Thursday, April 30, 2009

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

Mayor Steve Lonegan is a principled and independent leader

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

But we were rooting for him all along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support Jesse O. Kurtz for Mayor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contribute Now!!!!!!!

Police to look into new Zodiac Killer claim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specter Squeezes Into Democratic Side of Senate Chamber

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden warns against travel on planes, subways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sri Lanka president, rebels vow to fight on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit card reform legislation nears passage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Car crashes into Dutch royal parade

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Lewis stripped of his chairmanship

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

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

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

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

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

A-Rod to play in intrasquad game in Tampa today

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing arguments in Tyra Banks' NYC stalker trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pageant does not value free speech

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

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

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

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

Building collapses in NYC's lower Manhattan

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

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

Further details were not immediately available.

Formula for an Obama press conference: 13 questions

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


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

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

Headlines all over the map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice to the GOP

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

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

Of enchantments and surprises

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

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

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

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

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

What about ‘humbled’?

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

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