Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TABLOID SAYS CHRIS/RIHANNA SEX TAPE EXISTS: Star claims Rihanna is afraid it will go public.

*Star magazine is reporting that Rihanna is concerned about the release of a sex tape she allegedly made with Chris Brown, who is currently charged with two felonies in connection with her beating last month.

The magazine's March 30 issue reports that Rihanna "allowed Chris to record some of their intimate moments and she worries that the racy tapes could ruin her."

"Rihanna has no issues with her sexuality," a source tells Star. "But she'd be mortified if her friends and family found this out!"

According to the magazine, insiders say Rihanna is still emotionally fragile and vulnerable since the Feb. 8 assault that left her nearly unconscious.

"This whole beating incident is terribly humiliating for her. She's already traumatized and will do anything to make it all go away as quickly as possible," explains the insider.

Meanwhile, yesterday's scheduled in-chambers conference requested by Brown's lawyer Mark Geragos was postponed. Further details were not available at press time.

Geragos was supposed to meet behind closed doors with Judge Patricia Schnegg, and Rihanna's attorney, Donald Etra. Brown's arraignment on felony charges of assault and making criminal threats is still scheduled to take place on April 6.

CHICAGO RADIO MAKES HISTORIC CHANGE TODAY: Tom Joyner out Steve Harvey in at V103.

*Wow! What the?! Those are the responses a lot of folks are saying when they hear the news that in Chicago, the nationally syndicated "Fly Jock," Tom Joyner is no longer on the radio.

That means that when listeners in the Chicago area turn on their radios to WVAZ-FM 102.7, this morning, they'll be hearing Steve Harvey instead. The nationally syndicated Steve Harvey show was, until today, only heard on WGCI-FM.

In a way you could see this one coming because Clear Channel owns both stations and distributes The Steve Harvey Show. It's clear they chose to look out for their own. Joyner is distributed by and associated with Radio One.

Published reports say Harvey will simulcast on both stations until March 31 and that Clear Channel, the owner of both stations, has not yet said what its plans are after that for WGCI-FM. The thinking is that any change occurring on April 1 risks being interpreted as an April Fool's Day prank.

"Tom Joyner has been a great partner with V103 for the past 13 years, making it difficult to part ways," WVAZ-FM program director Derrick Brown told the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal. "We appreciate all Tom's hard work and wish him continued success."

"Steve Harvey is an entertainment and marketing juggernaut," Brown also added. "There are very few entertainers who have successfully tackled radio, TV, film, stage, online and publishing. … Being a 'King of Comedy,' nobody can beat Steve being funny."

Long time Chicagoland listeners know that both men have been in or heard in the market for quite a few years. Comedian/actor/author Harvey began his radio career in 1996 at WGCI-FM as a replacement for Joyner, who, on the other hand began his Chicago connection back in the 80s when local radio executive Marv Dyson hired him at Johnson Publishing's WJPC-AM. Dyson went on to become president and general manager at WGCI AM/FM and WVAZ.

In a press release emailed to EUR, Joyner responded to the change with this message:

We always say that when we come back from vacation something big has either happened or is about to happen. Well, this one topped them all. After 16 years, the Tom Joyner Morning Show won’t be broadcast on a local Chicago radio station, at this time.

For Sybil and me, our relationship with the Chicago radio listeners goes back more than 20 years and believe me it has not ended by any stretch of the imagination.

Friends and family in the Chicago market will continue to listen to the Party with a Purpose on www.BlackAmericaWeb.com. So this isn’t the end, it’s just a change, so please pass his e-mail along to them.

Even though we’re heard in more than 100 markets around the country, Chicago is home, it’s the Mother Ship, the Flagship, all those words that mean it is the place that launched the TJMS. It’s where we came from and where we always could go back to. And we’re still there, just in a different way—for now!

We’ve had great times in Chicago and we’ll be there soon to officially thank the thousands and thousands of you who made us what we are, and will be here with us as we take this to another level. We got where we are by knowing who you are, what you want and by Super Serving our audience, just like my mentor John H. Johnson taught me to do. This world is changing but the doing the right thing never does, and we will continue to do what we’ve always done for the African American Community.

Oakland Police Massacre Casts Ugly Glare on Ex-Felon Desperation

A general consensus is that it was a deadly mix of panic, rage, and frustration that caused Lovelle Mixon to snap. His shocking murderous rampage left four Oakland police officers dead and a city and police agencies searching its soul about what went so terribly wrong. Though Mixon’s killing spree is a horrible aberration, his plight as an
unemployed ex-felon isn’t. There are tens of thousands like him on America’s streets.

In 2007, the National Institute of Justice found that 60 percent of ex-felon offenders remain unemployed a year after their release. Other studies have shown that upwards of 30 percent of felon releases live in homeless shelters because of their inability to find housing. And those are the lucky ones. Many camp out on the streets.

A significant number of them suffer from drug, alcohol and mental health challenges, and lack education or any marketable skills. More than 70 percent of all U.S. prisoners are literate at only the two lowest grade levels. Nearly 60 percent of violent felons are repeat offenders. They are a menace to themselves and, as the nation saw with Mixon, to others. In some cases, they can be set off by any real or perceived slight, insult, or simply lash out from bitter rage. Mixon was one and he made four Oakland police officers victims and left a terrible trail of grieving and distraught families and a shell-shocked city and police department.

The answer to the Mixons isn’t easy and simple. The need is to strike a fine and delicate balance between public safety and ex-felon rehabilitation. A big obstacle to making ex-felons law abiding, productive citizens is the continuing inability of many ex-felons to find jobs. City officials in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, and Atlanta have been repeatedly challenged to take action to end employer discrimination against ex-felons. The demand has been to restrict what employers can and can’t ask on job applications.

In a revealing study in 2003 and duplicated again several years later, Northwestern University Professor Devah Pager hired groups of African American and white young men with identical resumes and experience to pose as job applicants. Some were told to say they had a drug felony. The study found that when they checked the felony conviction box on applications, it reduced the white applicants' chance of an interview by 50 percent. For black applicants, their chance of landing the job was reduced by two-thirds.

To counter employer discrimination against ex-felons, nearly a dozen states, counties and cities have enacted laws in recent years to sharply limit what employers can ask applicants about criminal records. But that reform effort has stirred fierce resistance from employer groups. Washington, D.C. is a near textbook example of that.

Nearly 3,000 former prisoners are released and return to the district each year. Most fit the standard ex-felon profile. They are poor, with limited education and job skills, and come from broken or dysfunctional homes. Researchers again found that the single biggest factor that pushed them back to the streets, crime, violence and, inevitably, repeat incarceration was their failure to find work.

In 2007, the District of Columbia city council passed a measure that would have banned discrimination in employment as well as housing and education against ex-felons. It was vetoed by then Mayor Anthony A. Williams. The heat on Williams came from business groups that claimed that they’d be sued by rejected applicants.

Similar legislation has been kicked around in Congress since 2005. It hasn’t fared much better. The bill called the Second Chance Act is a relatively mild measure to pump about $100 million to local and state agencies for education, job and skills training, counseling, and family unification programs to stem the high rate of recidivism among

President Obama has often spoken of the need to unhinge the revolving door of felon release and re-incarceration. He backs the Second Chance legislation. But with the economy and the financial crisis dominating the White House and Congressional agendas, the likelihood that ex-felon aid will get immediate attention is slim.

In the meantime, the ranks of the felon underclass will continue to balloon. At last count, there were an estimated 12 million people in the United States with felony convictions. That’s nearly 10 percent of the working-age population. And with jails bulging and states desperately trying to figure out how to cut jail costs and increasingly resorting to early release, more ex-felons will be on the streets. The current estimate is that more than 600,000 offenders are now being released from prisons yearly.

Mixon, unfortunately, was one of them. And others like him are ticking time bombs that endanger themselves and others. Oakland tragically showed that.

PA town’s firefighter of the year arrested for arson

A former assistant fire chief in Coatesville, Pa., who was named Officer of the Year in 2004 has been arrested for arson, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Robert F. Tracey Jr., 37, was arrested at his fire station in Coatesville, a town of 11,000 people west of Philadelphia, where he now works as a captain, WPVI-TV says. He was featured in one of its reports as recently as January about arson plaguing the city.

Judge orders FDA to stick to science with regard to Plan B

A federal judge has ordered the FDA to make Plan B, the emergency contraception that is available without a prescription, available to women as young as 17. The judge ruled that the FDA had improperly relented to political pressure from the Bush administration and ignored its own science when it established a rule that Plan B could only be sold to women 18 years of age and older.

The FDA's scientists and officials, as well as an advisory panel, found that Plan B is safe in 17 year olds. But, according to the judge, the FDA ignored its own procedures when it chose to ignore these findings. The judge also found that the FDA violated procedure when it communicated improperly with the Bush White House about Plan B, sought to appoint abortion rights foes to what was supposed to be an independent scientific advisory panel, and delayed a petition to reconsider its stance on Plan B until threatened by Congress.

The former FDA director for women's health who resigned in protest over the FDA's handling of Plan B said that the judge's actions provide hope for renewed FDA independence from the White House and a chance to "restore the scientific integrity of the F.D.A".

To be effective, Plan B must be taken within 72 hours of having sex.

Oakland cop shot by parolee taken off life support

OAKLAND, Calif. – A hospital spokeswoman says a fourth Oakland police officer who was shot by a man wanted on a parole violation has been taken off life support.

Spokeswoman Andrea Breaux of Alameda County Medical Center said Officer John Hege (HEE GEE) was taken off life support late Monday.

The 41-year-old officer's family had kept him alive so his organs could be donated.

Breaux said the process of harvesting the officer's organs started just after 8 p.m. and was completed by 2 a.m.

Police say Hege and a partner were gunned down when they stopped the parolee on Saturday.

Two more officers were killed during the manhunt for the gunman when the city's SWAT team stormed an apartment.

The suspected gunman also was killed.

Dalai Lama Denied the Visa to South Africa for Peace Conference

The peace conference which was to be held in South Africa this Friday has been postponed indefinitely by the organizers. The government of South Africa has denied to issue a visa to His Holiness The Dalai Lama to attend the conference.

The objective of the conference was to promote peace through football before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa next year. The organizers had to postpone the event as other Nobel peace laureates pulled out of the event as well. South African archbishop emeritus, Desmund Tutu, Norwegian Nobel Committee and the former president F.W De Klerk all said they would boycott the event if the government did not change its decision. The government maintained that the decision was taken in the “best interests of the country” and that it had nothing against the religious leader.

There has been a speculation that the government has been under the pressure of the Chinese government, its close ally. The presidential spokesperson has admitted that the Chinese government did in fact approach the South African government regarding His Holiness, The Dalai Lama’s visit, but has denied that it was the reason. China has been a major trade partners with South Africa and one of the major investors in the continent.

Obama Will Speak At Notre Dame; Some Catholics Protest

On Friday, the White House announced that President Barack Obama will be the commencement speaker at three universities this spring. One of those is Notre Dame. A press release from Notre Dame indicated that the President will also be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree. LifeSite News reported yesterday that since the announcement, Notre Dame has been deluged with criticism from those who believe the invitation should be withdrawn because of Obama's pro-abortion positions. Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins says that the honorary degree "is not intended to condone or endorse his position on specific issues regarding life." Jenkins also commented: "You cannot change the world if you shun the people you want to persuade, and if you cannot persuade them show respect for them and listen to them."

The Cardinal Newman Society, however, is circulating an online petition that calls it "an outrage and a scandal that ... one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage." As of Monday evening, the CNS website said that there were over 46,000 signers on the petition. [

White House unveils anti-cartel effort for border

The Obama administration plans to send more agents and equipment to the southwestern border to fight Mexican drug cartels and keep violence from spilling over into the United States.

Speaking at the White House Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said officials were still considering whether to deploy the National Guard to the border. She plans to meet with the governor of Texas to discuss the matter.

Deputy Attorney General David Ogden pledged "to destroy these criminal organizations" through a united effort on both sides of the border.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Mexico Wednesday for the start of several weeks of high-level meetings between the two countries on the drug violence issue.

Many of the moves announced Tuesday are a continuation or expansion of programs that already existed under the Bush administration.

Violent turf battles among the cartels have wracked Mexico in recent years, and led to a spate of kidnappings and home invasions in some U.S. cities.

Authorities said they will increase the number of immigrations and customs agents, drug agents and anti-gun trafficking agents operating along the border.

Prosecutors say they will make a greater effort to go after those smuggling guns and drug profits from the U.S. into Mexico.

Officials said President Barack Obama is particularly concerned about killings in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, and wants to prevent such violence from spilling over into the United States.

Among the moves the government is making:

_Doubling the border enforcement security teams that combine local, state, and federal officers.

_Adding 16 new Drug Enforcement Administration positions in the southwest region. DEA currently has more than 1,000 agents working in the southwest border region.

_Sending 100 more people form the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to the border in the next 45 days. A recent bill passed by Congress already provided money for the ATF to hire 37 new agents and support staff in the region to fight gun trafficking.

_ Boosting the FBI's intelligence and analysis work on Mexican drug cartel crime.

The administration is also highlighting $700 million that Congress has already approved to support Mexico's efforts to fight the cartels.

Yet the plan so far falls short of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's request last month that 1,000 troops be sent to bolster border security in his state.

During a visit to El Paso last month, Perry said he had asked Napolitano for aviation assets and "1,000 more troops that we can commit to different parts of the border."

Asked then it he wanted the military, Perry said, "I really don't care. As long as they are boots on the ground that are properly trained to deal with the border region, I don't care whether they are military troops, or National Guard troops or whether they are customs agents."

Last week, a Perry spokeswoman said that federal border protection had been underfunded for some time and that the 1,000 extra troops Perry requested would fill in gaps that state and local agencies have been covering.

While Mexico has insisted the U.S. take more responsibility in the drug fight, officials south of the border have also bristled at the increasing "militarization" of the border.

Mexico officials are likely to welcome the stepped up efforts north of the border, but they have argued that much of the extra border security added recently has made illegal immigration more dangerous and done little to nothing to crackdown on the illegal weapons trade.

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, and Traci Carl in Mexico City.

US wants power to seize insurers

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has called for the government to be given the power to take control of struggling non-bank financial firms.

Speaking before Congress, he said the administration was proposing a new law to bring the change into effect.

At present, federal authorities can seize control of troubled banks, but not other financial companies, such as insurance groups.

President Obama said he hoped Congress would back the planned legislation.

'Power grab'

Mr Geithner said he wanted to see the creation of a new regulator for non-bank financial firms modelled on the existing Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which has the power to take control of any lender.

Legal action could have thus have the perverse effect of doubling or tripling the financial benefits to the AIG-FP employees

Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke

However, with the exact details yet to be released, senior Republicans have already voiced their opposition, fearing that the treasury secretary himself may end up with the final decision on whether to take over any insurance company.

"This is an unprecedented grab of power, and before that occurs, there ought to be a real debate about whether we should give that authority to the Treasury Secretary," Mr Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters.

Joined by Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke, Mr Geithner was speaking to the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee in the context of the government's financial bail-out of insurance giant AIG in September, which has cost $170bn (£121bn).

Mr Geithner said that AIG's troubles highlighted the need for a new regulatory authority to cover non-bank financial companies.

Bonus controversy

Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke told the committee that he had wanted to take legal action to stop insurer AIG paying millions of dollars of bonuses, but was advised against it.

Ben Bernanke: "I asked for AIG bonuses to be stopped"
His comments come after AIG paid senior bosses a total of $165m on 15 March, a move that sparked widespread outrage in the US.

Nine of the 10 AIG executives who received top bonuses have since agreed to return them.

Mr Bernanke said it was "highly inappropriate" to pay substantial bonuses to employees at the AIG Financial Products (AIG-FP) division that was the primary source of AIG's collapse.

He said lawyers advised against legal action to prevent the payments, on the grounds that state law provided for substantial damages if the lawsuit failed.

"Legal action could have thus have the perverse effect of doubling or tripling the financial benefits to the AIG-FP employees," he said.

Mr Bernanke added that had AIG collapsed, it would have caused a 1930s-style global financial and economic meltdown.

Has the Internet Made Debates Over Privacy Moot? By Richard A. Lee

By refusing to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that kept emails between Governor Corzine and the former head of a state employees union private, the New Jersey Supreme Court has effectively put an end to a long debate over whether the messages should be publicly disclosed.

But even if we have heard the last of this particular saga, privacy issues are likely to remain a hot topic -- not only for public figures, but for the general citizenry as well.

A few years ago, I explored the issue of privacy in a paper titled Private Lives of Public Officials: The Gray Line Between the Right to Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know. In the paper, I concluded that the debate over privacy is moot because, given the accessibility of information available on the internet, it has become virtually impossible to keep information private today. I also argued that the breakdown of privacy impacts all of us, not just those who live and work are in the public spotlight.

On the first point, Sarah Palin’s announcement that her 17-year old unmarried daughter Bristol was pregnant provides a good example. At the time, the McCain-Palin campaign said it was not disclosing the baby’s father's full name, his age or how he knew Bristol, citing privacy. It took less than a day for major media outlets to learn that the father was 18-year old Levi Johnston, a high school classmate of Bristol. They also reported that Johnston’s MySpace page was laced with profanity in which he described himself as a redneck and indicated that he did not want to have children.

One can argue that Johnston was a public figure – at least indirectly --because he dated the daughter of a Governor and therefore opened his life up to closer scrutiny. But sometimes individuals who are just minding their own business can lose their privacy too. Kenneth Potts is one of them.

In the immediate aftermath of Governor Corzine’s April 12, 2007, accident on the Garden State Parkway, State Police indicated that the collision was the fault of the driver of a red pickup truck who caused a car to swerve into the path of Corzine's vehicle, which then crashed into a guard rail. Within a few days, Potts was identified as the driver of the pickup, and newspapers reported a variety of information about him – where he worked, where he had gone to school, how long he had lived in New Jersey, his family members’ names and more. The information was obtained from his MySpace page, interviews with neighbors and public records.

As with Johnston, one could argue that Potts became a public figure subject to public scrutiny because of his role in the Governor’s accident. Potts’ case is different, however, because unlike Johnston, he did not make a pro-active decision to become involved with a public figure and public events. In addition, a subsequent State Police investigation concluded that he was not the cause of the accident. Instead, it was triggered by unauthorized use of emergency lights to clear traffic. So Potts never should have been the focus of so many detailed news accounts.

So how do we maintain our privacy in the 21st Century?

A good place to begin is with a well-known rule that applies to talking with journalists off the record: If you don’t want something you say to appear in a news report, don’t say it – on or off the record. Likewise, if you don’t want embarrassing photos of you in various stages of inebriation or undress to surface when you are being screened for a job or running for public office, don’t post them on Facebook or MySpace.

Better yet, don’t engage in activities you may regret later because you never know who may be nearby with a camera phone. Just ask Michael Phelps, whose public image and endorsement earnings suffered heavy damage after a widely circulated picture -- taken with a camera phone -- showed him appearing to smoke marijuana from a bong. “If you think you have any privacy, think again,” sociologist Marsha Rosenbaum told the Associated Press in a story about the Phelps photo. “Somebody’s camera on their phone catches you doing something, and the next thing you know, it’s the potshot that went around the world.”

As far back as 1890, in a landmark Harvard Law Review article, Louis D. Brandeis and Samuel D. Warren warned of the dangers that technology posed for privacy: “Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life; and numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that ‘what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the house-tops’."

Ultimately, it comes down to how we as people decide to use the new technology that can make our lives much easier, but also has the potential to destroy our privacy. The warning that Brandeis and Warren sounded in 1890 remains relevant today, but perhaps even more relevant are the words of a mentalist from Montclair.

“The last thing we have left in our society is our private thoughts,” the Amazing Kreskin says in this month’s New Jersey Monthly magazine. “I read minds, but I also have morals. A machine has no morals.”

# # #

Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey. A former journalist and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies. He will be expanding on this column in a presentation titled “Has the Internet Made Personal Privacy Obsolete?” on Saturday, March 28, at Kean University during the New Jersey Communication Association’s 13th Annual Conference.