Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sandi Thom - Sing On The Webcam, Get Discovered By Sony Records! It Really Happened

Webcast singer snapped up by Sony - CNN.com

Tuesday, April 4, 2006; Posted: 9:42 a.m. EDT (13:42 GMT)

LONDON, England -- A British singer has signed up by a major record label after broadcasting live performances from her living room on the Internet.

Sandi Thom, 24, is now on the books of RCA/SonyBMG after signing with the label at her flat on Monday night.

She built up a daily audience of more than 100,000 people around the world.

Speaking on British television, Sandi said she could not believe what had happened and that her life had "changed dramatically."

"I don't think I have quite realized it just yet," she told GMTV.

"It has obviously changed for the better. "I have managed to get massive amounts of exposure through using the Internet and that is something that people have struggled to do for years."

Several record labels had approached the aspiring star following her Webcasts, which were broadcast on 21 consecutive nights.

RCA label director Craig Logan said: "Sandi is a very talented artist with an already unique story.

"We're very excited that we're now going to be a part of that story as she develops into a major artist."

Debra Lafave Meet Rachel Holt - She Had Sex With Her Student 28 Times in One Week! -

What's up with all this?

Underage Outrage - From The Smoking Gun

Cops: Teacher had sex with 13-year-old student 28 times in one week

APRIL 4--Meet Rachel Holt. The 34-year-old Delaware teacher is facing rape charges for allegedly having sex with a 13-year-old student 28 times during a one-week period last month. Holt, a science teacher at Claymont Elementary School, allegedly had sex with the boy, a student in her class, at her Wilmington home. According to a probable cause affidavit filed today in Justice of the Peace Court, the boy's father contacted cops yesterday afternoon and told them his child was having "inappropriate contact" with Holt. Last night, in an interview at New Castle County police headquarters, Holt admitted she had intercourse with the boy 27 times and performed oral sex once during the last week of March. She also revealed that another student, 12, had watched her having sex with the boy and that she had provided both boys with beer. Holt is being held in a local lockup in lieu of $560,450 bail.

"King Kong" - DVD Sales Push Film To Fourth Highest Grossing In Universal's History

`King Kong' DVD Sets Sales Record - Associated Press
Apr 04 4:18 PM US/Eastern


It took heat during the holidays for failing to reach the supremo- blockbuster status that many predicted, but "King Kong" can do some supersized chest-thumping now.

Released as a single DVD and two-disc set on March 28, the Peter Jackson film logged Universal's best first-week sales in studio history, in six days selling 6.5 million copies for a take of more than $100 million.

The previous record-holder was "Meet the Fockers," a studio spokeswoman said.

The film's brisk DVD sales add to its worldwide box-office haul of $550 million. Its ticket sales make "King Kong" the fourth highest- grossing film in Universal's history, following "Jurassic Park," "E.T." and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."

Universal Pictures is owned by NBC Universal, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Vivendi Universal.

Justin Berry - Child Porn Star Blows Whistle On Sick Trade

Yippee! This dark area of the Internet is finally getting a lot of good light shown on it. Now, the FBI needs to go in and arrest the consumers and pronto.

April 5, 2006
House Hears Online Child Porn Testimony
By Roy Mark http://www.internetnews.com

WASHINGTON -- The testimony was stark and dark yesterday as Congress took one of its periodic looks at child pornography on the Internet.

Specifics replaced the usual generalities with the focus on pay-for-view live webcams of underage children -- including infants and toddlers -- engaging in sexual acts. In some cases, the parents of the children shot and produced the videos.

Congressional estimates put the online child pornography business at $20 billion a year and growing. Online or offline, child pornography is illegal in the United States and most other countries.

"Of all the hearings that we've done ... I've never been more revolted in preparing for a hearing than in reading the materials that I've had to read for this one," House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) said.

Highlighting the sparsely attended hearing was the testimony of 19-year-old Justin Berry, who was featured in a December New York Times series on child exploitation over the Internet and the author of the story, Kurt Eichenwald.

"Like most people, I gave little thought during my life to the scourge of child pornography. But, I now know we are fighting a losing battle," Eichenwald said. "The predators are sophisticated in the use of computers and talented in the manipulation of children."

He added, "They count on our willingness to avert our eyes from the unpleasant to succeed in their pursuit of illegal images of minors."

For Berry, it began when he was 13 years old after he received a webcam as part of signing up for a broadband account.

"No teenager ever contacted me but many child predators did," Berry said. "I believed these people were friends. They taught me about the wish list on Amazon and began buying me presents."

According to Berry, the seduction was slow, beginning with a man offering him $50 to take off his shirt live on Berry's webcam. Before it was over, Berry's father was producing live video of his son having sex.

"My Dad? He said he was helping me maximize my profit potential," Berry said.

Eichenwald said his research showed that Berry was not an isolated case.

"Hundreds of minors have been lost to the lure of performing in online pornography. They include children from every walk of life -- wealthy and middle class, honor students and those struggling with their grades, children of divorce and with intact families," he said.

Eichenwald said the only shared characteristic he found was "a loneliness that these minors feel is alleviated by meeting people online -- and in person -- through their webcam business."

Beyond the sexual exploitation of children, Eichenwald said one of the most troubling aspects of his research was that "major American and international companies" were advertising on portals promoting underage pornographic webcams.

"The advertisements appeared immediately above images used by boys and girls to market their pornographic sites," he said. "Apparently, these companies were attempting to win business both from customers and teenagers themselves, as they offered services to help efficiently run for-pay sites."

The New York Times reporter specifically named webcam manufacturers Logitech and Creative and Verotel, an international credit card processing company, as advertisers on the portals.

"I even found a company that provided streaming video to sites operated by minors, on condition that its president be allowed to watch the pornographic performances for free," Eichenwald said.

Lawmakers were appropriately shocked.

"What kind of society do we have if we can't protect infants from sexual exploitation?" Barton asked. "One of the witnesses' material shows that almost half of the incidents of sexual exploitation of children are by family members. What kind of family is that?"

Rep. John Dingell, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said through a statement, "Let's be clear about this. This is not about pornographic images of adults. The Internet has regrettably provided the medium for the exponential growth in these deplorable crimes."

In addition to webcams, Dingell also noted, "Some of these chat rooms provide an opportunity to trade images. Unfortunately, the price of admission is often new material: hence, the ease of contact via the Internet has contributed to the incentives and growth of the horrendous abuse endured by these young victims, usually within their own homes."

Barton promised hard questions for the Department of Justice and other law enforcement officials who are scheduled to testify on Thursday morning.

"I just don't understand it. This is one where you can expect the subcommittee and the full committee, if we need to, to do everything possible," he said. "And I mean everything, not just hold hearings."

Tom Delay's Out OF Politics? I Don't Believe It!

I can't believe Delay's really getting out of politics. I'll be he's just changing his position from donor-receiver to donor-giver. You don't just give up the scene. I'll bet he's figured out a way to really stick around the pull some strings. But as a private person, he can do all of that, in...well, private.

He's not going anywhere. He's just moving to a place where there's less scrutiny of what he does.

49ers Stadium Issue - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Works To Change The Rules of The Prop D Game

S.F. seeks go-ahead for 49ers stadium
Bill would let city ask court to OK changes to '97 ballot measure

Charlie Goodyear, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration wants to let a judge rather than San Francisco voters decide whether the 49ers can move forward with a new stadium project that is different from the one the city's electorate approved in 1997.

At the request of the mayor's office, state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, quietly introduced legislation last month that would let the city seek a Superior Court ruling that the 49ers and the city can legally proceed despite changes from what was presented to voters nine years ago.

A top real estate development aide to the mayor said the Newsom administration is not trying to avoid public scrutiny, but merely to settle at the outset important legal questions that will have direct bearing on the feasibility of a new stadium project and presumably on how or if the 49ers will proceed.

"In no way does it short-circuit the public vetting or approval process through multiple city commissions and multiple stops at the Board of Supervisors," said Michael Cohen, a former deputy city attorney who oversees military base reuse projects for the mayor's economic development office.

"It doesn't limit anyone's ability to sue or stop the project," said Cohen. "It simply allows us to validate that what we're doing is consistent with voter-approved measures."

Passage of Migden's legislation would save the team and its City Hall backers a return to the city ballot -- and the time, money and uncertainty that go along with it -- for an on-again, off-again project with a controversial political history in San Francisco.

Peter Detwiler, staff director for the state Senate's Local Government Committee, which is scheduled to take up Migden's bill, SB1842, on Wednesday, said he has found no precedent for what the Newsom administration is asking.

"If the stated reason for the legislation is, 'We're worried about whether (the new) mixed-use development falls within' " what voters approved, Detwiler said, "why don't we just ask the voters?"

At stake are a voter-approved $100 million public subsidy for the stadium, the fate of 77 acres of public parks and recreation space, and perhaps the future of the 49ers in San Francisco.

In June 1997, city voters passed two measures that were supposed to pave the way for a new stadium and mall at the site of the city-owned stadium at Candlestick Point that has been home to 49ers games since 1971.

Proposition D, which passed with only 50.4 percent of the vote, authorized $100 million in city bonds to help finance the new stadium. Proposition F, which passed with 50.3 percent of the vote, rezoned city land under and around the existing stadium -- creating the Candlestick Point Special Use District -- to allow construction of a larger stadium and a shopping and entertainment mall.

According to campaign assertions of the 49ers and then-Mayor Willie Brown -- which were supported by the city controller in a written statement included in the official ballot pamphlet sent to voters -- the mall, which was to be developed by Mills Corp., would eventually generate enough new sales-tax revenue to pay off the city bonds and their interest payments. After the vote, however, the project hit several snags as team owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. became embroiled in a federal corruption probe, questions surfaced over the proposed development's economic feasibility, and quibbling started over who should pay for shoring up parts of the development site sitting on landfill.

Last year, Newsom signaled he wanted the 49ers to decide whether to proceed with the project by October of this year and before the team's lease runs out in January 2007.

The team said last year it wants to stay at Candlestick and brought in Lennar Corp., one of the country's biggest homebuilders, to discuss adding residential housing to the development -- something not explicitly approved by voters in 1997. A study expected to be completed by Lennar this summer will detail exactly how much housing could be included in the project's plans.

Now, city officials have turned to Migden to help secure legal assurances and move the project forward.

An aide to Migden said she was willing to carry the legislation because of the prospect of bringing additional housing to a city where demand keeps prices high.

"The city did ask us to carry it," said Migden spokesman Eric Potashner. "Of interest to the senator is the opportunity to create more housing."

Cohen, of the mayor's economic development office, said Monday that the legislation is intended to save the city time and money as well as uphold the will of the voters.

"This is a very good government efficiency measure," he said.

A representative for the 49ers indicated Monday that the team would like the legality of a development project that differs from the 1997 version to be settled at the outset.

"We certainly share the mayor's sense of urgency for this project," said 49ers spokeswoman Lisa Lang. "We've spent a great deal of time and money on this project over the past few years."

The Newsom administration's handling of the matter already is raising eyebrows at City Hall, however.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said he was erroneously listed by Migden's office as a supporter of her bill and has concerns that a judge might rule on the development plan before supervisors have their say.

"The legislation in its current form is putting the cart a little bit before the horse," Peskin said Monday.

Cohen emphasized that the team has yet to present a formal development plan for the site or select a builder for the mall portion.

"We hope to know whether the 49ers and their development partners think there is even a feasible project or not before the start of the next football season," he said.