35 years for grandma who threw girl off walkway

Saturday, 7 January 2012

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A Virginia woman was sentenced Friday to 35 years for throwing her 2-year-old granddaughter off a sixth-level walkway at a busy shopping mall, a murder the judge called "almost beyond comprehension."

Carmela dela Rosa, 51, of Fairfax, Va., offered a tearful, barely audible apology to her family, saying: "I'm very sorry for what I've done."

Circuit Court Judge Bruce White imposed the full sentence recommended by the jury that convicted her last year. Under Virginia law, White had the option to reduce the sentence to the mandatory minimum of 20 years, but could not go above the jury's recommendation.

Dela Rosa, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the Philippines, killed her granddaughter Angelyn Ogdoc at the end of a family outing in November 2010 to Tysons Corner Center for dinner at the mall's food court. The evidence at trial showed that she deliberately hung back with Angelyn as the family exited along a nearly 50-foot skywalk connecting the mall to a multi-level parking garage, so she could scoop up Angelyn and toss her over the guardrail without any interference from her family.

In a videotaped confession, dela Rosa told police she killed Angelyn to get back at her son-in-law for getting her daughter pregnant out of wedlock and ruining her daughter's opportunities for a better life.

Dela Rosa's lawyer, public defender Dawn Butorac, argued unsuccessfully that dela Rosa's mental illness — severe depression — rendered her legally insane and unable to appreciate the consequences of her actions or understand right from wrong.

Butorac said she will appeal the verdict, and that she believes the jury did not fully appreciate the depth of dela Rosa's depression, which had gotten worse in the year before the murder and led her to attempt suicide on multiple occasions.

"When you say someone is depressed, there's a misapprehension of what that means," Butorac said. "She loved her granddaughter and would never do anything purposely to hurt her. Thus her mental illness is the only explanation for her actions."

Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh said that while it may be more comforting to believe that a grandmother must be crazy to kill her grandchild in such a brutal manner, the evidence showed that dela Rosa was a hateful, spiteful, jealous woman who harbored animosity not only against her son-in-law but also at Angelyn herself for stealing attention away from dela Rosa. She admitted exactly that during her videotaped confession.

"She was angry. She was jealous," Morrogh told the judge. "It's not a good reason, but I've never seen a good reason for a murder."

Morrogh called the case one of the worst he has ever seen in a long prosecutorial career

Angelyn's parents, Morrogh said, were still too traumatized to write formal victim-impact statements. Morrogh said he took no pleasure in successfully prosecuting the case.

"It's just been a real nightmare, to be honest with you," he said.

Source : news.yahoo.com
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Iran's Ahmadinejad to seek Latin American support

(Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will seek support from Latin America's leftist leaders on a tour starting on Sunday after tough new Western sanctions targeted Iran's oil industry.

With one eye on his standing at home ahead of March's parliamentary election, Ahmadinejad will meet other anti-American presidents on a trip Washington said showed Iran was "desperate for friends."

His first stop is OPEC-ally Venezuela, where Ahmadinejad has been assured a warm welcome by President Hugo Chavez. He will also visit Cuba and Ecuador and attend the inauguration of re-elected Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

"We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Friday.

"As the regime feels increasing pressure, it is desperate for friends and flailing around in interesting places to find new friends," Nuland said.

President Barack Obama signed new measures into law on New Year's Eve that will make it harder for most countries to buy Iranian oil. The European Union is expected to announce some form of ban on Iranian oil by the end of the month.

The sanctions are aimed at forcing Iran to halt its nuclear work, which the United States and its allies say is aimed at producing bombs. Iran says it is for power generation only.

The sanctions are already hurting Iranians. Faced with rising prices and a falling rial currency, they have been queuing at banks to convert savings into dollars.

"The representative of the dignified people of Iran will be welcome," Chavez said last week as Iranian naval exercises helped push up global oil prices.

But it remains to be seen how far Chavez would go in backing Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil shipping lane, or how much he could undermine the sanctions by providing fuel or cash to the Islamic Republic.

Other regional leaders due to receive Ahmadinejad, such as Ortega and Ecuador's Rafael Correa, have a similar ideological stance to Chavez but fewer resources available to help Iran.

Ahmadinejad, who is subordinate to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on foreign policy, has said little about the spike in tensions with the West, leaving it to military commanders to make the most bellicose statements.

Under increasing fire from rival hardliners aiming to stop his supporters making gains in the March election, Ahmadinejad will hope the foreign tour will show voters he still has international clout and is not, as his critics say, a lame duck.

With less than 18 months left of his presidency, he will be keen to preserve his legacy as a leader who stood up to Washington in a changing Middle East.


The friendly relations between Ahmadinejad and Chavez are a growing source of concern for Obama. In a newspaper interview last month, he said: "Sooner or later, Venezuela's people will have to decide what possible advantage there is in having relations with a country that violates fundamental human rights and is isolated from most of the world."

Chavez replied that Obama should mind his own business. In the past, Chavez has threatened to stop oil exports to the United States, but has never followed through.

He and Ahmadinejad can be expected to announce new deals during the trip. Iran has built homes, dairies and vehicle factories in the South American country. But analysts say their private talks are likely to be more significant.

The Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think-tank said this week Iran had funded joint ventures across the region that could help it sidestep trade restrictions with the West, and Venezuela led the rest of Latin America in such arrangements.

"In almost all cases, joint ventures and investments seem directed at either political objectives or possible clandestine technology transfer, not profits," the CSIS said in a report.

It said Iran wanted to challenge the United States in its own backyard and the easiest way was to "exploit" the loose alliance of leftist leaders headed by Chavez.

But Chavez's close ties with Iran are likely to be jumped on by opponents who hope to unseat him at an election in October.

"I think it's absolutely harmful, a visit that gives no help at all to international politics, that keeps away investors and will contribute to bringing chaos to the country," opposition lawmaker Edgar Zambrano told Reuters TV.

(Additional reporting by Sebastian Rocandio in Caracas; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Source : reuters.com
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Iran welcomes U.S. rescue of sailors

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's government on Saturday welcomed the U.S. Navy's rescue of 13 Iranian fishermen held by pirates, calling it a positive humanitarian gesture.

U.S. officials announced Friday that the fishermen had been rescued by a U.S. Navy destroyer on Thursday, more than 40 days after their boat was commandeered by suspected Somali pirates in the northern Arabian Sea. The rescue came just days after Tehran warned the U.S. to keep the same group of warships out of the Persian Gulf in a reflection of Iran's fear that American warships could try to enforce an embargo against Iranian oil exports.

"The rescue of Iranian sailors by American forces is considered a humanitarian gesture and we welcome this behavior," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by state TV's Al-Alam Arabic channel.

U.S. rescues Iranian ship held by pirates

Iran's hard-line Fars news agency had a different take, calling the rescue operation a Hollywood dramatization of a routine event.

The Fars report noted that attacks by Somali pirates in the region are common and said that Iran's navy has itself freed many mariners held by pirates in recent years without seeking to highly publicize it.

Amid escalating tension with Iran over its nuclear program, the Obama administration reveled in delivering Friday's announcement and highlighted the fact that the rescuing ships were the same ones Iran's army chief had just said were no longer welcome in the Persian Gulf.

"Basically, rescuing trading and fishing boats from the hands of pirates in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden is considered a completely normal issue," Fars said. "A U.S. helicopter filming the rescue operation from the first minute makes it look like a Hollywood drama with specific locations and actors. It shows the Americans tried to publicize it through the media and present the American warship as a savior."

The semiofficial Fars news agency is considered close to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard military force.

Fars reported in April that Iranian naval commandos had driven off pirates attempting to hijack a supertanker off Pakistan's southwestern coast.

"Iran's navy has rescued various foreign ships from the hands of pirates ... but never publicized that," it said.

Naval forces from several countries patrol shipping lanes in the region in pursuit of Somali pirates. The pirates, who are after huge ransoms, have dramatically expanded their range in recent years and targeted some of the largest vessels to take to the seas, including oil supertankers.

The episode occurred after a week of tough talk from Iranian leaders, including the statement that American vessels were no longer welcome in the Gulf. Iran also warned it could block the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway through which a sixth of the world's oil flows to market.

The Iranian threats, which were brushed aside by the Obama administration, were in response to strong economic sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear enrichment program. A week ago, President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and its ability to sell petroleum abroad.

At the same time, Iran has sought to project its naval power, carrying out 10 days of military drills at sea near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

On Saturday, Iran's Revolutionary Guard began new war games near the Afghan border, according to the Guard's website, sepahnews.com.

Mohammad Pakpoor, commander of the Guard's ground force, said the maneuvers began outside Khaf, an eastern town near the border. He said the war games were aimed at strengthening Iran's borders and increasing the combat readiness of the Guard's ground force.

Iran is also planning new military exercises near the Hormuz Strait next month.

Source : cbsnews.com
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Justin Timberlake gets engaged

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have reportedly got engaged.

The singer-and-actor is said to have proposed to the actress last month during a pre-Christmas break in Jackson, Wyoming, after they recently reunited following a three-month split.

A source told UsMagazine.com: "Justin knows how much she loves snowboarding and the mountains, so it was the perfect place.

"This was the basis for getting back together. When they reunited they had a conversation about taking the next step."

The couple - who have dated on-and-off for the past four years - are believed to have then celebrated their engagement with their family and friends at Justin's home in Big Sky, Montana.

Although she has accepted his proposal, 'New Year's Eve' star Jessica recently admitted she is in no hurry to walk down the aisle.

She said: "I was never one of those girls who dreamt of my wedding and my Prince Charming. To p**s off my mom, I used to say, 'I'm never having kids, and I'm going to be a fabulously rich old maid living in a house with cute butlers and dogs.' "

Source : usa.chinadaily.com.cn
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SXSW: The Strokes show how it’s done

Friday, 30 December 2011

The main strip in South by Southwest (SXSW), the musical festival held in Austin, Texas, teems with small, dingy dive bars hosting the most important musical acts of 2011. On any corner you could run into Bob Geldof – the festival’s keynote speaker this year – Simon Le Bon, Jack White or Odd Future, the most exciting act in the world at the moment.

Guitar rock rules here. After many pale imitations, the talking point was the Strokes, who played in a riverside park outside the main area. The band, who are releasing their fourth album, Angles, today, performed at twilight before a backdrop of sci-fi skyscrapers and flitting bats. They sounded fresher and crisper than any of the indie bands playing at the festival.

Julian Casablancas’s molasses-slicked voice and rock-star presence showed up many of the pretender bands and even the poorer songs from the new album were enjoyable. Most of the crowd stopped tearing into their enormous turkey legs as soon as they started. The fireworks at the end of the set provided an apt finale.

Legends of synthpop Duran Duran headlined on the first evening and, again, showed their progeny how it’s done. A synth (and a tattoo) in Austin is a standard accessory and the carbon new wave copies can get tiresome. But the lengthy queues for the Brummie band were deserved. They proved why they’ve been so popular for decades.

The highlight, the show that was talked about for the entire weekend, was Odd Future. They’re a macabre, lyrically knifesharp hip-hop collective in their late teens. They played in a skate park in the blazing sun and climbed on top of the speakers and the roof, rapping over the crowd before launching themselves like flying squirrels into the pit and continuing their songs, held up by their loyal fans.
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Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona in Santiago Bernabéu

Barcelona were the comeback kings at the Santiago Bernabeu as the champions recovered from conceding within the first minute to defeat bitter rivals Real Madrid 3-1 in the seventh and final Clasico of 2011. Jose Mourinho’s men took the lead after only 22 seconds when Karim Benzema grabbed the quickest goal in Clasico history. The home side were pegged back on the half hour mark when Alexis Sanchez grabbed an equaliser in his first league appearance against Madrid.

A Xavi volley took a fortuitous deflection off Marcelo to give the visitors the lead, before Cesc Fabregas’ header finished off a wonderful team move in the 66th minute in what proved to be the fixture’s final strike. The victory sends Barcelona level on points with Jose Mourinho’s men and to the top of the Liga table due to their superior head-to-head record against Madrid, who have a game in hand.
In one of the most astonishing starts in the history of the Clasico, Real Madrid were a goal to the good within 22 seconds. Victor Valdes’ poor clearance fell to the feet of Angel Di Maria who drilled the ball into the penalty area only for Sergio Busquets to block its progress. Mesut Ozil’s attempted volley deflected off Busquets into the path of Benzema to fire home six yards from goal.

Madrid were left to rue opportunities to double their lead when Barcelona drew level on the half hour mark with Messi on hand to turn provider. The 24-year-old bypassed several challenges before sliding a weighted through ball to Alexis Sanchez, who calmly slotted past Casillas from the edge of the area to bring his side back into the game and all square at the break.

After a edgy opening to the second period, Barcelona were handed the lead thanks to a large slice of fortune on 53 minutes. Xavi’s speculative volley 25 yards from goal took a massive deflection off Marcelo, fooling a wrong-footed Casillas with the ball spinning off the post and into the back of the net.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who had in the first half skewed a shot wide of the target when Di Maria was perhaps better placed to his right, then squandered a golden opportunity to level the contest. Xabi Alonso’s cross found the Portuguese completely unmarked inside the area, but his header drifted wide of the post.

Madrid were made to pay, as Barca extended their lead in the 66th minute after a breathtaking counterattacking move. Messi slid the ball out to the right for Dani Alves to whip a beautiful cross towards the back post where an unmarked Cesc Fabregas was on cue to coolly head the ball into the far corner in what was to be the final goal of a pulsating encounter.

Next up for Real Madrid is a trip to Ponferradina on Tuesday as they look to defend their Copa del Rey title. Barcelona now head to Japan where they will feature in the Club World Cup. Their first task will be a semi-final meeting against either Esperance or Al Sadd on Thursday.

Source : goal.com
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Julian Pavone is World’s Youngest Professional Drummer

Guinness World Records has recognized a U.S. boy as the youngest professional drummer. Julian Pavone was certified as of March 21, 2010, when he was 5 years 10 months and 3 days old, Guinness announced Tuesday.

The rules for London-based Guinness say a drummer must play on at least one commercial record and be paid for the work. The drummer also must have given at least 20 concerts of 45 minutes or longer within five years. Julian is 7 and lives outside Detroit.

His drummer-father, Bernie Pavone, said Julian’s percussion background dates back before birth. “I used to play music on my wife’s stomach all the time when she was pregnant with Julian,” Guinness quoted the father as saying.

Julian has appeared on about 150 television and news shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Martha Stewart,” “The Maury Show,” “FOX News Dayside” and “Inside Edition.”

The previous record holder was Tiger Onitsuka of Japan, who was recognized at age 9 years, 9 months.

Source : cbsnews.com
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