March 10th, 2010
08:48 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Colleen LaRose: A Pennsylvania woman has been indicted for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and kill a person in a foreign country, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. LaRose, known as "Jihad Jane" and "Fatima LaRose," has also been charged with making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft.

LaRose and five unindicted co-conspirators recruited men on the Internet "to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe, and recruited women on the Internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad," according to a Justice Department statement.

A government official familiar with the case said Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks was one of LaRose's intended targets. In 2007, Vilks had drawn the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog, outraging many Muslims.

If convicted, LaRose faces a possible life prison sentence and a $1 million fine.

The conspiracy began in June 2008, when LaRose posted a comment on YouTube under the username JihadJane saying she is "desperate to do something somehow to help" Muslims, according to the indictment unsealed Tuesday. From December 2008 to October 2009, LaRose engaged in electronic communication with the five co-conspirators about their shared desires to wage jihad and become martyrs.

"I will make this my goal till I achieve it or die trying," LaRose said via electronic communication. LaRose, along with the co-conspirators, believed that "her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans, calling it a possible 'way to achieve what is in my heart,'" the indictment said. LaRose was born in 1963 and lives outside Philadelphia in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

CNN: U.S.: Pennsylvania woman tried to recruit terrorists

Read the indictment (PDF)

Joseph Lee: The seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Chicago's Parkside Community Academy never planned on becoming a teacher. He told the Chicago Tribune that his traditional Asian-American parents were counting on his becoming a doctor.

As a pre-med major at Northwestern University, he was just about to apply to med school, but, he says, "I just couldn't do it." He knew he wanted to teach at a school that needed a lot of help. So he applied instead to Teach For America and got hired seven months ago at the elementary school, where he was told to teach science, even though there would be no textbooks.

"It was so hard in the beginning," he said. "Many of my students had no supplies. They didn't do homework, and they were often suspended for either fighting or bringing drugs to school. Emotionally I was a wreck and on the verge of tears every day. I wasn't getting any sleep, and I was wondering: Can I do this?"

Now, in addition to science, he teaches social studies, reading and math. The Tribune reports that Lee placed motivational posters around his classroom and built a wall of fame to celebrate achievements.

"It would be a lie to say things are perfect," he said. "But on most days, 85 percent of my students are on task and engaged in learning."

Chicago Tribune: Pre-med student switches gears to teach in Chicago school

Sarah Stevens: In 2008, the Charlotte, North Carolina, small-business owner lost her mother to brain cancer. Before her mother died, she told Stevens that it was important for her to grow her business.

"It's what matters to your kids and what matters to you," her mother said.

Stevens Technologies provides information security solutions for government organizations and private companies, which means it helps protect Web sites from being hacked. Stevens told CNN on Tuesday that she taught herself how to hack years ago.

Stevens has been running the company she founded for six years.  The recession wasn't making things any easier, so last year, Stevens entered the Make Mine a Million $ Race and competed against 1,500 other women small-business owners and entrepreneurs. The race was organized by Count Me In, a national nonprofit group that helps women entrepreneurs turn small businesses into million-dollar enterprises.

Stevens won the competition and a prize of $100,000 from American Express. Last year, Stevens grew her business by 131 percent. She increased the number of workers who have health benefits, 401K packages and paid leave, from 12 employees in 2008 to 21 people in 2009. Her company achieved its greatest year-over-year increase in gross annual revenue to reach $1,544,262.

Today, Stevens is scheduled to appear at the National Press Club in Washington to talk about how she did it and the importance of supporting women business owners. Stevens told CNN how she won: "I took the spirit of everything my mother put in me - belief in myself and who I was, and a spirit of survival - and I let go to grow the business. I allowed my new hires to be creative. I wasn't afraid to let other people do their work."

Stevens says she's putting the prize money back into her company and hiring a few more people.

Make Mine a Million $ Business Web site

Stevens Technologies Web site

Newton Marshall: The world's most famous sled dog race -  more than 1,000 miles through some of the most unforgiving and extreme terrain on the planet - is the Iditarod. Organizers call it the "Last Great Race on Earth," and only the toughest mushing teams and survivalists need apply.

Marshall, 26, is among 22 rookies on the 2010 Iditarod starting roster of 71 teams, but that's not the reason he made history as the ceremonial start to the race got under way Saturday.

"Hey, mon! ... I'm from Jamaica. I'm running the Iditarod!" Marshall exclaimed while performing the not-so-glorious task of cleaning up after his dog team. He knows critics are probably mocking him thanks to the hapless Jamaican bobsled team that debuted at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, but Marshall balks at any comparison.

"Bobsledding is nothing, mon, and they didn't make the Olympics this year, so hopefully we can do something," he said.

Marshall may be a rookie at the Iditarod, but he has successfully completed other mushing competitions since his career began in 2005. His longest race thus far brought a 13th-place finish (in a field of 29 competitors) in last year's 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon Territory.

The Toronto Star reports that the Iditarod winner is expected to arrive in Nome in mid-March and will receive $50,000 and a new pickup truck.

Toronto Star: Mushers get festive send-off for Nome trek

CNN: The Iditarod is on, mon!

Chuck Norris: Here is a Chuck Norris "fact": "Chuck Norris frequently donates blood to the Red Cross. Just never his own."

There are some 50, 000 of those satirical "facts" collected on Web sites devoted entirely to celebrating the actor's supposed superhuman powers. What is true is that Norris was born on this date 70 years ago in Ryan, Oklahoma. While serving in the U.S. Air Force, he was sent to a base in South Korea, where he became interested in martial arts.

The Biography Channel reports that after the military, Norris became a full-time karate instructor and in 1968, earned the Professional World Full-Contact Middleweight Karate Championship. After winning many top prizes, he retired from professional fighting in 1974 and founded more than 30 karate schools.

A friend and former student, Steve McQueen, suggested he get into acting. He soon became an action star in such film series as "Missing in Action" and "The Delta Force," and on TV, as "Walker, Texas Ranger."

Norris, who works on behalf of a number of charitable efforts, helped to create KickStart, a nonprofit organization that helps fight drugs and violence in schools. He is not only a man of action, but of words - mostly conservative ones - as a columnist on the WorldNetDaily Web site.

On March 8, he wrote, "I am no pinnacle of humility, and I've learned my fair share of hard lessons from the camps of conceit. But I'm not sure the former Chicago politician occupying the White House has ever been schooled with a primer on the perils of pride. It's one thing (though still distasteful) to be boastful in a sports or fighting ring - it's quite another in the Oval Office. We were promised change, but it seems to me this White House's smug swagger and strut rivals the great taunts and bluster of Mohammed Ali in his heyday. In fact, if I were handing out awards, President Obama would win hands down the Oscar for overconfidence and arrogance."

WorldNetDaily: Obama's Oscar

Bio.: Chuck Norris biography

The Chuck Norris Facts: Top 100 Chuck Norris jokes

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. bob wire

    I would hardly call Colleen LaRose (jihad jane) intriguing....crazy media seeker yes...intriguing...nah

    March 10, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. Wale Falodun

    This is a white woman inciting Jihad.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  3. prometheus7

    I think it is good that the government caught AlQueda conspirators. They need to be stopped at all costs. All real Americans know that. We will not forget 9/11, nor will we forgive until violent Islamic Jihad is ended and global peace is restored.
    I also want to say that I certainly hope that they got the right persons. If it turns out that these people that the feds are claiming are terrorist conspirators, are not in fact terrorists at all, it will go very badly for the feds as a consequence. The feds will end up looking like a bunch of paranoid morons if that happens. It would be the McCarthy era all over again.

    March 10, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Saxo_Grammaticus

    I wonder why Jihad Jane doesn't cover like a good Muslim woman. Since she doesn't, I also wonder why the jihadists have anything to do with her. It couldn't possibly be because they're getting money from her for doing her dirty work...

    March 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ap

    The free speech and all is good, but sometimes it goes too far. Why in the world did that cartoonist even think of doing something that is so offensive. That cartoon alone has triggered enough issues. Having said that, what's going on with our own people, there must be something that is triggering americans to turn on the US and aid the extremist. I hope we catch all these folks before they hurt us.

    March 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |