Lennon's killer denied parole for 7th time in NY

Lennon's killer denied parole for 7th time in NY — John Lennon's killer was denied release from prison in his seventh appearance before a parole board, New York corrections officials said Thursday.

Mark David Chapman, 57, was denied parole by a three-member board after a hearing Wednesday, the state Department of Corrections said. The transcript of his latest hearing wasn't immediately released.

Chapman can try again for parole in two years.

Chapman shot Lennon in December 1980 outside the Manhattan apartment building where the former Beatle lived. He was sentenced in 1981 to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. The musician, singer and songwriter was 40.

"Despite your positive efforts while incarcerated, your release at this time would greatly undermine respect for the law and tend to trivialize the tragic loss of life which you caused as a result of this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime," board member Sally Thompson wrote. Board members Joseph Crangle and Marc Coppola agreed.

The panel praised Chapman's conduct and accomplishments but said "parole shall not be granted for good conduct and program completions alone." The board noted there was significant opposition to his release.

 FILE - In this 1975 file photo, Mark David Chapman is seen at Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith, Ark. New York corrections officials say Chapman, 57, John Lennon's killer, was denied release from prison in his seventh appearance before the state Department of Corrections three-member board after a hearing Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Greg Lyuan, File)

Chapman was transferred in May from the Attica Correctional Facility in western New York to the nearby Wende Correctional Facility. Both are maximum security. The prison system doesn't disclose why inmates are transferred.

At his previous hearing in 2010, Chapman recalled that he had considered shooting Johnny Carson or Elizabeth Taylor instead, and said again that he chose Lennon because the ex-Beatle was more accessible, that his century-old Upper West Side apartment building by Central Park "wasn't quite as cloistered." Chapman fired five shots outside the Dakota apartment house on Dec. 8, 1980, hitting Lennon four times in front of his wife, Yoko Ono, and others.

The former security guard from Hawaii said that his motivation was instant notoriety but that he later realized he made a horrible decision for selfish reasons.

"I felt that by killing John Lennon I would become somebody and instead of that I became a murderer and murderers are not somebodies," Chapman told the board two years ago.

Ono, 79, had said two years ago that she was trying to be "practical" in asking that her husband's killer remain behind bars. She said Chapman might be a danger to her, other family members and perhaps even himself.

In a 1992 interview at Attica, Chapman told Barbara Walters that it was dark when he shot Lennon in the back with a .38-caliber revolver after he exited a limousine, headed up the walkway to his apartment building and looked at Chapman. "I heard this voice — not an audible voice, an inaudible voice — saying over and over, 'Do it, do it, do it,'" Chapman said. He explained, "I thought that by killing him I would acquire his fame."He has been in protective custody with a good disciplinary record, according to corrections officials ( Associated Press )

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After the Boston Marathon explosions, what parents should do first

After the Boston Marathon explosions, what parents should do first - I haven't quite stopped shaking yet, but I want to put up a post.

I found out about the Boston Marathon explosions when my daughter called me as she was running from them. She was at the Prudential Center on Boylston, just a block or two from the scene, close enough to see the explosions. "Turn on the TV," she said to me as she and her friends ran. "There's something happening here. Tell me what's happening."

So I turned on the TV, and, well, there are no words. And the fact that my child was so close to it...makes it even harder to find words. Crying would be much easier than talking right now.

But words have to be said to children; as parents, we don't get the luxury of processing and dealing separately from our children. So here are some suggestions as we all do that processing and dealing, as we all try to be sure that our loved ones and friends are okay...

First of all, give your kids a hug. And your partner. Call your mother. Honest to God, call anyone and everyone you love and make sure they know you love them. Don't wait another second. The world is a tenuous place, and those we love are more important than anything.

Second, shut off the television. It's hard not to stay glued to the television, especially since we are waiting for answers and are wondering how this will affect our lives in the days to come. But shut it off--it's too much, and too disturbing, for young eyes. Get your information from your laptop and smart phone instead.

Tell your children what happened. They need to hear it from you. Keep it big picture; no need for gory details.

Answer their questions honestly. Again, skip the gory details.

Reassure children that terrible things like this are very rare. Usually, Copley Square and other public places and events are safe.

Talk about all the ways that you and other people work to keep them safe. These conversations might just help you, too.

Talk about the heroes. There will be more stories in the days to come, but I heard on Twitter about runners who kept on running--right to the hospitals to give blood. Those are the stories to concentrate on; it can help your children, and give them inspiring and empowering role models.

In the days to come, find ways to help. Maybe it's donating to the Red Cross. Maybe it's writing condolence letters. There will be ways to show that you care, and to make a difference...look for them.  ( boston.com )

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Weddings for two: Couples say no to the guest list, yes to fancy elopements

Weddings for two: Couples say no to the guest list, yes to fancy elopements - Last weekend while stalking some of my favorite wedding blogs, I came across a post highlighting a couple who had a stunning wedding. The bride wore an expensive gown, the groom looked dapper in his suit. The ceremony took place atop a mountain set next to a farmhouse. The photographer captured still shots of a beautiful bouquet and a well-appointed tablescape. The photos chronicled a truly romantic ceremony, but one thing was missing -- there wasn't a guest in sight!

Wedding planners are calling this trend weddings-for-two, pre-planned elopements where couples wed in private with all the frills of a celebration for 200 people, but a guest list of zero.

Some might call this trend oxymoronic and question why a couple would spend thousands of dollars and countless hours obsessing over details that will never be experienced by a single guest. Others may question whether or not it truly is a wedding-for-two if the photos end up on a blog (or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for millions of viewers to see, including the family and friends of the couple, who probably feel slightly offended that they weren't part of the day.

Research on the topic led me to a recent story covered on TODAY. Freelance writer and editor Wendy Grossman Kantor offers readers a candid account of why some couples are choosing to ditch the guest list in exchange for the fancy elopement.

According to the couples Kantor interviewed for the article: no guests equal no stress. Clearly, the newer generation of engaged couples are making their own rules. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we're actually paying for our own weddings, so why not get exactly what we want. For some, that 'want' means spending their budget on creating a day that's more about them and less about the distant cousins, coworkers, neighbors and their plus ones.

Personally, I can't wait to hit the dance floor at our reception and Cupid Shuffle with all of our wedding guests! Guests bring the fun factor. You can't have a party without them! ( boston.com )

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Public university professors join ranks of Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists

Public university professors join ranks of Sandy Hook conspiracy theoristsTwo professors at mainstream, respected state universities are advocating conspiracy theories about the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

James Tracy, a tenured associate professor of media history Florida Atlantic University and a one-time union leader, has claimed that the school shooting didn’t happen as it was widely reported and perhaps didn’t happen at all, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.


“As documents relating to the Sandy Hook shooting continue to be assessed and interpreted by independent researchers, there is a growing awareness that the media coverage of the massacre of 26 children and adults was intended primarily for public consumption to further larger political ends,” Tracy wrote on his blog, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Tracy said he believes that the Sandy Hook shooting could have been constructed to increase public support for gun control.

He has authored a report showing, he says, how a mélange of federal agencies, state agencies and major media outlets could have framed 20-year-old Adam Lanza as a lone, methodical gunman when, in fact, several additional people were involved.

The FAU professor has also alleged that some kind of training exercise gone awry could have caused the carnage at Sandy Hook. “Was this a drill?” he has asked, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Tracy bases his skepticism on several pieces of evidence: an uncertain timeline, an absence of surveillance video and still photographs from the event, the awkward conduct of a medical examiner during a news conference and his suspicion that Lanza could not have fired so many rounds so quickly.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that Tracy also has a hard time believing the official story because he hasn’t seen the dead bodies or pictures of the dead bodies.

“Overall, I’m saying the public needs more information to assess what took place,” Tracy said. “We don’t have that.”

The administration at FAU does not endorse Tracy’s point of view, the Sun-Sentinel notes.
Meanwhile, as Campus Reform reports, a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth believes that Israel’s legendary national intelligence agency carried out the Sandy Hook shootings. ( dailycaller.com )

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Florida Atlantic University apologizes for Jesus Stomping 101

UPDATE: Florida Atlantic University apologizes for Jesus Stomping 101 - So, the story about the Florida Atlantic University student who says he ended up suspended because he refused to stomp on a piece of paper bearing the word “JESUS” has really taken off nationally.

As The Daily Caller reported on Thursday morning, junior Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon, says he was booted from class after he told an FAU school official that the Jesus-stomping assignment made him uncomfortable.


An FAU official initially defended the suspension, telling local CBS affiliate WPEC that the Jesus-stomping was part of a classroom exercise from a textbook, “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.”

Now, Mediaite has confirmed that the instructor’s manual accompanying textbook does, in fact, recommend Jesus-stomping.
The manual reads:
“This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings. Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”
The FAU class in which the Jesus-stomping assignment occurred was called intercultural communications. Deandre Poole was the professor.

Mediaite helpfully points out that Professor Poole is the vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Democratic Party.

Also, another FAU faculty member was in the news recently. James Tracy, tenured associate professor of media history, bizarrely claimed that the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School didn’t happen as it was widely reported — and perhaps didn’t happen at all.

On Friday, reports Todd Starnes of Fox News, FAU issued an apology for Poole’s assignment. The public, taxpayer-funded school said it won’t be using the assignment again.

“We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused,” the apology said. “Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”

FAU noted that no one was forced to participate in the assignment and that no one was punished because of it.

“We can confirm that no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University as a result of any activity that took place during this class,” the statement read.

Presumably, then, the school is saying that Rotela was not suspended from the class. The Daily Caller )

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Florida university under fire over "Jesus" classroom exercise

Florida university under fire over "Jesus" classroom exercise - A Florida university has come under fire over a professor's controversial classroom assignment that asked his students to write "Jesus" on a sheet of paper and then to step on it.

The incident earlier this month at the Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, has prompted the school to issue an apology and led to a call from Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott for an investigation.

"I am deeply disappointed in the recent actions of Florida Atlantic University faculty that raises significant questions over students' rights and the lessons being taught in our classrooms," Scott wrote in a letter to the head of Florida's state university board on Tuesday.


The classroom exercise was conducted as part of a course on intercultural communication at the public university.

It called for students to write the words "Jesus" in big letters on a piece of paper, place it on the floor and then to step on the paper. Students were then asked to describe how they felt.

School officials said the instructor told students they could choose whether to participate in the exercise, which was based on an example in a study guide to a course textbook and intended to provoke a discussion of cultural symbols.

In a recent statement, Florida Atlantic University said it will no longer use the exercise after it sparked criticism from some students.

"It was insensitive and unacceptable. Based on the offensive nature of the exercise, we will not use it again and have issued an apology to the community," the statement said.

In his letter, Scott said he wanted more than just an apology from the school.

"The professor's lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom," he wrote.

"I'm requesting a report of the incident, how it was handled and a statement of the university's policies to ensure this type of 'lesson' will not occur again," Scott added.(Reuters)

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Bible comes to life as locusts swarm Israel

Bible comes to life as locusts swarm Israel - Israeli Jews celebrating Passover will easily relate to their ancestors this year – the country has been swarmed by millions of locusts, one of the 10 plagues visited on the Egyptians.

Locusts have descended on Israel this week, just in time for Passover. As millions of Jews commemorate the story of the children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, including the 10 plagues that afflicted Pharaoh and his people, millions of the crunchy buggers are creeping all over Israel’s southern deserts.

This is nothing like the eighth plague of biblical times, in which locusts covered “the whole face of the earth” in a kind of collective punishment for the Egyptians whose leader refused to let his Hebrew slaves go free.


But this year is the first time since 2005 that modern-day Israel has had to combat locusts, which can swarm so thickly that drivers can’t see beyond their windshield. Potato farmers bemoaned the detrimental effect of a previous wave of the grasshopper-like insects several weeks ago. The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, which was on “locust alert,” has responded quickly to the latest wave with pesticides.

But it’s not just Israel. Today the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture sprayed pesticides in Hebron, in the southern West Bank. And Egyptian farmers have suffered millions of dollars in damage after a swarm of about 30 million locusts hit Cairo earlier this month.

The most serious situation, however, appears to be in Sudan, where the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) head has warned that immature “hoppers” are lining up along a 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) stretch of the Nile and could pose a serious threat to Nile Valley crops in May.

OK, so locusts are not your average grasshopper. But still, how can they cause such massive damage?

Consider these arresting facts: They can eat their weight in crops every day; They can fly more than 80 miles a day – in swarms as dense as 200 million per square mile; And females can lay as many as 1,000 egg pods in roughly 10 square feet, according to a FAO fact sheet.
To put the threat in practical terms, 1 ton of locusts (just a fraction of your average swarm) can eat about as much food as 2,500 people can in a single day, says FAO.

The Israelis have sought to reverse the food chain this Passover, however, by grilling the kosher insects for a crunchy, high-protein delicacy. And they’re not alone. Locust recipes abound.

A Mexican version from “Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects,” by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio calls for roasting locust torsos and sprinkling them on homemade guacamole in a taco shell. Scrap that. Sprinkle and enjoy, the cookbook says. ( Christian Science Monitor )

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