Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brooks Supports Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom

Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom

by Cornel West

The New York Times best-selling author of Race Matters and Democracy Matters offers open-hearted wisdom for our times in this courageous collection of quotations, speech excerpts, letters, philosophy, and photographs that reflect the profound humanity that fuels the passionate public intellectual. In a world that seesaws between unconditional love and acceptance and blind hatred and exclusion, Hope on a Tightrope will satisfy readers in search of deep wells of inspiration and challenge that marries the mind to the heart.

This gift book features an original CD that highlights Dr. West’s outstanding spoken-word artistry. His August 2007 CD release Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations that featured collaborations with best-selling artists Prince, Jill Scott, and Andre 3000 topped the charts as Billboard’s #1 Spoken Word album.

Brooks Supports The Book Mobilizing The Community

Mobilizing the Community to Help Students Succeed
by Hugh B. Price

In Mobilizing the Community to Help Students Succeed, Hugh B. Price shares the lessons learned while helping to do just that during his tenure as president of the National Urban League. Here, find out how educators can apply some of the same tactics to inspire and award academic achievement in even the most challenged school districts.
According to Price, a highly informed and engaged community is essential to closing the achievement gap. This book underscores that community-based efforts to motivate student success can be effective because they have been effective. The message for educators, parents, business and civic leaders, and members of the general public is that their consistent and creative involvement will result in invigorated youngsters, inspired to achieve in school and in life.

Accompanied by personal vignettes, moving anecdotes from successful students, and an extensive resource list, the President of the National Urban League presents a wealth of valuable tips and strategies for parents, showing them how to obtain higher educational standards in their children's schools. Reprint.

The Obama Presser & Democratic Budget Revolt

Obama’s perfectly choreographed press conference last night was at best an off Broadway production, and at worst the latest example of a man in way over his head. From the book report opening statement to the pre selected and orchestrated 13 questions, Obama’s bloom as master of all is devolving into master of reading.

The whole point of the presser was for Obama to sell his budget to the people, but even Democrats are beginning to think Obama is full of…. temeprompter.

Later, the president travels to Capitol Hill for budget talks with House and Senate Democrats. They’re concerned about the possibility of worse-than-feared deficits. But Obama thinks broad economic growth, as he put it Tuesday night, can lead from “borrow and spend” to “save and invest.”

I think the entire basis for how Obama schedules his deficit projections is flawed since his budget, tax increases (and oh boy are there a lot), and massive expansion of interventionist and expensive government programs are going to stifle our economy and with a staggering economy, there is no growth, let alone 3% consistent growth as Obama is counting on to keep his budget deficits at a mere $10 Trillion.

The trillions in new federal spending and trillions in mandated consumer carried costs are going to hamper any ability for economic recovery and expansion. There is no way, with his budget and broad agenda as currently crafted, that America can recover, let alone grow. His budget is designed to install the federal government as the central planning office for the American Union of Formerly Sovereign States. Obama is proposing the largest expansion of government, confiscatory taxation, and dictatorial Government ever. Frankly the American government is going to become un-American under Obama.

The only thing Americans and Obama can count on is that Government will grow and taxes will increase under Obama. The 800 pound gorilla in this debates is that when Government grows, is sucks even more money out of the economy and that money comes from everyone in the economy, that’s each and every American. Hence, the deficit will be far worse, unless of course Obama is going to tax everyone to fund the Government he thinks is an investment.

No Peace At South Africa Peace Conference

It was not a particularly controversial conference, just some people sitting down to discuss how to foster peace in the world. The conference was scheduled for South Africa and among prominent people, Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu were to appear. But, the South African government decided things were too peaceful so they denied Tibetan leader Dalai Lama from attending on the pretense it had something to do with causing controversy about the 2010 World Cup. It was simply a ploy to avoid angering China which is investing heavily in Africa and South Africa has a yen for the yen.

Irvin Khoza, who helped organize the event noted sorrowfully, “given that the purpose of the conference is peace… the convenors have decided in the spirit of peace to postpone the Peace Conference.

Liberal Newspapers May Escape Paying Taxes

The government bailout of the floundering left-wing print media begins. Yesterday Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Newspaper Revitalization Act, which will allow obsolete newspapers to evade taxes by restructuring as "nonprofits."

This will cause the overwhelmingly left-leaning newspaper business to magically become nonpartisan:

Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.
If nonprofit newspapers fail to be objective — as liberal bureaucrats define the term — they will lose their tax-exempt status and promptly collapse. Alternatively, the government can arbitrarily nationalize them, as it is aggressively proposing to do with banks and insurance companies. The infinitely deep pockets of a government that prints money with no regard for the future ought to help "level the playing field" with nonobjective — i.e., not statist — sources of information that compete on the free market by meeting public needs.

Next will come the silencing of conservative radio and political regulation of the Internet. I hope you like NPR and PBS; soon it will be the only point of view available.

YouTube blocked in China for hosting a Tibet video

Google-owned video sharing site YouTube has been blocked in China for reportedly hosting a video that appeared to show Chinese police officers brutally beating Tibetans after riots last year (2008) in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

The video, which was recently released by the Tibetan government in exile, purports to show police officers storming a monastery after riots in Lhasa last March, kicking and beating protesters. According to the video, the protester later died.

Xiao Qiang, editor, China Digital Times, has said he is not surprised that YouTube is a target as the video sharing site also hosts videos about the Tiananmen Square protests and many other subjects that Chinese authorities find objectionable. [Source: New York Times]

EU President: Obama on "way to hell"

>>Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told the European Parliament that President Barack Obama's massive stimulus package and banking bailout "will undermine the stability of the global financial market." [...] Topolanek bluntly said that "the United States did not take the right path.".

He slammed the U.S.' widening budget deficit and protectionist trade measures — such as the "Buy America" — and said that "all of these steps, these combinations and permanency is the way to hell."<<

Notre Dame: Obama Commencement Speech - Bishop Boycotts

President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement speech for the University of Notre Dame's 2009 graduation class. Notre Dame has not only invited President Obama to speak at the ceremony, they will bestow upon him an honorary doctor of laws degree. Bishop John D'Arcy, whose Diocese includes the University of Notre Dame, says he will boycott the ceremony.

Bishop D'Arcy is known for his efforts to protect parishioners from abusive priests. He had very harsh words for the University's choice of speakers. Speaking of Obama's decision to federally fund embryonic stem cell research, D'Arcy said the President:

...has now placed in public policy ... his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life sacred.

While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life...

A White House spokesperson replied, saying that the President welcomes the "spirit of debate and healthy disagreement on important issues.
National Review Online gathered comments from educational experts and Catholicism. George Weigel, an American Catholic author, founder of The James Madison Foundation and a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, was especially poignant:

Notre Dame’s decision to make President Obama its 2009 commencement speaker is a very bad thing. It’s bad for Notre Dame, bad for Catholic moral witness in America, and bad for the bishops who are trying to mount a defense against the Obama administration’s assault on the conscience rights of Catholic health-care professionals.

The invitation to deliver a commencement address, especially when coupled with the award of an honorary degree, is not a neutral act. It’s an act by which a Catholic institution of higher learning says, “This is a life worth emulating according to our understanding of the true, the good, and the beautiful.” It is frankly beyond my imagining how Notre Dame can say that of a president who has put the United States back into the business of funding abortion abroad; a president who made a mockery of the very idea of moral argument in his speech announcing federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research; a president whose administration and its congressional allies are snatching tuition vouchers out of the hands of desperately poor Washington, D.C., children who just as desperately want to attend Catholic schools.

Visit the National Review Online article. It offers some fine thinking on the matter. It is well-worth reading whether or not you are Catholic.

The Cardinal Newman Society has sponsored an online petition to encourage the University to rescind the invitation. The petition has 115,123 signers. Over 11,000 have signed since I first viewed the petition last evening. You can sign the petition at

It is interesting to note that the Catholic vote for Obama was the largest faith vote among the "religions," with 54 percent of Catholics voting for Obama. The accompanying article with the chart below from The Pew Forum says that "Obama performed particularly well among Latino Catholics," - 67 percent voted for Obama.

The President's views on the sanctity of life were widely known during the campaign. As an Illinois state senator, Obama voted to kill a bill that would prevent killing a baby born alive. Nurse Jill Stanek was all over television and radio testifying to what Obama's views on infanticide really meant, and her personal experience with the issue. Really, it cannot get worse than that - but he won anyway. During the campaign, he told us that he would immediately recind a Bush executive order preventing taxpayer money being used overseas for funding abortions - and if you didn't believe him then, it was one of his first acts as President.

Durable goods orders rise unexpectedly in February

— Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods unexpectedly rose in February after a record six straight declines, but economists said the gains were unlikely to last as the recession persists.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for durable goods — manufactured products expected to last at least three years — increased 3.4 percent last month, much better than the 2 percent fall economists expected. It was the first advance since July and the strongest one-month gain in 14 months.

Last month's strength was led by a surge in orders for military aircraft and parts, which shot up 32.4 percent. Demand for machinery, computers and fabricated metal products also rose.

Still, the rebound may be temporary. Upticks in retail sales and housing starts last month, along with a private sector group's index of leading economic indicators dropping less than expected were welcomed, but none were viewed as sustainable given all the problems facing the economy. And a large drop in orders to factories in January was revised even lower, bolstering estimates that February data represented a blip.

"Durable goods was firmer than expected but with the caveats of downward revisions and the bounce ... coming on the heels of several months of weakness ... and we don't see an effort to interpret it as a sign the economic bottom is in," RBS Greenwich Capital analyst David Ader wrote in a note.

Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, agreed. Noting the steep downward revisions in January and that half of last month's gains came from defense, he said the rise in orders was welcome, but "much less impressive than it looks at first sight and it cannot possibly last."

"The underlying state of industry is still deteriorating," Shepherdson wrote in a research note.

But Wall Street rose on the better-than-expected results. The Dow Jones industrial average added about 120 points in morning trading and broader indicators also gained.

Manufacturers have been battered by the current recession — already the longest in a quarter-century — as demand for cars, airplanes, household appliances, furniture and other large goods shrinks both in the U.S. and overseas.

The government is scheduled to report Thursday on the overall economy. Economists believe that data will show the economy falling at an annual rate of 6.5 percent in the final three months of last year, even deeper than the 6.2 percent drop in the gross domestic product reported a month ago.

Economists believe the GDP fell just as sharply in the current quarter and likely will keep contracting until the second half of this year.

Still, orders for durable goods excluding the volatile transportation sector rose 3.9 percent last month, easily beating the 2-percent drop that economists expected.

But despite the big surge in demand for military aircraft, overall orders for transportation products fell 0.8 percent in February. Demand for commercial aircraft plunged 28.9 percent after a huge increase in January. Orders for autos and auto parts dipped 0.6 percent as that industry's struggles persist.

Detroit's General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC are restructuring operations in hopes of securing billions more in federal aid.

In areas of strength, orders for heavy machinery surged 13.5 percent in February, demand for computers rose 10.1 percent and orders for fabricated metal products edged up 1.5 percent.

Blockbuster, TiVo Partner for Video On-Demand Deal

TiVo and Blockbuster are teaming up to offer Blockbuster on-demand content via TiVo DVR boxes, the companies announced Wednesday.

TiVo DVRs will also be available for purchase at Blockbuster stores and online at

Blockbuster content will be available to purchase or rent on TiVo Series2, Series3, TiVo HD, and TiVo HD XL DVRs, TiVo said.

"Ultimately, our vision is to work with TiVo so that their subscribers can access movies not only through our OnDemand service but also from our stores and through our by-mail service as well," Jim Keyes, Blockbuster chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Regardless of a film's availability – through VOD or on DVD – we want to work with TiVo to provide their subscribers unprecedented access to movie content."

"When consumers walk into one of the thousands of Blockbuster stores entertainment for the home is on their minds - - it could not be more natural to have them exposed to the world of millions of entertainment possibilities for the home that the TiVo Service provides," said Tom Rogers, president and CEO of TiVo.

The offering is expected to be available in the second half of 2009.

Earlier this month, TiVo announced partnerships with SeaChange and Alticast to provide its customers with improved video on-demand (VOD) availability, and to enable smaller multiple system operators (MSOs) not using tru2way to access TiVo content.

Raw Video: Judge Jumps Bench to Protect Witness

Broward Circuit Court Judge Ian Richards jumped over his bench to help a witness who was being attacked by the man she had testified against. (March 25)

Eating red meat may be really bad for you…

Men and women who eat higher amounts of red meat and processed meat have a higher risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and other causes compared to those who eat less, according to a new study.

…”We found the consumption of red and processed meat is associated with a modest increase in overall mortality, as well as cancer and cardiovascular mortality in both men and women,” says study researcher Rashmi Sinha, PhD, a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute.

The study, supported by the National Cancer Institute, is published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The author of an accompanying editorial says he views the risks found in the study as more than “modest.”

Cutting down on red meat and processed meat would result in a “meaningful saving of lives,” Barry Popkin, PhD, tells WebMD. Popkin is The Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of Global Nutrition at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, Chapel Hill. In a note accompanying his editorial, he states that he is not a vegetarian and has no financial conflict of interest related to food products affecting health.

The recent study is believed to be the largest study to date looking at the links between red and processed meat and their effect on the risk of death from cancer, heart disease, and other causes, Sinha tells WebMD.

Her team evaluated more than 500,000 men and women who participated in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. Participants were between the ages of 50 and 71 when the study began in 1995, and all provided detailed information about their food intake.

The researchers followed them for 10 years, using the Social Security Administration’s databases to track causes of death. During the follow-up period, 47,976 men and 23,276 women died.

…For the study, red meat included beef, pork, bacon, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, liver, pork sausage, steak, and meats in foods such as pizza, stews, and lasagna.

White meat included turkey, fish, chicken, chicken mixtures, and other meats.

Processed meat was either white or red meat that was cured, dried, or smoked, Sinha says, such as bacon, chicken sausage, lunch meats, and cold cuts.

…Those who ate the most red meat as well as the most processed meat had a higher overall risk of dying during the study period as well as a higher risk of dying from cancer and heart disease compared to those who ate the least of both.

…For processed meat, the highest intakes were associated with a 16% overall increased risk of dying in men and 25% increased risk in women.

Cancer risk was about 20% higher in those who ate the most red meat, and 10% higher in those who ate the most processed meats.

In contrast, the intake of white meat was often protective, with those eating the most having a slightly lower risk for overall and cancer deaths.

…To reduce cancer risk, the web site of the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating no more than 18 ounces of red meat (cooked weight) per week (or about 2.5 ounces a day.) It recommends avoiding processed meat, noting that research suggests that cancer risk starts to increase with any amount.

In its report, Yahoo! news also mentioned:

Barry Popkin, an expert in nutrition and economics at the University of North Carolina, said the study was unusually thorough and careful.

Eating less meat has other benefits, he said, and governments should start promoting this. For instance, farming animals for meat causes greenhouse gas emissions that warm the atmosphere and uses fresh water in excess, he said.

“I was pretty surprised when I checked back and went through the data on emissions from animal food and livestock,” Popkin said in a telephone interview.

“I didn’t expect it to be more than cars.”

Financial AIGgravation In Washington

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asked Congress for sweeping powers to take control of non-bank financial institutions to avoid the problems the government is having with AIG. Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Barnanke and Geithner defended their inability to do anything concerning payment of huge bonuses to AIG executives. “These were legal contracts and we’re a nation of laws,” insisted Geithner who warned about government intervening in the sanctity of contracts. Both emphasized the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation could take over banks but had no legal authority over insurers like AIG. Bernanke said if there was such authority he would have had the FDIC take over AIG. In New York, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has forced 15 of the top 20 recipients in the United States to return their bonus but he lacks authority to do so in other nations.

The American people are having bailout fatigue and President Obama should understand that most people will not endure more fiascos like the AIG bonus arrangements. There is also increasing concern that AIG used federal money to help foreign banks deal with their problems. Most probably, laws protect foreigners against being compelled to give back money because they are out of the jurisdiction of this nation.

The real question is: what has been learned from this fiasco?

At the Border Security is Privilege

All eyes are on Mexico with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arriving there. Yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano revealed a border security plan that was allegedly less about undocumented immigrants and more about protecting the “us” from the violence coming from “them”. And next month U.S. President Obama will meet with Mexican President Calderon to discuss “their” problem.

I think that it’s important to note that the Obama administration is sending a clear signal that it is going to follow the safety first rhetoric that the Bush administration nearly perfected, that is the rhetoric that before we talk human rights, especially those of immigrants, we need to make sure we are protected from them.

Who are they?
They are the drug cartels and human traffickers. Now don’t get me wrong the violence is horrible but violence in Mexico isn’t anything new. Look specifically at the massive killing of women in Juarez. Pero the U.S. gets down to business when college students worry about their spring break vacation plans being ruined.
350 additional security personnel will be sent to the border including agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

'Violent sex' ad led to murder of WABC newsman George Weber, confesses teen: Cops

A 16-year-old confessed to stabbing WABC newsman George Weber during a drugged-up date with the older man, police sources said Wednesday.

The emotionally disturbed teenager was arrested early Wednesday morning after he admitted to cops that he had answered an ad Weber placed on the Internet looking for a partner in rough sex, police and law enforcements sources said.

"He saw the victim's ad looking for violent sex and said "I can smother somebody for $60" but it got out of hand," a source said.

The teen admitted he stabbed Weber, but couldn't remember how many times because he "blanked out" during the violent, drug-fuelled assault. The teen was in custody this morning at Brooklyn's 76th Precinct.

Cops found the suspect by combing through Weber's e-mail and Web browser history and tracking calls he made from his cell phone, sources said.

The teen answered Weber's ad on craigslist, an Internet Web site. The two met in Brooklyn early Friday evening and then returned to the newsman's Carroll Gardens brownstone apartment under the premise of engaging in sadomasochistic acts, sources said.

Weber, whose ankles were bound with duct tape, was stabbed repeatedly in a frenzied attack that sprayed the walls with blood.

The newsman fought back and wounded his assailant, whose blood was found in the bedroom and bathtub drain, the sources said. Cops believe Weber's killer tried to clean up before fleeing the Henry St. home.

Weber, 47, had been writing a neighborhood blog and was freelancing for ABC's national radio network after he was laid off from his job doing local news on WABC morning radio. His body was found Sunday morning.

"We are devastated by the loss of George - Jordy to us," the veteran newsman's family said in a statement Tuesday. "He was truly a caring person who loved and was loved by all he met.

"Jordy loved New York and its people, particularly his Carroll Gardens neighborhood. The outpouring of support by his friends and neighbors is a blessing to us and a testimony to his character."

A memorial service for Weber is in the works. Arrangements have not been finalized, the family said.

Drugs war challenge for US and Mexico

Ciudad Juarez has been called "the most dangerous city on earth". Driving in from the US side of the border, it doesn't feel like that.

You simply pay $2.25 (£1.54) at the toll-booth, and cross the bridge over the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

Ask the Mexican authorities and they will tell you that this is a major factor fuelling the drug wars raging in cities like Juarez.

They argue the lax border controls make it easier for money and guns to flow south from the US.

It is estimated that at least 90% of the guns used by the Mexican drug trafficking organisations have come from the US.

In an interview with the BBC, the chairman of the US Senate Homeland Security Committee, Joe Lieberman, agreed that the border controls are too lax.

"It's been a fact of life that except for occasional random inspections, the American border authorities do not make exit inspections of people and vehicles when leaving the country. That's got to stop," he said.

According to a New York Times editorial, "a vast arms bazaar is rampant along the four border states, enabled by porous to non-existent American gun laws.

"The hypocrisy grows all too gruesome: The US Justice Department pronounced the Mexican drug cartels "a national security threat" even as American gun dealers along the border were busily arming the cartels' murderous gangs."

There is a political dimension to all this, one of the fierce debates which rages periodically in the US concerns the right to bear arms.

Lucrative trade

In Mexico, they would like the US to restrict sales but that is not likely to happen anytime soon.

The bigger issue, however, is that drugs smuggling is a multi-billion dollar business.

Senator Lieberman acknowledges that between $8bn and $24bn in drug profits flow back into Mexico from the US every year.

Drug smuggling is lucrative and the cartels will fight and adapt to maintain their grip on it.

Still, Mexican President Felipe Calderon says he hopes to quell his country's rampant drug violence by the end of his term in 2012, and disputes US fears that his government is losing control of its territory.

The Mexican government says that the violence that killed more than 1,000 people nationwide in the first eight weeks of 2009 is a sign that the cartels are under pressure from military and police operations nationwide, as well as turf wars among themselves.

"To say that Mexico is a failed state is absolutely false," President Calderon said in a recent interview.

"I have not lost any part - any single part - of Mexican territory."

Violence 'peaking'

The Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora also believes that the increase in violence reflects how the drug cartels are falling apart.

He points out that street prices of cocaine in the US have doubled in the last three years, while purity has dropped by 35%.

Mr Medina Mora predicted that Mexico is "reaching the peak" of the violence.

The government's goal is to make smuggling through Mexico so difficult that the drug gangs are forced to look elsewhere.

That, in many ways, is a crucial point, Mexico is trying to shift the problem, but it does not feel it can end it.

Despite decades of trying to eradicate Latin American drug production and trafficking, illegal narcotics are still getting into US cities.

The levels of violence Colombia experienced in the 1980s for example have been significantly reduced, but the country is still a major producer of cocaine.

As one former security official in Juarez, who preferred not to be named for his own safety, said "trafficking won't stop while a lucrative market exists."


Some suggest that decriminalising certain drugs would significantly dent the cartel's profits.

The US, however, shows no sign of being ready for a national debate about decriminalising illegal narcotics.

There is also the issue of corruption in Mexico where decades of rule by one party helped encourage corruption.

Since coming to office in December 2006, President Calderon has been trying to remove corrupt officials across the country.

However huge drug profits allow the cartels to pay off local officials.

The former security official from Juarez said the army must clean up the city, and remove corrupt people from their posts, but: "what I've not heard is anybody ask 'what's next?'" after the officials have been removed.

"What's the plan? How do you keep the new police clean? Let's suppose they get $200 a week so you put the wage up to $400. It won't stop them receiving $10,000 a month from the cartels."

"How do you keep tabs on them?" he asked.

The US and Mexico have vowed to work together on the problem, and say they are making progress.

Both sides must know though that the best solution may in the end be to stop the drugs- related violence.

So far no one's come up with a way of ending the drugs trade itself.