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BEWARE OF THE DEADLY TOXINS IN YOUR HOME - What you don't know about many common household products

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mayor of New Orleans Promises to Throw Looters into ANGOLA PRISON

As killer Hurricane Gustav bears down on New Orleans its mayor ordered a sundown curfew and vowed Sunday to throw looters into prison.

More than a million people are fleeing Louisiana to escape the monster storm and an army of 2,000 National Guard officers has moved in to augment local police forces in the seven parishes (counties) in the New Orleans area.

"Looters will go directly to jail," New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin vowed at a Sunday morning press conference.

"You will not get a pass this time. Anyone caught looting in New Orleans will go directly to the Big House in the general population. You will go directly to Angola Prison and God bless you if you go there."

Tropical force winds are expected to hit New Orleans by Sunday night and Gustav could hit the Louisiana coast by midday Monday bringing tornadoes with it, forecasters say.

For Web Cam and Traffic Cam pictures of HURRICANE GUSTAV as it hits NEW ORLEANS


Angola (also known as "The Farm") is the Louisiana State Penitentiary and is estimated to be one of the largest prisons in the U.S. with 5,000 inmates and 1,800 staff members. Located on an 18,000 acre (73 km²) plantation in unincorporated West Feliciana Parish close to the Mississippi border, it is surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River, making flooding a constant menace.

The land that has become Angola Penitentiary was purchased by Isaac Franklin from Francis Routh during the 1830s with the profits from his slave trading firm, Armfield and Franklin, of Alexandria, Virginia and Natchez, Mississippi as four contiguous plantations. These plantations, Panola, Belle View, Killarney and Angola, were joined during their sale by Franklin's widow, Adelicia Hayes, to Samuel Lawrence James in 1880. The plantation, named after the area in Africa where the former slaves came from, contained a building called the Old Slave Quarters. Samuel James ran the plantation using convicts leased from the State of Louisiana. The State of Louisiana only assumed full control in 1901. In 1916 to save money, all the guards were fired, and selected inmates were used as trustees (similar to Mississippi's Trusty system), a system which led to a great deal of abuse.

By the 1950s, Angola had degenerated to become one of the very worst prisons in the U.S. In 1952, 31 inmates cut their Achilles' tendons in protest of the hard work and brutality (referred to as the Heel String Gang.) In 1972, a reforming director of corrections was appointed by Governor Edwin Edwards, and the U.S. courts in Gates v. Collier ordered Louisiana to clean up Angola once and for all, ending the Trusty system. Successive wardens have continued the improvements, and Angola is now regarded as a showcase among U.S. penal establishments. Current Warden Burl Cain maintains an open-door policy with the media, which led to the production of the award winning documentary The Farm. Films such as Dead Man Walking and Monster's Ball were partly filmed in Angola.

The film The Green Mile was based on life on death row at Angola in the 1920s.

On August 31, 2008, New Orleans, LA Mayor Ray Nagin stated in a press conference that any New Orleans residents found looting during the evacuation of the city due to Hurricane Gustav, would be arrested and immediately transported to Angola prison.

Today Angola is still run as a working farm; Warden Cain once said that the key to running a peaceful maximum security prison was that "you've got to keep the inmates working all day so they're tired at night."

The prison hosts a rodeo every April and October, and its inmates produce the award-winning magazine The Angolite, available to the general public and relatively uncensored[8] There is a museum which features among its exhibits Louisiana's old electric chair, "Gruesome Gertie", last used for the execution of Andrew Lee Jones on 22 July 1991. Angola Prison is also home to the country's only inmate-operated radio station.

While Angola was once known as "the bloodiest prison in America", it has made a tremendous turnaround, much of which has been attributed to the influence of faith-based programming. Warden Cain allowed the introduction of Bible studies—most notably Experiencing God—and a significant network of prison churches and mosques. In the 1990s, Angola partnered with the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to offer prisoners the chance to earn accredited bachelor's degrees in ministry. Dr. Bruce M Sabin wrote his doctoral dissertation evaluating moral development among those college students.

New Orleans Gets Ready for Gustav - Web Traffic Camera Views

With Hurricane Gustav looming over New Orleans, Internet goers seem to be searching for any pictures of the city in turmoil.

Taking a look at traffic camera pictures from yesterday, one can see the vast different a mere 21 hours makes in the layout of Hurricane riden New Orleans. The once bustling streets and jammed highway's are now nothing more than empty roads in what appears to be a ghost town.

The roads are now speckled with the National Guard as well as state and Local Police ensuring New Orleans is kept vacant for the unwelcome visit of Gustav.

Here are several traffic camera / webcam views from Hurricane Gustav stricken New Orleans. This afternoon, New Orleans seems to have a little sunshine poking through. Although this may seem like a positive, it is more the calm before the storm.

I am not a religious man, but if there is indeed a God, may he or she have mercy on the people of New Orleans.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER for New Orleans - State of Emergency - National Guard Dispatched

Spooked by predictions that Hurricane Gustav could grow into a Category 5 monster, an estimated 1 million people fled the Gulf Coast Saturday — even before the official order came for New Orleans residents to get out of the way of a storm taking dead aim at Louisiana.

Mayor Ray Nagin gave the mandatory order late Saturday, but all day residents took to buses, trains, planes and cars — clogging roadways leading away from New Orleans, still reeling three years after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed about 1,600 across the region.

The evacuation of New Orleans becomes mandatory at 8 a.m. Sunday along the vulnerable west bank of the Mississippi River, and at noon on the east bank. Nagin called Gustav the "mother of all storms" and told residents to "get out of town. This is not the one to play with."

"This is the real deal, this is not a test," Nagin said as he issued the order, warning residents that staying would be "one of the biggest mistakes you could make in your life." He emphasized that the city will not offer emergency services to anyone who chooses to stay behind.

Nagin did not immediately order a curfew, which would allow officials to arrest residents if they are not on their property.

Gustav had already killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean, and if current forecasts hold up, it would make landfall Monday afternoon somewhere between East Texas and western Mississippi.

Forecasters warned it was too soon to say whether New Orleans would take another direct hit, but residents weren't taking any chances judging by the bumper-to-bumper traffic pouring from the city. Gas stations along interstate highways were running out of fuel, and phone circuits were jammed.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said they were surprised at how quickly Gustav gained strength as it slammed into Cuba's tobacco-growing western tip. It went from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in about 24 hours, and was likely to become a Category 5 — with sustained winds of 156 mph or more — by Sunday.

"That puts a different light on our evacuations and hopefully that will send a very clear message to the people in the Gulf Coast to really pay attention," said Federal Emergency Management Agency chief David Paulison.

Levee building on the city's west bank was incomplete, Nagin said. A storm surge of 15 to 20 feet would pour through canals and flood the neighborhood and neighboring Jefferson Parish, he said.

Nagin estimated that about half the population had left and admitted officials were worried that some people would try to stay.

Even before the evacuation order, hotels closed, and the airport prepared to follow suit.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff planned to travel to Louisiana on Sunday to observe preparations. Also, likely GOP presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, are traveling to Mississippi on Sunday to check on people getting prepared.

As part of the evacuation plan New Orleans developed after Katrina, residents who had no other way to get out of the city waited on a line that snaked for more than a mile through the parking lot of the city's main transit terminal. From there, they were boarding motor coaches bound for shelters in north Louisiana. The city expects to move out about 30,000 such residents by Sunday.

"I don't like it," said Joseph Jones Jr., 61, who draped a towel over his head to block the blazing sun. "Going someplace you don't know, people you don't know. And then when you come back, is your house going to be OK?"

Jones had been in line for 2 1/2 hours, but he wasn't complaining. During Katrina, he'd been stranded on a highway overpass.

Others led children or pushed strollers with one hand and pulled luggage with the other. Volunteers handed out bottled water, and medics were nearby in case people became sick from the heat.

Unlike Katrina, when thousands took refuge inside the Superdome, there will be no "last resort" shelter. "You will be on your own," Nagin said.

About 1,500 National Guard troops were in the region, and soldiers were expected to help augment about 1,400 New Orleans police officers in helping patrol and secure the city.

Standing outside his restaurant in the city's Faubourg Marigny district, Dale DeBruyne prepared for Gustav the way he did for Katrina — stubbornly.

"I'm not leaving," he said.

DeBruyne, 52, said his house was stocked with storm supplies, including generators.

"I stayed for Katrina," he said, "and I'll stay again."

Many residents said the early stage of the evacuation was more orderly than Katrina, although a plan to electronically log and track evacuees with a bar code system failed and was aborted to keep the buses moving. Officials said information on evacuees would be taken when they reached their destinations.

Advocates criticized the decision not to establish a shelter, warning that day laborers and the poorest residents would fall through the cracks.

About two dozen Hispanic men gathered under oak trees near Claiborne Avenue. They were wary of boarding any bus, even though a city spokesman said no identity papers would be required.

"The problem is," said Pictor Soto, 44, of Peru, "there will be immigration people there and we're all undocumented."

Farther west, where Gustav appeared more likely to make landfall, Guard troops were also being sent to Lake Charles.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of Texas, meaning hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours.

Two East Texas counties also issued mandatory evacuation orders, and authorities in Mississippi, also battered by Katrina, began evacuating the mentally ill and aged from facilities along the coast.

National Guard soldiers on Mississippi's coast were going door-to-door to alert thousands of families in FEMA trailers and cottages that they should be prepared to evacuate Sunday.

In Alabama, shelters were opened and 3,000 National Guard personnel assembled to help evacuees from Mississippi and Louisiana.

"If we don't get the wind and rain, we stand ready to help them," Gov. Bob Riley said.


When a hurricane like Gustav forms, people often have two questions for forecasters: Will it hit me? And how strong will it be?

Weather experts have become much better at determining where a hurricane will hit, but they acknowledge they have little skill in figuring out its intensity well ahead of time.

With that in mind, government officials must strike a balance between cautioning residents to prepare and not stirring up fear unnecessarily. That's the challenge with Hurricane Gustav, which has many on edge along the U.S. Gulf Coast, including New Orleans and other areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Mayor Ray Nagin said New Orleans officials were taking no chances, stepping up their rhetoric to encourage people to get out before ordering them to evacuate. Forecasts that show Gustav strengthening will only help, he said.

"Once this storm gets in the Gulf of Mexico, and people really see how big and dangerous it is, that's going to help our efforts to encourage people to leave," he said.

In the past two decades, forecasters have reduced their errors predicting a storm's path by more than half, making it easier to warn the right people and more likely they'll pay attention.

But over the same time, the accuracy of intensity forecasts is virtually unchanged. Those are off by an average of 25 mph five days in advance, a margin of error that can mean the difference between a low-end Category 1 hurricane and a devastating Category 4. Average error improves to about 12 mph a day in advance.

Scientists have only a limited understanding of how hurricanes form and interact with the atmosphere and the ocean. That means complex computer models that predict what will happen to them are sometimes based on an incorrect understanding of how they work, said David Nolan, an associate professor in meteorology at the University of Miami.

And even with satellites, radar, hurricane planes and observation, researchers have a hard time getting a clear picture of what is happening inside hurricanes.

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read knows his forecasts can prompt griping from residents who evacuate only to see the storm hit many miles away or fizzle out. But emergency managers often have no choice because forecasts are imperfect.

Read said the government's goal is to cut track errors in half again in the next decade. Improvements in intensity predictions are harder to promise. So are forecasts of a hurricane's size, storm surge flooding and rainfall, which can all influence how deadly a storm is.

"I would be ecstatic if we could, say, correctly forecast half of the time 24 hours in advance a rapid change in intensity, which is the big problem with our errors," he said.

For More on Hurricane Gustav

For Better or for Worse 2.0

On Sunday, the Patterson family saga draws to a close in the comic strip "For Better or For Worse." But this isn't the end. According to creator Lynn Johnston, it's a new beginning.

"If I could do it all over again," Johnston writes in Sunday's installment, stepping into her own strip briefly, "would I do some things differently?" She would, and she will.

Starting Monday, "For Better or For Worse" will flash back to the early days of the Patterson household, when Elizabeth was a baby and Michael was in kindergarten.

The first month of this "2.0" version of the strip will be all-new material, and over time the strip will have a mix of new material and reruns -- though some of the reruns will be redrawn in part, and Johnston is adapting her current art style to blend more smoothly with her earlier style. In a YouTube interview, she describes her approach as "new-runs" rather than reruns. She will also expand on storylines and tell new stories with the characters.

The first year, the ratio of old to new material will be about 50/50, Johnston said. One of the highlights in the first year will be the family's adoption of Farley, the family dog, in a storyline running in October.

The strip started in September 1979 and is now carried in more than 2,000 newspapers around the world. In comic-page surveys conducted by the Winston-Salem Journal, it has consistently proven one of the most popular strips.

Johnston planned to retire and let the strip continue in reruns while she and her husband traveled. Those plans changed when Johnston's marriage, which formed the basis of the strip, ended. "I never thought I'd be single at this time of my life," she said in the YouTube interview. "And with that in mind, I still want to work, I still want to keep my hand in it."

But the change in format will allow her to take more vacations. "Because I don't have to work 365 days of material into the year, I can take some of the time off that I want," she said. "I can paint, and I can travel."

Hurricane's Gustav and Hanna Causing Damage throughout the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico

As it heads straight for the US Gulf coast, gathering strength, Hurricane Gustav looks increasingly likely to become the first storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season to cause major damage to US oil and gas installations.

Hurricane watchers over the weekend were betting on the central Louisiana shore as the most likely point for Gustav to strike land, possibly on Tuesday, putting the low-lying Louisiana coast with its unfinished levee system in great danger. The threatened region contains oil refineries and communities whose industrial base serves the offshore oil industry.

Before making landfall, Hurricane Gustav is also likely to find bigger oil platforms in its path than its predecessors, Katrina and Rita, did in 2005. In the past three years, Gulf oil and gas production has shifted to deeper water off Louisiana’s coast, becoming concentrated at a handful of giant platforms instead of being spread around dozens of small, shallow-water facilities. A direct hit on any of those platforms could have a major impact on US Gulf oil output. However, the new platforms are expected to be more resistant to hurricane damage than their smaller predecessors.

Katrina, followed soon afterwards by Hurricane Rita, devastated communities along a wide stretch of the Louisiana and Alabama coasts, including the city of New Orleans, knocking offshore oil rigs off their moorings, destroying 115 of the Gulf’s 4,000 offshore oil and gas platforms and damaging 52 others.

Gustav is also part of a two-storm system, with tropical storm Hannah, northeast of the Bahamas, set to extend the area of potential US storm damage.

Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil were among the major oil producers suspending operations at oil and gas production platforms and evacuating staff ahead of the expected hurricane. Shell and BP, the biggest offshore Gulf producers, planned to shut down the equivalent of 800,000 barrels per day of oil output. Most of the 10 oil companies that account for about two-thirds of Gulf oil and gas production have announced plans for the partial or complete shutdown of their operations until the storm passes.

Exxon Mobil said it had not cut output from refineries and chemical plants along the Gulf coast, but was preparing them to weather the storm.
Oil production of 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) and gas output of 7.3 billion cubic feet per day from the Gulf of Mexico account for 26 per cent and 14 per cent respectively of total US oil and gas production.

Although Katrina and Rita triggered oil price spikes, it is unclear whether Gustav will have the same immediate effect. Crude prices held steady on Friday at around $115 a barrel as traders bet that releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve would cover any oil supply shortfall. A US official said 4.4 million bpd could be released from the reserve in the event that oil supply was disrupted by the storm.

However, noting that US oil and gas inventories are much lower than three years ago, some analysts predicted severe price consequences that could send US petrol prices soaring.

Hurricanes to effect insurance rates

The first active hurricane season in three years could have unfortunate implications for homeowner insurance rates.

Private market reinsurers, which provide insurance for insurance companies, will likely raise rates next year if insured property damage from potential hurricanes are significant.

The reinsurers had increased rates by more than 100 percent in some cases after the 2004 and 2005 storms. But rates have come down significantly since then due to two storm-free seasons.

Insurance companies build reinsurance rates into their premiums, though any increase would still be subject to approval by state regulators in Florida.

There is also the issue of up to five percent insurance surcharges on every homeowner and auto policy in Florida for years to come. Florida’s reinsurance fund, which provides some subsidized reinsurance coverage for every insurer, has less than $3 billion of its own money but liabilities of around $30 billion. The fund went broke after the 2005 season requiring one percent surcharges on auto and home policies that run through 2013.

State-sponsored Citizens Insurance Corp. can also surcharge all homeowner policyholders if it runs out of money and is still doing so from the 2005 storms.

While Tropical Storm Fay was much smaller than expected, Gustav has hurricane written all over it and is setting its sights on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Tropical Storm Hannah, meanwhile, is forming in the Leeward Islands with potential landfill in South Florida late next week.

And even then its still only early September with much of the hurricane season still in front of us.

Suspect in Ashley Ellerin Murder Case due to DNA Evidence

DNA evidence has linked an air conditioning repairman to the stabbing deaths of three women, including a former girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher, police said Friday.

Michael Gargiulo, 32, of Santa Monica has been in custody since July for a separate knife attack and could face murder charges as soon as next week, police said.

Santa Monica police Lt. Darrell Lowe said DNA collected from a crime scene last spring helped link Gargiulo to the stabbing deaths of women from Los Angeles, suburban Chicago and Monterey Park.

One of the cases involves 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, Kutcher's former girlfriend, who was found dead in February 2001 in her Hollywood Hills home.

Kutcher, who starred in the television series "That '70s Show" and is married to actress Demi Moore, told police he went to pick up the fashion student-model for a post-Grammy Awards party, but she did not answer the door. He checked a back window and spotted what he thought were red wine stains on the carpet and then left. Her body was discovered the next day by a friend.

Kutcher's agent, Stephanie Simon, said the actor had no comment.

Police said they have a DNA match that links Gargiulo to another fatal stabbing of a Monterey Park woman in 2005. They also suspect Gargiulo in the 1993 killing of a high school girl in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, where Gargiulo lived at the time. Tricia Pacaccio, a senior at Glenbrook South High School, was found stabbed to death on her front doorstep, clutching her door key.

Gargiulo was being held in lieu of $1.1 million bail on attempted murder and burglary charges stemming from the April 28 stabbing of a Santa Monica woman in her home, Lowe said. Detectives matched a DNA sample taken from blood at the crime scene to Gargiulo. Lowe said further database cross-referencing found that Gargiulio's DNA matched genetic evidence in the three killings.

Gargiulo's attorney, Anthony Salerno, said his client denies involvement in any of the attacks and "thinks the police are out to get him."

Salerno acknowledged Gargiulo will possibly be charged with murder for the three slayings. He said that Gargiulo lived near the four victims at the time of the attacks and a garment of his was found in one of the victims' homes. But, he said, that does not make Gargiulo guilty.

Salerno said he was not aware of any DNA matches in the three killings and questioned why police have taken so long to charge Gargiulo. "If there is any DNA evidence, that would be a surprise to me," he said.

He said Gargiulo has pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder and burglary charges from April and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Sept. 4.

When asked about the Pacaccio case, John Gorman, a spokesman for the Cook County (Ill.) state's attorney's office, said he could not talk about an open investigation. "I can't comment on any evidence that may be out there," he said.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles police are using DNA evidence to track down another suspected serial killer in Southern California. A special police task force has linked the fatal shootings of 10 black women prostitutes and one black man in South Los Angeles to one assailant who has been killing since 1985. Police said they have no known suspect because the DNA does not match any sample in national crime databases.

One victim survived an attack in 1988, giving police the only description they have of the suspect: a black man in his 30s driving an orange Ford Pinto.

The last killing in the series occurred in January 2007 with the discovery of 25-year-old Janecia Peters' body. DNA tests showed she was killed by the same assailant as the others.

For More on Ashley Ellerin Click Here

Friday, August 29, 2008

Lindsay Lohan Tells her Dad to get out of her Life

Lindsay Lohan had words for her father on her blog.

The 22-year-old actress lashed out at father Michael by calling him a "public embarrassment" and a "bully" in a MySpace blog entry posted Thursday. Earlier in the week, Michael said in an interview with E! that Lohan gal pal Samantha Ronson was "using" his daughter.

Lindsay Lohan's publicist, Leslie Sloane-Zelnik, confirmed the post by Lohan was legitimate.

"If you have something to say to me, say it to my face — that's what I have believed my whole life — don't be a coward and say it to others first, let alone all the media in the world," Lohan wrote.

The father and daughter have publicly quarreled for years. Lindsay Lohan said in the dash-happy blog post that she tried to make things work in hopes "of having a father again" and "wanting things to change" despite what her mother and siblings have gone through with him.

Lindsay Lohan continued: "Having said that — the people were right, and he is yet to change — but this time, without his daughter by his side — he has become a public embarrassment and a bully — to my family, my co-workers, my friends and a girl that means the world to me (it's obvious who that is)."

Lindsay Lohan star went on to say that she believes her father is addicted to fame, and if he really cared about her, he would respect her wishes. She also said than Ronson and Lohan's mother Dina would never "sell me out." Lohan ended the post by saying that she had a therapist and it's not a cameraman at x17 (the celebrity photo agency and Web site).

In a separate post, Ronson said she was angry when she first heard about Michael's attack on her and called him a man "who is so desperate for attention that he goes to the media whenever possible." Ronson went on to say she felt "no need to publicly defend my role in Lindsay's life — I'm just sorry that she likes me more than him."

After the blog entries were posted Thursday, Michael told OK! magazine in an exclamation point-heavy statement that his concerns about Ronson were all generated by ex-wife Dina, who stars alongside their 14-year-old daughter Ali in the E! reality series "Living Lohan." Michael called Dina a "money-loving, fame-seeking, self-serving deceiver."

"All I want is for Lindsay to be healthy and in a good relationship," he also said in the statement. "I want her to use the gifts she has in the best ways and to help others! I said it from the very beginning: Show me who you walk with and I will tell you who you are! People may deceive us, but our eyes and facts don't! OPEN YOUR EYES!!!"

Michael, a former Wall Street broker, married Dina in 1985. They settled a long-simmering divorce in August, though they returned to court in New York earlier this year over custody issues. Michael was released from prison in March 2007 after serving nearly two years for attempted assault and driving while intoxicated.

In New York, meanwhile, one of Lindsay Lohan's uncles, Paul Sullivan, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after fraudulently claiming that his company lost business because of the Sept. 11 attacks. Sullivan also was ordered to repay the $646,000 loan that he had defrauded the Small Business administration.

To See the actual Post from Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson's Blogs check out http://lindsayfollies.blogspot.com

Deadly Canadian Cheese Recalled - dead 87 Sick after Salmonella Outbreak

One person has died and 87 are sick with salmonella food poisoning from tainted cheese in the Canadian province of Quebec, health officials said on Friday.

The outbreak comes amid consumer alarm over a massive recall by Maple Leaf Foods Inc of ready-to-eat meats. An outbreak of listeriosis food poisoning from deli meats produced at the company's Toronto plant has been linked to the deaths of 15 people.

Quebec public health director Horacio Arruda said the salmonella outbreak had no connection to the Maple Leaf case. Three brands of cheese were being recalled after an unusually high number of salmonellosis cases were reported.

"There was one fatality and 40 percent of the cases were hospitalized," Arruda told reporters in Montreal in a televised news conference.

The brands of cheese recalled are La Chaudiere, Polo and Tradition, bought between July 24 and August 24, the health agency said in a statement.

Salmonella bacteria are a common cause of food poisoning, resulting in fever, chills, diarrhea and dehydration. Children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.

Uma Thurman Pictures Skinny Dipping with Fiance

UMA THURMAN couldn't resist going for a naughty moonlight swim with her lucky fiancé on their Italian holiday.
The TOPLESS UMA THURMAN was pictured kissing ARKI BUSSON as they cooled off in the water.

The loved-up pair had earlier enjoyed a romantic dinner together after visiting LIAM NEESON and his wife NATASHA RICHARDSON in the afternoon.

UMA THURMAN and Arki announced their engagement earlier this year after meeting at a dinner party in Milan last summer.

UMA THURMAN had only just split from ANDRE BALAZS, her partner of three years. She was previously married to ETHAN HAWKE. Arki was with ELLE MACPHERSON for nine years.


Governor Sarah Palin Under Investigation for Abuse of Power

By Corey Allen-Young, CBS 11 News Reporter
Article Originally Posted: 07/28/2008 06:49:51 PM AKDT

Lawmakers will hire someone within a week to investigate whether Governor Sarah Palin abused her power in firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The legislative council approved 100,000 dollars for the investigation that will find out whether Palin was angry at Monegan for not firing an Alaska State Trooper who went through a messy divorce with Palin's sister.
On Monday afternoon, the Joint Legislative Council, filled with Republicans and Democrats, voted 12 to 0 to formally call for an investigation against Governor Palin in a manner—that they are stressing—will be unbiased and done in a timely fashion.

Legislators approved hiring a special investigator to look into the controversial firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Monegan was fired two weeks ago without explanation and has said he was pressured by the governor and her staff to fire a trooper who was once married to Palin's sister.

Accusations have risen that Monegan was fired for his refusal to fire trooper Michael Wooten. The council's intent is to investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of Monegan and potential abuses of power and improper action by the Governor and her administration.

"It is the intent of the legislative council that the investigation be professional, unbiased, independent, objective, and conducted at arms length from the political process," said, Senator Kim Elton, a Democrat from Juneau.

The council's intent is to investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of Monegan and potential abuses of power and improper action by the governor and her administration.

"I think what it really gets down to is after the comma, add potential abuses of power and improper actions is really what we are looking at or at least proposing to look at?" said Representative John Harris, a Republican from Valdez.

Governor Palin has denied the accusations, saying she replaced Monegan to go in a new direction. And although she doesn't think an investigation is needed, she welcomes the questions.

The council went through a detailed meeting to make sure the process is done in a timely manner with accurate results.

"We will get from this is," said Senator Hollis French, a Democrat from Anchorage, "no evidence of wrong doing, some evidence of wrong doing, clear evidence of wrong doing, that will come back to us."

"At that point the body has to make the decision: 'Is this evidence strong enough to proceed on or not?'"

"I think it should be made very clear because there have been conversations about personnel matters that the issues really that we are dealing with here are not the termination of the public safety commissioner," said Harris.

Legislators hope that during this investigation that the politics are left out of the mix, which can be hard for government officials.

"What really remains is the most significant hurdle," said Representative Jay Ramras, a Republican from Fairbanks. "Are those professionals going to feel compelled to be subpoenaed before they will speak candidly about what they know?"

Senator French is the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and is in charge of hiring the investigator. He says he has a short list of candidates and that the investigation should be finished within a few months.

David Duchovny is a Sex Addict - and he is going into Rehab to get rid of his sex addiction

David Duchovny has voluntarily entered a treatment facility to deal with sex addiction, reports Associated Press.

The Californication star plays sex-obsessed Hank Moody on the Showtime series, for which he won a Golden Globe.

In a statement released by his lawyer, Stanton Stein, the actor asked “for respect and privacy for my wife and children as we deal with this situation as a family.”

The actor’s publicist also confirmed the rehab report, which first appeared on People.com.

Duchovny is best known for his role as agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files. He has been married to actress Tea Leoni since 1997 and they have two children.

A Story of Sex Addiction

Sex was his fix, his high - his way out from thinking about an abusive past that haunted him. Then the abyss of addiction he fell into nearly destroyed his life.

``My drug of choice was whatever you got - a smorgasbord of pornography, hookers, anonymous partners. My goal was (to score) every day. It was like being a junkie,'' says Jim, a 34-year-old Edmonton executive and married father of two.

In his darkest hours, he was a Jekyll and Hyde in a three-piece suit, skipping work to troll for prostitutes or hook up for free sex with someone he'd met online.

``It was like a second job. I felt completely out of control, utterly hopeless. I'd become a passenger in my own life,'' says Jim, whose infidelity and lies started before his marriage, and continued for years before a regular sex partner contacted his wife in a jealous rage one night and blew his cover.

``It's where I hit bottom,'' he says, relieved.

Sexual addiction is a sexually related compulsive behaviour that interferes with daily life, puts extreme stress on loved ones, and jeopardizes one's work life and relationships, says Dr. Patrick Carnes on sexhelp.com, his online resource for sex addiction and recovery. Carnes is a psychologist and pioneer in sexual addiction research.

The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health estimates that sexual addiction and compulsivity affects three to five per cent of the U.S. population. These stats may be applied to Canadians because the two countries have similar cultures with respect to media and Internet content, says a local psychologist who trained under Carnes.

``Likely, these numbers are higher because they're only based on individuals who seek treatment. And we're just at the tip of the iceberg,'' says Doris Vincent of Recovery Path Counselling in Edmonton.

Sexual addiction is an exploding problem that is being fuelled by easy Internet accessibility, affordability and anonymity, argues Vincent.

``There's a high degree of acceptance in our culture of sexualizing and objectifying, and people who are isolated and in pain are highly susceptible to addiction,'' she says.

Jim recalls how Internet porn sites seduced him with ever-more enticing images and offerings.

``I'd plan to surf for 15 minutes, but then I'd look up and it would be three hours later,'' he says. ``I had no control over what I was doing.''

Not to be mistaken for a high libido or strong sex drive, sexual addiction renders the addict completely powerless to patterns of destructive behaviour that escalate over time.

But it's not about the sex at all; rather, it's the mood-altering state induced by sexually related behaviour that temporarily numbs the pain of past trauma, says Vincent.

``With all addictions, there is an underlying problem and difficulty of managing feelings. Addictive substances or behaviours affect the brain chemically, inducing a buzz or a high, and eventually the brain begins to demand more and more,'' she says.

But, ironically, the addict's ``acting out'' only serves to reinforce the guilt, shame and self-loathing rooted in the original trauma. So the destructive cycle continues, sometimes indefinitely.

As many as 97 per cent of sex addicts were emotionally abused and 81 per cent lived with sexual abuse, according to Carnes' research based on a survey of 1,000 sexual addicts in recovery.

For Jim, his ``acting out'' often reflected his early traumatic memories.

``I now see that I was recreating an experience - often abuse scenarios with anonymous partners - to feel better emotionally,'' he says.

But relief was only temporary - a Band-Aid repeatedly ripped off from a raw, open wound.

``The addiction is still like a cheese grater constantly, but I'm working to build new coping strategies,'' says Jim, who attends a sexual addictions support group that is founded on the same principles of the 12-step model used by Alcoholics Anonymous.

There is some debate in the medical community over whether sex addiction is a bona fide psychological disorder.

Sexual addiction is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a diagnostic guide used by psychologists and psychiatrists, and this may be because there are conflicting views over what it is exactly, says Vincent.

Sexual addiction shares similar behaviours with illnesses like bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which can cause sexual obsessions and, in some cases, an acting out of obsessions, she says.

``Some doctors will treat sex addiction as a symptom of another diagnosis, not as an addiction in and of itself. But it's my belief that you have to treat the addiction first, whatever the underlying problem may be,'' says Vincent.

There is very little empirical research to support sex addiction as a clinical condition, says Robin Milhausen, an assistant professor of sexuality at Guelph University.

``First, it is important to note that addiction is characterized by a physiological dependence on a chemical substance. Sex is not a substance, nor are there withdrawal symptoms if a person goes without sexual contact,'' says Milhausen.

Also, addictions tend to progress from less severe behaviour to more severe, but sexual behaviour does not occur in a hierarchy, she argues.

``Masturbation does not inevitably lead to pornography, and pornography does not inevitably lead to soliciting prostitutes,'' says Milhausen. ``The sex- addiction model pathologizes healthy sexual behaviours, such as masturbation, and sexual behaviours that occur outside of the context of a monogamous, dyadic relationship.''

Despite controversy around sexual addiction, thousands of self-identified addicts seek support in recovery through groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous and Sex & Love Anonymous. Currently, there are over 900 Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting groups around the world.

Jim swears by his regular attendance at meetings. He says they keep him grounded and focused on his healing, while bolstering his willpower to deflect any unhealthy sexual cravings as they arise.

That's not to say he can't have sex - just not outside the context of his marriage. He's also made the personal choice to give up masturbation. Although he doesn't think it's inherently ``evil,'' he says ``it's like a drink'' for him, and tends to fuel his desire to act out again.

``Every day, I'm thankful for what happened. I have no regrets, because it brought me here to this point,'' says Jim. ``I'm a sex addict. I have been sober for one year.''

John McCain Picks Anti Abortion, NRA Member Sarah Palin as his Running mate


US presidential candidate John McCain has chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

Ms Palin, 44, was elected in 2006 as Alaska's first female governor. The mother of five built a reputation as a reformer in a state that recently has been hit with corruption scandals.

The surprise choice marks a huge political risk by John McCain, and a blatant bid to win over disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters.

AdvertisementMs Palin is also expected to appeal to the Republican's grassroots conservative base, as she is strongly pro-life and backs the gun lobby.

She is best known for aggressively pushing for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a key part of the McCain energy policy.

However picking such a long-shot candidate could undermine Mr McCain's accusations that Barack Obama that he lacks the experience to be commander in chief.

'She will be his partner in reforming Washington,' a senior McCain official told reporters.

By announcing his pick today, John McCain is hoping to divert attention from the Democratic convention in Denver, which concluded last night with a speech by Barack Obama.

The Democratic candidate opened a broad assault on Mr McCain, accusing him of following the policies of unpopular President George W Bush.

Mr McCain is preparing to accept his party's nomination for president at the Republican convention in St Paul, Minnesota, next week.

'This is a bold choice of a strong conservative who is a reformer and will be greeted by the delegates in St Paul with enthusiasm,' said Republican strategist Scott Reed.

The 44-year-old Palin brings working class roots and appeal to female voters, becoming only the second female vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket and a first for the GOP.

She also brings a reputation as a reformer, beauty pageant good looks, a crack shot with a rifle and a eagerness for political combat that earned her the nickname of "Sarah Barracuda."

Being first is nothing to new to Palin (pronounced PALE-IN). She is the first female governor as well as the youngest governor ever of the Last Frontier, the 49th state to join the Union in 1959 and one of the country's least populous states.

Palin became governor just two years ago after defeating Republican incumbent Frank Murkowski in a GOP primary.

"Governor Palin is a tough executive who has demonstrated during her time in office that she is ready to be president," the McCain campaign asserted in a statement. "Governor Palin has the record of reform and bipartisanship that others can only speak of. Her experience in shaking up the status quo is exactly what is needed in Washington today."

The Obama campaign immediately zeroed in on Palin's experience.

"John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same," Bill Burton, Obama campaign spokesman shot back.

Palin is the youngest governor in Alaska's short statehood history, taking office in 2006 amidst attempts by Democrats to turn the reliably Republican state to their column.

Gov. Palin is married with five children, a staunch opponent of abortion rights, and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. Her youngest child is a boy named Trig who was born in April and has Down Syndrome.

Palin Bring Strong Conservative Credentials to McCain Ticket
McCain's Palin pick should please conservatives but she will be immediately challenged as an inexperienced candidate for a job that is a heartbeat away from the presidency.

McCain's senior adviser Mark Salter tried to dismiss such criticism citing her experience as the chief executive of her state, commander of Alaska's National Guard, and "an actual record of fighting corruption, business as usual and taking on big oil unlike the Democratic presidential nominee, who only pretends he has. I'd say that's more credentials than the top of the other ticket."

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the House Democratic Whip, told South Carolina ETV Radio that the pick was "risky" and would prove to be as embarrassing to McCain as Dan Quayle was to former President George H.W. Bush.

Tough Political Fighter in Alaska
Palin's reputation for being a tough political infighter has been earned largely by battling her own party rather than Democrats.

As mayor of the tiny city of Wasilla -- population a little more than 8,000 -- she was dubbed the "Barracuda," reviving the moniker she had earned on the Wasillia High School basketball team for her aggressive style of play. That team went on to win the state championship in 1982.

As mayor, she was just as fierce, firing department heads who disagreed with her or stood by her predecessor.

Palin continued a reputation for a hard nosed style as she moved up in Alaskan politics.

In 2003, she was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and within a year forced the resignation of a fellow commissioner on an ethics violation. That commissioner was also chairman of Alaska's Republican Party.

She later joined with a Democratic state representative to file an ethics complaint against the state attorney general Gregg Renkes, also a Republican who had close ties to Gov. Murkowski. The attorney general eventually resigned.

Palin herself has come under scrutiny recently.

An inquiry has begun into whether Palin fired the state's public safety director because he blocked Palin for dismissing a state trooper who was once married to Palin's sister.

The governor has denied that she tried to have the trooper dismissed, and said the pubic safety director was fired because he wasn't aggressive enough in fighting crime. She also dismissed suggestions that it should affect her chances to be McCain's running mate.

"It shouldn't disqualify me from anything," she told CNBC's "Kudlow and Co." last month.

Palin has accused the energy industry of corrupting Alaskan politics, but she has also fought to open up Alaska to additional drilling, a move that McCain has opposed.

Palin's blunt style was display in the "Kudlow and Co." interview as she voiced her support for McCain by saying, "I think we need McCain in the White House despite still the close-mindedness on ANWR. I think he's going to get there, though."

She also suggested that someone would have to convince her to take VP slot.

"As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell ya, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me, what is it exactly that the VP does every day. I'm used to being very productive and working real hard and in administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position," she told the show.

Alaska's Female Governor Joins McCain as Vice Presidential Contender
Palin is the model of a self-sufficient Alaskan.

Besides being a two-term mayor of Wasilla, she was also crowned Miss Wasilla in 1984 and later competed to be Miss Alaska. After her son Trig was born in April, she skipped a maternity leave and went right back to work.

She eloped to marry Todd Palin, 42, so they wouldn't have the expense of a lavish wedding. As spouse to the governor, Todd Palin refers to himself as Alaska's "First Dude," but is better known as the winner of this year's Tesoro Iron Dog, billed as the longest, toughest snowmobile race in the world.

Todd Palin, who is part Yu'pik Eskimo, spent his career working in Alaska's oil fields and fisheries.

He's taken some college courses, but does not have a degree.

Since his wife has been governor, Mr. Palin has spent his time doing the cooking and chauffeuring their four older children which include a son, Track, 18, and three daughters, Bristol, 16, Willow, 12, and Piper, 6.

Surprise Vice Presidential Pick from McCain
Despite her strong conservative credentials, Palin is certainly a surprise pick.

Not well known outside of Alaska, McCain picked Palin above several more prominent choices including former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and former Gov. Tom Ridge, R-Pa.

Also lesser known but considered a strong contender on McCain's shortlist, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who like Palin, would have appealed to working class voters but would have brought little in the way of national name recognition.

Liberman and Ridge were considered strong possibilities as well but may have fell out of favor due to their support for abortion rights.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found if John McCain were to pick a running mate who favors legal abortion, it could cost him votes, particularly in some core Republican groups.

Among current McCain supporters, 20 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for McCain if he picked a candidate for vice president who favors abortion rights.

A Lieberman pick may have also had implications at the Republican National Convention next week. Party rules make it difficult, if not impossible, for a member of another party to be nominated on their national ticket.

Romney's stock in the veepstakes rose and fell several times in the months since he abandoned his own presidential bid. McCain and Romney sparred frequently and often personally on the campaign trail but seemed to make peace over the past few months with Romney becoming one of McCain's strongest advocates.

Nonetheless, it is Palin, a former two term mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and two term member of the city council that will instead join McCain on the Republican ticket.

Sen. McCain turns 72 on Friday, the day of his vice presidential announcement.

The only gift he may be looking for from his new vice president? Conservative votes, independent appeal, and reach out to women who may be intrigued by the historic nature of her pick.

In 1984, Palin was chosen Miss Wasilla and went on to become the first runner-up in the Miss Alaska Pageant, but she won Miss Congeniality that year. Her family still holds ties to the pageant—her husband, Todd, was a judge in 2008’s Miss Alaska pageant.

The governor also received praise today from a home state Republican she implicitly criticized in her debut appearance with McCain in Dayton, Ohio. Palin noted that she played a role in killing the “Bridge to Nowhere” a multi-million dollar boondoggle supported by Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young that become a national symbol of out-of-control federal spending.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Gossip - Jessica Beal Pregrant with Justin Timberlake's Love Child

Jessica Biel is spotted shopping at Whole Foods on Tuesday night, and on her way out, is photographed with a dress covering her normally toned abs.

Was it just a little wind in her dress, or was she just wearing an unflattering dress?

Earlier this week, Jessica went to a screening of her new movie, Hole in the Paper Sky, with no indication that she was pregnant.

Hey, while we are at this whole rumour mill thing, maybe Jessica Biel is actually pregnant with Obama's baby... Now that is a rumour to take to the blog bank.

Tropical Storm Hanna turns to a Hurricane

The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Hanna has formed northeast of the northern Leeward Islands in the Atlantic.

The eighth tropical storm of the Atlantic season had top sustained winds near 40 mph Thursday. Its center was about 305 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and was moving toward the west-northwest near 12 mph.
Hanna could produce rainfall of 1 to 4 inches across parts of the Leeward Islands. It's too soon to say if Hanna will affect the U.S.

Weather experts will soon fly into the center of what is believed to be 'Tropical Storm Hannah', forming dangerously close to the Bahamas.

Tropical Storm Hannah is not officially a Tropical Storm yet, but will likely be declared one between this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Gustav is picking up speed and strength as it slowly closes in on the Gulf of Mexico, prompting Louisiana residents to start preparing.

Officials in New Orleans and nearby locations are already considering evacuations, as Gustav's projected path is across Louisiana as a possible category three to category five hurricane.

If the storm strengthens to a category 5, the results could be catastrophic.

For More on Hurricane Gustav

New Orleans Braces for another Katrina Like Hurricane as Gustav Approached

As it prepares to mark the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has been forced to draw up an emergency evacuation plan to deal with tropical storm Gustav, which is was predicted to reach hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm has already killed 22 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and today it moved away from the Central American coast and into the Caribbean.

The eye of the storm was expected to pass Jamaica today as it sweeps towards the United States. The National Hurricane Centre in Miami predicts that it will grow in power as it approaches Louisiana over the weekend.

US National Guard troops are standing by as residents prepare to mark the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, left the Democratic National Convention in Denver to return home for the preparations.

Some of the residents, who were displaced personally or knew victims of Katrina, were watching the weather forecast with trepidation.

“I’m panicking,” said Evelyn Fuselier of Chalmette, whose home was submerged in 14 feet of floodwater when Katrina hit.

Ms Fuselier returned to her house exactly one year ago, and now she is terrified that her ordeal could be repeated: “I keep thinking: Did the Corps fix the levees? Is my house going to flood again? Am I going to have to go through all this again?”

Govwernor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency to lay the groundwork for federal assistance, and put 3,000 National Guard troops on standby.

City officials have begun preliminary planning to evacuate and lock down the city to ensure there would be no repeat of the disaster following the 2005 storm. There will be no mass shelter like the one at the Superdome last time around. Instead the state has arranged for buses and trains to take people further away from the coast.

Steve Weaver, 82, and his wife stayed for Katrina and had to be plucked off the roof of their house by a Coast Guard helicopter. This time, Mr Weaver has no inclination to ride out the storm.

“Everybody learned a lesson about staying, so the highways will be twice as packed this time,” he said.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers has spent billions of dollars to improve the levee system, but because of two quiet hurricane seasons, the flood walls have never been tested.

A day after stalling off Haiti’s coast, Gustav was today centred about 80 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica, and moving toward the west-southwest near 8 mph.

The National Hurricane Centre expects the storm to pass very close to Jamaica later today. Its maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph.

Forecasters have predicted that Gustav could strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111 mph or higher in the coming days before landing on US soil somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and Texas.

The storm formed on Monday before going onshore near the southern Haitian city of Jacmel with top winds near 90 mph on Monday. It triggered flooding and landslides that killed 23 people in the Caribbean.

It weakened into a tropical storm and appeared headed for Jamaica, though it is likely to grow stronger in the coming days by drawing energy from warm, open water.

The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency, criticized in 2005 for its slow response to Katrina, is working with state officials to prepare for the storm. FEMA said it moved 2.4 million liters of water in 137 trucks, 4 million meals in 203 trucks, 478 electric generators and 267 truckloads of blankets and cots into position for distribution in the Gulf Coast states.

Mayor Ray Nagin said that the city's protective ring of levees isn't fully strengthened after some parts failed when Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, contributing to floods that covered 80 percent of the city.

``Although we have made strong strides in rebuilding our infrastructure, the levees have not been fully repaired and we have an $800 million budget gap to complete our sewage and water systems,'' Nagin said in a statement.

There will be no ``shelters of last resort,'' such as the Superdome or the Convention Center, where thousands took refuge during Katrina, the mayor said in a televised interview last night. Police will roam neighborhoods making sure people are out, and trains, buses and airplanes will be pressed into service for those without transportation, he said.

Governor's Request

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal requested a ``pre-landfall'' federal disaster declaration last night, saying the storm may overwhelm state resources, according to his Web site. Jindal readied 3,000 National Guardsmen to help emergency efforts in the state, and 700 buses were on standby to evacuate as many as 35,000 people.

Gustav, which had maximum sustained of almost 70 miles (113 kilometers) per hour, may intensify into a Category 3 hurricane or stronger as it enters the Gulf of Mexico by the weekend, the U.S. government projects. Category 3 hurricanes have maximum sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

The storm was 80 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica, just before 8 a.m. Miami time today, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working to improve the levee system that holds back water surrounding New Orleans, which sits below sea level. Work won't be completed until 2011, according to its Web site.

Jazz Funeral

Katrina was the most economically destructive hurricane in U.S. history, costing the Gulf Coast states as much as $125 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The population of New Orleans dropped to about 250,000, about half of what it was before the storm. It is now back up to about 300,000.

New Orleans is planning a traditional jazz funeral to remember Katrina's victims for 8 a.m. tomorrow beginning at Canal Street and Carrolton Avenue, followed by a ceremonial bell ringing at the Katrina Memorial Cemetery. A candlelight ceremony is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Jackson Square.

Executives of New Orleans hotels have met to discuss contingency plans, said Kelly Schulz, vice president for communications at the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau.

``At this point, we're business as usual,'' Schultz said.

The Southern Decadence Festival, a gay and lesbian gathering that draws ``several thousand people every Labor Day,'' was still on schedule, Schulz said.

Oil Prices

Nagin said New Orleans residents who may need assistance evacuating should register with the city. Colonel Jerry Sneed, director of the city's Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Department, said two days ago that 7,000 people had done so. He estimated 30,000 people would require assistance.

The system was forecast to head west-southwest at 6 mph. As much as 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rain may fall in parts of Jamaica, Haiti and the Cayman Islands.

Crude oil for October delivery rose $1.50, or 1.3 percent, to $119.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Offshore fields in the Gulf accounted for 26 percent of total U.S. crude production and 12 percent of natural gas output in April, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Red Cross

``Several thousand'' of the almost 20,000 workers on offshore platforms are being evacuated, said Ted Falgout, director of Port Fourchon in Louisiana, a staging area for offshore workers.

Federal agencies that have announced contingency plans include the Transportation Department, which is monitoring evacuation routes; the Transportation Security Administration, which is preparing to deploy airport security teams; and the National Guard Bureau, which is assessing resources for potential mobilization.

The American Red Cross said it has four management teams ready and positioned 19 emergency response vehicles in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. It has 196 additional vehicles on standby nationwide.

In New Orleans, Brennan's restaurant in the French Quarter was accepting telephone reservations. At Molly's at the Market, which received media attention for staying open throughout the aftermath of Katrina, a person answering the telephone had heard a storm might hit her city.

``People are beginning to talk about it,'' said Marsha Kerasidis, a bartender at Molly's. ``This is my first so I don't know what to expect.''

More on Hurricane Gustav

6.1 Earthquake Off the West Coast of Vancouver Island at 5:37 AM This Morning

A powerful 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck at sea Thursday off the Pacific coast, west of Vancouver Island, but was too small to generate a tsunami, Canadian and US officials reported.

The US Geological Survey said the quake occurred at 5:37am local time (1237 GMT) some 153 kilometers (95 miles) west-southwest of Port Hardy on the northern tip of the island, and 472 kilometers (293 miles) from Vancouver.

Natural Resources Canada said it was the largest of "a series of earthquakes occurring in the seismically active region" beginning late Monday.

"These earthquakes are too far offshore to be felt on land and too small to generate a tsunami," the government agency said.

Glen Plummer, spokesman for Emergency Management British Columbia, the province's emergency preparedness agency, said Thursday's pre-dawn earthquake was "nothing to be alarmed about," as it was "not an unusual event".

No reports of casualties or damage had come in to the agency, Plummer said.

Experts say Canada's Pacific Coast is overdue for a major earthquake, but a British Columbia government website on seismic activity points out that the province "experiences an earthquake every day, but only a small number of these quakes are noticeable and even fewer result in damage".

Thursday's quake was the latest of about two dozen temblors of magnitude 4 or above to strike in the area in the past 48 hours, according to the USGS. A 5.2-magnitude quake was the largest of those, striking the same area Wednesday.

"We're having a series in that area," Julie Martinez, a USGS geophysicist said. She said the number of earthquakes was not unusual.

"These earthquakes are too far offshore to be felt on land and too small to generate a tsunami," Natural Resources Canada said on its earthquakes Web site.

Vancouver Island sits off Canada's west coast. Its main city of Victoria sits at its southern end.

Michael Jason Registe Arrested in connection with 2007 Columbus State University Shootings

Michael Jason Registe, the suspect in the killing of two Columbus State University students 13 months ago, was captured Wednesday on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten after a $100,000 reward was announced a month ago, authorities said.

Registe is wanted in the shooting of Randy Newton Jr., 21, and Bryan Kilgore, 20, in the parking lot of Cross Creek Apartments on July 20, 2007. Both were shot in the head at close range.

The 25-year-old Registe was added to the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list last month, when the reward for his capture was raised from $20,000 to $100,000. The FBI and Columbus police said at the time they believed he had fled to the Virgin Islands or elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Numerous tips were received by the FBI after the airing of an "America's Most Wanted" television segment featuring Registe, said Gregory Jones, agent in charge of the FBI in Atlanta.

Jones said Registe was arrested at a guest house shortly after 11 a.m. by St. Maarten police officials in conjunction with the Antilles Director of Public Prosecution and through coordination with the FBI's legal attache in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Registe faces extradition hearings at St. Maarten for his removal back to Columbus, which could take several months.msg

The northeast Caribbean island is divided between France and the Netherlands Antilles. The French portion is known as St. Martin.