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The Morning Briefing October 21, 2014

on Tuesday, 21 October 2014.

BETHESDA, Md – Time to learn about the gubernatorial race in Maryland, as Gov. Chris Christie hits Bethesda today to support a fellow Republican named Larry Hogan and his bid for governor. Christie will be at a fundraiser (of course), before heading to a Bethesda pancake house to mingle with just some other regular guys who didn't just leave a $500-a-plate event. The Maryland GOP must be tickled pink to have Christie return, as the AP notes he helped raise more than $400,000 last month at a Bethesda fundraiser.

MORRISTOWN – Gov. Chris Christie was able to "check the box" yesterday and show his support for Jeff Bell, the only Republican willing to compete against Sen. Cory Booker for his U.S. Senate seat. Christie met Bell at the Morristown Diner, NJTV notes, giving Bell the media coverage he desperately needs. Reporters, of course, seemed much more interested in talking with the Governor, but Bell did a great job squeezing himself in front of news cameras: one of the critical skills required to serve in the Senate.

MORRISTOWN – Jeff Bell likely has the worst go-to issue in the nation: calling for a return to the gold standard. Of the small number of voters who know Bell exists, a fraction of them know what the gold standard is. Even Christie is not embracing his candidate's signature issue, saying he hasn't "given any deep thought to it" and "it's not something I have to think of every day." There are 14 days until the election. Perhaps it is time for Bell to find an issue that voters actually are familiar with.

MORRISTOWN – The latest Monmouth University poll shows Jeff Bell is trailing Sen. Cory Booker by about 15 percentage points. Sure, he is losing. But not losing to levels you would expect for an unknown, under-funded candidate who sees the gold standard as the hot-button issue that will carry him to victory on November 4. Meanwhile, Booker has agreed to only one debate with Bell, while Gov. Chris Christie and others think that there should be at least two debates. When you are the frontrunner, enjoy statewide name recognition and incumbent status, why bother?

NEW PROVIDENCE – NJ Sharing Network is going "smoke-free" on November 20 as part of the Great American Smoke Out. Click this video to see the clever way the organization spreads the news, starring the very talented Mr. and Ms. Pumps. Clearly, they are the Lucy and Desi of our day.

AT THE TRACK – This next chapter in New Jersey's sports betting saga is not a shocker: The NCAA and professional sports leagues are now filing lawsuits in an effort to stop the recently passed law that would allow gamblers at Atlantic City casinos and state tracks to allow gamblers to bet on sports. Sen. Ray Lesniak, the prime sponsor of the sports betting legislation, says the leagues need to prove some sort of irreparable and immediate damage. "There can be no irreparable damage from New Jersey allowing sports betting when Las Vegas and Nevada already does," he says. Let's hope the courts agree.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Now that it seems an upstart candidate for Congress is getting some traction in the Fifth Congressional District, let's commence the character assassination. Rep. Scott Garrett's campaign alleges that Roy Cho is committing voter fraud. According to the Garrett camp, and reported by NJ.com, records show Cho cast a vote from Manalapan in November 2012 — more than two months after his campaign said he moved to Hackensack (Insert gasp! here). And here is gem from a Garrett attack dog: "Either Roy Cho is lying about his residency in the Fifth District or he's acted illegally by committing voter fraud — or both!"

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1992 that Madonna's "Sex" book went on sale. You can finish in three-to-five minutes and then go right to sleep.

 

The Morning Briefing October 20, 2014

on Monday, 20 October 2014.

WEST LONG BRANCH – Suddenly, the typical New Jerseyan will care about the point spread, as it looks as if Monmouth Park could begin taking bets on National Football League games at the horse track on October 26, the Record reports. But expect the NFL and four other sports leagues to continue to fight, pointing to the 1992 federal law allowing only four states to allow sports betting. So, who wins? Jersey or the sports leagues? We're taking Jersey, with the spread.

ATLANTIC CITY – The losing bidder on the Revel refuses to cash in his remaining chips and head back to Florida. Developer Glenn Straub is now fighting in court, saying the auction for the $2.4 billion casino was done inappropriately and accepted the winning bare-bones bid of $110 million after the deadline. Seems Straub has little to lose in fighting this, with the golden prize being high-end real estate sold at pennies on the dollar.

ATLANTIC CITY – With word that a bankruptcy judge is allowing the Trump Taj Mahal to void its contract with the local labor union, three immediate questions come to mind: What is the point in having a labor contract? What does this mean for the other casinos and the labor contracts that management would love to renegotiate? And, most critically, why even have labor unions for the casinos? The union is vowing to fight the ruling, planning a picket for later this week. But with the Taj still considering a shutdown, does it matter?

TRENTON – One day soon, marijuana will likely be decriminalized in New Jersey. But not with Gov. Chris Christie in the big office. A gaggle of activists were at the Statehouse on Friday, calling for Christie to stop interfering with the medical marijuana program and to loosen up, man. The governor – showing his conservative credentials for the national Right – is certainly not backing down. That did not stop some protesters from lighting up during the rally. But state Troopers monitoring the situation did nothing to stop them, perhaps caught up in the smoky haze. Meanwhile, the local gyro truck had a banner day.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

PAW PAW, Mich. – She got one thing right: Both buildings have bars. But a very drunk woman thought she drove to the local watering hole to pick up her boyfriend. In fact, she pulled into the Van Buren County jail at 2 a.m. Sunday. Inquisitive cops quickly noticed she was drunk out of her mind, charging her with drunk driving. "Wait, boys," she slurred. "Is-is it Ladies Night?" (OK, we made that last line up, but we really wish she said it.)

SEATTLE – It was called the "Wheel of Misfortune," but local school officials were not amused by the wordplay. A local science teacher has been told to scrap the game show as a way to discipline the kids, assigning punishments based on each spin. Reuters reports one of the punishments was to be pelted with rubber balls by fellow students. School officials plan to "work with the teacher on more positive and productive classroom management skills." Perhaps in the new role as a school janitor.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1973 that President Nixon proclaims Jim Thorpe as the greatest athlete. In turn, not one athlete proclaims Nixon as the greatest President.

 

The Morning Briefing October 17, 2014

on Friday, 17 October 2014.

OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Just days after state officials announced they are distributing cookbooks to those who kill bears, local cops have arrested a local man for catching, butchering and eating squirrels. It became a real problem when the man discarded the squirrel carcasses behind the buildings at his townhouse community, the Asbury Park Press reports. He was charged with animal cruelty and hunting out of season. Begs the question: when is squirrel hunting season?

FRANKLINVILLE – A Gloucester County man is facing charges of mail fraud for sending out tens of thousands of bogus invoices to school districts for textbooks never ordered or delivered. The feds say this 44-year-old entrepreneur shipped invoices to some 70,000 schools. Some districts blindly paid the bills, figuring someone ordered the books. The guy denies any "fraudulent intent," but it won't take any legal eagle to figure this one out. Expect this transcript at trial:

Q: "Mr. School Official, did you order the textbooks on this invoice from the defendant? (Let's call it Exhibit A)

A: "No."

"The prosecution rests, Your Honor."

TRENTON – As we approach the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, it's unbelievable that the state is still trying to get 20 percent of the easements to do shore protection on the coast. There are still around 400 oceanfront property owners (aka: really rich people) who are fighting the government's efforts to rebuild dunes and safeguard their properties from the next storm. Why? To save those glorious ocean views.

ATLANTIC CITY – It is the moment of truth for Trump Taj Mahal. Buzzards will be circling today over a courthouse in Wilmington, Del., as a bankruptcy judge announces his decision. Trump Entertainment Resorts and gazillionaire Carl Icahn wants the judge to void the labor union contract, arguing the casino is drowning in pension and health care costs. The casino is vowing to fold by November 13 if the judge sides with the union. And the casino doesn't appear to be bluffing.

PRINCETON – OK, everyone needs to stop picking on NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Yes, she was caught wandering around Princeton when she should have been quarantined as a precaution in this Ebola scare. And, yes, she was smacked around by the national media, with Brian Thompson reading her apology on air. But all these people in Princeton waving signs urging residents to be on the lookout for Snyderman? Well, that's overboard. The Trenton Times reports the signs even include her street address and her kids' names, as well as phone numbers for the police department and the state health department. C'mon, people.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Call it the colossal Crisco caper. (Try to say that 5 times).Cops are looking for the suspects who stole a truck containing 18 tons of vegetable shortening heading to a Publix distribution center. To crack the case, police are looking for people who are extensively frying.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2012 that astronomers discovered the first planet outside our solar system, giving it the sexy name of "Alpha Centauri B." Seems the ideal place to dump our garbage after we fill up our galaxy, perhaps some time next year.

 

The Morning Briefing October 16, 2014

on Thursday, 16 October 2014.

NEWARK – It is Ebola all the time, as reporters are flocking to Newark Liberty International Airport to get "the local story." It all centers on the arriving gates from West Africa, where passengers are going through a full screening and now will have their temperatures taken. Local hospitals are planning drills, and waiting for more direction from the feds. The scare hasn't gone much further in New Jersey, thankfully, with the governor just urging us all to get flu shots and wash our hands. Meanwhile, in Indiana, a vitamin store is now selling hazmat suits, while media are flocking to Dallas in desperate search of the next victim.

STATEWIDE – While Ebola is not considered a huge concern, some say your local ball field can kill you. Rep. Frank Pallone and others are worried the crumb rubber used in the artificial turf can cause blood cancer, NJTV reports. Apparently, the rubber is made from old car tires, which contain benzene, carbon black and even lead dust. Panicky parents say their precious little ones are breathing all this in, even swallowing it. The Synthetic Turf Council, in response, thinks they are all nuts.

STATEWIDE – The Rutgers-Eagleton poll, which Gov. Chris Christie has never considered a friend, says voters are losing some trust in the governor. Now, just 22 percent of voters deem Christie to be "trustworthy," while almost 40 percent believe the trait no longer applies. The governor also has fewer voters saying he is a "strong leader," "effective," and "fair." Of course, poll results can be skewed based on the type of questions asked, but all agree that there's tarnish on the armor since the GWB scandal and all the out-of-state travel.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Rep. Scott Garrett may be in the fight of his political life, as the six-termer is facing some actual competition. The super conservative only has a five-point lead on a no-name newcomer named Roy Cho in the 5th Congressional District, reports the Monmouth University Poll.It is expected that Garrett will squeak it out, based on the fact the Congressional map is so outrageously gerrymandered that you can never count out an incumbent, no matter how out of touch.

STATEWIDE – It is not cheap to be a U.S. Senator – especially one facing investigations for allegations of doing political favors for a Florida pal. NJ.com reports that Rep. Bob Menendez has spent about $1 million on lawyers. The money has come from high-powered donors, who, we can only assume, would want political favors in exchange for all the generosity. Yup.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

DAVIE, FL. – The gubernatorial debate last night got off to a bad start for Gov. Rick Scott, who initially refused to take the stage because his challenger, Charlie Crist, was in possession of a rogue fan. Debate rules implicitly state that no electronic devices can be used, and Scott is apparently a stickler for the rules. But he lost plenty of fans in the crowd at Broward College who hooted and hollered when they learned why he was not coming out. Scott finally appeared. Crist saw the opportunity, saying, "That's the ultimate plead of the 5th (amendment) I've heard in my life."

IN THE MEDIA

NEW BRUNSWICK – Where's the respect for media these days? Rutgers University officials will be demolishing the offices of the student newspaper, The Targum, to make way for a parking deck. The Targum, at this point, has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the city, and now has to figure out where to go. There's no timeline on the eviction, but the university notes a parking deck will be fully operational on the site in 2016. This will be the second time in a decade that the newspaper must secure a new home, as the university continues to develop.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2012 that issues with the airbag prompted Ford to recall 154,000 Fiestas. The hope was that many of these souped-up go-karts would never return to our highways.

 

The Morning Briefing October 15, 2014

on Wednesday, 15 October 2014.

MAPLEWOOD - Why are Maplewood officials messing with Halloween? Just in the past two days, the hand-wringers who run the Seth Boyden Elementary School have cancelled the Halloween celebration and then made an about-face on the issue. NJ.com says a debate is raging over in-school holiday celebrations, recognizing the diversity of the district and that some students opt out of the Halloween celebration. But school officials decided to reinstate the festivities, promising what will be a painful district-wide debate that will distract everyone from their sole purpose of educating children. Were these people ever kids, or were they born in neckties, carrying clipboards and curricula?

TRENTON - Public schools throughout the state are still dealing with boilers installed during the Nixon Administration or fourth-floor classrooms with sputtering air conditioning units. So, one must wonder why the state Schools Development Authority - which is constantly telling us how little money it has - is including a new pool in the outrageously expensive $130 million high school it is constructing to replace Trenton Central. The rationale: Because the old school had a pool, state taxpayers should fund a new pool. With so much basic need in public schools across the state, such as leaky windows and roofs, the SDA should earmark our money elsewhere. If Trenton wants a pool, let Trenton pay for it.

TRENTON - The three-headed monster in New Jersey is the state pension crisis, the broke Transportation Trust Fund and the fast-falling bond rating. Those issues seem unsolvable, so Gov. Chris Christie will be focusing his day in New Jersey on a popular issue with no opposition: fighting drug addiction. He will be announcing new funding for addiction treatment and prevention programs during a press conference today in Somerset, while also meeting with women and staff from the Center for Great Expectations. Fighting addiction is now a "signature issue" of the Christie Administration. It's very important, yes, but should not replace other critical issues desperate for attention in New Jersey.

TRENTON - It is hoped that callers to 101.5 FM's "Ask the Governor" radio show tonight put the governor's feet to the fire on issues unrelated to drug addiction. Gov. Chris Christie is set to appear at 7 p.m. Please, no one call and waste a question by asking if he is running for President. It's rare these days for typical New Jerseyans to pose direct questions to Christie, so let's not waste the opportunity, ok?

TRENTON - Is sports betting legal or illegal in New Jersey? It's unclear if anyone really knows, but the state Senate has passed a measure to partially repeal the prohibition on sports betting. The bill goes to the Assembly tomorrow. Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie decreed the state would not block the casinos or tracks from accepting sports betting, thus opening the doors, while the legal battle continues in the courts with the NCAA and pro sports leagues vehemently fighting for the ban. Will all this action make sports betting allowable here? No idea, but glad the fight continues.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ORLANDO - In the category of "whoops," an Orlando housing developer has built a gorgeous ocean-view mansion on the wrong piece of property. Reuters reports the developer is trying to figure out what to do after surveyors marked the wrong land. The home, with five bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms, a theater, game room and swimming pool, sits in limbo. And that, our cherished readers, is why America has lawyers.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1988 that the University of Oklahoma set a NCAA rushing record with 768 yards. With relief, we note the opponent was not Rutgers.

 

The Morning Briefing October 14, 2014

on Tuesday, 14 October 2014.

NEWTON - Just as you start thinking about the holiday menus, state officials suggest you replace that turkey with perhaps a bear and all the trimmings. In fact, the state will be handing cookbooks to hunters once the season starts, reminding them of how delicious bear meat apparently is. We were not afforded an advance copy of the cookbook, but assume it includes such signature dishes as "bear marsala," "spaghetti and bear balls" and "bear tartare." Of course, a meal is not complete without "bear à la mode."

ATLANTIC CITY - The future of the struggling Trump Taj Mahal plays out this morning in a Wilmington, Del., courtroom, as Trump lawyers try to get a bankruptcy court judge to allow them to terminate a union contract. Trump Entertainment Resorts argues it is drowning under pension and health insurance costs, as well as city and state taxes, and can't survive another month. If the judge rules against the casino, it seems the Taj would become the fifth to go down this year. If this casino can't compete on its own - like any other business in New Jersey - it's time to say goodbye to the Trump nameplate in the struggling resort. Donald doesn't mind.

LEWISTON, Maine - It looks like Gov. Chris Christie was able to hop the one Minnesota-to-Maine direct flight, as he will appear at a noon fundraiser for Maine Gov. Paul LePage, before taking a walking tour of LePage's hometown. For those attempting to keep count, this is Christie's third visit to Maine to help LePage get re-elected, as he battles Mike Michaud in a tight race. One benefit of all this nonstop travel: we're learning about all the gubernatorial races across the country.

STATEWIDE - NJ.com is reporting a nice kernel in Gov. Chris Christie's speech before the NAACP this weekend, in which he manages to insult the entire U.S. Senate in just 110 words. Here it is:"Believe me: When I say I am never running for public office in New Jersey again. I mean I am never running for public office in New Jersey again. The only job left for me to run for is United States Senate, and let me just say this: I would rather die than be in the United States Senate. Okay? I would be bored to death. Can you imagine me bangin' around that chamber with 99 other people? Asking for a motion on the amendment in the subcommittee? Forget it. It would be over, everybody. You'd watch me just walk out and walk right into the Potomac River and drown."

LAWRENCE - The parents of one Rider University student should expect a little "surcharge" in the next tuition bill, after she drove drunk into the school's Fine Arts building, the Trenton Times reports. It all went down at lunchtime yesterday, when she veered the car off a campus road, soared over a four-foot retaining wall and smacked into the side of the building. DWI charges came quickly, as well as charges for possessing drug paraphernalia. Expect a phone call from dad.

PRINCETON - NBC is doing damage control, after medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman was reported to be quietly floating around Princeton, ignoring a 21-day voluntary isolation. Previously, she had been working with a cameraman infected with Ebola in West Africa. State officials issued a mandatory isolation for Snyderman and her crew, effective until Oct. 22. Last night, NBC News anchor Brian Thompson read a statement from an conciliatory Snyderman: "As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused." Translation: The Ebola scare is a critical news story, unless it involves NBC reporters.

TRENTON - Does Gov. Chris Christie hate children? The NJEA has no idea, but wants the public to know that it never made such a claim. NJ.com reports the NJEA thinks the governor was talking about the teachers' union when he slammed an unnamed union for running a billboard that claims he hates children. The concern was this Christie quote: "See, when a public employee union in this state.... spends tens of million of dollars in ads that say things like, 'Chris Christie: He loves millionaires; he hates children.'..." The NJEA has spent a fortune to spread its anti-Christie messages, but never made that accusation. The union wants to make that clear.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2009 that researchers announced a new kind of flying reptile that lived more than 160 million years ago, according to a fossil found in China. Someone decided to call it "Darwinopterus." Seems unfriendly. How about "Fred the Fossil"?

 

The Morning Briefing October 13, 2014

on Monday, 13 October 2014.

SOMEWHERE ELSE – The Twin Cities Charter School doesn't celebrate the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the American continent in 1492 with a day off. But it will celebrate the arrival of Gov. Chris Christie to Minnesota in 2014, as our governor will be at the school today as part of his whirlwind tour of Minnesota to pump up a long-shot Republican challenger for governor. He'll be doing a photo op at the school with Jeff Johnson, as well as being the featured guest at two closed-door, high-priced fundraisers.

UNION – Sen. Cory Booker is getting a Presidential boost in his re-election campaign for Senate with a visit on Wednesday from President Obama. The President will be at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser, as Booker is marching to a victory over his unknown challenger, Jeff Bell. More details are promised, the White House says.

ELIZABETH – A newborn is already making headlines. NJ.com reports the baby was reported missing from Trinitas Regional Medical Center yesterday afternoon, with a man believed to be the father taking the infant. Apparently, it was all an "administrative misunderstanding" between the hospital and the family. The baby was back at Trinitas by 6:30 p.m. last night, with everyone trying to figure out where to point fingers.

NEW BRUNSWICK – When you are born with a name like "Robert Wood Johnson," – the great grandson of the co-founder of Johnson & Johnson – it just seems like things fall your way. That includes setting the record for the sale of the most expensive co-op in New York history, with the Jets owner's cozy 14-room duplex on Fifth Avenue about to be sold for $80 million, Fox News reports. Now if only his football team were so lucky.

PRINCETON—Time for a victory lap by an online newspaper here whose readers spotted NBC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman, fresh off a trip to Liberia to report on the Ebola virus, violating a voluntary 21-day quarantine. Planet Princeton reported that Snyderman, donning sunglasses with her hair pulled back, drove her black Mercedes to get some take-out from a Hopewell restaurant. The story resulted in the New Jersey Health Department handing down a mandatory quarantine order for the good doctor and her crew. The takeaway? Creepy—but not too creepy—stalking is good journalism.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

INDIANAPOLIS – Suddenly, its getting pretty good to work in customer service at the airport. The Indianapolis International Airport has launched roving robots that interact with passengers. Each robot includes an iPod showing the face of the airport worker controlling it. Now furious passengers can just yell and smack around the robots, while employees are safely elsewhere, munching a donut and no longer required to show empathy to avoid bodily harm.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2012 that Botswana got with the times and voted to allow women to inherit their family homes.

 

 

 

The Morning Briefing October 10, 2014

on Friday, 10 October 2014.

PATERSON - The full-time mayor of Paterson - who earns $119,000 - is apparently retired. The Paterson Press reports that Mayor Joey Torres is receiving a $68,622 pension from his various government jobs in the past, working for the Paterson Housing Authority and serving on the City Council and as a former mayor, as well as business administrator in Jackson Township. Torres told the Press that his "personal life, being my retirement, is nobody's business." But how is the mayor deemed retired, especially from the job he currently has? No wonder the state pension system is a hopeless, bloated mess.

NEWARK - Rutgers University is slowly and systematically invading downtown - which is perfectly fine for those desperate for the renaissance that has been promised for 40 years. NJ.com reports the university will be leasing a big chunk of the former Hahne & Co. department store, fronting Broad Street and overlooking Military Park. It is the same building that will house the eagerly-anticipated Whole Foods supermarket, next to the new Prudential tower under construction. Rutgers is willing to fork over $25 million on rent for art galleries, classrooms and studios. Ten years ago, Rutgers could have bought the building - heck, the whole neighborhood - for $25 million.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - We will never know how drunk an Egg Harbor Township woman was yesterday morning, when she drove the wrong way on the Garden State Parkway. To add to the mayhem, this weeble-wobble ran over a curb, ending up dazed and confused in the State Police parking lot in Bass River. NJ.com reports the 56-year-old woman was promptly arrested and charged with DWI. She refused a breath test, likely figuring the situation couldn't possibly get any worse.

NEWARK - When Steve Lonegan was battling Cory Booker for the U.S. Senate seat last year, the long-shot Republican hammered Booker on every issue, big and small, and consistently kept the frontrunner on the defensive. Booker now seems to be taking a page out of Lonegan's playbook, as he finds fault in virtually every word uttered by his challenger, the underfunded and unknown Jeff Bell. Booker is now making headlines for blasting Bell, who told the Asbury Park Press that single moms need government to survive, which is why they are aligned with the Democratic Party. Booker's campaign saw the red meat, calling the quote a "delusional ranting" and "despicable."

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL - For those still attempting to keep track of Gov. Chris Christie's whereabouts, today he will be in Rhode Island and New Hampshire to show his strong and unwavering support for GOP candidates. As Christie is a card-carrying leader of the national Republican Party, it is interesting to learn how many days he is scheduled to barnstorm the state with Republican Jeff Bell, in an aggressive attempt to somehow topple Booker. So far, the governor seems a little quiet.

MONTCLAIR - If the student council of any college tells a student group that it can't distribute political literature, it seems two things always happen: The government association is attacked, and the press writes about it. It played out yet again at Montclair State University, where the Student Government Association decided to fine a pro-Palestinian student club for handing out literature at its information table, the Record reports. The SGA quickly backpedaled on the fine, based on sound legal counsel, but why did it even step into such a lightning rod issue? Expect the Montclair Students for Justice in Palestine - now armed with press coverage - not go away quietly.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

JACKSON, Miss. - The national organizers of Pi Kappa Alpha must be scouring the fraternity's liability insurance policy for "pink flamingo murder." That's because the brothers at the University of Southern Mississippi snuck into a local zoo and stole a female flamingo as part of a scavenger hunt. Apparently, there was a scuffle first with a male flamingo, which didn't want the frat boys stealing his girl. Reuters reported the prank turned to disaster, when the female flamingo was brought back to the fraternity house and then discarded on a biker trail, fatally injured and then euthanized. The male bird also died, defending the flamingo honor.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2006 that Google scored one of its greatest coups: buying YouTube for "only" $1.6 billion. If you think that's a bit pricey, answer this: Do you know anyone, anywhere, who doesn't know YouTube?

 

The Morning Briefing October 9, 2014

on Thursday, 09 October 2014.

IN CLASS – Students struggling to stay awake have problems beyond that inaudible French teacher. Sen. Dick Codey thinks teenage students aren't getting enough sleep and is introducing legislation today asking the state Department of Education to consider later start times for middle and high schools. The Record reports that teens need 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep each night, which is proving impossible with schools opening at 8 a.m. Lack of sleep often translates into bad grades, obesity and depression. The big question: If you open the schools later, won't it just encourage kids to stay up later?

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – With the Presidential election still far off, and no declared candidates, it is still somehow news when Gov. Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton are in the same area. Today, it is not exactly the clash of the titans, as Christie stumps in Wayne, Pa. for Gov. Tom Corbett. Clinton, meanwhile, headlines the "Women for Wolf" rally in downtown Philly for Democratic challenger Tom Wolf. Don't expect an impromptu Presidential debate to break out in the streets.

TRENTON – Efforts of "Weedman" to run for Congress have gone up in smoke, as New Jersey's most outspoken pot advocate is being denied a ballot position in the November election. The Trenton Times reports a federal judge dismissed Ed Forchion's lawsuit in his effort to run in the 3rd Congressional District because he didn't get 100 valid signatures. Perhaps Forchion's first step to run for Congress is to stop introducing himself as "Weedman."

ON THE RAILS – NJTV is showing some photos of the century-old Hudson River tunnels. And they are scarier than anything you can find at the Halloween superstore. There are cracks, crumbling concrete, exposed steel supports and – gasp – leaks. Amtrak says it really, really needs to close one tunnel for an entire year to make repairs, while somehow squeezing 450 trains each day into the other tunnel. To address the worst issues, Amtrak is now closing one tunnel for a few hours each weekend, but that's just a Band-Aid. Three solutions have surfaced: close a tunnel for a year, build two new tunnels, or build one more tunnel, so the others can be repaired. Whatever the case, it'll cost billions for a long-term solution.

ATLANTIC CITY – One would think casino workers would do anything possible to help the ailing industry. So why would they block traffic last night on the Atlantic City Expressway to protest concessions to keep the Trump Taj Mahal casino open? The union is blaming Trump Entertainment Resorts and gazillionnaire Carl Icahn for demanding workers give up their pensions and health insurance. Unclear if this union recognizes "the big picture" here – which former employees at the Revel, Showboat and Trump Plaza would be happy to share.

LITTLE FALLS – How could you steal from Yogi? That's the big question for the culprits who broke into the Yogi Berra Museum and made off with some priceless memorabilia. The Daily News says the break-in was the work of professionals who know which items were most valuable. The question for these guys is what to do with it all. You can't sell it on the open market, as the stuff is all one-of-a-kind and pretty obvious where it came from. One baseball auctioneer said, "Why not just steal the Mona Lisa and try to sell that instead?"

NEWARK – If you are arriving in Newark from West Africa these days, expect a special welcome. With the outbreak of Ebola, travelers arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will be whisked off to special screening rooms, observed for illness and peppered with questions about possible exposure. Any red flags, whatsoever? Passengers are immediately quarantined, with no final opportunities to shop duty-free.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It seems the only way to get 25,000 people together in the U.S. is to schedule a football game. But it was this day in 2012 that 25,000 people assembled in Athens, Greece, to protest a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 

The Morning Briefing October 8, 2014

on Wednesday, 08 October 2014.

TRENTON – Here's your golden opportunity to buy land for less than the "value fries" at McDonald's. Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson wants to sell vacant lots for as little as a buck to those willing to fix them up. It is the latest effort to deal with the 6,300 vacant parcels plaguing Trenton, comprising almost 25 percent of all properties in the city. Jackson said there are some conditions in his proposal, such as people would need to build their homes on the land and live there for at least 10 years. People also would have to prove they have the cash to build, in exchange for the bargain-basement land.

NEWARK – In the all-important Hip-Hop world, a rapper named Chief Keef has an apparent problem with New Jersey because someone tried to steal his chain outside a bar near Newark, reports AllHipHop.com. Keef raps, "I'm riding through New York. Finna go and shoot New Jersey up. Tryna take my chain I ain't going through it. We gonna come and blow New Jersey up." In response, the "Grape Street Crips" are now officially banning Chief Keef from New Jersey. The Crips released their own video, saying "Jersey don't love you. You get no money in my state. F**k you Chief." And there is a lot more like this on Twitter, none of which makes any sense to us.

CAMDEN – Michael J. Fox's foundation is seething at a Camden research institute, which it claims left a freezer door open and ruined a bunch of scientific samples. The foundation is now in federal court, saying it contracted with the company to store specimens for research into Parkinson's, paying $3.5 million. But, in March, apparently someone left the freezer door open, causing these treasured samples to thaw. (Insert Duh here) The company denies wrongdoing. Wish there was an available DeLorean to go back in time.

STATEWIDE – Monmouth University's "Quality of Life Survey," which has been around for four years, is now reporting the lowest ratings in its short history, NJ.com reports. The survey asked 802 adults five questions about New Jersey, their hometowns, the environment, schools and safety. Patrick Murray, the pollster, thinks the dip is because people feel less safe, with the biggest drops in the state's rural areas among 18 to 34 year olds. Perhaps, he figures, that's because all the issues of suburban and urban towns are creeping in as the state continues to develop.

HARRISON – No doubt, the Red Bulls soccer franchise has been a boon to development in the city. But there is an epic battle over nearly $3 million in taxes the Red Bulls paid the city in 2010 and 2011, the Jersey Journal reports. The Red Bulls continue to argue the stadium was built on tax-exempt property the town owns, but the courts have declared Harrison the winner. Now, the ball has been kicked to the state Supreme Court.

NEW YAWK – The Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau will be on Broadway today to hold open auditions for the "Jersey Shore Karaoke Idol" competition, featuring a $10,000 grand prize. Nice way to promote the shore, but do we really want "NooYawkez" – who describe the land east of Queens as "Lawn Guyland" – to win this contest?

MONTCLAIR - After learning there was nothing like Women Entrepreneurship Week in the U.S., the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at Montclair State University decided to create the event on October 15 at the school. Featured will be top Garden State women leaders like Tracye McDaniel, Caren Franzini and Michelle Lee, plus leaders from Wall Street like NASDAQ OMX's Ellyn McColgan, Catalyst's Ilene H. Lang and Golden Seeds' Joan Zief. More than 30 speakers, and they're all women. But we're told men can attend too.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

BROOKYN – Come for the BBQ, stay for the free pig tattoo. The Daily News reports a new BBQ joint and beer garden in Brooklyn is offering free pig-themed tattoos as part of its grand opening today. The place is called "The Arrogant Swine," and will feature tattoos of Miss Piggy, Porky Pig and Piglet from "Winnie the Pooh." Or you can show your toughness with tattoos featuring slabs of meat and a hog cutting itself with a knife. Whatever you choose, you'll remember this grand opening forever.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It is actually, er, today in history, when Americans celebrate National Fluffernutter Day. Our research team was unable to discover when this national holiday began, but we learned plenty about the history of "fluff." In 1913, during World War I, Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Mass.. invented Snowflake Marshmallow Creme and published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich - the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter. It was in 1960 that the term "Fluffernutter" was created by the Mad Men at the advertising agency of Durkee-Mower, hired to market the sandwich.

 

The Morning Briefing October 7, 2014

on Tuesday, 07 October 2014.

ATLANTIC CITY – It's unclear if saving a couple of bucks on tolls is enough for gamblers to stream to the casinos, but it's all a part of "Toll-Free Tuesday" on the Atlantic City Expressway. Tolls are waived from noon to midnight for cars heading eastbound – sure to attract the lowest of the low-rollers, armed with vouchers, coupons and a bagged lunch. The Atlantic City Alliance is also adding to the mid-week excitement, offering cheap hotel packages. The strategy must be: Better to have some tourists, than no tourists.

MOORESTOWN – Perhaps someone, at some point in the construction of a Moorestown library, should have consulted with a translator. Something was lost in translation with the Latin motto etched on a wall. The Burlington County Times reports that officials thought the phrase "Nos Secundus Coniecto Omnia" meant "we confirm all things twice." But it actually means "we second-guess all." Patrons discovered the snafu when they translated the Latin online. Now, a stonecutter will change the phrase to say: "We encourage all." Hopefully, his work will be confirmed twice. Like all things.

ON THE THIRD RAIL – With Amtrak reporting its Hudson tunnels are in worse shape than originally expected, there are plenty of fingers now pointing to Gov. Chris Christie and his controversial decision in 2010 to pull the plug on the ARC tunnel. The governor – never one to back down – is blaming "the liberals" who "want big spending programs," the Record reports. Christie says New Jersey would have been on the hook for $3 billion to $5 billion in cost overruns for a tunnel that went to the basement of Macy's on 34th Street, adding "I'm certainly not going to allow the people of New Jersey to be taken to the cleaners by New York." Good point. But, again, what do we do about these Amtrak tunnels?

ATLANTIC CITY –The future of the Revel Casino Hotel is now where it was expected all along – in the courts. You can't just buy a casino for five cents on the dollar and think it will be as easy as buying a shirt at Target. A bankruptcy judge will be hearing arguments today, as the losing bidder is asking Judge Gloria Burns, in Camden, to throw out the results and hold a new sale. Whatever happens, the lawyers are sure to hit the jackpot.

TRENTON – Two new polls that show Gov. Chris Christie's numbers have slightly dropped in New Jersey have nothing to do with all his out-of-state travel, the governor says, as he packs his bags for Florida, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New Hampshire this week. In fact, Christie says, the people he talks with in New Jersey have been encouraged by all his efforts to elect fellow Republicans, the AP reports. In a state where less than 20 percent of the electorate are registered Republicans, it is curious who the governor has been talking with.

ALLENDALE – Officials at Northern Highlands Regional High School are getting some brush-back from students about plans to meddle in the school newspaper, the Record reports. In fact, the administration is taking some time to rethink its new policies to have greater control over the content of the newspaper, its use of anonymous sources and how it is distributed. The school district should ensure The Fling newspaper – developed by novice journalists – is responsible and fair. Then, it should quickly back off.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SAN FRANCISCO – At 88 years old, Tony Bennett can sing any darn lyrics he wants. So what if he invented his own words to "God Bless America" during yesterday's playoff game between the Giants and Nationals during the seventh inning? When it came to the verse, "to the oceans white with foam," Bennett sang, "to the oceans, bright with gold." We like that version better, anyway.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1929 that Ramsay MacDonald became the first British premier to address U.S. Congress, providing a full range of cheerios, malarkey, pip-pip and all that.

 

The Morning Briefing October 6, 2014

on Monday, 06 October 2014.

TRUMBULL, Conn. – For those trying to keep track of Gov. Chris Christie's whereabouts – perhaps with a handy app or an old-fashioned map – we have today's update: The governor will be in Connecticut for the third time to stump for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley. Today, Christie will be at campaign headquarters in Trumbull, as the Republican Governors Association continues to pump millions into Foley's rematch with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

NOT TRUMBULL – While Gov. Chris Christie is off to save the good people of Connecticut from Democratic villains, his Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Jersey – Jeff Bell – continues to sputter. Bell figured it would be safe to quote the immortal words of President Reagan – as all GOP candidates do – but is likely one of the first candidates in history to get slammed for it. Bell emailed supporters: "Ronald Reagan once said, 'Latinos are Republicans, they just don't know it yet',"Sen. Cory Booker immediately attacked, Politicker noted, calling the email "insulting," decrying how Bell could simplify such a broad and diverse group.

EAST RUTHERFORD – It wasn't bad enough that someone stole a 2003 Suzuki, but then decided to abandon it on the NJ Transit tracks Sunday morning. It wasn't long before a train came a-tootin' at Pascack Junction, slamming into the car at about 6:30 a.m., the Record reports. Luckily, none of the 15 passengers was hurt, but the rail line was closed for more than two hours as workers removed the mangled mess of metal. It is safe to assume the Suzuki's owner is opting not to be reunited with the car.

ATLANTIC CITY – The losing bidder for the Revel won't fold his cards just yet. Florida developer Glenn Straub said the casino was his to steal, at $90 million, and is furious that someone else stole the $2.4 billion casino for a bid of $110 million. Even though Straub somehow reaped a $3 million profit through this auction process – a heck of a consolation prize – he claims the auction process was rife with impropriety and will challenge it in court tomorrow. His biggest question: Why did the lawyers accept a competing bid after the deadline? There are probably 20 million reasons.

TRENTON – The deep, cherished tradition of state lawmakers introducing countless bills for the heck of it may be coming to an end. The Star-Ledger's lead story today is about Assemblyman Anthony Bucco's efforts to limit the number of bills that lawmakers can introduce, in an effort to end all the frivolity, expense and pandering. Bucco wants each bill to include an estimate by the Office of Legislative Services of how much it cost to draft, process and consider. Makes lots of sense, yet Bucco needed to introduce a bill to move his idea forward.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ON AIR – Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you? Well, you are not on Saturday morning cartoons, as a 50-year tradition quietly ended this past Saturday. The last network to air cartoons on Saturday mornings, the CW, pulled the plug – with kids waking up for the first time in five decades to find no cartoons on the telly. There are countless reasons, such as Netflix, YouTube, etc. But a FCC rule forcing more educational programming was the death knell, as the major networks dropped the cartoons in the 1990s to squeeze in the required programming. The last cartoon aired? CW's The Vortexx. Yeah, never heard of it either.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

On this morning, a special "This Day in History" shout-out to embattled Jets fans, likely buried deep under their covers after yesterday's shutout in San Diego. So, it was this day in 1996 that kicker Nick Lowrey tied Jan Stenerud with 373 NFL field goals. And it was this day in 1983 the team announced it was leaving Shea Stadium for the Meadowlands, to play in a stadium named in honor of another NFL team.

 

The Morning Briefing October 2, 2014

on Thursday, 02 October 2014.

PERTH AMBOY – The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has apparently ordered one of its temporary toll takers to stop saying "God bless you" to motorists she meets at her Parkway toll both, News 12 New Jersey reports. That hasn't sat well with the temp, now suing her employer for back pay and benefits. "I feel like I'm taking a stand for God," the woman told News 12. Speaking as motorists, we would rather hear "God bless you," as opposed to some of the other choice words that toll takers mutter as we fumble with our quarters.

STATEWIDE – Gov. Chris Christie: Not here today.

TRENTON – When colleges are more consumed with the bottom line than the quality of education delivered, one must wonder if priorities are a bit skewed. For-profit colleges talk a good game about providing a superb education to those who, for some reason, don't attend traditional, non-profit schools. But state officials are rightfully skeptical, considering a bill today that would allow New Jersey to stop these schools from conferring degrees if they don't have minimum graduation rates. Good, but does pushing the students to graduation achieve the goal here?

TRENTON –Even though Gov. Chris Christie has decreed that sports betting is now legal in New Jersey, the Assembly's Tourism and Gaming committee is considering legislation today to bolster his claim. Expect the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA to fight this at every step, just like every other effort to bring sports betting here. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are digging in their heels, seeing sports betting as the boost Atlantic City sorely needs.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Quinnipiac University pollsters already see Sen. Cory Booker's election as a done deal, reporting our junior senator has an 11-point edge over his under-funded and unknown opponent, Jeff Bell. (NJTV reports Bell doesn't even have a campaign office, opting to meet reporters in a Teaneck hotel lobby with free Wi-Fi.) Booker has agreed to only one debate with his challenger, which makes plenty of sense when you are so far ahead. Such a lopsided race is a bit unfair to voters, who really can't weigh the positions of two legitimate candidates vying for a U.S. Senate seat. But the Democrats certainly aren't complaining.

ATLANTIC CITY – It's time to forget that original investors in the Revel casino have lost their shirts, with the $2.4 billion castle folding as quickly as a pair of threes. The future is with a casino company that owns the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas and Atlantis Casino in the Bahamas. The company took the Revel at auction for a measly $110 million. Winning the Revel at pennies on the dollar could be exactly what Atlantic City needs, as this experienced casino company will not be saddled with all the bloated debt that made it impossible for the original owners to compete in such a depressed market.

ON THE RAILS – It is a nagging issue that just won't go away: We desperately need another rail tunnel to Manhattan. NJ.com reports that Amtrak's tunnels need to be shut down for a year to still repair the damage from Superstorm Sandy. Amtrak wants its proposed "Gateway" tunnels to be built to handle the daily flow as the 104-year-old tunnels are repaired. But that will cost billions and billions of dollars. And turning to the state's Transportation Trust Fund – which can't afford the Ajax to shine up a tunnel tile – is not an option. Of course, if Gov. Chris Christie didn't cancel the "Access to the Region's Core" tunnel project in October 2010 because of cost increases, construction of a new tunnel would be underway. Just sayin'.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

NEW YORK – It is almost unbelievable to write, but the cleanest fast food restaurant in New York City is... White Castle. Yeah, we aren't convinced either, but an assistant professor at Pratt Institute has combed through the city Department of Health's website for the grading and inspection information. Fox News reports the findings: that White Castle had the fewest health violations. But perhaps that's what happens when your burgers aren't graded in the category of "meat."

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2009 that the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro. The party began immediately, and continues into its fifth year.

 

The Morning Briefing October 1, 2014

on Wednesday, 01 October 2014.

ASBURY PARK – The weight of the world is apparently dragging down President Obama in New Jersey, where a new poll shows his lowest rating ever. The big hit is with women, who, for the first time, have a net negative opinion of Obama, with a 50 percent disapproval rating, says a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll out today.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Women don't seem particularly enamored of Gov. Chris Christie either, with a Quinnipiac University poll showing that 48 percent of New Jersey women disapprove of the Governor's job performance. Remember, this is the same guy who demolished former state Sen. Barbara Buono by 22 points just one year ago. Quinnipiac also shows that Hillary Clinton would beat Christie in New Jersey by 10 percentage points in a hypothetical match up, with Clinton enjoying a 20-point lead among New Jersey women.

NEWARK – Perhaps Gov. Chris Christie thinks he can boost those poll numbers by slamming President Obama for his dealings with the ISIS threat. Christie is jumping on the fact Obama admitted his national intelligence people "underestimated" the situation. Christie's response on CNN: "It should be 'we,' Mr. President. It's your administration and when you're the leader, you have to be held accountable for what they do." Sure, just like New Jersey's plummeting credit rating, state pension debacle and broke Transportation Trust Fund.

NEWARK – Following his criticism of Obama on the ISIS mess, Gov. Chris Christie outlined for CNN what he would do differently to protect the country. Right? Well, no. Christie's response:"I'm not the commander in chief." But he might want to have the job someday."But that day is not today," Christie quickly responded with a smile.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – You can actually catch Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey this morning, at the National Catholic Cemetery's Conference in the Meadowlands. It's a nice strategic location near major airports, for the convenience of a flight to Los Angeles to raise more money for Republicans tonight. Then, our Governor will be in Arizona and Denver before landing in the important early voting state of Iowa on Friday for an event dubbed "Building Iowa's Future Rally."

NOT IN NEW JERSEY – But while the governor is famously elsewhere these days, he wants to make sure he maintains his power in New Jersey, where perhaps he can run the state via Skype. Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, a fellow Republican, has proposed that the governor would no longer have to sign his power over to the lieutenant governor every time he flees. That means Christie could sign and veto bills, as well as issue executive orders, as he barnstorms around the country to interview for his next job.

"I'm the governor, and I don't think there's any confusion among anybody in the state about who the governor is. I don't really think people think Kim (Guadagno) is the governor when I'm not here," Christie said, according to New Jersey 101.5. Yeah, but at least she is here.

TRENTON – State lawmakers say they want to phone it in when it comes to quorum calls in Trenton. And it seems a likely possibility, with state Assembly members unanimously voting to phone in for quorum calls if they can't get to the State House on time. They would also be able to email for the roll call, and perhaps text, under the resolution, the Record reports. It makes sense – just as long as it isn't the first step toward texting in a "yea" or "nay" on actual legislation.

PISCATAWAY – As the University of Michigan travels to Rutgers University this Saturday for an eagerly awaited Big 10 match-up, people are still talking about last Saturday's game between Michigan and Minnesota. That's when Michigan QB Shane Morris took a huge hit to the head, but was kept in the game while staggering around the field in a daze. Now, Rep. Bill Pascrell, a longtime proponent of better head safety for football players, wants the Big 10 to investigate. Meanwhile, Wolverine coach Brady Hoke said Morris had made his own decision to stay in, saying "I don't know if he had a concussion or not," yet added, "We would never, ever put a guy on the field when there's a possibility of head trauma." Huh?

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1971 that Mickey Mouse expanded his empire by opening Walt Disney World on 42,000 acres of central Florida he quietly purchased. It's time for Minnie to finally push for that engagement ring.

 

The Morning Briefing September 30, 2014

on Tuesday, 30 September 2014.

ATLANTIC CITY - It seems the big winner in the Revel sweepstakes will be Glenn Straub, a Florida developer. As the bankruptcy court auction resumes today, he has a standing offer to buy the bankrupt casino for pennies on the dollar. And, as the lead bidder at $90 million, Straub will reap a $3 million "breakup fee" if his pitiful offer is topped by someone else, NJ.com reports. In any case, good to see someone finally find a way to make money off the Revel.

NEWARK - In no surprise to anyone, four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA have a big problem with Gov. Chris Christie's loosey-goosey decree that sports betting is suddenly legal in New Jersey. The leagues are in court, calling the governor's decision both "astounding" and a "blatant violation" of earlier court orders. Earlier this month, Christie said casinos and racetracks could offer sports wagering as long as it wasn't state-regulated. The leagues pose a great argument: How can the state heavily regulate casinos and racetracks, as per the state Legislature, but then cherry pick which operations to ignore?

NEWARK - Apparently, according to the compassionate people at Walmart, it is Tracy Morgan's fault that he was critically injured in the deadly June crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed one of his friends. WCBS 880 was in federal court yesterday, where the slew of Walmart lawyers was trying to weasel the company out of Morgan's lawsuit. Walmart lawyers argued: "By failing to exercise ordinary care in making use of available seatbelts, upon information and belief, plaintiffs acted unreasonably and in disregard of plaintiffs' own best interests." Apparently, that trumps the fact the Walmart driver hadn't slept in more than 24 hours before slamming into Morgan's van.

UNION TOWNSHIP - A new public high school stands to become a prototype for districts nationwide, as officials cut the ribbon at Kean University for a building focused on helping kids battle drug and alcohol problems. In partnership with Prevention Links, it is the brainchild of state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who believes such a nurturing place makes it possible for kids to undergo recovery without losing the opportunity for a quality education. Not dealing with all the silly peer pressure at a typical high school is an added bonus.

For more information, click here.

PLAINFIELD - It seems a recipe for disaster, with two Plainfield cops charged with signing off on each other's bogus timesheets for overtime and extra-duty shifts. All told, authorities say, this pair supposedly sworn to protect and serve is accused of stealing more than $11,000.

PERTH AMBOY - You likely don't know today is National PrepareAthon Day. But it is a really big deal for the likes of Verizon, PSE&G and the American Red Cross - all of which are on the front lines when disaster strikes New Jersey. Today, representatives are joining with Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz in a city that was wrecked by Superstorm Sandy to stress the importance of disaster preparedness, emergency communications and volunteerism.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ON AIR – Apparently, Viagra is not doing enough to penetrate the erectile dysfunction market by just targeting men, prompting Pfizer to begin airing commercials today that focus on the other, often-overlooked "sufferer" - women. The ad shows an older woman laying in bed in some tropical paradise, telling viewers, "So guys, it's just you and your honey. The setting is perfect. But then erectile dysfunction happens again...Plenty of guys have this issue — not just getting an erection, but keeping it." OK, good to know. But will this strategy prompt a rise (in sales)?

BROOKLYN, NY – We all have dreams of returning to high school, with throngs of people cheering us on, and the streets jammed with traffic for a hopeful chance to see us. That, of course, isn't going to happen. And that is because we are not Neil Diamond, who tweeted early yesterday that he would be stopping by Erasmus Hall High School in a few hours for a concert, the Daily News reports. "I saw a couple of faces here that are actually familiar," Diamond said. "I was wondering, are these people still going to high school?"

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2010 that Somali pirates seized Indian crewmen and their Panamanian-flagged ship, as they were sailing off the coast of Tanzania – eerily similar to the plot of every "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie ever conceived.

 

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