ANNAPOLIS NIGHTCLUB BRANCHES OUT TO WASHINGTON; NEW EDEN
DC BREAKING GROUND
-- TerraTech CEO Vander Soulridge is
expanding his personal ventures by bringing his popular waterfront club
in Annapolis, New Eden, to Washington, DC.
The McPherson Square location broke ground
this week and should be completed by early December, 2007. The new Art
Deco-inspired club will have a lot of design similarities in theme to
the Annapolis Club, but will be downtown instead of a waterfront
WASHINGTON WAXWORKS WELCOMED
NORTHWEST -- Coming this
fall, Madame Tussaud's will open its latest wax museum in downtown DC.
The museum, known for its life-like wax interpretations of A-listers,
plans to open its doors in the historic Woodward & Lothrop building at
the corner of 10th and F Streets.
Among the featured cast of characters:
Abraham Lincoln, Duke Ellington, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Al Gore,
plus pop icons like Beyoncé and Angelina Jolie.
As you might expect,
Madame Tussaud's Washington, DC will feature interactive exhibitions
relating to the history of the city and seminal documents like the U.S.
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Visitors can also pose
for pictures in a replica of the Oval Office. The $16 million, 27,000
square-foot project is expected to open in October 2007.
Adams Morgan Day 2007
This day-long celebration of music, food, performances and
family-friendly activities spotlights one of the District's most
colorful neighborhoods. Successful 29th year! Showcased diverse arts,
dance, food, crafts and live music. Sunday, Sept. 9, Noon - 7 pm
WASHINGTON STAR-NEWS CHIEF EDITOR
LAURA BAUER GIVES BIRTH TO TWINS
-- Washington Star-News Editor-In-Chief Laura Bauer and her partner
Jesadan bel Ackesh, translator for the Embassy of India, announce the
birth of twins Sesha, a daughter (first born), and Suresh, a son.
Bauer, a Texas native, went into early labor
in a local coffee shop and was rushed to George Washington University
Hospital on 21st Street. Mother and children are both doing well and
will be discharged soon. We here at the Star-News wish Editor Bauer and
her new family all the best.
LOCAL MECHANIC CARJACKED AND SHOT; FINALLY
ARLINGTON, VA -- Nearly a
month ago, Southeast DC mechanic
Torquemada was allegedly carjacked, shot three times and
left to die in the street, where Arlington County police
found her bleeding profusely and transported her to
Arlington Hospital Intensive Care Unit.
Torquemada was admitted with no
identifying paperwork at that time, and tracing her
fingerprints did not turn up anything as she had no criminal
history and no prior government jobs.
Torquemada remained comatose for
nearly a week, and when she awakened, was suffering from
amnesia. Only after relatives finally pieced together enough
clues to call the Hospital, was a positive identification
The 1987 Buick Regal that was
stolen from her was the subject of a break-in to the
Arlington police impound last month.
She remained in ICU under guard
after Arlington County Police determined that the attack may
been done by members of MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha), a
Salvadoran based gang that has heavy ties to the suburbs of
Northern Virginia. There were concerns that gang members
would attempt to breech the Hospital to finish Torquemada
off, as she was a witness to the crime.
Attacks of this nature are often
performed as rites of passage or challenges from other gang
members. Federal authorities are conducting a nationwide
crackdown against the Latino street gang, involved in
murder, drug smuggling and human trafficking. More than 100
members of the gang have been arrested in six U.S. cities,
and it's believed there are more than 50,000 MS-13 members
in the United States alone. MS-13's primary rival in the U.
S. is La Mara 18 (also known as Mara-18, M-18 or MS-18),
created in Los Angeles, California in the 1980's.
The origins of the name are
unclear. There are various possible explanations for the
name Mara Salvatrucha. Some sources state the gang is named
a street in San Salvador, and the Salvatrucha guerrillas who
fought in El Salvador's bloody civil war. Additionally, the
word mara means gang in Caliche and is taken from marabunta,
the name of a fierce type of ant. "Salvatrucha" is a
portmanteau of Salvadoran and trucha, a Caliche word for
being alert, usually entailing preparedness for crime or
abuse from police. Mara Salvatrucha is also commonly
translated as Salvadoran Gang. It could mean any of these,
or even all of them.
Details of her attack were
withheld from the press until Torquemada could be released
to the custody of out of town relatives, until such time as
she is called to testify against her assailants, as of yet
Witness Tells Court About Gang Rape in MS-13
By Ruben Castaneda, Washington Post Staff Writer
PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY, MD --
The petite young woman was a 16-year-old Laurel High
School student three years ago when she decided to skip
classes one day to join two other girls at a party at a
At the party, she said, Oscar Ramos "Casper" Velasquez took
her into a bedroom, where he kissed her and told her that if
she didn't have sex with him, as many as 15 other teenagers
and young men at the gathering would have sex with her.
When she resisted, two more young men entered the room, the
woman told jurors yesterday in federal court. One man threw
her on the bed and choked her, the other held down her arms
and "Oscar pulled out a gun," she testified. "He put it to
my head, and he said if I didn't shut up, he was going to
kill me," the woman told jurors.
Eight men raped her, the 19-year-old woman said. Two
assaulted her simultaneously. Outside the room, she said,
she heard one man say, "Five minutes each."
The graphic testimony about the May 12, 2003, assault was
given in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, where Velasquez,
21, of Baltimore, and Edgard Alberto "Pony" Ayala, 28, of
Suitland, are on trial on federal racketeering charges.
They are the first two of 19
alleged members of Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13,
who are to be tried under the federal RICO law. In an
indictment handed up last year, and in two later
indictments, federal prosecutors say that the gang conspired
to commit murder, rape and other crimes.
The young woman's appearance represented the first direct
testimony about violence allegedly committed by MS-13
members. Prosecutors say she is one of two teenage girls
sexually assaulted at the Hyattsville party.
During nearly three hours on the witness stand, the woman, a
Salvadoran immigrant, maintained her poise as she testified
through a translator. She did not appear to look at
Velasquez, seated about 20 feet away.
The Washington Star-News does not identify victims of sexual
assault without their consent.
Under direct examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra
Wilkinson, the woman said that after Velasquez threatened
her with the gun, another man came in and threatened her
with a stick. As she continued to cry and plead to be left
alone, yet another man came into the room and said, "I'll go
first," she said.
The other four left the room, and the new man raped her, the
woman testified. Outside the room, she could hear teenagers
and young men hollering and laughing.
The woman said she tried to get dressed between attacks.
Eventually, 10 men entered the room, but two did not rape
her, the woman said. She testified that Velasquez did not
sexually assault her.
Some of the attackers used condoms, she said. Eventually, a
man came into the room and picked up the used condoms.
Asked by Wilkinson how the assault made her feel, the woman
said, "Weak, in pain. Lost. Bad."
The woman said she heard one of the other girls yelling,
just before all the men and teenagers in the apartment ran
away. The woman said she got dressed and went outside, where
she used the cell phone of a neighbor to call 911 and report
that she had been raped.
Federal prosecutors also called to the witness stand a Los
Angeles police detective who testified about the origins of
MS-13 and a court translator who read her translations of
letters written by gang members.
MS-13 members live by the motto "We kill, we rape, we
control," a federal prosecutor said in her opening statement
Federal prosecutors say that MS-13 committed six homicides
and four attempted homicides between April 2003 and June
2005 in suburban Maryland. Eight attacks were in Prince
George's, two in Montgomery.
An indictment handed up last week charges that the gang was
responsible for a seventh homicide, in Fairfax County in
January 2005, when two MS-13 members allegedly fired into a
group of youths sitting outside an apartment building. One
man was killed, and two juveniles were wounded.
Ayala is accused of driving with fellow gang members to the
Congratulations to our Editor
on the birth of her twins!
When I first got married, all I wanted out of life was love
and a little security.
Now it's 25 years later and after having a spouse who loves
me and some security (we're not loaded by any means), I'm
finding myself wanting more.
I want to travel the world, move to a large city and make a
lot of money doing what I love. I don't want to have to be
home by 5:30 p.m. to make dinner for my spouse. (Our kids
are grown and out of the house.)
I know all of this is selfish, and I feel a tremendous
amount of guilt for feeling this way.
I have big goals and ambitions, while my spouse loves
staying home every night and is looking forward to retiring
and staying in our small town. What I wanted 25 years ago
isn't the same thing I want now.
I don't really want to go to a marriage counselor because
I'm not sure I want to stay married. I love my spouse but
feel my life is being stifled if I stay where I am, and I
get depressed over the situation.
Do a lot of marriages go through this? You're a voracious
reader -- do you have any books you'd recommend I read? I
read "Eat Pray Love," but that only made me feel more
What do you suggest?
-- Confused After 25 Years
You are facing a classic midlife crisis, hungry for
experiences you're afraid you'll never have. But you don't
have to leave your life completely and travel the world, the
way Elizabeth Gilbert did in "Eat Pray Love." You can and
should get your feet wet by trying to meet your goals in
You don't say whether you've shared your big-city dreams
with your husband, but you should. He deserves the
opportunity to work out some sort of compromise with you.
It's hard work to overcome discontent, but it helps if you
break down your largest issues into smaller parts. A
therapist could help you with this. You might also read "The
Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your
Life," by Deepak Chopra (2005, Three Rivers Press). Chopra's
book might inspire you to fashion your own life's adventure
-- rather than read about someone else's.
'Goldilocks' found asleep at Washington
CENTRALIA, Wash. - A "Goldilocks" was
found sleeping in a Chehalis
home. Deputy Police Chief Randy Kaut said when the family
woke up Wednesday they found an
18-year-old stranger asleep in a bed.
When they awoke the woman she said a friend named Jeremy had dropped her
off and told her it would be OK to sleep there. While that was just
right for her it was more than the family could bear. They don't know
anyone named Jeremy.
There was nothing taken from the home — no missing porridge. Police gave
the Olympia woman a ticket for trespassing.
Information from: KITI-AM
Nine-year-olds plotted to tie up, hurt teacher
(Writing by Matthew Bigg; editing by Jane Sutton and David Storey)
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Nine-year-olds at a
school in the U.S. state of Georgia brought a broken steak knife,
handcuffs and electrical tape to school in a plot to injure their
teacher, authorities said on Tuesday.
Teachers at Center Elementary School in Waycross, Georgia, uncovered the
plot on Friday when a pupil reported that a child in the third grade had
brought a weapon into the school. "The plan was to handcuff the teacher,
put tape over her mouth and hit her over the head with the paperweight
and possibly cut her," said Lt. Duane Caswell of Waycross police, adding
that some students said the knife was simply there to cut the tape. "It
was a rather elaborate scheme for children of that age," he said.
The students spent a week planning the attack and planned to carry it
out on the day they were caught, Caswell said.
Nine pupils in the grade, most of whom were 9 years old, have been
disciplined and some were given long-term suspensions, said Theresa
Martin, spokeswoman for the Ware County school district in the
southeastern part of the state.
Caswell said police were also planning to charge three of the children
in the juvenile court system with conspiracy to commit aggravated
assault and possession of a weapon on a school property.
Researchers Pinpoint Brain's Sarcasm
Without it, snappy comments are a mystery.
By Randy Dotinga,
(HealthDay News) --
Oh yeah, right!
it's true -- many of you don't go a day without dishing out
several doses of sarcasm. But some brain-damaged people can't
comprehend sarcasm, and Israeli researchers think it's because a
specific brain region has gone dark.
region, according to the researchers, handles the task of
detecting hidden meaning, a crucial component of sarcasm. If
that part of the brain is out of commission, the irony doesn't
come through, the scientists report in the May issue of
with prefrontal brain damage suffer from difficulties in
understanding other people's mental states, and they lack
empathy," said study co-author Simone Shamay-Tsoory, a
researcher at the University of Haifa. "Therefore, they can't
understand what the speaker really is talking about, and get
only the literal meaning."
findings, Shamay-Tsoory said, could help rehabilitation centers
do a better job of helping brain-damaged patients adjust to the
world and understand other people.
their study, Shamay-Tsoory and her colleagues first enrolled 58
subjects -- 25 participants with prefrontal-lobe damage, 17 who
were healthy and 16 who had damage to the posterior lobe of the
they tested each person by exposing them to several "neutral"
and sarcastic comments recorded by actors as part of a story.
This "sarcasm meter" was designed to gauge how well the subjects
could comprehend the unique kind of irony that is sarcasm.
example, actors read phrases such as "don't work too hard" in
both a neutral sense (meaning "you're a hard worker") and a
sarcastic sense (meaning "you're a real slacker"). Each comment
came in proper context as part of a story about, say, a worker
who's sleeping or a worker who's grinding away at his job.
the subjects understood the sarcasm except for those with damage
to the prefrontal area, which is above the eye sockets and
behind the forehead. And among those, people with damage to a
specific area known as the ventromedial area had the most
trouble deciphering sarcasm.
researchers think lesions in several parts of the brain can
contribute to an inability to understand sarcasm. But, they
wrote, this particular area is important because it draws on
your innate recognition of the emotions of other people --
empathy -- and past experiences to comprehend a speaker's
Knutson, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Stanford
University, said the findings make sense because the brain's
cortex handles a variety of sophisticated tasks, and sarcasm
could be on the list.
findings also reflect a growing interest in how emotion is
processed by the brain. "Emotion has not been a popular topic in
science for a long time," because it's difficult to measure, he
said, but things are changing.
Now Believes in God
One of World's Leading Atheists Now Believes in
God, More or Less, Based on Scientific Evidence
The Associated Press, London -- A
British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism
for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in
God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video
age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has
concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have
created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation
for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a
telephone interview from England.
Flew said he's best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was
not actively involved in people's lives.
"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and
far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as
omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said. "It could
be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose,
Flew first made his mark with the 1950 article "Theology and
Falsification," based on a paper for the Socratic Club, a weekly Oxford
religious forum led by writer and Christian thinker C.S. Lewis.
Over the years, Flew proclaimed the lack of evidence for God while
teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, and Reading universities in
Britain, in visits to numerous U.S. and Canadian campuses and in books,
articles, lectures and debates.
There was no one moment of change but a gradual conclusion over recent
months for Flew, a spry man who still does not believe in an afterlife.
Yet biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost
unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce
(life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says in the new
video, "Has Science Discovered God?"
The video draws from a New York discussion last May organized by author
Roy Abraham Varghese's Institute for Metascientific Research in Garland,
Texas. Participants were Flew; Varghese; Israeli physicist Gerald
Schroeder, an Orthodox Jew; and Roman Catholic philosopher John Haldane
of Scotland's University of St. Andrews.
The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the August-September issue
of Britain's Philosophy Now magazine. "It has become inordinately
difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic
theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote.
The letter commended arguments in Schroeder's "The Hidden Face of God"
and "The Wonder of the World" by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic
This week, Flew finished writing the first formal account of his new
outlook for the introduction to a new edition of his "God and
Philosophy," scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Press.
Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but if his belief upsets
people, well "that's too bad," Flew said. "My whole life has been guided
by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it
Last week, Richard Carrier, a writer and Columbia University graduate
student, posted new material based on correspondence with Flew on the
atheistic www.infidels.org Web
page. Carrier assured atheists that Flew accepts only a "minimal God"
and believes in no afterlife.
Flew's "name and stature are big. Whenever you hear people talk about
atheists, Flew always comes up," Carrier said. Still, when it comes to
Flew's reversal, "apart from curiosity, I don't think it's like a big
Flew told The Associated Press his current ideas have some similarity
with American "intelligent design" theorists, who see evidence for a
guiding force in the construction of the universe. He accepts Darwinian
evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life.
A Methodist minister's son, Flew became an atheist at 15.
Early in his career, he argued that no conceivable events could
constitute proof against God for believers, so skeptics were right to
wonder whether the concept of God meant anything at all.
Another landmark was his 1984 "The Presumption of Atheism," playing off
the presumption of innocence in criminal law. Flew said the debate over
God must begin by presuming atheism, putting the burden of proof on
those arguing that God exists.
From regular columnist
Before I unsheathe my claws upon the city, I
must stop a moment to appreciate the precious gift of life, and
congratulate our Editor in Chief, Laura Bauer, and her significant
other, Jesadan bel Ackesh from Embassy Row, on two very lovely brand
spanking new twins. We look forward to your return, but not too soon!
And bring pictures!
It seems as if Goths do occasionally get
sunlight. Our favorite pale boy was seen with his SPF75 in tow, heading
out to Annapolis with Barrister Barbie Felicity, for a day of sailing
and canoodling on the water, followed by dinner and doting, no doubt. At
least something in their relationship is smooth sailing, because it
certainly doesn't seem to be them.
A bit tasteless of humor, perhaps. I blame
my working environment. But we have noticed that rappers 50 Cent and
Kanye West have both decided to release new albums on September 11th.
You know, as if we don't already associate enough bombing with that
date. I wouldn't know rap from wrapping paper, but I worry a little for
50 Cent. The boy can't even pronounce money correctly; how's he supposed
to make any?
That's all I have, folks. Even my prey take