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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Is the Christmas card dead?

Author Nina Burleigh says the holiday photo is dead — and the internet killed it

Every year around the holidays, countless Americans sit down at their dining room tables to thoughtfully scribble pen-and-paper updates about how they are and what they’ve been doing with their lives to a select number of friends. These messages are usually written on the back of a recent family photograph (sometimes with Santa hats), before they’re sealed, stamped, and mailed around the country, where they’re displayed like a trophy over someone else’s fireplace.

Could that all be changing? This year, especially, there seems to be a dearth of dead-tree holiday cheer filling up mailboxes across the country. In a recent column for TIME, author Nina Burleigh says the spirit once distilled inside the Christmas card is dying, and a familiar, if fairly obvious perpetrator killed it: The internet. “There’s little point to writing a Christmas update now, with boasts about grades and athletic prowess, hospitalizations and holidays, and the dog’s mishaps, when we have already posted these events and so much more of our minutiae all year long,” she writes. “The urge to share has already been well sated.”

[Now] we already have real-time windows into the lives of people thousands of miles away. We already know exactly how they’ve fared in the past year, much more than could possibly be conveyed by any single Christmas card. If a child or grandchild has been born to a former colleague or high school chum living across the continent, not only did I see it within hours on Shutterfly or Instagram or Facebook, I might have seen him or her take his or her first steps on YouTube. If a job was gotten or lost, a marriage made or ended, we have already witnessed the woe and joy of it on Facebook, email and Twitter.

Burleigh says the demise of the Christmas card is deeply saddening. “It portends the end of the U.S. Postal Service,” she writes. “It signals the day is near when writing on paper is non-existent.” It’s true, says Tony Seifart at Memeburn — “my mantle is empty this year. In fact I haven’t received one Christmas card yet.”

SEE ALSO: The perks and perils of our newly indexed society

Let’s not get too nostalgic just yet, says Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic. Research firm IBISWorld anticipates that purchases of cards and postage will be the highest it has been in five years — $ 3.17 billion total. And Hallmark, the industry’s biggest player, has seen revenue hold steady since the early 2000s despite the financial crisis. We could also think about this another way: That desire to share, the willingness to inform, could just be extending itself beyond the physical form of the holiday photo. 

No matter what time of the year, people now write contemplative letters with weird formatting to an ill-defined audience of “friends”; these are Christmas letters, whether Santa is coming down the chimney or not. There are reindeer horns on pugs in July. And humblebrags about promotions in April. There are dating updates in November. And you can disclose that you were voted mother of the year any damn day you please… For good or for ill, perhaps we’re seeing not the death of the holiday card and letter, but its rebirth as a rhetorical mode. Confessional, self-promotional, hokey, charming, earnest, technically honest, introspective, hopey-changey: Oh, Christmas Card, you have gone open-source and conquered us all. 

The spirit of the Christmas card is indeed alive and well. It’s just not necessarily in a Christmas card.

SEE ALSO: Poison pens and lipstick guns: 8 real-life spy weapons

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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 SofĂ­a 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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Staten Island man killed in early-morning house fire

A Staten Island man was killed when an early-morning fire swept through his home, police and relatives said.

Jameek Champagne, 23, died in the third-floor attic of the home on Osgood Avenue in Clifton. His brother and grandfather escaped the blaze uninjured.

A neighbor reported the blaze after seeing flames erupt from the house at about 5:40 a.m. He banged on the door in a frantic effort to awaken its residents.

The fire was extinguished about an hour after it started, according to an FDNY spokesman. Fire marshals are investigating what caused it.

About ten cars full of grief-stricken relatives and friends came to the scene to mourn Champagne. His devastated girlfriend said that the two had a newborn girl and a 1-year-old boy.

G.N.Miller/New York Post

The Staten Island house after it was damaged by the fire

“We’re just trying to find out how this happened,” Champagne's uncle said, weeping.

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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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Stand Your Ground motion denied in Janepsy Carballo case

It will be up to a jury to decide if Janepsy Carballo was justified in the killing of the man she said killed her husband.

The Stand Your Ground motion filed by her defense was denied on Friday, based largely on Carballo’s inadvertent confession to a confidential informant who was wearing a police wire to investigate an unrelated drug charge at the pain management clinic where she worked.

“The inescapable conclusion is that the defendant lured the victim to the home and killed him,” said Miami Circuit Court Judge Beth Bloom, reading in court from a statement explaining her decision. “The taped conversation between the defendant and the disclosed confidential source is compelling, incapable of being ignored, downplayed or interpreted in any other manner but one of revenge.”

In May 2008, Carballo shot Ilan Nissim six times in the back and arm when she said he came to her house uninvited. Cellphone records show that she called Nissim three times that day, asking him to come over.

The shooting came one month after Carballo’s husband and toddler son were shot in front of her house. Her son survived; her husband did not. Nissim was a suspect in the murder.

Carballo said her 37-year-old husband, Orlando Mesa, was an “entrepreneur” who worked as a mechanic and was involved in drug dealing. Mesa and Nissim were involved in some business transactions including a $180,000 real estate deal, the defendant said.

Explaining her decision, Judge Bloom read from the transcript of Carballo’s 3 1/2-hour conversation with the confidential informant, quoting the 34-year-old defendant as saying, “An eye for an eye. I want his daughter to grow up without a father just like my son.”

Since the Stand Your Ground statute was passed in 2005, it has been used in “fake defenses” all over the state of Florida, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in an interview.

The controversial law, which eliminated the duty to retreat when threatened, came under scrutiny in February when neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager in Sanford. Police initially declined to charge Zimmerman when he invoked the Stand Your Ground statute. Zimmerman now faces charges of second-degree murder.

In response to national outcry surrounding the Trayvon Martin case, Florida Gov. Rick Scott commissioned a 19-member task force to make suggestions about the law. Their findings, presented to the state Legislature in November, did not suggest major changes.

Other states have enacted similar laws, which are supported by the National Rifle Association.

Two days before the ruling on the Carballo case, Sen. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale introduced a bill in the state Senate to amend the Stand Your Ground statute by removing immunity from prosecution for someone who initiates a confrontation or pursues a victim.

Fernandez Rundle also made suggestions to change the law, specifying that immunity should be granted only to someone “who does not initially provoke the force,” according to documents from the state attorney’s office.

“A lot of people are trying to abuse the good intentions of the statute,” Fernandez Rundle said. Although she declined to comment at length on the pending Carballo case, she said she “appreciated the judge’s order validating our position and our interpretation of the facts of the case.”

Carballo has been charged with first-degree murder. She goes on trial in April.

Follow Anna Edgerton on Twitter @AnnaEdge4.

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SaleSpider Media Gets Ready for 2013

SaleSpider Media had an extremely successful 2012 and looks to bring that success into 2013.

toronto, ON (PRWEB) December 21, 2012

SaleSpider Media had an extremely successful 2012 and looks to bring that success into 2013. Over the past year each of SaleSpider Media’s social networks have growth substantially., North America‘s largest SMB social network, grew by over 500% in 2012. SaleSpider Media’s other properties, and, each grew by over 2000% in traffic over the same time period.

The substantial growth of SaleSpider Media can be attributed to the company’s digital innovations in the past year, here is a quick snapshot:

SaleSpider Media looks to continue to bring great innovations to our social platforms and grow with our users in the coming year of 2013.

About Sales Spider Media:

SaleSpider Media is a leading internet company with multiple fast-growing, highly-related brands serving loyal consumer and business audiences…our mission is to harness the power of interactivity to make daily life easier and more productive for people all over North America and The World.

SaleSpider Media’s exclusive web properties have millions of unique visitors and opt-in members and are growing by over 90% each quarter. The company has deep reach to in-market buyers in Auto, Travel, Finance, Insurance, Technology, B2B, and many more!

SaleSpider Media works with top Fortune 100 companies and is a leader in…

  • First Party Data Targeting reaching “ready to buy” consumers

  • Reaching Business Decision Makers by company size, industry, title and geography

  • Social Media, multiple platforms including the largest small business social network in North America

To learn more about SaleSpider Media, please see

Sales Spider Inc.
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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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VIDEO SHOCKER: Brute attacks woman in elevator

Police released shocking video today of a woman being pummeled in a Bronx robbery.

A suspect followed the 57-year-old victim into an elevator of a Washington Avenue building in Claremont about 9:25 a.m. yesterday, then got out one floor before the victim's floor, cops said.

When the door opened, she was face to face with the brute, who began punching her, authorities said.

The assault was captured on surveillance camera.

The thief took her purse, then ran off.

Police say the suspect is in his late teens, 5-foot-11, and thin. He wore a black Polo jacket and sweatpants, as well as a black hat with a red stripe during the attack.

Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 1.800.577.TIPS (8477).

This latest outrage comes just 10 days after another brute beat down an elderly woman in the elevator of her Meatpacking District building, stealing the heirloom wedding ring given her by her husband.

Yvonne Sherwell-Demakopoulos, 85, said she pleaded with the thug not to take the wedding ring, but the cold-hearted mugger snatched it anyway,

Cops arrested homeless ex-con 33-year-old Freddie Keitt in the case. He is charged with assault, unlawful imprisonment and robbery, and is being held on $5,000 bail.

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Pawn shops enter holiday-shopping fray

As retailers like Tiffany & Co., Saks Inc., Best Buy Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. vie for last-minute holiday sales, customers are being drawn away by a growing crop of competitors: pawn shops.

From Las Vegas and Los Angeles to Miami andOrlando, pawn shops appear to have shed their stigma and become a holiday-shopping destination.

“It’s crazy. Our stores are just packed right now,” said Lawrence Kahlden, chief executive of La Familia Pawn and Jewelry, which has two stores in Miami, one in West Palm Beach, 12 in Orlando and nine in Puerto Rico.

Overall, sales are up 40 percent from last year, he said, with smartphones, laptops, flatscreen TVs and jewelry ranking as top sellers. The Miami store at 1823 NW 79th St. is the company’s No. 1 store.

“The acceptance of pawn shops has increased due to the reality shows on TV,” Kahlden said. “It has become more acceptable to come into a pawn shop — you’re curious to see what kind of deals you can get.”

Holiday season traffic is also up at publicly traded Cash America, which has 800 stores in 23 states, including 75 in Florida and a half-dozen in South Florida.

“We have a broad spectrum of customers that come in for the holidays,” said Dennis Weese, chief operating officer of Cash America.

No longer are such outlets focused solely on lending to low-income consumers in downscale neighborhoods. Many pawn shops are expanding in more-affluent areas and increasingly are seeing white-collar and higher-income shoppers — who not only may borrow money, but also buy new or used jewelry, luxury watches, game consoles and electronics, often at deep discounts compared with regular-priced retail merchandise.

“The new customers are coming from all segments of the population. What’s central to all of them is getting a good deal,” Weese added. “The consumer is very value-oriented today regardless of socioeconomic status. They put us in the consideration set the past three or four years. The stigma associated with used merchandise has gone away.”

To better compete with mainstream retailers, Cash America has its own holiday-layaway program and stages its own annual customer-appreciation event on the first Friday of December, which Weese said “gets bigger every year.” Demand for that day serves as a good indicator of its sales for the month.

Pawn shops traditionally have been seen as a last-resort source of financing for those barely making ends meet (or worse) in the U.S. economy. Yet the recession stemming from the housing bust and the financial crisis of 2008 led many middle- and upper middle-class shoppers to visit pawn shops for the first time, mainly to seek financing. That’s how they discover there are good deals to be had there, according to pawn-shop operators. Meanwhile, shows such as History Channel’s Pawn Stars have helped lower the negative impression that consumers may have about shopping at such stores.

The National Pawnbrokers Association estimated there were about 10,000 pawn shops in January, up from about 6,400 in 2007, when the most recent U.S. Census data were available. As evidence of their broadening acceptance, many of the new pawn shops are being opened in more-upscale neighborhoods across the country, the trade group’s spokesman Emmett Murphy said.

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Have plans for Saturday? Oops

You should probably be reading this story a little faster.

According to the ancient Mayans, the world is going to end Friday. In fact, it may already be gone, since it’s Saturday in Australia. So don’t be surprised if you step out the door and see nothing but smoking ruins and — if you live in Coral Gables, where strict zoning laws prohibit the apocalypse or pickup trucks — municipal code inspectors frantically writing citations.

OK, before we go too much further with this, it’s possible that the ancient Mayans didn’t actually prophesy doom for the world on Dec. 21, 2012. “They absolutely never said any such thing, nothing like that, nothing at all,” fumes a frustrated Marta Barber, who is (or, possibly, was) vice president of the Miami Science Museum’s Institute of Maya Studies.

Most scholars of Mayan history and culture agree with Barber that the idea the Mayans circled the date on their calendar and penciled in “apocalypse coming, don’t forget to buy milk” is a crackpot New Age misinterpretation, a cynical ploy by doomsday merchandisers, or both.

But that hasn’t shaken the firm conviction of millions of people around the world that Friday’s the day to link arms and sing a chorus of T urn out the lights, the party’s over.

• So many religious pilgrims were trekking to Uritorco, a sacred Indian mountain peak in Argentina’s central Cordoba province, that authorities blocked access to it earlier this week for fear of a “massive spiritual suicide.” The mayor of Bugarach, a tiny mountaintop village in the French Pyrenees believed to be a frequent rest stop for alien spacecraft, banned end-of-the-world UFO watchers who were streaming into town, but undaunted local farmers continue renting out their houses for $2,000 a night.

• Tikal, a large Mayan archaeological site in northern Guatemala, is awash in not only New Age spiritualists but Star Wars geeks who believe the fact that scenes from their favorite movie were shot there mean it’s certain to play a key role in the Mayan spectacular. “Something big is going to happen,” businessman Ricardo Alejos, the vice president of Guatemala’s Star Wars fan club, told Reuters. Cops have been generally tolerant, but did eject 13 naked women dancing and chanting around a fire near temple ruins last week.

• If you were planning to wait out the apocalypse on Rtanj mountain in eastern Serbia, where space aliens concealed a protective pyramid during a secret visit more than a thousand years ago (oops, guess that cat’s out of the bag now), better forget it. All the mountain’s hundreds of hotel rooms are booked. Serbian tourism officials, though slightly abashed, aren’t giving any of the money back. “Our official stance is not to support such mythology,” tourism boss Sandra Vlatkovic told Agence France-Presse.

• In China, the Christian group Almighty God, in somewhat contradictory proclamations, told its followers that Friday is the apocalypse but also that they should overthrow communism. Chinese security decided to take the second proclamation seriously just in case the first one is wrong and have jailed more than 1,000 Almighty God members.

• Various cities throughout Russia and Lithuania have suffered survivalist runs on everything from salt to candles to vodka. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in a televised plea for everybody to calm down, probably didn’t help matters when he said he didn’t believe the world was ending but then added gravely: “At least, not this year.” Then, under the cataclysmic misimpression that he was off-camera, he (apparently) joked to reporters that the first things presented to a new Russian president are a briefcase with nuclear launch codes and a folder identifying all the secret space aliens hiding out in the country.

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Huge Savings With MyBatua Season’s Sale

The online Islamic clothing store brings more reasons to smile. The Store announces huge discounts and assured gifts on every purchase of women Abayas, kurtis and Jibabs.

(PRWEB) December 21, 2012 has extended its seasonal sale on Islamic clothing range for a fortnight to appreciate the huge response of buyers. Being one of the most renowned stores for a vibrant range of Islamic clothing range, MyBatua has announced discounts up to 60% on modern, contemporary, fashionable and exclusive Islamic apparel for men and women.

The online store offers a huge collection of Jibabs, kurtis, abayas and Hijabs for customers, with the choice of customization. All the clothing items displayed at the sale are designed to reflect exclusive style statements of customers. Islamic outfits at MyBatua are available with contemporary and very stylish looks. Jilbabs and Abaya at the store are also made from natural fabric and with contemporary texture.

At visitors may choose from an extensive range of hijabs available in different styles, plain solid colors, fantastic design and attractive ones for joyful events. Like their name they are very simple to put on without any wrapp or Hijab pin. The store is well-known for its best quality beautiful hijabs and Abayas with an inexpensive price tag.

The best part of the season sale at the store is the availability of the finest range of ethnic clothing for a diverse array of women buyers who never compromise on quality and style. The store features a diverse variety of modest Women’s clothing items that range from conventional Abayas to custom Hijabs designed with finest craftsmanship.

Apart from a pretty good collection of regular and Plus sizes of Jibabs, Abayas and Hijab, customers also get an option to customize clothes without any additional cost. With every purchase at seasonal sale, customers find huge cash discounts and assured gifts to turn their shopping spree rewarding and a never before experience. MyBatua range comes with free shipping and hassle free delivery to the customers worldwide.    

MyBatua a leading online store for clothing and accessories has now become a one stop shopping place for Islamic fashion clothing. It is catering to all needs of online shoppers for Abayas, Jilbabs, Hijabs, Sherwanis and variety of accessories including brooches and unique handbags suitable for all occasions and weddings.

Amrish Goel
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Disney's New Holiday Classic

ET's kid reporter Lauren Kaplan is introducing your family to what's sure to become a new holiday movie tradition.

RELATED: New on Blu-ray & DVD

Disney's Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups stars a brand-new litter of puppies bringing comedy that the whole family will love. Hope, Jingle, Charity and Noble are on a mission to save Christmas around the world when the holiday spirit starts to dwindle. Watch the clip to see the animal stars' magical musical number.

Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups is available now.

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Spring-ing to life

The much sought-after 529 Broadway, a two-story building on the northwest corner of Spring Street in the middle of a busy shopping district, has been sold for $150 million to Jeff Sutton, Joe Sitt, the Adjmi family and Bobby Cayre’s Aurora Capital.

The 22,500-square-feet property, the subject of an off-market bidding war, will be emptied and razed. A new building of about 40,000 square feet will be built on the site, sources said.

Vornado, Ivesco and Crown Acquisitions lost out in the bidding.

Goldstone Realty was the seller and the deal closed today.

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For the New York Stock Exchange, a sell order

The Big Board just isn’t so big anymore.

In a deal that highlights the dwindling stature of what was once a centerpiece of capitalism, the New York Stock Exchange is being sold to a little-known rival for $8 billion – $3 billion less than it would have fetched in a proposed takeover just last year.

The buyer is IntercontinentalExchange, a 12-year-old exchange headquartered in Atlanta that deals in investing contracts known as futures.

Intercontinental Exchange, known as ICE, said Thursday that little would change for the trading floor at the corner of Wall and Broad streets, in Manhattan’s financial district.

But the clout of the two-centuries-old NYSE has gradually been eroded over decades by the relentless advance of technology and regulatory changes. Its importance today is mostly symbolic.

The NYSE dates to 1792, when 24 brokers and merchants traded stocks under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street. But today most trading doesn’t require face-to-face meeting at all. It’s done on computers that match thousands of orders a second.

Three decades ago, the floor of the New York exchange was full of bustling traders. Today, one of its largest booths belongs to the cable news channel CNBC, which broadcasts there for most of the business day.

The introduction of negotiated, rather than fixed, commissions for securities transactions, in May 1975, marked the start of a gradual decline in brokerage fees for traditional stock trading.

It also gave rise to so-called discount brokerages, like Charles Schwab, that offered to trade for customers at lower rates.

While brokerage fees have declined, futures exchanges have retained profit margins, said James Angel, an associate professor in finance and an expert on stock exchanges at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Futures contracts are written by exchanges and must be bought and sold in the same place – as opposed to stocks, which can be bought and sold on any exchange, Angel said. That gives futures exchanges more pricing power.

Stock trading is a “dog-eat-dog business where the profit margin per share is measured not in pennies, not in tenths of pennies, but in hundredths of pennies,” said Angel, who also sits on the board of Direct Edge, a smaller stock exchange.

NYSE Euronext was formed in a 2007 merger when NYSE Group, parent company of the exchange, got together with Euronext, which owned stock exchanges in Europe.

It has been looking for a partner. Last year, ICE and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., which competes with the NYSE for stock listings, made an $11 billion bid to buy NYSE Euronext. But that deal fell apart after regulators raised antitrust concerns.

Deutsche Boerse AG, a German company, made a bid for NYSE Euronext, but that was scuttled by European regulators.

ICE was established in May 2000. Its founding shareholders represented some of the world’s largest energy companies and financial institutions, according to the company’s most recent annual report.

Its stated mission was to transform the energy futures market by providing more transparency. The company has expanded through acquisitions during the last decade and went public – on the NYSE – in November 2005.

Analysts forecast that ICE’s revenue will reach $1.4 billion this year, more than double the $574 million it reported in 2007.

ICE plans to pay for the cash part of the acquisition with a combination of cash and existing debt. It added that the deal will help it cut costs and should increase its earnings more than 15 percent in the first year after the deal closes.

The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies, but still needs the approvals by regulators and shareholders of both companies. It’s expected to close in the second half of next year.

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Religious leaders in Miami-Dade to help remember tragedy in Newtown

South Florida religious leaders will be remembering in the coming days the 20 children and six adults killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

On Friday, all Archdiocese of Miami schools will have a moment of prayer at 9:32 a.m. The archdiocese’s churches also will ring their bells 26 times in observance of those killed.

On Sunday, Temple Judea in Coral Gables will offer an interfaith service that will be open to anyone. Rabbi Edwin Goldberg said the idea was to offer a chance for the community to come together after what happened in Newtown.

“The point of the service is to come together and find comfort and hope,” Goldberg said.

The service will be start at 4 p.m. at Temple Judea, 5500 Granada Blvd. in Coral Gables.

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Google launches ‘scan and match’ music service

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Google is turning on a “scan and match” service for Google Music users to store copies of their songs online, offering for free what Apple charges $ 25 a year for.

The service, which launched Tuesday, cuts uploading time for those who want to save their music libraries online. It scans a user’s computer and gives them online access to the songs it finds, as long as they match the songs on its servers. Otherwise, it will upload songs to a user’s online locker.

The service is similar to Apple Inc.‘s iTunes Match, which includes online storage for 25,000 songs. Google Inc. allows storage for 20,000 songs and allows users to re-download the songs only at the same quality as they were at previously. Apple upgrades songs to iTunes quality.

Amazon runs a similar matching and uploading service called Cloud Player. It costs $ 25 a year for 250,000 songs. A free version is limited to 250 songs.

Google is still a fledgling entrant into music sales since debuting its store in November 2011, though it expects to benefit from the hundreds of millions of devices that use its Android operating system on mobile devices.

According to the NPD Group, Apple accounted for 64 percent of U.S. music sales online, followed by Amazon at 16 percent. Google has no more than 5 percent, according to NPD. Other services make up the rest.

Google had sold songs at a discount at the start, but that is less so the case now. For example, it was selling the top-ranked Bruno Mars song “Locked Out of Heaven” for $ 1.29 on Wednesday, the same as iTunes, and above the 99 cents on Amazon. But its album price was lower at $ 10.49 versus $ 10.99 at both iTunes and Amazon.

Internet News Headlines – Yahoo! News

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Five Things You Don't Know About Daniel Day-Lewis

This two-time Academy Award winning actor is getting Oscar buzz again for his lead portrayal in Steven Spielberg's Abraham Lincoln biopic Lincoln. Here are five things you probably don't know about Daniel Day-Lewis. 

1. While playing the role of Bill the Butcher in 2002's Gangs of New York, said he listened to rapper Eminem on the set to keep up his "level of aggression."

RELATED: Lincoln Sweeps Critics' Choice Nominations

2. Was considered for the role of Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's drama The Passion of the Christ (2004), but was found to be "too European" for the part, which eventually went to James Caviezel.

3. Is a skilled woodworker and also learned the trade of shoe making.

VIDEO: Daniel Day-Lewis Talks Lincoln Appeal

4. While filming 1992's The Last of the Mohicans, he built a canoe, learned to track and skin animals and mastered the use of a 12-pound flintlock gun.

5. Dedicated his Best Actor SAG Award for 2007's There Will Be Blood to Heath Ledger, one of his favorite actors.

VIDEO: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Says Daniel Day-Lewis Is Unlike 'Anything I've Ever Seen'

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Mom left school gunman Adam Lanza alone for days before school massacre: report


A police cruiser sits in the driveway as crime scene tape surrounds the home of Nancy and Adam Lanza.

Mass murderer Adam Lanza spent two and half days home alone with his mom’s arsenal of weapons, giving him plenty of time to hatch one of America’s worst school shootings, according to broadcast report today.

Before Lanza slaughtered 20 kids and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, he killed mom -- an avid gun collector -- Nancy Lanza in their home that morning.




Nancy Lanza had just arrived home early Thursday evening, following a two-night getaway to Bretton Woods, NH, according to Headline News.

She checked into the Omni Mount Washington Resort at 12:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, and checked out at 12:27 p.m. on Thursday, HLN said.

It’s 290 miles — nearly a five-hour drive — between Bretton Woods, NH, and Newtown, Conn.

Lanza had visited Bretton Woods before and had always driven herself there, according to HLN.

She had chatted with friends during her two nights in New Hampshire and appeared to be in good spirits, the cable news network reported.

Nancy Lanza often took mini-vacations by herself, friends said. She trusted leaving Adam alone, but didn't want him cooking, so she always prepared all his meals before her trips.

Yesterday, it was reported that Adam Lanza studied photos of guns and obliterated virtual victims in violent video games for hours on end, alone in his windowless basement den.

The unhinged Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman was enthralled by blood-splattering, shoot-’em-up electronic games, which he played in the basement of his mother’s spacious $1.6 million home in Newtown, Conn., according to a person familiar with the layout.

Lanza, 20, especially liked “Call of Duty” — a wartime role-playing game where participants use high-powered assault rifles, machine guns and other weapons to slaughter scores of people, according to a published report.

And the basement walls were covered with military- and weaponry-themed posters, said one of the home’s few visitors.

“It was a beautiful house but he lived in the basement. I always thought that was strange,” said plumber Peter Wlasuk, who did work on the house and saw Lanza’s subterranean lair, The Sun newspaper of Britain reported.

“They had one poster of every piece of military equipment the US ever made,” Wlasuk said.

“The kids could tell you about guns they had never seen from the 40s, 50s and 60s,” the plumber said of Lanza and his older brother, Ryan, who had also lived in the basement before moving away for college.

Once Ryan moved out, “Adam then moved down there. The boys were fans of the military. They had posters all over the wall in the basement,” the plumber said.

“The kids who play these games know all about them. I’m not blaming the games for what happened. But they see a picture of a historical gun and say ‘I’ve used that on Call Of Duty.’”

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UBS agrees to pay $1.5 billion in settlement of Libor probe

In the largest fine issued so far in a probe of interest-rate manipulation by major banks, UBS has agreed to pay $1.5 billion in a settlement with U.S. and European authorities.

The Switzerland-based bank said it had reached settlements with the Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the U.S. as well as with British and Swiss authorities. A division of the bank in Japan also agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud related to the scandal.

The settlement is the latest concerning the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark interest rate that is supposed to be an average of certain rates offered by major banks. Authorities say that during the financial crisis, banks manipulated their submissions to the group that calculates Libor, in part to make the banks appear healthier.

UBS is paying much more than the $450 million that Britain’s Barclays Bank agreed to pay in the scandal. Days after that agreement was announced in June, most of Barclays’ top management, including Chief Executive Bob Diamond and Chairman Marcus Agius, resigned.

UBS issued a statement Wednesday blaming its interest-rate manipulations on “certain employees.”

“Their misconduct does not reflect the values of UBS nor the high ethical standards to which we hold every employee,” UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti said in the statement. “We have cooperated fully with the authorities and taken decisive and appropriate actions to correct the issues and to strengthen our control processes and procedures.”

Britain’s Financial Services Authority released information Wednesday indicating that UBS traders “routinely” made requests to people at UBS responsible for submitting Libor data, urging them to adjust the rates to benefit the traders. At least 45 people at the bank were aware that manipulation was going on, the authority said.

“The findings we have set out in our notice today do not make for pretty reading,” said Tracey McDermott, the FSA’s director of enforcement and financial crime. “They manipulated UBS’ submissions in order to benefit their own positions and to protect UBS’ reputation, showing a total disregard for the millions of market participants around the world who were also affected by Libor.”

Authorities seem to be stepping up prosecution of individuals related to the Libor scandal. Last week, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office arrested three men, including a former UBS trader, in connection with the rate-rigging scandal.

The agreement with UBS marks the second billion-dollar settlement in recent days for alleged financial misconduct. Last week, HSBC agreed to pay a $1.92 billion fine after a probe of laundering drug money.

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Return to sender: Christmas card didn’t come from Governor’s Mansion

It is definitely not the Governor’s Mansion. There are no stately white columns on the modest house 3 miles east of the state Capitol.

But that’s the return address on envelopes containing a Christmas card and a $25 historical Christmas ornament sent to several thousand of Gov. Rick Scott’s supporters.

The mail is from Let’s Get to Work, the political committee raising money for Scott’s 2014 campaign, but the name of the committee appears on the envelopes as “Let’s Go to Work.’’

Scott’s committee has raised about $5 million toward 2014. Scott spent more than $70 million to win the job in 2010 but has indicated he will not spend as much of his own money to win re-election.

Steve Andrews, a Tallahassee lawyer embroiled in a bitter lawsuit against the governor, says his wife received one of the packages.

“It’s a typical intimidation tactic,’’ Andrews told the Tampa Bay Times. He says his wife has not donated to the governor’s campaign or his political committee and should not be on his list to receive anything.

Andrews went to the return address listed and discovered young tenants who were steadily tossing out all of the packages postal authorities were returning as undeliverable. Andrews collected a dozen of them and left them with a Tampa Bay Times reporter.

John French, the lawyer who manages Scott’s political committee, says it was all a mistake made by the printer. The return address should have been his home just down the street, the official address of the committee.

Andrews filed suit against the governor earlier this year in an attempt to keep the state from taking over his office building near the Governor’s Mansion. Andrews had a contract to buy the building from the estate of former Gov. LeRoy Collins when Scott pushed to acquire it so he could expand access to the mansion.

French said no one was attempting to intimidate Andrews or his wife.

“I’m sorry if Mr. Andrews felt intimidated,” French said. “No one was attempting to do anything but recognize that his wife had been a contributor to Republicans in the past. Her name will be removed from the list.”

French added: “If the governor sent me a pretty ornament, I’d put it on my Christmas tree.”

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'Django ' Ugliness Required for Hero's Journey

While it's a thoroughly entertaining movie, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained doesn't pull any punches in its depiction of the horrors of slavery, and the film's stars tell ET that by facing the ugly truth of our shared history, we can grow to understand it and learn not to repeat it.

New Pics: Jamie & Leo Smolder in 'Django'

"Those things are supposed to create dialogue," says Jamie Foxx. "It puts it in historical context. If we hadn't done it this honestly, there's no need to do the film. If you sugarcoated it, it would have been absolutely … terrible."

"I also think what's great about the film is it's a story of a hero, and in every fairytale, in order to have a hero, you have to have some dragons to slay," says Kerry Washington. "So there had to be the ugliness of slavery in the film so that you understand that Django's rise into his own heroic story [is] coming from somewhere -- that he's up against some really ugly demons. And yet in that context, in this ugly world of slavery, love allows him to conquer all of that. We had to be willing to show the ugly stuff so that the hero's journey meant something."

In theaters Christmas Day, Tarantino's action-packed "Southern" tracks a former slave-turned-bounty hunter (Foxx) who sets out to rescue his wife (Washington) from a ruthless plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) with the help of his mentor, German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).

Video: Tarantino's 'Genius' Revered at 'Django' Premiere

"I'm fully aware that [the story] is fiction – that doesn't mean that I doubt in any way any of the horrific details of history," says Waltz. "If we all of sudden claim we understand [slavery] by making a movie, I think we would sort of sidestep a little bit the responsibility of dealing with the real thing."

Don Johnson, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, James Remar, Franco Nero, RZA and Samuel L. Jackson round out the cast of Django Unchained.

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Nelson takes top editor slot at Time Inc.

Time Inc. named Martha Nelson as editor-in-chief, marking the first time in the publishing company’s 90-year history that a woman has held the top editorial spot.

CEO Laura Lang broke the news to staffers in an internal memo, although the move had been widely anticipated.

“Over the past year, I have come to appreciate Martha’s intellect, creativity, sense of humor and her directness,” Lang wrote in the memo. “Her insights have been very valuable to me as we chart our course for the future.”

Nelson was given a big ovation when she was introduced to the managing editors late Tuesday afternoon as the new EIC.

She succeeds John Huey, a 22-year Time Inc. veteran who earlier had announced his intention to retire at year-end. He is going to take a fellowship at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

Nelson had been the launch editor of InStyle and People StyleWatch, two titles that helped the company broaden its appeal beyond its male-centric readership to women.

Like all leaders of legacy media companies, Nelson will grapple with declining print revenue and positioning the company for a digital future.

“I believe in the power of print, but we have to move to greater integrate the print and editorial staffs,” Nelson said in an interview. “We’re far down the path, we have a huge digital reach, but we still have a long way to go, figuring out mobile. I don’t think we’ve cracked the code on what the next generation of tablets can be.”

Nelson is also bringing Dan Okrent, a respected Time Inc. veteran, out of retirement to be an interim corporate editor.

Earlier in his career, he was the managing editor of Life magazine and the boss of Pathfinder, Time Inc.’s first big foray into the digital world. More recently, he served as the New York Times’ first public editor.

Nelson declined to comment on the rumored cutbacks that are said to be looming at Time Inc. for early next year.

Nelson was Huey’s No. 2 as Time Inc.’s editorial director, overseeing 17 magazines and websites in the Style and Entertainment Group.

She is the ninth editor-in-chief of the company founded by Henry Luce in 1922, when he launched Time.

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Another record year for Heico Corp.

Heico Corp., a niche technology company with headquarters in Miami and Hollywood, reported record numbers for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year Tuesday.

Net sales jumped 16 percent for the quarter that ended Oct. 31 to more than $242 million; net sales for the full fiscal year increased 17 percent to more than $897 million, a record amount

Profits increased 29 percent to $23.8 million for the fourth quarter. For the full fiscal year, profits jumped 17 percent to $85.1 million, another record.

That far exceeded the company’s December 2011 projections for the fiscal year. Heico had estimated that year-over-year net income growth would be 10-12 percent.

For fiscal 2013, the aerospace, defense and electronics manufacturer is projecting 5-7 percent growth in net sales and net income.

“As we look ahead to fiscal 2013, the general overall uncertainty surrounding the domestic ‘fiscal cliff’ and the euro zone recession may moderate growth in our principal markets,” the company said in a press release. “We remain optimistic in our ability to execute a disciplined and flexible growth strategy while navigating these challenging macro environment circumstances.”

Heico makes components for the space, defense, communications, medical and computer industries as well as replacement parts for airplanes.

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Narcy Novack gets life in prison for killing her hotel heir husband

An epic family murder saga ended Monday when Narcy Novack, wife of Fontainebleau hotel heir Ben Novack Jr., was sentenced to life in prison.

Three years after she and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, planned and helped execute Ben Novack and his mother Bernice, the convicted killers, who had remained loyal to each other throughout the trial, made it clear their family ties would not extend to prison. Cristobal also was sentenced to life in prison Monday.

Each blamed the other for masterminding the murders, and their lawyers each asked the judge for leniency, claiming they were less culpable because the other sibling was pulling the strings.

But U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas, was not swayed, calling the crimes “vile.” The former Hialeah stripper, 56, did not attend the sentencing, a move that Karas called “a final act of cowardice,’’ according to those in the courtroom.

Novack, who ordered the hitmen to cut out her husband’s eyes, will now see little more than the inside of a federal prison. She will spend her days in a yellow jumpsuit and sneakers and sleep on a jail cot. Known as a late riser, Novack will be forced up at the crack of dawn each day to do chores, like washing floors and peeling potatoes.

Her new life will be far cry from her jet-setting days drinking champagne and having servants to do her cooking and cleaning.

With her conviction, Narcy Novack loses all rights to the bounty she hoped to claim after the murders. While she was designated as the sole beneficiary of his estimated $10 million estate, under Florida’s Slayer Statute, she now forfeits all rights to his fortune and Karas also ordered that any of her own personal assets be seized.

Novack, and her brother, both natives of Ecuador, were convicted in June of plotting the July 12, 2009, killing of her husband, 53, son of the late Ben Novack Sr., who built Miami Beach’s storied Fontainebleau hotel. Narcy Novack believed that her husband was going to leave her for another woman and that she would be left with a fraction of his wealth.

Under Ben Novack Jr.’s will, his mother, had she lived, would have been appointed as curator of his estate and received $200,000 in cash plus $2,500 per month. Though Narcy Novack would receive the balance of her husband’s property and money, as curator, Bernice Novack, 86, would have exercised great control over the purse strings, and likely would have made life difficult for her daughter-in-law, whom she had once accused of trying to poison her.

Novack’s attorney, Howard Tanner, argued that his client should be sentenced to 27 years, instead of life, arguing that her brother planned her mother-in-law’s murder. As he did during trial, Veliz claimed that Narcy’s daughter, May Abad, planned the killings, an allegation that prosecutors had dismissed years ago.

In sentencing the siblings, Karas spoke about a letter he received from one of Bernice Novack’s neighbors, Doug Reynolds. Reynolds pointed out that if Novack received just 27 years, as her lawyer suggested, she would conceivably see freedom in her mid-80s, or about the same age Bernice Novack was when her life was taken from her. Karas agreed that it would be an injustice if Bernice Novack’s killers would be able to live out their lives in freedom when Bernice wasn’t able to.

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Exclusive: Behind the Scenes of Tim McGraw's New Video

With the release of his highly anticipated album Two Lanes of Freedom about a month away, Tim McGraw gave ET exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the shoot for his new music video single One of Those Nights.

"This is how you shoot a video, you just hang around and sing songs," Tim said, as he coordinated with the director and crew while shooting in Nashville. "We play the song over and over and over again, and we'll do this all day," explains the Grammy Award winner/actor, who also gives us a tour of his makeshift dressing room.

RELATED: Country Stars Go Glam at CMA Awards

McGraw said the video for One of Those Nights -- which debuts tomorrow December 18 -- reflects a serious message that he thinks will appeal to all ages. "I think that's the great thing about this song, it's a place-in-time for everybody. It's one of those making-a-memory kind of songs, and when you hear it... whether you're 15 or 85, you've had those [memories] or you look forward to those."

Among the new album's 11 tracks are Number 37405; the lament of a singer-turned-convict, Book of John; an account of family members going through the journal left behind by previous patriarchs; and Highway Don't Care; a song featuring artists Taylor Swift and Keith Urban.

VIDEO: Paltrow and McGraw Stand Up to Cancer

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Family of slain 6-year-old Dylan Hockley releases statement

Dylan Hockley.

Dylan Hockley.

The family of Dylan Hockley, one of the 20 students slain in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school last week, released a statement earlier today.

The full statement, obtained by NBC Connecticut, can be read below.

We want to give sincere thanks and appreciation to the emergency services and first responders who helped everyone on Friday, December 14. It was an impossible day for us, but even in our grief we cannot comprehend what other people may have experienced.

The support of our beautiful community and from family, friends and people around the world has been overwhelming and we are humbled. We feel the love and comfort that people are sending and this gives our family strength. We thank everyone for their support, which we will continue to need as we begin this long journey of healing.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who have also been affected by this tragedy. We are forever bound together and hope we can support and find solace with each other. Sandy Hook and Newtown have warmly welcomed us since we moved here two years ago from England. We specifically chose Sandy Hook for the community and the elementary school. We do not and shall never regret this choice. Our boys have flourished here and our family’s happiness has been limitless.

We cannot speak highly enough of Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, exceptional women who knew both our children and who specifically helped us navigate Dylan’s special education needs. Dylan’s teacher, Vicki Soto, was warm and funny and Dylan loved her dearly. We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died, but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide, Anne Marie Murphy. Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed at her picture on our refrigerator every day. Though our hearts break for Dylan, they are also filled with love for these and the other beautiful women who all selflessly died trying to save our children.

Everyone who met Dylan fell in love with him. His beaming smile would light up any room and his laugh was the sweetest music. He loved to cuddle, play tag every morning at the bus stop with our neighbors, bounce on the trampoline, play computer games, watch movies, the color purple, seeing the moon and eating his favorite foods, especially chocolate. He was learning to read and was so proud when he read us a new book every day. He adored his big brother Jake, his best friend and role model.

There are no words that can express our feeling of loss. We will always be a family of four, as though Dylan is no longer physically with us, he is forever in our hearts and minds. We love you Mister D, our special gorgeous angel.

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Millions face higher taxes real soon without fix

While much of Washington is consumed by the debate over tax increases scheduled to take effect next year, big tax hikes have already gone into effect for millions of families and businesses this year.

More than 70 tax breaks enjoyed by individuals and businesses expired at the end of 2011. If Congress doesn’t extend them retroactively back to the beginning of this year, a typical middle-class family could face a $4,000 tax increase when it files its 2012 return in the spring, according to an analysis by H&R Block, the tax preparing giant.

At the same time, businesses could lose dozens of tax breaks they have enjoyed for years, including generous credits for investing in research and development, write-offs for restaurants and retail stores that expand or upgrade and tax breaks for financial companies with overseas subsidiaries.

Lawmakers in both political parties say they expect to address this year’s tax increases as part of a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to take effect next year. But as talks drag on, they are reluctant to deal with the 2012 tax increases separately because that would reduce pressure to reach a broader budget agreement.

Even if Congress does act, last-minute changes to federal tax laws could make it difficult for taxpayers to figure out their 2012 tax bills.

“We’re really expecting this upcoming tax season to be one of the more challenging ones on record,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block. “For your 2012 returns there’s so much confusion about what will be impacted.”

The biggest tax increase facing individuals for this year is the alternative minimum tax, or AMT. The tax was first enacted in 1969 to ensure that wealthy people can’t use tax breaks to avoid paying any federal taxes. The AMT, however, was never adjusted for inflation, so Congress routinely does that to keep it from imposing hefty tax increases on millions of middle-income families.

Congress last adjusted the AMT in 2010, and about 4 million taxpayers paid it in 2011. Without a new adjustment for the 2012 tax year, the AMT would reach an additional 28 million taxpayers, increasing their tax bill by an average of $3,700.

The tax would affect individuals making more than $33,750 and married couples making more than $45,000, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The tax increases could vary greatly, depending on how much money a person makes and which deductions they qualify for. For example, a single man making $65,000 who paid $6,000 in college tuition and fees would get a tax increase of $837, mainly because he would lose a deduction for college expenses, according to the H&R Block analysis.

A married couple with two young children and a $100,000 income could face a tax increase of more than $6,600, if they live in a state that doesn’t have a state income tax. Most of that increase – about $4,015 – would come from the AMT. The AMT would also reduce their tax credits and they would lose a deduction for paying state and local sales taxes.

The AMT is expensive to fix. A two-year adjustment passed by the Senate Finance Committee last summer would save middle-income taxpayers a total of $132 billion in 2012 and 2013, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for Congress. The bill addressed many of the tax breaks that expired for 2012, and the committee passed it with bipartisan support. But the full Senate never considered it.

The AMT adjustment also includes a rule that affects the way tax credits are calculated for millions of taxpayers, even if they don’t have to pay the AMT, the IRS said. These taxpayers may not necessarily face a tax increase, but there could be delays in processing their returns.

Congress has always adjusted the AMT in the past, and the IRS is preparing as if lawmakers will do so again, acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller said in a recent letter to members of Congress. If lawmakers don’t address the AMT, about 60 million taxpayers, nearly half of all individual filers, would have to wait until late March – if not later – to file their returns while the IRS reworks its systems, Miller said.

“Essentially, IRS has said it will be chaos – chaos! – trying to make it work,” said Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.


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Doyle Conner, longtime Florida ag commissioner, dies at 83

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Doyle Conner, the youngest House speaker in Florida history who went on to spend 30 years as the state's agriculture commissioner, died Sunday. He was 83.

Conner, who had been in poor health in recent years, died Sunday morning at the Cross Landing Nursing Home in Monticello. The Bevis Funeral Home in Tallahassee said it had received his body and was handling funeral arrangements. Conner would have been 84 on Monday.

“Our state has lost a great Floridian with the passing of Doyle Conner,” said current agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam. “Doyle was a mentor to me and defined the role of Commissioner of Agriculture for all others to follow. My prayers are with his family and the thoughts of the entire department are on him at this time.”

Florida's agriculture sales increased from $900 million when Conner was elected commissioner in 1960 to $6.2 billion by the time he left the post. Hog cholera was eradicated during the same period and Florida developed a method for detecting the Mediterranean fruit fly that became the worldwide standard.

He also created the Office of Consumer Services, now an official part of the agency formally known as the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Born Dec. 17, 1928, in the north Florida town of Starke, Conner was elected to the Florida House in 1950 at the age of 21 during his sophomore year at the University of Florida after getting his start in politics as the state president of Future Farmers of America.

A Democrat at the time his party held a virtual stranglehold on Florida, Conner won re-election to subsequent terms and was selected speaker in 1957 at the age of 28.

After five terms in the House, he was elected agriculture commissioner shortly before his 32nd birthday. Conner handily won re-election until his retirement in January 1991.

“These past 30 years have been mostly exhilarating, sometimes disappointing, but never, ever dull,” Conner said upon leaving office.

The agency has widespread responsibilities, ranging from inspecting red meat, poultry and dairy products to testing the accuracy of fuel pumps at Florida's service stations and ensuring the safety of the state's citrus crop.

When Conner first took office, the department also supervised the state prisons system and managed public land matters – responsibilities reassigned after its reorganization in 1969.

Conner's management style engendered lifetime loyalties from former associates.

“In all the time I worked for him, he had a policy that anytime any employee wanted to come to visit him they could have a 15-minute appointment to talk about whatever they wanted,” said Lee Hinkle, now a vice president at Florida State University, who worked for Conner eight years. “He was principled, a gentleman and understood the true politics of the South: Respect for people of both parties and respect for the process.”

During his college days, Conner was president of UF's agriculture club and a member of Florida Blue Key. He was later president of the university's national alumni association.

Conner, who grew up raising livestock and farming on 400 acres, retired to country life near Lloyd in Jefferson County after leaving his Cabinet post.

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Art for Wealth’s Sake: Art Basel Paints a Picture of Miami’s Separate and Unequal Worlds

It’s 10 p.m. on a Friday night. A naked girl is splashing about in the swimming pool at the Standard Hotel Miami. She is from New York and runs a nonprofit for homeless teens. We’ll call her Liz: “You’re so boring!” she yells from the middle of the pool.

It was a common refrain here during Art Basel Miami Beach—now the world’s largest contemporary art fair—where many of earth’s most privileged humans gather for a week of champagne and gawking at art (and at each other) in the sun.

The poolside celebration was for Terry Richardson, a fashion photographer known for his sexually charged (or sexually abusive, depending on your source) shoots. A cell phone company, HTC, spent $ 100,000 to sponsor the party, a book release for Richardson. This is a typical event, one of hundreds that occur during what is commonly referred to as “Basel.”

MORE: Scenes From a Class War (VIDEOS)

Basel is now 11 years old. It’s gone from a decent sized art fair to an international marketing and branding orgy with few parallels. Because all the big collectors fly down private, and scores of cool young New Yorkers file in on JetBlue, luxury brands rush in to hit both their “target demos” and “tastemakers” in one shot.

In terms of tourism dollars, Basel is Miami’s highest grossing week. Hotels on South Beach were demanding thousands per night for rooms. The fair’s main sponsor was the honorable UBS, the very same Swiss bank that just settled a billion dollar fraud case with international authorities. UBS not only robs the world and stashes terrorist/dictator cash, it sponsors art fairs too—cool guys.

Most Miamians don’t care about Art Basel. The city is only 11 percent white (far and away the primary Basel target demographic), and most of the 40 percent Hispanic and 20 percent black populations live far from the South Beach glam, many in poverty. Miami has the second widest gap between rich and poor in America, after New York. Blacks make an average of $ 15,000 a year. Whites double that, at $ 37,000. But at $ 19,000, the city’s majority Hispanics aren’t doing so well either.

Disparity defines the art world too, with its hungry artists and rich collectors and patrons. So it’s fitting that the largest contemporary art fair in the world happens in Miami.

Few people are more detached from the short-end reality of income disparity than the global art tribe. These arbiters of the cultural elite fly around the world to various openings and fairs then retreat to galleries, museums and studios in their home cities before heading out again. Of course, there are exceptions. Some artists at Basel retain a socio-politico aesthetic. A good example is Barbara Krueger, whose text-orientated pieces mocking consumerism and political power were selling for $ 200,000 to $ 500,000 and became the talk of the fair.

Bearing many hallmarks of a third world city, Miami breaks down into two distinct populations. The rich live across Biscayne Bay on beautiful beaches and gated islands. The poor are stretched across downtown’s grid, where every block headed west from the bay is worse than the one before it. The city has few economically diverse neighborhoods.

The two Miamis can easily be visited on the same day. Last week. Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, the New York Yankee third baseman with the largest sports contract in history, was having a party in his $ 30 million modernist manse.

I skipped A Rod’s soiree, mainly because I hate the Yankees, to hang out with Dee, a 22-year-old drug dealer who lives on west 20th Street downtown. All he wanted was customers: “Man, who down here needs anything? I’m fucking broke. I live in the projects with my aunt. Gotta get out.”

Dee said he’d take any job—as in, “I’ll work at Chick-fil-A, man!” Saddled with a criminal record, he’s never been hired anywhere.

We cruised over to 75th Street, the main drag in Little Haiti, where public housing is painted lime green and similarly awesome pastel paint jobs cover buildings advertising W.I.C and Western Union.

“There are no banks here,” Dee tells me. “We don’t have enough money.”

UBS—where are you?

The South Beach Basel crowd hosted quite a few Hurricane Sandy benefits. But I didn’t find one art world benefit for Miami’s poor. There is a definite willful ignorance in plopping your billionaires down at dinners and six-figure parties in the name of “culture” while ignoring masses of people who are in dire need of said culture and are readily at hand: The impoverished residents of Miami.

Back in New York, I catch up with Liz, the naked pool gal. She’s in Tompkins Square Park, the epicenter of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Stella is smiling. Her art world disdain has clearly dried off.

“I have no idea why I was in Miami,” she says. “Who were those people? Why are they so boring, and why did that one guy in the black suit keep saying Le Baron over and over again?”

Around the same time I get a text from Dee. “You know anyone still down here? Tryna get that $ .”

I inform Lee that Le Baron is a Parisian disco that does a chic party every night of Basel.

Lee receives this information as she’s handing out clean needles and Narcan to the local crust punk populace, all of whom she knows by name.

“Do these people really care?” she asks.

Sadly, Basel people do seem to express more concern about French discos and wearing aggressive outfits than they do about the inequality in America—maybe best seen in Miami’s two worlds.

I have an idea for Art Basel next year. In the process of exchanging all those millions for bought and sold visions, try and help some of the people from Miami.

Are wealthy visitors obligated to alleviate some of the local misery when they party in the midst of poverty? Take a position in COMMENTS.

These are solely the author’s opinions and do not represent those of TakePart, LLC or its affiliates.

Related Stories on TakePart:

• Dispatch From Morocco: ‘Excuse Me, Aren’t We About to Start a War Here?’

• America, Syria and the State of Child Soldiering 2012

• Census Shows Sharp Increase in U.S. Poor

Ray LeMoine was born in Boston and lives in New York. He’s done humanitarian work in Iraq and Pakistan and has written for various media outlets, including the New York Times, New York Magazine and the Awl.

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The Hobbit Breaks December Box Office Records

Peter Jackson's feature film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit set a new box office record this weekend with an estimated $84 million in U.S. ticket sales.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey made history as the biggest December opening of all time for its first week. The flick also stands as the highest first-weekend earner among Jackson's Lord of the Rings films (without adjustments for inflation).

Related: 'The Hobbit' Stars on 'Returning to Middle-Earth'

In a far second, the family friendly Rise of the Guardians earned $7.4 million. Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln placed a close third with $7.2 million.

Skyfall, the latest James Bond film starring Daniel Craig, took in $7 million for forth. Life of Pi rounded out the top five with $5.4 million.

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Man fires 50 shots at Calif. mall parking lot, sending crowds running for cover — then 'just gives up'; no one hurt


Orange County Sheriff deputies at the Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach, Calif., where a man fired some 50 rounds — hitting no one — just a day after the Newtown massacre

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — A suspect who fired about 50 shots in the parking lot of a crowded Southern California shopping mall, sending shoppers sprinting for safety, was cooperative when officers took him into custody, authorities said Sunday.

Witnesses said people ran, screaming and ducking for cover, when 42-year-old Marcos Gurrola fired into the air and onto the ground Saturday afternoon near the Macy's department store at the open-air Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach.


Suspect Marcos Gurrola gave up without a fight after causing mall panic.

He paused to reload several times, police said.

Then Gurrola put the gun down and offered no resistance when bicycle officers arrested him around 4:30 p.m., said Lt. John Lewis.

"He just gave up," Lewis said.

Investigators have no motive, Lewis said.

Gurrola, of Garden Grove, was charged with shooting at an inhabited dwelling. He was being held Sunday on $250,000 bail. Police recovered a handgun and ammunition.

Officials said one person suffered a minor injury while running away, and was treated at the scene.

The gunfire caused panic, coming a day after a gunman killed 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school, and days after a deadly mall shooting in Oregon.

The mall, near Pacific Coast Highway in the heart of Newport Beach, was crowded with holiday shoppers and the parking lot was full. Many people ran into stores, a movie theater and other businesses.

"It's a miracle nobody got injured," said Sven Maric, who said he was celebrating his wife's birthday at a restaurant patio about 50 yards away. "The bullets had to land somewhere, and he shot so many."

Some stores voluntarily closed their doors and kept shoppers inside while police investigated.

Bret McGaughey, 22, of Laguna Beach, said he was with his mom in the Apple store when shoppers ran to the rear of the store as employees locked the front entrance. He estimated that up to 100 people stayed in the back of the store for about 30 minutes until Apple employees announced that police said it was safe to reopen the doors.

Gurrola is a licensed security guard whose firearm permit expired in 2001, according to the Orange County Register, which cited state records.

Gurrola doesn't appear to have a criminal record, the newspaper said.

A telephone number for a Marcos Gurrola was disconnected.

On Tuesday, a gunman at an Oregon shopping mall killed two people and wounded a third amid a holiday crowd estimated at 10,000 people. Clackamas County authorities are still trying to determine why the gunman opened fire before killing himself.

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Miami in spotlight at AVCC, other entrepreneurship events

Entrepreneurs from around the world took the stage during this packed week of entrepreneurship events in Miami: Florida International University’s Americas Venture Capital Conference (known as AVCC), HackDay, Wayra’s Global DemoDay and Endeavor’s International Selection Panel.

The events, all part of the first Innovate MIA week, also put the spotlight on Miami as it continues to try to develop into a technology hub for the Americas.

“While I like art, I absolutely love what is happening today... The time has come to become a tech hub in Miami,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, who kicked off the venture capital conference on Thursday. He told the audience of 450 investors and entrepreneurs about the county’s $1 million investment in the Launch Pad Tech Accelerator in downtown Miami.

“I have no doubt that this gathering today will produce new ideas and new business ventures that will put our community on a fast track to becoming a center for innovative, tech-driven entrepreneurship,” Gimenez said.

Brad Feld, an early-stage investor and a founder of TechStars, cautioned that won’t happen overnight. Building a startup community can take five, 10, even 15 years, and those leading the effort, who should be entrepreneurs themselves, need to take the long-term view, he told the audience via video. “You can create very powerful entrepreneurial ecosystems in any city... I’ve spent some time in Miami, I think you are off to a great start.”

Throughout the two-day AVCC at the JW Brickell Marriott, as well as the Endeavor and Wayra events, entrepreneurs from around the world pitched their companies, hoping to persuade investors to part with some of their green.

And in some cases, the entrepreneurs could win money, too. During the venture capital conference, 29 companies —including eight from South Florida such as itMD, which connects doctors, patients and imaging facilities to facilitate easy access of records — competed for more than $50,000 in cash and prizes through short “elevator’’ pitches. Each took questions from the judges, then demoed their products or services in the conference “Hot Zone,” a room adjoining the ballroom. Some companies like oLyfe, a platform to organize what people share online, are hoping to raise funds for expansion into Latin America. Others like Ideame, a trilingual crowdfunding platform, were laser focused on pan-Latin American opportunities.

Winning the grand prize of $15,000 in cash and art was Trapezoid Digital Security of Miami, which provides hardware-based security solutions for enterprise and cloud environments. Fotopigeon of Tampa, a photo-sharing and printing service targeting the military and prison niches, scored two prizes.

The conference offered opportunities to hear formal presentations on current trends — among them the surge of start-ups in Brazil; the importance of mobile apps and overheated company valuations — and informal opportunities to connect with fellow entrepreneurs.

Speakers included Gaston Legorburu of SapientNitro, Albert Santalo of CareCloud and Juan Diego Calle of .Co Internet, all South Florida entrepreneurs. Jerry Haar, executive director of FIU’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, which produced the conference with a host of sponsors, said the organizers worked hard to make the conference relevant to both the local and Latin American audience, with panels on funding and recruiting for startups, for instance.

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