Monday, April 13, 2009

Passenger lands plane in Fla. after pilot dies

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A passenger landed a twin-engine plane in Florida after the pilot died in flight with a total of six people on board.

Federal Aviation Administration officials say the pilot died after takeoff from an airport in Naples on Sunday. It was on autopilot and climbing toward 10,000 feet when the pilot died.

The passenger who took over is licensed for single-engine planes but isn't certified to fly the larger King Air craft.

An air traffic controller helped the passenger down by calling a friend in Connecticut who knows the King Air plane and relaying instructions. The plane landed safely at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.

The plane had been headed to Jackson, Miss. The names of the pilot and passengers have not been released.

Obama: Government recovery plan is under budget

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is coming in ahead of schedule

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - President Barack Obama said Monday he believes his economic stimulus plan is beginning to work, with over 2000 transportation infrastructure projects approved already.

"We are seeing police departments canceling planned layoffs and plans are underway to modernize our airports, high speed rail networks," Obama said at the Department of Transportation.

Obama's economic recovery plan - officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- allocates $48.1 billion for transportation infrastructure projects, which are to be administered by the Transportation Department. Some of that funding is being committed to Amtrak, Federal Aviation Administration facilities and shipyard infrastructure improvements.

Obama discussed a number of projects underway, including a $68 million overpass construction project in Kalamazoo County, Michigan that will start in summer, creating 900 jobs almost immediately. That project will continue until 2011. Obama also said he was excited to see that competitive bids for many infrastructure projects are bringing down the cost of the projects significantly below what states and the Transportation Department had originally projected.

Obama noted that Oregon in February and March reported that infrastructure projects have averaged are 30% below what the state had originally budgeted. He also pointed out that competitive bids for a road project in Louisiana brought in a winning offer that was $4.7 million less than the state had budgeted for the project.

"As a result we have more recovery dollars to go around," Obama said.

However, he added that there is a lot of work to do. "We know people are hurting right now," Obama said. "The road to recovery is long, we will face some set backs along the way. It is now clear we are heading in the right direction."

The legislation also set up an inspector general to oversee all the infrastructure projects. Obama said interested companies and individuals can track projects that are underway.

A conversation with Rep. Laura Richardson & Rep. Emanuel Cleaver

A conversation with Rep. Laura Richardson & Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. Rep. Laura Richardson was one of the three lawmakers to meet Fidel Castro on Tuesday
Charlie Rose

Obama: US Resolved to Halt Piracy Threat

President Barack Obama has made his first public comments about the piracy standoff off the Horn of Africa. (April 13)

Why Do So Many Marriages Fail?

Chances are you know someone who has endured the pain of a miserable marriage or had to swallow the bitter pill of divorce.

Why do so many men and women who truly believed they were soul mates and lovers for life, find themselves combatants in the divorce court? The answers to those questions are not complicated at all. Follow me closely as we get to the bottom line reasons why so many marriages fail.

by Gillis Triplett

What a Mangled Web We’ve Weaved
Although we read and hear the alarming divorce statistics day-in and day-out, rarely do these facts seem to bother the masses. I’ll put our tragic divorce rate into proper perspective by asking this loaded question. “What do you think would happen if one out of every two aircraft that took off from the runway crash-landed?”

Answer: we the people, both flyers and non-flyers alike, would demand that the (FAA) Federal Aviation Administration and the (NTSB) National Transportation Safety Board perform a thorough investigation.

In all probability, we would insist that the President issue a no-fly order until this grave situation was corrected. We would adamantly demand that all aircraft be thoroughly inspected along with the runways, radars, air traffic controllers, fuel and the mechanics. We would check for terrorist plots and review everyone else and everything else involved in the equation until we got to the bottom line reason(s) why so many aircrafts were crash landing.

Having said that, one out of every two marriages that takes off from the wedding altar, crash lands in the divorce court. In the African American community that figure is worse! Consequently, we should all be in an uproar! We should all be moved to the point that we demand changes!

Surely I can’t be the only person who feels this way?

Irrefutably, this is cause for everyone who desires to marry, have a family and leave a wholesome legacy - to step back and ask these types of questions, “What’s going on? What are we doing wrong?” And most importantly, “How do we fix this mangled web that we have weaved?” But regrettably, for most men and women, it’s business as usual as they continue to marry and then divorce at a blistering pace.

This Is How We Do It?
Below are just a few of the more than four thousand actual cases and incidents of marriage and divorce that I have tracked and archived over the years. Pay close attention to how these men and women entered into their doomed unions.

Keisha H. , was a sweet, trusting and understanding woman until she met her husband, “Grant” during a church revival. The pastor prophesied that Grant would meet the woman of his dreams during the service. After eyeing Keisha, Grant made up his mind, “She’s The One!” The two never got to know each other. Based solely on their seemingly divinely inspired meeting, Grant talked Keisha into believing their union was ordained of G-O-D! It was Grant’s 3rd such trip down the aisle. Each one purportedly inspired by God. Their marriage lasted two and a half years before crashing and burning. Grant is already on his forth union, also supposedly inspired by God. He has tarnished every woman who made the mistake of not recognizing his deceit.

Leonard D. , found out that his wife was HIV positive a year and a half after they exchanged wedding vows. She cut herself in the kitchen and was bleeding profusely so he rushed her to the hospital. It was during the doctor’s examination that Leonard learned of her HIV infection. Asked why she didn’t tell him she was infected before they married, she said: “I didn’t tell Len because I love him and I didn’t want to loose him.” Leonard filed for divorce and was awaiting his HIV test results at publishing.

Karen T., was mesmerized when she laid her eyes on the man of her dreams. Two weeks later they were engaging in knee-buckling, earth shattering sex. Three months later they moved in together and about a year later they married. After the wedding bells quieted, they awakened to the harrowing revelation that the only good thing between them was the SEX. With diametrically opposing views of family, spirituality, husband-wife relations, finances and children, these two had literally nothing in common. They ended up in the divorce court as mortal combatants.

Brian. S. , was informed by a female he was having casual sex with that she was pregnant and he was the father of her child. After much prodding from her, Brian grudgingly agreed to marriage. Four tumultuous years later, his disgruntled wife decided to split, but not prior to taking him to the bank. Suspicious of her, Brian’s attorney urged him to obtain a legal DNA test of the child. Turns out Brian was not the biological father. Needless to say he was furious! After all, he only married her because she was pregnant.

Eric A., asserted after he, his parents and all of his siblings each experienced multiple divorces, that no marriage was designed to last. When asked had anyone in his family received any marriage preparation training or pre-martial counseling, Eric responded by saying, “Why does a person need to get training or counseling for something that comes so natural?”

Without a doubt, marriage is one of the most important decisions we’ll ever make in our lives. Shamefully, too many men and women give more thought to their education, careers and home purchases than they do marriage preparation and the selection of their mate. Why do so many marriages fail? Here are the primary reasons. Learn them and avoid them with every fiber of your being.

They become the wrong mate
They chose the wrong mate
Their marriage was established on a weak foundation, (i.e. sex, unplanned pregnancy, her biological clock, his need to control women)
They didn’t properly get to know each other
They were unequally yoked
Their past relationships/marriages came back to haunt them
One or both spouses:
Made false assumptions about the other
Brought harmful baggage or unresolved issues into their union
Had soul ties with past: spouses, lovers or sex partners
Did not know the “Art of Communication”
Were too immature to marry
Could not accept the other’s child(ren)
Entered the union infected the HIV/AIDS virus or some other STD
Harbored bitterness toward the opposite sex prior to their wedding
Had a defective/bad character
Married for the wrong reason(s)
Were bound by a generational curse of divorce
Had an improper vision for the family
Had unrealistic marital expectations
Didn’t comprehend the financial responsibilities or marriage
Never had proper marital role models
Never submitted to pre-marital training, counseling of mentoring
Didn’t know, understand or comprehend what “True Love” is
Didn’t know or understand what commitment is
Didn’t know, understand or respect the sacredness of the marriage covenant
Who Are You To Judge Me?
The problem is not with the institution of marriage. The problem is with how we have been doing marriage. We have been doing it wrong! People either choose the wrong mate or they become the wrong mate.

However, instead of healing from their past hurts, admitting their bad choices and harmful decisions, correcting their defective characters and properly addressing their baggage, the average man and woman takes the road most traveled. They place the blame of their failed unions on:

[a] The opposite sex, (i.e. all men are dogs - there are no good women)
[b] They start claiming marriage is obsolete
[c] Their belief that no one can be trusted
[d] They blame God, religion, the church morality or their family
[e] They falsely claim that no marriage is meant to last
[f] They blame anything or anyone else, while the true culprit; the man or woman in the mirror continues to make a mangled mess of matrimony.

God forbid that you bring their sins, wrongdoings, shortcomings or faults to the light. I once counseled a man who looked me square in my eyes and brazenly asserted that he had a right to beat his wife. “That’s how I make her obey me,” he said. When I challenged him with the truth, his response was, “Who are you to judge me!”

In another session, I was attempting to persuade an educated woman, that she had to completely change her lifestyle. She expressed a desire to marry, but she was so promiscuous, she had 9 abortions. Alarmingly, she had never tested for the HIV/AIDS virus or any STD and refused to do so. Her response? “Who are you to judge me?” Being the attractive woman that she is, she’ll no doubt eventually snag a husband.

Regrettably, her spouse will mostly likely be in for a rude awakening as he experiences the harmful side effects of her past. This includes but is not limited to the consequences of her numerous sex partners, multiple abortions, soul ties and possible STD infection(s). Yet, according to this woman, any messenger who brings these critical issues to her attention, no matter how their delivery, is being judgmental. In today’s self-righteous society, the mantra is, “Only God can judge me!”

Although their assertion is absolutely false, these men and women continue to use that religious sounding veil as a defense mechanism to hide their sin and gloss over their faults. They adamantly refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. Consequently, these types of individuals make for horrible spouses. They are just another one of the primary reasons why so many marriages fail.

Marriage Is Awesome And It Still Works Just Fine!
Don’t be discouraged by the alarming negative statistics. Don’t lose faith in holy matrimony. Marriage is an awesome institution and it still works just fine! It works when people follow the first and last instruction manual on the subject, which is the Written Word of God!

Do matrimony the right way! Become the right mate and learn how to choose the right mate. Be responsible for your actions. Don’t blame others for your poor decisions and unhealthy choices. Don’t ruin your chances at love by a living low lifestyle. Prepare yourself for your mate by embracing godly morals and family values.

There are couples who are prime illustrations of how to do marriage the right way. Surround yourself with these honorable men and virtuous women and follow their examples! Receive their sage advice and nuggets of wisdom. Allow them to be your marital mentors.

Finally, examine your personal beliefs and attitudes about the opposite sex and matrimony and adjust or eliminate any beliefs, feelings or opinions that would hinder you from experiencing a vibrant and healthy union. Do those things, keep the faith and true love will find you!

Aaron: Troubling numbers on juvenile detention in NJ

THE schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline is clogged with African-American and Hispanic youth. The problem is spoken of often by black advocacy groups. This is not just Jesse Jackson rhyming. It's real.

The irrefutable phenomenon raised its ugly head again last week in the Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic group focusing on children's welfare.

The number of minority kids in the juvenile detention system is way out of proportion to their numbers in the general population. That disproportionality is a nationwide pattern. New Jersey is the worst.

The 8-to-1 ratio of minority kids to white kids in the juvenile system here is nearly three times the national average of 3-to-1.

This is horrible. Unfortunately, the foundation had no explanation for the disparity.

This lopsided ratio was one of several findings in Kids Count. Also alarming is the fact that the huge disparities have been acknowledged many times by various studies without much change in procedure to address them.

At several critical points along the many stages of a juvenile's case, decisions are left to the discretion of the judge, police officer, prosecutor, probation officer or other criminal justice system official. For example, prosecutors have the opportunity to downgrade charges and offer plea deals, or judges may have the option to send a kid home or jail him until trial.

Three and a half years ago, New Jersey's attorney general asked all 21 counties to review how they handle juveniles in trouble. The purpose was to find out if minority youths were being treated unfairly in the criminal justice system.

The Juvenile Justice Commission is working with a new policy analyst, the W. Haywood Burns Institute, to find explanations for the disparities.

"What we're about to do through the Burns Institute is to look at that data through the lens of race, looking at each and every decision-making point on the continuum of decisions that are made about any given kid in the juvenile justice system," said Lisa Macaluso, the commission's director of local programs and services. Statewide, in 2002, minority youths were 3.59 times more likely than white teens to be committed to juvenile detention. In 2006, they were 5.68 times more likely.

One of the positive findings in Kids Count's look at juvenile justice was a drop in the number of youths in pretrial detention and those committed to facilities for punishment.

Overall, the number of kids committed to juvenile facilities dropped 33 percent. That's significant. Bravo, New Jersey, for using alternatives such as ankle bracelets that monitoring a detainee but allow him to remain at home.

Detention alternatives

The study credited the decline to Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, which is run by the Casey Foundation in 10 New Jersey counties. While the juvenile violent offenders and chronic repeaters still need to be detained in secure facilities, in recent months juveniles being moved through the system in Bergen County have been able to take advantage of the alternatives such as electronic monitors, counseling and therapy.

State Attorney General Anne Milgram's statement in response to the Casey findings notes that since 2003, detention numbers for minority youths have been cut in half. Prison figures show no corresponding rise in the number of juveniles being convicted and imprisoned with adults.

"In January 1998, the New Jersey Department of Corrections housed 72 offenders who were under 18 years of age. As of today, the number is 19," said Corrections spokesman Matt Schuman.

The Kids Count acknowledgement of a significant racial component confirms the findings of several earlier studies dissecting the juvenile justice system. Released in 2000, one of those studies, called "And Justice for Some," was supported by the Justice Department and funded by several grants from the Ford, Rockefeller and MacArthur foundations.

It's not enough to simply make the observation year after year that enormous racial disparities exist and then do nothing about it. The consequence is that a disproportionate number of minority youths may be unfairly saddled with juvenile records that affect their transition to adulthood and their employability.

New Rags to Riches Book Hits Home for Many

From Crown Heights to Brownsville to Fort Greene, CITY KID: A Writer’s Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success is a candid, colorful memoir about a nerd from the Brooklyn projects who made it big.

At first glance, the Georges were “a living, breathing statistic from the infamous Moynihan report on dysfunctional black families.” A single mom with two toddlers, abandoned by the father and jammed into a crime and poverty-ridden housing project in Brooklyn—things looked dim. Yet out of these circumstance came Nelson George—a boy who would grow up to be an award-winning author, filmmaker and critic.

This family story inspired Life Support, George’s Golden Globe-winning HBO film starring Queen Latifah about his sister's battle against addiction and HIV.

CITY KID is not just the story of a boy overcoming adversity, it is also a love letter to New York in its least lovable days—when heroin returned, then crack outsold heroin; when spiraling crime and collapsing employment set the tone; when bussing, riots and strikes dimmed hope for racial integration; when Shaft became every ghetto kid’s role model.

It’s in this improbable environment that Nelson George finds his way to becoming a successful journalist and filmmaker. He is there at the beginning of Black popular culture and hip hop—writing about, investing in, and clubbing with its most influential characters—Russell Simmons, Spike Lee, Chris Rock. Through these experiences, we see how he came to be the expert on music and pop culture that he is today.

CITY KID is in stores April 6.

New Radio Talk Show with Eric Dyson

By Bobby Marvin

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a critically acclaimed author and scholar at the forefront of sociopolitical and racial matters, made his radio debut this week with a news talk show, “The Michael Eric Dyson Show.”

Created and produced by the African American Public Radio Consortium, the show will air Monday through Friday (time slots will vary according to station) in18 markets that will include a partnership with Baltimore’s own WEAA-FM; Atlanta (WCLK-AM); Raleigh-Durham (WSHA-FM and WNCU-FM) and Houston (KTSU-FM).

“What I want to bring is a set of ideas and the ability to talk about them in lucid and clear fashion that will make a difference to the listening audience,” said Dyson. “I want to bring an entire group of people, who don’t usually have a voice on radio, to bear on this show so that smart people can hear what smart people sound like when [they] are given an opportunity to think out loud and in public about issues that affects us all.”

Dyson’s vision for his program is far more than rhetoric. Kicking off the first show with guest media mogul Oprah Winfrey, he plans to continue strong with an impressive line-up of guests that will include filmmaker Spike Lee, hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and actor Samuel L. Jackson.

Formatted in three segment blocks, the show will feature newsmaker guest interviews, arts and entertainment/culture guest interviews and roundtable discussions on politics, religion and the economy and race, two hot topics Dyson is eager to discuss.

“This economy we are in is pretty tough, so that’s an enormously important conversation to have, and how people of color in particular shake out in the economy. What’s in the stimulus package to stimulate us?” stated Dyson. “The issue of race and class remains paramount to our existence.”

Dyson has been at the forefront of social issues and current affairs with his work. The author of 17 books, he has covered an array of gripping subjects as seen with his Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, an inside look at the disaster which unraveled other concerns of race and class in America, and the close study of cultural politics and history with his latest New York Times best seller, April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America.

An advocate and supporter of hip-hop culture, Dyson has also penned Know What I Mean?, an examination of the global impact of hip-hop music on youth and the consequences sometimes endured when the art form becomes irresponsible with its messages. Dyson’s crossover appeal to the youth is expected to be a winning trait that will broaden the public radio audience.

“One of the things that the stations experience is that a lot of the students on their campuses may not necessarily be listeners to their radio station,” said Loretta Rucker, executive director of the African American Public Radio Consortium. “But all the station managers have acknowledged that on their campuses there is huge support for Michael Eric Dyson.

“So, what we are thinking is that with him we’re going to be able to provide a bridge between the traditional African-American public radio audience that we have and build up a bridge to a younger demographic.”

In a time where the economic crunch is causing newspapers to collapse and lay off employees, Dyson’s presence is a boon for Black media.

“Because of consolidation and because of the economy we’re losing some very important voices and to be able to bring another important voice to folks locally in Baltimore ---and nationwide -- I think it’s a great opportunity,” said LaFontaine Oliver, general manager of WEAA. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Free Tax Help Vs. “Money Like Magic”

Volunteer tax preparers caution on Magic Johnson’s ad campaign

SAN FRANCISCO--Tax season is busy at the Chinese Newcomers Service Center in San Francisco, where the volunteer income tax assistance program — VITA—draws up to 1,600 clients a year seeking free help preparing their tax returns.

This year, the VITA centers have had to compete with the star-power of basketball legend Magic Johnson. Since November 2008, Johnson has appeared on billboards and in TV ad campaigns as the pitchman for Jackson Hewitt, the tax preparing company. His slogan, “It’s Money Like Magic,” is meant to lure customers to the company’s Money Loan Now product, a refund anticipation loan, or RAL. RALs are short-term loans secured by federal income tax refunds, which typically carry high interest rates — as much as 150 percent.

“I saw the ad with Magic Johnson on TV, and from a commercial point of view, it does attract clients, but I don’t endorse it,” said Alex Ng, VITA program manager at the center, which is endorsed by the IRS. “We educate our clients not to do the RAL because they might end up losing a lot of money, as well as interest, if they aren’t entitled to a refund. Then they would be in trouble. They should never turn to the RAL to get a faster refund when we can do the same by doing the e-filing.”

In economic hard times, Magic Johnson’s siren call of fast, easy money may be hard for many struggling families to resist, say consumer advocates, and that is worrisome. RALS are usually pitched to low-income clients who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—worth as much as $4,200 per family, depending on the number of children.

RALs and the companies, including Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block, that sell them have been the targets of state prosecution for fraud because customers often did not know they were taking out loans. In many cases, loans were based on inaccurate income reporting, locking people into repaying loans that were much higher than the actual tax refund. In 2007, Jackson Hewitt was fined $5 million by California Attorney General Jerry Brown for its RAL program, and now is under a strict injunction on how it can sell its loan products. And just this January, H&R Block settled a suit brought by Brown’s office for marketing RALs as tax refunds, agreeing to pay $4.85 million.

“For low- to moderate-income folks, where finances constrained, I don’t think there’s such thing as a good RAL product,” said Kimberly S. Jones, policy advocate with the California Reinvestment Coalition, a consumer advocacy group. If you’re making $60,000 or $70,000 as a single person or couple, maybe. But if not, why are you borrowing against money you’re being given as a pathway out of poverty?”

According to the Coalition, nearly 9 million taxpayers took out refund anticipation loans in 2007, which cost them almost $1 billion in fees. Most were borrowing against EITC. The advocates estimated that $523 million which was intended to aid these low-income families, was lost to RALs that year.

“A lot of people are losing their jobs so they were going after the money,” said Pat Contantine, director of the VITA center at the San Antonio Community Development Center in Oakland. “What they are doing is hard on the community. And then here comes Magic Johnson. I am so mad at him.” Constantine says that some paid tax preparers change clients’ W4 reported earnings to be higher in order to receive a higher RAL. That means they end up owing more money than they actually get refunded by the IRS. She and her volunteer preparers try to educate people about the realities of RALs.

“I am here all year round. I see clients and follow them all year. I’m able to talk to them and tell them, ‘Why go to H&R Block? They never understood it was a loan. They just thought it was the refund they are supposed to get and they get it early.”

Countering the Magic Johnson ads, the VITA program, which is supported by the United Way, has it’s own ad campaign: Earn It, Keep It, Save It! It encourages people to use the free tax preparing service, which is available to those earning $45,000 or less. But even a free service faces tough competition from Johnson.

“People are definitely listening to the lure,” said Maria Benjamin, director of the Family Economic Security Partnership in Richmond. “Last year we had a huge increases in our numbers of people coming to get taxes done for free because of the economic stimulus check. We were anticipating that those same people would come back, but our numbers went back to what they were before.” She thinks that many of them are going to paid tax services because of the advertising and their own economic needs. She also says her opinion of the basketball star has changed. “I was floored with the Magic Johnson campaign. I thought he was a nice guy,” she said. “But he was lured into this thing. It is so bad for working families. Did he not read before he agreed to do this?”

Benjamin says she wrote many letters to Magic Johnson Enterprises, the celebrity’s company, but never got a response. The public relations contact for Johnson did not respond to requests for comment for this article. Jackson Hewitt did not respond to similar requests for comment.

Jones, of the Coalition, says her group also tried to contact Magic Johnson about his promotion of RALs and other paid services to no avail. Then they learned that he has also become a spokesman for Rent-a-Center, a company that is a frequent target of consumer advocates, and she saw it as a teachable moment.

“In a way, Magic Johnson has been a gift in the advocacy community because a lot of people weren’t aware of RALs,” Jones said. “When we start to tell them about RALs, they still might not get it, but when we tell them that Magic Johnson announced his role at Rent-a-Center, it kind of shines a brighter light on the idea that Magic is associating with people who, by most consumer advocate accounts, are predators.”

Despite Johnson’s appeal and the visibility of Jackson Hewitt’s media campaign, Jones thinks that Bay Area consumers have been well educated about RALs and the availability of free VITA services.

“Especially in the Bay Area, in San Francisco or Alameda County, where you have the United Way’s Earn It, Keep It, Save It, it’s been a success story,” she said. “It’s getting harder to find people who are victims of predatory loans. VITA sites have been effective in getting the word out: if you’re going to get this EITC money, get all of it, don’t give some of it away to these predators. Go to a VITA center and get it done for free.”

Chris Brown Has A New Girlfriend

From what I can tell, Chris Brown’s got a new girlfriend. This new chick is actually Brown’s old chick from University of Mary Washington - Erica Jackson. “[Chris and Erica] met in Virginia, where he’s from,” a source close to the singer says. “They dated back in the day and reconnected a few weeks ago when Chris was in town. They’ve been spending a lot of time together, but things only really heated up over the last two weeks. [Erica] has a good head on her shoulders; she’s solid,” says our insider. “She’s more of a plain Jane — cute though,” says our source. “At the very least, she’s helping to ease Chris’ pain over Rihanna. He was mad in love with that girl.”

If Chris is with a new chica, chances are that a jealous Rihanna is more likely to spill the beans and cause lots of trouble for Brown’s defense. “She is going to be pissed!” says a pal of the starlet. “Ri is going to be so hurt that Chris has moved on so quickly and is parading this new girl around town.” Donald Etra, Rihanna’s lawyer sayd, “[Rihanna] will do everything that the law requires her to do. . . . nothing has changed.”

Brown’s reps are scrambling to make excuses… “He did go to a tattoo parlor with someone from the studio named Dean. There was a woman there who was a friend of Dean. There is no truth to this at all. Chris does not know the woman nor does he know the name of the woman.”

How SEALs Carried Out Their Mission

By Ann Scott Tyson

The operation to rescue Capt. Richard Phillips involved dozens of Navy SEALs, who parachuted from an aircraft into the scene near dark Saturday, landing in the ocean. The SEALs were part of a larger group of Special Operations Forces involved in the effort, according to military officials.
The SEALs set up operations on the USS Bainbridge, which had been communicating with the four pirates via radio and had also used smaller boats to make deliveries of food and water to the lifeboat. Yet the pirates were growing increasingly agitated, the officials said. At one point Saturday, the pirates opened fire on one of the smaller U.S. Navy craft that approached.

As the seas grew rougher, the Bainbridge offered to tow the lifeboat to calmer waters, and the pirates agreed, linking up the lifeboat to the destroyer with a towing cable that left 75 to 80 feet between the two vessels. Phillips at the time was tied up in the lifeboat, having been bound -- and occasionally beaten -- by the pirates ever since he had attempted to escape by jumping into the water on Friday, the officials said.

Meanwhile, one of the pirates, estimated to be between 16 and 20 years old, asked to come aboard the Bainbridge to make a phone call. He had been stabbed in the hand during an altercation with the crew of the Maersk Alabama and also needed medical care. "He effectively gave himself up," said a senior military official. The Navy then allowed that pirate to speak with the others in hopes that he could persuade them to give up.

The three other pirates, however, showed signs of growing irritation, as the Bainbridge, already 18 miles from shore, towed the lifeboat further out to sea, the senior military official said. "They had no promise of money, clearly no passage. The one ticket they had was the captain," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter on the record.

"In the last discussion, they said 'If we don't get what we want, we will kill the captain,' " the official said.

Soon afterward, two pirates moved to one of the hatches of the lifeboat and stuck their heads out. The third pirate advanced toward the captain, and pointed his AK-47 straight at Phillips' back, the rifle touching it or inches away, the official said.

U.S. military observers believed that Phillips was about to be shot. SEAL snipers, who were positioned on a deck at the stern of the Bainbridge, an area known as the fantail, had the three pirates in their sights. The on-scene commander gave the SEAL snipers authority to fire.

"As soon as the snipers had a clear shot at the guy who had the rifle, they shot him and the other two in the hatches," said the senior military official.

A member of the Special Operations team slid down the tow line into the water and climbed aboard the lifeboat. Phillips was then put in a small craft and taken to the Bainbridge.

Cop Killing Shakes Louisiana Town

HOMER, La. (AP) — For 73 years before his killing by a white police officer, Bernard Monroe led a life in this northern Louisiana town as peaceful as they come — five kids with his wife of five decades, all raised in the same house, supported by the same job.

APThe black man's shooting death is attracting far more attention than he ever did, raising racial tensions between the black community and Homer's police department.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped organize a massive 2007 civil rights demonstration in Jena after six black teenagers were charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate, planned to lead a Friday afternoon rally in Homer to protest Monroe's killing.

"The parallel here is that the local community cannot trust law enforcement and cannot trust the process to go forward without outside help," Sharpton said.

Rendered mute after losing his larynx to cancer, Monroe was a 73-year-old retired power company lineman who was in his usual spot on a mild Friday afternoon in February when events unfolded: A chair by the gate led to his Adams Street home. A barbecue cooker smoked beside a picnic table in the yard. A dozen or so family members talked and played nearby.

All seemed calm, until two Homer police officers drove up.

In a report to state authorities, Homer police said Officer Tim Cox and another officer they have refused to identify chased Monroe's son, Shaun, 38, from a suspected drug deal blocks away to his father's house.

Witnesses dispute that account, saying the younger Monroe was talking to his sister-in-law in a truck in front of the house when the officers arrived.

All agree Shaun Monroe, who had an arrest record for assault and battery but no current warrants, drove up the driveway and went into the house. Two white police officers followed him. Within minutes, he ran back outside, followed by an unidentified officer who Tasered him in the front yard.

Seeing the commotion, Bernard Monroe confronted the officer. Police said that he advanced on them with a pistol and that Cox, who was still inside the house, shot at him through a screen door.

Monroe fell dead. How many shots were fired isn't clear; the coroner has refused to release an autopsy report, citing the active investigation.

Police said Monroe was shot after he pointed a gun at them, though no one claims Monroe fired shots. Friends and family said he was holding a bottle of sports water. They accuse police of planting a gun he owned next to his body.

"Mr. Ben didn't have a gun," said 32-year-old neighbor Marcus Frazier, who was there that day. "I saw that other officer pick up the gun from out of a chair on the porch and put it by him."

Frazier said Monroe was known to keep a gun for protection because of local drug activity.

Despite the chase and Tasering, Shaun Monroe was not arrested. He and other relatives would not comment afterward.

Monroe's gun is being DNA-tested by state police. The findings of their investigation will be given to District Attorney Jonathan Stewart, who would decide whether to file charges.

The case also has led to FBI and State Police investigations and drawn attention from national civil rights leaders.

"We've had a good relationship, blacks and whites, but this thing has done a lot of damage," said Michael Wade, one of three blacks on the five-member town council. "To shoot down a family man that had never done any harm, had no police record, caused no trouble. Suddenly everyone is looking around wondering why it happened and if race was the reason."

Homer, a town of 3,800 about 45 miles northwest of Shreveport, is in piney woods just south of the Arkansas state line. Many people work in the oil or timber industries. In the old downtown, shops line streets near the antebellum Claiborne Parish courthouse on the town square.

The easygoing climate, blacks say, masked police harassment.

The black community has focused its anger on Police Chief Russell Mills, who is white. They say he's directed a policy of harassment toward them.

The FBI and State Police said they received no complaints about Homer police before the shooting.

Mills declined interview requests, saying he retained a lawyer and feared losing his job.

Hours before Friday's scheduled rally, music blared from Azzie Olds' home, where the 53-year-old schoolteacher and her neighbors enjoyed a cookout. Olds, who is black, said she expected a peaceful march despite the anger many were feeling.

"You've got a lot of people upset about what happened, not just the black folks," Olds said. "I hope the national attention can help the town realize that something really needs to be done about the situation."

Elsewhere in Homer, some white residents expressed concern that Sharpton's visit could enflame tensions.

"I just hope everybody behaves and don't use it as an excuse to start trouble," said Vanessa Efferson, 49, whose bookstore is one of the shops ringing the courthouse.whites who understand the situation and are working with us."

Anti-Gay Bullying Drives 11-Year-Old to Suicide

Some call it "bullying," but I call it emotional and physical torture.

And it was school centered, emotional torture that claimed the life of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker Hoover last Monday. This young boy, who played football, basketball and was a Boy Scout, hanged himself when anti-gay bullying and constant harassment became too much for him to bear.

Carl Joseph Walker Hoover was so overwhelmed by bullying that he committed suicide by hanging himself with an extension cord.

His mother found his broken little body, living every parent's worst nightmare. [Carl's mother] Sirdeaner Walker, who was active at Carl Joseph's school as a member of the parent teacher organization, was aware that her son was being bullied and experienced repeated frustration at getting the administration to do anything effective about it.

Carl played football, basketball, and was a boy scout -- but that didn't stop other kids from picking on him, his mom said. Students called him gay and made fun of him for the way he dressed.

Sirdeaner Walker said she began phoning his school repeatedly when Carl first told her about the bullying last September, but she says the school was unresponsive.

Carl Joseph Walker Hoover should have been with us this Easter.

Sirdeaner Walker: It was just unbelievable to me. I thought I was in a dream. I thought I was in a nightmare. I couldn't lift him - so all I could do was scream.

In the days since, Sirdeaner and her close family - have been asking the question why? They say Carl was a great kid who loved sports and was involved in many community organizations and attended church every Sunday. The answer, they believe, can be traced to the cruelty of some of his classmates at the New Leadership charter school in Springfield. Sirdeander Walker: He was being teased at the school - he was being made fun of - he was being bullied. A lot of it surrounded by "you act gay," "are you gay?"

New York police attack protesting New School students

In a display of brutality, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) arrested 22 students who had occupied the premises of the New School in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village last Friday. Students were struck by police without provocation and thrown to the ground, and others were pepper-sprayed.

Approximately 60 students occupied a New School building on Friday morning. The students were demanding the resignation of New School president John Kerrey, the former Nebraska governor and senator, and a Vietnam war criminal, as well as the school’s autocratic executive vice president, James Murtha.


Donna Lieberman, executive director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, noted after viewing the video:

“What appears on the video is someone yelling at the cops and getting punched in the face for it and thrown to the ground and arrested. The Police Department has no authority to use physical force on somebody in this situation and they have no authority to arrest people for yelling at them; that is a violation of civil rights plain and simple.”

Can Chris Brown's Career Be Saved?

Having pleaded not guilty to assault and criminal threats in conjunction with a brutal "alleged" attack on Rihanna at his arraignment Monday, Chris Brown now has three weeks until his next court date April 29 to hammer out a plea deal.

Whether he succeeds will depend, in large part, on who blinks first - presumably, a plea bargain would have already been agreed upon if the D.A. would let Brown avoid serving jail time, which his lawyers are actively seeking.

But so far, no agreement.

Will Brown agree to a shorter jail sentence in order to avoid a protracted trial and the maximum four year, eight month sentence he's facing? Or will the D.A. not want to potentially risk any chance of losing and agree to a slap on the wrist?

Either way, Chris Brown is 19. His life will go on, and as far as the future is concerned, the more important question for him is whether his career can be saved.

It will be a tough sell. There's not much positive spin you can put on violence against women, and he beat up a singer more popular than himself! Expressing his deepest regret while acting like a tool on a jet ski in Florida didn't help.

A contrite statement about the seriousness of his alleged crimes - no matter what his sentence ends up being - would be a good start in rebuilding his image.

Rather than crying and blaming others or pressures in his life, an admission of guilt and sincere, public apology to Rihanna and fans would go a long way.

His attorneys have almost certainly suggest he do nothing while a plea deal is being worked on, and that strategy has its merits, but the longer he waits to acknowledge mistakes he clearly made, the harder it will be to recover from them.

Instead of admitting that domestic violence is wrong, or that assault and abuse are serious issues, Brown has yet to express anything at all, leaving himself open to speculation that he has no problem with smacking women around.

Maybe that's unfair, but it's also reality. Without a proactive approach, one of music's brightest stars could be ready to "kiss, kiss" his career goodbye.

Treasury Tells GM To Prepare For “surgical” Bankruptcy

The US government Treasury Department told struggling carmaker General Motors, operating under emergency US government loans, to ready itself for a possible bankruptcy filing by June 1.

Members of President Barack Obama’s automotive task force had issued the instructions to General Motors .

The task force spent last week in meetings and on conference calls with GM in Detroit. The talks are expected to continue this week.

Unofficial sources said the goal is to prepare GM for a fast “surgical” bankruptcy.

The preparations are aimed at ensuring a GM bankruptcy filing is ready should the company be unable to reach agreement with bondholders to exchange roughly $28 billion in debt into equity in GM.

The task force has given GM the two-month deadline to come up with a restructuring plan and to cut costs and reduce its debts in order to continue to receive aid.

The automaker has been already granted $13.4 billion in federal aid, and its managers are insisting that the company’s image should not be damaged.

The new plan comes as GM officials say the company can restructure its business on its own. GM has been granted 13.4 billion dollars in federal aid to avoid collapse.

Two weeks ago GM former chief Rick Wagoner resigned under the pressure of the White House, after more than eight years of running the largest US automaker.

Chrysler LLC also has accepted billions in government bailout funds, but Ford Motor Co. is the only one of the Big Three automakers from Detroit not to take federal funds.

The New York Times , citing people who had been briefed on the plans, reports the goal is to prepare for a fast “surgical” bankruptcy. GM insists a quick restructuring is necessary so its image and sales aren’t damaged permanently.

On Easter Sunday, Pastor Rick Warren Catches Heat from His Wingnut Bretheren

It appears after having taken an anti-gay stance, and catching heat for it from the “other side”, “America’s Pastor” Rick Warren, was slated to be on George Stephanopoulos’ show and cancelled his appearance. John Aravois of AmericaBLOG, isn’t buying the reason for the cancellation:

At the very last minute, with no warning, he canceled on Stephanopoulos, on Easter Sunday no less, due to “exhaustion.” Hmm… Stephanopoulos didn’t sound convinced. Nor am I. It’s Easter Sunday. Warren was going to be on ABC’s This Week, doing his schtick as “America’s Pastor.” This was a big opportunity for him, on the biggest Christian day of the year (at least in my church, Easter is bigger than Christmas). And suddenly he cancels.

According to John, maybe Warren thought he was going to get grilled over a Washington (aka Moonie) Times article where his fellow peers are pissed off at his backing down from his previously anti-gay bigoted stance:

Proponents of the proposition had gathered from earlier comments that Mr. Warren stood with them on the issue, and they reacted vigorously to his CNN interview.

“I was extremely troubled by the way he appeared to be so anxious to distance himself from the same-sex issue and to make clear he was not an ‘activist’ and that he’d only addressed the issue in a very minor way,” said the Rev. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said his denial is “absolutely baffling.”

“Whether he supports Proposition 8 now, after the fact, is overshadowed by the bizarre claim that he did not say what the evidence so clearly proves he said.”

You might be LGBT or straight; you certainly are biologically related to someone from the LGBT community. You may be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or agnostic-atheist. Whatever your beliefs and feelings may be about the rights of gays to be treated as equal; the same way POC are STILL fighting for their equal rights; the main point of this piece is this;

STAND FOR SOMETHING OR FALL FOR ANYTHING. The one thing I respect about fundamentalists - right or wrong; they don’t back down from their position. It may cost them money, prestiege, power - but if having those things goes against their beliefs or values; no matter how unpopular it is to take such a stand, they take it, knowing what the cost is.

Rick Warren is nothing more than an opportunist. In trying to become “America’s Pastor”, Rev. Warren is trying to have it both ways; anti-gay when it suits him, and now, backing off because he’s trying to go National. You cannot come out strongly against gays, by comparing them to incestuous relationships and whatnot - then back off by saying YOU had nothing to do with making sure Proposition 8 passed in California - same thing for the Church of Latter Day Saints - when it became known that powerful churches, instead of teaching about Jesus’ love, they were playing GOD by donating enough money to raise the GNP in many third-World countries, to defeat a proposition that basically does not impact their way of life - well, that smells more like opportunists trying to obatin political power and saying they’re doing it “in love” and for the love of Jesus Christ.

Pastors like Rick Warren are the reason many people give the Church the side eye. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like Your Christ - I do not know about your ‘Christians’”. The fact that his own bretheren are grilling him about this “flip-flop” is more than enough payback for the attempt to sandbag Mr. Obama at that lil’ “debate” where Senator Country Last sure as hell violated that “cone of silence” and tried to cheat.

Watches these types of meltdowns makes me hungry. I’ll take my popcorn with butter, please.

Hannah Montana helps set US box office record

HANNAH Montana: The Movie shot to the top of the US film charts with a healthy $34 million over the weekend, thereby contributing to the biggest Easter weekend ever at the American box office.

In total, the weekend haul of $137 million easily surpassed the previous record of $132.1 million set in 2002, according to figures compiled by box office tracker Nielsen. This year’s top 10 was also up more than 62% over the same weekend last year, proving that cinema remains the top choice for entertainment when times get tight.

Ironically, the figures were achieved in spite of two other new releases performing relatively badly. Seth Rogen-Anna Faris comedy Observe and Report struggled to fourth place, with $11.1 million, while manga adaptation Dragonball Evolution under-performed with just $4.7 million, and landing at eighth spot.

But the figures were buoyed by the continued strong performance of franchise favourite Fast & Furious, which set its own record the previous week, and animated hit Monsters vs. Aliens, both of which continued to perform well.

The big winner, though, was Disney and Hannah Montana, whose success began in 2006 when Hannah Montana first hit the Disney Channel.

The franchise stars Miley Cyrus and her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, and follows the fortunes of a regular teenage girl who secretly moonlights as a pop star.

The current film, directed by Peter Chelsom, finds Hannah’s dad dragging her back to their hometown in Tennessee, where she rediscovers the comforts of home.

It took $17.3 million on its opening Friday, which represents the highest opening day for a G-rated live-action film in industry history. While its three-day $34 million haul ranks second among Easter weekend debuts, behind only the $40.2 million opening of Scary Movie 4.

Commenting on the Hannah Montana success story, Chuck Viane, Disney’s distribution chief, told the Hollywood Reporter: “The most important thing is you have a real star here. All of the [people at] Disney Channel built her into the unbelievable star that she is.

“Peter Chelsom and [writer] Dan Berendsen delivered on the highest level. Our marketing crew hit all the right notes, and Miley worked her butt off to promote the film.”

Indeed, part of that promotion included the star making a handful of surprise appearances at movie theatres in America over the course of the opening weekend. Hence, the Cyruses made unannounced appearances in Salt Lake City and Knoxville as part of a new scheme called Opening Weekend Surprise.

Of the other two big performers, Fast & Furious took a further $28.8 million to take its US haul to $118 million (and making it the fifth movie of 2009 to cross the $100 million mark), and Monsters Vs Aliens added a further $22.6 million to its total, which now stands at $141 million.

Barack Obama has officially added to his family… A Dog!

President Barack Obama and the first family received a gift from Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and his wife Victoria. He’s a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog .

Daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, named the presidential pooch Bo, according to the Washington Post, because Michelle Obama’s father was nicknamed Diddley, as in Bo Diddley, and because their cousin has a cat named Bo.

The curly black-haired, allergen-free puppy was a gift from Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy. It’s the very first pet dog for the Obamas.

Bo will have his official unveiling on Tuesday.

Woman reportedly jumps into polar bear enclosure

Police say a woman jumped into a polar bear enclosure at Berlin Zoo and was bitten several times on her arms and legs.

The woman was bitten Friday by one of the four older polar bears in the enclosure and not by the famous Knut, who took Germany by storm as a cub after he was hand-raised by a keeper.

Heiner Kloes, a zoo spokesman, said keepers pushed the bear away and pulled the woman out from the enclosure, which is surrounded by a fence, a line of prickly hedges and a wall.

The woman was taken to a hospital for treatment. Her condition was not immediately known. Police did not say why she jumped in with the bear.

US politician targeted in Somalia

A US congressman has had a narrow escape on a visit to Mogadishu after Somali insurgents fired mortars towards his plane as it was about to take off.

Airport officials told the BBC one mortar had landed at the airport as Donald Payne's plane was due to fly and five others after his plane departed.

Mr Payne had just met leaders of Somalia's government in the capital.

He had discussed ways that the international community might be able to help war-torn Somalia.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says Mr Payne had just held a half-hour news conference at the presidential palace in the capital when the attack happened, according to airport officials.

Abukar Hassan, a police officer at Mogadishu airport, told Reuters news agency: "One mortar landed at the airport when Payne's plane was due to fly and five others after he left and no-one was hurt."

Three people were wounded when one of the mortars hit a nearby neighbourhood, residents told Reuters.

Mr Payne had met President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, among other Somali officials.

The New Jersey Democrat said it was his first visit to Somalia since the early 1990s, when the country last had a stable government.

Fragile government

During his brief stop in one of the world's most dangerous cities, Mr Payne was escorted by African Union (AU) soldiers, who are deployed in Somalia on a peacekeeping mission.

Radical Islamist guerrillas committed to toppling the fragile transitional federal government control parts of the capital and much of central and southern Somalia.

Seventy-four-year-old Mr Payne is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's subcommittee on Africa and global health and a former head of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The former top US diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, became the first high-ranking American official to visit Somalia in more than a decade when she landed in Baidoa in 2007, but the security situation kept her from visiting Mogadishu.

US foreign policy on the Horn of Africa nation has been overshadowed by the killing of 18 US soldiers in Mogadishu in 1993.

Somalia, a country of about eight million people, has not had a functioning national government since warlords overthrew President Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other.

US captain's rescue raises stakes in piracy ops

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The killing of three Somali pirates in the dramatic U.S. Navy rescue of a cargo ship captain has sparked concern for other hostages and fears that the stakes have been raised for future hijackings in the busy Indian Ocean shipping lane.

Sunday's rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips followed a shootout at sea on Friday by French navy commandos, who stormed a pirate-held sailboat, killed two pirates and freed four French hostages. The French owner of the vessel was also killed in the assault.

The two operations may have been a setback for the pirates, but they are unlikely to quell the brigands, who have vowed to avenge the deaths of their comrades.

Experts indicated that piracy in the Indian Ocean off Somalia, which transformed one of the world's busiest shipping lanes into one of its most dangerous, has entered a new phase with the Navy SEAL rescue operation of Phillips.

It "could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it," said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

The International Maritime Bureau said Monday it supported the action by the U.S. and French navies, but cautioned it may spark retaliatory moves by pirates.

"We applaud the U.S. and the French action. We feel that they are making the right move, although the results sometimes may be detrimental," said Noel Choong of the IMB's piracy center in Kuala Lumpur.

He did not elaborate, but for families of the 228 foreign nationals aboard 13 ships still held by pirates, the fear is revenge on their loved ones.

"Those released are lucky, but what about those who remain captive?" said Vilma de Guzman, the wife of Filipino seafarer Ruel de Guzman. He has been held by pirates since Nov. 10 along with the 22 other Filipino crew of the chemical tanker MT Stolt Strength.

The U.S. rescue operation "might be dangerous (for) the remaining hostages because the pirates might vent their anger on them," she said.

So far, Somali pirates have never harmed captive foreign crews except for a Taiwanese crew member who was killed under unclear circumstances. In fact, many former hostages say they were treated well and given sumptuous food.

The pirates had operated with near-impunity in the Gulf of Aden north of Somalia, and more recently in waters south of the country after a multinational naval force began patrolling the Gulf.

Choong said there have been 74 attacks this year with 15 hijackings as compared to 111 attacks for all of last year. About 20,000 merchant ships pass through the Gulf of Aden yearly on their way to and from the Suez Canal.

The modus operandi of the pirates is simple: Board unarmed or lightly armed merchant ships, fire shots in the air or at the hull to intimidate the crew, divert the ships to hide-outs on the Somali coast and wait for the owners to pay millions of dollars in ransom.

But the game changed last week when the pirates boarded the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama. In an act of courage, Phillips offered himself as hostage in return for the safety of his crew.

The pirates transferred the 53-year-old Phillips, a Vermont native, to a lifeboat. But the pirates had not counted on the U.S. military's resolve. After a five-day standoff during which a small U.S. flotilla tailed the lifeboat, Navy SEAL snipers on a destroyer shot and killed three pirates and plucked an unharmed Phillips to safety. A fourth pirate surrendered.

The comrades of the slain pirates immediately threatened retaliation.

"From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them," said Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old self-proclaimed pirate, told The Associated Press by telephone from the pirate hub, Eyl.

Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding a Greek ship in the pirate den of Gaan, a central Somali town, told the AP that pirates will not take the U.S. action lying down.

"We will retaliate for the killings of our men," he said.

Giles Noakes, chief maritime security officer of the largest international shipping association, the Denmark-based BIMCO, says it is premature to say Philips' rescue will lead to an escalation of violence.

"The question here is whether there will be a change of attitude in the pirates and in their modus operandi. We hope the change will be that they will be even more deterred because of the successful action by both the Maersk Alabama crew and the navies," he said.

Many of the governments whose ships have been captured — including Taiwan's Win Far 161 with a multinational crew of 30 — are in talks with the pirates and would not comment on the consequences of the American rescue for fear of jeopardizing the negotiations.

"We are monitoring the situation closely, but the ship owner wants to keep a low profile to help with their negotiation with the abductors," Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Henry Chen said.

He said the crew, comprising 17 Filipinos, six Indonesians, five Chinese and two Taiwanese, were safe as of Monday.

Some families also wonder if Phillips' rescue drew so much of attention because of his nationality.

"It's difficult when the ship's crew are all Filipinos because we are ignored," said de Guzman. "Maybe if there are Japanese, Koreans or British among the crew, the case would get more attention."