Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Since I promised the "behind the scenes" of our show, Friday night I was in New York and did something I don't often get a chance to do: I went out to dinner with many on our staff (18?), plus Ted Williams, Jim Hammer, Jeff Brown and Dr. Baden. Bernie Grimm was in trial in D.C. and could not make the dinner. I wish I had brought my camera to the dinner, but I forgot it. I did take a few pictures in the NYC studio and have posted them today.

While I am on the topic of posting, each day we post video that you can download (pod casting.) If you miss our show, you can still download — or view on our show page — some of the segments from the show. Check out the "On the Record " show page for the videos and downloads. We are doing more and more things on our show page. If you have any ideas for our show page, e-mail them to me.

On Saturday morning I watched a screening of a film that is going to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January called "Girl 27 ." I was expecting to like the film, but it turned out that I loved it. I don't think I am suppose to tell more about the film since it has not yet come out and the details about its distribution are unknown to me, so I am not sure where you can see it. It could end up on HBO or some place else. I really don't know anything about film distribution, but will pass on that information when I learn it. You will want to see it.

Do you remember the baby snatching case in Florida we have been covering? Well, there was an update over the weekend and I have posted the wire story with the update at the end of the e-mails. The update is pretty astonishing — the story smelled fishy to begin with. I have not yet talked to my senior producer, but perhaps we will do a segment on this story tonight.

There is also another cruise ship story — check it out: it is posted below (after the Florida kidnapping case.) Bottom line: What's up with these cruises? Do these news stories have an effect on you and whether you would take a cruise for a vacation? E-mail me your answer.

This week is the annual Christmas party at the White House for the media. President Bush and the first lady are always gracious hosts (and so have been all presidents and first ladies over the years), but I wonder if they would all prefer to have the night off. All year long we watch their every move and now they have to put on a nice party for us? Like I wrote, they are always gracious and will stand in a receiving line until they have had their picture taken with every guest. The people invited always have fun. The interior of the White House always looks gorgeous decorated.

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

Hello Greta,
I think its ridiculous that the parents are facing these charges. There is too much crime and violence occuring 24/7 for the prosecutors to waste valuable court time over a family disagreement. And with the way all these hubbys are knocking off their wives these days... it's best that he know that she has family watching out for her! She's married. No harm... no foul.
Los Angeles, CA

E-mail No. 2

There ought to be a rule as to how many times we should be subjected to obnoxiously annoying commercials such as the Burlington Coat commercial. Spare us, please. Doesn't anybody understand negative psychology of repeated ads — they turn people off BIG TIME!
John D. Laskowski
Carsonville, PA

ANSWER: These decisions are made way above my pay grade. Note: Also that there are two types of ads: those your local cable operators air and the national ones.

E-mail No. 3

Hello Greta,
Perhaps you can discuss another method of tax collection (a national sales tax) that seems to be growing in interest. I have sent this to various news groups: We need to talk more about the flaws in the income tax instead of the punishment for not complying? Replace this awful abusive Income Tax with a National Sales Tax... all people would comply, including the illegal element in our country. It would be less costly for the taxpayer, because more will participate, and much more freedom for all. No receipts to maintain, etc. The U.S. businesses have set up a financial collection system that is wonderful. Let us take advantage of it by using it to collect our taxes… efficiently.
Our current code has ruined more Americans than any other government regulation... just look at the oversight hearings of the past. I guess we like to make laws that are complicated so we can get into the let’s punish them mentality... not too smart and not too distant from our puritan ancestors, many of whom, enjoyed the punishment factor. Joe Louis, an American hero, was chased down and destroyed by our current confusing mess. I only hope that Mr. Rangel remembers what he said about this awful system when he chairs the Ways and Means Committee. He condemned that abuse of Joe Louis and I heard him say recently he will go after deadbeat Americans. What do you think that will cost to go after all Americans to find the deadbeats? Sounds a little like a very poor way to treat most Americans. Please look into the benefits of a Fair National Sales Tax… for real freedom and prosperity. There are many fine bills in the house that will be a great way to start.
Can you see the benefit of all this? We, in America can achieve even greater financial success. We, in America deserve to be treated with more respect. Our current Tax Code is ancient and retards growth and success and supports fear and confusion.

ANSWER: I would like to see a change in our tax code... a sales tax collection instead of income might be a good idea. We would need to make exceptions for food and low income housing, but there are a lot of good reasons to look at this idea. It would cut down probably on the bureaucracy of collection, etc.

E-mail No. 4

As much as I applaud the efforts of "Dog," like all Americans, he should abide by the laws of USA and the laws and agreements we have with other countries. Because he has a forfeited bond or a personal reason to apprehend a individual, he must obey the law.
With how things stand now, he should voluntarily deal with Mexico on their terms!
Thank you,

ANSWER: DBK— you are one of the very few e-mailers with this position… hence I post it so that we have both sides of the debate. But the numbers overwhelmingly support Duane "Dog" Chapman.

E-mail No. 5

Hi Greta,
I am an avid watcher of your show. I have a theory about the husband of that young woman found in her home, with her little girl wandering around. There has been several mentions of the fax, that her husband asked her sister to go and get. My theory is that he didn't care about the fax, but that it was just an excuse to get someone over to find the baby, as he knew that she would be there alone with her murdered mom. He did want the baby brought out of there, and he did not want to go back to the house to do it himself.
What do you think Greta?
Battle Creek, MI

E-mail No. 6

It's rare that I will miss your show, and I'm so glad I didn't miss it on Friday. I get my news from you and FOX News, and I value it very much. But I've been feeling like I need more, something to inspire me with all the many problems in the world. I found it when I went to Thank you for the interview with Ms. Kagan.
Peter Grimes

E-mail No. 7

Hi Greta,
I KNOW there has to be more to this bride kidnapping story. I just think this girl is leaving something out. I would like to hear from the other sisters. Here's the way I see it... tax payers money wasted and a family ruined forever. Or... drop the charges and everyone just goes their own way and maybe just maybe a relationship will be rebuilt SOMEDAY! I hope this girl realizes that no one lives forever and some things just can't be undone.
She came across as very smug to me and I didn't like her!
Have a great weekend!
Angie Peterson
Morton, IL

E-mail No. 8

Dr Biden was very emotional in his conversation with Greta at 10:37pm. That revealed a very powerful characteristic of his personality, one that hasn't been well known until now. He's become a very personable person, and along with his genius in medicine, is very valuable to your show. He's a great, great asset to your show. He's indispensable, and I enjoy listening to him. A great straight shooter.

Finally, the promised update and another article of interest:

• Police: Baby taken after parents failed to pay human smugglers

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A missing month-old boy kidnapped at knifepoint was taken as payment because his parents failed to pay human smugglers, police said Saturday.

Bryan Dos Santos Gomes' parents were brought into the United States illegally from Brazil, but failed to pay the smugglers' entire fee, Fort Myers Police Chief Hilton Daniels said.

Investigators believe the alleged kidnapper belongs to the smuggling ring, though they initially thought the boy was likely taken by a woman looking to steal a baby to claim as her own, police said.

Bryan has been missing since Dec. 1 when he and his mother, Maria Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, as well as another woman and a baby, were approached by a woman driving a black sport utility vehicle. The women, who did not know the driver, agreed to give directions and entered the SUV with their children, police said.

The driver later forced one mother and child out of the car, and made off with Ramos and the baby, police said. Ramos was released south of Fort Myers shortly afterward, but the woman in the SUV kept the baby.

"We are still looking for this woman, but it is not a woman who desperately needed a baby," police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn said in a story posted on the News-Press Web site. "Now we are looking for a group of people."

Police initially reported the baby's name as Brayn. A spokesman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did not have any additional information about the case Saturday.

Local churches have posted a $21,000 reward for Bryan's return.

Information from: The News-Press,

• Norovirus suspected aboard 2 cruise ships with sick passengers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — More than 210 people came down with a gastrointestinal illness aboard two Caribbean cruises that ended in South Florida today.

Royal Caribbean officials delayed the scheduled departure this afternoon of the Freedom of the Seas from the Port of Miami for additional sanitizing after norovirus sickened passengers and crew aboard the world's largest cruise ship for the second consecutive week. About 110 passengers and crew became ill this week during a seven-day Caribbean cruise — more than 380 did the week before.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended holding the ship in port. The agency will oversee the repeated cleaning of "high-touch" surfaces such as door handles, railings and elevator buttons. Two additional doctors and 45 more cleaning staff will board the Freedom of the Seas for its next Caribbean voyage from Miami, now scheduled to begin Tuesday.

The Sun Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, is also undergoing a thorough cleaning after docking at Port Everglades today. About 100 passengers and crew members became sick during its ten-day Caribbean voyage.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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