Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fast and Furious - Vin Diesel discusses his return...

VIN DIESEL (Dominic Toretto/Produced by) has become one of Hollywoods most sought-after film stars and has also established himself as a prominent producer and filmmaker. Diesel stormed onto the scene in 2001 with the box-office hit The Fast and the Furious, a film that confirmed his status as a bona fide star.
Previously, the native New Yorker starred in the huge box-office success The Pacifier, directed by Adam Shankman and co-starring Faith Ford, Brad Garrett, Lauren Graham and Brittany Snow. Through his production company, One Race Films, Diesel starred in and produced the science-fiction feature The Chronicles of Riddick, reprising the title role in the follow-up to the cult favorite Pitch Black.
Diesel was discovered by Steven Spielberg, who saw him in 1999s Multi-Facial and later cast him in Saving Private Ryan, for which he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the films ensemble cast. Other credits include roles in Boiler Room and Knockaround Guys, and the voice of the title character in The Iron Giant, which won an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature. He was also recently seen in 20th Century Foxs thriller Babylon A.D., for director Mathieu Kassovitz (La Haine), a film that co-starred Michelle Yeoh.

Fast and Furious, Muscle vs. Import

FCUK Fashion Show - L.A Fashion Week

Explore talent presents the French Connection Fashion Show during L.A Fashion week

FCUK is the shortened form for French Connection. It operates at the upper end of the middle market offering a fashion-forward range of quality products at affordable prices. Its customers, typically aged 18-35, appreciate that the brand is at the leading edge of high street fashion and offers quality, stylish products. It designs ranges of both men's and women's products from underwear to outerwear, casual wear to suits, denim, accessories and kidswear.

FCUK branding has become synonymous with contemporary, cool fashion and has been extended into complimentary licensed products including men's and women's toiletries, shoes, watches and eyewear which together represent the third major profit stream for the Group. Our men's and ladies'toiletries licence in the UK with Boots has produced a hugely successful range of toiletries which quickly became best sellers. Zirh Skin Nutrition has developed fcuk fragrances for the rest of the world.

FCUK design teams are based in London and have the products manufactured in specialist facilities in Europe and Asia.Now FCUK has already had many branches in Shang. What FCUK shows is not only the brand for fashionalbe dress but also the living attitude and philosophy . And in 2006, just as its mottos say-Fashion fades, style is eternal, FCUK will still keep its usual style and will continue blowing a british fashion in Shanghai.

Universal Mind Control: Common 'Breaks' It Down @ Hip Hop 101 (HD)

Common rips it and performs his old school new school hit Universal Mind Control complete with his own show of skills as he brought out the old school break dancing moves to the stage. BlackTree was there to give you a glimpse.

Scholars Discuss Black Power in the Age of Obama

DONNA BRAZILE and Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole

The Black Power movement is not a vestige of the past, but a living didactical legacy that is as relevant now in the Obama era as it has ever been, said a group of scholars and activists during a two-day symposium dedicated to the impact of the Black Power movement on America.

“On the Sunday morning shows, when everyone wants to pay tribute to the great mobilization and organizing [of the Obama campaign], I sit and say, ‘You know, there was the Jackson campaigns in ‘84 and ‘88 that increased Black voter registration tenfold,” said Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee Voting Rights Institute. “There was the Shirley Chisholm campaign [in 1972]. There was Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Democratic Party. We have so much to be grateful for.’”

“I am living proof that there was indeed a Black Power movement,” added Brazile. “I see a direct link between the Black Power movement, the Civil Rights movement and where we are today. I see a connection between those African Americans who stood in those long lines in ’84 and ’88 for Rev. [Jesse] Jackson and those who turned out for President Barack Obama.”

Between 1966 and 1975, a time known as Black Power’s classical period, several key victories emerged in academia for African Americans: the development of African-American studies programs across the nation, the resurgence of Black feminist literature as a viable genre, and a political arena that paved the way for a new class of Black elected officials. All three were discussed by a distinguished group of panelists during the symposium Tuesday held at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery.

Still much of an enigma to Blacks as well as to Whites, Black Power is often defined as a political movement that emerged out of the Civil Rights movement and allowed for the expression of a new racial consciousness among Blacks in the United States. Much of the history of this era has been characterized by revolutionist iconography: Black Panthers, raised fists, black berets and rifles.

The movement is reviled in some spheres as violent, radical, militant and counterproductive and hailed by others as positive, proactive and responsible for emphasizing the significance of racial pride, cultural heritage and self-reliance.

However, panelists Dr. Gregory Carr, a professor of African-American studies at Howard University; Rhonda Williams, an associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University; and Brazile painted a picture of a multifaceted movement orchestrated by various constituencies of Black America demanding to be heard after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

During a workshop session titled “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” female scholars weighed in on the role that women scholars and activists played in the Black Power movement.

“Where were the women?” was the question posed by Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art and former president of Bennett and Spelman colleges, speaking about her early days as a professor of Black studies and anthropology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

“We were two: Ester M.A. Terry [associate chancellor and professor and chair of the Afro-American Studies Department at Amherst] and myself. Those were days when, emotionally, I knew it wasn’t right (that there were not more female voices). Intellectually, it would take me a while to develop an authentic feminist perspective.“

Cole noted that the absence of Black female scholars and their scholarship during the early years of African-American studies diminished the impact of the discipline, which at the time was only telling a patriarchal version of the African-American story.

“That exceptionally, insightful title of a book, All of the Blacks are Men, All of the Women are White, But some of us Are Brave, that kind of scholarship began to bring me to the point where I could see that scholarship had the responsibility to help me understand my multiple identities,” said Cole. “You cannot deal with parts of me if you want to deal with me.”

Black feminists found their voice during the Black Power period: Toni Cade Bambara edited The Black Woman, a collection of poetry, short stories, and essays by such seminal writers as Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, and Paule Marshall, while Toni Morrison released The Bluest Eye.

The hard-fought gains of Black college students paved the way for the diversity that many colleges now enjoy and take for granted as a way of life. For instance, the decision of more than 100 Black Northwestern University students to occupy the university’s bursar's office with a list of demands in 1968 was a direct result of the Black Power movement, said Dr. James Turner, an alumnus of Northwestern University who was involved in the protest.

A peaceful resolution came quickly. Student leaders and university officials worked to hammer out an agreement that committed Northwestern to improve the role of Black students in the activities of the university and encourage the faculty to introduce Black studies into the curriculum and to create a home base for Black students to congregate and pursue their own social, cultural, and political agendas.

A subsequent protest by Black students at Cornell University making similar demands followed in 1969.

“The first generation of Blacks at predominately White institutions were at the forefront of these takeovers. The Black students at Cornell and Northwestern were demanding African-American studies programs and resources for recruitment. These takeovers must be understood as highly organized, disciplined and purposeful moves,” said Turner, who currently teaches Africana studies at Cornell. “The current campaign for diversity owes a deep debt to those Black students.”



Stop Using President Obama to Sell Stuff!

Note to the international community: Cut it out! Stop using President Obama to sell snacks and services.

First there was Obama chicken fingers from Germany. Now, there's Duet ice cream out of Russia to add to the color obsessed Obama-food pyramid:

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian advertising agency has used an image resembling U.S. President Barack Obama to promote a new vanilla-and-chocolate ice cream, drawing the ire of human rights groups who said the ad was vulgar.

Ice Cream Plant No. 3 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg launched last week a new brand named Duet.

The poster features a computer-generated caricature of a broadly smiling figure resembling Obama standing in front of the [Capitol] with the ice cream in the foreground.

The strapline reads: "It's on everyone's lips -- the Dark is in the White!" Source

"We wanted to make the print amusing and cheerful, just as joyful and pleasant as the process of eating an ice cream," Yevgeny Primachenko, deputy creative director of Voskhod advertisement agency, told Reuters by phone from Yekaterinburg.

"This is just a vanilla ice cream with a chocolate filling," Primachenko said. "We decided: why not use such a great news peg as the election of the first black U.S. president to the White House, while showing no political preferences at the same time?"

Prominent Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov rapped the advertisement as "a vulgar exploitation of some political symbols in pursuit of commercial interests."

He added however: "I do not think the person who created this is necessarily a racist ... But our society is xenophobic all the same."

Russia has a growing problem with violent racist attacks on dark-skinned immigrants. Source

Is this ad racist? Well, I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, you don't see product campaigns anchored on Medvedev's whiteness or any other world leader's skin color. But on the other, savvy entrepreneurs will do anything to grab consumer attention and make a buck. Green is the only color they really see.

But these ads are surely objectifying. And there is clearly a skin-color obsession at play. The Duet ad focuses less on political "change" and more on color. One could capitalize on the new wave in American politics without focusing on our president's blackness. (Save your keystroke. I know he's biracial, but he self-identifies as black so that's what I'm going with.)

Poor People's Campaign Tour

President of Southern Christian Leadership Conference Dr. Byron Clay and Co-Founder of Gathering of Hearts, Antoinette Harrell on a Poverty Tour in Anquilla, Ms. Photo credits: Walter C. Black, Sr.

Within weeks of the Poverty Awareness Tour that took place in Lambert, MS on February 20-22, 2009; founders of Gathering of Hearts, Antoinette Harrell and Ines Soto-Palmarin have organized another poverty tour with Southern Christian Leadership Conference SCLC, President Dr. Byron Clay, and a delegation from Atlanta.

The tour held in February was well attended by students from Kentwood High School, Southeastern University Louisiana, and volunteers from Boston, MA. Dr. Ron Walters, Director of the African American Leadership Institute and Professor Rebecca Hensley of Southeastern University Louisiana. Several volunteers from New Orleans, LA collected clothing, shoes, and other goods to distribute during the tour. Volunteers from Boston, MA drove thousands of miles to contribute donations collected in Boston, MA, Jersey City, NJ and Philadelphia, PA to the people in the Mississippi Delta.

This week's Poverty Awareness Tour was designed to give SCLC's President Dr. Byron Clay and members of the SCLC, an insight on the existing issues of poverty in Mississippi. It is the first tour of its kind for Dr. Byron Clay and members of the SCLC.

Dr. Bryon Clay was astonished to find that many of the homes toured did not have running water and gas for cooking. Many of the homes they toured had holes in the floors and huge holes in the roof. A couple living in a deteriorating trailer in Anquilla, MS had no refrigerator. A box fan was hanging from the ceiling to keep them cool. Dr. Byron Clay pledged $10,000 to help build a home for a family in Lambert, MS.

The Poor People's Campaign March will take place June 19-21. On Friday, June 19, 2009, Gathering of Hearts and SCLC will hold a public hearing in the town of Lambert, MS to address human right issues, such as affordable housing, health care, education, jobs and many other important issues. The Poor People Campaign March will take place Saturday: June 20th in Jackson, Mississippi. People from all over the United States are expected to attend this much needed hearing, as well as participate in the Poor People's Campaign March. We are inviting non-profit organizations, scholars, community leaders, church leaders and others to attend this public hearing.

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organized the Poor People's Campaign to address issues of economic justice. The march originated in Marks, Mississippi. From there, Dr. King crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington engaging, if need be, in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol-until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Dr. King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor" appropriating "military fund and alacrity and generosity", but providing "poverty fund with miserliness."

The 1968 Poor People's Campaign did not focus on just poor black people but addressed all poor people of every minority. Poor Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, American Indians and poor whites were included in the campaign. King labeled the Poor People's Campaign the "second phases" of the civil rights struggle.

We must do more to help those in need. "While many people live in the comfort of their own homes and lives, millions of people right here in the United States does not have enough food to eat. Not to mention living in homes with holes in the floors and walls big enough for any small animal to crawl in said," Antoinette Harrell.

"It is essential that we provide those who are in need with resources for standard living. Clean water, affordable housing, health care, 21st century education, jobs, recreation programs for the youth and public transportation, and it all begins with awareness of the problems that many people face on a daily basis," said Harrell. Some animals in this country live better than people. There are dog parks, hospitals for animals, animal daycare centers, and animal hotels. In some towns in Mississippi, there is not one library for children, not one health clinic, dentist office are playground for children.

For more information concerning the Poor People's Campaign March please contact Gathering of Hearts founders Antoinette Harrell and Ines Soto-Palmarin at (985) 229-8001, or Southern Christian Leadership Conference at (404)-522-1420.

Antoinette Harrell
985-229-8001 or 504-858-4658

Stimulus Dollars to be Released for Schools

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The first round of school dollars from the economic stimulus law is going to states this week.

To mark the occasion, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday is visiting first- and fifth-grade classes at Doswell Brooks Elementary School in Capitol Heights in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

Public schools will get an unprecedented amount of money - double the education budget under President George W. Bush - from the stimulus law over the next two years.

On Wednesday, the administration is making available half of the dollars for federal programs that fund kindergarten through 12th grade and special education. In addition, Duncan will provide applications for states to get money from a special fund to stabilize state and local budgets.

President Barack Obama says the stimulus will save teachers' jobs, although there is no estimate of how many jobs will be rescued. Nationwide, about 294,000 teachers - 9 percent - may face layoffs because of state budget cuts, according to a University of Washington study.

However, loopholes created by Congress could let states and school districts spend the money on other things, such as playground equipment or new construction.

The White House has stymied efforts by lawmakers in South Carolina to accept that state's share of $48.6 billion made available under the stimulus law to help states cope with their budgets and keep teachers employed. South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford has said he may decline more than $700 million because the White House won't let him spend the money to pay down his state's debt.

In a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the White House said there was no provision in the stimulus law for a state legislature to accept that money without approval by the governor. In its letter, obtained by The Associated Press, the White House Office of Management Budget urged Congress to change the law.

"It would be an unfortunate (and we believe an unintended) policy outcome if the children of South Carolina were to be deprived of their share of federal stimulus dollars ... because the governor chooses not to apply for stimulus funds," OMB Director Peter Orszag wrote Tuesday.

Duncan said last week he will "come down like a ton of bricks" and withhold the second round of funds from anyone who defies Obama's wishes.

At the same time, the administration wants to do more than save teachers' jobs. Obama wants to transform the federal government's role in education. His administration views the stimulus bill as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put lasting reforms in place.

In their applications, states must show improvement in teacher quality, data systems, academic standards and tests and supporting struggling schools.

States and districts will also have a chance to compete for money from a $5 billion fund solely for these kinds of innovations. Previous education secretaries had a fraction of that, about $16 million a year, to distribute for their own priorities.

Nuclear Strike on NYC - Scenario

I've just read a very frightening article. It describes what could be a possible scenario, and the resulting carnage of a nuclear attack on New York City. The article begins with the scenario of a nuclear weapon being smuggled into the heart of Manhattan, and being detonated by terrorists. It then gives a second by second account of the devostation that would result.

This is pretty spooky to me. I would suggest people read it if for nothing more then the descriptions of what a nuclear detonation in NYC would create.

Horrific Scenario: NYC Hit by Terrorist Nuke
Detonating the IND in Midtown positions the bomb where the largest number of people would be located, in the many skyscrapers that house the city's offices. Assume the IND is detonated outside the Empire State Building at 11:45 a.m. Assume that the weapon is a 150-kiloton HEU gun-type bomb. Damage estimates can be scaled down to approximate damage and casualties should the bomb be a lower-yield weapon. Assume the day is the beautiful day that 9-11 was – clear and cool, few clouds in the sky, with a light wind from the east. Assume the population density is uniform, with an average of 125,000 people per square mile. Assume the bomb's shock wave spreads out evenly, not affected by the structures.

For the terrorists, the mission is a suicide mission. Those driving the truck will remain in place, acting normal, so those inside the truck can trigger the device before anyone becomes suspicious. Remote detonation of the IND, or timed detonation, would be too risky. The way to make sure the device explodes is to stay in place and trigger the detonation locally. All terrorists on the weapons delivery mission are vaporized as the weapon detonates.

1 second after detonation

Within the first second, a shock wave with an overpressure of 20 psi (pounds per square inch) extends four-tenths of a mile from ground zero. This destroys the Empire State Building and all other buildings within that radius, including Madison Square Garden, Penn Station and the New York Public Library. The reinforced steel in the skyscrapers does nothing to support them. Everything within the first four-tenths of a mile from ground zero is reduced to a pile of debris hundreds of feet deep in places. No one in this area survives or even knows what happened to them. The blast kills somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 people instantly. Those outside in direct line with the blast are vaporized from the heat. Those inside the buildings who survive the blast are killed as the buildings collapse.

The rest of the article continues on with the play by play of the devastation throughout the inital strike and the effect that it would have on the entire country.

The author even goes into some of the possible retaliation scenarios, and the effect those would have on the world as a whole.

North Korea Threats Rise As Missile Is Prepared For Launch


WASHINGTON-North Korea has begun fueling its long-range rocket, according to a senior U.S. military official.The fueling signals that the country could be in the final stages of what North Korea has said will be the launch of a satellite into space as early as this weekend, the senior U.S. military official said Wednesday.Other U.S. military officials said the top portion of the rocket was put on very recently, but satellite imagery shows a shroud over the stage preventing a direct view of what it looks like.The officials said the payload appears to have a "bulbous" cover, which could indicate that there is a satellite loaded on it. Such a cover protects a satellite from damage in flight.Although the sources did not know for sure what the payload is, they said there is no reason to doubt that it is a satellite, as indicated by North Korea.Pyongyang has said it will launch the rocket between April 4 and April 8.Pentagon officials worry less about the payload and more about the launch itself, saying that any kind of launch will give the North Koreans valuable information about improving their ballistic missile program.The United States believes that the North Koreans have the technology to hit Alaska or Hawaii with a missile and that the country is working on advancing that technology so it could hit the west coast of the United States.

Officer Powell Resigns - Uniter or Divider: You Tell Us

Police officers routinely make split second decision that can make the difference between life and death. On March 18th Officer Officer Robert Powell of the Dallas PD witnessed NFL running back Ryan Moats “rolling” through a red light as Moats raced to see his dying mother-in-law. Rather than allowing Moats a final visit, Powell insisted on writing a citation for Moats.

Much outrage followed the incident which led to Officer Powell resigning from the department.

Can and should people unite behind Powell’s resignation, or was Powell forced out of his position by those more sensitive to Moats than to the difficult in-the-moment decisions police officers have to make?

You tell us.

Protesters Clash With Police at Bank of England

London - Chanting G-20 protesters clashed with riot police in central London on Wednesday, overwhelming police lines, vandalizing the Bank of England and smashing windows at the Royal Bank of Scotland. An effigy of a banker was set ablaze, drawing cheers.

More than 30 people were arrested after some 4,000 anarchists, anti-capitalists, environmentalists and others clogged London's financial district for what demonstrators branded "Financial Fool's Day." The protests were called ahead of Thursday's Group of 20 summit of world leaders, who hope to take concrete steps to resolve the global financial crisis that has lashed nations and workers worldwide.

Late in the day, police said a man had been reported to have collapsed near one of the protest camps and responding officers were unable to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. It was unclear if the man was a protester, and the cause of death was under investigation.

The protests in London's financial district - known as "The City" - began as Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Barack Obama held a news conference at Britain's Foreign Ministry elsewhere in the capital.

A battered effigy of a banker in a bowler's hat hung on a traffic light near the Bank of England as protesters waved signs saying: "Resistance is Fertile," and "Make Love not Leverage."

Bankers have been lambasted as being greedy and blamed for the recession that is making jobless ranks soar. Other banners read "Banks are evil" and "Eat the bankers," and "0 percent interest in others." Some bankers went to work in casual wear Wednesday fearing they could be targeted.

Some bolder financial workers leaned out office windows, taunting the demonstrators and waving 10 pound notes at them. Two men - one wearing a suit - exchanged punches before police intervened.

Groups of protesters converged on the central bank, with Tibetan, Palestinian, communist, and anarchist flags poking out from the crowd. Tensions rose as officers refused to let the protesters leave the small plaza in front of the bank.

Protesters pelted police standing guard at the Royal Exchange with paint, eggs, fruit and other projectiles, and a small group of anarchists, skinheads, and masked protesters repeatedly attacked a police cordon flanking the Bank of England.

Some in the crowd urinated against the bank and the message "Built on blood" was scrawled in chalk in front of the building. Police helicopters hovered above.

A particularly ferocious balaclava-wearing mob broke into a closed RBS bank branch and stole keyboards, using them to break windows. Other protesters spray-painted graffiti on the RBS building, writing "Class War" and "Thieves." Mounted riot police eventually pushed them back.

RBS has been the focus of particular anger because it was bailed out by the British government after a series of disastrous deals brought it to the brink of bankruptcy. Still, its former chief executive Fred Goodwin - age 50 - managed to walk off with an annual pension of 703,000 pounds ($1.2 million) even as unemployment in Britain rises from some 2 million.

"Every job I apply for there's already 150 people who have also applied," said protester Nathan Dean, 35, who lost his information technology job three weeks ago. "I have had to sign on to the dole (welfare) for the first time in my life. You end up having to pay your mortgage on your credit card and you fall into debt twice over."

There were surreal moments: Earlier in the morning, police impounded an armored personnel carrier - complete with what looked like a machine-gun turret - near London's Liverpool Street Station as slack-jawed office workers took pictures with their cell phones.

Police arrested 11 people aboard for possessing police uniforms, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said. She offered no further detail on the incident.

Environmental protesters descended on the area around the European Climate Exchange around noon, and - in a matter of minutes - turned it into a tent city, complete with a pedal-powered sound system; a kitchen cooking baked beans; and compost toilets.

At least one police officer was hurt when a printer and other office equipment was thrown out of the RBS window. Hundreds cheered as a blue office chair was used to smash one of the blacked-out branch windows. One protester dressed as the Easter bunny managed to hop through the police cordon but was stopped before he could reach the Bank of England. Another black-clad demonstrator waved a light-saber toy at officers.

Sporadic protests rumbled on into the evening, as the rowdier elements tangled with riot police, tossing barricades and hurling bottles.

London equity analyst Viktor Gusman, 53, said he understood the protesters' anger but said it didn't put him off working in finance.

"This is what I do," he said, taking a cigarette break a block down from a police barricade. "I'm supporting my wife and mother and I don't know that it hurts anyone."

Anti-war demonstrators descended on the U.S. Embassy bearing signs that put a pacifist twist on Obama's trademark political message. "Quit Iraq and Afghanistan: Yes We Can!" one placard read.

Meanwhile, pro-Tibet demonstrators picketed the London hotel of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Alaskans have mixed reactions to Stevens' case

GIRDWOOD, Alaska (AP) — Julie Pederson said she always believed her longtime neighbor, former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, was the victim of a witch hunt and innocent of corruption charges brought against him by the Justice Department.

"We knew it all along," Pederson said after the federal government Wednesday moved to dismiss the case against Stevens. "Unfortunately, it's a little too late."

Pederson is among Alaskans who believe Stevens' conviction last October was a lethal blow to his bid for re-election after 40 years in office.

The election outcome won't change with the decision of Attorney General Eric Holder to dismiss the indictment against the Alaska Republican and not proceed with a new trial.

"If they had done that before, he'd still be senator," Bob Sloan, a non-denominational church pastor, said at an Anchorage coffee shop.

Not all Alaskans agreed with the Justice Department's decision to drop the case, the news of which created a buzz in coffee shops and restaurants across the state.

"It's disgusting," said Jim Murphy, a longtime Stevens supporter until he was charged.

"Clearly a jury thought he was guilty. He was judged by his peers, but somehow wielded his influence and power," Murphy said. "I just think the average guy would be sitting in jail right now."

The 85-year-old Stevens was indicted last summer on charges he lied on Senate disclosure forms to conceal gifts and renovations at his Girdwood home from Bill Allen, the former head of VECO Corp., a now-defunct oil field services company.

Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, asked for a speedy trial, and was convicted a week before the November election. He returned to Alaska to campaign, but the fiery senator looked haggard, lacked his signature bluster and lost the election to Democrat Mark Begich in a close race.

The Justice Department court filing follows a case tainted by problems — including misbehavior by prosecutors — both during Stevens' trial and after he was found guilty by a jury.

No one answered the door at Steven's Girdwood home but residents in this ski resort town 40 miles south of Anchorage rushed to his support Wednesday.

"I think it's awesome," said Chris Roberts, a 20-year resident who is a snowmobile tour operator and gift shop owner. "How could you not like a guy with the nickname of 'Uncle Ted.'"

"I think they should get rid of Begich and get Stevens back in. The only reason Begich won was because of the unjust words said against Ted," said Judy Basler, a 33-year resident of Girdwood. "You wouldn't do that to your grandpa. He's like the grandpa of our state."

Mike Tibbles, Stevens' campaign manager last year, said he feels relieved, but also outraged.

"Just watching this, and the misconduct that has gone on, to me seems unbelievable, but this is a step in the right direction," he said. "I just feel sad for Senator Stevens that this has been able to happen to him and have such a negative impact on his life."

Gov. Sarah Palin, like many in both political parties, had called on Stevens to step down after the jury conviction. But she sympathized with his plight in a statement Wednesday.

"Senator Stevens deserves to be very happy today. What a horrible thing he has endured. The blatant attempts by adversaries to destroy one's reputation, career and finances are an abuse of our well-guarded process and violate our God-given rights afforded in the Constitution," she said.

Begich released a short statement saying he always maintained that Stevens should not serve time in jail and that Wednesday's action likely ensures that is the case.

"It's time for Senator Stevens, his family and Alaskans to move on and put this behind us," Begich said.

G20: Did police containment cause more trouble than it prevented?

The controversial 'kettling' tactics employed at yesterday's London demonstrations left many peaceful demonstrators trapped, as Duncan Campbell explains

For more than seven hours yesterday, police prevented people from leaving the area of the London G20 demonstrations near the Bank of England.

Protesters who had wanted to demonstrate against the British banking system and capitalism in general, but who had also wanted to protest about climate change or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan elsewhere in the capital, were hemmed in.

Officers forming a wall of fluorescent yellow told those who wanted to leave the area and were puzzled that they could not: "Don't ask us, ask the gaffer."

The area became a public lavatory as people unable to move away used the entrances to Bank underground station as a urinal.

In nearby Bishopsgate, at the Climate Change camp, the same policy of containmment was used until later into the night and this morning.

This is a strategy called the "kettle", which sees protesters herded into an area and kept there for hours. Its stated aim is to contain a protest in a small area so it does not spread.

It was justified by the former assistant commissioner (special operations) at the Met, Andy Hayman, in an article in the Times earlier this week.

"Tactics to herd the crowd into a pen ... have been criticised before, yet the police will not want groups spilintering away from the crowd," he wrote.

The containment was backed up at the Bank, first with mounted police and then with police dogs. As people were eventually allowed to leave at about 8pm, they were funnelled out down a narrow exit with a police officer grabbing them by the arm as though they were under arrest, again regardless of age or demeanour.

One officer, asked why people were not allowed to leave under their own steam, replied: "They might fall over."

People were then asked for their name and address and required to have a photograph taken. They are not obliged to do so under the law, but those who refused were put back in the pen.

The aim of the day's protests had been "to participate in a carnival party at the Bank of England, support all events demonstrating against G20 and overthrow capitalism".

The first objective was, to a great degree, achieved. There was street theatre and music, dancing and rolling of joints. The Duke of Wellington, mounted on his horse, was able to fulfill what one imagines was a lifetime's ambition and carry an anarchist flag. There were protesters in police uniforms and blue lipstick wearing "vigilance committee" badges.

The second aim was not possible for many people because they were not allowed to leave to join other protests. The downfall of capitalism may have to wait, although it seems to be doing a perfectly reasonable job of self-destruction.

As for more obvious signs of destruction, the Royal Bank of Scotland had its windows smashed. Why no one had thought to board up a building with the RBS sign on it, as many other outfits had been boarded up, is unclear.

As for the violent clashes that led to cracked heads and limbs, how much was inevitable and how much avoidable?

Certainly, the police had to put up with much abuse and missiles, although these were mainly plastic bottles and sprayed beer and cider.

Some demonstrators were bent on aggro but, then again, so were some of the officers on Queen Victoria Street.

For hours, demonstrators had been trying to leave – to go home, to pick up their children, to watch the England v Ukraine match on television were some of the reasons given to police as people, some in tears, asked to be allowed to go but were forbidden from doing so.

The chants accompanying the last two violent clashes with police, when bottles were thrown, were: "Let us out!"

Nearly eight years ago, on May Day 2001, a similar "kettle" operation was imposed in Oxford Circus for around seven hours. This led to a lengthy civil action, brought against the commissioner of the Met by one of those detained. In January this year, the law lords finally upheld the right of the police in this case to carry out such containment.

The upshot of the ruling and the police's application of their "kettle" formula is that people thinking about embarking on demonstrations in the future may have to decide whether they want to be effectively locked up for eight hours without food or water and, when leaving, to be photographed and identified.

New jobless claims jump unexpectedly to 669,000

The number of people filing new jobless claims jumped unexpectedly last week, while those continuing to receive benefits hit a 10th straight record-high. Both figures show the labor market remains weak and is unlikely to recover anytime soon.

The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 657,000. That total was above analysts' expectations and the highest in more than 26 years, though the work force has grown by about half since then.

The tally of laid-off workers claiming benefits for more than a week rose 161,000 to 5.73 million, setting a record for the 10th straight week. That also was above analysts' expectations and indicates that unemployed workers are having difficulty finding new jobs. The continuing claims data lag the initial claims by one week.

An additional 1.5 million people received benefits under an extended unemployment compensation program approved by Congress last year. That's as of March 14, the latest data available.

As a proportion of the work force, the number of people on the jobless benefit rolls is the highest since May 1983. The four-week moving average of jobless claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, rose to 656,750, the highest since October 1982, when the economy was emerging from a steep recession.

Employers are eliminating jobs and taking other cost-cutting measures to deal with sharp reductions in consumer and business spending. The current recession, now in its 17th month, is the longest since World War II.

The jobless claims data come a day before the department is expected to issue another dismal monthly employment report. Economists forecast that report will show employers cut 654,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate increased to 8.5 percent from 8.1 percent.

Companies cut their payrolls by 651,000 jobs in February, a record third straight month of job losses above 600,000.

A private survey Wednesday said businesses cut 742,000 jobs in March. Employment at medium- and small-sized companies fell the sharpest — by a combined 614,000. The rest of the job cuts came from big firms — those with 500 or more workers_ according to the report from Automatic Data Processing Inc. and Macroeconomic Advisers LLC.

More job losses were announced this week. 3M Co., the maker of Scotch tape, Post-It Notes and other products, said Tuesday it's cutting another 1,200 jobs, or 1.5 percent of its work force, because of the global economic slump. Fewer than half the jobs will be in the U.S., but include hundreds in its home state of Minnesota. The 1,200 figure includes cuts made earlier in the first quarter.

Elsewhere, healthcare products distributor Cardinal Health Inc. said it would lay off 1,300 employees, or about 3 percent of its work force, and semiconductor equipment maker KLA-Tencor Corp. said it will cut about 600 jobs, or 10 percent of its employees.

Among the states, California reported the biggest increase in new claims for the week ending March 21 with a jump of more than 6,700, which it attributed to layoffs in the construction and service industries. The next largest increases were in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa, according to the Labor Department data.

The biggest drop was in Texas, which had 4,822 fewer claims as the trade, service, manufacturing and transportation industries cut fewer jobs. New York, Tennessee, Illinois and Virginia had the next largest declines.

The Federal Reserve has cut a key benchmark interest rate to nearly zero in an effort to jump-start lending and embarked on a series of radical programs to inject billions of dollars into the financial system.

The Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus package, approved by Congress in February, is trying to counter the recession by providing money for public works projects, extending unemployment benefits and helping states avoid budget cuts.