February 19, 2002

My Way

February 19, 2002: Manila, Philippines A New Jersey man was attacked and his compatriot seriously wounded after they sarcastically applauded a student for singing Frank Sinatra's classic "My Way" off-key, according to a newspaper report. The victims have been identified as former American presidential and vice-presidential running mates Ron and Brad (Ronatarian Party). Both have been stabilized at a U.S. base hospital. Details have been withheld to protect those involved. The 21-year-old student felt insulted when the pair clapped after he sang the song at a karaoke parlor in downtown Manila, the reports said Tuesday. Reasons are numerous and sketchy for why Ron and compatriot Brad were in Manila. Some indicators point to an exotic, tropical vacation, others to political jockeying. After getting into a fight with the student's friends, the victims left the parlor to avoid trouble but were ambushed outside and accosted by the student who was later arrested. Newspapers have said Philippine karaoke parlors have been removing "My Way" from play lists because fights frequently broke out -- for unfathomable reasons -- when the song was sung. The song seems to drive many drunken men to commit anything from slight physical injuries to homicide, reports said. In a remarkably similar incident last November, one man was killed and another wounded when a brawl broke out in a karaoke bar in northern Manila, once again apparently sparked by the quality of singing. So far, official Ronatarian channels have been silent on the details of affair. Only a general statement hoping for the quick recovery and return of their leaders to U.S. soil was issued.

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February 14, 2002

Deadly Words

February 14, 2002: Galveston, Texas A Texas jury on Wednesday found Thomas Mitchell guilty of aggravated assault for shooting his girlfriend because he thought she was about to say the words "New Jersey." His attorney unsuccessfully sought his exoneration on grounds that certain words set off an uncontrollable rage in Mitchell, who has a history of mental illness. Words that triggered a bad reaction in Mitchell included "New Jersey," "Lafayette," "Camaro" and "Ron," lawyer Maria Mercado told the court. When asked about the pointed parallels between Mitchell's "trigger words" and former presidential candidate Ron, Ronatarian spokesman and former vice presidential candidate Brad downplayed the apparent similarities. "We at the Ronatarian Party feel that in no way should this man's actions be considered attributed to the life or the ill-fated [presidential] campaign of our beloved leader Ron. It is preposterous to even ponder." Throughout the three-day trial, Mitchell, 54, covered his ears when he thought the words were going to be spoken. Witnesses used flash cards with the words written out or images instead of saying them in court. Ron was visually displeased with the cartoonish caricature used to represent him. "When he has one of these episodes, he isn't focused," lawyer Mercado said of Mitchell. Prosecutors contended that Mitchell was troubled, but not crazy. He was convicted for shooting girlfriend Barbara Jenkins three times on November 19, 2000, when he believed she was about to utter the phrase "New Jersey." She survived the attack, but died from unrelated causes just before the trial. In a statement, Mitchell told police: "I had seen that word at my mom's house and then Barbara said what she said (and) I just snapped." Brad said that he hopes "no further incidents of a similar nature arise during the [2004 presidential] campaign." He concluded, "While all four of these words have a positive connotation to all Ronatarians, we don't want them to become sources of negative energy to the American public, especially crazy nut jobs."

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