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Running Away With Murder . . .

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Valentine’s Day, when most women were being showered with adoration, affection and endearment, Reeva Steenkamp crouched behind a locked bathroom door, seeking refuge from the man, whom professed to love her, as he fired four shots at it.

The bullets from Oscar Pistorius’s unlicensed gun tore through the door fatally wounding Steenkamp as she sustained injuries to her head, hips and arm.

The double amputee South African Paralympian sprinter has received international acclaim for his prowess on the racetrack, but his celebrity status will no doubt be tarnished, for his incredulous account of the events that led to Steenkamp’s death.

In a sworn affidavit, Pistorious states that his girlfriend’s death was a tragic accident.

Pistorious would have us believe that fearing for his life, he fired in the dark, at what he mistakenly thought was a burglar hiding in the bathroom.

Steenkamp’s family are still searching for answers to make sense of their tragic loss, but perhaps the truth of what really happened on that ill-fated Valentine’s Day morning will never be known  . . .

Will justice prevail in Steenkamp’s death or will Pistorious, national hero status, allow him to run free?

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

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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

 

65,000 More . . .

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No longer able to use a scalpel to reduce their labor force, companies find that they’re left with no choice but to use a chainsaw.

65,000 job cuts were announced today by the following companies:

U.S.

Caterpillar: 20,000

Sprint Nextel: 8,000

Home Depot: 7,000

Texas Instruments: 3,400

General Motors: 2,000

Europe

ING: 7,000

Philips: 6,000

Corus: 3,500

In addition to all these cuts, the newly formed merger of Pfizer and Wyeth will cost 8,000 workers their jobs.

These are indeed risky times for business and consumers alike. Consumers uncertain about their financial futures are becoming more resistant to spending money and this has adversely affected businesses and their labor force.

No industry, no matter its geographic location seems to be exempt from reducing its workforce. Last week Microsoft, Ericcson in Sweden, and Sony in Japan all announced that they would lay off 5,000 workers respectively; Harley Davidson said it would eliminate 1,000 workers due to sluggish sales.

Foreign car manufactures in Japan, South Korea and Europe who were once thought to be recession proof have also announced job cutbacks.

For once the economic pundits agree:

“The magnitude of these layoffs indicates that the downturn in the labor markets seem to indicate accelerating,” said Harry Holzer, a labor economist at Georgetown University.

“Were losing jobs at an incredibly rapid rate, and even with that, I’m worried they’re accelerating,” said Dean Baker, a director of the Center for Economic and Policy research. “Were seeing a much more rapid rate of layoff announcements.”

When will this economic downturn reverse itself?

Is the 825 billion economic stimulus package the answer?

President Obama believes it is.

He cited today’s announcement and last week’s government report that stated 589,000 first-time unemployment claims were filed, which tied a record high set in December as a call for the government to intervene and take swift action.

“These are not just number on a page,” President Obama said. “As with millions of jobs lost in 2008, these are working men and women whose families have been disrupted and whose dreams have been put on hold. We owe it to each of them and to every single American to act with a sense of urgency and common purpose. We can’t afford distractions and we cannot afford delays.”

To put this economic plight in a much simpler perspective:

If 2008 was the ending of a bad party . . . then 2009 is the beginning of a long hangover.

65,000 jobs were eliminated today, and given the state of our present economy, that trend among U.S. and foreign companies doesn’t look like it will be reversing, anytime soon.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

No More Happy Feet . . .

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400 penguins, mostly baby birds have been found dead on the tropical beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

The cause for this anomaly has rescue workers debating.

According to Eduardo Pimenta, superintendent for the state coastal protection and environment agency in the city of Cabo Frio:

“While it is common here to find some penguins—both dead and alive—swept by strong ocean currents from the Strait of Magellan, there has been more this year than any time in recent history.”

Thaigo Muniz, a veterinarian at the Neteroi Zoo, believes that overfishing has force the penguins to migrate further from shore to find fish to eat, making them more vulnerable to the strong ocean currents.

“Niteroi, the biggest zoo, already has received about 100 penguins for treatment this year,” said Mr. Muniz, “and many more are drenched in petroleum.”

Muniz went on to add that he hasn’t seen penguins suffering from other pollutants, but he pointed out the dead penguins are not brought in to receive treatment.

Mr. Pimenta however strongly suggested that the real culprit in the penguins’ death is pollution, citing information he received from biologist working closely with him.

“Aside from the oil in the Campos basin, the pollution is lowering the animals’ immunity, leaving them vulnerable to funguses and bacteria that attack their lungs,” Pimenta said.

And still another theory has been proffered:

Biologist Erli Costa of Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University intimated that the weather patterns could be the true source of the problem.

“I don’t think the levels of pollution are high enough to affect the birds so quickly. I think instead we’re seeing more young and sick penguins because of global warming, which affects ocean currents and creates more cyclones, making the seas rougher,” Costa said.

Costa concluded that an overwhelming number of dead penguins are fledglings that have just left the nest and are unable to out-swim the strong ocean currents that engulf them as they search for food.

No matter what theory these rescue workers purport . . . one thing is abundantly clear:

Overfishing, petroleum pollution, and weather pattern changes [attributed to global warming] are all conditions created by man.

Perhaps in a quest to find food, Penguins are on the march, and if man is not careful, he will find that his uncaring attitude in maintaining natures’ delicate balance . . . has forced the penguins into a march of extinction.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

That’s How I Left Them . . .

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A man returns home to the Boston suburb of Hopkinton to discover the bodies of his 27 year old wife Rachel and 9 month old daughter Lillian Rose.

Neil Entwistle claims that on Jan 20, 2006 he had gone to a local office supply store and returned to find the grisly murders of his wife and child.

The world might have sympathized with him. Who wouldn’t after uncovering such a horrific occurrence? But what many find hard to believe is what Entwistle did after the discovery.

Overcome with grief and powerless to act—Entwistle merely covered the bodies of Rachel and Lillian Rose. The next day he boarded a plane for England without ever notifying the police or Rachel’s parents.

Police had been summoned to 6 Cubs Path on Jan 21st by Rachel’s mother, Priscilla Matterazzo after being notified that her daughter wasn’t home for a dinner engagement. Their cursory search, showing no signs of break-in or foul play, police allowed Rachel’s friend, Joanna Gately and her sister Maureen to enter the house.

According to the Gatelys, they had watched television in the living room and even took the Entwistle’s dog, Sally for a walk, before camping out in the driveway until morning. When the Entwistles still hadn’t returned home, Joanna called Rachel’s mother.

On Jan 22, the Matterazzos filed a missing-persons report.

Although they had been there the day before, police conducted a more thorough search this time and discovered the bloody bodies of Rachel with her arm draped over Lillian Rose underneath a comforter in the Master Bedroom.

In this country an individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but public sentiments has not sided with the man portrayed as a devoted husband and doting father, who absconded to his parents’ home in England—leaving his murdered wife and child behind.

Prosecutors contend that Entwistle murdered his family due to mounting debts and dissatisfaction with their sex life. Their theory is that Entwistle went to his in-laws’ home twice: once to get the gun, and after the murders, to put it back. They also believe that it was to be a murder-suicide, but he had apparently gotten cold feet.

The defense has the monumental task of trying to plant the seeds of doubt. Their conjecture is that Neil Entwistle was too grief-stricken to do anything else but run away upon discovering the bodies of his wife and daughter.

They further intimate that Rachel may have killed herself.

This far-fetched theory is so incredulous given the entry points of where the wounds were inflicted . . . one has to wonder if Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Page, the lawyers of the accused, have taken leave of their senses.

Circumstantial evidence aside, although one has to admit, the amount that exists so far is overwhelming. These are the problems Entwistle’s lawyers will have in mounting a proper defense:

  1. Getting a jury to believe that their client was too grief-stricken to contact police, neighbors, family members or anyone for that matter, but wasn’t too overwhelmed to withdraw money from the couple’s joint account via an ATM machine and board a plane bound for his parents Worksop home in England.
  2. To accept the fact that this is the action of a man, portrayed as a loving husband and doting father would undertake after discovering the bloody bodies of his wife and child.
  3. That someone else killed Entwistle’s family with his father-in-law’s gun. They’ve already hinted that it was Rachel herself. What hypothesis will the defense use to explain how and who returned the gun to the Matterazzo’s home has the earmark of intriguing drama.
  4. Trying to convince the jury that their client simply misspoke when he told Rachel’s stepfather Joe Matterazzo . . . “that’s how I left them,” when in reality what he meant to say was . . . “that’s how I found them.”

Prosecutors are not exempt from their share of problems in trying to gain a conviction in the case as well:

  1. No tests were conducted for occult blood either in the bedroom or bathroom. It seems as if an overzealous forensic team had already formed a conclusion as to who the murderer was.
  2. Entwistle’s fingerprints were not the only ones on the gun. There is even a set that can’t be identified.
  3. That the accused drove 40 miles each way to not only steal but to return the gun without the knowledge of the owner . . . who else could have easily taken a revolver from Joe Matterazzo’s collection?
  4. The detection of gunpowder residue on the front and back of Rachel’s hands, which the defense claims supports their theory that it was indeed a murder-suicide . . . Rachel, fired a bullet that passed through Lillian Rose into her own chest, then shot herself on the top of the head.

What will be the outcome of this sensational trial that is deeply rooted with sordid details of a man who seemingly has a split personality?

Are we to believe the defense . . . Neil Entwistle was overcome with grief by the horrific site of his slain wife and daughter, so much in fact, that his only thought was to flee to his parents’ home in England without notifying Rachel’s parents or authorities?

Perhaps prosecutors have it right . . . mounting debts coupled with a voracious sexual appetite that wasn’t being satisfied by his wife, led him to kill her and his daughter.

When asked by police if he knew what 911 was.

“Ya, I do,” he answered.

As for not notifying anyone . . . “I’ve never been in any situation like that, everything was trance-like. The only think I could think of was the knife downstairs.”

He concluded his statement by saying he backed off stabbing himself because it would hurt.

Being Britton and not having a great command of this country’s dialect, perchance Neil Entwistle misspoke again . . .

What he probably meant to say was—that it didn’t hurt the person who killed his wife and daughter—as much as a self inflicted-knife wound to join them would.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

Ubuntu . . . I Am, Because We Are

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The literal translation of an idea rooted in African spirituality that means we are all connected, we cannot be ourselves without community, faith and health are always lived out among others, and an individual’s well being is interdependent on the well being of others.

This deep rooted philosophy is what Doc Rivers, the coach of the 2008 N.B.A. World Champions Boston Celtics instilled in the second installment of the Big Three, a label they resist being called in deference to the original threesome of Bird, McHale, and Parish.

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett now share what has eluded them for most of their careers . . . a NBA title.

The Boston Celtics obliterated the Los Angeles Lakers by 39 points ending a 22 year drought and claiming this storied franchise 17th title.

Arguably the best player, Kobe Bryant, at least on this night was no match for the combination of the Big Three. One man . . . simply was not going to beat . . . the best team.

“They were definitely the best defense I’ve seen the entire playoffs,” Bryant said. “I’ve seen some pretty stiff ones and this was right up there with them. The goal was to win a championship, it wasn’t to win MVP or anything like that, it was to win a championship.”

While it may be true that most championship teams are built around great players, they also must have a supporting cast that can contribute as well. A decisive edge in this series was the contribution of the Celtics’ bench versus the Lakers.

Perhaps Phil Jackson summed it up best, having been denied an opportunity to pass Red Auerbach, the man who had a hand in Boston’s first 16 titles, nine as a coach and seven in the front office . . . “We have to get some players if we’re going to come back and repeat, to have that kind of aggressiveness that we need.”

Doc Rivers, who many thought would be outcoached by Jackson . . . borrowed the word “Ubuntu” to preach a team concept that predicated on unselfish play and stifling defense.His players not only bought into it, but bonded with him because of it.

“This is the reason we came here,” Garnett said. “This is the reason we got together, and Danny made it go down. This is it right now.”

Buying into Doc Rivers’ philosophy is what enabled the Big Three . . . to harness their individual skills and accomplishments to be role models and mentors for the rest of team.

“We sacrificed so much of what we did throughout our careers to get to this point because we’ve done everything we’ve been able to do individually, won all type of awards, but never made it to the mountaintop,” Pierce said. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

The road to the title was not an easy one for the Celtics, having been pushed to a 7th game by Atlanta and Cleveland, before dispatching the Detroit Pistons in six. With many of their players saddled with a variety of injuries, other members of the team stepped up and contributed.

“We had bumps along the road. There was frustration,” Allen said. “But we always came back to each other as a team, and to finally win this and prove we’re the best in the NBA this year, everything we went through was definitely worth it. We know exactly what it takes to be the best.”

Doc Rivers pulled Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett with four minutes remaining in the game. Pierce immediately went over to Doc and gave him an emotional embrace . . . Allen and Garnett soon followed.

“They came in as a group, and I thought we should take them out as a group,” Rivers said. “They all said, ‘Thank you,’ and I said, ‘Thank you’ back.

But Pierce had yet another reason to thank his coach. As the longest tenured player on this Celtics team, he thanked Rivers for sticking with him.

After the debacle of last year in which Doc had almost been run out of town, for compiling a record of 24 wins and 58 losses, Rivers thanked Pierce for sticking with him as well.

In the waning moments of the game, Doc Rivers reflected on his dad. By the time he had received the Larry O’Brien Trophy, it was June 18—his late father’s birthday.

“My first thought was what would my dad say,” Rivers said, “and honestly I started laughing because I thought he would probably say, if you knew my dad, ‘It’s about time. What have you been waiting for?’”

As Boston’s faithful and diehard fans celebrate the end of a 22 year drought . . .

Somewhere in the hallow halls of the Boston Garden . . . Red Auerbach is lighting up a cigar and wondering that as well.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

Our Voices Won’t Be Silenced . . .

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In what would appear to be bitter irony—children are lined up, each holding a floral arrangement.

Not to honor the students that died when schools collapsed during the earthquake on May 12, but to mark the reconstruction efforts in Dujiangyan, southwestern China’s Sichuan province.

Chinese officials, in an effort to restore life to normalcy, are using intimidation tactics to dissuade grieving parents from protesting about the conditions that led to this deplorable state of affairs.

As the children await the ceremony to begin, one can’t help but notice the government omnipotent presence as soldiers stand slightly behind them.

China wants to focus the world’s attention on its rebuilding efforts and not on grieving parents lodging their complaints about shoddy school construction.

In an effort to propagate the perception that life is returning to normal, a photograph of a hand clutching a twisted piece of steel rebar no thicker than a No. 2 pencil was removed from an exhibit chronicling last month’s devastating earthquake.

“We don’t know if we were told to remove the photo,” said Wu Zhiwei, an assistant to the general manager of the Museum Cluster Jianchuan, which had organized the exhibit and is the largest privately run museum in China. “And if we were told to remove the photo,” he concluded. “We’re not sure we could tell you.”

At the center of the controversy is Juyuan, where grieving parents were pulled away by police from a courthouse as they knelt in protest earlier this month while attempting to submit a lawsuit. bbooth.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/when-there-is-no-hope/

On Sunday, police cordoned off the area surrounding the collapsed middle school where over 300 students died. Outrage parents complained that they had a right to observe the 35th day of mourning, a key date according to local tradition.

“It’s as if we’re bad people now,” said a man, who claimed he was the father of a dead student. “This is our last chance to burn incense and they don’t let us in,” the man continued, reluctant to give his name.

Ignoring the dangers of being rounded up, threatened, and detained——dissenting parents are refusing to remain quiet. Although the entire state-controlled media wants to shift the focus from the missing photo, grieving parents, impeding lawsuits, the fact is these issues are not going to go away.

So as Chinese officials use these kid’s as pawns to further their propaganda, it is perhaps ironic that life is returning to normal . . . since shoddy school construction and the aforementioned ceremony only exemplifies, the lack of concern the government has for its children.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

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