Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ohio Homeless Man With Big Voice Gets Job Offers

The morning couldn't have been more of a surprise for Ted Williams, the Columbus panhandler whose now-infamous "golden voice" became an Internet sensation yesterday - bringing with it scores of potential job offers for the homeless ex-radio disc jockey.

MTV. ESPN. The National Football League. West coast talent agents, voice coaches and syndicated talk shows.

Even the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly want to offer him a full-time announcing gig - and a house.

"I feel like Susan Boyle," said Williams. "Or Justin Bieber.

"It's almost choking me."

The once-messy-haired viral star, now sporting a new haircut and clean clothes, was all smiles during his coming-out party earlier today on the Morning Zoo program at WNCI (97.9 FM), which yesterday touted the video and used the help of a listener to locate Williams.

The Credit Union League of Ohio offered Williams a voiceover gig worth up to $10,000.

An offer for a Hawaiian trip came in. So did scores of interviews from across the globe.

Williams, 53, recorded in December by Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III at a North Side off ramp while offering to demonstrate his pristine pipes for spare change, found millions of worldwide admirers after a video became viral.

Aside from showing off his talent to his grandkids or friends, he had long abandoned the idea of using it to make a living.

Williams was known by homeless friends - and later, the police - by a nickname: "Radio Man."

Folks long claimed his voice had potential.

"I hated people who told me that," he said.

Williams, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, said he attended the Central Ohio School of Broadcasting in the 1980s. He served for three years in the U.S. Armed Forces before finding steady work at radio stations in North Carolina and central Ohio.

But his past is also littered with drug abuse and arrests for theft. He said he has seven children, all of whom live in Columbus, and is long estranged from his wife.

He last had permanent shelter in 1996 after losing his job at a Columbus radio station.

"You've got to sink so low before you're willing to make a change," said Williams, who has lived in homeless camps despite past offers to move to area shelters.

This morning, the man of the hour was glad to oblige joking requests for promotional sound bytes, including a plug for CBS new anchor Katie Couric during a live interview with The Early Show.

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Global Food Prices Hit All Time High

( -- Food prices hit a record high last month, surpassing the levels seen during the 2007-08 crisis, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation said on Wednesday.

The Rome-based organisation said the spike was not a crisis. But Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the FAO, acknowledged that the situation was "alarming". He added: "It will be foolish to assume this is the peak."

The jump will increase fears about the repetition of the crisis of 2007-2008. However, poor countries have not so far seen the wave of food riots that rocked countries such as Haiti and Bangladesh two years ago, when agricultural commodities prices jumped.

The increase in food costs will also hit developed economies, with companies from McDonalds to Kraft raising retail prices. Higher food prices are also boosting overall inflation, which is above the preferred targets of central banks in Europe.

The FAO said its food price index, a basket tracking the wholesale cost of commodities such as wheat, corn, rice, oilseeds, dairy products, sugar and meats, jumped last month of 214.7 points -- up almost 4.2 per cent from November.

The FAO food index is at its highest since it started calculating the measure in 1990. During the 2007-08 food crisis, the index reached a peak of 213.5 in June 2008.

The FAO is drawing comfort from relatively stable prices for rice, one of the two most important cereals for global food security, which remains far below its record high. Rice is the staple of 3bn people in Asia and Africa.

However, the cost of the other critical staple, wheat, is now rising fast on the back of poor harvests.

"This is a high prices situation," said Mr Abbassian, although he pointed to the fact the costs of cereals -- and particularly rice -- were below the peaks set during the 2007-08 food crisis. "Rice and wheat are, from a global food security perspective, the critical agricultural commodities, not sugar, oilseeds or meat," he said.

The increasing costs of sugar, whose price recently hit a 30-year high, oilseeds and meat are the main reason behind the rise in the FAO food index.

The rise of commodity prices makes it likely that the global food import bill will hit a record high in 2011, after topping $1,000bn last year for only the second time. In November, the FAO raised its 2010 forecast to $1,026bn, up almost 15 per cent from 2009 and within a whisker of a record high of $1,031bn set in 2008 during the food crisis.

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Newly Elected Officials Take Their Seats In The House Of Representatives

Washington (CNN) -- The 112th Congress officially convened Wednesday as Republicans prepared to officially take charge of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years and dramatically change Washington's political landscape.

Democrats will maintain control of the Senate, but with a smaller majority.

The change likely presages a stark ideological conflict with President Barack Obama, who is preparing to defend his legislative accomplishments of the past two years and position himself for a re-election campaign in 2012.

Ninety-four new House members will be sworn in Wednesday, along with 13 new senators. The new House has the largest freshman class with no previous experience in elective office since 1948.

House GOP leader John Boehner, an 11-term Ohio Republican, will inherit the speaker's gavel from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California. Boehner's rise to the top position caps a remarkable political comeback. He was voted out of the House leadership in 1998 after Republicans unexpectedly lost seats to Democrats that year.

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Thousands Of Dead Fish Wash Up In Florida

Updated: 8:32 am EST January 5, 2011Thousands of dead fish were floating in Volusia County Tuesday. They were all in Spruce Creek in Port Orange. The fish kill is unusual because it is warm, according to people who live along the creek.

It's been a week since there were freezing temperatures, but there are fish lining the banks. Some said it's the worst kill they've ever seen; thousands of fish lined the twists and turns of Spruce Creek.The sheer number of fish and the smell were both overwhelming."It was fun last night trying to sleep with the smell going on," said resident Sunny Morningstar."Even with your windows closed and everything?" WFTV reporter Jason Allen asked."Yes, yes," Morningstar said.Buzzards and pelicans flocked to the site Tuesday and swarmed above the water. They filled trees and private boat docks and waited at the water's edge for an easy meal.Kayakers on the creek told WFTV, that during their five-hour paddle, they'd seen fish around every bend and it appeared to be one of the most extensive kills they had seen.

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More Dead Birds Discovered This Time In Sweden

STOCKHOLM Sweden — In a week that saw unexplained massive bird deaths in the southern United States, up to 100 birds were found lying in a snow-covered street in Sweden Wednesday, officials said.

“Most were dead,” Christer Olofsson of rescue services in the southwestern town of Falkoeping said of the 50 to 100 jackdaw birds, a type of crow.

Ornithologist Anders Wirdheim said the find was surprising.

“This is unusual,” he told tabloid Aftonbladet, which posted online a reader’s photo of dozens of black birds littering a snow-covered road.
“They are probably jackdaws. They spend the winter in large flocks. If they are exposed to disturbances, they can become so stressed that they fly themselves to death,” he said.

Mr. Olofsson told AFP the birds were first spotted around midnight by a police patrol, and that five had been taken in for analysis.

Olov Andersson of the National Veterinary Institute told news agency TT the carcasses would be analyzed and that bacterial and viral tests, including for swine flu, would be performed.

The Falkoeping incident comes after two unexplained mass bird deaths in the United States.

On Tuesday, officials in Louisiana said 500 birds were discovered dead, shortly after thousands of birds were discovered dead in neighbouring Arkansas.

Arkansas officials said preliminary testing showed no signs of disease in the dead birds and that they died of “acute physical trauma.”

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