July 22nd, 2010
08:33 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Ken Hechler

The 95-year-old veteran of West Virginia politics has filed papers to run for the seat once held by Robert Byrd, who passed away last month at the age of 92 and was the oldest member of the Senate at the time of his death.

If elected, Hechler would be 96 if he assumed the Senate seat in 2011. If he served a full term in the Senate, he would become the oldest senator in history. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was the oldest person to serve in the Senate. He was 100 at the time of his death in 2003.

A U.S. congressman from 1959 to 1977 and former four-term West Virginia secretary of state, Hechler submitted paperwork Wednesday to enter the special election Senate primary, the secretary of state's office confirmed to CNN. He'll be challenging West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, also a Democrat, who announced Tuesday that he's running for Byrd's seat.

According to a biography on his website, Hechler was a special assistant in charge of research for President Truman as well as research director for Adlai Stevenson, the former Illinois governor and Democratic Party nominee for president in 1952 and 1956.

Hechler told the Charleston Daily Mail he doesn't expect to win but throwing his hat in the ring is part of his campaign against mountaintop removal mining. According to the newspaper, Hechler was arrested last summer for obstructing and impeding the flow of traffic outside a Massey Energy prep plant in West Virginia.

CNN: Manchin draws veteran primary challenger

Charleston Daily Mail: Hechler files to run against Manchin for U.S. Senate

Edwin Graning

The former Austin-area bus driver has sued the Capital Area Rural Transportation System in Texas, claiming that the transit service discriminated against him based on his religious beliefs.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that in January, Graning was assigned to drive two women to a Planned Parenthood clinic.

According to his lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Austin, Graning phoned his supervisor "and told her that, in good conscience, he could not take someone to have an abortion."

Graning, an ordained Christian minister who says he is opposed to abortion, was told by his supervisor, "Then you are resigning," the suit said.

The newspaper reports that Graning denied the request to resign, drove his bus back to the yard and was fired. The newspaper reports that the driver wants to return to his job and receive back pay and undisclosed damages for pain, suffering and emotion distress.

"It's only because he voiced his religious beliefs that he was canned," Edward White III, Graning's attorney, told CNN. "Employers have a legal responsibility to at least attempt to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs."

Austin American-Statesman: Bus driver claims abortion views led to his firing

CNN: Bus driver says he was fired over Planned Parenthood dispute

Ben Eine

British Prime Minister David Cameron, on his first official trip to Washington, gifted President Obama with a painting from the little-known street artist.

Britain's Guardian newspaper reports that Downing Street phoned Eine - whose real name is Ben Flynn - to say that Cameron's wife, Samantha, was a fan and asked if there was a suitable present for the U.S. president.

"A lot of my paintings have quite negative meanings, but painted in a bright and cheerful way," Eine told The Guardian. "All of those had to be written off straight away; you can't give something that might be misinterpreted."

Eine ultimately suggested his painting of the florescent-colored letters TWENTYFIRSTCENTURYCITY, stacked in seven rows on a black background.

The newspaper reports that Eine's work as a graffiti artist earned him some 15 or 20 arrests, five convictions for criminal damage and the threat of jail time.

"It's quite mad, really," says Eine of his overnight fame. "But it's OK. It's not the kind of recognition I seek or get every day, but Cameron seems quite a positive kind of guy and Obama's a dude. I would probably have had issues if it had been for Bush."

The Guardian: Ben Eine: The street artist who's made it to the White House

CNN video: British prime minister visits New York

Pam Spaulding

Sometimes people in the virtual world need to make physical contact.

Beginning Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada, some 2,000 members of the online progressive community - political activists, lawmakers, Obama administration officials, bloggers and comedians - will gather and train at the fifth annual Netroots Nation convention.

"Most of us live in virtual space and have political relationships in virtual space, but we rarely get to meet offline," the editor and publisher of the award-winning blog PamsHouseBlend.com told CNN on Wednesday. "It's the one time I get to meet my readers - the fans of blogs and political activists."

Spaulding writes her blog from Durham, North Carolina, where she lives with her wife, Kate. They legally married in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2004.

Spaulding says, "I often blog about difficult subjects, race being one of them, and the predominant audience are LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] readers. I try to make it a safe environment to talk about race, because it's a difficult topic even within the LGBT community."

Spaulding is scheduled to appear at three of the 70-plus panels during the convention to discuss "Blogging a Red State Blue," "Why Women Are the Key to the Future of Progressive Election Victories" and "Political Organizing in the Obama Era."

Spaulding, 47, says, "I'm not afraid to be wrong. It's my opinion - no one has to agree with me. I welcome dissension and difficult conversations ... as long as the conversation is civil."

Netroots Nation website

Pam's House Blend

Michael Posner

New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez is poised to hit his 600th career home run soon, and the expert who runs the Major League Baseball's authentication program is about to get busier.

The Wall Street Journal reports that only six players in major league history have hit 600 or more home runs. So anything that A-Rod touches on his way to baseball history - the ball, his jersey, his cleats, everything - will be worth something to fans or charities. One expert told the newspaper that the record-breaking ball could be worth $100,000 at auction.

So after Rodriguez's next home run, No. 599, Posner will make sure that every object and piece of equipment will be specially coded with an invisible, tamper-proof hologram - to thwart the fraud and forgeries that once plagued the collectibles industry.

Posner told the Journal, "We're charged with witnessing everything under the guidelines and making sure that this is the bat that Alex Rodriguez used, these are the bases that were on the field that he touched circling the bases for 600."

According to Major League Baseball, more than 3 million objects have been authenticated since 2001.

The Wall Street Journal: MLB authenticators ready for A-Rod's 600th homer

Major League Baseball: Alex Rodriguez statistics

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Paul

    I would vote for Hechler, its not like he would sit on the seat for endless decades, unlike someone like Ted Kennedy who sat there for decades doing tremendous damage.

    July 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. whatnext

    He's standing up. That's better than Strom Thurmond, who would be helped to the Senate floor by aides, who would then tell him, in voices heard in the gallery, how to vote.

    July 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kbob

    Henry Miller: do you even know what socialism is? Are you aware that tax rates on the wealthy are the lowest they have been since the 1920s? That benefits in the US pale in comparison to our European counterparts, who enjoy *just as high* standards of living and GDP growth? That life expectancy in the US is among the worst of any industrialized nation? Stop listening to Faux News and educate yourself.

    July 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. B Thompson

    RE: Ken Hechler

    I hope that I am that passionate about the quality of this world when I am 95. And, I hope that I am more open minded than the writers of some of these posts. Kudos for standing up for what he believes in.

    July 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ed

    Robert Byrd after matureing in office, and putting prejudice behind him, did more for this state than anyone else could. Age wont stop Ken, and I'll twist arms to get him in Office.

    July 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rebel

    Who needs term limits?!!

    July 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason

    Ok so he is 95, yet he still is in politics at this moment. He hasn't retired, and is Secretary of State for WV. As for how long he could live I don't know, and we don't know how long anyone can live. A 50 year old has just as much chance of dieing today as this man, and even with his advanced age he is still able to move, and do his job. He still cares. But politics shouldn't have a upper age limit since the human life expectancy is suspected to keep rising in the coming years. If we place a cap on it at say 75 which is the current life expectancy for men, then what happens when we start living longer, when a 30 year old is considered the new 20's, and when the average age is even higher. Maybe one day his age could be on the low end of life expectancy. People need to remember that at one point middle age was 18 and if you lived to 35 you were considered ancient.

    July 22, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dnationsr

    Shame on U rick..if your going to talk to a right wing activist that's trying to patrol the borders...at least pick on one that's smart enough to know what your asking him

    July 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ronald de Madet

    I would like to let mr hugues know that his dream to make of the USA a white country because he's a nazi will never happen because the USA is country of immigrants and I'm sure more than 100% that he's from some immigrant descandent.

    July 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ronald de Madet

    just listen to that dude talking, I just couldn't imagine how he probably abused the mexican that crossed the border. I guess this guy is not the only kind of his group, there should probably be more who believe in the same craps and living by the same creeds and to me these people should be living in a cage because I wasn't born yet when A Hitler was killing everybody because he believed in whatever in believed in and so it's the same for mr hugues and I hope from that the autority will stop him from watching the borber or any write to carry a gun because we lived so many desaster from those people with the kind of mentallity.

    July 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
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