Man Arrested For Taking Naked Videos Of ESPN Reporter

CHICAGO, Illinois (WPIX) – A man accused of the surreptitious shooting of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews in the nude, appeared Saturday in federal court.

Authorities arrested Michael David Barrett Friday at O’Hare International Airport. They charged him with interstate stalking after, they say, he shot and tried to distribute videos of Andrews naked in her hotel room. According to the FBI, Barrett tried to sell them to the celebrity web site TMZ and posted them online. A TMZ employee reportedly tipped off Andrews’ attorney.

In a statement today, Andrews gave thanks to “ESPN for its support during this difficult time.” She says she hopes the case will eventually help others, who have been similarly victimized: “For my part, I will make every effort to strengthen the laws on a state and federal level to better protect victims of criminal stalking,” she said in a statement Saturday.

FBI agents said seven of the eight videos posted on the internet were taken through a peephole in September 2008. The videos — which authorities say were likely taken via cell phone — showed the 31-year-old reporter alone and undressed in hotel rooms in Nashville, Tenn. Investigators believe Barrett called several hotels to find out where Andrews was staying, and requested a room next to hers. They estimate that the eighth video was also taken at a hotel, but Andrews couldn’t identify which one.

According to court papers, Barrett put Andrews under surveillance to harass and intimidate her, and to cause substantial emotional distress. Andrews says she felt ashamed and embarrassed, and has had trouble sleeping and breathing. She also said she’s worried more footage will surface.

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Manga Version of Hitler’s Mein Kampf Sells 45,000

The Japanese publisher East Press has sold 45,000 copies of the manga version of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf, amid renewed calls to drop the manifesto’s ban in Germany. It has been illegal to publish Mein Kampf in Germany since 1945, and the government enforces the ban through an unusual application of copyright laws.

Since the German state of Bavaria inherited the printing rights upon Hitler’s suicide towards the end of World War II, the copyright holder (which is currently the Bavarian Finance Ministry) can prevent others from publishing the book in Germany. However, since the copyrights are set to expire in 2015 (the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s death), some government and Jewish figures have called for publication under controlled conditions.

German Jewish author Rafael Seligmann called for its publication as early as 2004. In June, the Bavarian minister of science and research advocated a “decently prepared and well-grounded critical edition” to counter “charlatans and neo-Nazis” who “could seize this disgraceful work when Bavaria’s rights run out.” Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany endorsed the possibility of an annotated edition on August 5 “to prevent neo-Nazis from profiting from it” and to “remove many of its false, persistent myths.”

However, Bavaria upheld the ban last month and rejected the Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History’s request to publish the book. Bavarian Finance Ministry spokesperson Horst Wolf said, “Scholarly as the aims of the institute are, we won’t lift the ban as it may play straight into the hands of the far-right.” On the separate matter of the manga version, the ministry told the Asahi Shimbun paper, “We have trouble considering manga as an appropriate medium for critically presenting this problematic material.”

Kōsuke Maruo, a 32-year-old editor at East Press, explained why his company produced the manga version of Mein Kampf: “It is a famous book, but there are few who have read it. I think it is [studying] material for knowing Hitler, a man synonymous with ‘devil,’ and what sort of thinking created that level of tragedy.” While his company had no expectations on the manga’s sales, it has sold 45,000 copies since last November. That is above the 35,000-copy average of the other books in the Manga de Dokuha series from East Press.

East Press publishes 43 Manga de Dokuha guides for Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s FaustFranz Kafka‘s The Metamorphosis, Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke ZarathustraAntoine De Saint-Exupéry‘s Night FlightWilliam Shakespeare‘s King Lear, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and other titles. One of the titles, Kenji Miyazawa‘s Night on the Galactic Railroad, has also been made into an anime movie by Gisaburô Sugii and Group TAC. Manga pioneer Osamu Tezuka createdAdolf, a five-volume fictional manga portrayal of three men named Adolf — including Adolf Hitler.Viz Media published Tezuka’s Adolf manga in North America.

Guidance Counselor Accused of Fixing Grades

A guidance counselor at Fort Lee High School has been charged with altering the academic records of several students, WPIX has learned.

In March, district officials revealed that grades for at least six high school seniors had been changed on their transcripts without their knowledge. The tampering had reportedly gone on for at least six years.

The state Department of Education, which completed a probe into the case, concluded that guidance counselor Judith Meller altered the grades or had someone else do it.

The school’s superintendent received a letter from the agency Tuesday, explaining the conclusions of the investigation.

“The completed investigation confirmed that the school’s official academic records at all times accurately reflected student grades,” the letter said. But “the investigation also confirmed that a high school guidance counselor, after being directed not to modify college admission records, did alter or direct others to do so,” the letter said.

District officials mailed letters to colleges and universities, after more than 300 outraged parents and teacher met at a board meeting.

The school’s Principal, Jay Berman, was suspended after the grade-tampering was revealed, although he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Meller, who was arrested July1, has been charged with falsifying or tampering with records in July.

Man Accused of Killing Girlfriend’s Cats

Police say a Manhattan man secretly killed at least four of his girlfriend’s cats, even after she unsuspectingly adopted new cats.

Sean Lynde was arrested Friday on charges including felony and animal cruelty. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), two of his girlfriend’s cats died – one by poising and another beaten – shortly after Lynde moved into her apartment.

The girlfriend later adopted two kittens. According to the ASPCA, one mysteriously died in a fall, and the other had trouble walking due to a trauma and was returned to a shelter.

Lynde pleaded not guilty at an arraignment and has been freed on $5,000 bail, according to his attorney.

Anime Makes Up 50%+ of BD Sales in Japan in 2009’s 1Q

GfK Marketing Services Japan issued a report on Monday that stated that Japanese animation continues to account for over 50% of the yen spent on Blu-ray Discs (BD) in Japan during the first half of 2009. Anime has been outselling other categories in the Japanese BD market since last year. According to the survey firm, the country’s Blu-ray Disc market has maintained stable growth as sales reached 8.4 billion yen (about US$89 million) on 1.47 million BDs during this six-month period. E-commerce sites accounted for 47% of the yen spent on BDs, followed by electronics volume retail stores at 27% and media stores at 23%.

At the same time though, BD sales did not make up for the shortfall in DVD sales, which dropped 15% by volume and 20% by yen amount year-to-year. 28.52 million DVDs were sold for 116 billion yen (US$1.23 billion) during the first half of 2009. Media stores accounted for 40% of the yen spent on DVDs, followed by e-commerce sites at 34%, electronics volume retail stores at 13%, and general volume retail stores at 1%. Media stores continues to show a decline in DVD sales. While some of that loss is attributable to the continuing increase in sales volume at e-commerce sites, the same e-commerce sites had less sales in actual yen spent.

According to Fuji Sankei’s Business i website and an August survey report by Humanmedia, the overall Japanese content marketplace of games, music, manga, films, and other media releases fell for a second year in a row in 2008. The market fell 2% to 12.8627 trillion yen (US$136.357 billion). While Internet and mobile phone media sales increased, traditional music CDs, movie DVDs, books, and other forms of packaged releases dropped in sales. Packaged media releases fell 3.9% to 6.0803 trillion in 2008, after having already dropped 3.6% in 2007. On the other hand, game sales increased 8.1%, television and broadcast revenues increased 2.9% to 3.7914 trillion yen (US$40.193 billion), Internet media sales increased 12.5% to 859.9 billion yen (US$9.12 billion), and mobile phone media sales increased the most at 14.6% to 568.3 billion yen (US$6.025 billion).

Part of Yoshiyuki Tomino’s ‘Ring of Gundam’ Previewed

The Gundam Big Expo event previewed part of “Ring of Gundam” — the film short created, written, and directed by Gundam franchise creator Yoshiyuki Tomino — in Tokyo on Friday. The Mainichi Shimbun paper’s Mantan Web site posted an image from this film which marks the franchise‘s 30thanniversary.

The Robot anime studio is producing this hybrid work of computer graphics and traditional animation;Robot is the studio that La Maison en Petits Cubes director Kunio Katō famously thanked in his Oscaracceptance speech with a reference to Styx‘s “Mr. Roboto” song (“Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto”) in February. Veteran designer Kunio Okawara (first GundamVotoms) is creating the mechanical designs, and acclaimed composer Yoko Kanno (Turn A GundamCowboy BebopMacross Plus andFrontierEscaflowne) is writing the music. The completion date and eventual release format of “Ring of Gundam” have not been determined yet.

The story of “Ring of Gundam” takes place in a new era long after the events of the first Mobile Suit Gundam series’ One-Year War. In this world setting, a giant 600-kilometer-wide ring now floats in lunar orbit. An Earth Federation Forces member named Eiji discovers an object called “Beauty Memory” buried in a high-altitude, massive rockbed on Earth. Actor Daijirō Kawaoka plays Eiji, whileYuka Hirata (Cross GameHajime no Ippo: New Challenger) plays the heroine Yuria. The keywords of the story are “Amuro’s memories.” (Amuro Ray is the main protagonist of the first Gundam story.)

Starbucks Slashes Prices In Light Of Recession

With an eye on the recession, Starbucks has decided to lower the prices of some of its drinks. While the prices of its complex concoctions, such as their Macchiatos will be boosted by 30 percent, the coffee chain’s simpler drinks, such as its coffees and lattes, will experience a 5 to 15 cent drop.

A “tall” coffee, for instance, will now sell for $1.50 as opposed to $1.75 in city shops. This price cut has been put into effect in select undisclosed cities Thursday, and in the coming months will apply nationwide.

For years, Starbucks Corp. has raised prices while still attracting millions of customers. The company announced in April that it would join other restaurant operators in fine-tuning pricing amid these trying times in our economy.

This news was met with much delight by coffee addicts throughout the nation, while other Starbucks regulars complain that with the price drop, the quality of the chain’s brews will diminish as well.

Drinking a vanilla Frappuccino, Kelly Edmonston, 22, of Astoria, Queens, said, “The coffee tastes burnt and watered down,” On the Starbucks chain, Edmonston stated, “They’re becoming the McDonald’s of the coffee world.”

The price reduction came at a time when Starbucks has been closing stores, cutting costs and introducing discounts to offset falling traffic.

“These are our most popular beverages,” said Anna Kim-Williams in a statement to the New York Post, adding, “And this is the first time we’ve lowered prices.”