portfolio of apartments and other property (Kislak is on the prowl for more), and on managing funds of property-tax certificates, a niche created by the economic downturn.

Looking out his office window at a bustling interchange recently, Kislak mused: “I remember when they built the Palmetto Expressway and you could drive down it and never see another car.”

“The same thing with I-95: There was hardly any traffic,” said Kislak, a slender man with a signature mustache and a thick Hoboken accent that never faded.

Kislak moved to Miami in 1953 to grow the mortgage business, but his world view hardly dates to 1950s Florida. Already a book lover, he began pulling on a thread of Florida history, soon broadening his interest to the early Americas.

Over the decades, Kislak, bankrolled by a stream of brokerage commissions, mortgage fees and apartment rent, grew into a prominent collector of rare books and maps, manuscripts, artifacts and art to feed his fascination with the pre-Columbian era and the European exploration of America.

His wife Jean Kislak shares his passion for collecting. They met at a party for Andy Warhol; it would be her second marriage, his third. Their quest for art, history and collecting has taken them to all continents, even Antarctica.

“We don’t quit [collecting]. But we are going to quit,” said Jean, a former corporate art director. “Acquisition has always been a part of my life. I don’t know if it’s a sickness.”

In 2004, Kislak gave away much of the treasure. His foundation donated more than 3,000 rare maps, manuscripts, paintings and artifacts to the Library of Congress. The gift, estimated to be worth in excess of $150 million, is housed in the ornate Thomas Jefferson building in an exhibit that bears his name. Kislak also funds fellowships for studies of the collection, part of his diverse efforts over the years to support education. Among other things, his family foundation endowed the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University, in West Long Branch, N.J., and has provided key support to a real estate program at Florida State University.

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Causeway victim Ronald Poppo finds peace but not healing

When Ronald Poppo was a kid in the 1950s and ’60s, a family Christmas in Brooklyn meant wind-up model trains circling the tree, Italian dinners of lasagna and stuffed squid, and, because Dec. 25 was also his father’s birthday, ricotta-filled cassata cake.

There was always music, because the Poppos have musical talent. Ronnie, as his older sister and two older brothers called him, played the violin as a child and guitar as a teenager.

And there was church, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as their mother was a devout Baptist.

An aunt brought Christmas presents, recalled Ronald’s sister, Antoinette Poppo, who still lives in New York.

“We were poor, but we didn’t know we were poor,’’ she said.

It’s hard to say when Ronald Poppo last enjoyed childhood Christmas memories, had a merry — or even comfortable — Christmas. After vanishing from the family in the early 1970s, he encamped on the gritty streets of Miami, an inebriated vagrant drifting ever further from the mainstream.

His last known home was the concrete stairwell of a tourist-attraction parking garage.

He surfaced again May 26 as the hapless victim in one of South Florida’s most sensational, blood-drenched crimes. That day, a naked, crazed, 31-year-old Rudy Eugene attacked 65-year-old Poppo on the MacArthur Causeway, stripping away his clothes then gnawing on Poppo’s face, leaving him mutilated and blind.

Police shot and killed Eugene about 18 minutes into the assault.

Through news of the event, Poppo’s stunned siblings learned he’d been alive all along, and people from his past began to emerge with snippets of information about his life before he disappeared onto the streets.

Following intensive medical treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Poppo moved to Jackson Memorial Perdue Medical Center, an 11-acre, 163-bed nursing home/rehab facility in South Miami-Dade, its halls now cheerily decked with holiday decorations.

He has refused all interview requests since the incident, and apart from allowing doctors to hold a news conference in June, he hasn’t authorized his treating physicians to talk about his medical condition.

Jackson officials closely guard his privacy.

Photos displayed at the June news conference showed Poppo’s face as a mass of clots and raw tissue, his eye sockets hidden under flaps of skin, his nose gone, his cheeks and forehead partially so. Doctors had to remove one mangled eyeball but at the time hoped to save the other, and at least some sight.

They weren’t able to.

His sister says that when they talk, brother Ronnie doesn’t mention the attack, the past, or how he spends his time. But he did recently say that he likes his accommodations and the people who care for him.

“He says they take him outside and walk him around the place,’’ Antoinette Poppo said. “He’s glad to be there. ... He doesn’t really talk much at all. He says, ‘Take care of yourself.’ It’s so sad he can’t see, and has to depend on other people.’’

He told her that “his face hasn’t healed yet,’’ but that he doesn’t want more surgery because “it’s going to hurt.’’

If so inclined, Poppo could have participated in all sorts of Christmas festivities at Perdue, where well-wishers from The Cocoplum and Cutler Ridge Women’s Clubs, the Soroptimist Club of Coral Gables, the Grupo de Kendall, Bethel Baptist Church, and the Teddy Bear Club brought gifts for residents including shampoo, batteries, home-made goodies — and teddy bears.

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Netflix suffers Christmas Eve outage, points to Amazon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An outage at one of Amazon‘s web service centers hit users of Netflix Inc.’s streaming video service on Christmas Eve and was not fully resolved until Christmas day, a spokesman for the movie rental company said on Tuesday.

The outage impacted Netflix subscribers across Canada, Latin America and the United States, and affected various devices that enable users to stream movies and television shows from home, Netflix spokesman Joris Evers said. Such devices range from gaming consoles such as Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 to Blu-ray players.

Evers said that the issue was the result of an outage at an Amazon Web Services‘ cloud computing center in Virginia, and started at about 12:30 p.m. PST (2030 GMT) on Monday and was fully restored Tuesday morning, although streaming was available for most users late on Monday.

“We are investigating exactly what happened and how it could have been prevented,” Evers said.

“We are happy that people opening gifts of Netflix or Netflix capable devices can watch TV shows and movies and apologize for any inconvenience caused last night,” he added.

An outage at Amazon Web Services, or AWS, knocked out such sites as Reddit and Foursquare in April of last year.

Amazon Web Services was not immediately available for comment. Evers, the Netflix spokesman, declined to comment on the company’s contracts with Amazon.

(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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Lady Gaga Documentary Announced

The nearly 33 million Little Monsters who follow Lady Gaga on Twitter got a massive Christmas present this morning as the singer revealed she'll soon be coming to a theater near you!

VIDEO - Lady Gaga Hosts Fame Picnic in Paris

"Merry Christmas little monsters," Gaga wrote. "Terry Richardson is making a #LadyGagaMOVIE documenting my life, the creation of ARTPOP + you!"

"Thank you for being so patient waiting for my new album ARTPOP I hope this gets u excited for things to come. I love you with all my heart!" Gaga announced her fourth album on August 6, 2012 and featured several of the songs in contention for inclusion on her recent Born This Wall Ball. Although no release date is yet known, it's rumored to be due out in Spring 2013.

VIDEO - The Secret Lady Gaga Never Told Beyonce

Gaga has previously collaborated with Richardson on countless magazine covers and 2011's Lady Gaga x Terry Richardson photobook.

Lady Gaga won't be the only major musician to be featured in a documentary next year. It was revealed on November 26 that HBO would be airing a Beyonce documentary on February 16, 2013.

VIDEO - Get A Sneak Peek at Beyonce's Documentary

The film promises extensive first-person footage -- some of it shot by Beyonce on her laptop -- in which she reflects on the realities of being a celebrity, the refuge she finds onstage and the joys of becoming a mother after giving birth to her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, in January 2012. Watch a sneak peek below.

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Affleck won't run for Kerry's Senate seat

BOSTON -- Ben Affleck is taking his name off the list of possible candidates for U.S. Sen. John Kerry's seat, which would be open if the Democratic senator from Massachusetts is confirmed as secretary of state.

Affleck says in a Monday posting on his Facebook page that while he loves the political process, he will not be running for public office.

Speculation about the Cambridge, Mass., native rose slightly when he did not completely rule out a Senate bid during an appearance on CBS' Face The Nation on Sunday.

In his Facebook posting, Affleck says he would continue working with the Eastern Congo Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps direct humanitarian aid to the war-torn region, and for other causes.

Getty Images

John Kerry (left) and Ben Affleck.

Affleck says Kerry would make a great secretary of state.

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Miami: We’re still busiest cruise port

Florida’s ports are steaming bow-to-bow in the race to be the world’s businest cruise ship port.

Though some publications have reported Port Canaveral in the lead with 3,761,056 million for its fiscal year ending Sept. 30, PortMiami officials Monday said they had hosted 3,774,452 passengers during the same period, putting it slightly ahead. Fort Lauderdale’s PortEverglades reported 3,689,000 passengers for the period, putting it slightly behind the others in third place.

“We’re all very close,’’ said Paula Musto, PortMiami spokeswoman.

PortMiami has slipped below its previous high of 4 million plus passengers because of changing ship deployments, she said. That number is expected to again cruise past 4 million in 2013 as several new ships homeport in Miami.

Jane Wooldridge

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For Nochebuena, it’s all about the pig

It’s a holiday tradition that goes back more than 500 years: Gathering the family together on Nochebuena — “Good Night’’ in Spanish — and pigging out.

And if you’re in South Florida for a Nochebuena feast, that pig might have come from Mary’s Ranch in Hialeah or Blue Sky Food By the Pound in Miami.

“It’s an extremely big day for us,’’ said Maria Gonzalez, an assistant manager at Blue Sky. The store had sold close to 100 whole pigs on Monday, she said.

And at Mary’s Ranch — also known as Matadero Cabrera — more than 2,000 pigs have been sold since the weekend, said manager Jack Cabrera.

“The line was crazy,” said a very busy Cabrera. “It happens every year.”

The pigs at Mary’s can range from 30 pounds to 300 pounds — and with the market charging $1.85 a pound, plus a $15 slaughter and cleaning fee, that can mean customers shelling out well over $500 for the feast’s main course.

It’s often accompanied by black bens and rice, yuca bread, a salad and Spanish turrones, or almond nougats.

The tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them whole as the family gathered for Christmas Eve.

Cabrera said Monday he was looking forward to going home and enjoying his own lechón feast. A 50-pound pig spent Sunday in a being marinated in salt, sour oranges and other spices. Early Monday, his wife’s family put it in a “caja china’’ where it will roast over hot coals.

“The pig is as important for Nochebuena as the turkey is for Thanksgiving,” Cabrera said.

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Sprint salesman refuses to sell iPhone to customer, says his ‘fingers are too fat’ to use it

We’ve known for a while now that some mobile carriers have been instructing their sales staff to start pushing their customers away from Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and toward Android or Windows Phone devices. The reason is simple: carriers pay a lot more to subsidize Apple’s popular smartphone than they do with other devices and they’d prefer to have higher gross margins at the end of each quarter. But now a Tom’s Hardware reader reports that a Sprint (S) representative has taken pushing non-iPhone products to a whole new level and is actually insulting people who insist on buying the device.

[More from BGR: Online retailers caught using ‘discriminatory’ practices to target shopping discounts]

When the customer told the Sprint representative that he wanted to get an older iPhone 4 for free as part of his upgrade, the representative called the device “a piece of s—” that breaks too easily and is too small for many users.

[More from BGR: First photos of BlackBerry 10 ‘N-Series’ QWERTY smartphone leak]

Instead, the salesman recommended that the customer by a Samsung (005930) Galaxy S III. When the customer again refused, the salesman took things a step farther and told the man that his fingers were simply too fat to use the iPhone and that he’d need a larger screen to use a smartphone properly.

Needless to say, these up-sell-by-insult tactics weren’t exactly effective for the salesperson and the customer angrily stormed out of the store without buying a new phone.

This article was originally published by BGR

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ET Exclusive: Jamie Foxx Opens His Home & Heart

Jamie Foxx may be the most eligible bachelor in Hollywood, and our own Nancy O'Dell is exclusively with the Oscar winner at his Santa Monica, CA home to talk about his career, his family and how he handles the media when there's a woman in his life.

The star of the upcoming Django Unchained says the worst thing that can happen in a relationship is to go public with it: "I like to stay quiet with anyone that dating; that I'm really, really dating, "he says. "If there's somebody that you're dating, the worst thing that you can do is let that [camera] touch you. Because once the camera touches you, [it's out]."

Video: Jamie & Kerry Party 'Django' Style

Watch the video to get a tour of Jamie's amazing home that he shares with his whole family, set on 40 acres with a stunning pool, a recording studio and an avocado grove!

One thing you won't find at Jamie's home, however, is his Best Actor Oscar statuette that he won for his performance in Ray.

Pics: Jamie & Leo Smolder in 'Django'

"I never wanted to keep it at the house -- I never wanted to get stuck," says Jamie, whose pal and former manager Jamie King holds onto the statuette for him. "It changes you. … I just wanted to go back to being funny."

Watch the video for more of Jamie's interview, including his reaction to the current Oscar buzz for Django Unchained!

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Outer borough metered cabs head to NY's highest court

This cab fight is going straight to the top.

The city has received permission to bypass the Appellate Division and go directly to the state's highest court -- the Court of Appeals -- to try to overturn a lower court ruling blocking a new class of 18,000 taxis that would be allowed to pick up street hails outside Manhattan.

"We are very grateful that this important case can move forward far more quickly..." said Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo.

Still, it may be a while before there's a decision in the high-stakes case.

Michael Woloz, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, said he expects that the high court won't hear oral arguments before April or May.


A woman hails a cab in Manhattan.

"It really was a mutual decision," he said of the speeded-up schedule.

"We were all going to end up at the Court of Appeals any way."

The city has a lot riding on the outcome.

As part of his proposal to expand metered cab service to Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island and northern Manhattan, Mayor Bloomberg also got to sell 2,000 more yellow cab medallions.

The sale was expected to haul in $1.46 billion over three years.

Both the taxi expansion and the medallion sale were approved by Albany.

But the taxi industry sued. In August State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled it was unconstitutional for the state Legislature to green light the mayor's plan without a "home rule" message from the City Council.

As a result, the mayor decided to remove the anticipated medallion revenue from this year's budget.

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Miami: We’re still busiest cruise port

Florida’s ports are steaming bow-to-bow in the race to be the world’s businest cruise ship port.

Though some publications have reported Port Canaveral in the lead with 3,761,056 million for its fiscal year ending Sept. 30, PortMiami officials Monday said they had hosted 3,774,452 passengers during the same period, putting it slightly ahead. Fort Lauderdale’s PortEverglades reported 3,689,000 passengers for the period, putting it slightly behind the others in third place.

“We’re all very close,’’ said Paula Musto, PortMiami spokeswoman.

PortMiami has slipped below its previous high of 4 million plus passengers because of changing ship deployments, she said. That number is expected to again cruise past 4 million in 2013 as several new ships homeport in Miami.

Jane Wooldridge

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Not capitalist or Christian, China loves Christmas


Happy birthday, Jesus!

Love, China.

For a country that persecutes Christians, China sure profits from Christmas.

So China’s “one-child” policy has led to forced abortions? Well, those nativity sets celebrating a child the state wanted to kill two millennia ago are under $20 at your local store.

“Made in China” is everywhere on the shelves. But it’s nowhere in our political discourse right now.

Contrast that with all the political talk this entire year about the ills of China.

Just after the New Year, Florida airwaves were flooded with deceptive political ads that bashed Republican Newt Gingrich for once backing a bill “supporting China’s brutal one-child policy.”

Mitt Romney, the beneficiary of the attack ads, went on to win Florida’s Jan. 31 primary a few weeks after raising the China-abortion issue at a debate.

A month later, President Obama mentioned China during a Coral Gables fundraiser where he fretted about “shipping jobs overseas.”

“I don’t want this nation to be known just for buying and consuming things,” the president said.

But Obama didn’t talk much about that by the end of the month after his election.

By then, economists, politicians and the news media turned to “Black Friday” holiday shopping and the need for our consumer economy to consume.

Now the so-called “fiscal cliff” occupies the political debate over income tax rates vs. government-spending cuts. There’s no real discussion about trade policy or even import tariffs, which were gradually replaced as the federal government’s cash cow with the rise of the income tax a century ago.

There’s no talk about China. That’s partly because we have such a complicated and conflicted relationship with China.

It’s a study in irony. An atheist political party runs a government fueled by factories that excel at making religious tchotchkes and other wares. It’s a nominally communist nation, but it owns some of our capitalist country’s debt and is beating us in commerce.

The fear of China was effectively captured in an ad run by the conservative group Citizens for Government Waste in 2010 and 2012. In the spot, a Chinese professor lectures a future class in Mandarin about the decline of the United States.

The group doesn’t disclose its donors, although a big share of contributions to political parties and campaigns come from the captains of industry and finance, some of whom profit handsomely from trade with China.

China is also Florida’s third-largest port-trading partner behind Colombia (2) and Brazil (1).

Florida, which never had a real manufacturing base, has 14 deepwater ports that rely on what’s called “free trade.”

Together, the Florida ports moved nearly $84 billion worth of goods from around the globe last year, an increase of nearly 19 percent, according to a winter 2012 report from the Florida Ports Council.

That helps the state’s economy.

But China came out on top.

“Florida’s largest deficit again was with China,” the report noted, “importing almost $8 in goods for each dollar it exported, resulting in a $6.4 billion deficit.”

Judging by the Toys-R-Us shelves, that trend will continue in Florida and nationwide as our economy struggles.

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Sri Lanka arrests 100 Chinese for cyber fraud, police say

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka on Saturday arrested at least 100 Chinese nationals accused of an internet fraud scheme targeting people in their home country, a police spokesman said.

The accused, all in Sri Lanka on tourist visas, are suspected of hacking into computers in China and then demanding their owners transfer them money, police spokesman Prishantha Jayakodi told Reuters.

Chinese police requested help from Sri Lanka, he said.

Officials at the Chinese embassy in Colombo were not available for comment.

China has been the top lender to Sri Lanka since the end of a 25-year war in May 2009 and thousands of Chinese are working in the country on Chinese-funded infrastructure projects.

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; editing by Jason Webb)

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Buzzmakers: New X Factor and Miss Universe Winners

What had ET readers buzzing this week?

1. 'The X Factor' Crowns A Winner!

And the $5 million recording contract goes to…

Tate Stevens! The 37-year-old country crooner beat out runner-up 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar for the top prize Thursday night. 35 million votes were cast Wednesday to determine victory for L.A. Reid's mentee.

Near tears, the Raymore, Missouri native thanked his fans for their overwhelming support.

"This is the best day of my life," said an emotional Stevens.

Girl group Fifth Harmony, mentored by Simon Cowell, placed third in the competition. Earlier in the night, the holiday themed finale saw performances by One Direction and Pitbull.

Auditions for an all-new season of The X Factor USA have already begun online. In-person auditions will start on March 6, 2013 in Los Angeles.

The celebrity judging panel has yet to be announced, but L.A. Reid has already taken himself out of the running. Spears has expressed interest in returning to the show for season three, but nothing has been confirmed.

2. Miss Universe 2012 Crowned

Beauties from 89 countries strutted their stuff Wednesday night in pursuit of the Miss Universe crown, but only one woman would earn the coveted title.

In the end a panel of ten celebrity judges, including Cee Lo Green and U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, appointed Miss USA Olivia Culpo the winner.

The 20-year-old Rhode Island native beat out Miss Brazil (Gabriela Markus) Miss Philippines (Janine Tugonon), Miss Mexico (Irene Sofía Esser Quintero), and Miss Australia (Renae Ayris) for the distinction.

Culpo follows in the footsteps of Miss Angola, Leila Lopes, who earned the crown in 2011.

The two-hour show was broadcast live from Las Vegas with musical acts One Direction and Train lending their talents to the annual extravaganza.

3. Exclusive: Arsenio on His Late Night TV Return

Break out the Woof! Woof! fist pump: Arsenio Hall is coming back to late night TV in the Fall of 2013 after a 17-year break from the game, and only ET is behind the scenes with the timeless talk show host as he shoots his first-ever promo for The Arsenio Hall Show!

"[This is] the first time America will see anything on television about the show," says Arsenio. "Instead of a commercial where I do something like say, 'I'm baaaaack' -- and everybody's, 'Ugh' -- they've come up with a real, unique, creative angle that -- actually, I looked at dailies, and it scared me. I looked at the dailies and I frightened myself."

The trailer-length promo from CBS Television Distribution pays homage to horror movies and begins airing today on all Arsenio Hall Show affiliate stations, kicking off the campaign for the new late night syndicated talk show that will be seen all across the country next year.

"I'm real excited about this; so many things have changed in pop culture since I left the air," says Arsenio about his return to late night. "I can't wait."

The Arsenio Hall Show premieres on 9/9/13. Look for much more with Arsenio between now and then, only on ET!

4. Claire Danes Gives Birth

It's a boy!

Homeland star Claire Danes and her husband Hugh Dancy welcomed their very first child together on Monday, December 17, her rep confirms to People Magazine.

The proud parents named their bouncing baby boy Cyrus Michael Christopher Dancy.

Danes, 33, wed Dancy, 37, in 2009 after two years of dating.

5. President Obama is Time's Person of the Year

For 2012, Time Magazine has selected President Barack Obama as their Person of the Year.

"For finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union, Barack Obama is Time's 2012 Person of the Year," Time's Managing Editor Richzard Stengel explained.

He also cited both of the president's re-elections, snagging over 50 percent of the popular vote, as one reason he received this honor.

This is the second year Time has tapped Obama as their Person of the Year -- he previously was selected in 2008 for becoming the first black president of the United States.

Time previously named the eight finalists for 2012's Person of the Year. They included: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Malala Yousafzai (the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for her crusade for better girls' education), Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and the three scientists who discovered the Higgs Boson particle.

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Obama joins mourners at memorial service for late Sen. Inouye in Hawaii

AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand in respect as the casket carrying the late Senator Daniel Inouye is carried past at the National Memorial Cremetary of the Pacific in Honolulu.

HONOLULU — President Barack Obama, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and other dignitaries attended a memorial service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye on Sunday.

A 19-gun cannon salute was fired as Inouye's coffin arrived for the service at Honolulu's National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the final resting place to thousands of World War II veterans. More than 400 members of the storied Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team — of which Inouye was a part — are buried at the site.


President Barack Obama hugs Irene Hirano Inouye, widow of the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, after she receives the flag that draped his casket at the memorial service at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.


Senator Daniel Inouye died at the age of 88 Dec. 17. He was first Japanese-American elected to both houses of Congress and the second-longest serving senator in US history.

Several cabinet secretaries and a number of senators also attended the service, including fellow Hawaii Democrat Daniel Akaka and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Daniel was the best senator among us all," Reid told those assembled. "Whenever we needed a noble man to lean on, we turned to Sen. Dan Inouye. He was fearless."

The 88-year-old Inouye died of respiratory complications on Dec. 17.

He was the first Japanese-American elected to both houses of Congress and the second-longest serving senator in U.S. history.

The past week has been marked by tributes and honors for Inouye, with services held in Washington and in Hawaii. He lay in state at both the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday and the Hawaii state Capitol on Saturday.

Inouye was a high school senior in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 1941, when he watched dozens of Japanese planes fly toward Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military bases to begin a bombing that changed the course of world events.

He volunteered for a special U.S. Army unit of Japanese-Americans and lost his right arm in a battle with Germans in Italy. That scratched his dream of becoming a surgeon and went to law school and into politics instead.

He became known as an economic power in his home state as part of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he steered federal money toward Hawaii to build roads, schools and housing.

Obama eulogized Inouye during a service at Washington's National Cathedral on Friday, saying that Inouye's presence during the Watergate hearings helped show him what could be possible in his own life.

The president arrived early Saturday in Honolulu for his annual Christmas family vacation.

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Time’s up for holiday shopping procrastinators

Last minute shoppers like Josette Tyne are in luck this year.

With a long weekend before Christmas, retailers want to make it easier for procrastinators to finish their gift buying. Macy’s for the first time is keeping all its stores open around the clock from Friday until Sunday at midnight. Toys “R” Us and Walmart Supercenters will be open non-stop until Christmas Eve.

Even those retailers skipping the all nighter still have added extended hours often as late as 11 pm or midnight. Coupled with a flurry of last minute promotions, they hope to lure shoppers, many of whom have been largely sitting on the sidelines since Black Friday.

Tyne, 33, just starting her shopping this week at Aventura Mall, armed with a list of about two dozen people and the presents they wanted. The list would have been longer if the Fort Lauderdale resident hadn’t limited it to the kids in her family.

“I’ll probably be shopping every day from now till Sunday,” said Tyne, as she wheeled the youngest of her three boys around H&M in a stroller before heading on to Game Stop, Urban Outfitters and BCBG. “Whatever catches my eye. Luckily the kids usually like everything I get. I’m the awesome Auntie.”

A Consumer Reports Poll released earlier this week found that with just five shopping days left until Christmas, a whopping 68 percent of shoppers — a projected 132 million Americans — have yet to finish their holiday shopping.

With an early Thanksgiving leaving an extra week until Christmas and a long weekend before Tuesday’s holiday, shoppers have felt little need to rush. They also haven’t found December deals to be quite as compelling as the November sales.

Based on disappointing sales trends earlier this month, ShopperTrak said Wednesday it was cutting its holiday sales forecast. The company, which counts foot traffic and its own proprietary sales numbers from 40,000 retail outlets across the country, now expects a 2.5 percent sales increase to $257.7 billion, down from the 3.3 percent growth it initially predicted. The National Retail Federation is sticking with its prediction of a 4.1 percent sales increase.

Online sales trends are more encouraging, up 13 percent to $35 billion from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16, according to comScore, an online research firm. But that pace is below the forecast of 17 percent for the season.

“It’s coming down to the wire,” said David Bassuk, managing director and co-head of the retail practice at AlixPartners, a global consulting firm. “It’s going to require retailers to be more aggressive with their promotions than they were hoping heading into the weekend.”

While the economy is certainly in a better position than it was during the recession, many consumers still feel uneasy this year about their financial future. Some are worried about the U.S. job market and others fear the stalemate between Congress and the White House over federal “fiscal cliff’’ that could lead to tax increases and less disposable income for shoppers.

That was the case for Latonya Jones, on the hunt for bargains at Aventura Mall, coupon-loaded iPad in hand.

“I wasn’t going to buy anything this year, because I wanted to save money,” said Jones, 39, of Miami Gardens, who was shopping with her daughter Richelle, 12, this week in Macy’s. “But then I changed my mind.”

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The man behind the camera: legendary Miami photog Tim Chapman retires

Here is a Tim Chapman story, one of many concerning the Herald photographer who worked his last day this past Friday after 40 years on the job.

It was a frigid morning in South Florida. Tim, our roving a.m. shooter/newsgatherer, was out performing a humdrum chore: looking for a “weather photo.”

The call came in to the news desk around 9. It was Tim checking in from Bill Baggs state park, where the manager had just explained that on bone-chilling days, the park’s iguanas drift off into a trance-like state and go limp, plopping to the ground like ripe mangos. When the weather warms up, they reanimate and skitter away.

And, by God, it was true, Tim said, at least the falling-out-of-trees part. Instead of a carpet of leaves, Bill Baggs was blanketed by catatonic iguanas.

That sounds fishy, an editor told Tim, but he insisted it was so, and he is a very insistent guy. So, OK. We put a blurb online that said the weather was so cold in South Florida it was “raining iguanas in Key Biscayne.” Exaggeration? Maybe a tiny bit. But we figured what the heck. It’s Web only. It will never wind up in the paper.

Tim, though, was a little irate. Half an hour later, he stormed into the newsroom, stalked over to the news desk and threw down a limp, green, two-foot-long iguana like a poker player revealing a royal flush. Then he launched into a tirade about never, ever doubting him if we know what’s good for us. He was sort of kidding. Maybe.

After that admonition, Tim, ever the environmentalist, took the creature downstairs and (he swears) revived it with his lighter.

Late that night, Tim’s editor got a call on his cell phone from Tim, never a good thing. Tim had had a beer or two, and he was howling, like a grizzly with his paw in a trash compactor. Between threats and curses, he roared that “SOMEBODY is messin’ with our STORY!”

A subsequent call to the news desk revealed that the story had done so well on the Web that they’d decided to run it in the next day’s paper. Except a literal-minded night editor had gotten his mitts on it, phoned Tim and wanted to know how we could possibly say it was “raining iguanas”? Did we count the iguanas? Was it two? Five? Fifty? Shouldn’t we do a little more reporting before making such a bold, sweeping statement? Maybe interview an expert on animal physiology?

For Tim, who hates authority, hates being grilled, hates process, hates editors, it was too much.

The good thing about newsrooms is that they attract quirky, interesting, head-strong individuals. Tim is one. He despises bosses and corporations, loves the outdoors and nature, has no neck but fists like a sock full of rocks. He is fierce, fearless, funny, proud, and maybe a little crazy, but in a good way.

On a newsman’s salary, he helped put his son through medical school. He is retiring with Charlene, his new bride (they were married last month after 15 years together) to a home on stilts in Big Torch Key, miles off the main road, where he can enjoy a drink and smoke a cigar undisturbed while watching the sun sink slowly into still waters. He built that home with his own hands, over a period of years.

As a Herald photographer for four decades, he covered wars, hurricanes, riots, earthquakes, waves of refugees, kidnappings, plane crashes and the Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana.

And, on a cold day in January 2008, the one and only “iguana rainstorm” ever to hit Key Biscayne.

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