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In My Brother’s House . . .

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All week leading up to Super Bowl XLVI, friends and colleagues were soliciting my thoughts on who would win the game.

“How prophetic,” I answered, “would it be for Eli to win, in the house his brother, Peyton built.”

Perhaps it was idealistic thinking on my part, but my line of reasoning was simply this . . . if Peyton Manning is not going to be a part of the Colts organization going forward, why shouldn’t my last memory of Lucas Stadium be of a Manning winning the Super Bowl.

Much to the chagrin of my friends and colleagues, my perspicaciousness for picking the winning side in ironic situations has been proven once again.

Four years ago, I was the only one among my colleagues and friends admiring the irony of the New England Patriots’ perfect season suffering one Giant loss.

Super Bowl XLVI was a riveting game that had those around me glued to their seats. I on the other hand watched with keen interest at the unfolding irony that was playing out:

  1. The Giants were not supposed to be in the Super Bowl, given the fact that many doubted them, when the team’s record was 7-7.
  2. Tom Coughlin many argued and demanded should be fired for the team’s losing record up to that point.
  3. GM Jerry Reese was highly criticized for not making any offseason acquisitions to improve the team.
  4. Eli Manning should be traded, and he would never be an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees.

Perhaps all those naysayers and prognosticators of negativity are not true Giants Fans to begin with.

The New York Giants once again have proven those detractors wrong by shutting down the vaunted New England Patriots offense.

A low scoring game dominated by defense, in which the Giants prevailed 21-17.

Eli Manning once again walked away with the Most Valuable Player award. A fitting tribute since he finished the season, the same way he started it, by leading his team on another fourth quarter comeback.

A Giants season filled with trials and tribulations, but through it all Tom Coughlin’s conviction never wavered . . . down 10 to 9 at half time, he simply told his players, “We can play better than this, and finish.”

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

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The True Essence of Beauty . . .

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I have written countless of articles, but nothing saddens me more than this one.

My prayers and condolences go out to the family of, Eva Ekvall. In the hopes that similar to me, the pain, and anguish of losing one so young, will one day be replaced by thoughts of happiness, for the precious moments that were spent together.

Ekvall, the former Miss Venezuela died on December 17, losing a two-year battle with breast cancer.

Her death, in some ways parallels the story of the young woman I lost at the tender age of 22, after a two-year battle with leukemia.

Similar to Ekvall, she was an aspiring model, who was robbed of her opportunity to grace the world with her beauty. To this day, although her doctor assured me, the two were not connected; I still harbor doubt if her desire to give me a child did not in some way trigger her cancer.

What brought these suppressed memories to the forefront were the pictures of Ekvall with no hair, and the fact that she discovered the lump in her breast during pregnancy.

I can recall seeing my fiancée fighting back the tears as she looked at herself in the mirror. The ravages of chemotherapy can be most unflattering, and she swore and put forth her most valiant effort, as she tried to hide her tears from me, that she would be victorious against leukemia.

Gone was the long flowing hair, the voluptuous physique, the bewitching eyes, and the melodious voice of innocence, and in spite of it all, it was then that the true essence of her beauty was revealed.

“As I reminisce,

The way I often do,

Trying to find the words,

To capture the essence of you,

The way you smile at me,

The way you make me feel,

I still can’t believe,

That this love is real.

You’re beautiful,

In every way,

You’re beautiful,

What more can I say . . .?”

Unlike Ekvall, who had the opportunity to be an advocate and a crusader for breast cancer awareness around the world, for my fiancée, there was only me.

It would take me nearly a decade to find a way to keep my promise of making her death stand for something.

My thoughts are shrouded in what others characterized as an emotional, and compelling novel entitled . . .

“I Apologize”

Graphic pictures from Ekvall’s book, Fuera de Foco (Out of Focus), which chronicled her fight against breast cancer, took me back into my fiancée’s hospital room.

The machinery is the same, the pic line similar, and the effects from the chemotherapy the same, but the one thing that is different, there are no pictures of my fiancée’s battle for the world to see.

Her pictures though, are alive within me . . . the ebullient smile, the vivacious personality, her youthful playfulness, and the last time I saw her, are a vivid part of my memory.

“Pushing the doctor aside, I went into her room. Nothing was wrong, I told myself. I’ll wake her. Take her home. She wouldn’t have given up on us. I don’t care what they said. She would never have left me.

Never!

If one of us had to go, it was supposed to be me. Not you, never one as young as you.

Wake up. Please wake up. Do it for me. Open your eyes. Please open your eyes. Falling on top of her, I cried until no more tears came.

I don’t know how long I stayed. A nurse finally came in. Putting her arms around me, she led me out of the room.”

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

A Hero Lost, But Not Forgotten . . .

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$770, and a cheap wristwatch have deprived Peter Figoski’s four daughters from being with him on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The decorated police officer, and devoted father wanted nothing more than to celebrate the coming new year with his daughters. A dream that will go unrealized, and unfilled, largely in part because of the actions of five individuals, and their bungled attempt to rob a marijuana dealer.

Figoski and his partner Glenn Estrada were backing up two other officers responding to a 2 a.m. robbery call at a home located on Pine St., in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. As the first arriving officers were questioning the pistol-whipped drug dealer, and the two suspects, who had duped them into thinking that they were neighbors trying to help; Lamont Pride, 27, and Kevin Santos, 30, hid in a storage room at the front of the basement.

The officers however became suspicious as Nelson Morales, 27, the purported ringleader and nephew of the landlord, and Ariel Tejada, 22, gave very descriptive details about the weapons used in the assault.

As the officers continued to question the trio, Pride and Santos attempted to flee and ran into in Figoski and Estrada. A deadly scuffle ensued, resulting in Pride shooting Officer Figoski in the face.

Officer Estrada hearing the shot broke off his skirmish with Santos, and chased Pride for two blocks, finally subduing and restraining him with Figoski’s handcuffs. Estrada must be commended for showing extraordinary restraint since it would have been easy to exact vengeance for his wounded partner.

Figoski was taken to Jamaica Medical Center, but died shortly thereafter at 7:17 a.m.

A fifth suspect, Michael Velez, 21, perhaps trying to plant the seeds for his own defense, claimed ignorance in the botched burglary attempt. In a jailhouse interview, Velez, stated he was only doing a favor for a friend, and was surprised and shocked when Pride brandished the 9-mm. Ruger.

He further expressed remorse for slain Officer Figoski, and his family. A somewhat dubious sentiment when Velez, for all intents and purposes was in a position to stop the subsequent events by flagging down a police officer or calling 911 as the other four perpetrators proceeded with the home invasion.

What Velez, did however when the Gold Nissan Maxima he occupied  was blocked by an arriving squad car, slipped unseen from the vehicle and walked casually to a nearby bar. He then phoned for a livery cab and asked to be driven to Queens. Police used surveillance video and tracked down Velez, who was found hiding out at his cousin’s house.

Figoski’s daughters: Christine, 20; Caitlyn, 18; Caroline, 16; Corinne, 14; whom he hoped to shield from the depraved world he worked in, can take solace in the fact their father’s killers were caught and will be brought to justice.

A very small consolation for a death that perhaps could have been avoided if, Judge Evelyn Laporte, had not denied a bail request of $2,500 for Lamont Pride, on an earlier drug bust.

Ironically, the gun that killed Detective Figoski (awarded posthumously) was purchased from Dance’s Sporting Goods, in Colonial Heights, Virginia. 21-years-ago, a stray bullet from a gun purchased from the same store, struck and killed 9-month-old Rayvon Jamison while in his walker.

Overwhelming public support and outpouring affection will enable Figoski’s dream that all of his daughters get  a college education, to reach fruition, through the Peter Figoski’s Scholarship Fund, which has amassed $662,000 to date.

A throng of 20,000 misty-eyed officers, relatives, and friends on 12/19/2011 came to pay their respects for a fallen hero.

In a touching a moment, Figoski’s youngest daughters rested their hands on their father’s casket one last time.

Perhaps summoning strength from their father, who was being hailed and saluted as a hero, and wanting nothing more than to trade the accolades for the chance to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with him again.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

Same Formula . . . Different Outcome.

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Although I wrote about this formula before, its destructive power never ceases to amaze me. It does not discriminate. It spins such an intricate web of deceit that it traps not only its victim, but the perpetrator as well.

Once in the tentacles of its malevolent clutches, most fall into an abyss where seemingly, there is no escape. Individuals from all walks of life, economic prowess, upstanding citizens with impeccable reputations, have all fallen victim to this formula’s unceasing calamitous power.

There is nothing new about this formula, D + A = Murder, only the victims it ensnares:

Scott Peterson failed miserably against it. His carnal lust drove him to murder his wife and unborn child.

Sgt. Edgar Patino was engulfed by it. Fear of exposure pushed him to kill, pregnant Spc. Megan Lynn Touma, and leave her decomposing body in a motel bathtub in North Carolina.

What makes the following incident so unique from the others I’ve mentioned is that this time, the deceiver winded up being the victim as well.

Deception:

Steve McNair, often frequented the Dave & Buster on Opry Mills Drive, in Nashville, and authorities believe that is where he might have met Sahel Kazemi, who worked there as a server.

According to Dave & Buster employees, McNair often dined with family and friends whenever he visited the restaurant. Kazemi as described by her general manager, Tony Farahini, was a solid worker, a workaholic with high energy.

Did this attractive, naïve, twenty-year-old woman, imbued with an unbridled spirit capture the attention of McNair?

Based on the events that followed it would appear so.

Adultery:

Kazemi’s neighbors, who knew her as Jenni, said that she had moved in six months ago, and within a couple days of her moving in, McNair showed up.

One neighbor said that McNair was seen so often at Kazemi’s place that he thought the former Tennessee Titans’ quarterback had moved in.

Another said, it was obvious that Kazemi and McNair were dating, and neither was trying to hide it.

Pictures have surfaced over the web showing the two vacationing together.

Murder:

What went wrong to make this high spirited, fun loving young woman, commit the heinous act of shooting McNair as he slept, and then turning the gun on herself?

The week leading up to these shocking events provides at glimpse into Kazemi’s state of mind:

  • Kazemi was pulled over for DUI on Thursday, July 2, between 1-1:30 AM. McNair and Vent Gordon (a chef at McNair’s restaurant) was allowed to leave the scene via a taxi.
    Kazemi refused to take a breathalyzer test and claimed she was high not drunk.
  • McNair posted her bail later that day.
  • Kazemi purchased a semi automatic pistol late Thursday night.
  • McNair and Kazemi meet at his condo on Saturday morning.
  • Later that afternoon, Kazemi shoots McNair as he slept on the couch before committing suicide.

A classic case of . . . D + A = Murder.

It’s the same old story, boy meets girl, marries girl, and when another catches his eye, tells one of two lies. Either that he’s not married, but as it would appear in the case of McNair,  he duped the unsuspecting woman into believing that he was filing for divorce and would soon be free to marry her.

From all accounts of this incident, Kazemi was in a relationship in which she was not only over head, but lacking the maturity to deal with the prospect that she had been deceived, made irrational decisions, which drove her to commit murder.

Two weeks prior to the murder-suicide, a Decatur resident claimed that Kazemi confided in her about the adulterous affair she was having with McNair.

According to Vera Buckley Mosley, Kazemi shared all the sordid details of how she and McNair met, and how her life was spiraling out of control. Kazemi had also confided to friends that her life wasn’t worth living and she should end it.

Family and friends knew she was dating a married man, but did nothing to dissuade her. Those who claimed to have loved Kazemi should have counseled her, letting her know that the odds were not in her favor that McNair would leave his wife and 4 children for a simple waitress.

McNair, known for his greatness on the football field, and charitable contributions, should have allowed his character and reputation to guide him in staying away from the flirtatious, high spirited young woman.

His legacy is tarnished forever. Some will try to only remember his heroics on the football field. Others for his philanthropic activities. While the rest will only remember him as man who succumbed to the overwhelming deceptive force that eventually cost him his life.

Kazemi wanted nothing more than to be McNair’s wife. Perhaps finally realizing that they wouldn’t be together in life, she planned that they would at least be together in death. According to ballistic evidence, Kazemi shot McNair in the head, twice in the chest and then once again in the head.

It is believed that Kazemi then staged McNair’s body so that she would fall into his lap after she shot herself. Even in death her desire to be with McNair wasn’t fulfilled. Judging by the evidence from the crime scene, it appears that she slid off McNair’s lap and landed at his feet.

How will McNair be remembered by his wife Mechelle?

To get through these harrowing events, Mechelle indicates that she will put her trust in the God.

And what of McNair’s children?

You can use most any measure when you’re speaking of success.

You can measure it in the fancy cars, expensive homes, or dress.

But the measure of your real success,

Is one you cannot spend,

It’s the way your child describes you,

When talking to a friend.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

Is There a Cover-Up in the Death of Khan?

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11-year-old Shanno Khan has died, after allegedly being made to stand in the hot sun for more than two hours with a brick on each shoulder.

Although there are conflicting versions as to what led to the corporal punishment of Khan, at the ND Primary School in Narela, North Delhi, one thing is abundantly clear . . . the world’s outrage over this inhumane and barbaric form of discipline and the Delhi Government reluctance to act.

The alleged incident occurred on April 16, when Shanno failed to recite the English alphabet in class. The irate teacher allegedly slammed Shanno’s head against a table and made her stand in the sun for over two hours. She eventually fainted and was found unconscious by her younger sister, who attends the same school.

After being told of the incident by their younger daughter, Khan’s parents rushed Shanno to Maharshi Valmiki Hospital. Shanno’s condition started deteriorating on Thursday afternoon, and she was transferred to the Pediatric ICU of the Lok Nayak Hospital.

Although Renuka Chowdhury, the Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare promised justice would be done, the response of the Delhi Police has been anything but swift. They claimed that they have not received Khan’s autopsy report.

Atul Katiyar, (Outer Delhi) Deputy Police Commissioner stated that police still have not received the report, although senior doctors at Maulana Azad Medical College are emphatic that they conducted the postmortem examination and submitted the report to police on Sunday.

What was the real cause of Khan’s death?

Khan’s parents and New Delhi officials differed on what cause the 11-year-old girl’s death.

The postmortem examination suggest that Khan, who had a history of respiratory illness, developed complications after she was allegedly forced to “sit like a hen” with two bricks atop her shoulders in the hot sun.

The report also intimates that the delay caused by her mother’s attempt, to first ward off evil spirits, which leads senior police officials to believe that may have contributed to Khan’s death.

Khan’s parents however are enraged that no charges have been brought against the teacher, who punished their daughter by having her stand out in the sun.

Why no one intervened as the child’s nose bled, when she vomited, and finally lost consciousness under the weight of bricks on each shoulder in the sweltering heat, is what Khan’s parents would like to know.

Who are we to believe?

“The child was admitted in with severe seizure and her condition further deteriorated before she slipped into a coma. She was shifted in critical condition,” said Dr. KK Deuri, medical superintendent of Maharshi Valmiki Hospital.

Although doctors stated that the cause of death was due to an epileptic attack, which was triggered by the corporal punishment inflicted on Khan by her teacher, no official charges have been brought against Manju (26).

As the events surrounding her death unfold . . . has Shanno Khan’s fate already been decided by New Delhi officials, who would rather let this incident slip quietly out of the public’s consciousness as opposed to excavating the truth, and risks exposing for the world to see, that the barbaric and inhumane tactics used by teachers to discipline their students, is just part of a normal school day.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

Don’t Feed This To Your Kids . . .

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485 people fell ill and six others have died due to salmonella tainted peanut butter that originated from a plant located in Blakely, Georgia.

The plant does sell directly to the public, but ships peanut butter in (5) to 1700 pounds containers that food companies use in a variety of products. Worse, is the fact that these containers are used by schools, nursing homes, hospitals and child care centers. The aforementioned list contains two groups that are more susceptible, to the effects from eating foods contaminated with salmonella, children and the elderly.

As of Sunday there have 101 products recalled and the list continues to grow. Popular brands enjoyed by children are on the list, such as: Little Debbie, Keebler, Famous Amos, General Mills, Kroger and Club Foods.

Parents should not take this latest salmonella outbreak lightly or confuse it with the earlier recall by Peter Pan and ConAgra foods. Peanut butter has such a far reaching effect that parents must really stop and consider all the products that contained peanut butter or peanut paste.

Consider for a moment, how contaminated salmonella peanut butter, shipped from one plant in Blakely, Georgia has such a profound effect that it threatens the health of anyone who has eaten a product manufactured with its ingredients.

The list of products that uses peanut butter is innumerable, but I’ll just touch on a few: cereal, cookies, cakes, crackers, candies and ice cream.

Each and every product that touches your children or love ones should be checked before it reaches their lips. Don’t be misled in thinking that because you threw out a jar of peanut butter that the threat ended there. You would be surprised at how many items contain some form of peanut butter or peanut paste even though you couldn’t tell by how the product’s named.

To take the seriousness of this latest salmonella outbreak a step further . . . parents should be very leery of vending machines. Salmonella can live in peanut butter paste snacks sold from these machines for months.

The list of states affected by this latest recalled has reached 43. The remaining seven states free from reporting any salmonella incidents attributed to this recall are: Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, and South Carolina.

According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) King Nut peanut butter has tested positive for the strain of Salmonella associated with the nationwide outbreak. The FDA also notified the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) that product samples taken from the plant in Blakely, Georgia have been tested and found positive for Salmonella.

Of all the dangers, which surround children on a daily basis, that parents diligently, try to protect them from, who would have ever thought that now . . . peanut butter would have to be added to the list?

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

China Doll . . .

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Worried that her boyfriend would find out that their one-month-old baby wasn’t his, China Arnold placed the child in the microwave and burned her to death.

Arnold claimed that she arrived home after a drinking binge and was awakened by the baby’s crying at 2:30 a.m. She stated that she warmed a bottle in the microwave oven, attempted to feed the baby, changed the child’s diaper and fell asleep on the coach with the baby on her chest.

Arnold said that she was alone with the baby and her three kids in the apartment and had no clue that something was wrong until her boyfriend arrived several hours later. The boyfriend, Arnold claimed had noticed something wrong with the baby.

Police Detective Michael Gailbraith said Arnold told him: “If I hadn’t gotten so drunk, I guess my baby wouldn’t have died.”

Arnold’s defense attorney Jon Paul Rion successful litigation resulted in the Judge John Kessler declaring a mistrial on February 11 after he had heard the testimony of an 8-year-old boy.

The juvenile claimed to have seen another boy walking into the kitchen of an adjacent apartment with the baby, heard the microwave in operation, and then later witnessed the burnt baby in the oven.

The 8-year-old’s testimony was refuted by his mother when she testified that they lived some distance away and were not present at the apartment complex at the time of the baby’s death. The woman’s former live-in boyfriend’s testimony also corroborated that the boy was not at the location.

Detectives had taken a long time to conclude their investigation because although they suspected that a microwave was used, there was no evidence to support what effects microwave ovens would have on human tissue.

But prosecutors said that the baby’s DNA was found in the microwave in Arnold’s apartment and that little shred of evidence may have been enough to seal her faith.

Nearly three years after Paris Talley’s death (August 30, 2005), China Arnold was found guilty of aggravated murder.

Perhaps a better defense would have been that after arriving home in a drunken stupor, Arnold had mistakenly placed Paris in the oven instead of the bottle of milk.

Surely Arnold’s blood-alcohol level, which was four times the legal driving limit according to the testimony given by a forensic pathologist, would have planted reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors if such a theory had been used?

But Jon Paul Rion told jurors that Arnold couldn’t remember what happened and was probably too drunk that night to have put the infant in the oven.

As her relatives cried and shielded their faces with their hands, China Arnold, 28, of Dayton, showed no reaction when the jury’s verdict was announced.

She merely closed her eyes and looked down at the defense table.

Perhaps Arnold was thinking that she wouldn’t be in court today if she had not been afraid to tell her boyfriend that Paris Talley wasn’t his.

What drove China Arnold to murder her one-year-old baby?

Was it fear of being abandoned by her boyfriend once he found that the child wasn’t his or did China Arnold in a drunken stupor mistakenly placed her baby in the microwave instead of a bottle of milk?

The truth may never be known . . .

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

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