News for Friday, December 2, 2005

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M. J. Thornhill

Mr. M. J. Thornhill, age 84, of Hoschton, Georgia, died December 1, 2005. Funeral Arrangements will be announced by Carter Funeral Home of Winder, GA, 770-867-1361.

R. L. Smith

Mr. R. L. “Red” Smith, age 84, of Buford, GA passed away on December 1, 2005. He was Chief of Security at Western Electric from 1972 to 1988 ...

Winfred Burt

Winfred Burt, age 73 of Lilburn, passed away November 30, 2005. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA, 30045, 770-277-4550.

Royce Braselton

Mr. Royce Henry Braselton, Jr., age 85, of Braselton, passed away on December 2, 2005, after an extended illness. Arrangements by Evans Funeral Home of Jefferson, GA, 706-367-5467.

Marguerite Lindsay

Marguerite Erwin Lindsay, 79, of Winchester, VA, left this world December 1, 2005. The mother of three sons and one daughter, as well as three grandchildren, Ms. Lindsay leaves behind ...

Judith Steedley

Judith A. Steedley, age 63 of Dacula, formerly of Stone Mountain, passed away December 1, 2005. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-277-4550 ...

Bob Carlson

Bob Carlson, age 63 of Buford, died November 30, 2005. Arrangements by Tapp/Tim Stewart Funeral Home and Crematory, Buford, Georgia 30518, 770-945-9345.

Film fans find high, low notes in 'Rent'

EDITOR'S NOTE - Film Fans runs in the Friday Weekend section of the Gwinnett Daily Post. It features local residents reviewing the film of the week: "Rent." Want to be a Film Fan? E-mail features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Ring in the season with Jingle Jam at Gwinnett arena

Jason Mraz swears he will be juggling poodles during his set at Thursday's Jingle Jam. The singer-songwriter, however, may not be telling the absolute truth about his upcoming performance at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Xbox 360 lives up to hype

If you're a gamer, you're probably wondering whether you should buy an Xbox 360 this holiday season. To be candid, ever since May at E3, I had my reservations about the Xbox 360. The videos of the games that were shown to me during the video game convention just weren't that spectacular. The rumored price of $400 wasn't appealing, either.

Last week, when the Xbox 360 came in the mail, the first thing that gave me pause was the nearly two-pound, huge AC adapter. It looks like something King Kong would use to fend off pesky humans. In addition, the magazine reviews I'd read (aside from the always-gushing gaming magazines), were tepid and so-so. One said you needed a high-definition TV to see any difference in graphics. I'm not going to purchase a new TV just to play games, no matter how good the games are. Also, it was noted that only about 200 Xbox games would be backward-compatible with the Xbox 360. What about great games like "Psychonauts" or "Destroy All Humans?" They don't work.

When the Xbox 360 whirred and got going, I have to admit I was stunned. The detail on "NBA Live 06," "NHL 2K6" and "Kameo" looked amazing - on my non-HDTV 32-inch Sharp. It made me want to play games I've never really explored or had an interest in.

Into the sleek white box, I put "Need For Speed: Most Wanted" and raced so long, I got a return of carpal tunnel on my right wrist. As I sped through somewhere that looked like the primeval forests near Seattle, the rain came down, and the rain looked so real, I thought I would get wet. All right, when I put in the snowboarding game "Amped 3," the graphics didn't seem all that great, but that's because the game tries too hard to be cool and isn't good overall. I didn't even launch "King Kong" or "Perfect Dark Zero" because I could only take so much excitement in one sitting.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you should spend your $400 right now on an Xbox 360. It's certainly a lot of money. What I am saying is that the Xbox 360 is worth $400. Its specs are impressive (512 megs of memory, a 3-core CPU, an ATI 500 MHz processor, HD capabilities, infrared ports, a 20 gigabyte hard drive, a remote control, USB ports to play almost any media - even from the Sony PlayStation Portable - a sleek online gaming hub, and a wireless controller with no lag time).

What's beyond impressive are the graphics and gameplay. In panoramic scenes of verdant landscapes, the jaw just drops. Sure, there's no killer app for the system, and that's hard to take. There should have been something brand spankin' new and inventive beyond "Halo" for the 360. But right now, the Xbox 360 is indeed the height of advanced gaming. (And it's now been confirmed that all Xbox games will be compatible with the 360 eventually.)

All of that bodes well for the future of the Xbox 360. If the games look this magnificent at the beginning of the hardware's life cycle, they're going to look even better by this time next year. And if forthcoming games look more and more movie-like, the lure to play will be palpable.

But by that time, the arguably more amazing PlayStation 3 and the more creative Nintendo Revolution hardware will be available. Will the competition lead to a three-way battle of mythic proportions? Stay tuned.

Harold Goldberg has written about games for Entertainment Weekly, Wired and The Village Voice. He is co-author of the bestselling book, "My Life Among The Serial Killers." You can e-mail him at mediaowl@aol.com.

New Pentagon rules could harm soldiers

While American civilians and politicians debate when and whether to withdraw troops from Iraq, the buzz among some military lawyers has been a recent Pentagon rule change that they say potentially limits service members' ability to defend themselves.

In June, the Pentagon changed its Standing Rules of Engagement to allow commanders to limit individual self-defense by members of their unit. Interpreted for me by two Army judge advocate general officers, this essentially means that soldiers and Marines may not have the individual prerogative to fire upon an enemy when they are faced with an imminent threat of death or serious injury. That belongs only to commanders, who may not be present to make a decision every time a soldier or Marine faces a deadly threat.

The impetus behind the rule change likely evolved from concerns that a soldier might misinterpret a danger and kill an innocent instead of an enemy. But critics say the solution to this ever-present tension is better training, not more restrictive rules.

Commanders and JAGs close to the debate say the rule change poses numerous potential problems and contradicts the guiding principle in all of America's rules of engagement, which is that nothing in these rules limits the inherent right of self-defense. If a soldier or Marine can't make a split-second decision to kill or be killed, even at the risk of making an erroneous judgment, he or she may eventually hesitate, fumble the wrong way and end up dead.

Not only does this new rule defy common sense and place service people at undue risk, say military lawyers with whom I've spoken, but it could make recruiting difficult. One, in an opinion piece he submitted to the Army Times, wrote:

"If the Army thinks it has a recruiting problem now, wait until the mothers and fathers of prospective recruits learn that the military is trying to give more legal protections to possible Al Qaeda members demonstrating hostile intent than the Fourth Amendment currently gives to criminals in the United States."

His commentary was never published. He asks that I not name him out of concern for possible retribution.

The JAG officers also question whether the regulation can be lawfully implemented, as restricting self-defense potentially contradicts the military Code of Conduct, which states that American fighting forces should not surrender when they have the means to resist. Of potentially greater consequence, they say, is that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that one's work position cannot diminish one's inherent right to self-defense, because it's "inherent."

Soldiers and Marines in theaters like Iraq are already at a disadvantage given that most tactical situations they face require split-second judgments where the enemy already has the initiative and the advantages. By changing the rules of engagement in ways that reduce their ability to respond to imminent danger, they're at an even greater disadvantage. Forget about the deficiencies of armored Humvees and other tactical equipment. If soldiers and Marines can't act quickly when dangers arise, even the best equipment won't save lives.

Just as important as the ability to fire when threatened is a soldier's understanding that his command will stand behind him. To believe otherwise could cause hesitation and indecision, leading to deadly consequences.

The machinations of military bureaucracy have long been a concern to those in the trenches, especially to the soldier-lawyers who must interpret rules hatched in civilian cubicles and apply them to the chaotic instants of war. Witness another bureaucratic gem that has been circulating the past several days - an "escalation of force" flow chart from the Commander of the Multi-National Coalition-Iraq.

To see this thing is to not believe it. Picture a page loaded to the margins with boxes filled with tiny print and arrows pointing the way through a series of steps from "training" through "use-of-force" to how to disburse "condolence $$" to Iraqi claimants. If a soldier or Marine can find his way through this maze, he should skip Iraq and head straight for Harvard Business School and his new career as dean.

Police hunt two in slaying of southeast Georgia man

HORTENSE, Ga. (AP) - A manhunt was under way Thursday for a man and woman wanted in the slaying of a southeast Georgia man whose body was found earlier by Brantley County deputies.

Briefs

local

Wesleyan slips past Woodward in swimming and diving

Wesleyan's swimming and diving team edged Woodward Academy by a single point in a two-way meet, taking first with an overall score of 312.5 to 311.5. The Wolves beat Woodward in boys competition for the first time while Woodward won the girls

division.

The Spanish Riding School performs in Gwinnett

On Saturday, a herd of horses will gallop in the Arena at Gwinnett Center. But these aren't just any horses. They're white Lipizzaner stallions trained at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.

Four indicted in mortgage fraud

LAWRENCEVILLE - The first four people to be prosecuted under Georgia's new Residential Mortgage Fraud Act were indicted this week by a Gwinnett County grand jury.

Police reports

Bethlehem house catches fire

BETHLEHEM - A fire caused moderate damage to a house under construction Tuesday night off Berry Hall Road in Bethlehem.

Thrashers lose 4-0 to Toronto

ATLANTA - Mikael Tellqvist stopped 28 shots for his first career shutout, Darcy Tucker scored twice and Toronto stretched its winning streak over Atlanta to six games by beating the Thrashers 4-0 Thursday night.

Gwinnett Ballet presents 24th annual 'Nutcracker'

Twenty-four years of baby mice. Twenty-four years of soldiers, dancing dolls, snowflakes and waltzing flowers. For the past two dozen years, Gwinnett Ballet Theatre has seen more than a thousand aspiring ballerinas pirouette across the stage in that annual spectacle of holiday tradition: "The Nutcracker."

Letters to the Editor

Competition would help raise standards

In response to John Mazarous' letter ("School taxes not equitable for those with no children," To the Editor, Nov. 29), he does not look at the big picture. His assumption that renters don't pay taxes is erroneous as the apartment complex is taxed at a higher rate than single-family housing, thus one's rent pays part of the taxes.

Get festive with weekend of holiday activities

Whether you want to visit with Santa, enjoy a classic holiday production or just enjoy the season with folks in your community, Gwinnett's got you covered this weekend. Here are some of the ways you can celebrate the holidays a few weeks early:

•Head down to the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center in Duluth as Gwinnett Ballet Theatre kicks off its annual production of "The Nutcracker." The shows run today through Dec. 18, and performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $20 or $12 for senior citizens and children. Call 770-978-0188 or visit www.gwinnettballet.org.

Crime victims remembered at vigil

LAWRENCEVILLE - Families joined together in the cold Thursday evening, candle lights blowing in the wind, to honor the memory of loved ones who fell victim to crime.

Inmate commits suicide

LAWRENCEVILLE - An inmate at the Gwinnett County Detention Center killed himself Thursday, one day after he was indicted on murder charges in the stabbing death of his wife.

Another gift-swapping season* is here againBy Bill O'Reilly*This holiday was once known as Christmas

Corporate America should get down on its knees and thank God that the baby Jesus was born 2,000 plus years ago. OK, how many people did I offend with that first sentence? Let's see, I mentioned praying to God, the baby Jesus and even hinted at the celebration of Christmas. Totally out of line, don't you think?

Getting to Know ... Jeremy Huckaby

Jeremy Huckaby, 31, has been an assistant basketball coach at Grayson since the school opened in 2000. In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," the 1993 Shiloh graduate talks with staff writer Corey Clark on a variety of topics, ranging from the year he coached future Georgia and NFL player Davey Pollack in JV basketball to his best high school game to his future plans.

See Rockettes dance in holiday show this weekend

The Rockettes will high kick their way out of Atlanta next week. This weekend is the last chance to catch them in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The show will be performed through Sunday at the Fox Theatre.

South's economy bounces back from hurricanes

LAWRENCEVILLE - Economic activity in the South picked up steam in October and November, according to the Federal Reserve Bank.

Breathalyzer given to student without parental consent angers mother

SUWANEE - A local mother was angry after her son, a Peachtree Ridge High School student, was given a Breathalyzer test without parental permission.

County officials set to announce first homeland security director

LAWRENCEVILLE - Four years after two of the Sept. 11 hijackers flew out of the Gwinnett County airport, county officials are expected to announce the county's first homeland security director.

Shrimp & Co.4060 Buford Drive,Buford 770-904-5959

•Open since: November

•Capacity: The restaurant seats 80.

Aminu ruled ineligible by GHSA

The Georgia High School Association put an end to Al-Farouq Aminu's hopes of playing varsity basketball this season at Norcross, ruling on Thursday morning that the sophomore is ineligible.

Brookwood football helps Merciers cope with tragic loss

SNELLVILLE

A night of anticipation was winding down for Mike Mercier and his youngest son Greg, a lineman on Brookwood's football team.

'First Descent' offers fleeting rush, but has little impact

Although it has been around since the '60s, the sport of snowboarding has only seen significant popularity since the mid-'90s - but in numbers any other sport would envy. It's so popular, as both a participant and spectator sport, that the International Olympic Committee had no other choice but to include it by the time the '98 Nagano, Japan, games rolled around.

Braves losing Farnsworth but still fighting for Furcal

ATLANTA - It's too early for Braves manager Bobby Cox to worry about coming up with another name to top his 2006 lineup.

Fields go-to guy in net for Gladiators

DULUTH

Exactly a year ago, Sean Fields was without a team, sitting at home in Canada when Jeff Pyle called.

Candidates brace for council runoff

LAWRENCEVILLE - Downtown Lawrenceville is beginning to boom, and both Rick Johnson and Bob Clark can take some credit for it.

Hollywood serves up diverse fare for holiday season

With a little more than three weeks to go in calendar year 2005, Hollywood is bringing out its big guns in an attempt to wow the holiday crowds. Here are thumbnail sketches of some of the higher-profile releases.

Sports calendar

Baseball

Starting Dec. 11: Berkeley Academy baseball winter workouts start Dec. 11. Call 770-441-2242 for details.

40 Gwinnett teachers earn top credential

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County produced the most National Board Certified Teachers in Georgia this year, with 40 teachers earning the highest national credential in teaching. Four Barrow County teachers also received the honor.

Parkview's winter recital

Lawrenceville center model for mental health care

LAWRENCEVILLE - David Brandon showed off his parents' photos and the toy cars he collects before Marty Passoff walked the officials through the kitchen and into his tidy room.

Collins Hill Eagles win Junior Peach Bowl championship

The 13-14 Collins Hill Eagles football team went 3-0 over Thanksgiving weekend at Westside High to win the first Junior Peach Bowl Championship. The squad defeated the Sandtown Vikings 12-0, the College Park Cowboys 26-0 and the St. Louis All-Stars 26-8 to capture the crown.

OBITUARIES

ATLANTA

MAGBEE,CLARE

Clare (Tia) Findley Magbee died on November 28, 2005 after a courageous battle with cancer. Tia was born on January 12, 1935 in Duluth, Georgia. She was preceded in death by her parents, Clare Strickland Findley and Guy Washington Findley and her sister, Ellyne Findley Bullard. She is survived by her husband of 51 years, James Russell Magbee, a brother and sister-in-law, Guy Findley and Murlene Findley of Buford, and her children and their spouses, Clare Magbee Weaver and Bart Weaver of Dunwoody, J. Russell Magbee of Atlanta, Beth Magbee Sherman and Fred Sherman of Atlanta, and Ellen Magbee Davidson and Charles Davidson of London, England. Her grandchildren include Heather Weaver and Colleen Weaver of Dunwoody and Philip Davidson and Eleanor Davidson of London, England. Other survivors include many nieces and nephews and cousins. Tia was a graduate of Oglethorpe University, class of 1956, attended Stratford College in Danville, Virginia, class of 1954, and was a graduate of The Westminster Schools, class of 1952, (formerly NAPS). Tia was an active member of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church where she served as President of the Timothy Class. She served her community in a variety of capacities. Tia was President of the Lovett Mother's Club (1966-67), President of the Georgia Genealogical Society, Treasurer of the Friends of the National Archives, a member of the Board of Trustees of Oglethorpe University, (1991-2005), a member of Colonial Dames of America XVII Century, a member of Colonial Dames of America Chapter XXIV, a member of the Joseph Habersham Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), was awarded The Alumni Service Award from The Westminster Schools for 2003. The memorial service will be at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, 3180 Peachtree Road on Friday, December 2, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. The Reverend Larry Adams will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Autrey Mill Preserve, 9770 Autrey Mill Rd., Alpharetta, Georgia 30022. Please designate for the "Warsaw Methodist Church Restoration", one of her current projects. The family will receive friends on Thursday, December 1, 2005 from 5 - 8PM at H. M. Patterson & Son Oglethorpe Hill Chapel, 4550 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30319, 404-261-3510.

BLAIRSVILLE

SMITH, R.L. RED

Mr. R.L. Red Smith, age 84 of Blairsville, GA formerly of Buford, GA passed away December 1, 2005. Service and Arrangements will be announced later by: Junior E. Flanigan of: Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford, GA 770-932-1133 www.flaniganfuneralhome.com

DULUTH

AINSWORTH,

CLIFFORD

Clifford Joseph Ainsworth, age 45 of Duluth, died November 28, 2005. Arrangements by Bill Head Funeral Homes and Crematory, Duluth Chapel 770-476-2535.

GWINNETT CO

LAYER, BILLIE JEAN

Billie Jean Grubbs Layer, age 71, of Gwinnett County, GA, passed away Nov. 30, 2005. Arrangements by Smith Funeral Home, Winder. (770)867-4553.

LILBURN

BURT, WINFRED M.