At Heart Attack Grill, diner's symptoms weren't fake


The Heart Attack Grill in downtown Las Vegas promises that its food will clog arteries, expand waistlines and lead to the loss of lovers. It offers a parody of a medical-based dining experience, with food servers called "nurses," diners called "patients" and the food itself called "prescriptions."

All told, perhaps it's small wonder that other patrons thought a man who appeared to be having a heart attack Saturday night was part of a stunt pulled by the restaurant. 

But no, the man really was in distress.

“It was no joke,” said restaurant owner Jon Basso, according to the Associated Press. Although Basso promotes himself as "Dr. Jon," employees called for real medical help instead, the AP reported. A video on YouTube showed the man being wheeled out on a stretcher by medical responders.

One server, aka "nurse," told Fox5 in Las Vegas that the man -- who reportedly had been eating a triple bypass burger -- began having chest pains, sweating and shaking. Calls to the restaurant went unanswered Wednesday.

Authorities in Las Vegas have not disclosed the man's name or condition, the AP reported, but Basso told the local Fox affiliate that the man was recovering from what was described only as a "medical episode."

News of the event was circulating Wednesday through social media venues and news sites -- but not on the Heart Attack Grill's website. It wasn't responding. 

One tweet read: "PR stunt for the Heart Attack Grill? No, he actually needs ambulance"

Another: "A customer has a heart attack at The Heart Attack Grill. The rest writes itself."

The restaurant, whose slogan is "taste worth dying for," is no stranger to criticism. It's come under fire over the years for its menu offerings. Among them is the 8,000-calorie "quadruple bypass" burger, with four half-pound patties, eight slices of cheese and a lard-doused bun. The restaurant's  "flatline fries" are not cooked in oil, but instead lard. 

The Heart Attack Grill offers free meals to people weighing more than 350 pounds. 


Bury Josh Powell near sons? 'Unthinkable,' family attorney says

Buy latte, pack gun: Starbucks hit with boycott -- and 'buycott'

Bound and naked in a Subaru: Valentine's Day role-playing ends badly

-- Ricardo Lopez

Photo: The Heart Attack Grill in downtown Las Vegas. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

Best in show at Westminster dog show: A pipsqueak, Malachy

Best in show, that most coveted of all honors at the famed Westminster dog show, went to ... how should we describe it? A fallen cloud? A hair ball? A pug stuck inside a pom pom? Let's just call it what it is: a Pekingese named Malachy.

The 4-year-old champion at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show seemed to realize his coronation as the crowd at Madison Square Garden in New York City shouted out his name. The Associated Press noted Malachy was reveling in all the attention as his handler held him up while his pink tongue expressed itself amid all that fur, his "eyes sparkling like black diamonds."

It's worth noting that Malachy doesn't really win much -- he gets a silver bowl. There is no prize money. But the allure of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show transcends the notion of ribbons and bows and baubles. Malachy's title puts him into the history books, and perhaps his name will forever be uttered in show dog circles with awe and reverence. And wealth will come in time for Malachy's owners, with all the breeding opportunities afforded the winner.

PHOTOS: Westminster Kennel Club dog show

Malachy beat out dogs big and small Tuesday night to capture the throne, including a Dalmatian, a German shepherd, a Doberman pinscher, an Irish setter, a Kerry blue terrier and a wire-haired dachshund.

Since then, the court of public opinion has weighed in on Malachy, not all of it nice. But because Malachy can't read, we'll tell you: "Cute little dustmop/ Looks very huggable," said one comment on Twitter. "I'm sorry, but the thing that won Westminster is NOT a dog. It's more like an animatronic troll doll with extra hair," said another Twitter comment.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was not without criticism and controversy.

Advocates for mutts and strays and rescue dogs have long decried the focus on pedigrees. They fear it encourages puppy mills when there are already so many dogs in need of a home. "They kill shelter dogs' chances," says PETA, which this year launched several protests surrounding the event. Some members even tried to infiltrate the show itself before they were halted.

Another protest took aim at the man who could be our next president: Mitt Romney. The Republican candidate has riled dog lovers everywhere with his story about traveling with his Irish setter, Seamus, back in 1983 and strapping the dog's crate to the roof rack for a 12-hour drive.

When Romney told the story, many people found it amusing. But animal rights activists didn't laugh about what they say must have been a harrowing, wind-whipped ride for the canine. On Tuesday, they held signs saying "Dogs Aren’t Luggage" and "I Ride Inside."

It's a good bet that Malachy never gets strapped to a roof rack.


Opinion: My furry Valentine

A little dog wins big at Westminster

Op-Ed: Westminster: Malibu's wire fox terrier Eira goes for the double-crown

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Malachy sits in his trophy after being named best in show at the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York. Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press

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.


Warren Jeffs: Lawsuit says polygamist leader ordered break-in

Jerry Sandusky: Child sex abuse trial tentatively set for May 14

'Lonely old widow' lawmaker becomes voice for same-sex marriage

-- Ashley Powers in Las Vegas

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

'Glitter bomb' for Mitt Romney? Not in Colorado

The young man who tried to “glitter bomb” Mitt Romney on Tuesday didn’t have a very good night.

First, he missed. Then he was issued a citation for causing a disturbance.

Peter Lucas Smith, 20, tossed blue glitter at the Republican presidential hopeful as Romney was shaking hands with supporters in Colorado, authorities told The Denver Post. Smith's throw fell short of Romney's head, and Secret Service agents quickly removed Smith from the room.

Smith is a student at the University of Colorado Denver, one of the schools on the campus where Romney appeared, and he supports gay rights, CBS4 reported.

Glitter bombs have been wielded by gay rights and Occupy activists a number of times this campaign season. In fact, Romney was dusted with glitter this month in Minnesota.

"I'm happy for the celebration, this is confetti. We just won Florida!" the well-coiffed candidate said at the time. "I've got glitter in my hair; that's not all that's in my hair, I'll tell you that. I glue it on every morning whether I need to or not.”

In Colorado, Romney dodged the glitter without comment. Perhaps that's because his mood was less festive -- he'd lost all three of the day's GOP contests to Rick Santorum.


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Arizona high court: Limited-English candidate won't be on ballot

Only 1 handgun a month? Virginia lawmakers see no point in limit

-- Ashley Powers in Las Vegas

Video: Mitt Romney is glitter-bombed Tuesday in Colorado. Credit: YouTube

Morning-after pill? It’s in the vending machine. Really.

Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill, is available in one college vending machine.

A central Pennsylvania college is surprised to find itself the center of media attention this week simply for selling Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill, from a vending machine.

After all, the machine has offered the pills for at least two years, said Peter Gigliotti, spokesman for Shippensburg University, a public school about 40 miles southwest of Harrisburg.

"This is nothing new," he said. "I have no idea why it's getting the reaction it's getting now."

But women's reproductive health has been a hot topic of late, and an Associated Press story on the vending machine was bound to get noticed.

Much is being made of the Obama administration's requirement that even Catholic organizations  provide contraception coverage to employees via their health plans. The requirement has drawn sharp criticism from some corners, and signs of support from others.

On Tuesday, a Public Policy Polling survey conducted for Planned Parenthood reported that 56% of voters agreed that health plans should cover the cost of contraceptives. Further, it found, a majority of voters said Catholic institutions should not be exempted from the requirement.

And last week, Susan G. Komen for the Cure suffered a public relations debacle of epic proportions when the cancer group pulled funding from Planned Parenthood, a move many say was motivated by the healthcare organization's support for abortion services.  

Gigliotti said the vending machine was installed at the urging of the school's student government after a survey found that 85% of students supported the effort.

"We value student input on matters that directly pertain to their health and safety, so these results were an important part of the decision-making process," he wrote in a statement.

The vending machine, which also dispenses condoms and pregnancy tests, is in a private room at the college's student clinic and is accessible only by students -- all of whom are 17 or older, the age at which Plan B is available without a prescription.

"The university is not encouraging anyone to be sexually active," Gigliotti said in a statement. "The university does strongly encourage all students to make wise and appropriate decisions in their lives, but we have no way to ensure that happens."

The school does not subsidize the cost of the drug, which sells at $25 a pop.

A message to the school's student senate was not immediately returned.


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-- Ricardo Lopez

Photo: A handout photo of a package of Plan B, a formulation of levonorgestrel.

Vermont police find, belatedly, that inmates put pig on car decal


The detail in the decal was so small that the Vermont state trooper cleaning his patrol car had to get face to face with it to confirm that what he saw was really what he thought he saw.

The trooper, not identified by police, noticed that the one of the spots on the cow depicted on the state seal was oddly shaped.

Then it hit him: He was looking at a pig. 

So he immediately reported it. 

As police began looking into the matter, they learned that about 30 other police cruisers had the porcine-shaped spot on their decals too.

So how did the pig -- often used as a derogatory term for police --  get there in the first place?

As it turns out, the emblems are printed by prison inmates with the corrections department's print shop, which also makes the state's stationary and license plates.

Inmates working there seem to have pulled a prank that Vermont police are not finding very funny.

"We understand that a lot of people will find humor in this," said Stephanie Dasaro, a Vermont State Police spokeswoman. "But the joke does come at the expense of the taxpayers."

Police are still trying to figure out how many cruisers carry the modified decal. Dasaro said it would cost about $800 to replace them. 

Dasaro said she found the prank "disrespectful," emphasizing that the prank is insulting to officers who serve the Green Mountain State.


Toto as state dog of Kansas? Bad idea, PETA says

NYPD investigation of Muslims: Civil rights groups ask for probe

Blizzard moves east across Denver, dumps 2 inches of snow an hour

-- Ricardo Lopez

Photo: The state seal is seen on the side of a Vermont State Police cruiser. One of the spots on the cow in the state crest has been changed to the shape of a pig. Credit: Tony Talbot/Associated Press 

Toto as state dog of Kansas? Bad idea, PETA says

PETA opposes plan to make Toto, the "Wizard of Oz" cairn terrier, the state dog of Kansas

Toto the dog survived flying inside a Kansas tornado, being abducted by flying monkeys and, of course, bouncing around in Dorothy's bicycle basket, but the little cairn terrier from "The Wizard of Oz" now faces another challenge: He's in the middle of a war between politicians and PETA over whether to make him the state dog of Kansas.

Animal-rights activists from PETA say the proposal by state Rep. Ed Trimmer, who has put a bill before lawmakers, would lead to more puppy mills churning out little cairn terriers for customers eager to have their own official state dog.

"As you know, dogs in puppy mills are typically kept in tiny, feces-caked cages and are never given any love, attention or opportunity to do anything that is natural or important to them -- not even to roll in the grass," PETA wrote to Trimmer this week in hopes of getting him to withdraw House Bill 2513.

"Kansas' animal shelters are already overcrowded -- the last thing they need is a deluge of Totos," PETA vice president Daphna Nachminovitch said in a news release announcing the group's opposition to Trimmer's plan. "If Kansas is set on naming an official state dog, PETA suggests the humble, healthy, and 100 percent lovable all-American mutt."

But the Wichita Eagle reported that Trimmer says he has received plenty of positive response to his plan and doesn't see a causal relationship between it and a proliferation of puppy mills, a major issue for animal-advocacy groups.

In December 2010, 1,200 dogs at a large-scale breeding operation in Kansas were put to death after an outbreak of distemper. An internal government report that year said dogs were dying and living in poor conditions because of lax enforcement of puppy mills nationwide.

States vary in their laws governing puppy mills, and according to the Humane Society of the United States, Kansas requires them to be licensed and subject to inspections. But the state didn't fare well in the Humane Society's latest survey of states' treatment of animals, scoring 23 of 66 possible points and ranking 33 out of the 50 states. California topped the list; South Dakota was at the bottom.

According to the Wichita Eagle, 11 states have officially designated state dogs, so if the legislation, which has yet to come up for debate, were to pass, Toto wouldn't be alone. The newspaper quoted Brenda Moore of the South Central Kansas Kennel Club as among those in favor of elevating Toto's status.

"We've got to find little bits of happiness along the way," she said. "To me, the cairn terrier is as much of Kansas as sunflowers are.”


TSA thefts? Well, yes, but don't forget the good, TSA rep says

Komen vs. Planned Parenthood: NYC's Bloomberg offers $250,000

Gay marriage: Fights have just begun in Washington, N.J., Maryland...

-- Tina Susman

Photo: Judy Garland as Dorothy, with the dog playing Toto in "The Wizard of Oz." Credit: Turner Entertainment / Warner Bros.

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Polo club's John Goodman, facing lawsuit, adopts girlfriend, 42

John Goodman, the wealthy founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, seems a bit young -- some accounts say 48, others say 49 -- to have a 42-year-old daughter. Nonetheless, he does. He’s legally adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend.

The fact that Goodman is being sued in civil court over a fatal car accident in Palm Beach County, Fla. -- and the move could protect his assets -- has nothing to do with the adoption, his attorney says.

Perhaps, but the maneuver has surprised even the judge in the civil case, who called it "unprecedented" and "surreal," according to the Palm Beach Post. The move takes the court into a "legal twilight zone," the judge said.

Authorities say Goodman was driving drunk on Feb. 12, 2010, when he ran a stop sign and slammed into a car driven by Scott Patrick Wilson, 23, killing him. Goodman allegedly fled the scene of the crash and, when found later, he reportedly had a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit.

Goodman has pleaded not guilty to charges related to the case, including vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash. He faces a criminal trial next month and, if convicted, could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Meanwhile, Goodman is also being sued in civil court by the parents of the young man who was killed.

And it seems safe to say that everyone connected to the case was surprised to learn that Goodman  legally adopted his girlfriend, Heather Laruso Hutchins, on Oct. 13 in Miami-Dade County.

The Post reports that Kelley had previously ruled that the trust set up for Goodman's two minor children could not be considered as part of Goodman's financial worth if a jury awarded damages to the Wilsons. The trust is now effectively split three ways, the newspaper says, due to the adoption of Hutchins, who told the court she began dating Goodman in 2009.

Attorneys for the Wilsons say that Goodman is manipulating the system, using the trust to shield his sizable assets and then adopting his girlfriend so he can use her to gain access to that money.

Goodman's assets are worth "several hundred million dollars," his attorney told ABC News.

But Dan Bachi, Goodman's civil attorney, told the Post that critics have it all wrong. Hutchins' adoption was done to ensure the future stability of his children and family investments, he told the newspaper. "It has nothing to do with the lawsuit currently pending against him," Bachi said.

The judge so far seems to be siding with the Wilsons. And a recent ruling seems to suggest that the legal gambit -- if that's what it is -- might backfire.

"The Court cannot ignore reality or the practical impact of what Mr. Goodman has now done," Kelley wrote in court documents obtained by the Post. "The Defendant has effectively diverted a significant portion of the assets of the children's trust to a person with whom he is intimately involved at a time when his personal assets are largely at risk in this case."

And then there's the impact that the adoption headlines -- the case is tabloid fodder throughout Florida -- might have on prospective jurors in both the civil and criminal cases. It will be hard if not impossible to keep them from hearing about it, and they might not like what they hear.


Donald Trump eyes eternity in New Jersey. Seriously.

Hollywood on display: Smithsonian honors Clint Eastwood

Groundhog Day confusion: More winter, says Phil; nope, say rivals

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Groundhog Day: Which winter-predicting groundhog will you choose?

Punxsutawney Phil
Groundhog Day is Feb. 2. Are you ready to choose your groundhog?

There's Staten Island Chuck. Woodstock Willie. And, of course, everyone knows Punxsutawney Phil, right?

This year, you'll have plenty of prognosticating groundhogs -- as well as a seemingly endless array of events -- from which to choose to celebrate this important "holiday."

For the uninitiated: Groundhog Day occurs on Feb. 2 each year, when legend has it that groundhogs venture from their dens to check on the weather -- and tell humans what to expect. (No less an authority than says this tradition dates back centuries, when people looked to animals for certain signs and signals because they believed animals were imbued with otherworldly powers.)

Oddly enough, bad weather on Groundhog Day is better than good weather. 

If the groundhog ventures from its den and sees a shadow -- and you need sunshine for a shadow -- that's a sign we're in for six more weeks of harsh winter weather. But if the critter emerges from its den and sees no shadow (because it's a cloudy day), that means we can look forward to a mercifully short winter.

In recent years, hoopla over Groundhog Day has grown steadily, in no small part because of the 1992 hit movie "Groundhog Day." The film, now celebrating its 20th year, starred Bill Murray as a full-of-himself TV journalist condemned to live Groundhog Day over and over until he gets it right.

Communities across the country now try to get in on the fun -- and the tourist dollar -- by staging elaborate Groundhog Day festivals that involve general merriment and official-looking men in long black coats and top hats.

Punxsutawney Phil, above, is the most famous of the prognosticating groundhogs -- both because Punxsutawney, Penn., has been holding such observances for 126 years and because of Phil's named role in the film "Groundhog Day." 

The community goes all out in a bid for those tourist dollars and because it's just plain fun, offering  more than 80 events. Among them: weddings, the crowning of Little Mr. and Miss Groundhog, an Oreo-stacking contest and, of course, Thursday's 126th annual trek to Gobbler's Knob for Punxsutawney's official prediction at 7:25 a.m.

"Groundhog Day" was not  shot in Punxsutawney, although that's what viewers are led to believe. Filmmaker Harold Ramis  chose Woodstock, Ill., as the backdrop because of its charming town square, which serves as the centerpiece of the movie.

That led Woodstock to roll out its own annual festival featuring Woodstock Willie. (We don't want to stir up groundhog trouble, but we can't help but notice that Woodstock Willie is making an unusual Wednesday night appearance, and will be making his prognostication at 7 a.m.on Thursday. Is  Woodstock Willie trying to get the jump on Punxsutawney Phil?)

And then there's Staten Island Chuck, who resides at the Staten Island Zoo. He's a feisty one, as evidenced by the time he bit Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who was officiating at a Groundhog Day observance.

The Staten Island Zoo claims that Chuck has correctly predicted the duration of winter 80% of the time since the 1980s.


'The Grey' slammed for 'bloodthirsty' portrayal of wolves

'Welcome Back, Kotter': Robert Hegyes' 'Epstein' helped alter TV 

Super Bowl 2012: Matthew Broderick channels Ferris Bueller in ad

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Punxsutawney Phil, the weather-predicting groundhog, stands on the shoulder of one of his handlers, John Griffiths, at last year's Groundhog Day ceremony. Credit: Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Shopping cart hurled from above at Bronx mall injures 2


Shopping cart hurled from above at Bronx mall injures 2 men

A shopping cart hurled from an overhead walkway at a New York City shopping mall seriously injured two men in a case reminiscent of an October incident that left a woman brain-damaged after a pair of youngsters pushed a heavy cart over a ledge onto pedestrians below.

One of the victims in Monday's incident, identified only as a 52-year-old man, is in critical condition, local news reports said. The other, a 30-year-old man, is in stable condition.

No suspects were in custody, but police were reviewing surveillance video at the Gateway shopping center in the Bronx, which is near Yankee Stadium.

"There was a gash on his forehead, you could literally see his skull," one witness told NY1 news. "I just ran in, grabbed his hand, tried to comfort him as much as I can, but the second one was not conscious at all. We had to actually wake him up. It was just, wow. One cart that hit both of them at the head."

The attack occurred outside a Home Depot store, and the cart apparently was pushed onto crowds from an upper level of an attached parking structure serving the store and the rest of the mall. 

A Home Depot cashier, Julie Ross, told the Daily News she heard a "thud" and then ran outside.

"It was pretty bloody," Ross said. "They were laying on the ground. One guy was trying to sit up, and the other guy was just laying there -- he wasn't moving."

Last Oct. 30, two boys pushed a shopping cart onto shoppers at a Manhattan mall, hitting a woman in the head and leaving her in a coma. She regained consciousness, but her husband has said she faces months of rehabilitative therapy to recover. Both boys pleaded guilty in family court to assault.


Tensions rise at Occupy D.C. encampment

Segregation of blacks at record low, think tank says

Arson may have caused smoke that fueled deadly Florida crash

-- Tina Susman in New York

Photo: Rows of shopping carts at a Home Depot store in New York. Credit: Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg


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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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