IC News 4-01-05





PHANTASM UNDER PENDING NEW MANAGEMENT -- NORTHWEST: Popular dance and dinner venue The Phantasm in Northwest DC, has changed hands unexpectedly. Former club owner Sean Brennan, just weeks after a dramatic sort of swan song closing number with a cousin of his at Web of Night's Charity Concert event, has taken an open-ended hiatus, and transferred ownership of the club to an as of yet unnamed source. Everything lately seemed to be pointing subtly to Brennan taking a sabbatical.

The Phantasm was closed for most of March as it underwent some minor changes in relation to the switch, and is now reopening this weekend under new management. From the look of the marquee, the style and entertainment of the club remain as they were, simply guided by new hands to be announced soon. Regular headliners Louis Delacourt and Aki Oshii were unavailable for comment at presstime.



TORQUEMADA TAKES ON NASCAR ONCE MORE -- ATLANTA, GA: Local lady NASCAR® Elite Division driver Francesca Torquemada has been jumping right back into the proverbial saddle again this racing season, as evidenced by her showing at the Golden Coral 500 qualifiers for the Nextel series, at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Torquemada finished sixth in the race, which was won by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

In between races, she has also been picking up some offers from film companies to do stunt work for such actresses as Catherine Zeta-Jones, whom she somewhat resembles when not covered in axle grease.

Additionally, the Winter 2004 issue of Corvette Quarterly features Torquemada on its cover, with a seven-page article detailing her adventures driving a new Corvette C6 through Nevada.
Torquemada, or "Torque" to her close friends, whose ultimate goal is to race in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, plans to compete in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division and the ROMCO Super Late Model Series in 2005.

She is the first NASCAR driver — male or female — to be featured on the cover of CQ.





DEN REOPENS YET AGAIN - THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM? --  NORTHEAST:  Just scarcely a month after the second major inexplicable structural collapse not even a year after opening, The Foxxx's Den adult entertainment and dance club, in the same U Street corridor as Bound and the Black Cat, managed to swiftly effect repairs to code and secure permits to reopen for a third attempt at staying in business.

The DC Zoning Board, taken by surprise at the pace at which the Den got back on its feet, completed inspections Monday and will allow it to reopen to the public this weekend. Interviews with neighboring businesses and numerous investigations and inspections were inconclusive, as to the source of the mysterious collapses the building has twice now experienced.

New owner and star performer Andrea Cardelle had no comment to the press on the strange events surrounding the club, nor how she acquired the club from namesake founder Chastity Foxxx (aka Selena Fox).




DCPD OFFICER CRACKS IN LOCAL EATERY ALTERCATION; SHOTS FIRED, OFFICER FATALLY WOUNDED -- NORTHEAST -- Street Officers Carter Billups and Michael Smith were on routine car patrol in the Northeast section of Washington, when they stopped for a dinner break at Ben's Chili Bowl, a local landmark near Howard University. They were approached by a non-descript white male who struck up a casual conversation with the officers. They soon departed the diner to return to patrol.

About an hour later, Smith and Billups made a quick stop back at the diner to grab a drink to take on patrol. Billups waited with the patrol car while Smith went back into Ben's Chili Bowl.

Witness accounts vary, but they are agreed that with no provocation that anyone present was aware of, Officer Smith opened fire on Tanika Wentworth, 20, a Howard University college student waitressing at the diner. Smith wounded Wentworth, who crawled under the counter to save herself. Upon hearing shots, Billups rushed inside, thinking that perhaps the diner was being robbed.

When he entered, Smith started taking shots at his partner, who hid behind an overturned table to avoid gunfire. He extracted his handgun and upon seeing Smith inexplicably out of control, fired to wound/stop action on his partner, to no avail.

Smith then turned on 10 year old Tywaine Ward, who had been eating with his sisters at the diner and had gotten up to use the restroom when the gunfire first broke out. Smith shot Ward in cold blood as he was running back into the restroom, killing him in front of his family.

Billups, unable to overpower his out-of-control partner without likely getting killed himself, elected to fire his weapon again, trying to disable Smith. As Smith shot Ward in the head by the bathrooms, Billups fired several shots into Smith, finally bringing him down.

In the exchange, Smith shot Billups as well, wounding him in the arm and shoulder. With Smith finally disarmed and unconscious, Billups called for backup and EMT's. Both Officers were taken by responding medics to DC General Hospital for treatment. Billups was released a few days later and put on Administrative Leave following the routine inquiry since his weapon was fired on a fellow officer.

Smith was tested for drugs or other extenuating influences, but nothing conclusive was ever discovered. He never did regain consciousness, and later died of injuries and complications directly relating to the gunshot wounds received by his partner.

DCPD held a formal inquiry into the matter and exonerated Billups of wrongdoing in the shooting death of his partner. His actions remain a mystery to the Department, and to Billups, who is now back on patrol.








Bermuda Triangle Glows
MELBOURNE, FLORIDA — Satellite imagery, airplane over-flights and eye witnesses all agree that the Bermuda Triangle has been visibly glowing for the last week. This portion of the North Atlantic, defined by the southern tip of the state of Florida, the Bahamas and the Greater Antilles, has long been a region of strange phenomena, and oceanographers are at a loss to explain the yellow light now bathing the area. Reports of ships being pulled under the waves by huge tentacles, and of mythical mermaids swimming through the phosphorescent water, are only adding to the mania surrounding the phenomenon.


Ghosts do not scare me, says Malawi leader -- Blantyre - Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika says he refuses to forgive two journalists who wrote that he was afraid of ghosts and that they will have to defend themselves in court, state television reported on Friday.
"It was a total lie designed to destroy my character ... that's why I will not forgive them," Mutharika told a rally in the administrative capital Lilongwe on Thursday.
"The journalists have said they will stand by their story," he said. "So let the courts decide and the law take its course."
Raphael Tenthani, who works for the BBC, and Mabvuto Banda, a journalist for the Nation newspaper who also reports for the Reuters news agency, were arrested and charged with publishing false information on March 15 for reporting that Mutharika had moved out of a newly-built palace because he believed it was haunted.
The journalists, who face charges of "causing ridicule to the president" have been released on bail.
This is the first time that journalists have been arrested since the 71-year-old-economist-turned-president controversially won elections in May 2004.
Human rights groups and the local media have criticised Mutharika for the arrests.
The journalists quoted an aide to Mutharika last month as saying that the president had abandoned the $100-million palace in Lilongwe because he had been hearing "strange noises that keep him awake or feels rodents crawling all over his body but when he turns on the lights, he sees nothing".
"It's true that the president is no longer staying there and we have asked clerics from several Christian churches including the Roman Catholic to pray for the new state house to exorcise evil spirits," said Reverend Malani Mtonga, who is the president's adviser on religious affairs.
Mutharika angrily denied the reports, saying: "I have never feared ghosts in my life."
The palace, containing 300 air-conditioned rooms and set in 555 hectares of land outside the capital, is widely seen as a folly of the country's founding president Kamuzu Banda.






Study Warns of Junk-News Diet

By James Ramey, Times Staff Writer
American consumers confront an ever-broader river of news from myriad sources, but the standard for gathering and presenting the information tends to be "faster, looser and cheaper" than in the past, according to a survey of the news business to be released today by a media watchdog group.
Internet blogs and cable TV programs have led the trend toward a "journalism of assertion" that relies less on reporting than personal opinion, reported the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which is affiliated with Columbia University. That trend makes it more important for journalists "to document the reporting process more openly so that audiences can decide for themselves whether to trust it," the organization concluded in its annual report.
The second annual report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which is based in Washington, focused more on trends and prospects than on content. The considerable change facing the industry is revealed in a few facts: Online advertising has increased 30% to almost $10 billion in one year and estimated readership of blogs has increased 58% in six months. About 32 million Americans say they have obtained information from the Web logs, or journals, known as blogs.
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the research project, said that with the growth in Internet commentary, the culture of opinion journalism has expanded exponentially. Blogging has its value — exposing, the report said, hasty reporting by CBS News on memos that referred to Bush's military service during the Vietnam War. But it can also lead the public astray, the report found, such as when it fomented the "unfounded conspiracy theory" that Republicans stole the presidential election in Ohio.

Although the traditional media continue to have struggles of their own, the public's view of the believability of news organizations has stabilized somewhat in the last two years, according to the study, which relied on research by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. About 35% of Americans said the media get the facts straight.
Only better reporting and increased transparency about its tactics will help the media regain credibility, the study concluded.
"Since citizens have a deeper range of information at their fingertips, the level of proof in the press must rise accordingly," it said. "In effect, the era of trust-me journalism has passed and the era of show-me journalism has begun."
The study recommended that news consumers, like dieters, become more discerning. "The real crisis may be news obesity," the study said, "consuming too little that can nourish citizens and too much that can bloat them."


Island of Hawaii Destroyed by Volcanoes
HONOLULU, HAWAII — The island of Hawaii was destroyed today in a massive explosion, as the volcanoes Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea erupted with more force than even the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. The eruptions are the latest in a series of freak volcanic eruptions, as active, dormant and even presumed extinct volcanoes across the globe erupt in full force.





TOKYO, JAPAN — After several months of patient, step-by-step acquisitions, starting with the Tokyo Office of Pentex (NYSE: PTX), Shinzui Corporation has now emerged as the majority shareholder of the company, moving them from The New York Stock Exchange to the NIKKEI.

After a rather clever ad campaign last year launched against rival subsidiaries, Shinzui found several of them in weakened positions in the market, and moved in for takeover bids. In a matter of weeks, Pentex’s entire Japanese holdings were quietly bought out.

The latest wave of deals include the recent acquisitions of investment firm Consolidex Worldwide; petroleum company Endron International; Herculean Firearms Incorporated, known for its heavy handed lobbying for gun ownership; DOD Military contractor Nastrum Enterprises; health and pharmaceuticals corporation Magadon Incorporated; and PC game designer Tellus Enterprises.

This leaves, for the moment at least: environmental cleanup company Ardus Enterprises; private health and eldercare group Autumn Health Management Systems; toy maker Avalon Incorporated, famous for its “Action Bill” figure; a specialized role-playing game company called Black Dog Games; tobacco company Circinus Brands; paper goods manufacturer Good House International; Hallahan Fishing Corporation; Harold and Harold Mining, Incorporated; retailer and grocer Herrick’s; King Breweries and Distilleries; cable channel Omni Television; fast food chain O’Tolley’s; publishing house Vesuvius Incorporated; and household products manufacturer Young and Smith, Incorporated.

Shinzui may have bitten off an awful lot to chew, however. Aside from the obvious furor striking the business world after the November Board of Directors meeting from which every executive save Finance Director Franklin Rubin mysteriously disappeared; there have been since revealed countless scams, cases of mismanagement and internal scandal eating the company away from the inside. Several anti-trust lawsuits have been filed, and there have been persistent rumors of indictments involving several key political figures and kickbacks from Pentex executives.