Thursday, April 30, 2009

Today's News NJ Endorces Mayor Steve Lonegan For GOP Nomination

Mayor Steve Lonegan is a principled and independent leader

By now, Mayor Lonegan is running for the Republican nomination.

But we were rooting for him all along.

As one of the few Republican candidates to recognize the problem of a failing state economy, immigration and understand the promises to bring jobs to our state and take a principled stand against wasteful state spending, Lonegan has often openly defied his Party's moderate base.

That independence and willingness to cross party lines is attractive to a generation tired of corrupt politics and bickering in the state house.

More importantly, Mayor Lonegan's unparalleled fiscal policy experience puts him head-and-shoulders above the other Republican candidates in the field.

Lonegan not only criticized the failed Gov. Corzine toll increase plan but was arrested at a rally.

In short, Mayor Lonegan has the experience and credibility necessary to lead our State in the right direction without tarnishing New Jersey’s image around America.

It's not just that Mayor Lonegan policies [and] ideas often appeal to people on both sides of the political aisle.

Mayor Lonegan has also brought a much-needed sense of honesty and candor to the 2009 election season.

During his visit around the state, Mayor Lonegan campaign wasn't afraid to give straight answers or admit that he disagreed with students on certain issues. After all, there's a reason they call him the principled leader.

His personality is reflected in his steadfast and moral courage in taking on the teacher's union and standing up for children in urban school districts through advocating school choice.

Still, it's refreshing to see a leader who is willing to stand up for his principles, even when those principles become unpopular.

Today’s News NJ Editor and Owner, Daryl Mikell Brooks

Support Jesse O. Kurtz for Mayor

Jesse O. Kurtz is a lifelong resident of Atlantic City. Throughout his 25 years he has been involved in both his community and the city’s political life.

The example of his parents, Lawrence and Debra, made Jesse naturally inclined to both observe and participate in the civic life of Atlantic City. Jesse played baseball in Chelsea Little League and as a teenager became the youngest head coach. Jesse was also the youngest lector, cantor, and CCD teacher at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church.

Jesse has always loved Atlantic City. He participated in city-run summer day camps and the Atlantic City Boys Choir; volunteered at the Rescue Mission and Our Lady’s Residence nursing home. In high school, Jesse led the Crossway Homelearners mock trial team to two Atlantic County titles, the South Jersey title, and a place in the state finals, finishing second statewide. His natural interest in politics and government led him to address the blatant corruption in his home town. Jesse went from passing out palm cards and canvassing his neighborhood as a pre-teen to studying political theory and practice. He worked his way through college, obtaining a bachelor’s of arts from St. Thomas More College in Merrimack, NH.

He met his wife Cara walking across the country with the non-profit organization, Crossroads. Together, they have walked many miles and now have a young son to accompany them, and another child on the way. Jesse looks forward to raising his family in Atlantic City and hopes to return Atlantic City to a family friendly city that rewards hard work.

Jesse founded the Atlantic City New Republican Club in order to introduce competition in Atlantic City politics. As mayor, Jesse strives to bring an end to the continuous lawsuits and kick-backs that dominate Atlantic City politics.

Jesse currently works as a Purchasing Agent for Jomar Manufacturing. His job focuses on increasing product quality while lowering costs. He plans to bring this approach to City Hall. Jesse will bring about a better quality of life and government while lowering taxes. Jesse has worked for Borgata Casino and Resort, a leading Atlantic City historian, the Boardwalk Peanut Shoppe, and various positions with the Atlantic City Surf. He has also interned at a law firm and was an educational tour guide at Flyer’s Skate Zone among other experiences.

Jesse O. Kurtz combines a unique blend of knowledge and experience. He is tenacious in promoting his vision for Atlantic City and looks forward to inspiring residents to lay aside their apathy toward politics and more actively participate in their government.

Contribute Now!!!!!!!

Police to look into new Zodiac Killer claim

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Southern California woman said Wednesday that her late father was the infamous Zodiac killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay area four decades ago.

San Francisco homicide investigators said they will check into the information from Deborah Perez, who said her father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, killed at least two of the known victims 40 years ago.

Sgt. Lyn Tomioka said the investigation into the 1969 death of San Francisco taxi driver Paul Lee Stine related to the Zodiac killer remains ongoing.

"We get a significant number of calls a year. We will look into whatever evidence that is presented to us," Tomioka said about the case that also became a hit movie in 2007.

During a frenzied news conference outside the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, Perez, of Corona, Calif., said she has given police what she believes are Stine's eyeglasses and letters she wrote — some to the newspaper — on her father's behalf about the crimes.

Perez claims she was a naive 7-year-old tagging along with her father during the killings.

"He told me he was sick, and all I wanted to do was help my dad," said Perez, who came to her conclusion about two years ago. "He kept telling me he was sick and he killed many, many people. I had no idea."

The self-described Zodiac killer is blamed for at least five murders in 1968 and 1969. He was never caught, though many believe he was Arthur Leigh Allen, a convicted child molester who died in 1992.

Hendrickson, a carpenter with six children, died in 1983 from cancer.

Perez said she could not keep her father's secrets any longer.

Specter Squeezes Into Democratic Side of Senate Chamber

One of the most obvious manifestations of Sen. Arlen Specter ’s party switch occurred Thursday morning, when his desk was moved from the Republican to the Democratic side of the aisle.

The five-term Pennsylvania senator, as one of the chamber’s most senior members, had sat in the second row of the center-most Republican desks, immediately behind Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona. As the eighth most senior Democrat, his desk now sits in the second row of the center-most section of the majority party’s desks, behind Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois.

Specter now shares a row with Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, the longest-serving senator ever, and sits between Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, just over Durbin’s right shoulder.

“We arrived the same day in the Senate in 1981 so we’ve been friends for a long time,” said Dodd, the chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee who is considered senior because he served in the House before he and Specter both were sworn in Jan. 5, 1981.

Dodd added that he was “satisfied” that seniority arrangements had been “worked out to the satisfaction of everyone.”

Among others who have occupied the mahogany desk Specter now uses was Robert M. LaFollette Jr. of Wisconsin, who was elected to succeed his father as a Republican in 1925 and later re-elected as a Progressive in 1934 and 1940.

Biden warns against travel on planes, subways

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Vice President Joe Biden courted controversy Thursday by appearing to recommend the US public avoid travel on planes and subways to prevent swine flu from spreading.

That is not the official advice of US health authorities, and Biden's office later issued a clarification to say the vice president was referring only to an administration warning against non-essential travel to Mexico.

But in an interview with NBC's "Today" show, the gaffe-prone Biden spoke in more general terms when asked whether he would advise his family members against flying to Mexico, the outbreak's epicenter.

"I would tell members of my family -- and I have -- I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now," he said.

"It's not that it's going to Mexico -- it's that you're in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft," Biden said.

He added: "I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway."

Biden's spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander tried to row back in a later statement.

"The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving to all Americans: that they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico," she said.

"If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways."

In the NBC interview, Biden also reiterated the US administration's opposition to closing the border with Mexico.

"Do we close the Canadian border too? Do we close flights coming out of countries in Europe where it has been identified now?" the vice president said.

"We're told that is not an efficacious use of our effort, that we should be focusing on mitigation."

President Barack Obama late Wednesday vowed to do "whatever it takes" to combat the deadly swine flu but said closing the border would be pointless with the virus already spreading on US soil.

Obama acknowledged the World Health Organization's decision to raise its six-step pandemic alert rating to level five, or "imminent," while insisting that the disease's spread "is a cause for deep concern, but not panic."

Sri Lanka president, rebels vow to fight on

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's president rejected Thursday a cease-fire appeal from France and Britain, saying his government was working to protect civilians but that his forces would not end their fight against the Tamil Tigers.

Mahinda Rajapaksa said Western governments should stop lecturing him — a day after the French and British foreign ministers met with him to try to broker a truce in the nation's bloody civil war to safeguard tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the conflict zone.

"The government is not ready to enter into any kind of cease-fire with the terrorists," he said, referring to the Tamil Tiger rebel group.

Rajapaksa said his government was trying to rescue the trapped civilians.

"It is my duty to protect the people of this country. I don't need lectures from Western representatives," he said in a speech distributed by his office.

The U.N. says nearly 6,500 civilians have been killed in fighting over the past three months.

The Tamil Tigers said Thursday they would not surrender to the advancing Sri Lankan forces and asked the international community to work harder to stop the war that the U.N. says has killed 6,500 civilians in the most recent fighting.

"If any country really cares about these people, I ask that country to go beyond its 'diplomatic boundaries' for the sake of saving human lives and make Sri Lanka stop this genocidal war," rebel political chief Balasingam Nadesan told The Associated Press in an e-mail interview from the war zone.

In recent months, government troops have forced the Tamil Tigers out of the shadow state they controlled in the north of the country and cornered them in a tiny sliver of land along the northeast coast.

Credit card reform legislation nears passage

Legislation to rein in credit card practices and eliminate sudden rate hikes and late fees that have entangled millions of American consumers is getting closer to becoming law, bolstered by presidential pressure and the backdrop of economic calamity.

Measures before the House and Senate are designed to enhance protections for credit card customers. The House bill, which was being put to a vote Thursday, would prohibit so-called double-cycle billing and retroactive rate hikes and ban the issuance of credit cards to people under 18, but wouldn't take effect until a year after enactment. Another requirement in the bill, that customers receive 45 days notice before their interest rates are increased, would go into effect in 90 days.

Double-cycle billing eliminates the interest-free period for consumers who move from paying the full balance monthly to carrying a balance.

Similar regulations by the Federal Reserve don't take effect until July 2010.

The House measure, dubbed the "Credit Card Holders' Bill of Rights," was expected to garner bipartisan support and swift passage. Yet some opposition was evident.

In debate Wednesday evening on the House floor previewing the vote, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, acknowledged that the fine print of credit card agreements can be impossible to decipher and some companies' practices are abusive. But he said he feared the legislation could turn into a "bill of wrongs," prompting lenders to restrict credit in an already tight market to compensate for the new requirements.

That's the leading argument made by industry executives against the legislation.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chief sponsor of the House bill, responded: "We need it now. We're in bad times; consumers need protections."

Democratic boosters of the bill are tapping into rising public anger over corporate excesses and the conduct of banks and other companies receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

Prospects for a similar measure in the Senate also appear promising. "I will continue to fight to ensure that the bill we send to the president includes robust protections for students and other young consumers, a ban on retroactive rate increases, a fair allocation of payments and tougher penalties for companies that violate the law," Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement.

The Obama administration has been pressing for passage of the legislation, which would bring unprecedented new rules for the industry that consumer advocates and some Democrats have unsuccessfully sought for years. President Barack Obama met at the White House last week with executives of the credit card industry and made clear he wants to sign a bill into law. He reaffirmed it as a priority at his prime-time news conference Wednesday evening, saying legislation was a must to protect consumers from "abusive fees and penalties."

Earlier Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Maloney met with representatives of consumer and civil rights groups to discuss the credit card overhaul.

The administration's efforts to revive lending and the economy will be complemented by an overhaul of the nation's financial rule book to avoid a recurrence of the economic crisis while protecting consumers and investors, Geithner said. "We need to change the rules of the game" to make the credit card business more transparent, fairer and simpler for consumers, he told reporters after the meeting at the Treasury Department. "This administration and this Congress are committed to changing the system."

The administration is advocating stricter practices that could crimp banks' revenue at the same time the government is shoring up the financial institutions with hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout aid.

The credit card changes could cost the banking industry more than $10 billion a year in interest payments, according to a study by the law firm Morrison & Foerster.

Amid the recession and rising job losses, consumers — even those with strong credit records — have been defaulting at high levels on their credit cards. Banks already battered by the mortgage and credit crises have been bleeding tens of billions in red ink from the losses.

U.S. credit card debt has jumped 25 percent in the past 10 years, reaching $963 billion in January, according to figures from the White House. The average outstanding credit card debt for households that have a card was $10,679 at the end of 2008, according to, an online market.

Roughly 16,000 companies in the U.S. issue credit cards. The biggest lenders include Discover Financial Services, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Capital One Financial Corp., American Express Co. and HSBC Holdings PLC.

Car crashes into Dutch royal parade

APELDOORN, Netherlands, April 30 (UPI) -- Several people were injured in the Netherlands Thursday when a car raced into a crowd watching a royal motorcade.

A man in a black Suzuki Swift, a compact car, was speeding toward a bus carrying Dutch Queen Beatrix and several members of the royal family in the city of Apeldoorn. The car sped through a crowd, hurling people through the air and breaking barricades before it came to a violent stop when it hit a monument.

Dutch TV station ntv said two people were killed and 14 injured, but officials have not yet released figures.

Some reports spoke of what appeared to be an attack attempt on the royal family who were sitting in an open bus nearby. They watched in horror as police and bystanders provided emergency care for the many injured, Radio Netherlands reports.

The motorcade was part of celebrations for the Queen's Day national holiday. All remaining celebrations were canceled.

Ken Lewis stripped of his chairmanship

In an encouraging sign that corporate governance in America is only 99% myth, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) CEO Ken Lewis was deposed from his role as chairman of the board. Walter E. Massey, the president emeritus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, will be his replacement.

The vote was far closer than it ever should have been, most likely because of corporate cronyism and broker non-votes: 50.34% of shareholders voted to remove Lewis as chairman. A third wanted him kicked off the company's board of directors entirely.

It's amazing: Ken Lewis takes Bank of America from its status as one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world and brings it to its knees, avoiding bankruptcy with loans from the United States government. The share price tanks and lawsuits fly. Attorneys general are investigating the possibility the he misled investors about the Merrill Lynch acquisition.

And 50.34% of shareholders vote to remove him as chairman of the board -- a concentration of power that most corporate governance experts agree is bad, even at companies with competent executives. I wonder how many would have voted to remove him if he were charged with killing people on Craigslist. 50.39%?

The next question will be how long Lewis stays as CEO. The shareholders have sent a clear message that they don't like him -- and the markets have sent a clear message that he stinks. His credibility is completely shot and even if he is still a talented managers, he's so tainted that he's probably ineffective at this point.

A-Rod to play in intrasquad game in Tampa today

TAMPA - New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will play in an intrasquad game in Tampa this morning as part of his rehabilitation from hip surgery, the team said.

Surgeon Marc Philippon, who performed the procedure, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that A-Rod's rehab is ahead of schedule. The three-time American League MVP had been slated to return to the majors May 15, but could be back with 10 days.

Until his return, Rodriguez is expected to play in extended spring training games to build up at-bats.

A-Rod has been working out at the Tampa complex since April 15 and has been playing in simulated games this week. On Wednesday, he slid five times on a sliding mat for the second time, ran bases and took 112 swings in regular batting practice.

A-Rod underwent arthroscopic surgery March 10 to repair torn cartilage in his right hip.

Today's intrasquad game is at 11 a.m. at the Yankees' minor-league complex on North Himes Avenue.

Closing arguments in Tyra Banks' NYC stalker trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Closing arguments will begin Thursday in the trial of a Georgia man accused of stalking supermodel-turned-TV host Tyra Banks.

Brady Green, 39, has been accused of repeatedly calling Banks' studio, showing up there and sending her flowers and letters. He faces as many as 90 days in jail if convicted by Judge James Burke, who is hearing the case without a jury in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Green was arrested March 18, 2008, at a McDonald's near Banks' studio in Chelsea. He told officers he and Banks "had a thing together," police said.

Banks said she was about to leave the studio that day when her staff warned her about Green. She said they had previously shown her Green's photograph, told her he had threatened one of her employees and was "somebody I should watch out for."

The former Sports Illustrated cover girl said she told officers that arrived on the scene that she was scared.

"I didn't know what to do. How do I live my life when I leave this building? I had never experienced anything like this before," she said.

The Dublin, Ga., man has been charged with stalking, harassment and criminal trespass, all misdemeanors.

Calm and smiling frequently as she testified, Banks said security "has changed significantly" around her and her workplaces because of Green.

She said that her company has hired more security staff and that her studio audiences are vetted more thoroughly.

Banks said she is now followed everywhere by security guards, even when she runs and exercises outdoors. Even though she is a public person, "I don't live that kind of sheltered, protected life," she said. "I like to walk around."

Assistant District Attorney Sean McMahon asked Banks whether Green's behavior made her fearful.

"I don't fear for my life," Banks said. "I fear for my safety. I fear for the safety of my staff and for my family. And I fear for the safety of people in my vicinity, who I'm with."

Green testified that Banks' shows on racism and homelessness had moved him and he wanted to contact her. He said his attempts to get tickets for her show had been misunderstood.

Questioned by his lawyer, Jeffrey Berman, Green testified that he never threatened Banks, never intended to scare her and never tried to date her.

On cross-examination, McMahon got Green to admit he rode a bus for four days from Los Angeles and to New York where he had no friends, relatives and no job, and the first he thing he did was go to the building that houses Banks' studio.

Banks is executive producer and host of two popular TV shows, "America's Next Top Model" and "The Tyra Banks Show."

Pageant does not value free speech

I am incensed by the shameful and hypocritical ranting by some of the judges of the Miss USA pageant concerning the stance against gay marriage voiced by Miss California, Carrie Prejean.

They feign shock, embarrassment and anger over her statement, thus indicating disapproval and dismay. I am under the impression, then, that contestants should be asked to give their opinion on controversial topics only when they are sure that the opinion will elicit the opinion that the judges want to hear. How shameful and hypocritical is that? This is an affront to honesty and integrity.

It is alarming that the vast amount of money made by exploiting these young ladies, under the guise of promoting their beauty and intelligence, is tantamount to the pressure of pleasing the judges and organizers.

It is evident that freedom of speech is not alive and well at the Miss USA pageant.

Building collapses in NYC's lower Manhattan

The New York City Fire Department says a building at a construction site in lower Manhattan has collapsed. Fire officials say it appears no one was inside.

The address is listed as 69 Reade Street, between Broadway and Church streets.

Further details were not immediately available.

Formula for an Obama press conference: 13 questions

Wednesday's prime-time event had its unscripted moments, but the president has the format down to a science.


Barack Obama has these East Wing presidential press conferences down to a science: He makes TelePrompTer-assisted opening remarks and then calls on exactly 13 reporters. Some sneak in more than one question, but somehow after the 13th member of the Fourth Estate has had his or her moment in the spotlight – always the AP first, then a mix of print, TV, and a few alternative outlets – the hour is up.

This has been the pattern at the three such press conferences President Obama has held to date, most recently Wednesday night, which capped off his 100th day in office. Maybe it’s the rhythm to the way Mr. Obama responds that adds up to 13 questions in the allotted time. He never answers (or dismisses) a question briskly, the way President Bush did at times. With Obama, there’s always a windup, several minutes of professorial discourse, then maybe an answer. Or maybe not. Sometimes the reporter follows up with a nudge that gets him back on track toward an answer.

Headlines all over the map

So what does the country learn from these press conferences? There’s always a headline at the end; there has to be. A quick scan of major online media Wednesday night showed a range of headlines, which means no one point stood out. Despite the swine-flu-all-the-time media frenzy of the early part of the week (at least until Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter defected to the Democratic Party), swine flu did not dominate the news conference.

The New York Times went with “Obama ‘gravely concerned’ about Pakistan,” noting that the president also expressed confidence that the Pakistani Army can keep the country’s nuclear arsenal secure.

Reuters went with “Obama: Clearing economic ‘wreckage,’ fixing US image.”

The Los Angeles Times keyed off his opening remarks: “Obama returns to theme of hope on 100th day of presidency.”

And (whose broadcast outlet chose not to televise the press conference, though Fox on cable did) zeroed in on a theme dear to conservatives, the size of government: “Obama describes big-government solutions as unwanted, but necessary.”

Another possible headline could have been “Obama aims for the middle in assessing first 100 days.” OK, not so grabby. But he put out a fair amount of “not too hot, not too cold” rhetoric. He repeated a theme he had emphasized earlier in the day at a town hall meeting in St. Louis, where he essentially said, so far so good.

“So we are off to a good start,” he said Wednesday night. “But it is just a start. I am proud of what we have achieved, but I am not content. I am pleased with our progress, but I am not satisfied.”

Advice to the GOP

In response to a question about the Republican Party – Is it in the “desperate straits that Arlen Specter seems to think it is?” asked CBS’s Chip Reid – Obama chose not to kick the opposition while it’s down. Instead, he seemed to be warning his own Democrats not to get overconfident.

“You know, politics in America changes very quick,” he said. “And I’m a big believer that things are never as good as they seem, and never as bad as they seem.” Then he offered a bit of advice to the GOP: “… simply opposing our approach on every front is probably not a good political strategy.”

Of enchantments and surprises

Of his three press conferences so far, Wednesday’s probably had the biggest moment of levity. Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times managed to sneak in a four-part question, disguised as a one-parter. During these first 100 days, Mr. Zeleny asked, what has surprised, enchanted, humbled, and troubled the president most?

“Let me write this down,” Obama responded with a smile, reaching for a pen and getting a laugh from the packed room. Obama played along, as he took dictation from Zeleny, who went through the list again.

The biggest surprise: “the number of critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same time.”

Troubled? Obama edited the question. “I’d say less troubled but, you know, sobered by the fact that change in Washington comes slow – that there is still a certain quotient of political posturing and bickering that takes place even when we’re in the middle of really big crises.”

“Enchanted.” More laughter breaks out, as he gropes for an answer. “Enchanted. I – I will – I will tell you that, when I – when I meet our servicemen and women, enchanted’s probably not the word I would use,” Obama said, to more laughter. “But,” he continued, “I am so profoundly grateful to them for what they do.”

What about ‘humbled’?

And finally, humbled? He skips the “I am” and goes right to the rest of the sentence: “Humbled by the fact that the presidency is extraordinarily powerful, but we are just part of a much broader tapestry of American life and there are a lot of different power centers. And so I can’t just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want – [laughter] – or – [chuckles] – or, you know, turn on a switch and suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line.”

As Obama spoke, he thought. He hadn’t seemed to precook that one. But there was a sense, perhaps, that all this on-the-spot reflection was not just a throw-away. Maybe some of it winds up in his next memoir.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sojourner Truth memorialized in Emancipation Hall

A bust to memorialize African American women’s suffragist and abolitionist Sojourner Truth was unveiled in the Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol on Tues. April 28. Among those in attendance were First Lady Michelle Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Congresswoman Shelia Jackson-Lee (D-Tex.), and National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW) Dr. E. Faye Williams.

More than ten years ago, Dr. C. Delores Tucker, co-founder and former chair of the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW), began her effort to have Sojourner Truth memorialized in the Capitol in a portrait monument sculpture along with women suffragists Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton by recruiting then-Senator Clinton and Congresswoman Lee. Both Jackson-Lee and Clinton partnered to introduce the legislation to include Sojourner Truth, but the bill did not pass through Congress because, at that time, honoring an African American woman in the Capitol was not acceptable, according to Williams.

“In 2005, Shelia Jackson Lee and Hillary Clinton reintroduced the bill to give her [Sojourner Truth] her own memorial, which is better,” Williams said. “We finally have a Congress who is enlightened enough to honor a Black woman [in the Capitol].”

Jackson- Lee said that Tucker’s mission to memorialize Sojourner Truth in the Capitol was “a struggle about the truth and for the truth.”

“Her [Tucker] driving force was that she didn’t want the children of America to come to the United States Capitol and be told an untruth that African American women were not part of the suffragists’ movement,” Jackson-Lee said.

Obama said that the people who come to visit the Capitol will hear the story of Sojourner Truth, as well as the stories of hardship the other suffragists faced as they fought for the right to vote.

“Now many young boys and girls like my own daughters will come to Emancipation Hall and see the face of a woman that looks like them. All the children who visit the Capitol will hear the story of a woman who endured the greatest of humanity’s indignities,” Obama said. “They will hear the story of Sojourner Truth, who didn’t allow those indignities to destroy her spirit. She fought for her own freedom then she used her power to help others.”

Several descendants of Sojourner Truth traveled from Atlanta, Ga. to witness the unveiling of the bust.

Cory Mcliechey, a sixth generation grandson of Sojourner Truth, sat with his family members as Obama, Pelosi, Jackson-Lee, and Clinton pulled the curtain off to unveil the statue.

“It’s kind of unbelievable. I am so proud to be a descendant of hers,” Mcliechey said. “All throughout high school I learned about her through teachers and everyone in my schools knew that I was a descendant of hers, but it really didn’t sink in until today.”

Cory, along with his cousin Ben Mcliechey, established a Stop-the-Violence campaign in Atlanta 20 years ago to continue Sojourner Truth’s legacy.

Obama seeks to change crack sentences

The Obama administration joined a federal judge Wednesday in urging Congress to end a racial disparity by equalizing prison sentences for dealing and using crack versus powdered cocaine.

"Jails are loaded with people who look like me," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, an African-American, told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the administration believes Congress' goal "should be to completely eliminate the disparity" between the two forms of cocaine. "A growing number of citizens view it as fundamentally unfair," Breuer testified.

It takes 100 times more powdered cocaine than crack cocaine to trigger the same harsh mandatory minimum sentences.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, said, "Under current law, mere possession of five grams of crack — the weight of five packets of sweetener — carries the same sentence as distribution of half a kilogram of powder or 500 packets of sweetener."

Durbin said more than 81 percent of those convicted for crack offenses in 2007 were African-American, although only about 25 percent of crack cocaine users are African Americans.

Congress enacted the disparity during an epidemic of crack cocaine in the 1980s, but the senator said lawmakers erred in assuming that violence would be greater among those using crack.

Breuer said the best way to deal with violence is to severely punish anyone who commits a violent offense, regardless of the drug involved.

"This administration believes our criminal laws should be tough, smart, fair," Breuer said, but also should "promote public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system."

Walton said, "We were mistaken" to enact the disparity. "There's no greater violence in cases before me."

He added that jurors have expressed an unwillingness to serve in crack cocaine cases because of the disparity.

President Barack Obama had called for such a change while campaigning for the White House.

Breuer said the government should focus on punishing drug trafficking networks, like the cartels wreaking havoc in Mexico, and those whose crimes include acts of violence.

The Obama administration is also seeking to increase drug treatment, as well as rehabilitation programs for felons after they're released from prison.

Miami's police chief, John Timoney, also favored ending the disparity, commenting, "It's the same drug. It's just manufactured differently."

Cedric Parker, of Alton, Ill., said his sister, Eugenia Jennings, is serving nearly 22 years for trading crack cocaine for designer clothes. If she had been trading powder cocaine, the sentence would have been less than half of the time.

"She would be getting ready to come home, probably already in the halfway house. But, because she was sentenced for crack cocaine she will not be released from prison until 2019," Parker testified.

While politicians often support laws lengthening prison terms for various crimes, it is rarer to try to reduce sentences, in part out of concern they may appear soft on crime. But recently, some states have been moving on their own to temper long-standing "get tough" laws.

In New York last month, state leaders reached an agreement to repeal the last vestiges of the Rockefeller drug laws, once seen as the harshest in the nation. Kentucky enacted changes that would put more addicts in treatment, and fewer behind bars.

The Justice Department is working on recommendations for a new set of sentences for cocaine, and Breuer urged Congress to overhaul the current law, written in 1986 at the height of public concern about crack use.

Since then, Breuer argued, prosecutors' views of crack cocaine have evolved to a more "refined understanding" of crack and powdered cocaine usage.

He also suggested that until such changes are made, federal prosecutors may encourage judges to use their discretion to depart from the current sentencing guidelines. Such departures are rare in the federal courts.
Now, the best performer by a mile was the last, Adam Lambert. He totally went over the top in singing "Feeling Good," turning it into a post-modern Bowie glam rock capper. Photo courtesy of FOX

Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and even Shirley MacLaine, the sole female honorary member.

Last night, American Idol channeled their spirits for the five remaining contestants to perform their standards.

Jamie Foxx did very well as mentor - offering good advice tailored to each talent left. His exchange with Allison was especially sweet.

The finale is now only three weeks away and the remaining talent all have their strengths. But someone will have to go tonight.

Kris Allen did a stylized version of "The Way You Look Tonight," earning high marks from judge Kara DioGuardi who loved his "diction" and "impeccable phrasing," Simon Cowell was less impressed and compared the kid to a "well-trained Spaniel."

Allison Iraheta did a great turn with "Someone to Watch Over Me." Foxx was especially tuned into her because of her age and ability. Randy was effusive for her. "You did it in your own rough, kinda gruff, kinda style" Randy said. "If that doesn't land you in the finals, I don't know what will," added Kara. Paula loved it too. Simon threw it down and put the curse of Cowell on her: "I have a horrible feeling" that Allison could be going home, he said.

Matt Giraud did "My Funny Valentine," and his performance was good, but I tuned out most of it, he didn't grab me. Randy cited pitch problems and Kara didn't feel him and noted he lacked an emotional connection to the song. Simon agreed with Paula and added, "I thought you were absolutely brilliant."

Danny Gokey belted out "Come Rain or Come Shine" as Randy was in full "yo Dog"mode: "You are the only one I've heard so far tonight that actually could have an album of songs like that—and win!" exclaimed Randy.

The girls all loved the emergence of Gokey's "swagger" and Cowell added that he was "outstanding."

Now, the best performer by a mile was the last, Adam Lambert. He totally went over the top in singing "Feeling Good," turning it into a post-modern Bowie glam rock capper.

Say what you will, when this kid is on stage, all eyes are on him. He works the camera like a ten dollar hooker. Randy tells Adam he isn't into the "theatrical" part of the performance, but Simon quickly said that was asking a cow not to moo, Kara loves this guy, saying he was "shocking and sleazy and superb and way over the top in a good way. Paula concurred, adding: "With every performance that I see, it's like watching the Olympics and you're our Michael Phelps."

So, who is going home?

Exclusive Interview: Geragos On Hunt For Person Who Leaked Rihanna PhotoExclusive Interview: Geragos On Hunt For Person Who Leaked Rihanna Photo

Chris Brown's attorney is on the hunt for the person who leaked the photograph of a badly beaten Rihanna.

In court today, as a preliminary hearing date was set for May 28, Mark Geragos told "I will be be filing a motion in this case regarding the leaks." He went on to explain that the motion centered around the Rihanna picture AND several other incidents of leaks about the case.

The information certainly could be prejudicial toward his client. Brown is facing two felony charges and cops say he badly beat girlfriend Rihanna inside his car.

Charlie Rose Show: A conversation with William Gates Sr. and Bill Gates Jr.

A conversation with William Gates Sr. and Bill Gates Jr. about the book "Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime"

Massachusetts Governor Meets With Ethnic Media

BOSTON -- Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick met with ethnic media at the State House on April 24, 2009, where he defended the creation of partnerships with immigrant communities, answered questions on topics such as bilingual education and driver’s licenses, and commented on race relations during an Obama presidency.

The audience of about 50 journalists – more than 35 from immigrant communities – came from African-American, Brazilian, Chinese, Haitian, Japanese, Korean, Latino, Polish, Portuguese and other print, broadcast and Web media.

The governor made brief remarks at the opening of the press conference, saying democracy thrives when it maintains an unfiltered press. He then opened the floor to the journalists’ questions on topics from “anywhere in your agenda you want,” he said.

At least one topic formed a common thread for many of the journalists: access to driver's licenses for undocumented workers, of whom many contribute to the state economy and pay taxes.

An reporter told the governor that five police chiefs in Massachusetts say that giving driver’s licenses to such workers would increase public safety on the roads.

“The issue is that the Real ID Act [the federal law that calls for the creation of a common driver’s license for the entire country] doesn’t permit a unilateral [state] approach without consequences,” Gov. Patrick replied. “This is a small piece of a broader picture called immigration reform. And when people talk about the difference between lawful and unlawful immigrants, I get that. But we need immigration laws that are consistent with our values.”

The topic was revisited at least five times during the press conference.

Marcony Almeida, editor of Brazilian Journal magazine, inquired whether the governor would seek a state solution if the Real ID Act ended, as Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano has proposed.

“The costs of the Real ID Act are profound. Most states don’t have the money to implement it. If that obstacle is not there, we can look at it,” the governor replied.

In response to a question about race relations in the US, Gov. Patrick, the second African-American governor in US history, acknowledged, “America did not change because of Obama’s election – or mine.” But he did opine that young black Americans already think differently about themselves as a result of such elections.

Relaxed and at ease, Gov. Patrick made the rounds in the conference room of answering the journalists’ questions.
Still, he was firm in answering one question, from a Rumbo newspaper reporter, when asked what he would do about alleged misconduct of police in Lawrence.“I have enough to do at the Commonwealth without having to think of the city of Lawrence,” the governor replied.

At the conference’s end, Gov. Patrick, who will run for reelection in 2010, suggested meeting again, perhaps quarterly, with ethnic media.

He also welcomed a suggestion of Polish White Eagle co-publisher Marcin Bolec that his office have an ethnic-media liaison to communicate on issues particular to the journalists’ communities.
When Bolec added that the liaison would be on a volunteer basis, Gov. Patrick laughed with delight. Faced with a dismal economy and revenue setbacks for the state, he joked, "I appreciate that part!"
Following are edited excerpts of Gov. Patrick’s responses to questions at the press conference:


Patrick said that immigration reform, which would help Massachusetts, must include a path to citizenship for those who have been in the US “for generations.” Taking people “out of the shadows” of being undocumented would help the local economy and would provide a new stream of tax revenue.

BILINGUAL EDUCATION“Of the countries I have visited, America is the only one where speaking only one language is considered a good thing.” For Patrick, Question 2 (a 2002 ballot initiative that rescinded the method of bilingual education in Massachusetts) points to the wrong direction. But he did say that he admires immigrant students who grasp the language and succeed in this country.

Declaring himself a “great believer” of in-state-tuition for undocumented students, Patrick said his administration looked hard at ways to allow this benefit without having to go through the legislative process, such as by passing an executive order. But “we could not do it without the Legislature running afoul.” The Governor said the Legislature has its hand full with other projects, including CORI reform, but the issue would be put forward the end of June.

SALES TAX“Our approach is to raise revenue for specific needs, not to fund the status quo.” Patrick said he is against increasing the state’s sales tax, and highlighted that his administration must be disciplined about how to use the public’s money.


The governor explained that President Obama’s economic stimulus package brings little money to small business, most of it going to the clean technology sector. But he asked for support in divulging a new project that will create 10,000 summer jobs for youth and young adults that can become permanent positions.

WHAT PATRICK HAS LEARNED ABOUT THE LATINO COMMUNITY“The Latino community is probably the most entrepreneurial in the entire country. Massachusetts’ population is more entrepreneurial than in most parts of the county.” The governor said Latinos should have more access to capital and coaching – many of them have become successful entrepreneurs in business niches. In addition, he said he has noticed a huge sensitivity amongst Latinos on immigration issues, even amongst those who are US citizens. “I know they feel sad because of the lack of alignment of our laws with our values,” Patrick concluded.

Racial Inequality Still Going Strong in U.S.

Racial inequality remains in the U.S. People of color continue to experience high rates of poverty, significant unemployment, police profiling and repressive incarceration. School segregation is a continuing concern among race scholars as well.

Racial inequality remains in the U.S. People of color continue to experience high rates of poverty, significant unemployment, police profiling and repressive incarceration. School segregation is a continuing concern among race scholars as well.

According to a new civil rights report published at UCLA, “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge,” by Gary Orfield, schools in the U.S. are currently 44 percent non-white, and people of color are rapidly emerging as the majority of public school students. Latinos and Blacks are the two largest groups.

However, Black and Latino students attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights era. Schools are still separate and not equal more than 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of EducationBrown v. Board of Education. Orfield’s study shows that the most severe segregation in public schools is in the Western states, including California, not in the South as many people believe.

This new form of segregation is primarily based on how urban areas are geographically organized - as Cornel West so passionately describes - into vanilla suburbs and chocolate cities.

There is a white people’s side of segregation as well. Diminished opportunity for students of color invariably creates greater privileges for whites. White privilege is a concept that is overtly difficult for many whites to accept.

Whites like to think of themselves as hard working and whatever they achieve is due to deserving personal efforts. In many cases this is in fact partly true: Hard work in college often pays off in many ways. What is difficult for many whites to accept is that geographical and structural racism still serves as a significant barrier for many students of color.

Whites often say racism is in the past, and we need not think about it today. Yet, inequality stares at us daily from the barrios, ghettos and behind prisons walls. Inequality continues in privileged universities as well.

An example of white privilege is how Sonoma State University in California (SSU) has recently achieved the status of having the whitest and likely the richest student population of any public university in the State of California. Research shows that beginning in the early 1990s, the SSU administration specifically sought to market the campus as a public ivy institution - offering an ivy-league experience at a state college price.

Part of this public ivy packaging was to advertise SSU as being in a destination wine country location with high physical and cultural amenities. These marketing efforts were principally designed to attract upper-income students to a “Falcon Crest”-like campus.

To achieve the desired outcome of becoming a wine-country public ivy SSU administration implemented a special admissions screening process that used higher SAT-GPA indexes than the rest of the California State University (CSU) system. According to Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres in “The Miner’s Canary,” high SAT scores correlate directly to both race and income with little relationship to actual success in college.

SSU also conducted recruitment at predominately white upper-income public and private high schools throughout the West Coast and Hawaii. The result was that SSU freshmen students with family incomes over $150,000 increased by 59 percent since 1994 and freshmen students from families below $50,000 declined by 21 percent (2007 dollars). The campus remained over three-quarters white during this 15-year period, while the rest of the CSU campuses significantly increased ethnic diversity.

We are at a time in society when a majority of the population has elected a Black president of the United States. This presidency is a hugely symbolic achievement for race relations in the U.S. We must not, however, ignore the continuing disadvantages for people of color and the resulting advantages gained by whites in our society.

Institutional policies and segregation contribute to continuing inequalities that require ongoing review and discussion. Efforts against racism must continue if we are to truly attain the civil rights goal of equal opportunity for all.

Economic Downturn Fuels Up Tick in Domestic Violence

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Her eyes fill with tears as she tells her tale, and her hands tremble as she wipes them away. A pretty woman with almond-shaped eyes and shoulder-length hair, Alejandra Leon, 36, remembers how her boyfriend would erupt at the slightest excuse, even when he was dating her seven years ago. Her two young children from a previous marriage would watch in fear as he bullied, threatened and taunted her.

The abuse intensified after her boyfriend lost his bluecollar job last May, and his drinking binges became more frequent. So, Leon, an undocumented immigrant, decided she would leave him. She left with her children even though she had no job to fall back on, or a work permit that would make it easier for her to snag one.

Leon’s story is not unique. In California and across the country, women’s service groups are reporting a rise in domestic violence as the economy deteriorates and puts pressure on family life. “A bad economy makes a tragic situation at home even worse,” said Karen Oehme, director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies at Florida State University’s School of Social Work.

Tara Shabazz, executive director of California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, a 200-member organization, said that more women were accessing services geared to domestic violence. “We are seeing an increase in requests for hotlines, legal services, transitional services, and services for children,” she said.

At the Bay Area Asian Women’s Shelter, executive director Beckie Masaki said more women are calling the crisis hotline. “In the last year, it’s gone up by 15 percent,” Masaki said.

The Oakland-based chapter of Mujeres Unidas, a support group for Hispanic women that Leon regularly accesses, is seeing the same upward trend.

“Before the economic crisis, 45 percent of the calls we received were from women facing domestic violence,” said program director Maria Jimenez said. “Now it’s gone up to 70 percent.”

Last week, four out of five women who participated in the support group meeting at Mujeres Unidas were victims of domestic violence, Jimenez said. “And the violence has been pretty severe in some of the cases.”

Erika Munez, 31, of Oakland, a mother of three young children all under 10, said she has been relying more and more on handouts from local churches and food banks ever since her husband lost his job as a painter last November.

“The environment in my house has turned ugly,” said Munez. “My husband verbally and emotionally abuses me. He tells me, ‘Get a job or go back to Mexico.’ But where am I to find a job?”

The problem isn’t only in urban areas. In Mendota, a mostly farming community in the Central Valley, where residents are facing a double whammy from the drought and the economy, there has been a significant spike in domestic violence, according to Mayor Robert Silva. “There are very few jobs here now, and that’s leading to family problems,” said Silva. “Men are getting frustrated and taking to drinking and abusing their wives.”

The increase in domestic violence is straining the resources of service providers, many of which are also struggling in a down economy. Many women turn to shelters when they leave abusive situations, but shelters, too, have become victims of the recession, even though the need for them clearly appears to be growing.

“There are programs that have been cut at the state level,” said Shabazz. “There are 94 domestic violence programs funded by the Department of Public Health, and they face a 10 percent decrease in the last state budget. This impacts their ability to provide services.”

Even in better financial times, the donations-dependent shelters are filled to capacity. Now, with skimpier staff, many have been forced to turn away clients, or put them on their waiting list, said Atashi Chakravarty, executive director of the Berkeley-based support group for South Asian women, Narika.

For undocumented women like Leon, domestic violence is compound by their immigration status. Unskilled and ignorant of American legal protections, Leon said she was scared of leaving her abusive boyfriend. He refused to marry her so he could use the threat of deportation to control her. She wanted to find a job so she could contribute toward the upkeep of her children, two from a previous marriage and a third born from her new relationship. He said no.

“He made sure I was totally dependent on him,” Leon said at the Mujeres Unidas support group. “But he would never lose an opportunity to remind me that it was he who was supporting the children.”

Keeping family members “economically enslaved” is not uncommon among abusers, said Oehme. “There is a dynamic of domestic violence through financial control abusers use,” she said.

After leaving her boyfriend, Leon managed to find a job at a waste management recycling center in the East Bay. But the center laid her off recently.

“I don’t want to break any laws, but what can I do?” she said, as she tried to fight back her tears. “I have to feed my children.”

Supreme Court: 'Fleeting Expletives' Fair Game For FCC

"The Supreme Court said yesterday that the Federal Communications Commission may penalize even the occasional use of certain expletives on the airwaves but left for another day the question of whether such a policy is constitutional. The court's narrow ruling said the FCC -- prompted by Cher's use of the F-word during a 2002 live broadcast and similar remarks ... -- was justified in changing its policy in 2004 to fine broadcasters up to $325,000 every time certain words are allowed on the air." Washington Post 04/29/09
Congress' decision to extend a key provision of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years is at the core of a case being argued before the Supreme Court.

The justices are hearing the final arguments of their term Wednesday in a dispute from Texas. At issue is a requirement that all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination in voting get approval from the Justice Department before they implement even the smallest changes in the way elections are held.

The court also is expected to issue opinions in cases argued earlier in the term.

The voting rights law, enacted in 1965, has helped open government elections to millions of blacks and other minorities. Its main enforcement measure is a temporary one that calls for the federal government to sign off before election changes.

Congress has renewed the provision four times, most recently by an overwhelming vote in 2006, when both houses were controlled by Republicans. President George W. Bush signed it into law.

The Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1, the small Texas community challenging the provision, agrees that Southern states once richly deserved the federal intrusion into their election practices. But that day has passed, especially with the election of President Barack Obama, the district says.

The law is outmoded, relying on information dating back more than 40 years to determine what states and municipal governments are covered, the district says. The district's challenge is backed by a group that opposes racial classifications in employment, voting and education.

The Obama administration and civil rights groups argue that the law still is needed to prevent discriminatory election changes and that Congress amassed a lot of evidence in support of its position.

A federal court in Washington upheld the law, setting up the Supreme Court fight.

The case is Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, 08-322.

4th plotter in Fort Dix case gets life sentence

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A federal judge in New Jersey has sentenced a fourth man to spend the rest of his life in prison for plotting to kill military personnel at Fort Dix.

Twenty-four-year-old cab driver Mohamad Shnewer (SHNOO'-er) of Cherry Hill was heard repeatedly on tapes made by an FBI informant talking about attacking the United States.

Shnewer told the judge that he talked like a jihadist, but didn't have what it takes to be one.

The judge called him the "epicenter of the conspiracy" and sentenced him to life plus 30 years in prison.

A jury convicted Shnewer, three brothers and another man in December.

The brothers received life sentences Tuesday. The fifth defendant, Serdar Tatar (SEHR'-dar tah-TAR'), also is being sentenced Wednesday.

US recession shifts to business as GDP falls 6.1 pct

The US economy slid at a 6.1 percent rate in the first quarter as the recession intensified in business investment even as consumer activity rebounded, official data showed Wednesday.

The Commerce Department's first estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) was a disappointment to forecasters expecting a 4.7 percent annualized decline, and marked only a marginal improvement over the 6.3 percent drop in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The decline marked the third consecutive quarter of contraction for the world's biggest economy, which had not occurred since 1974-1975.

The steep fall was the result of falling exports, declines in business and household investment and a weak housing market, offset in part by surprisingly strong consumer spending.

Consumers rebounded in the quarter, boosting spending 2.2 percent after a 4.3 percent plunge in the last quarter of 2008.

But even though consumer activity makes up the lion's share of activity, it was not enough to offset hefty declines in other segments of the economy.

Cary Leahey, senior economist at Decision Economics, said that while the report was worse than expected, "it isn't necessarily bad news for the remainder of the year."

"Consumer spending rose after unprecedented declines, but we've gone into a deeper capital spending pothole," he noted.

Still, Leahey said that with consumer spending and the housing sector appearing to stabilize, "that means the worst of the recession is behind us."

Investment in housing or residential structures fell 38.0 percent and spending on non-residential business investment slumped 37.9 percent, including a 33.8 percent drop in software and equipment.

Exports tumbled 30 percent and even government investment fell 4.0 percent.

Some analysts pointed out that the figure was dragged down by massive declines in inventory stockpiling, which could mean businesses will need to ramp up production over the rest of 2009.

Subtracting inventories, the economy contracted at a 3.4 percent pace in a measurement known as real final sales.

Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates, said the report is consistent with an economy that is struggling to come out of a punishing recession.

"We're seeing the worst part of the decline in some sectors behind us," he said.

"There is hope for a bottom and a gradual recovery into next year."

Others were more cautious.

"Our opinion is that not too much should be read into the apparent consumer strength," said analysts at "Unemployment is going higher, wage gains are limited, and credit remains constrained."

The report showed consumer prices overall fell 1.0 percent after a 3.9 percent decrease in the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy, prices rose 1.4 percent in the first three months of the year.

The report comes as the Federal Reserve was set to conclude a two-day meeting widely expected to keep boosting the supply of cheap credit to support a struggling economy.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting comes amid comments from some central bank officials that the recession is likely to ease later this year.

Analysts say this week's meeting is likely to signal no change in policy since the FOMC March gathering, when the Fed added over one trillion dollars to its arsenal to fight the economic crisis and maintained a base interest rate of zero to 0.25 percent.

What is the swine flu and the symtoms?

What is the swine flu?
The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus that has infected humans in the U.S. and Mexico is a novel influenza A virus that has not previously been identified in North America. This virus is resistant to the antiviral medications amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine), but is sensitive to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). Investigations of these cases suggest that on-going human-to-human swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is occurring.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?

Although uncomplicated influenza-like illness (fever, cough or sore throat) has been reported in many cases, mild respiratory illness (nasal congestion, rhinorrhea) without fever and occasional severe disease also has been reported. Other symptoms reported with swine influenza A virus infection include vomiting, diarrhea, myalgia, headache, chills, fatigue, and dyspnea. Conjunctivitis is rare, but has been reported. Severe disease (pneumonia, respiratory failure) and fatal outcomes have been reported with swine influenza A virus infection. The potential for exacerbation of underlying chronic medical conditions or invasive bacterial infection with swine influenza A virus infection should be considered.

Interm Recommendations

For clinical care or collection of respiratory specimens from a symptomatic individual (acute respiratory symptoms with or without fever) who is a confirmed case, or a suspected case (ill close contact of a confirmed case) of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection:

Infectious Period

Persons with swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection should be considered potentially contagious for up to 7 days following illness onset. Persons who continue to be ill longer than 7 days after illness onset should be considered potentially contagious until symptoms have resolved. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. The duration of infectiousness might vary by swine influenza A (H1N1) virus strain. Non-hospitalized ill persons who are a confirmed or suspected case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection are recommended to stay at home (voluntary isolation) for at least the first 7 days after illness onset except to seek medical care.

Case definitions

A confirmed case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection is defined as a person with an acute respiratory illness with laboratory confirmed swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection at CDC by one or more of the following tests:

* real-time RT-PCR

* viral culture

* four-fold rise in swine influenza A (H1N1) virus-specific neutralizing antibodies

A suspected case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection is defined as a person with acute febrile respiratory illness with onset within 7 days of close contact with a person who is a confirmed case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection.

Close contact is defined as: within about 6 feet of an ill person who is a confirmed or suspected case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection.

* Close contact is defined as: within about 6 feet of an ill person who is a confirmed case of swine influenza A virus infection

Acute respiratory illness is defined as recent onset of at least two of the following: rhinorrhea or nasal congestion, sore throat, cough (with or without fever or feverishness)

Recommendations for public health personnel

For interviews of healthy individuals (i.e. without a current respiratory illness), including close contacts of cases of confirmed swine influenza virus infection, no personal protective equipment or antiviral chemoprophylaxis is needed. See section on antiviral chemoprophylaxis for further guidance.

For interviews of an ill, suspected or confirmed swine influenza A virus case, the following is recommended:

* Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from the ill person; or

* Personal protective equipment: fit-tested N95 respirator [if unavailable, wear a medical (surgical mask)].

For collecting respiratory specimens from an ill confirmed or suspected swine influenza A virus case, the following is recommended:

* Personal protective equipment: fit-tested disposable N95 respirator [if unavailable, wear a medical (surgical mask)], disposable gloves, gown, and goggles.

* When completed, place all PPE in a biohazard bag for appropriate disposal.

* Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel.

Infection Control

Recommended Infection Control for a non-hospitalized patient (ER, clinic or home visit):

1. Separation from others in single room if available until asymptomatic. If the ill person needs to move to another part of the house, they should wear a mask. The ill person should be encouraged to wash hand frequently and follow respiratory hygiene practices. Cups and other utensils used by the ill person should be thoroughly washed with soap and water before use by other persons.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348, 24 Hours/Every Day -

Favre released by Jets, free to sign with any team

Brett Favre was released from the reserve-retired list by the New York Jets on Tuesday night, making the quarterback a free agent if he decides to again come out of retirement.

When Favre was dealt to New York from Green Bay in August, there were conditions in the trade that required the Packers to be compensated if the Jets moved the three-time MVP. Those no longer apply if he signs elsewhere.

The 39-year-old Favre, who spent one disappointing season with New York, had requested the move several weeks ago through agent Bus Cook, but insisted he has no plans to come out of retirement for a 19th season.

"Nothing has changed," Favre said in a statement. "At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football."

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum also said Favre had not indicated to him any desire to come back.

That, of course, won't stop any of the likely speculation that Favre could end up with any number of teams, especially if the torn biceps tendon that hampered him for much of last season has healed.

After 16 seasons with the Packers, Favre had a tearful retirement in March 2008, but decided to return to football a few months later. Green Bay had already moved forward, anointing Aaron Rodgers the starter as a bitter falling out with Favre ensued.

The Packers traded him to the Jets, injecting excitement into a franchise that hasn't been to a Super Bowl since 1969. Things started off promising as Favre played well and the Jets took over first place in the AFC East, with a playoff run in their sights. But Favre struggled down the stretch with the arm injury as the Jets finished 1-4 and failed to make the playoffs, costing coach Eric Mangini his job.

Favre announced his retirement on Feb. 11, saying he was done with football — this time for real.

US confirms first swine flu death

The swine flu outbreak has resulted in the first death outside Mexico today – a 23-month-old child from Texas.

Three more cases were confirmed in the UK, adding to the two previously disclosed in Scotland.

A 12-year-old girl is among five people in the UK to have contracted swine flu after visiting Mexico, Gordon Brown told the Commons during prime minister's questions.

Two adults – one from Birmingham and one from London – are undergoing treatment.

More than 150 people are suspected to have died of the virus in Mexico and the illness has spread around the globe, but news of the first death outside the country where it originated will increase fears that a pandemic could develop.

The infant's death from swine flu in the US was confirmed by Dr Richard Besser, the acting director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. He gave no other details about the child.

America has confirmed 65 cases of swine flu, most of them mild, but Besser said more deaths were likely.

"Flu is a very serious infection and each virus is unique so it's hard to know what we're going to be seeing, but given what we've seen in Mexico we have expected that we would see more severe infections and we would see deaths," he said.

It was unclear if the girl had contracted the illness in Mexico, or been infected in the US.

Confirmation that infected people in two countries are spreading the new disease to their families or contacts in a sustained way would meet the World Health Organisation's (WHO) criteria for declaring a phase five alert on its scale of one to six. It raised the level to from three to four on Monday as the virus moved to Europe.

The WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told reporters yesterday: "If we have a confirmation from the United States or Canada, we could move to phase five."

In Britain the government is today preparing a mass information campaign that will see leaflets about swine flu delivered to every home in the UK, after the WHO called on all governments to prepare for a pandemic.

The Department of Health is in talks to "urgently increase" stockpiles of surgical face masks, to be used by doctors and nurses if infections spread more widely here.

More cases continued to emerge around the world today, with Austria announcing its first case, Germany confirming its first three and New Zealand announcing that the number of people suffering from the virus there had risen from 11 to 14 – including one patient who was not among a school group who recently returned from Mexico, the centre of the outbreak, but had come back from north America.

The WHO yesterday warned that it could be a disaster for poorer countries if the virus took hold across the globe.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, declared a state of emergency following the confirmation of 13 cases of the illness, and in New York there were fears the virus was showing signs of secondary transmission from children who had been in Mexico to others.

Today experts around the world will hold a telephone conference in an emergency review of the outbreak organised by the WHO to collect information on what is known about how the disease spreads, how it affects human health and how it can be treated. A report will be published shortly after the meeting ends.

In Mexico, authorities are carrying out a second round of stricter tests, which have so far confirmed that seven people have died of swine flu. Results are yet to be announced on a further 13 people who had previously been said to have definitely been killed by the illness. The virus is suspected in another 159 deaths and 2,498 cases of illness there.

The health secretary, José Córdova, last night said the death toll was "more or less stable" even as hospitals were swamped with people who think they have swine flu. Only 1,311 of those suspected of being infected remain in hospital, suggesting treatment works if medical care is sought quickly.

In New York, officials said 18 children from two schools were being tested for swine flu after showing symptoms, and the city's health commissioner said "many hundreds" more children who have fallen sick may be infected with the virus.

At least 10 countries around the world, including China and Russia, have introduced bans on the import of pork products, despite the WHO's insistence that the virus cannot be transmitted by eating pork.

Bavaria's health ministry today announced that Germany's first three cases of swine flu had been confirmed.The Robert Koch Institute said they were a 22-year-old woman being treated for flu-like symptoms in a Hamburg hospital after returning from a visit to Mexico, a man in his 30s being treated at a university in the southern city of Regensburg, and a 37-year-old woman from another southern town who recently travelled to Mexico.

New Zealand is waiting for test results on 44 possible cases, on top of those confirmed.

But while the latest confirmations were in developed nations, Dr Keiji Fukuda, the WHO assistant director general for health security, warned that the greatest threat is to the poorest countries: "We know from history … that the poorer countries are the ones who really get hit the hardest, they are really hit disproportionately hard, and they also have the least resources to deal with these kind of situations," he said.

Suspected infections are being investigated in Brazil, Guatemala and Peru, all countries that would struggle to cope with a large-scale swine flu outbreak

North Korea threatens nuclear missile tests

Pyongyang demands UN apology for sanctions over latest rocket launch

North Korea dramatically raised the stakes today as it threatened to carry out nuclear and long-range missile tests unless the UN security council apologises for tightening sanctions after its rocket launch this month.

Pyongyang's foreign ministry said the country "will be compelled to take additional measures for self-defence, including nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests" unless it received an immediate apology. It demanded the council withdraw all previous resolutions against such tests by North Korea.

The regime is known for its brinksmanship and observers had hoped this month's satellite launch might allow rising tensions in the region to subside. The north has toughened its rhetoric in the last year after a new South Korean president ended the free-flowing aid policy of the previous administration. Analysts believe it is seeking the attention of the new US administration.

Pyongyang argues the security council criticism is unfair because it had carried out the peaceful launch of a satellite. But the rocket launch was widely regarded as a test of ballistic missile technology – banned under 2006 sanctions – because the launch equipment and methods are almost identical.

The security council imposed sanctions after a ballistic missile launch and a nuclear test in 2006. The latter prompted even the country's ally China to make a rare public attack, accusing Pyongyang of a "brazen" test in the face of "universal opposition".

It called for those sanctions to be tightened after the north fired a long-range rocket on 5 April in defiance of international appeals.

The South Korean and Chinese foreign ministries had no immediate comment today.

Han Sung-joo, a former South Korean foreign minister, said: "This is going beyond their usual aggressiveness or recklessness.

"That is related to [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il's own position; he wants to demonstrate that he is still strong and robust. I think this has an internal dimension, an external dimension and a hardware dimension … [It is] putting pressure on the Obama administration to start negotiating directly with North Korea and it is also about working on their hardware."

The North Korean leader is believed to have suffered a stroke last year, but to have recovered well.

James Hoare, a former British chargé d'affaires in Pyongyang, said the announcement might reflect increasing military influence.

"It seems to be sending all the wrong messages to everybody … It is likely to lead to more UN sanctions rather than less. There was something of an opportunity and that's not open any more."

Analysts believed the north initially appeared to be offering Barack Obama an olive branch, and Hoare said the US had sent positive signals. "After the 2006 rocket and supposed nuclear tests the world did come round and talks eventually restarted. It maybe that people are saying, 'If we stand tall and have our explosion they will come around – they won't dare deal with us.' I suspect at some point that won't work any more."

Christopher Hughes, an expert on the region at the University of Warwick, said the move was not completely irrational.

"North Korea is very calculating and in some ways very predictable … It doesn't matter how much they raise the ante; they do tend to get away with it in the end," he said.

"If you think back to 2006, we had missile tests in the summer and condemnation and a similar hiatus when nothing happened. Everyone thought, now they will talk. They didn't; they then did nuclear testing. Maybe they're wanting to go the whole way to really pre-empt the Americans, put them off balance and try to get them into the process before [Washington] has decided what its strategy is – and to create as much dissent as possible among the six parties to weaken their ability to push North Korea into a corner."

The threat comes within days of Pyongyang saying it had begun reprocessing spent fuel rods at its Yongbyon nuclear plant.

Under a 2007 six-nation deal, it agreed to disable Yongbyon in return for 1m tonnes of fuel oil and other concessions. Last summer it blew up the plant's cooling tower to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearisation.

But talks stalled after Pyongyang wrangled with Washington over the implementation of the deal and how to verify its past atomic activities.

White House will probe presidential plane PR stunt

The taxpayer bill for Monday's presidential plane flight over Manhattan was $328,835. The political cost to the Obama White House will be harder to calculate.

"It was a mistake ... and it will not happen again," President Barack Obama said.

But the origins of the government public relations stunt that went awry remained a mystery — and a potential political problem for Obama. The White House military office approved the photo op, which cost $35,000 in fuel alone for the plane and two jet fighter escorts.

"I think this is one of those rare cases where we can all agree it was a mistake," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said of Monday's "unfortunate" flight low over the Hudson River that for many on the ground evoked chilling memories of 9/11.

The sight of the huge passenger jet and an F-16 fighter plane whizzing past the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan financial district sent panicked office workers streaming into the streets.

WCBS-TV in New York reported Tuesday that it had obtained a Federal Aviation Administration memo outlining the photo op. The memo acknowledged "the possibility of public concern regarding (Defense Department) aircraft flying at low altitudes" around Manhattan, but the TV station reported that the FAA demanded secrecy from the New York Police Department, the mayor's office, the Secret Service and the FBI.

A White House official has said the New York City mayor's office and other New York and New Jersey police agencies were told about the Boeing 747's flight. The official said the FAA, at the military's request, told local agencies that the information was classified and asked them not to publicize it.

White House officials did not say why new photos were needed of the plane that is sometimes used as Air Force One — Obama wasn't aboard the flight — or who the presumed audience of the planned photographs were.

Air Force officials began to provide basic information Tuesday about the cost of the flights, but did not disclose how long the public has paid for similar photo op flights.

And public officials from the White House to New York still had not explained why they acceded to a plan that informed several dozen officials about the impending flight but kept the public in the dark.

"I think we've all learned something from it and now it's time to make sure our procedures are better and to get on with other things," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "It does seem like it was a waste of money, but that's up to the federal government."

White House officials said Obama was fuming mad and thinks Air Force One didn't need a new publicity photo anyway.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates "did not know in advance about this flying photo op," Morrell said. "Once he found out, suffice it to say he was surprised and not very pleased."

The presidential air fleet answers to the White House military office, whose director, Louis Caldera, issued a mea culpa on Monday.

"While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption," Caldera's statement said. "I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."

Obama's 100th day starts with Specter

President Barack Obama kicks off his 100th day in office with a new Democratic ally at his side.

Sen. Arlen Specter will discuss his new Democratic allegiance during an address with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday morning.

Specter ditched his Republican party designation of nearly 30 years Tuesday, saying he has found himself "increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy," and declared himself a Democrat. The White House says Obama would campaign for Specter, who's up for re-election next year.

Later, the president is off to Missouri, where he'll hold a town hall meeting at a high school in the St. Louis suburb of Arnold.

Wednesday night, Obama holds a prime-time news conference.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Life 360: The Fitness Expert on Losing the Last 5 Pounds & Mixing Up the Workout

Q: I am having trouble losing the last five pounds of my total weight loss goal. Do you have any tips that can help?

Lindsay Messina, Full Circle Six: Yes. Step out of your comfort zone and kick it up a notch! First, calculate how many calories you burn within the usual time frame of your cardio session. The next day, try to burn the same amount of calories, only this time, deduct five minutes off your usual time. This will both increase your strength and help you move past your fat-burning zone. Circuit training and alternating cardio and weights two to three times a week can also help keep your heart rate up and burn efficient amounts of calories. Lastly, watch your carbohydrates; nutrition is more than half the battle. To keep on top of the portions you're eating, let your hands be your guide. Try to keep your portions to a size that can fit in your palm, which is about half a cup.

Q: I am bored with going to the gym. What can I do to mix up my workout?
Lindsay Messina, Full Circle Six: We can all use some fresh inspiration every now and then. Try ballroom dancing, sign up for a fitness boot camp or take yoga classes. If you've been stuck indoors, it's time to go outside and bike ride, hike or power walk up a hill. Find a football field with bleachers and run or power walk up and down for several repetitions. If you work out alone, consider adding a partner. You can also spice things up at your gym by taking a class you haven't tried before, such as kickboxing, spinning or one that incorporates hip-hop moves. The less bored you are, the more enjoyable the workout will be and the faster you'll see results. Remember: Muscle has memory, so always try to surprise your body with different movements and exercises and you'll never fall into a fitness rut.

Mayor: 'Hundreds' of Suspected Swine Flu Cases

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says two people are hospitalized with suspected swine flu. City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden also said Tuesday that 'many hundreds' of schoolchildren are sick with suspected cases of swine flu. (April 28)

Specter: Move to Dem. Party 'painful Decision' Youtube

Longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter says he is switching to the Democratic party, a move he calls a 'painful decision.' (April 28)

Salvation - Movie Preview

Terminator Salvation is an upcoming science fiction post-apocalyptic war film and fourth in the Terminator franchise.

Directed by McG, the fourth Terminator movie stars Christian Bale as John Connor and Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright, a cyborg who believes he is human. It also introduces a young version of the first film’s hero, Kyle Reese, played by Anton Yelchin, and depicts the origins of the T-800 Model 101 Terminator, played by Roland Kickinger. The film, set in 2018, focuses on the war between humanity and Skynet. It abandons the format of previous entries in the series, which only revolved around Terminators and various other characters traveling through time to either kill or protect John Connor before the events of Judgment Day unfold.

It’s interesting to note that during filming Terminator Salvation, Christian Bale broke his hand and Sam Worthington hurt his back. Special effects technician Mike Menardis almost lost his leg filming an explosion. The sequence required a manhole being blown into the air, which hit Menardis and partially severed his leg. McG noted it was testament to the gritty style of the film. “I say with respect, I didn’t want that Star Wars experience of everything’s a blue screen, tennis balls, and go for it. I had Stan Winston build all the machines. We built all the sets, the explosive power, the explosive power so you feel that wind and that percussion and that heat blowing your eyebrows off. And with that you get a couple bumps and bruises on the way, but you get it in an integrity and a realism that hopefully echoes Apocalypse Now. You couldn’t say, ‘Let’s just shoot Apocalypse Now in Burbank, I think it’s going to feel just as good.’”

Terminator Salvation is set to premiere on May 21, 2009.

Swine Flu Spreads- 100 Dead... 1,600 Infected ...Update: Obama- Swine flu not a reason for 'alarm'

Pink markers are suspect
Purple markers are confirmed
Deaths lack a dot in marker

Drudge Report has the latest on the swine flu outbreak.
The US is still not screening passengers coming from Mexico.

The AP reported that: More than 100 people in Mexico are believed to have died from the new flu and more than 1,600 sickened, prompting widespread school closures and other measures... In the United States, at least 11 cases of swine flu have been confirmed. Canada's chief public health officer Dr. David Butler-Jones said six cases had been confirmed there, and all had links to people who had traveled to Mexico.

Pregame: Rangers at Caps (Game 7)

The Rangers are in Washington for Game 7 of their first round playoff series with the Capitals. The puck drops at 7 p.m., and the game can be seen locally on MSG.

Do you know the last time the Rangers played a Game 7?

That was almost 15 years ago, and I still get chills. How can you not get pumped after watching that video.

And that team had a brilliant season. They walked easily through the first two rounds of the playoffs, in fact. But nothing came easy for them after that. The conference finals went to seven games, capped off with one of the most epic games in Stanley Cup playoff history.

And then the finals went seven games. The finals against a team that most didn’t even think would be there.

There are lessons to be learned. Expect the unexpected when it comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Nothing comes easy. Everyone has a shot. On any given night, any team can turn in the performance of a lifetime.

Before this series even started, no one was picking the Rangers. Many thought the Caps would just overpower the Rangers and sweep them away. That has been true in some games, including the last two, but it hasn’t always been the case. Remember, the Rangers had a 2-0 lead. They made the Caps work to even get to a Game 7.

Have the Caps figured out Lundqvist? I think they’ve figured out the game plan more than Lundqvist. Get the first goal because if the Rangers do, they’ll protect the lead with their lives. That’s how the Rangers have won in this series. The Rangers have got to get back to their roots and get that first goal, play a tight defense and forecheck hard. And, of course, they need Lundqvist to play like he did in Game 4.

There’s obviously a lot of other things going on. There’s Dubinsky’s bitten hand. There’s the loss of Betts, for which Brasheer was suspended. There’s the security issues in Washington.

But above it all, the season rides on one game. It all comes down to tonight. Win or go home. Everyone is counting this team out. And this team, for all its faults, plays its best when everyone counts them out.

Want to read some news from behind enemy lines? Check out the Washington Post’s Caps blog and our friends at On Frozen Blog.

Tonight’s anticipated line-up
Blair Betts has a broken orbital bone. That means he’s probably done for a lot longer than just tonight. That’s a major blow for the top penalty killing unit in the NHL.

Donald Brasheer was suspended for his actions.