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I have strung words together for The New York Times, Vice, and more. I write and shoot people (with a camera, you guys) from my home in upst...

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    garbage binLet's play a little word association game, shall we? I say "child's fingers found in a trash bin in Hawaii." You say, oh. my. God. Or what? What else is there to say?

    I don't know if I've watched too much Law & Order SVU or what, but ever since police in Honolulu released details of the six fingers they think belong to a little girl between the ages of 2 1/2 and 4, my mind has been furiously jumping back and forth. Does this mean we have another horrible dead child story on our hands? Or is she OK, because this was some gruesome accident, but some loving person bandaged her up? Or, or, or ...

    This is going to sound selfish, but I'd almost prefer the police wait until they have a solid story before they release these kind of things. I know, I know, there's a right to know, and after a decade and a half as a reporter, I know no newspaper would let that stand. But there's nothing as disconcerting as spending your day wondering if a child is being tortured or if a child is dead, all while hoping that the kid is really OK, and there's been some strange mix-up with the trash from a hospital ... I know, wishful thinking, but it's worth throwing a happy thought out there, right? Semi-happy?

    So here's what we do know. The fingers were found by a woman who was poking through the trash for items to recycle at a housing complex in Honolulu. She's not a suspect, just someone who seems to have been hit by the hard economy.

    There have been no reports of missing children in the area. Which I suppose is ... good? No one actually welcomes news of missing kids, right?

    Ugh! I don't know, folks! I think this one is going to weigh on me for a long, long time. I don't want to be that person who immediately starts thinking morbid thoughts. But we live in a world were addict moms are accused of selling their daughters for drugs, and celebrities are accused of punching random women in the face just because. Screwed up things happen every day here in America ...

    Be honest, what's the first thing that popped into your mind when you read those words?

     

    Image via calamity_sal/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    auditoriumI can't say I remember most of the assemblies we had to sit through in high school. With the exception of one particularly pathetic "teambuilding" effort led by a superintendent who insisted we all "turn Me upside down and make it about We" (um, actually what would be a W and an upside down e, buddy), each lame lesson blends into the next. So maybe it's a miracle that kids at Iowa's Dunkerton High School can recite chapter and verse on the "anti-bullying" lecture they received last week.

    Or maybe it's because the folks from Junkyard Prophet actually showed off pictures of aborted fetuses and made the girls chant mantras about remaining "pure." In a public high school. Without telling the parents. And someone actually invited these morons to talk to kids?

    Kind of makes you wonder who's being called in to talk to your kids, doesn't it? It's hard enough keeping track of curriculum issues, but I have never actually gotten a note home about the assemblies my kid has sat through. I thought it was just me, but a quick survey of parents in other districts (yes, I did it on Facebook) yielded the same results.

    The schools that are so quick to tell us when our kids sneeze are pretty blase about inviting a whole group of people into the auditorium to spend an hour up close and personal with our kids. And you better believe they have our kids' undivided attention -- the prison guards teachers who are cranky to lose valuable class time tend to do a lot of snapping when they catch two students whispering or someone dozing off.

    And if you're not careful, you end up with a group like Junkyard Prophets telling your little girl that her wedding dress will be covered in mud if she doesn't keep her legs closed, and gay kids being told they'll die by age 42 because of their sins. If someone had done a little research on their website, they could have seen they preach "the beauty of a spotless bride" and believe alcoholism is a myth. Flashing warning signs like that, and they still got into a public high school? I shudder to think what could creep into my kid's school.

    Maybe if parents were told, they could have stopped this whole thing. At least, I'd like to think there are rational parents out there who would fight to keep the homophobes and women haters out of their kid's school. I know I would.

    Do you know what influences your kids are being exposed to beside the curriculum at their high school?

     

    Image via dave_mcmt/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    lindt gold bunnyThe rising numbers of autism diagnosis are staggering, but there's good news this time of year. Because the companies signing on to help find some answers for parents are growing too. In preparation for Autism Awareness Month, you can now head to the stores to load up your Easter baskets, book a vacation, or buy a new t-shirt, all while helping fund research.

    Want to get in on the action to help the 1 in 110 kids being diagnosed every year? Check out this awesome list of companies donating to the cause: 

    Lindt: Getting ready for Easter just got a lot easier! For every Lindt Gold Bunny sold through April 8, the company is donating 10 cents to Autism Speaks. The donation goes up to $1 for every Lindt eCard sent or $2 for the purchase of a Lindt pre-filed Easter basket. Oh, and you can get a whopping $25 donation to the cause for a Lindt Pinterest board!

    Toys R Us: Donations of money for Autism Speaks will be accepted through the end of April at Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores as well as online. If you donate $10 or more to Autism Speaks at any Toys R Us or Babies R Us store, you receive a reusable shopping bag designed by James Hogarth, an artist with autism, featuring Autism Speaks heroes. If you hit up their Facebook page, you'll even be able to use their app to turn your profile picture blue for the cause.

    Gaylord Hotels: Going on vacation? You might want to book with Gaylord's Rooms for Good program. They're giving 10 percent of proceeds raised through a special package rate available at all four Gaylord Hotels resorts throughout March and April to Autism Speaks.

    CafePress: They call it a Voice for Autism! The company that sells everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs has a special autism page, and they'll be donating 10 percent of the final purchase price for all products tagged with "autism" that are sold through CafePress.com Marketplace during April 1 to Autism Awareness charities. Autism Speaks will receive 50 percent of the proceeds and 50 percent will be given to an Autism Awareness charity selected by the CafePress community.

    American Medical ID: If you know someone in need of a medical identification bracelet, now's the time to buy. The company has crafted a special edition band for Autism Speaks, and a portion of the sales will go straight to the non-profit.

    Stella and Dot: Need a gorgeous piece of jewelry that makes you feel even better on the inside? For every one of the Shine bracelets this company sells, 20 percent goes straight to Autism Speaks.

    What corporations have you seen make an effort to help these families? Does this actually make you buy?

     

    Image via Lindt


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Krystle Rochelle Tanner
    Need some good news today? This should fit the bill: Miguel Antonio Morin, a baby boy kidnapped eight years ago, is being returned to his mother this week in Texas. Woohoo!! Miracles do exist!

    And that's not some overblown rhetoric. There have been some crazy hurdles that this family has had to overcome. Auboni Champion-Morin hasn't seen her son since he was 8 months old when he and then-18-year-old babysitter Krystle Rochelle Tanner went missing under mysterious circumstances. That was back in 2004. Then in 2006, cops told her it was a "cold case" that they were closing! There was one shot in a million that mother and son would be reunited, but she kept praying.

    Of course she did. She's a mother (of five!). That's what we do. We don't give up on our kids even under the worst of circumstances. But it's hard. Especially when time passes, and the obstacles seem too great. When you read story after story about unspeakable tragedies and kidnapped kids found dead years later or, almost as bad, never found, I wonder how many of these parents lose their faith and throw in the towel.

    That's why we need stories like this one or a Jaycee Dugard. There are horrors behind them that we can't quite ignore, but it's the happy ending powers us forward. They allow us to say "hey, it could happen" instead of despairing.

    Champion-Morin's prayers or karma or something worked out here. Calls to CPS about Tanner allegedly neglecting "her" kids in a town 150 miles away from Champion-Morin's home in Houston prompted an investigation last summer. And somehow, even though Miguel had been removed from the national missing children list, they finally managed to trace him back to his real mom. She's being DNA tested just to be safe, but they expect to reunite the two this week, while Tanner sits her sorry behind in jail.

    Champion-Morin has a pretty incredible take on this. She isn't freaking. Instead she told Dr. Drew that the woman who took her son will "get hers in the end." Check it out, and tell us, could you be this calm? Would the good stories power you forward or just blind faith as a mom?

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kim KardashianAt first glance, you wouldn't think Kim Kardashian and The Stir have that much in common. One jet sets around the globe looking fabulous. The other is made up of women (and one man -- say hello to John Biggs!) sitting in front of laptops being fabulous. One was married for 72 days. The other has been around for 731 days (woohooo, today's our second birthday!). One has a raunchy sex tape. The other ... let's not go there, huh?

    But we have one major thing in common y'all! Just like everyone's favorite second-oldest Kardashian, we here at The Stir know how to get people talking! And in honor of one of our favorite newsmakers, we have pulled together some of the kraziest headlines that Kim K. inspired this past year. Consider it our birthday gift to you (well, along with some awesome giveaways -- go enter)!

    Confirmed: Kim Kardashian Is Totally Carrying a Child! (PHOTO)

    What, you thought we meant that she was pregnant? Aww, we love a celebrity bump watch as much as you do ... obviously!

    Kim Kardashian Is Going Bald, Maybe

    What? A flaw in that bodacious bod? Oh well ... as long as it's not the ass.

    Kim Kardashian's New TV Show Requires Acting -- Just Like Her Reality Show

    What could be better than Kim K. and Lifetime? Maybe add a pint of Chubby Hubby, and you have yourself a date girlfriend.

    Don't Hate Kim Kardashian for Googling Herself -- You Would Too!

    Oh don't lie, you know you do!

    Kris Humphries May Never Forgive Kim Kardashian for This

    Aww, poor Krissy poo has a loooot more things to deal with since we spilled on his honeymoon complaints, hasn't he?

    Carmageddon Is Here: Can Kim Kardashian Save Us?

    What did you do when you heard that Los Angeles traffic would be grinding to a halt because the famous 405 would be shut down? Because we went straight to Kim Kardashian's Twitter for advice. What, you didn't?

    Kim Kardashian Could Teach Us a Few Things About Marriage

    If hindsight is 20/20, what's the vision back prior to the 72-day marriage? Eh, we'd rather not think about it. Let's just laugh at all those careful "plans!"

    Kim Kardashian Needs to Stay in Hiding

    Remember when Kim K. was missing for awhile, and the media wasn't talking about her? Me neither, but it happened, and we have proof!

    Bacon Is the Kim Kardashian of the Meat World

    And we were not talking about Kevin, here folks. Just pork fat!

    Here's Why Kim Kardashian Is Classier Than Snooki (VIDEO)

    Like it was even a competition? Sheesh! Although the Snooks is working on that whole motherhood thing, so stay tuned ...

    Kim Kardashian Did Not Set OJ Simpson Free

    Do we really need a genealogy lesson for you folks? That was her dad, Robert Kardashian, who may or may not have also fathered sister Khloe ... but we're pretty sure is the papa to Kourtney.

    Melissa Molinaro Is Kim Kardashian, But Talented (VIDEO)

    Melissa, who? Oh right, she's the other woman who dated Reggie Bush. Just not as famous.

    Kim Kardashian Engagement Ring Is Even Scarier Up Close (PHOTO)

    Yowzers. Did you get a look at that thing? It's not too late, we still have the photographic evidence.

    Kim Kardashian Wears Ultimate Male Sex Fantasy Outfit

    Who, in their right mind, reads that and doesn't want to look? Straight, gay, male, female, you know you wanna know!

    Shortest Celebrity Marriages That Make Kim Kardashian's Seem Long

    Poor Brittney Spears, Ali Landry, Carmen Electra ... all those ladies thought they'd put the past to rest, and then Kim made us all pay attention again. What did I tell you? That's just what she does! Gets us talking!

    So where do you fall on Kim Kardashian? Love her? Hate her? Can't seem to escape her?

     

    Image via Rubenstein/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    FedEx 400There's something about macho, macho men going out of their way to help little kids that makes me melt. Are you with me? Then ladies, start your engines! NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is devoting an entire race to helping kids with autism.

    Aww! That's a cause we can all get behind.

    The FedEx 400, set for the June 3 race at the Dover International Speedway in Delaware, will benefit Autism Speaks, the largest non-profit in the US devoted to finding answers about this troubling disease. Drivers will even display the group's puzzle piece logo on their cars that weekend to help spread awareness of the cause.

    Pretty cool stuff, huh? I've never been too keen on the constant marketing, marketing, marketing that goes along with this sport -- seriously, have you listened to one of those guys reel of his sponsors list when he's supposed to be talking about how awesomesauce his win was. It makes it sound like these guys are just in it for the money. But when they're using the sponsorships to make a difference for kids, your perspective changes entirely.

    Heck, this little bit of news was enough to get me interested in finding out how the two are intertwined, and I'm a little embarrassed to say I didn't realize just how serious some of these guys are about helping kids with autism. The sport that counts 37 percent of women as fans, and plenty of them moms, has a fair amount of history linking it to the disorder that hits 1 in 110 kids in America every year.

    Take driver Jamie McMurray. He's got a niece with autism, and since May 2006, he's had a foundation that raises money to promote awareness of and raise funding for research, education, and support for individuals and families afflicted with autism. They've donated more than $200,000 to Autism Speaks. Then there's Elliott Sadler, who also has a niece on the spectrum (daughter of his brother and former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler). His foundation also raises money for a cure, and he's also involved with Autism Speaks. Looks like we know who to support during the race, huh?

    How does an athlete's involvement with children's charities change your opinion of them?

     

    Image via NASCAR


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Facebook photosThey say a photo's worth a thousand words. So what is a Facebook photo album worth? Well, if it's a particularly annoying one, just one: unfriend!

    I swear, the more time we spend catching up with friends on the world's leading social media site, the more we realize our friends are really kind of annoying. And the photo faux pas on Facebook are a major part of the problem. Here's our advice, if you don't want to lose your friends IRL (that's in real life people), avoid any of the following: 

    Posting One Photo at a Time: Now our feed is just a long list of your photo after your photo after your photo after ... I know, you want us to see EVERYTHING. But if we wanted to see it all, we would click on your album and do so. Instead, you're forcing us to block you just so we can get our feed back to normal! In other words: we're not seeing anything.

    Embarrassing Way Back When Albums: If you want to show your bad '80s perm, that's fine and dandy. But it would be nice if you bothered to ask the rest of us if we really wanted the world to be reminded of our acid-washed denim collection first.

    Uploading an Entire Memory Card: Let me introduce you to a little word the rest of us like to use: editing! It's really not hard to remove that accidental photo of your bathroom ceiling, or the one of the back of your buddy's head, or that random shot of ... wait, what the heck is that?

    The Mystery Album: Speaking of "what the heck is it," every once in awhile, you run across an album of, well, you don't know what exactly. There are pictures of something. A lot of them. But there's no explanation. And it will drive you friggin nuts trying to figure it out. People, this is what your personal computer is for -- saving those photo of ... something that you just had to take.

    The Bathroom Album: One shot after another of yourself in the bathroom mirror makes us say "self-involved" much, followed by "geez, can't you even take the dirty towel/old bra off the towel bar before you take the shot?"

    The Same Photo Over and Over and ...: We get it, you really, really love the new dress you got. But one photo would do, or maybe two so we get back and front. We did not need you to beat it over our heads with 57 of the same. exact. thing.

    The Potty Training Process: Yes, I'm a parent who posts photos of my kid so my in-laws can see them. No, I do not want to see what came out of your kid's ass today, the new potty you bought him, or how "cute" that gigundo pile of TP was after they first learned to wipe. This is one stage that should not be Facebooked. Period.

    Your 'What I'm Eating' Album: I am glad you're on a healthy diet of rolled oats in the a.m., spinach salad at lunch, and lean chicken breast at dinnertime. But I don't actually need photographic evidence. If you're that hung up on your eats, write a food blog.

    The Duckface Album: One was bad enough. But 33?

    The Trying to Get Complimented Album: Usually accompanied by any of the following captions: "I am so fat." "FML." "Look what motherhood has done to me." "My husband hates this dress, but I love it!"

    Admit it, which of these have you done? And what album issues on Facebook drive you insane?

     

    Image via Facebook


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    D'Andre LaneI think we all saw this coming. D'Andre Lane, father of missing 2-year-old Bianca Jones, has been arrested and arraigned on felony murder charges in Detroit. Thank. Goodness.

    I know it's simply an arrest, and this does not mean the man is guilty. But you'll remember this was the guy who kept insisting that carjackers took his car and his kid ... even though the car was found 10 minutes later with no Bianca in the backseat. Police were doubting his story so much, they took the unorthodox path of more or less telling the public he was full of crap way back in December ... way before they arrested him.

    I can't say I blame them. Did you ever have an unsolved crime in your community? It put you on edge, right?

    We had a rash of burglaries in my neck of the woods recently, and it has made everyone a little more neurotic. They're double locking doors. They're putting in security cameras. They're trying to train their sweet, lovable family pooch to act more Cujo (don't let the picture of the kid and the pup fool you, you mess with her kid, and she will bite your cojones off). When someone actually pulled a gun on a gas station attendant in my so-small-we-only-have-one-stoplight town, I was just about to invest in a panic room until the police said they got the guy. I can't imagine if we were talking about a missing child ... I don't know if I'd feel safe letting my kid out of my sight until someone had a pair of metal bracelets firmly wrapped around his wrists.

    Even if arrest doesn't mean "guilty," it does mean "oh thank God, we can breathe now" for most of us. And I'm imagining in this awful missing toddler case, that applies not just to average Detroit resident but to the rest of Bianca's family too. The little girl has not been found -- dead or alive -- which means they have had no closure. An arrest means another step closer to maybe, possibly ... hopefully getting some answers for these poor people!

    Does an arrest in an open case set you at ease or do you have to see a jury declaring someone guilty before you breathe easy?

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    The Hunger GamesIt can be easy to forget The Hunger Games were originally written with teenage readers in mind. You know, what with all the adult women slobbering over the eye candy on the black carpet at the movie premiere the other day. But leave it to a bunch of awesome high school kids to put together a real-life games, complete with a reaping, while the adults are wiping their drooly chins. 

    The kids at the Bristol Eastern High School in Connecticut, er, Panem have the world watching with the coolest way to pass the time until Katniss throws herself in front of Prim to keep her safe onscreen. What's that you say? Suzanne Collins may not have envisioned the cornucopia in the middle of a high school gymnasium? So what!

    This is a true tribute (see what I did there?) to the biggest smash in the young adult genre since that other book series with a popular movie spin-off (do I really have to name names?). Pulled together by the school's librarian (surprise, surprise), this is the kind of triumph educators dream of: finding books that are well written with a compelling plot point that have captured the national zeitgeist and allow them to (yes, I'm going to say it) make education fun. 

    I don't know how, but Collins has done it. She's written books that have captured the adults without making the teens say, "OMG, my Mom is reading that, hells to the no am I going to fall in with the minivan crowd." Could it be the kids are hungry for ... good literature? Aww, book nerd swoon!

    And the awesome Hunger Games going on at Bristol High -- you can even check the school's website to track the "tributes" -- shows just how deep this love for some YA lit is going. Here's a look at some of the fun thanks to their videos!

    We all know how this goes folks, first, we have ... the reaping!

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    And you can't have a Hunger Games without arming the warriors. Behold the Bristol High cornucopia:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    And get a load of Effie Trinket putting these tributes through their paces:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    You can catch more of the Bristol High Hunger Games over at their YouTube channel, but first, how many teens do you know who have read the books?

     

    Image via TheHungerGamesMovie.com


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Bethenny FrankelI think it's safe to say the Real Housewives have redefined overexposed since they first took to Bravo. So is it really any surprise the latest celebrity to give us a wardrobe malfunction on TV was one Bethenny Frankel? She's the former Housewife who was so desperate for someone to talk about her last year that she made up a stranding at seas!

    Her "accidental" flashing of her undies on Anderson Cooper's talk show yesterday is hard to take considering her track record. So, let's roll the video tape!

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    I don't know folks, she looks suitably embarrassed to have shown off those pink undies. And she got a hardened news reporter like Anderson to lose it (in a completely adorable way I might add). I'd say that's proof positive that if the little panty flash was planned, it was a plan not run by the talk show host. So we could just write this one off as an accident -- she's got a new book out, she was already on Anderson Cooper's show, for cripes sakes. People were already paying attention to her.

    Buuuuuut come on. What's reality TV without manipulation and conspiracy theories? The Real Housewives practically wrote the book on them!

    So, did you notice Bethenny playing it up at the end? Fishing for compliments?   This woman is running out of ways to scream look at me, look at me, LOOK AT ME! that won't make little Bryn disown her. And let's talk about the marketing savvy of a woman who has turned Skinnygirl into a massive empire. She knows how to spin crap -- and I do mean crap -- into gold.

    But there is still that "genuine" embarrassment ... Can we chalk it up to good acting? Now that would be a first for a member of the Housewives crew! Hmm.

    Looks like I'm going to have to come down right in the middle with this one -- not enough evidence to get us mad at her, but she's not exactly in the clear either. So we're not seeing red, but we are seeing ... pink?

    What do you think? Is Bethenny getting desperate for attention or is this an honest mistake?

     

    Image via Anderson/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jason RussellKONY 2012 may have been the fastest growing grassroots campaign in history. But if there's a price for fame, and filmmaker Jason Russell is paying big time. The guy behind the wildly successful Invisible Children campaign was caught -- naked -- on video in a full public meltdown in San Diego yesterday that required police to cart him off to a mental facility.

    Police told TMZ they have Russell on a 5150 psychiatric hold to decide if the allegations from neighbors that he was naked, pounding his fists on the pavement, and possibly masturbating out on the public street mean he represents a danger to himself and society. Only time will tell. But there's an even bigger question at hand, folks: will this breakdown kill Kony 2012?

    If you've perhaps been living under a rock -- or maybe you were celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a month of living in a drunken stupor instead of waiting for today -- you may have missed video of children forced into slavery by Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. And if you missed that, you're sure to have bypassed the controversy over the plan to take down Kony's Lord's Resistance Army with the sale of Invisible Children "kits" and other KONY paraphernalia.

    For every person ponying up the cash, there was at least another American pondering if Russell's moving 29-minute video and campaign were well-meaning but likely ineffectual or -- worse -- an elaborate scam meant to milk us out of our hard-earned money. Russell thought the backlash was serious enough to show up on the round of news shows earlier this week to respond to the criticisms, and he sounded pretty convincing.

    And then this happened. Just look at this video, supposedly of Russell, mid-meltdown. Beware, he is naked so it is not totally safe for work (or kids):

    That is the guy we should send our money to? That is the guy whose word we were supposed to take that this whole thing is going to work?

    The folks at Invisible Children want us to believe that the extreme popularity of their video and the intense media pressure over the past few weeks were just too hard for Russell to take. Suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition, and dehydration, the guy on the video is the filmmaker in body only, they say.

    I don't mean to denigrate their claims, and I have nothing but respect for people who suffer from some sort of mental disease. But the fact is, four days before this, Jason Russell represented himself as a "voice of reason" who we should listen to and trust. It behooved him to prove that he wasn't all talk, to ensure that everything he did was above reproach.

    We are talking about people's hard-earned money. In a recession! We're talking about a global movement, and some major trust. And if that means Jason Russell making sure he eats his Wheaties every morning or whatever he had to do to keep his head on straight, gosh darnit, I'm sorry, but he should have. He took on this project. That was his choice. And he should know that being the public face of this movement held certain responsibilities.

    If Jason Russell can't take care to ensure he doesn't end up on the public streets butt nekkid scaring kids, can we really trust him with something as major as Invisible Children ... and our money? I hate to say it, because I do think this campaign has some merit to it, but I worry that KONY 2012 could die out if the other folks at Invisible Children do not think fast -- faster even than their meteoric rise to fame.

    Check out Russell in better days -- earlier this week, and tell us, what do you think this will do to the KONY movement?

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    George ClooneyAs per usual, everything in life has worked out just fan-dang-tastically for George Clooney. The Ides of March star got his cause splashed all over the headlines when he was arrested during a protest outside the Sudanese government's embassy in Washington, D.C. yesterday. And thanks to a slam, bam, thank you ma'am bail hearing, he didn't even have to spend much time in the slammer slumming it.

    Clooney was already out on bail by yesterday afternoon after paying -- wait for it -- just $100! Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it ... is it because he was a good boy who went peacefully? Or is there really no one in this world George Clooney can't charm?

    Hold your horses, I'm not claiming judicial misconduct here folks. Police did their jobs. Court officers did their jobs. But, ahem. This is George "everyone and their brother had that Caesar cut in the '90s thinking it would get the girls" Clooney. George "we can actually forgive you for Batman and Robin" Clooney! We're actually liking him more today because he stood up for what he believed in, and got led off in silver bracelets.

    And the actor got off easy, all things considered. If you're the protesting sort, you know you need to set aside some clams on the off-chance that you have to call a buddy to bail you out of jail. Judges have been known to go much harder on protesters, particularly when they aren't celebrities.

    The $100 bail figure is peanuts when you compare it to the kind of money other people doing the same thing would have to put up for standing up for what they believe in. The kids who occupied Los Angeles last fall don't have pads in Lake Como, and they had to put up $5,000 apiece -- for essentially doing the same thing, peacefully ignoring requests from police not to be in a certain area!

    There's no evidence the star was trying to play off his star power here. He knew exactly what he was getting into when he accompanied his dad, Nick, Virginia Rep. Jim Moran, and others to the capital. And he sure as heck knew he could be arrested when he ignored police warnings not to cross a certain line. Clooney wanted to draw attention to Sudan's blockade of supplies and humanitarian aide. Getting arrested was good for him, and he didn't really seem to care what it would cost.

    The judge could have gone higher, but I will say $100 was pretty safe when you consider Clooney's commitment to this cause ... and the fact that you're going to jump bail, you generally need to have a face that isn't instantly recognizable to the whole world. But if a certain judge was also feeling a little woozy when Clooney walked into the courtroom, well, come on, could you blame them? At the very least, we now know there is someone who actually looks sexier for having been arrested!

    Check out George's arrest, and be honest: what would you have set for bail if you were the judge in this case?


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Amber PortwoodIt's about time! That's the first thought that popped into my head when I heard MTV has officially slated an end date for the popular -- albeit controversial -- Teen Mom series. Maci Bookout, Farrah Abraham, Catelynn Lowell, and of course, everyone's favorite reality TV screw-up Amber Portwood will finally be giving their kids a chance to live without cameras tracking their every diaper blowout. Well, maybe.

    MTV says Season 4 of Teen Mom -- which will air later this year -- will be the last for this show. Ever. But to all the bloggers out there saying "oh, finally an end of the drama," a word. Did you catch what else that MTV press release had to say?

    They will continue to be a part of our MTV family, and we're thankful to these brave young women for sharing their stories and helping to make a positive impact on teen pregnancy prevention.

    Continue to be a part of the family, huh? That's all MTV gave US Weekly, but it sounds suspiciously like the network isn't ready to let these little gold mines go for good. Can we expect a whole bunch of Dr. Drew check-in specials in the future to keep us on the hook? Maybe a spinoff on what is already a spinoff of the 16 & Pregnant series -- which comes back on air later this month (cough, great timing, cough, cough)?

    More from The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Jenelle Evans Could Go a Month Without an Arrest -- Just Not This One

    The producers may have learned some lessons along the way, especially in relation to domestic violence being committed right in front of the camera (Amber!). But it's always been the drama of these women's -- yes, they are now women -- lives that played a role in the way MTV has chosen to present the story of being a kid raising a kid in America. It's hard to believe that will change.

    For starters: ending one show does not mean ending that storytelling for the network. As it stands, Teen Mom 2 is still on the air -- with Jenelle Evans and Leah Messer driving the drama train. And the girls on the two shows have crossed paths and become friends; their lives are now intertwined. And they've proven they don't even need the eyes of the camera for their fights to go public. There's certainly room for the network to keep playing up those relationships to keep milking the popularity of their first set of mom stars.

    And what if MTV does cut the apron strings for good and for real? Will that end the "drama"? Absolutely not. 

    The sad news in America is there is always a bumper crop of pregnant teenagers ready-made to step in and fill the whole that Portwood and crew will be leaving behind. Case in point: the four soon-to-be tabloid regulars slated to star in Teen Mom 3. They may not have the same problems as Amber or her ilk, but they're teenagers, new parents, and new reality stars all at once. Their own special brand of trouble is just getting started.

    Has MTV learned its lesson with some of the disasters from Teen Mom? Will this end the drama of this reality series or will the drama just be different?


    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Channing TatumChanning Tatum fans, America owes you all -- and him -- an apology. Like many in these here United States, I confess I've always used the word "actor" loosely about the star 21 Jump Street. And now the reviews are in, the money's piling up at the box office, and  know I sit here humbly corrected.

    The 80s TV show turned this weekend's top movie at the box office (kicking both The Lorax and Friday Night Lights hottie Taylor Kitsch's John Carter in the hind end), has let us in on a Channing Tatum secret. We know now what The Vow and Step Up failed to tell us.

    Channing Tatum can ... well, he can act. No, really. Behind all that Mr. Sexy McSexy Pants is comedic timing that has taken the industry by storm. He is hilarious as one of the undercover cops sent back to high school. Hi-dang-larious! Seriously, the Washington Post called his acting "sublime."

    Sublime? Wait a darn minute. This is the same guy who was being called a "handsome steak" and not much else a few months ago? If I were him, I don't know if I could resist sending some of these reviews out to certain particularly vicious critics!

    And now it's lesson time. Sorry, I know Channing just brought the funny to the big screen, but his "in your face" success says a lot more than just "come on, go see 21 Jump Street this afternoon!"

    Just because a guy has a spectacular . . . everything, does not mean it's fair to box him into a corner. I'm not even sure why that's acceptable, but let's face it: it's done with a lot of hot Hollywood actors. Not as much as the female actresses, no, but in an odd twist on the fight for equality, while women are finally finding some success in pointing out just how wrong it is to be typecast for your beauty, it's becoming more commonplace for a Tatum-type to be forgiven his ills as an actor as long as he continues to take his shirt off.

    We did it with Channing Tatum, and were did that get us? Oh right, eating massive amounts of crow, while 21 Jump Street speeds to the top of the box office fueled by the "sublime" acting and comedic timing he's just been hiding from us all this time. Whoops!

    Check out funny Channing in action:

    What Hollywood actor have you profiled as "all brawn, no brains?"

     

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Ashley JuddAnd it continues. A British tabloid just poured fuel on the fire of rumors Missing actress Ashley Judd has had plastic surgery on her face. Their evidence? She wasn't "expressive" enough for their liking while taking in an NCAA basketball game.

    Seriously? She didn't smile widely enough? That's proof that Judd's cheeks have been artificially enhanced? Uh huh. Well then ... I think it's now safe to call this whole business over Ashley Judd's "puffy" face exactly with it is.

    Picking on Judd's "puffy" face is about jealousy. People are jealous because even with a puffy face, she looks damn good. People are jealous because Ashley Judd has defied the need to be so thin you'll disappear if you turn sideways and grabbed choice roles -- and an adorable famous hubby -- anyway.

    That's how you end up with ridiculous stuff like this, out of the Daily Mail:

    There was one thing that will immediately grab the attention of fans of the veteran Heat actress - her suspiciously inexpressive face. For while she continued to cheer, smile and yell, she simply did not look like the famous face her fans have grown to know and love.

    They based her "not-so-wide" smile and snarked at the "strain" on her face as she encouraged her team. Odd, isn't it, that they weren't picking on the OTHER fans who looked "strained" as their team struggled ...

    At least they got the love part right. Ashley Judd's the kind of actress we have loved all the more for not fitting some prescribed Hollywood role. She's graduated from Harvard. She's made us love her more for her stumbles, be it her candor about her abusive childhood or her decision to enter a treatment program for her depression. That doesn't happen often in the eat you up and spit you out tabloid world we live in.

    Usually admissions like Judd's would have given the masses a reason to sharpen our claws and dig in, ripping her to shreds, but Ashley generally, miraculously, manages to skirt that dark side in the American public and come out on top. At 43, the famous daughter of a famous mother still has the kind of girl next door charm we tend to attribute with younger women, so-called fresh-faced starlets who have a sweetness and a kindness that makes us want to reach out and give them a hug and pledge eternal friendship. She may be a staunch political activist, but Ashley is still the kind of woman you want to protect.

    Really, with all that good juju surrounding her, is it any wonder people have pounced on this shred of "evidence" and run with it to get the rumors swirling? In a world where people don't feel good until they've made someone else feel bad, saying that Ashley Judd has a puffy face, and alluding to plastic surgery, is a way to bring her back down to their level.

    Frankly, I don't care if Ashley Judd had plastic surgery, if she's telling the truth about puffiness from steroids used to treat a sinus infection, or if she's simply put on a little weight. I don't care how she chooses to cheer for her favorite team. I just want folks to step back and look at her pictures and those "puffy" cheeks and be honest with themselves: doesn't Ashley Judd look happy and healthy right now? Is there really anything else that matters?

    Why do you think people have been so focused on the size of Ashley Judd's cheeks?

     

    Image via Splash News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    TSA Kid in wheelchairMan oh man, will the TSA ever learn? One of their agents was caught on video at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport over the weekend busting a major terrorist. Oh wait, no they weren't. It was a 3-year-old boy in a wheelchair. The TSA was just treating him like a hardened criminal.

    To be honest, when I first watched the video of Matt Dubiel's little boy getting the terrorist treatment, I wanted to give the TSA the benefit of the doubt. The agent seemed respectful, and you just never know what some creep could have stuck in the back of that wheelchair. But then things got nuts.

    During the three-minute video, Dubiel reveals he wasn't allowed to physically comfort his obviously confused and stressed toddler. And then you see an agent wiping down the boy's hands ... for explosives residue. Because you can't trust those 3-year-olds with the nitro-glycerin? Take a look:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Swabbing his cast? His hands? For a 3-year-old? I can accept a review of the wheelchair, but that's where it should have ended -- about one minute in.

    Dubiel held it together quite well, he's not one of the over-reactive nuts who have sullied the reputation of Americans with valid points about the problems with in the TSA. He seems to have realized this agent was just doing his job ... albeit a job that amounts to a ridiculous waste of federal resources. This video is the epitome of what's wrong with the organization of the TSA. Having traveled, the agents are, by and large, friendly and simply doing what they're assigned to do. But when the assignment is to spend that much time testing a little boy for explosives, what they're assigned to do amounts to a whole lot of time allocated to fruitless efforts.

    What they need are better instructions, instructions based on common sense. We, the taxpayers, just paid a man to stand in an airport working up a toddler "terrorist" instead of grabbing someone else for a "random" screening. Frankly, I'd rather pay the agents to stand around and shoot the breeze, while keeping their eyes peeled for something truly suspicious ... at least that might prevent a real terrorist from taking to the friendly skies.

    What do you think should have been done in this case?


    Image via MattonAir/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Max KohllPicture this: your kid's school calls and says your fifth grader has been a naughty boy. He set up his own NCAA basketball pool on the playground, and the principal is perturbed. Do you scream or laugh? Giggling mamas, join Max Kohll's mom in a round of raucous laughter.

    She thought the notion that her 11-year-old was the mastermind to some gambling ring at Columbian Elementary in Omaha, Nebraska was ridiculous. And I'm with her. It's called letting kids be kids. School administrators country-wide might want to brush up!

    The ambitious little b-ball fan had pulled in $5 antes from a bunch of his buds who'd filled out their brackets. The winner would have gotten half the pot, and the second and third place guessers would split the rest. To me that says Max likes math. To his school principal, it said Max was spreading the scourge of gambling in her school.

    Oh come on! What's next? Are we going to stomp out the scourge of kids trading baseball cards next? I mean, garsh, you never know what an Andy Petitte could bring in 20 years. Taking it off a little dude's hands for a mint Derek Jeter might be grand larceny.

    I know all about the ills of gambling. There are people who have lost everything dear to them at the casinos. But this is fifth grade. FIFTH grade. Chances are most of these "gamblers" have yet to lose their baby fat. Forget their house and wife.

    I know I spent years gambling on the school bus -- unbeknownst to my mother or the bus driver. We played poker for pennies. The result was a few of my mom's empty tomato sauce jars full of coins ... not a gambling problem. I grew up and grew out of the habit ... like most kids who pick up something just for fun.

    I can't help wondering how many fewer discipline problems schools would have if they stopped ascribing adult problems to childish actions. Just because a kid does something doesn't mean they have the same reasoning behind it that an adult might.

    Check this cutie out on Jimmy Kimmel and tell us what you would have done if you were his mom?

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Image via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    TigerHis Achilles tendon might be feeling better, but Tiger Woods is suffering big time today. The scandal-plagued golfer had a doozy handed to him in the form of a tell-all book written by former swing coach Hank Haney. Hmm, I'd say The Big Miss could have been re-named the big slam ... if it wasn't for that whole tennis/golf confusion thing.

    Anyhoo! I'm not exactly surprised Haney resigned from his gig with Woods back in 2010, right in the heart of the sex scandal that ended the golfer's marriage. The way the excerpts of his book read, he does not seem to have liked his famous boss at all! Just get a load of these juicy bits of backbiting about the hand that once fed him:

    1. When Tiger's done eating at a restaurant, that means everyone's done. Haney says his diva client wouldn't even bother excusing himself from the table; he'd get up and walk away, expecting everyone else to follow -- whether or not they'd actually finished eating. Sounds ... douchey.

    2. Speaking of restaurant food, if take-out was on the agenda, Haney says he had to do the taking out, and the paying ... for his boss' eats. The direct quote? "He seemed to think it was funny to be cheap." Ye-owch!

    3. Seems food was a major problem for the Tiger. Haney claims he spent a lot of time hanging with his boss watching him eat sugar-free popsicles without ever being offered one. Aww! Even toddlers know you share your dang popsicles!

    4. Haney paints Woods as kind of an ass to his fellow golfers. Rooming with devout Christian golfer Zach Johnson, Haney says he ordered the porn channel for their hotel room, then turned it on. And when it comes to Phil Mickelson, it seems Tiger likes picking on the guy's bod. Gee, what a pal.

    5. And in the biggest non-surprise of all, Haney says Tiger's marriage to Elin Nordegren had problems more or less from the start. It certainly didn't help when she tried to be all supportive as a wife and suggest throwing a party to celebrate a win, only to have Tiger shoot her down with a snide "We’re supposed to win." Nothing like looking a gift horse in the mouth ... huh?

    Check out more of the claims from Haney!

    Tiger's slammed this book as unprofessional. Do you agree? Does Haney have the right to share these things about the famous golfer or is it uncool?

     

    Image via schumachergirl1956/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Trayvon MartinPoring through coverage of the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, I've felt like my heart was playing tennis. I can go from wiping tears from my eyes at the horrors of a 17-year-old's death to wrapping my hands into angry fists in seconds. That's what the claims from George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community who admitted to police he shot Trayvon, will do to you.

    George Zimmerman's claim that he shot an unarmed kid in self-defense is sounding more and more like a load of hooey. Trayvon is black. George is Hispanic. Trayvon was carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. George was carrying a gun. Trayvon is dead, and George has not been charged.

    Huh? Is there a state in the nation where a bag of Skittles is a weapon you have to defend yourself against with deadly force?

    The preposterousness of Zimmerman's claims would actually be laughable if this whole case wasn't so unspeakably sad. A child is dead, and the man who is open about the fact that he caused the child's death has yet to be taken to task for it. It's a smack against a justice system where self defense as a reason for the use of deadly force has to be measured carefully against a person's right to live. If this ridiculous case stands without resolution, we're on pretty dangerous footing in America.

    Zimmerman's claims from the get-go have been troubling ... at best. A chilling 911 call revealed a man claiming that he saw a "suspicious" guy walking through the neighborhood. He didn't go into specifics, just telling the operator that "he looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something." His reasoning? Trayvon was walking in the rain and looking around. Geez, sounds like any other kid in America who doesn't have a car, doesn't it? Couldn't be because he was a black kid, could it? Hmm.

    Then, before noting any criminal activity of any kind, Zimmerman told the 911 operator that "these (unintelligible), they always get away." Really, he hadn't seen Trayvon do a thing, and he'd already labelled him as a criminal. And he followed him! He certainly sounds like someone itching for trouble.

    Seems to me like Zimmerman shot his own self defense claims in the foot on that 911 call. He told the 911 operator he didn't know what was in the boy's hands, meaning he didn't have evidence the boy was holding a gun. He was also told by the 911 operator not to follow Trayvon, but he did it anyway. That's not Trayvon's fault. That's his.

    Common sense tells us when 911 operators tell us to do something; you listen. They're the experts! Heck when you don't know what someone you've deemed "suspicious" might be carrying, you don't go after them. You call the professionals, and let them take care of it. By George Zimmerman's own admission, nothing done here describes self defense, and letting him walk off is not just an insult to the grief of Trayvon's family but to the integrity of the entire justice system.

    Self defense is used in court fairly regularly, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. We need it in a world where you sometimes feel like it isn't your own sense of right and wrong that you question but someone else's. But when it's abused, it sullies the system.

    Listen to some of the 911 excerpts yourself below. What do you think should be done to George Zimmerman?

     

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jennifer lawrence  Breaking Dawn

    When I heard rumors of a feud brewing between Twilight star Kristen Stewart and The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, I knew it had to be fake. Come on! Bella knows better to take on Katniss. The girl packs some serious bow and arrow heat. 

    Score one for me, because I was right! KStew has set the record straight. The two have never even met, never mind actually gotten into a diva spat. But wait ... there's more!

    Kristen is actually planning to queue up at the theaters with the rest of us to see The Hunger Games. Hey, why wouldn't she? She knows she's got nothing to worry about!

    It's not like it's competing with the next installment of Breaking Dawn. And I'm not just talking about the fact that the releases are timed at different parts of the year (Breaking Dawn: Part 2 is slated for November ... can't wait!). The Hunger Games is an action flick with a love triangle. Twilight is a love triangle with some action. It's sooo not the same thing, as Jennifer Lawrence so wisely pointed out:


    Jennifer Lawrence on Differences Between Hunger Ga

    The audiences for these two flicks are, for the most part, different. Both based on young adult novels, there's a teenage contingent of fans and a contingent of adults (mostly mothers). I'm sure there will be overlap between the devotees of Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lawrence (raising my own hand right now) but it's going to be pretty limited.

    At the very least, the Suzanne Collins book series has already gotten more of a male teenage readership than the Twilight series, and that's expected to translate into more testosterone in theaters hoping to see the badass tribute action. Were there male Twilight fans? Sure. But I have a feeling a good 80 percent of them were just watching it to make a girl in their life happy (thank you to my husband for totally throwing himself on that spear). Really, if anyone should be worried, it's RPatz and TayLaut. Josh Hutcherson (aka Peeta Mellark) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) are definitely catching fire!

    Not to mention Kristen is notorious for being uncomfortable in the spotlight. The faster Jennifer rises to fame, the less attention she has on her and her relationship with Rob. That should make Lawrence her best friend, not her worst enemy.

    Which movie would you be more likely to go see?

     

    Images via TheHungerGamesMovie.com and Summit Entertainment


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