09 July 2010

Scummy Senators Aide Offers Pay For Access, Those Russian Spies, Oldest Living Person - News Headlines 9 July 2010

*** Check out the fun of the intelligence world, the crazy crimes of the political world and there is another oldest living person in the world.

From Denny: We have another claim of the oldest living person in the world and this time she is in Georgia, Russia's neighboring country to the west. She has the local Georgian officials convinced of her longevity.

She is Antisa Khvichava and says she is 130 years old. Antisa was born on 8 July 1880 in a remote mountain village. She says she slowed down and finally retired at age 85 from work as a tea and corn picker in the fields. Uh, 45 years ago, folks! She sounds like my Aunt Noelle who decided to finally quit smoking for the sake of her health - at age 85. She lived to age 93 so I guess it worked. :)

Antisa says, "I've always been healthy, and I've worked all my life - at home and at the farm." She speaks through an interpreter since she only learned to speak the local language of Mingrelian, not Georgian since she never received formal schooling.

She sports a brightly colored dress and headscarf. She enjoys shiny red lipstick though now her lips are weathered from time. She is quite healthy though she uses a cane now.

Antisa tells officials she lost her birth certificate long ago, about 100 years ago to be exact, but that she possesses other documents to prove her claim of age.

She must have been one of those late bloomers because when she was 60 years old she gave birth to her son, Mikhail, who is now 70 years old. Antisa is proud to say she has 10 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

Currently, before this claim was found, The Gerontology Research Group has recognized Eugeni Blanchard of Saint Barthelemy, France, age 114, as the oldest living person in the world. The organization is currently examining Antisa's claim.

Antisa Khvichava, reportedly 130-year-old Georgian woman, looks at her birthday cake on July 8, 2010. (AP Photo/George Abdaladze)

World's Oldest Person, Antisa Khvichava, Hits 130: Georgian Officials

Here's a story of the incredibly stupid and excessively greedy. Colorado's Democratic Senator Michael Bennet had an intern working for him, Jeffrey Garofano, who actually thought he could sell access to the Senator for $2,400. Garofano isn't even out of college yet and he's gotten off on the wrong path in life already. Get this: it was his first week on the job!

The way it went down is that apparently he received an email from an acquaintance who requested to discuss fuel standards with the Senator or one of his aides. Garofano proceeds to reply in an email, according to the Wall Street Journal, "With a donation of $2,400 or more," activists pushing a fuel-standards bill "can schedule a one-on-one hour long meeting with the Senator."

Then he went on to add, "Want a better chance to lobby Michael?" The intern offered this advice: "Host an event for $5,000 or more."

Turns out this extortion is not illegal as long as it remains only a suggestion. If the Senator had offered legislative action in exchange for a monetary donation then it would be illegal. Still Senator Bennet was not amused and fired the intern immediately for misrepresenting him.

Senator's Intern Fired Over Pay-For-Access Offer

Ever been to Vienna, Austria? I have and it really does hold the border mindset - and is the dividing line - of where the East meets the West. I enjoyed myself wandering the streets and observing Arab arms dealers in cafes making deals. (Hint: big muscular bodyguards carrying big guns under their blazers.) My husband wanted to blunder into one of those places and I had to hustle him down the road. There are some situations "where even angels fear to tread." I'd seen enough.

I lunch-tripped into a suspicious looking Chinese restaurant front that was terribly shabby yet within listening distance of the American embassy. They tried to tell me they weren't serving but I insisted they serve lunch any way. Hey, they had a menu. I figured it they were going to run a scam operation I'd make them work for it and be the dumb annoying tourist. Oh, how the Communist Chinese were thrilled with me that day but at least I satisfied my curiosity of what was in my environment.

What's even more fun is to hang out in some of the largest hotels and watch all the wheeling and dealing that goes on between local politicians and various agents of various governments in the hotel lobbies. What a shifty bunch sitting in big chairs, resting their drinks on polished marble tables while they chain smoke their tension away. Ah, the local color of the intelligence world at harried work.

So, when news broke of the big spy swap for 10 low level bumbling Russian spies, well, I yawned. Where's all the excitement? Bully for CIA Director Panetta and President Obama for saving the taxpayers a boat load of cash. We didn't have to bring them to trial or house them in some prison for decades. Why not send them back to Russia? That surely is sentence enough.

That said, continue to look for Russian spies near you, in your neighborhood. The Russians, that Eastern European suspiciousness, just can't let it go. It really is in their DNA, the love of fearing others who are not them. Maybe it's just as well their recent spies did not stay longer. They might have joined the GOP and the Teabaggers! Can you imagine the editorial cartoons on that one? :)

CIA's Panetta, Russian Spy Chief Negotiated Swap - "CIA director Leon Panetta and Russia's spy chief, Mikhail Fradkov, worked out the largest spy swap since the Cold War in just a few days, a U.S. official says."

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