Victim of O.J. Simpson Vegas robbery accused of shoplifting

Oj simpson robbery victim
One of the sports memorabilia dealers whom O.J. Simpson was convicted of robbing in a down-market Las Vegas hotel is now fighting his own court battle.

Bruce Fromong, who testified against Simpson in the 2008 armed robbery trial, is accused of shoplifting from the Nellis Air Force Base Exchange near Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.  He is scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Authorities say that in October, Fromong swiped a Madden football PlayStation game from its package and a Case Logic briefcase; and that in November he removed another Madden disc from its package, taped up the box and put it back on the shelf.

In 2007, Fromong and Alfred Beardsley had gone to the Palace Station hotel expecting to sell Simpson collectibles to a wealthy buyer. The meeting was a ruse. Simpson and a ragtag band of men –- two of them armed -– stormed into Room 1203 and scooped up dozens of items. Simpson claimed he was merely trying to get back memorabilia stolen from him. 

Fromong made for a particularly interesting witness. He and Simpson had been such close friends, he said, that the football star used to sing "Happy Birthday" to Fromong's mother over the phone. But defense attorneys attacked him as a leech hoping to cash in on Simpson’s infamy. A recording captured Fromong telling someone minutes after the robbery: “I'll have 'Inside Edition' down here for us tomorrow. I told them I want big money.”

Jurors quickly convicted Simpson, who had been acquitted years before in the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. A Las Vegas judge sentenced the former football star to between nine and 33 years in prison.

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-- Ashley Powers in Las Vegas
Twitter.com/ashleypowers

Photo: Then-Clark County Dist. Atty. David Roger, left, questions Bruce Fromong during O.J. Simpson's robbery trial in 2008. Credit: Daniel Gluskoter / EPA


Madonna breaks silence, rips M.I.A. over Super Bowl 'bird'

Madonna_

Madonna broke her silence Friday morning on the uproar that followed her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, which was upstaged when fellow performer M.I.A. appeared to curse and gave the middle finger to the more than 110 million viewers watching.

Madonna said that she only learned of the antics after the fact -- and was none too pleased.

"I was really surprised," she told Ryan Seacrest during a call-in interview to "On Air With Ryan Seacrest." "I didn’t know anything about it. I wasn’t happy about it. I understand it’s punk rock and everything, but to me there was such a feeling of love and good energy and positivity, it seemed negative."

She added: "It’s such a teenager … irrelevant thing to do … there was such a feeling of love and unity there, what was the point? It was just out of place."

We'll pause while you recall the days when Madonna was the anti-establishment icon causing controversy ...

Back to the news:

Madonna, 53, was poised to go down in Super Bowl history for a glamorous, star-studded performance that many say ranked as one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows ever. Now the performance also goes into the history books as being marred by the vulgarity and rude gesture -- which happened so quickly they escaped many audiences. The word and gesture also slipped by NBC, which was too slow to catch them.

The fallout over M.I.A.'s actions pales in comparison to the uproar -- and record fine -- that followed Nipplegate. (You remember, the now-infamous 2004 halftime show featuring Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and Janet Jackson's nipple.)

Still, there seems to be an awful lot of radio silence about this "bird" flipping incident.

The Federal Communications Commission, which cracked down on CBS after Nipplegate, has declined to comment on whether it's conducting any sort of inquiry in the wake of the national flipping off, or whether it's even received any complaints. The NFL and NBC, which carried Super Bowl XLVI, have apologized. But they haven't answered questions -- such as those from the Los Angeles-based Parents Television Council -- or offered assurances about how they'll prevent this from happening again.

And M.I.A. herself? She appears to be, well, M.I.A.

She hasn't been seen from or heard from since Sunday, although her Twitter feed shows that she -- or someone with access to her account -- retweeted a post from Benjamin Bronfman. He's the son of Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman, father to M.I.A.'s child, Ikhyd, and if the New York Daily News is to be believed, main caretaker of the boy.

Bronfman's Tweet said: "its sad to see our media in such a state of unfounded gossipy nonsense when there are real problems in the world".

In recent hours, he has also Tweeted much support to M.I.A., including repeatedly calling her a "great" mom.

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Madonna performs during the Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


Adrenaline junkie plans extreme leap -- from space

Felix_Baumgartner
You've heard of skydiving, right? How about space-diving?

Felix Baumgartner is an Austrian skydiver, BASE jumper and adrenaline junkie who hopes to set the record this summer for the highest skydive ever.

If all goes well, Baumgartner will use a pressurized capsule attached to a high-altitude helium balloon for a "stratospheric flight" to more than 120,000 feet. "He will then exit the capsule and jump -- protected only by a pressurized 'space' suit and helmet supplied with oxygen -- in an attempt to become the first person to break the speed of sound and reach supersonic speeds in free-fall before parachuting to the ground," according to jump plans.

The only thing not surprising about this endeavor? Extreme sports elixir Red Bull is sponsoring the whole thing.

The jump is slated for later this summer, above Roswell, N.M. Given the complexities of the effort, no exact date is scheduled. Experts will start by looking for a perfect three-day weather window -- clear skies, perfect temperatures, no winds -- and then choose a jump time.

Clear skies are a must, spokeswoman Trish Medalen told The Times, explaining that Baumgartner will need all the visibility he can get to reorient himself on the way down.

Followers of Baumgartner's career know he has a passion for doing the unthinkable. (He flew across the English channel in 2003 using a carbon wing, hitting 220 miles per hour. You can watch that jaw-dropping video here.)

The upcoming mission, called Red Bull Stratos, is being documented online. The mission is also being chronicled by both the BBC and the National Geographic Channel for a feature-length TV film. The project has been underway for quite some time, but has been gaining momentum in recent days with its formal announcement.

If successful -- and really, what could go wrong? -- the jump aims to set several world records. Baumgartner hopes to become the first person to break the speed of sound and achieve Mach 1 in free-fall, estimated at 690 mph; to set the record for a free-fall from highest altitude (120,000 feet); to set the record for longest free-fall time (five minutes 35 seconds or more) and to set the record for highest manned balloon flight.

The Red Bull Stratos team includes international experts in medicine, science, engineering, aviation, and design, as well as a former NASA crew surgeon. But there are two centerpieces.

One is ice-water-in-his-veins Baumgartner. The other is a man who is little-known to the masses, but is a legend in the aviation community: Joe Kittinger.

Kittinger, who might be the reason the word "daredevil" was invented, holds a variety of aviation records, including longest, highest and fastest skydive, from about 19 miles up. A fighter pilot in Vietnam, he was shot down and spent nearly a year in the notorious "Hanoi Hilton"; he was later inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Kittinger's experience is crucial to the success of the jump, folks associated with the effort say, and he's helping to train Baumgartner every step of the way. He is also slated to be the primary point of contact with Baumgartner during his ascent.

The jump's mission statement takes great pains to point out the jump's contributions to the scientific community, including aiding in the development of protocols for exposure to high altitude and high acceleration.

Of all that and more, we have no doubt. But the real reason we're interested and why all the world's eyes will be trained on Baumgartner's planned jump? It's just stinkin' cool.

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Felix Baumgartner trying out his space suit, specially designed for the jump. Credit: Christian Pondella / Red Bull Content Pool


Does M.I.A. owe Kelly Clarkson and Madonna an apology?

M.I.A.'s bad behavior during the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show is dominating online chatter Monday, overshadowing what many say is Kelly Clarkson's stellar rendition of the national anthem.

The ensuing fallout has upstaged Clarkson's performance and Madonna's pageantry with a barrage of questions, among them: Who is to blame? Why didn't NBC catch it in time? Did the NFL try to head off controversy by requiring the artists to sign a decency contract? And if not, why didn't it? Will the vulgarity result in a fine?

Madonna is sure to reap publicity out of the controversy for her new single. Snippets of her halftime performance featuring "Give Me All Your Luvin'" and the flipped bird are getting nonstop attention.

But it's Clarkson who appears to have earned overwhelming kudos.

Clarkson, who was barely recognizable in her new Cleopatra-style hairdo, delivered a pitch-perfect performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" to kick off Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

According to a CBS news poll, more than 88% of respondents said she "rocked it!"

The reviews on Twitter were near-universal in their praise: "Hands down best ever." "OUTSTANDING! Man, that girl can SING!!" "@Kelly_Clarkson nails National Anthem." "THE best national anthem of all time."

And like any good performer, she left the audience wanting more.

Social media sharing site Add This said on Twitter: "We saw a 4300% spike in searches for @kelly_clarkson when she sang the National Anthem tonight! #superbowl"

Clarkson managed to put her own unique spin on a song that is notoriously difficult to sing. In doing so, the first "American Idol" winner set a new standard that has bedeviled so many artists over the years. (Most recently, Steven Tyler.)

"The Star-Spangled Banner" requires a dramatic range of a full octave and a half, which can be a feat for even the most accomplished singers.

Then, there's the tricky wording courtesy of the fact that the anthem didn't start out as a song. It began life as a poem written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 titled "Defense of Fort McHenry." It was turned into a song by adding the somewhat modified tune of John Stafford Smith's "The Anacreontic Song," and then retitled. Congress proclaimed it the national anthem in 1931.

And it has been tripping up artists ever since.

Clarkson acknowledged being nervous beforehand. "Just finished rehearsing the anthem in Indy ... wow, I'm actually really nervous about singing at the Super Bowl ha!" she posted online. "Here's hoping I nail it and don't screw it up!"

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch


Parents blast NBC, NFL for 'enabling' M.I.A. gesture at Super Bowl

M.I.A. at Super Bowl 2012, without her bird.

The Parents Television Council, an advocacy group concerned about what kids see on TV, is blasting NBC and the NFL for the vulgar gesture that came in the middle of Super Bowl XLVI halftime show featuring Madonna and other performers.

About eight minutes into Madonna's act, British sensation M.I.A. appeared to curse, saying, "I don't give a … ." But it's difficult to clearly hear her on the video. 

But what came next was much more clear: She flipped her middle finger to the more than 110 million American viewers. 

The L.A.-based Parents Television Council says the blame lies squarely with the National Football League and NBC for choosing a lineup of performers with a history of shocking and controversial behavior. Using sharp language, the council said: "Instead of preventing indecent material, they enabled it. M.I.A. used a middle finger shamelessly to bring controversial attention to herself, while effectively telling an audience filled with children, '... you.' "

PHOTOS: Super Bowl 2012

NBC and the NFL have apologized. But the PTC says that's not good enough and wants those responsible to be held "accountable." The statement released by PTC President Tim Winter doesn't specify what that means or who should be held repsonsible. We have asked the PTC for clarification.

Winter accused the NFL of lying to the public last week when it promised that the halftime show would be suitable for all audiences, a new standard ushered in following Janet Jackson's infamous Nipplegate in 2004.

And the council said that NBC failed in its obligations as well. The network should have been poised to blur the vulgarity and bleep it. NBC says it tried, but apparently it did not move quickly enough. (There was an attempt to blur the screen, but it came after the offensive gesture.)

Here is the full PTC statement from Winter:

NBC fumbled and the NFL lied because a performer known as M.I.A. felt it necessary to flip off millions of families. It is unfortunate that a spectacular sporting event was overshadowed once again by broadcasting the selfish acts of a desperate performer.

Last week the NFL formally told the PTC -- and the American public -- that the Super Bowl halftime show would be 'appropriate.' Most families would agree that the middle finger aimed directly at them is not appropriate, especially during the most-watched television event of the year.

The mechanism NBC had in place to catch this type of material completely failed, and the network cannot say it was caught off guard. It has been eight years since the Janet Jackson striptease, and both NBC and the NFL knew full well what might happen. They chose a lineup full of performers who have based their careers on shock, profanity and titillation. Instead of preventing indecent material, they enabled it. M.I.A. used a middle finger shamelessly to bring controversial attention to herself, while effectively telling an audience filled with children, '... you.'

A simple apology rings hollow after yet another slap in the face to families, especially when NBC has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that it should be allowed to air all manner of indecent material at any time of day, even when children are watching.  

Either the NFL and NBC will take immediate steps to hold those accountable for this offensive material in front of a hundred million Americans, or they will feebly sit back and do nothing. The nation -- and the PTC -- is watching.

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: MIA performs at the Super Bowl halftime show. Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press


Super Bowl fallout: Will M.I.A.'s middle finger draw FCC fine?

 Madonna kept her promise -- there was no wardrobe malfunction during her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. But America was shown the bird: British rapper M.I.A. gave the nation the middle finger during her solo performance.

Why? Her Twitter feed has been silent on the matter. But there's a bigger question afoot: Will NBC face a fine like CBS did after Janet Jackson's infamous slip during the 2004 Super Bowl hosted in Houston, Texas?

The nation howled, as parents tried to explain to children why Justin Timberlake ripped off Jackson's top...exposing a nipple encased in a sun-themed shield.

It became known as Nipplegate, and the flood of viewer complaints led the Federal Communications Commission to levy a record $550,000 fine against CBS, which aired the Super Bowl that year.

A phone call to the FCC was not returned by the time this story was posted online.

The NFL and NBC quickly apologized for the gesture and insisted that it was not a planned part of the show. Producers tried to blur the screen to cover it up, but it was too little too late.

In front of millions of viewers, M.I.A.  flipped the bird and appeared to sing, “I don’t give a..." although it was hard to hear what she said. (Judge for yourself: It happens at about 7:50 minutes into the above video.)

From the NFL:

"The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans," said Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL, told the Associated Press.

From NBC:

"The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show," NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey told the news service. "Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers."

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--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch


Super Bowl: Madonna shines, M.I.A. shocks, Birmingham blocks

Super Bowl: Madonna shines, M.I.A. shocks, Birmingham blocks

In many ways, Madonna's Super Bowl halftime show delivered the Full Madonna. Who else could have gotten away with that superabundant spectacle of choreography and showmanship, booming beats and cheeky camp, replete with a phalanx of blinged and buffed faux gladiators?

But what about delivering a shock to Middle America? On this score, Madonna of 2012 -- now a mom, a children's book author, and a platinum eminence in her 50s -- appeared to play it safe Sunday night.

Instead, younger guest star rapper M.I.A. stepped in, quickly flipping the bird during a performance of the song "Give Me All Your Luvin'," and "uttering a barely disguised expletive," according to a report by the Associated Press.

Photos: Giants vs. Patriots

Viewers in the Birmingham, Ala., market, however, had to read all about it Monday morning, because their NBC affiliate blocked the offending moment with a few seconds of a  "local screen shot," according to Joseph A. Bryant of the Birmingham News.

An employee for the station would not comment on the decision to black out the M.I.A. move, according to the reporter.

But not every market was as fast as Birmingham to block the fleeting scenes, and the finger is already posted online.

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-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta

Photo: Nicki Minaj, left, Madonna, center, and MIA, right, perform during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show. Credit: Christopher Polk / Getty Images


What time is Super Bowl 2012? (a.k.a. the Madonna show)

Super Bowl XLVI_

What time is Super Bowl 2012? In perhaps the ultimate sign of how much we rely on the Internet, that query is the No. 1 most searched-for term on Google today, and likely will be until the Super Bowl actually begins. So, let's get to it:

The Super Bowl 2012 kickoff is scheduled for 6:29 p.m. Eastern (3:29 Pacific) on NBC, pitting the New England Patriots against the New York Giants.

However, Super Bowl hoopla begins long before that. Pre-game coverage on NBC begins hours in advance. Official game coverage starts at 6 p.m. Eastern (3 p.m. Pacific) with player introductions, the coin toss and "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson performing the national anthem.

Need some Game Day appetizers? How about Giants vs. Patriots: How they stack up and this Super Bowl XLVI primer by Sam Farmer?

Channel Guide has a detailed breakdown of channel coverage. Want to skip all the sports and show up just for the half-time show? There's no set time for that. (That's what the DVR is for.)

Super Bowl 2012's half-time show features Madonna and Nicki Minaj. That much is certain. Less certain is who else will join her onstage. M.I.A. seemed to confirm an appearance. But other rumors abound, including whether Cee Lo Green will join. And what will Madonna sing? "Vogue," "Music" and "Ray of Light" seem to be in the running, according to MTV.

The new video for her football-and-pom-pom-themed new single "Give me all your luvin'" suggests that it could be in the playlist running as well.

Still looking for some Super Bowl 2012 recipes? You'll score with these appetizers from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen.

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-- Rene Lynch
twitter.com/renelynch

Photo: The exterior of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where Super Bowl XLVI is being played. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images


Super Bowl 2012: Tour the stadium this way -- it's cheaper

For those who don't have several thousand dollars to drop on a pair of Super Bowl XLVI tickets, there's this: Google Earth has posted a nifty video on the path -- literally -- to Game Day.

The New England Patriots will soon take on the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. So the folks at 3D Google Earth have created a video that visually flies you up, over and around each team's home base, then takes you through to the Game Day stadium. It might be a little weird seeing all those empty seats, but it's still pretty darn cool.

And way cheaper.

Of course, Super Bowl XLVI is more than just a Super Bowl. In the football world, this is a Clash of the Titans. Must read: This story by our colleague Lance Pugmire about the bitter rivalry being stoked anew by this New York vs. Boston showdown.

Die-hard football fans probably have this info etched into their DNA, but for everyone else, here's some info to keep handy: The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and there's at 6:30 p.m. Eastern start.

And by "start," we mean that's when all the official pre-game hoopla begins. Highlights: "American Idol" Kelly Clarkson will sing the National Anthem. (Note to Steven Tyler: You might want to tune in to see how it's done.)

The half-time show will belong to a relative newcomer, as well as an old-timer with biceps chiseled in stone: Nicki Minaj and Madonna will have those honors. 

And in case you were wondering, just how much are Super Bowl XLVI tickets? At last check, TicketCity.com was offering them for about $2,400.

Each.

Makes you want to go back and watch that Google Earth 3D video all over again, huh?

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-- Rene Lynch
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Jerry Sandusky asks court for visits with his grandchildren

Click here to see more photos.

This post has been corrected. See the note at bottom for details.

In a motion filed at the court of common pleas in Centre County, Sandusky attorney Joseph L. Amendola asks that the conditions of his bail be modified to allow Sandusky, 67, to see his grandchildren at his home if they are accompanied by at least one of their parents.

The motion also asks that he be allowed to contact the children by mail or electronically, such as by phone or email. Each child would have to have the permission of at least one parent to communicate with their grandfather.

PHOTOS: Penn State football rocked by sexual abuse scandal

The motion was filed Friday, a day after an emotionally charged memorial service held in University Park, Pa., for former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who died Jan. 22 at age 85.

Although Paterno spoke to superiors about Sandusky’s alleged conduct after a graduate assistant told him he saw a nude Sandusky sexually molest a boy in the showers at Penn State in 2002, Paterno was widely criticized for failing to follow up or do more about the incident. Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football, was fired Nov. 9, five days after the scandal broke.

Some commentators and college football fans have said Paterno’s failure to act aggressively forever tarred his legacy. Others, especially since his death, have said Paterno should be remembered not for one bad decision but for a legacy of leading winning football teams and molding young student athletes into fine men.

FULL COVERAGE: Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal

Sandusky was arrested Dec. 7 and released on $250,000 bail the next day. He was ordered not to have contact with anyone younger than 18.

Sandusky has 11 grandchildren under 18, with another to be born in the near future. “The defendant’s minor grandchildren have expressed their sadness to their parents about not being able to visit or talk with the defendant,” the motion says.

The sexual abuse charges stem from incidents involving 10 boys. Sandusky has maintained he is innocent of the charges.

[For the Record, 1:05 p.m. Jan. 30: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the memorial service for former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was held in College Station, Pa.] 

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Photo: Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., last month. Credit: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press


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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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