Friday, May 15, 2009

NBC News Time Capsule: Martin Luther King Jr.: Look Here

Slavery in the 20th Century Press Conference in Selma, Al

Hundreds of thousands of African Americans were held in slavery well into the 20th Century. The untold history in America. Antoinette Harrell-genealogist/researcher and Dr. Ron Walters- Director of the African American Leadership Institute reveals their ground breaking research on slavery in the 20th Century Slavery. Listen to Mae Louise Miller a former 20th Century Slave share with the public her life experience as a slave in Mississippi.

Part 2

Part 3

Gathering of Hearts and SCLC Poverty Tour

Poverty is affecting families all over the United States. Families are losing their homes and jobs. The unfinished business of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. must be completed. We need to redress the Economic Bill of Rights (EBoR). Please join Gathering of Hearts and Southern Christian Leadership for a Public Hearing on poverty in Lambert, Ms. A March will take place in Jackson, Ms at the State Capitol. The Poor People's Campaign March and Public Hearing is a must. Please come out and support this very important matter.

June 19-21, 2009. For more information please contact Antoinette Harrell at 985. 229.8001 or SCLC at 404. 522.1420

Gathering of Hearts Poverty Tour-Fluker, La

Gathering of Hearts Co-Founder Antoinette Harrell and photographer/videographer Walter C. Black, Sr. took to the road for another poverty tour in Tangipahoa Parish, La. In a small town called Fluker, LA. Antoinette Harrell found a community of homes in terrible conditions, holes in the floors and walls, electrical lines and cable lines on the ground. Sewer could be seen under house and on the ground in front of some homes.

Outhouse in America

For the past fifty years, Ms. Alberta has been living without indoor plumbing. She depends on her nephew and others to bring her water. She is not the owner of the home. She has no children to take care of her. She is turning ninety years old next month.

Black Colleges Will Fight Cut to Federal Program

Leaders of historically black colleges say they'll fight a reduction in a federal program they call a financial lifeline at a time of economic distress for the schools and their students.

President Barack Obama's education budget, unveiled Thursday, included major spending increases in many areas - but didn't include an extra $85 million that black institutions have received annually for the past two years thanks to a 2007 change to the student loan laws.

That two-year-old program provided direct funds to federally recognized HBCUs - historically black colleges and universities.

Other direct federal support to the schools would increase from $238 million to $250 million, but with the expiration of the HBCU fund the schools effectively would see a $73 million cut.

A program supporting Native American tribal colleges would also see decreased funding, while one for institutions serving large numbers of Hispanic students would see an increase from $93 million to $98 million.

Education Department officials emphasized that all such institutions stand to gain from other parts of the budget, notably the proposed increase in the maximum Pell Grant for low-income students by $200 - to $5,550.

Still, the move could suggest that even as the administration pushes big education spending increases focused on low-income and minority students, direct support for institutions isn't the most favored method. The HBCU program is unusual; most federal help for higher education goes to students, and thus only indirectly to schools.

"The administration is definitely committed to strengthening HBCUs and other colleges and universities that serve minority populations," said Carmel Martin, assistant secretary of education, on a press conference call Thursday. "And one of the best ways we can do that is by supporting our students."

The historically black colleges and universities have been hit particularly hard by the recession, and HBCU leaders said this is no time to cut back on programs offering direct support to institutions that play an outsized role educating the neediest students.

The 105 federally recognized HBCUs make up just 3 percent of U.S. colleges but account for nearly 20 percent of undergraduate degrees awarded to blacks, according to UNCF, the United Negro College Fund. However, some have struggled with low graduation rates. An AP analysis earlier this year found that, overall, black students at four-year HBCUs have lower graduation rates than black students at other schools.

HBCUs have about 132,000 students receiving Pell grants, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal figures collected by the nonprofit group The Education Trust. Even if all got the maximum $200 Pell Grant increase, that would provide HBCUs new revenue totaling only about one-third of the funding cut outlined in the budget.

"We believe it is in the best interest of our country to ensure that (HBCUs) are strong," said John Donohue, UNCF's executive vice president for development.

Donohue said the federal program was responsible for important college readiness efforts at Dillard University in New Orleans, where he previously worked.

Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina - home to 11 HBCUs - questioned the administration's priorities, considering its decision to spare $9 million in funding for whaling history museums.

Education Department officials said the additional $85 million the HBCU program enjoyed the last two years was temporary and that HBCUs shouldn't have counted on it continuing.

Lezli Baskerville, president and CEO the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, a group representing predominantly black colleges, said giving money directly to the colleges is justified considering "the nation's sorry history of support for HBCUs." She noted government provided more support favoring other kinds of institutions, like research universities.

Ultimately, higher education officials believe Congress won't let the funding decline. Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, said HBCUs have strong support in both parties and both houses of Congress.

"To see the federal support decline significantly would have a real, substantial impact on the institutions right away," Hartle said. "A lot of the philanthropic support is not as available as it was two years ago. They can't raise tuition."

Even the administration sounded like it expected Congress to step in.

"I think (HBCUs) understandably will try to encourage Congress to continue it anyway, and I understand that strategically for them," said deputy undersecretary of education Robert Shireman.

Obama names new CDC chief

President Barack Obama on Friday named New York City health chief Thomas Frieden as the new director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as it bids to contain the swine flu outbreak.

Frieden, 48, is an infectious disease specialist who left the CDC in 2002 after 12 years at the agency to serve as New York health commissioner.

Starting from early next month he will be addressing the national response to the swine flu outbreak that has already infected nearly 6,500 people in 33 countries, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures.

Frieden "is an expert in preparedness and response to health emergencies, and has been at the forefront of the fight against heart disease, cancer and obesity, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS," said Obama in statement.

Frieden's experience at "confronting public health challenges in our country and abroad will be essential in this new role," the president added.

During his time as New York health commissioner, Frieden led a campaign to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, pressed for more HIV testing and backed a program handing out 35 million condoms a year.

The A(H1N1) influenza virus has been confirmed in 4,298 people in all but four of the 50 US states, according to CDC figures.

The White House said the CDC's acting director Richard Besser will continue at the agency at the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, where he has been for the past four years.

"Those preparations were essential during the recent H1N1 flu detection and response activities," according to the White House.

Among the looming decisions for Frieden would be how to best to develop a vaccine against the virus.

The New York Times also noted Friday that the CDC "must resolve serious morale and organizational issues," as the Obama administration works to overhaul the US healthcare system.

"Morale is the weakest thing at the agency right now," James Hughes, former director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times on Friday.

"He has to really listen to people, and I think there are too many bureaucratic layers."

Frieden, the Times said, was expected to take office next month, replacing Julie Gerberding, who resigned in January. Richard Besser has served as the CDC's acting director since Gerberding's resignation.

"I think the administration selected Tom Frieden because he can take public health to a new place," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the non-profit public health advocacy group Trust for America's Health.

"He's a transformational leader."

Frieden's position does not require Senate confirmation.

Military Tribunals at Guantanamo to Resume

Guantanamo detainees stand side by side during midday prayers

The Obama administration is expected to announce Friday that it will revive the military-run trials of some of the suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

U.S. President Barack Obama suspended the trials shortly after taking office in January pending an official review, but he did not rule out restarting the tribunals.

The administration is expected to announce a series of changes in the tribunals that would guarantee greater rights for the suspects, including restrictions on the use of hearsay, or unproved, evidence against them. Military prosecutors would also not be able to use evidence obtained by harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.

The military tribunal system was created under former President George W. Bush to hear cases against so-called "enemy combatants" captured by the U.S. military since 2001.

But civil rights advocates denounced the tribunals for denying the detainees basic legal rights. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled three times against the Bush administration on the issue of the Guantanamo detainees. The high court ruled last year the detainees can challenge their detention in civilian courts.

Mr. Obama's decision is likely to draw fire from civil rights advocates and his Democratic supporters, who are already upset over his decision Wednesday to block the release of photos depicting detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of U.S. troops.

Freed Journalist Roxana Saberi Leaves Iran

The American journalist recently freed from an Iranian prison has left Iran.

Associates of Roxana Saberi say she left the country early Friday aboard a flight to Austria from Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport.

The plane landed in Vienna several hours later.

After her release from prison, her father, Reza Saberi, said her family was preparing to take her back to the United States. There are no direct flights between Iran and the United States.

The 32-year-old journalist, a dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in January while buying a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran. She was convicted last month of espionage.

After Saberi's lawyer appealed the court's decision, a judge reduced her sentence and freed her from prison on Monday.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Saberi said she had no immediate plans and just wanted to relax with her family.

One of Saberi's lawyers said the spy charges against her were based on documents she obtained on the U.S. war in Iraq.

The attorney, Saleh Nikbakht, said the journalist made copies of the confidential report, prepared by a strategic research center at the Iranian president's office. He did not say how Saberi managed to obtain the documents, and said she never used the information.

Iran's intelligence minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi maintained Wednesday that Saberi was guilty of spying, noting that her reduced sentence meant she had not been acquitted of all charges.

News: DMX Released From Incarceration

Troubled Rap veteran DMX AKA Earl Simmons was released from Maricopa County Jail today after serving his 3 month sentence that was extended due to some situations that occurred with guards. X also was recently ordered to pay a quarter of a million dollars by the courts for a civil suit in which he was found guilty of impersonating a police officer.

There has been no word about X's current plans or his label situation, but the embattled emcee has been rumored to have been signed on to be on VH1's Celebrity Rehab program.

Know that we're all rooting for ya Earl, and we all hope your done with this jail issue....good luck....

Why President Obama Will Not Appoint Judge Sotomayor

Anyone who has been paying attention knows that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is (was?) a (the?) front-runner for Justice Souter’s Supreme Court seat. But along came Jeff Rosen, who questioned the choice of Sotomayor on the grounds that (1) she allegedly does not have the intellectual horsepower for the job, and (2) she’s a bully on the bench and difficult to work with.

Rosen’s was truly the blog post that launched a thousand blog posts. She is brilliant! She isn't brilliant! She might be brilliant! She is a great judge! She’s an average judge! Rosen has a conflict of interest and an agenda! He’s a racist! He’s sexist! And so forth.

This is all a sideshow. Whether Judge Sotomayor is brilliant or not is irrelevant, because she is clearly very, very smart--smart enough to do the job of a Supreme Court Justice. This is a job that requires great intelligence, but not brilliance; and there is no evidence that true brilliance correlates at all with being a good Supreme Court Justice (whatever your definition of "good").

As for the questions about her temperament, that's also a sideshow. The Second Circuit is a uniquely collegial court and one that coddles lawyers. The fact that she might rub some judges, clerks, or lawyers the wrong way -- even if true -- says absolutely nothing about how she would fare on the Supreme Court.

In truth, Judge Sotomayor is qualified in every way for the Supreme Court.

But I predict that Obama will not nominate her, and here's why. It seems to me that if Obama wants to push the Court in a liberal direction, this is his best opportunity to do so. (Although it is true that he will be replacing one relative liberal with another--and therefore cannot easily move the Court--it does matter who the replacement is. Heck, otherwise we could just avoid appointing anyone to the seat and just add a vote for the liberal side of every case.) He has a near filibuster-proof majority in the senate, and even if Justices Stevens and/or Ginsburg step down, who knows what will happen in the next senate election cycle? To push the Court, he will either want to appoint someone who will articulate an unabashedly liberal vision of constitutional and statutory interpretation or a moderate liberal who is a skilled coalition builder (or at least who can help to blunt a conservative ruling).

Thus, the question becomes whether Judge Sotomayor is the best person suited for either of these roles. And the answer, in my opinion, is no. Judge Sotomayor has not shown herself to be the unabashed liberal lion who could influence the Court, lower courts, lawyers, and law students for generations to come. Mind you, this has nothing to do with brilliance. She could very well be brilliant, but she is a moderate liberal in the mold of many Clinton appointees.

Similarly, I have not seen evidence that she has the knack for forming coalitions, swinging judges, or blunting the impact of conservative majorites. And this has little to do with judicial temperament. She could be loud on the bench or quiet, reserved or aggressive. Regardless, she just does not seem to have taken the role of coalition-builder or conservative-opinion-blunter.

To be very clear, none of this is a knock on Judge Sotomayor. She might make an excellent Supreme Court Justice: smart, insightful, careful, fair, etc. But I do not think that she is the right person for this particular slot, given the context and circumstances.

And this is why I believe that President Obama will not appoint her.

All of this is by way of prediction rather than recommendation.

Craigslist: It's hard to be a pimp in 570 cities

The Web's biggest classified ads service is cleaning up its act -- or, at least, making a show of it -- by swapping "erotic" ads for "adult" ones. But will anything really change?

So craigslist bowed to intense pressure and kicked its controversial "Erotic Services" ad category to the curb this week. Instead, it's unveiling a new ad category called "Adult Services" to take its place.

Why "Adult Services"? Because calling it "Hookers & Blow" might send the wrong message.

[ Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Over the last few weeks, even as more and more state attorneys general sharpened their knives, sensing an nice juicy turkey to carve up and serve to voters, craigslist doggedly clung to its Erotic Services category, declaring it a free speech issue. Per the craigslist FAQ:

Illegal activity is absolutely not welcome, and will not be tolerated. However, when it comes to legal conduct between consenting adults, we feel it is important to err on the side of respecting free speech and privacy rights, and to leave moral judgements to the greater wisdom of the craigslist community, who are empowered through our flagging system.... For those who believe such ads should be banned by law, experts tell us that is a constitutional question which could be addressed by seeking an amendment to restrict free speech.

This may be the first time getting your candlesticks polished has been equated to free speech. I, for one, demand my First Amendment rights -- right now. And if you could make it a redhead with green eyes, even better.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of that and many other amendments. Without free speech, I'd probably be cleaning toilets in some gulag. But as a non-governmental institution, craigslist is not actually bound by the First Amendment. Like Facebook and any other private corporation, it can and does establish limits on what is acceptable content. And what it ultimately decided to do was change the name of the service and toss a few rules at it, in the hopes that all those angry AGs will go away.

So what exactly is the difference between Erotic Services and Adult? Good question.

For one thing, craigslist plans to charge $10 for the first instance of each ad, $5 for a second go-round. (That'll scare off all those $2 hos.) That's twice the cost of phone verification fees the service was charging for Erotic Services listings. Another difference: These dollars will go directly into craigslist's pockets, not to charity.

CEO Jim Buckmaster says he will hire a team to review all Adult Service ads before they post to ensure they don't violate craigslist's terms of service, which forbid depictions of sex with an amusing degree of specificity (see Section 7b of the Terms of Use), as well as "illegal prostitution." So in other words, just legal prostitution -- licensed escort and massage services that appear in the Yellow Pages, for example -- will be allowed. Professionals only please, amateurs need not apply.

(Interestingly, the site's Terms of Use still say "craigslist does not pre-screen or approve Content." Maybe they need to hire a team to review the TOU.)

I don't consider myself a prude. If people want to spend their money on personal gratification of the hubba-hubba variety, I think that's their business. But the number of sites where people offer to trade sex for some consideration in kind is almost endless. (Adult FriendFinder, anyone?) IMHO, craigslist is merely a convenient high-profile scapegoat.

This whole controversy hit the front burners thanks to Philip Markoff -- the alleged "craigslist killer" who's accused of hiring three masseuses off craigslist ads, robbing two of them, and murdering the other one. Despite the actual services the women were providing, I'd be surprised if their ads violated craigslist's TOU. Even $3,000-an-hour escort services don't promise happy endings, as I'm sure Eliot Spitzer could tell you.

If someone can explain to me how reviewing ad copy and charging $10 is going to prevent this sort of thing from happening again, I'm all ears.

New York State AG Andrew Cuomo called craigslist's response "half baked." I'm inclined to agree with him.

I predict there won't be a happy ending for anyone in this mess.

Blockbuster profit and revenue sag; stock dives

Blockbuster Inc.'s first-quarter profit sagged as fewer people came to its stores to rent videos, though the long-slumping company softened the blow by whittling the size of its chain and shedding other expenses.

The results released Thursday were the latest sign of the challenges facing Blockbuster as it struggles to attract customers who are increasingly getting their videos through the mail or high-speed Internet connections. Blockbuster shares plunged 34 cents — nearly 30 percent — in extended trading after finishing the regular session at $1.14.

The Dallas-based company earned $24.9 million, or 12 cents per share, for the three months ended April 5. That represented a 42 percent decline from $42.6 million, or 20 cents per share, at the same time last year.

Excluding one-time charges and gains, Blockbuster said it would have earned 19 cents per share. On that basis, Blockbuster topped the average estimate of 15 cents per share among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

But Blockbuster's revenue plunged nearly 20 percent to $1.12 billion — nearly $200 million below analyst estimates.

Unfavorable currency exchange rates accounted for about $81 million of the revenue decline.

Blockbuster's biggest problem was a familiar one — its model of offering videos from brick-and-mortar stores is being challenged by DVD-by-mail rival Netflix Inc., store kiosks and pay-TV services that offer more convenient and sometimes less expensive options.

Blockbuster's video-rental revenue from U.S. stores open at least a year fell by 12 percent.

In a Thursday conference call with analysts, Blockbuster Chief Executive James Keyes attributed the weak video demand to a surge in attendance at movie theaters and a lackluster mix of DVD releases during the first quarter.

As cinemas attract bigger audiences, fewer people are coming into Blockbuster's stores to rent videos, Keyes said.

But that phenomenon hasn't fazed Netflix, which added the most subscribers in its 10-year history during the first quarter. Those gains helped Netflix boost its profit by 68 percent during the opening three months of the year.

Keyes said he thinks Blockbuster's video rentals should pick up later this year when some of the movies that recently filled the movie theaters are released on DVD. Nevertheless, Blockbuster is bracing for its same-store sales to dwindle through most of this year.

In past quarters, Blockbuster has been able to offset some of the erosion in video rentals by selling DVD players and other merchandise. But even those peripheral sales sank in the first quarter.

Keyes, a former convenience store CEO, said he still believes Blockbuster will have to build beyond DVD rentals to turn things around. "The future of those stores requires diversification," he told analysts.

Blockbuster believes it can regain sales momentum by offering its customers more ways to rent video. The company already offers its own version of Netflix and recently launched a service that delivers video rentals through Internet connections to satisfy consumers looking for immediate gratification. Blockbuster is also installing DVD vending machines in its stores to counter the kiosk concept that is being popularized by Redbox.

With its revenue slumping, Blockbuster is closing stores and laying off workers to bolster its finances.

The company ended the quarter with 7,267 stores worldwide, 138 fewer than at the beginning of the year. Blockbuster said it is exploring selling some of its international operations in hopes of raising about $100 million.

Blockbuster lowered its operating expenses to $541 million, a reduction of nearly 20 percent, or about $131 million, from the same time last year.

The company's troubles have raised fears earlier this year that it might seek bankruptcy protection. Those concerns sent Blockbuster shares to a new low of 13 cents in March before management lined up a new $250 million line of credit available through September 2010. Its Canadian subsidiary has also lined up a $21.4 million loan.

The company ended the quarter with $107 million in cash.

"There should be no doubt we have sufficient liquidity to continue the transformation of Blockbuster through 2010 and beyond," Chief Financial Officer Thomas Casey told analysts Thursday.

The Jay Leno Experiment

Will Leno's prime-time comedy show drive hundreds of thousands of viewers away from network TV to cable?

Say what you will about Jay Leno—over-the-hill windbag or cherished national comic—his move to prime time is likely to cause sizable shifts among the viewers advertisers crave most. Four months before the square-jawed jokester starts throwing one-liners at a prime-time audience, television executives are tussling over who stands to benefit when NBC (GE) launches its Leno experiment.

Turner Broadcasting's (TWX) research unit released a report on May 13 predicting that as many as 500,000 viewers in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic might leave the 10 p.m. time slot when NBC airs The Jay Leno Show nightly—and many may defect to cable. That's more than the number expected to jump ship from the networks to cable and satellite when the government-mandated switch to digital TV happens, currently scheduled for June 12.

That migration will help cable networks lure as much as 10.5% of the broadcasters' audience of 18- to 34-year-olds that advertisers most want to target, Turner contends. The analysis, prepared from viewing data collected by Nielsen, is Turner's attempt to lure advertisers away from broadcast networks at the height of the "up front" season, the annual scrum between network executives and the advertising community over the pending season's ad rates.

NBC Faces Skepticism

Needless to say, broadcasters are firing back with similarly upbeat assessments of their own. NBC executives say its study of viewers showed that 54% "would watch more network television if there was a nightly comedy show that they could count on for humor and entertainment," a network spokesman told BusinessWeek. In a release, NBC says Leno was recently named "America's Favorite TV Personality" in the 2009 Harris Poll—which highlights the fact that the network is filling a full hour of valuable airtime with a well-known name.

Leno will end his 17-year run on The Tonight Show on May 29. He currently has about 4.6 million viewers for his 11:35 p.m. slot and is expected to draw more than that in prime time while allowing NBC to spend far less on programming costs for those five hours per week. But the network has faced skepticism about whether Leno's comedy show will prove to be a draw, and it has already scuffled publicly with a Boston station, WHDH, that had planned to show local news at 10 p.m. before reversing that decision when NBC threatened to revoke its affiliation.

The Turner argument is that folks turned off by Leno will accelerate a shift to cable that has lured 17% of the broadcast networks' prime-time audience to cable since 2004, and 20% of the 18- to 49-year-old demographic that advertisers most want to reach, says Turner Chief Research Officer Jack Wakshlag. He predicts that as many as 3.5 million of the 33 million 18- to 49-year-olds, or about 10.5%, could jump ship this year.

A Silver Lining for Networks

The way Wakshlag figures it, 7% of that shift will be due to "natural attrition," a continuation of viewers' broad shift to cable, while up to 2% of the broadcasters' audience will switch this June when they trade in their analog antennas for digital as required by the federal government. Many of those people will find cable networks then and become viewers, following historical patterns, Wakshlag says.

O'Neal sometimes wishes Fawcett would never wake up

American actor Ryan O'Neal has revealed that he sometimes wishes actress Farrah Fawcett, who is suffering from cancer, would not wake up from her sleep.

Fawcett, 62, shows a strong face despite the pain she has been going through, but for her 68-year-old O'Neal the suffering his long-time lover has to go through is just too much to take.

"I just don't see how she could be happy," the New York Daily News quoted him as saying in a heart-wrenching interview on NBC's "Today" show on May 14.

"I feel like crying, I'll tell you that, when I look at her sometimes.

"I kind of wish that she would go to sleep, just go to sleep. It's not my right, but I just don't see how she could be happy," he said.

But even though he wishes for her pain to end, O'Neal is not fully ready to let her go.

"I let her go weeks and weeks ago, but she came back," he said of his partner's touch-and-go condition.

"I keep promising to take her to Italy. She said 'I'll drive'.

"I don't think there will be a trip to Italy, though," he added.

AP source: Rove to be questioned on US attorneys

Former top Bush White House aide Karl Rove is scheduled to be interviewed Friday as part of a criminal investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys, according to a lawyer familiar with the investigation.

Rove has said he will cooperate with the investigation being conducted by a special prosecutor into whether Bush administration officials or congressional Republicans should face criminal charges in the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.

An attorney told The Associated Press on Thursday that Rove will be questioned by the special prosecutor, Nora Dannehy. The attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not authorized to talk to the media.

Rove's attorney Robert Luskin declined to comment on the timing of the interview, first reported by The Washington Post.

Rove and other Republican officials refused to be interviewed in an earlier Justice Department inquiry, which concluded that despite Bush administration denials, political considerations played a part in the firings of as many as four of the prosecutors.

U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president, but cannot be fired for improper reasons. Bush administration officials at first claimed the attorneys were let go because of poor performance.

The internal Justice investigation recommended a criminal inquiry, saying the lack of cooperation by Rove and other senior administration officials left gaps in their findings that should be investigated further. Then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey responded by naming Dannehy, the acting U.S. attorney in Connecticut, as special prosecutor in September.

Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers also have agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee under oath about the firings in closed depositions. President George W. Bush had fought attempts to force them to testify.

In July, U.S. District Judge John Bates rejected Bush's contention that senior White House advisers were immune from the committee's subpoenas, siding with Congress' power to investigate the executive branch. The Bush administration had appealed the decision. The agreement for Rove and Miers to testify ended the lawsuit.

Chat buddy charged with fatally stabbing NY woman

Police say they have arrested a man suspected of fatally stabbing his AOL chat buddy after she refused to meet him again in person after an initial encounter.

Police say 23-year-old Nimzay (NIM'-Zay) Aponte was killed in a Bronx park Tuesday as she sat with a friend. She told police before she died that "Mike" did it, referring to a person she met on AOL's instant messaging service. Police say the two met once and then she rebuffed him but he tracked her down and stabbed her. Her 25-year-old male companion was also stabbed in the arm and was in stable condition.

Police say 35-year-old Dennis Raymond was arrested on charges of second-degree murder and that he was known as "Mike" online. No one answered the phone at the address provided by police.

Corzine cuts $150 million more from budget

For the third time since January, Gov. Corzine went back to his spending plan yesterday to help close a budget gap, trimming an additional $150 million in spending.

The governor said he would release details on the spending cuts today. He characterized them as "very substantial" in some departments.

Corzine plans several additional steps to close the rest of the $1.2 billion budget gap for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Among them, he plans to dip into the state's rainy-day fund again, spending a total of $450 million from the surplus funds and leaving a cushion of $250 million.

The state Constitution requires a balanced budget.

"We have an honest, straightforward but unavoidable reality of having to deal with making adjustments to the 2009 current fiscal-year budget," Corzine said. "Almost every state is in the same situation of revising downward their revenue numbers."

Borrowing a tactic from the McGreevey administration, Corzine also proposed moving expenditures for the remainder of the fiscal year into July, the start of the next fiscal year. Those expenses include $383 million in school aid and $70 million in grants to businesses that hire new employees.

The remainder of the shortfall would be closed by further reducing pension-fund payments for government and school employees by $150 million, following a $500 million cut in March.

The original budget envisioned pumping $1.1 billion into the severely underfunded pension system, less than half of the amount called for by actuaries. That amount has dwindled to $100 million.

Overall, a budget that began at $32.9 billion has been whittled to about $30 billion.

"It's not a perfect picture," Corzine said in an afternoon news conference, flanked by Democratic legislative budget leaders in the governor's outer office. He said the measures represented "a lot of choices we would not otherwise be making."

On the bright side, the governor noted there were indications that the rate of decline in the economy had slowed. Foreclosure rates in New Jersey, he said, have gone from among the highest in the country to among the lowest.

Corzine previously proposed cutting $812 million from the budget in January and $472 million in February to make up for sharply declining revenues.

Included in those cuts were furloughs of state workers, one day each in May and June. The state Casino Control Commission is first up, with about 139 employees scheduled to take an unpaid day off today. The state Motor Vehicles Commission is scheduled for a furlough day on Monday, although the unions hope a final effort to challenge the plan before the Public Employees Relations Commission will scuttle it.

For the next fiscal year, the governor has said he already needs to trim $2 billion from the $29.8 billion budget he proposed in March.

Treasurer David Rousseau is scheduled to report more details on the next fiscal year's numbers next Tuesday.

Within minutes of the governor's announcement, Republican critics had fired off cutting remarks.

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Joe Malone (R., Burlington) said Corzine's plan "relies on more borrowing to push the state's problems into the future and onto the backs of local school districts."

"This is nothing more than McGreevey II. 'Back to the future' is not good for the future of New Jersey," Malone said.

School districts also were not pleased with the governor's proposal.

Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association, said his members were "very concerned" because deferring school-aid payments to districts means some districts "may have real cash-flow problems in terms of meeting payroll."

"This will make things much tighter and more difficult to close out the year," Belluscio said.

After McGreevey deferred school-aid payments in 2003, the deferred payment was never made up but simply pushed into the following year, according to Belluscio.

The Corzine administration has not yet determined whether to make up the deferred payments this time or defer them again, according to Treasury spokesman Tom Vincz.

Corzine, who seeks reelection in November, has begun running cable-television ads touting his efforts to battle the recession. The governor has marginal opposition in the June 2 primary.

By Adrienne Lu

Inquirer Trenton Bureau

Bush anti-terrorism ghosts haunt Obama

The picture of a man hanging naked and upside down naked from a bunk which is alleged to be one of 2,000 images that President Barack Obama tried to block publication of fearing a backlash against U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan

Former president George W. Bush warned his successor: the realities of governing would put to the test Barack Obama's commitment to break with his predecessor's counter-terrorism practices.

Obama's aides insist that he has not reneged on that promise.

But recent decisions like the one this week to fight the release of photographs documenting mistreatment of detainees by US soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere shows how hard it has been for Obama to escape the Bush legacy.

A few days before leaving office, Bush explained that he had taken certain decisions without allowing himself to be swayed by "the loud voices" of public opinion.

"President-elect Obama will find this, too," he predicted. "He'll get in the Oval Office and there will be a lot of people that are real critical and harsh, and he'll be disappointed at times by the tone of the rhetoric.

"And he's going to have to do what he thinks is right," Bush said.

Two days after his swearing-in, Obama did what he thought was right, ordering the closure of the "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo and forbidding the use of Bush-era interrogation methods that critics charged were nothing less than torture.

But since then, the Obama presidency has been been haunted by the ghosts of the Bush presidency.

With his decision to challenge a court ruling ordering the Pentagon to release hundreds of photographs gathered in prisoner abuse investigations, Obama's new era of transparency and the rule of law has been put into question.

The political left, which rallied behind Obama as their champion against Bush's "global war on terrorism," is beginning to have doubts.

Republicans, meanwhile, have found their voice and are using the same arguments that Democrats had used against them to great effect.

An ally of the left, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, found herself trying explain what she knew about the CIA interrogations and when she knew it.

The American Civil Liberties Union openly accused the Obama administration this week of adopting "the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration" in refusing to release the photographs.

The disappointment on the left was all the greater because the Obama administration had said it would make the photos public. But that changed after US military commanders raised their concerns at the highest levels of the government.

"The role of the president in this situation is as commander-in-chief," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. It is a title that Bush often invoked to justify his most controversial decisions.

Obama's "positions on transparency and public disclosure are strong and well known," David Axelrod, one of the president's closest advisers, said in an interview with PBS television. "But ... they're not without limit."

The administration's release in April of secret Bush-era memos that provided the legal rationale for the CIA's controversial interrogation methods had already caused an uproar.

The left reproached Obama for opposing criminal investigations of lawyers and senior Bush administration officials who authorized the interrogation techniques.

The right accused Obama of giving terrorists an advantage. Former vice president Dick Cheney resurfaced to demand the release of other memos that he said would show the interrogations produced valuable intelligence.

Ironically, Obama's decision to stop the release of the abuse photos drew praise from his political opponents.

Meanwhile, another controversy brewed over the special military commissions set up during the Bush administration to try some terrorist suspects.

"If you have any doubt about where we stand on the issues of detainee abuse, enhanced interrogation techniques and torture, I'd be happy to provide you the copy of the executive order that once and for all ends their use as part of this administration," Gibbs told reporters Thursday.

An unnamed Obama administration official said late Thursday that the government is set to announce that it will retain Bush-era military commissions to try top terror suspects, but with improved legal safeguards for detainees.

Obama halted the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals pending a review soon after taking office in January, saying that the system as it stood did not work, but did not rule out the use of a modified tribunal system in future.

Notre Dame president catches heat for Obama invite

The Rev. John Jenkins got some simple advice before taking over as president of the University of Notre Dame: "Don't listen to the criticism, don't listen to the praise, just make the best decision you can."

Four years later, Jenkins is getting plenty of criticism from Catholic leaders, students and alumni because of the university's decision to invite President Barack Obama to deliver its commencement address and receive an honorary degree Sunday.

Opponents of the invitation, including at least 70 bishops, say Obama's support for abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research contradicts church teachings and that Jenkins has created a breach with the church.

A leading Catholic scholar also declined the school's most prestigious award, making this year's commencement the first time that the Laetare Medal hasn't been awarded since 1883.

"It is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation," Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said shortly after the university announced Obama's appearance.

In the center of the storm is Jenkins, a 55-year-old philosophy scholar who has spent much of his adult life at Notre Dame and is described as cerebral and prayerful.

Jenkins, who declined interview requests, has said Notre Dame does not support Obama's positions on issues regarding the protection of human life but that his appearance provides "a basis for further positive engagement." Obama will be the sixth sitting U.S. president to deliver the university's commencement address.

Friends and colleagues say Jenkins has listened to the criticism but is confident in his decision.

"He respects people who differ, but he's resolute in his decision because he did it based on conscience and what he really believes in," said Richard Notebaert, chairman of Notre Dame's board of trustees.

Notebaert said Jenkins, who is in the fourth year of a five-year term, has the "full support" of the trustees.

That hasn't soothed critics, who question whether Notre Dame has lost touch with its Catholic roots. Calls for his ouster have grown louder amid protests by abortion opponents, who have flown pictures of aborted fetuses over campus and paraded dolls smeared in fake blood outside a recent board of trustees' meeting. Dozens of anti-abortion activists have been arrested, and more arrests are likely as protesters converge on the campus for commencement weekend.

The intensity of the criticism has surprised students at Notre Dame, including junior Eddie Valazquez, who called "this intrusion of outside forces ... a little disconcerting."

"Really outlandish protests just aren't our style," Valazquez said.

But for others, like alumnus David DiFranco, it hasn't been enough. DiFranco helped organize, which urges donors to withhold money until Notre Dame removes Jenkins. He said the school's administration had been veering away from the church's teachings.

"Obama's just the big straw that finally broke the camel's back," he said.

Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn has said he believes the Obama invitation would cost Jenkins his job, telling anti-abortion activists at a convention in April that "Notre Dame will need a scapegoat for this debacle."

University bylaws require that the school's president be a priest from the Congregation of Holy Cross, Indiana Province, a group now made up of about 360 men.

But Notebaert, the board of trustees' chairman, pointed to Notre Dame's tradition of presidents who were willing to make unpopular decisions. The Rev. Edward Malloy, who served for 18 years before Jenkins, drew the ire of Bishop John D'Arcy by allowing "The Vagina Monologues" and a Queer Film Festival to appear on campus.

The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, the former president who offered words of wisdom to Jenkins, supported social causes ranging from civil rights to immigration reform and served as an adviser to presidents and popes. He was replaced as chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1972 over criticism of then-President Richard Nixon's administration.

"You see this golden thread that runs through the character of the presidents of Notre Dame, and I think it continues through Father John Jenkins," Notebaert said.

Robert Burns, a retired Notre Dame history professor who wrote two books about the school, said he could recall only one instance in which a president of the school came under similar criticism: The Rev. Hugh O'Donnell, who fired an outspoken interventionist professor during World War II.

The criticism doesn't appears to bother Jenkins, who friends say never aspired to the job and who has said that he doesn't worry about his legacy.

"My approach is to think one year at a time, one week at a time, even one day at a time," he said upon taking office.

His ultimate goal is for the university to make a difference in the world, said John Affleck-Graves, a Notre Dame executive vice president who has known Jenkins for about 15 years.

"He wants to bring a more reflective, faith-based position to some of the big debates and decisions in the world," he said.

Astronauts to install new gyroscopes in Hubble

Spacewalking astronauts are about to tackle NASA's No. 1 priority in fixing the Hubble Space Telescope.

Astronauts on Friday morning will try to install six new gyroscopes, which are crucial because they help the telescope point in the right direction.

Although this is the second of five spacewalks, NASA managers listed replacing the gyros as their top priority because three of them are broken. The access to the gyros is kind of tricky.

Atlantis astronauts Mike Massimino and Mike Good will also replace three crucial batteries on the telescope.

On Thursday, astronauts successfully swapped out a nearly 16-year-old camera for a new one the size of a baby grand piano. And they replaced a balky computer data device.

Pfizer offers free drugs for people who lost jobs

Pfizer Inc. is unveiling a new program that will let people who have lost their jobs and health insurance keep taking some widely prescribed Pfizer medications — for free, and for up to a year.

Pfizer will provide more than 70 prescription drugs — from Lipitor to Viagra — at no cost to unemployed, uninsured Americans.

People who lost jobs since Jan. 1 and have been on Pfizer drugs for three months or more are eligible.

The announcement comes amid massive job losses caused by the recession and should bring a Pfizer some goodwill, good publicity and brand loyalty.

The program, which starts today, was requested by a committee of employees concerned about newly uninsured patients struggling to buy their medicines.

Republicans have not made us any safer

It is mystifying to me how the American press has not hammered former Vice President Dick Cheney for his claim that he, former President George W. Bush and other Republicans have kept Americans safe and that President Barack Obama is making us less safe.

Let us examine the facts.

One, the 9/11 attacks happened on Cheney and Bush’s watch. They happened partly because, as Richard Clarke famously wrote in his book, Cheney had no focus on the terrorism threat in the months leading up to 9/11.

Two, it is not true that America has not been attacked since 9/11. After we invaded Iraq, that country became our colony, ruled for more than a year by a de facto American governor-general. Iraq was a part of America, and it was attacked, time and again. The enemies have killed more than 4,000 Americans and tens of thousands of our finest have been maimed, injured or psychologically damaged for life.

Three, even granting that the American mainland has not been attacked, the reason is not because of Cheney’s or Bush’s brilliant handling of intelligence matters. The reason is it was much easier to attack Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other hot spots of the world. Iraq was the place to attack Americans, not the United States, which has always been protected by oceans and its troops at home.

Israel's Eurovision song for peace

Israel's Eurovision entry is sung by two friends, one Jewish, one Palestinian. It may be idealistic, but shouldn't we support them?

The timing was doomed. Just as the Israel-inflicted death toll in Gaza reached 900, a third of those children, Israel's entry to the Eurovision song contest was announced. It was the third week of Israel's devastating assault on Gaza, in January, and an Arab-Israeli was going to sing to Europe with a Jewish-Israeli, a song about finding "another way". Condemnation rained down on the duo. They were slammed as willing fig leaves for Israel's deadly assault in Gaza, not to mention its stifling occupation of the Palestinian territories, not to mention its discriminatory treatment of non-Jewish citizens.

The objection was easy to follow: how could a Palestinian citizen of Israel, the actress-singer Mira Awad, choose to duet with the Jewish-Israeli singer Achinoam Nini (known as "Noa"), and thereby represent the very same state that crushes, maims and kills other Palestinians? The "radical" left wing both within and beyond Israel was unequivocal: Awad should refuse to sing on such a blood-soaked stage.

She didn't refuse, and the two will appear at Eurovision this week. And while it might be easy to deride her decision, it is harder to dismiss her – or her creative partner, Noa. The Euro-entry song smacks of the sort of bogus peace PR at which Israel excels, but there doesn't seem to be a lack of authenticity to the two singers. Of course they have polished the patter for the press. But I also saw them banter together once the TV cameras had gone, jokily flicking stereotypes at each other in the sort of dark, absurdist comedy that usually requires much more than a tokenistic understanding of co-existence.

I saw the duo – long-term friends and creative collaborators – sing something completely different, written and led by Awad, at an alternative ceremony for Israeli Remembrance Day. The event was staged by Combatants for Peace, an organisation of former fighters from both sides who are now battling together for an end to the occupation. Interviewing the two, I was struck by Mira Awad talking about staying friends and maintaining discussion with Noa despite their deep disagreements over aspects of the Gaza war. Sticking around for such conversations, when every part of you wants to walk away in disgust, is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of genuine peace work – and it deserves respect.

Those that slam the duo quite often hold that Israeli society is woefully incapable of changing from within; that the only way to improve the lives of the Palestinians trapped under Israel's brutal rule is through exerting external pressure. That is a legitimate point and a tactic worth pursuing. But is it so bad to have another view – one embodied by the Euro duo – running in tandem to it? These two singers seem to be saying that, whatever the international community does or doesn't do about this conflict, Palestinians and Israelis are still going to have to find a way to live together. That's the draining, demoralising and largely invisible day-to-day work of conflict resolution. That's what they seem to want to use the Euro stage to state. And you could say it's a bit hippie and way too understated – but is it nonetheless worth broadcasting?

Pelosi accuses CIA of lying in torture timeline

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently said her motto is "The best preparation for combat is combat."

With both guns blazing at an extraordinary news conference Thursday, the Democrat from San Francisco made good on that, accusing the CIA of lying when the agency said she was told about torture in 2002.

In doing so, Pelosi turned a distraction into a conflagration. She had little choice after two weeks of Republican accusations that it was she who was lying, accompanied by a leaked CIA timeline that said she had been briefed on Sept. 4, 2002, that "enhanced interrogation techniques" - a euphemism for torture - "had been employed."

Democrats quickly closed ranks behind the speaker. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made clear whom she believes.

"I've know Nancy a long time," Feinstein said. "We lived a few houses apart for a couple of decades. I've never known her not to be truthful. Let me put that on the record."

Feinstein had this to say about the CIA, now headed by fellow Californian Leon Panetta of Monterey:

"The CIA on this issue is in a defensive mode. Who knows whether what they're saying is right or wrong? The CIA is not an agency that is above not telling the truth."

Republicans contend that Pelosi had known all along that that top al Qaeda suspects were being harshly interrogated for information on future plots, but only called it torture after the interrogations became public and inflamed her liberal base. They say it is unfair to investigate former Bush officials if Pelosi was also complicit.

Pelosi waited for her regular weekly news conference to address the issue, after a trip to Iraq had left unanswered for nearly a week media reports fueled primarily by GOP sources making accusations.

"Yes, I am saying that they are misleading - that the CIA was misleading the Congress," Pelosi said. She said she would "be very happy" if the CIA would release the notes from the 2002 briefing so that everyone could see for themselves. She repeated her call for a truth commission to air the facts.
Rare political damage

There is little doubt that Pelosi has sustained rare political damage, with even liberal late-night comedian Jon Stewart joking about her claim that Bush officials told her they had legal grounds to use torture but had not actually used it. The uproar has arrived at a delicate juncture when Pelosi faces a daunting challenge enacting President Obama's first-year agenda, including health care reform.

Yet those who think Pelosi is in any danger of being driven from power, in the manner of such past speakers as Newt Gingrich or Jim Wright, underestimate her strength, steadily cultivated over 22 years in Congress since arriving as a San Francisco backbencher in 1987. Pelosi's hallmark achievement has been to unify Democrats, not just her Bay Area allies but conservative Southern and rural Democrats. There is no sign that they will abandon her now.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, a top Pelosi confidant, said it was "ludicrous" to think Pelosi is in any political danger. "Obviously, it's an attempt by the architects and promoters of torture to try somehow to shift the blame to Democrats when for six, seven years, this is what they did," Miller said. "She's made her statement, and she made her record very clear."

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said he was "a little shocked" when asked three days ago whether Pelosi was in trouble. So Thursday, as the Pelosi news conference was blaring on every cable TV network, he said, "I've been asking around on the (House) floor, and people just look at me like I'm nuts."

If anything, Pelosi's no-prisoners stance may build support for the truth commission she has advocated to determine how decisions about the wars in Iraq and on terror were made. Her call for such a commission last month touched off the storm that has now engulfed her.

Pelosi accused the Bush administration of "misinforming" Congress not only about torture but about weapons of mass destruction as a way of pushing its war agenda with minimal interference from Congress.

"Let's get it straight," she said. "The Bush administration has conceived a policy. The CIA comes to the Congress, withholds information about the timing and the use of (torture). We later find out that it had been taking place before they even briefed us about the legal opinions and told us that they were not being used."

GOP leader's perspective

Republican House leader John Boehner of Ohio said Pelosi's responses "continue to raise more questions than provide answers." He said it is "hard for me to imagine that anyone in our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress."

Marc Sandalow, former Washington bureau chief for The Chronicle who covered Pelosi for 20 years and wrote her biography, "Madame Speaker," in 2008, said that what is clear is that "somebody's not telling the truth, either Nancy Pelosi or somebody at the CIA. And there is nothing in Nancy Pelosi's long public history to suggest that she lies. Hardball politics, yes. Lying, no."

Pelosi is also a notorious stickler for protocol. It comes as little surprise that she would leave it to her successor on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County), to send a letter to the White House objecting to the techniques after a later and apparently more complete briefing on Feb. 5, 2003, which Pelosi's national security aide attended.

Feinstein has opened what she expects to be a six- to eight-month Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the interrogations. She opposes a truth commission because her committee can look at secret documents and take less time. With a commission, she said, "I don't think you'll really get a professional job. I think you'll get a very controversial work product. Now, our work product may be controversial, but it will be sound."

Echoing the concerns of many members on the House and Senate intelligence committees, she said her own experience with CIA briefings is that they tend to be "very bland, very theoretical and with very little said. You cannot take notes. ... There is no opportunity for a lot of questions."
Push to expand briefings

Feinstein and others are pushing legislation to expand such briefings to the full intelligence committees, including professional staff. Some experts concur that limiting briefings to as few as four members of Congress who are sworn to absolute secrecy obstructs Congress' obligation to oversee the executive branch.

The controversy puts Panetta in a difficult spot, defending the CIA against a fellow Californian. In a letter accompanying the timeline that implicates Pelosi, Panetta said the information is based on the best recollections of the CIA briefers at the time and may not be accurate.

Myanmar democracy activist held in prison

Myanmar's jailed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi insists she is not guilty of violating her house arrest, her lawyer said Friday, as a clearer picture emerged of the American who swam to her home and kicked off the junta's latest crackdown.

Ahead of Suu Kyi's trial Monday, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate spent the night at the country's notorious Insein Prison where she is being held in a "guest house" within the compound during her trial proceedings, said her lawyer Kyi Win.

Worldwide condemnation has poured in since Suu Kyi was charged Thursday with breaking the terms of her yearslong detention, just two weeks before she was due to be released. Her trial was scheduled to be held at a special court at the prison, which has held numerous political prisoners over the years.

World leaders, human rights groups and fellow Nobel laureates denounced the move as an attempt by the military junta to silence its chief opponent ahead of next year's election — which will be the first since Suu Kyi's party won elections in 1990 that the junta refused to recognize.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the charges and called for Suu Kyi's immediate release.

"If the 2010 elections are to have any semblance of credibility, she and all political prisoners must be freed to participate," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

The Singapore government said it "is dismayed" by the charges against Suu Kyi, one of the few criticisms to come from Myanmar's neighbors in Southeast Asia, who abide by a much-criticized policy of not interfering in each others affairs.

The charges follow a mysterious visit to her home by John William Yettaw, 53, an American who swam across a lake and sneaked into her home seeking food and a place to rest.

It was the second time Yettaw had made the trip after swimming across the lake last summer, but on that visit the house staff kept him from speaking to Suu Kyi, his wife, Betty Yettaw told The Associated Press in an interview outside her home near Camdenton in southern Missouri.

"I think that's what motivated him to go back. He thought he could be in and out," she said, describing her husband as eccentric but peaceloving and "not political at all."

Before making the latest trip, Yettaw left his 10-year-old and three teenagers with friends, then visited his former wife in California last month and told her he had to go to Asia to work on a psychology paper about forgiveness, according to his ex-wife Yvonne Yettaw.

John Yettaw belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons, said Yvonne Yettaw, adding that it was unlikely he was in Southeast Asia to proselytize for the church or convert the Nobel laureate.

Yvonne Yettaw, speaking from Palm Springs, California, told the AP that her ex-husband lived on veteran's disability benefits, supplemented by occasional construction work. She said he had been studying psychology and writing a paper about forgiveness after trauma, and went to Southeast Asia for research but he was "real secretive" about his journey.

Suu Kyi has already spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention without trial for her nonviolent promotion of democracy. She was scheduled to be freed May 27 after six consecutive years of house arrest but now faces up to five years in prison if convicted of violating the terms of her detention, said one of her lawyers, Hla Myo Myint.

"Daw Suu understands the law and told me, 'I did not break the law," said her chief lawyer Kyi Win, who met with Suu Kyi on Thursday. "Daw" is a term of respect for older women.

"She did not contact the swimmer, he came in as an intruder and she's not guilty," said Kyi Win, who attended the Thursday arraignment and met with Suu Kyi.

According to the restriction order under which Suu Kyi is held, she is prohibited from having contact with embassies, political parties and "associated persons" and she is barred from communicating with the outside world by telephone or mail, he said.

Myanmar citizens are required to report overnight visitors to local authorities but Suu Kyi's "did not report him because she did not want to see anyone arrested because of her."

Yettaw was arrested May 6 for allegedly swimming across a lake to secretly enter Suu Kyi's home and staying there for two days. He was brought to the same courtroom Thursday as Suu Kyi and charged with illegally entering a restricted zone, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and breaking immigration laws, which is punishable by up to one year in jail.

The junta scheduled elections as part of its so-called "roadmap to democracy," but the effort is widely perceived as a guise for continued military control.

Parliamentary rule was overthrown by a coup in 1962, and the army has been in control since then. It held an election in 1990 but refused to honor the results after Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.