Oops! Name of rising Republican star in Florida surfaces as client in prostitution case

About 50 pages of evidence released on Monday provide new details about a complex prostitution bust that led to the arrest of an alleged brothel owner who listed State Rep. Mike Horner of Kissimmee as a client.

Mark David Risner, 55, is suspected of employing several prostitutes at an east Orange County home.

Risner’s calendars and client lists, released in newly public documents on Monday, show Horner used the same phone number in his dealings with the prostitution ring that he used for his re-election campaign.

The notes section of the list describes “Mike” as a “Congressman.” A calendar contained in the documents lists Horner for an hour of sex on April 10, at a cost of $200.

The list also references another unidentified “Congressman” from the “West coast of Florida,” with no contact information. That client, the document states, canceled his appointment.

There were no other apparent references to public officials among the dozens of other clients listed in the documents.

Horner…has not been charged or arrested in the case. He abruptly abandoned his re-election campaign last week, expressing regret and apologizing to his family and constituents.

Everyone always expresses regret when they are caught screwing around. I couldn’t care less about someone hooking up with hookers – other than safe and sanitary working conditions for the pros might be nice – but, the rest of it reflects on your relationship with the woman you probably swore to love and share with till death do you part. Or something like that.

I seriously doubt if there are many politicians floating around the great state of Florida – members of the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican – who are publicly committed to unconventional anything much less marriage. So they are liars.

Man wrongly charged with rape after DNA evidence tray re-used!

A man wrongly accused and charged with raping a woman was the “innocent victim” of an avoidable mistake, the forensics watchdog said today.

Adam Scott was arrested and held in custody for months after a plastic tray containing a sample of his DNA was re-used in the analysis of a swab from a rape victim in Manchester by private firm LGC Forensics.

Forensic science regulator Andrew Rennison said Mr Scott, from Devon, was an “innocent victim of avoidable contamination“.

It also emerged that the same error happened at least once before, on October 12 last year, the report added.

“The contamination was the result of human error by a technician who failed to follow basic procedures for the disposal of plastic trays used as part of a validated DNA extraction process,” he said…

“These errors were compounded by the failure at LGC to consider the possibility of contamination despite concerns expressed by the investigating officer about the reliability of the DNA profile.”

He went on: “It is unlikely that the case against Mr Scott would ever have proceeded to trial and, in the absence of any further evidence, the case would probably have been discontinued.

“However, this is of little comfort to Mr Scott who was charged on October 23 2011 and remanded in custody on this case until it was withdrawn on March 7 2012…”

LGC said it “deeply regrets the incident of contamination”, blah, blah, blah.

Results from the best science in the world still must run the gauntlet of human beings who may or may not be capable of maintaining legitimate standards. The procedures for checking quality in this case were as useless as the test.

Egg row separates factions at India’s Vegetarian Congress

The Indian Vegetarian Congress has separated in a row over whether eggs are meat or veg.

While cracks in vegetarian unity might be arcane in the West, it is a vital issue for India’s 400 million vegetarians – the world’s largest veggie population.

Because millions of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains follow the diets of their founders and Gods, all Indian restaurants must have separate veg and non-veg menus.

Eggs are restricted to ‘non-veg’ menus along with chicken and mutton tikkas, and companies selling ‘eggless’ cakes thrive.

But a row between India’s Vegetarian Congress (IVC) and the London-based International Vegetarian Union (IVU) came to a boil this summer after IVC leaders rebelled over an IVU ruling that eggs are ‘veg’ and those who eat eggs can be vegetarians.

On Monday the IVC’s leaders announced they had withdrawn from the International Vegetarian Union and created their own World Veg Council to halt the acceptance of eggs as vegetarian foods and promote “real vegetarianism”.

One IVC leader said he had been “shocked” when Indian IVU supporters within his group announced eggs are veg and that the new World Veg Council will quickly launch 3000 centres in India and 500 around the world to promote “real vegetarianism.”

Vijay Kumar Bafna, the new group’s vice president said India had inspired the rise of vegetarianism throughout the world – from Lords Buddha and Krishna to Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi – especially in Britain and the United States. But now there was a danger of western followers corrupting the purity of vegetarianism…

I haven’t any problem with folks deciding to base their diet on religion or philosophy – as long as they don’t try to impose it on folks. If there are to be national and political standards, minimums/maximums of consumption for reasons of health, I would prefer – I support politically – reliance on standards based upon science.

Personally, I’d add in a bit more anthropology to the mix. Though, molecular biologists seem to be adding a good deal of evolutionary understanding to formulating healthy consumption.

OTOH, I’ll bet George Carlin would have something useful to say about the conflict – if he still were with us. 🙂

Obama uses “national security” as excuse for blocking Chinese wind farms project — WTF?


Gallo/Getty

A Chinese-owned company has filed a lawsuit against US President Barack Obama for blocking its purchase of wind farms near a US military base on national security grounds…

Obama signed the decree on Friday banning the sale of four wind farms in Oregon to the Ralls Corp and its Chinese affiliate, Sany Group.

In the decree, Obama said companies linked to Chinese nationals “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States”…

Who says the Cold War is over in the minds of our politicians?

It asked the court to declare the executive order “arbitrary and capricious” in contending that the transaction posed national security risks to the United States.

Ralls defended the wind farm project as one that will generate jobs in Oregon “at a time when American people need more jobs.”

In filing its complaint, the company said, “Ralls continues to show its profound faith in transparency and due process, and seeks only fair treatment under the law and the constitution.”

The same crap politicians who whine that “China needs to invest in the United States” consistently block that participation in anything more complex and productive than investments in American oil companies and their mineral rights.

Obama’s hypocrisy is not especially less than Romney’s, Congressional liberals no less than the US Chamber of Commerce. Politics 60 years out-of-date is no excuse for standing the way of mutual commercial interests. That this particular case concerns jobs and clean energy just adds to the stink of phoniness.

SEC goes after the only rating firm not on the take from Wall Street

The Securities and Exchange Commission, it seems, has finally lost its mind. Bill Cohan is one of the best writers on the financial scene, author, journalist and commentator. And he’s pissed off:

In April, motivated by what I consider pure maliciousness, the SEC initiated a “cease and desist” administrative proceeding it deemed “necessary for the protection of investors and in the public interest” against Egan-Jones Ratings Co., a privately owned, 20-person firm based in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and against its principal owner, Sean Egan.

Egan-Jones, founded in 1995, is one of nine ratings companies that the SEC has accredited as “nationally recognized,” allowing the firm to rate the debt of sovereign nations, companies and asset-backed securities, among others. Notably, it is the only one of the nine that gets paid by investors instead of by the issuers of securities.

The bigger and better-known ratings companies — Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings Ltd. — are paid by the Wall Street banks that underwrite the debt securities of corporate issuers. That is, the companies are beholden to the sellers of the products they are supposed to pass judgment on, not the buyers. That’s akin to allowing the Hollywood studios to pay the nation’s film critics for their opinions.

We all saw the result in 2007 and 2008. A major cause of the financial crisis was that S&P, Moody’s and Fitch, while being paid hundreds of millions of dollars by Wall Street, gave AAA ratings to complicated, risky securities that turned out to be anything but AAA. If a big bank didn’t like a proposed rating, it just shopped the deal until it found a firm that would provide something it liked better.

Who can forget this memorable April 2007 instant-message exchange between two S&P analysts, Rahul Dilip Shah and Shannon Mooney?

“Btw, that deal is ridiculous,” Shah wrote to Mooney about some mortgage securities they were asked to rate.

“I know, right . . . model def(initely) does not capture half the risk,” she replied.

“We should not be rating it,” he answered.

“We rate every deal,” Mooney replied. “It could be structured by cows and we would rate it…”

Egan told me he is determined to fight the charges because “the issuer-paid rating firms were identified as a significant source” of the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, and yet the SEC’s “response has been to hobble, in any way possible, the most vocal counterbalance to those inflated ratings…”

…“Anybody who looks at this would realize that this is wrong,” he said. “It provides an opportunity for a spotlight on what’s been going on over the recent past, and hopefully it will change so that it’s a more even playing field.”

To quote Bill Cohan: Don’t get your hopes up for that, Mr. Egan.

Wall Street is still the ultimate capitalist country club. Honesty is not a prerequisite for joining. And the agency in charge of policing the grounds of the club is the SEC. Sean Egan evidently is too honest to be trusted.

Meet the Fokkens — Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes

Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes have been thrust into the spotlight with the release of their memoirs and a documentary film about their lives. The film, Meet the Fokkens, follows 70-year-old identical twins Louise and Martine Fokken as they share secrets of selling sex in the city’s famous red light district.

Louise and Martine shuffle round their cluttered two-bedroom apartment in Ijmuiden, just west of Amsterdam.

One in slippers, the other in sandals, they fetch foaming mugs of coffee and their favourite cream cakes.

There is an absent-minded synchronicity to their movements.

Martine hums as Louise breaks into an old lament about families forced to flee during World War II. Their mum was part Jewish, something they managed to hide from occupying Nazi forces while remaining in the Netherlands. Louise’s song dwells on the joy of living and the sadness of leaving.

“We were very little during the war. When the sirens started our mum would take us down into the basement. We didn’t have any helmets so we used frying pans to cover our heads. We all looked so funny. And we had fun there.”

I ask, when she looks back at her life in Amsterdam, was there more laughter or tears?

“Oh laughter, definitely laughter. You have to laugh even if you are sad because it is your life and you can’t change it, but it is always better if you are smiling.”

The sisters nod in unison…

Martine still sells sex. She says the Dutch state pension alone is not enough to live on. Louise quit because of arthritis.

Martine says she would like to retire but cannot afford to. The documentary shows her at work – perched on a stool in stockings, suspenders and patent leather stilettos…

“There are always ups and downs,” Louise adds. “Ups and downs, ups and downs…” the twins sing-song, before falling into each other in fits of laughter.

They have a century’s worth of experience between them. And now their story is going global.

The twins’ memoirs topped the Dutch bestsellers list, and now an English translation is being printed and is due to be released later this year.

The difference is in the culture and the country, of course. Unless you’re a high-priced urbane call girl – with an equivalent short work span – life for a hooker in a country like the United States is filled with added danger. It ain’t just coppers and the law. Often, wanting, needing a pimp adds to the dangers instead of diminishing worries.

But, then, the absurdity of laws based on biblical morality hasn’t changed especially. We have means tests for potential sinners, We have regulations stuffing ordinary people into categories defined by dollars. Why should we expect women who work at sex to live an ordinary life?

Unless they’re in the Netherlands instead of the Land of the Free. Except where True Believers and science-haters have turned ordinary language upside-down to suit their pleasure – consenting adults means exactly that. Age may vary from country to country; but, if you say “consenting adults” – please realize that at least one of them may also be charging for a service. And they have a right to do so.