Thursday, April 14, 2011

Actress's mysterious red-carpet message

Shenae Grimes (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)   

Shenae Grimes appears with a heart-shaped temporary tattoo on her cheek at the "Scream" premiere.

Shenae Grimes Spreads Her Heart

Shenae Grimes Jordan Strauss/ Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. Shenae Grimes of "90210" wears hers on her cheek.
At the premiere for “Scream 4”, the actress was spotted with a small black heart on her right cheek. The mark inspired many to wonder if the design is an actual tattoo or something temporary.
According to gossip blog SugerScape, the small mark isn't permanent. Grimes has been wearing it for the past several weeks in honor of the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Grimes is part of a cause, called the Spread the Heart Movement. On a video on her official site, Grimes encourages her fans to take the extra dollars they usually spend on nonessential items and instead donate it to help the victims via the Yoshiki Foundation. Grimes says that she normally spends a few bucks on film for her camera, but that she’s donating to help Japan. “Where are your extra dollars going?” she asks. “Spread your heart and let it be Japan.” The Foundation describes itself as "a California non-profit, public benefit corporation founded in 2010 by Japanese musician Yoshiki of the multi-million-selling rock band X Japan."
At the College Television Awards Frederick M. Brown While Grimes's dedication to a cause is certainly admirable, most Web searchers can't seem to get past the heart on her cheek. Over the past several weeks, online interest in "shenae grimes tattoo" and "does shenae grimes have a real tattoo" have both soared. Hopefully people can relax now--it isn't permanent. 

Kardashian sisters' red carpet fashion flubs

(L-R) Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian (Michael Tran/FilmMagic) 

Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe each miss the mark in their own, unique way while appearing together.

The Kardashian Family's Fashion Miss

 To celebrate their Redbook cover, the Kardashian fam stepped out wearing some interesting outfits! What do you think of their ensembles and who is the best dressed of the bunch? Plus, Lady Gaga reveals that she

Is your home making you overweight?

Concept restrictions in food (Photo by Thinkstock)  

Slow eaters can consume 200 fewer calories a day, so sit down and make meals last.

Is Your House Making You Fat?

These 8 tips could help make your home environment more thinning
Your house may be a threat to your figure. Add it to the list, cushioned between those extra slices of pizza and forgetting to work out—because experts say the way you design and maintain your home could play a role in whether you pack on the pounds or keep them off. "You can make your environment work for you

Fighter was pregnant during pro MMA bout

Cindy Dandois (Photo courtesy Perfect Team MMA)  


Cindy Dandois had trouble reaching her fighting weight, but she didn't know what was causing it.

Pregnant woman wins fight, but now out of the mix for Carano match

Female fighters bring some unique differences to the table versus their male counterparts. They face different challenges when cutting weight, but that's nothing compared to the reason Cindy Dandois just dropped out of the mix for a June fight against Strikeforce star Gina Carano.
Dandois is three months pregnant, and fought in mid-March, when she was just over two months into her pregnancy. She beat Jorina Baars on a fight card in Belgium. Dandois confirmed to Cagewriter that she is pregnant and was for her last fight, but didn't know it at the time.
"I did tests before because my weight was more difficult to reach, but they were all negative so I didn't realize it," Dandois said in an email to Cagewriter. She even took a test at a hospital before getting an X-ray, and that came up negative.
This all begs the question -- do all state commissions that control fights need to start administering a pregnancy test along with tests for PEDs before females step into the cage? Nevada State Athletic Commission does require pregnancy testing, though that would not have changed anything for Dandois as her pregnancy tests came up negative.

Bonds guilty of obstruction in mixed verdict

Barry Bonds (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)  

A federal jury convicts the slugger for obstruction of justice, but deadlocks on three counts of perjury.

Barry Bonds found guilty of obstruction

Barry Bonds was convicted by a federal jury of obstruction of justice Wednesday, ending a trial that clawed at the rawness of baseball’s recent past, and in some ways sought to determine Bonds’ proper place in it.
On that count, 12 of the all-time home run leader’s peers found instead for ambivalence, which seems about right.
On three charges that Bonds perjured himself before a grand jury investigating the BALCO scandal eight years ago, the jury could not agree. What remains is a conviction on the technicality of evasiveness, a mistrial, a possible sentencing and an appeal, all leaking from the words and misdeeds of Bonds and a game he once dominated.
The jury found little common ground, but to a generation of baseball fans it would declare that Bonds was at least evasive when he grew several uniform sizes, when he thrust his arms over his head as he surpassed Hank Aaron in career home runs on a cool night by the San Francisco Bay, and when he scowled at those who dared doubt his historical displays of power and competence and innocence.
Bonds, the biggest fish in the big, scummy pond of baseball’s steroid era, could be sentenced to prison, but likely won’t be, because he’s still Barry Bonds – and to many, the federal government’s case was as much about disgracing him as it was some technicality of truthfulness.
Beyond descriptions of cranial growth and testicular shrinkage, the Bonds trial cast little new light on a man accused of cheating the game, who apparently hoped to project himself as a victim of ambitious friends and scientists, and who under oath eight years ago testified that he hadn’t intentionally used performance-enhancing drugs. And it revealed nothing new about the game or its recent past.
Barry Bonds/AP Photo

According to witnesses, Bonds and his family sat without expression during the reading of the verdict. This was, by his attitude and testimony, beneath him.
He did not take the stand during the trial, for which two dozen witnesses were called. His personal trainer and long-time friend – Greg Anderson – was imprisoned for refusing to testify. Bonds’ former personal shopper – Kathy Hoskins – told the jury she saw Anderson inject Bonds, who previously admitted to taking undetectable synthetic drugs provided by BALCO, but not by injection, and only after being told they were flaxseed oil and an arthritic balm. It was Hoskins’ testimony that appeared to most sway the jury, though even her accounts could not bring a perjury conviction.
The single charge that stuck comes at a time when baseball finds the strays of its darkest phase being swept into a single pile. Because Bonds hit 762 home runs in a 22-year career and a record 73 in 2001, and because his swollen body and tape-measure home runs divided a nation curious as to the legitimacy of both, his case – before U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston – was poignant for its impact on the game.

Why so few arrests from the financial crisis?

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner gestures while speaking at the small business conference in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)  

 Years after the banking disaster, not a single senior executive has been jailed.

In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Figures

It is a question asked repeatedly across America: why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?
Answering such a question — the equivalent of determining why a dog did not bark — is anything but simple. But a private meeting in mid-October 2008 between Timothy F. Geithner, then-president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s attorney general at the time, illustrates the complexities of pursuing legal cases in a time of panic.
At the Fed, which oversees the nation’s largest banks, Mr. Geithner worked with the Treasury Department on a large bailout fund for the banks and led efforts to shore up the American International Group, the giant insurer. His focus: stabilizing world financial markets.
Mr. Cuomo, as a Wall Street enforcer, had been questioning banks and rating agencies aggressively for more than a year about their roles in the growing debacle, and also looking into bonuses at A.I.G.
Friendly since their days in the Clinton administration, the two met in Mr. Cuomo’s office in Lower Manhattan, steps from Wall Street and the New York Fed. According to three people briefed at the time about the meeting, Mr. Geithner expressed concern about the fragility of the financial system.
His worry, according to these people, sprang from a desire to calm markets, a goal that could be complicated by a hard-charging attorney general.
Asked whether the unusual meeting had altered his approach, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, now New York’s governor, said Wednesday evening that “Mr. Geithner never suggested that there be any lack of diligence or any slowdown.” Mr. Geithner, now the Treasury secretary, said through a spokesman that he had been focused on A.I.G. “to protect taxpayers.”
Whether prosecutors and regulators have been aggressive enough in pursuing wrongdoing is likely to long be a subject of debate. All say they have done the best they could under difficult circumstances.
But several years after the financial crisis, which was caused in large part by reckless lending and excessive risk taking by major financial institutions, no senior executives have been charged or imprisoned, and a collective government effort has not emerged. This stands in stark contrast to the failure of many savings and loan institutions in the late 1980s. In the wake of that debacle, special government task forces referred 1,100 cases to prosecutors, resulting in more than 800 bank officials going to jail. Among the best-known: Charles H. Keating Jr., of Lincoln Savings and Loan in Arizona, and David Paul, of Centrust Bank in Florida.
Former prosecutors, lawyers, bankers and mortgage employees say that investigators and regulators ignored past lessons about how to crack financial fraud.
As the crisis was starting to deepen in the spring of 2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigation scaled back a plan to assign more field agents to investigate mortgage fraud. That summer, the Justice Department also rejected calls to create a task force devoted to mortgage-related investigations, leaving these complex cases understaffed and poorly funded, and only much later established a more general financial crimes task force.
Leading up to the financial crisis, many officials said in interviews, regulators failed in their crucial duty to compile the information that traditionally has helped build criminal cases. In effect, the same dynamic that helped enable the crisis — weak regulation — also made it harder to pursue fraud in its aftermath.
A more aggressive mind-set could have spurred far more prosecutions this time, officials involved in the S.&L. cleanup said.
“This is not some evil conspiracy of two guys sitting in a room saying we should let people create crony capitalism and steal with impunity,” said William K. Black, a professor of law at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and the federal government’s director of litigation during the savings and loan crisis. “But their policies have created an exceptional criminogenic environment. There were no criminal referrals from the regulators. No fraud working groups. No national task force. There has been no effective punishment of the elites here.”
Even civil actions by the government have been limited. The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a broad guideline in 2009 — distributed within the agency but never made public — to be cautious about pushing for hefty penalties from banks that had received bailout money. The agency was concerned about taxpayer money in effect being used to pay for settlements, according to four people briefed on the policy but who were not authorized to speak publicly about it.
To be sure, Wall Street’s role in the crisis is complex, and cases related to mortgage securities are immensely technical. Criminal intent in particular is difficult to prove, and banks defend their actions with documents they say show they operated properly.
But legal experts point to numerous questionable activities where criminal probes might have borne fruit and possibly still could.
Investigators, they argue, could look more deeply at the failure of executives to fully disclose the scope of the risks on their books during the mortgage mania, or the amounts of questionable loans they bundled into securities sold to investors that soured.
Prosecutors also could pursue evidence that executives knowingly awarded bonuses to themselves and colleagues based on overly optimistic valuations of mortgage assets — in effect, creating illusory profits that were wiped out by subsequent losses on the same assets. And they might also investigate whether executives cashed in shares based on inside information, or misled regulators and their own boards about looming problems.
Merrill Lynch, for example, understated its risky mortgage holdings by hundreds of billions of dollars. And public comments made by Angelo R. Mozilo, the chief executive of Countrywide Financial, praising his mortgage company’s practices were at odds with derisive statements he made privately in e-mails as he sold shares; the stock subsequently fell sharply as the company’s losses became known.
Executives at Lehman Brothers assured investors in the summer of 2008 that the company’s financial position was sound, even though they appeared to have counted as assets certain holdings pledged by Lehman to other companies, according to a person briefed on that case. At Bear Stearns, the first major Wall Street player to collapse, a private litigant says evidence shows that the firm’s executives may have pocketed revenues that should have gone to investors to offset losses when complex mortgage securities soured.
But the Justice Department has decided not to pursue some of these matters — including possible criminal cases against Mr. Mozilo of Countrywide and Joseph J. Cassano, head of Financial Products at A.I.G., the business at the epicenter of that company’s collapse. Mr. Cassano’s lawyers said that documents they had given to prosecutors refuted accusations that he had misled investors or the company’s board. Mr. Mozilo’s lawyers have said he denies any wrongdoing.
Among the few exceptions so far in civil action against senior bankers is a lawsuit filed last month against top executives of Washington Mutual, the failed bank now owned by JPMorgan Chase. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation sued Kerry K. Killinger, the company’s former chief executive, and two other officials, accusing them of piling on risky loans to grow faster and increase their compensation. The S.E.C. also extracted a $550 million settlement from Goldman Sachs for a mortgage security the bank built, though the S.E.C. did not name executives in that case.
Representatives at the Justice Department and the S.E.C. say they are still pursuing financial crisis cases, but legal experts warn that they become more difficult as time passes.
“If you look at the last couple of years and say, ‘This is the big-ticket prosecution that came out of the crisis,’ you realize we haven’t gotten very much,” said David A. Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s consistent with what many people were worried about during the crisis, that different rules would be applied to different players. It goes to the whole perception that Wall Street was taken care of, and Main Street was not.”
The Countrywide Puzzle
As nonprosecutions go, perhaps none is more puzzling to legal experts than the case of Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender. Last month, the office of the United States attorney for Los Angeles dropped its investigation of Mr. Mozilo after the S.E.C. extracted a settlement from him in a civil fraud case. Mr. Mozilo paid $22.5 million in penalties, without admitting or denying the accusations.
White-collar crime lawyers contend that Countrywide exemplifies the difficulties of mounting a criminal case without assistance and documentation from regulators — the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Fed, in Countrywide’s case.
“When regulators don’t believe in regulation and don’t get what is going on at the companies they oversee, there can be no major white-collar crime prosecutions,” said Henry N. Pontell, professor of criminology, law and society in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. “If they don’t understand what we call collective embezzlement, where people are literally looting their own firms, then it’s impossible to bring cases.”
Financial crisis cases can be brought by many parties. Since the big banks’ mortgage machinery involved loans on properties across the country, attorneys general in most states have broad criminal authority over most of these institutions. The Justice Department can bring civil or criminal cases, while the S.E.C. can file only civil lawsuits.
All of these enforcement agencies traditionally depend heavily on referrals from bank regulators, who are more savvy on complex financial matters.
But data supplied by the Justice Department and compiled by a group at Syracuse University show that over the last decade, regulators have referred substantially fewer cases to criminal investigators than previously.
The university’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse indicates that in 1995, bank regulators referred 1,837 cases to the Justice Department. In 2006, that number had fallen to 75. In the four subsequent years, a period encompassing the worst of the crisis, an average of only 72 a year have been referred for criminal prosecution.
Law enforcement officials say financial case referrals began declining under President Clinton as his administration shifted its focus to health care fraud. The trend continued in the Bush administration, except for a spike in prosecutions for Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and others for accounting fraud.
The Office of Thrift Supervision was in a particularly good position to help guide possible prosecutions. From the summer of 2007 to the end of 2008, O.T.S.-overseen banks with $355 billion in assets failed.
The thrift supervisor, however, has not referred a single case to the Justice Department since 2000, the Syracuse data show. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a unit of the Treasury Department, has referred only three in the last decade.
The comptroller’s office declined to comment on its referrals. But a spokesman, Kevin Mukri, noted that bank regulators can and do bring their own civil enforcement actions. But most are against small banks and do not involve the stiff penalties that accompany criminal charges.
Historically, Countrywide’s bank subsidiary was overseen by the comptroller, while the Federal Reserve supervised its home loans unit. But in March 2007, Countrywide switched oversight of both units to the thrift supervisor. That agency was overseen at the time by John M. Reich, a former banker and Senate staff member appointed in 2005 by President George W. Bush.
Robert Gnaizda, former general counsel at the Greenlining Institute, a nonprofit consumer organization in Oakland, Calif., said he had spoken often with Mr. Reich about Countrywide’s reckless lending.
“We saw that people were getting bad loans,” Mr. Gnaizda recalled. “We focused on Countrywide because they were the largest originator in California and they were the ones with the most exotic mortgages.”
Mr. Gnaizda suggested many times that the thrift supervisor tighten its oversight of the company, he said. He said he advised Mr. Reich to set up a hot line for whistle-blowers inside Countrywide to communicate with regulators.
“I told John, ‘This is what any police chief does if he wants to solve a crime,’ ” Mr. Gnaizda said in an interview. “John was uninterested. He told me he was a good friend of Mozilo’s.”
In an e-mail message, Mr. Reich said he did not recall the conversation with Mr. Gnaizda, and his relationships with the chief executives of banks overseen by his agency were strictly professional. “I met with Mr. Mozilo only a few times, always in a business environment, and any insinuation of a personal friendship is simply false,” he wrote.
After the crisis had subsided, another opportunity to investigate Countrywide and its executives yielded little. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created by Congress to investigate the origins of the disaster, decided not to make an in-depth examination of the company — though some staff members felt strongly that it should.
In a January 2010 memo, Brad Bondi and Martin Biegelman, two assistant directors of the commission, outlined their recommendations for investigative targets and hearings, according to Tom Krebs, another assistant director of the commission. Countrywide and Mr. Mozilo were specifically named; the memo noted that subprime mortgage executives like Mr. Mozilo received hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation even though their companies collapsed.
However, the two soon received a startling message: Countrywide was off limits. In a staff meeting, deputies to Phil Angelides, the commission’s chairman, said he had told them Countrywide should not be a target or featured at any hearing, said Mr. Krebs, who said he was briefed on that meeting by Mr. Bondi and Mr. Biegelman shortly after it occurred. His account has been confirmed by two other people with direct knowledge of the situation.
Mr. Angelides denied that he had said Countrywide or Mr. Mozilo were off limits. Chris Seefer, the F.C.I.C. official responsible for the Countrywide investigation, also said Countrywide had not been given a pass. Mr. Angelides said a full investigation was done on the company, including 40 interviews, and that a hearing was planned for the fall of 2010 to feature Mr. Mozilo. It was canceled because Republican members of the commission did not want any more hearings, he said.
“It got as full a scrub as A.I.G., Citi, anyone,” Mr. Angelides said of Countrywide. “If you look at the report, it’s extraordinarily condemnatory.”
An F.B.I. Investigation Fizzles
The Justice Department in Washington was abuzz in the spring of 2008. Bear Stearns had collapsed, and some law enforcement insiders were suggesting an in-depth search for fraud throughout the mortgage pipeline.
The F.B.I. had expressed concerns about mortgage improprieties as early as 2004. But it was not until four years later that its officials recommended closing several investigative programs to free agents for financial fraud cases, according to two people briefed on a study by the bureau.
The study identified about two dozen regions where mortgage fraud was believed rampant, and the bureau’s criminal division created a plan to investigate major banks and lenders. Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I., approved the plan, which was described in a memo sent in spring 2008 to the bureau’s field offices.
“We were focused on the whole gamut: the individuals, the mortgage brokers and the top of the industry,” said Kenneth W. Kaiser, the former assistant director of the criminal investigations unit. “We were looking at the corporate level.”
Days after the memo was sent, however, prosecutors at some Justice Department offices began to complain that shifting agents to mortgage cases would hurt other investigations, he recalled. “We got told by the D.O.J. not to shift those resources,” he said. About a week later, he said, he was told to send another memo undoing many of the changes. Some of the extra agents were not deployed.
A spokesman for the F.B.I., Michael Kortan, said that a second memo was sent out that allowed field offices to try to opt out of some of the changes in the first memo. Mr. Kaiser’s account of pushback from the Justice Department was confirmed by two other people who were at the F.B.I. in 2008.
Around the same time, the Justice Department also considered setting up a financial fraud task force specifically to scrutinize the mortgage industry. Such task forces had been crucial to winning cases against Enron executives and those who looted savings and loans in the early 1990s.

Analyst's awkward words after MVP is hurt

Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)   

 Bobby Valentine's evaluation of Josh Hamilton's controversial injury raises eyebrows.

Bobby V. talks himself into a weird corner after Hamilton injury

Talking and always making sense in front of a camera or on a radio show is tough. I've appeared on enough of both to know that once your brain goes down one wrong path, it's difficult for your mouth to recover and stagger back before saying something stupid. You just kind of hope the host saves you because he's a trained professional at these sorts of things.
Only it's usually always too late. Rock solid proof of this comes in what ESPN's Bobby Valentine had to say on Tuesday night about Josh Hamilton(notes) breaking his arm and landing on the DL for 6-8 weeks after trying to tag on a foul pop-up in Detroit.
Fisk this as you will.
Karl Ravech: What was stupid about the play?
Bobby Valentine: Well, it was the first inning and it was taking a chance with your best player and he did dive headfirst and it was a way of avoiding the slide and he knew that he shouldn't go and he did go, you know? And you know, there's indiscretion in this guy's life, he was stupid earlier and because of that, he can't take drugs now to help cure this injury and heal this injury. And that might have been dumb on everyone's part because, my gosh, it's the first inning, he's the MVP. They're scoring runs better than anybody in the league, you have to tag up on a fly ball in front of the dugout?
As a sports blogger, I am now contractually bound to link this clip from Billy Madison.
There's no question that Dave Anderson, the third base coach of the Texas Rangers, made a dumb decision to send Hamilton. The reigning AL MVP admitted as much when he said "I was thinking [that] 'I don't want to do this ... something is going to happen.' I listened to my coach."

FBI recruiting an NBA All-Star for work

An FBI building in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  

Special agents recently dropped in on one team's practice, hoping to speak with a particular player.

Gerald Wallace gets recruited by the FBI

In a league of athletic fowards, Portland's Gerald Wallace(notes) is perhaps the most fearless. Despite a history of concussions and various injuries, Wallace continually sacrifices his body for rebounds, points and loose balls. He plays with reckless abandon, and it's earned him the fitting nickname of "Crash."
But perhaps Wallace's skills and commitment to the cause are better served in another area of life. Like, say, while working for the government. Because the FBI recruited him at a recent Blazers practice. From Andrea Flatley at KTPV FOX 12 (via Tickle the Wire and Shoals):

A jelly bean that looks like Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton arrives at City Hall on March 8, 2011 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)  

 A couple finds the likeness of the future princess in a mango-flavored piece of candy.

Man finds jelly bean with striking resemblance to Kate Middleton

We may have reached an apex in Royal Wedding hysteria.
A 25-year-old accountant has found Kate Middleton's face in a jelly bean. Yep. Wesley Hosie and his girlfriend, Jessica White, noticed that a mango bean in the jar they had purchased from the Jelly Bean Factory featured an uncanny resemblance to Prince William's future bride, the Telegraph reports.
There's a jelly bean with Kate Middleton's face on it! (Chris Jackson, Getty Images/SWNS)
"As Jessica opened the jar, I saw her immediately. She was literally lying there staring back at me," Hosie said.
And the pair immediately saw an opportunity in their blessed jelly bean.
"Given that the royal wedding is only a few weeks away, we hope to make a few pounds out of it by selling it on the internet to a collector."