Monday, July 13, 2009


Last night, the first two housemates of the season were nominated for eviction. Being that it's still early in the game, it was a pretty uneventful episode. They're still on their best behavior and trying to stay on everyone's good side. Give it a few weeks and I'm sure it will be like a dinner with The New Jersey Housewives.

Chima has been the only one so far to let her Diva tendencies rise to the surface. That may be one reason that she was placed on the chopping block. Along side her was one of my favorite girls so far, Lydia. I can totally see throwing back a couple cocktails with her . Although she did have her hands all over my Jessie when she was giving him a massage in HOH bedroom. Step off BEYATCH!!!

I have to admit that my eye has been wandering over to the other beefy man of the house, Russell. His strong, silent personality is extremely appealing. Don't worry Jessie, you're still first in my heart. Speaking of Jessie, what's up YUMSTER CREW? Why are you being so ugly to my boy? I feel like a high school girl who's dating the guy that all her friends hate. Don't you know that only makes me obsess over him more.

I don't know what makes you think he's an arrogant douchebag.

FYI: The wallpaper of Jessie that I posted on Saturday was the most downloaded pic of the weekend. Come on, don't be scared. It's akay to admit that you think he's YUMMY.

Posted by Mrs.MAC

More storms threaten Monday shuttle launch attempt

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA faced the prospect of more stormy weather Monday as it tried for the fifth time to launch shuttle Endeavour to the international space station.

Tony Romo dumps Jessica Simpson the night before her birthday

It's the end of the road for Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo. The couple, who recently called it quits, have been dating since 2007.

Talk about bad timing!

Tony Romo called it quits with Jessica Simpson the night before her 29th birthday, reports.

"She is heartbroken," says the source. "She loves Tony. But it's been difficult lately. He's busy with his career and she's getting ready to shoot her show (The Price of Beauty). They decided to part ways."

Speculation of the couple’s recent split arose when the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and 14 of his friends partied at Hollywood hotspot MyHouse on Friday night – Simpson's 29th birthday – without the birthday girl.

This isn’t the first break-up for the couple, who began dating in 2007.

Romo reportedly dumped Simpson last May, but was able to patch things up in time to attend sister Ashlee Simpson’s wedding a few days later.

The couple’s split may be good news to Cowboys fans as Simpson, who wore a pink No. 9 jersey to games, was thought to be bad luck to Romo’s football performance. The singer was even nicknamed “Yoko Romo.”

Simpson is said to have planned a Barbie and Ken-themed birthday party for July 10, however no such event happened.

"Barbie party didn't happen, but I turned 29 and feel like I am on top of the world yelling I LOVE GETTING OLDER!" she wrote on Twitter.

Although a suddenly single Simpson may be heartbroken, the singer is staying positive.

"Everyone needs to know that hope floats ... grab the strings and pull it back to you," she tweeted.

Simpson’s rep had no comment. Romo's rep could not be reached for comment.

BY Cristina Everett

Obama taps African American as top doctor

US President Barack Obama on Monday named rural southern doctor Regina Benjamin as his pick to be the country's surgeon general.

"I am honored and I am humbled to be nominated to serve... this is a physician's dream," the Alabama doctor said after being introduced by Obama in the White House Rose Garden as his choice for the post, which oversees 6,000 staff charged with informing US citizens about questions of health.

Benjamin, who chairs the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, has been lauded in recent years for her dogged determination in overcoming repeated disasters to run her rural clinic on the hurricane-battered Gulf coast.

The Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Alabama, which she founded, has been repeatedly hit by massive storms, most recently in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.

In accepting the nomination, Benjamin pledged to be "a voice in the movement to improve our nation's healthcare," as she thanked Obama for putting healthcare reform at the head of his domestic agenda.

"As a nation, we have reached a sobering realization: Our healthcare system simply cannot continue on the path that we're on," Benjamin said, lamenting the millions of Americans without health insurance

She also said that if confirmed by the US Senate, she wanted to use her role as surgeon general to "ensure that no one -- no one -- falls through the cracks as we improve our healthcare system."

While the surgeon general acts as the government's chief spokesperson on health issues, they have little direct role in policy-making.

Obama wants Congress to approve his healthcare reform proposals by the end of the year in order to fulfill one of his key campaign promises -- providing healthcare to the 46 million Americans, some 15 percent of the population, who currently do not have any medical coverage.

Obama's healthcare plan includes a government insurance option, which has been fiercely criticized by Republicans.

Providing insurance is a millstone for businesses and carves a hole in the budget of many Americans, and Obama has said it is a moral and economic imperative for his administration to push reform at a time of deep economic crisis.

"The status quo on healthcare is no longer an option," Obama said on Monday before introducing Benjamin.

"This country can't afford to have healthcare premiums rise three times faster than people's wages, as they did over the last decade. We can't afford 14,000 Americans losing their healthcare every single day," he said.

Benjamin, who was the first African American to become the president of a US state medical society, wrote about her calling to medicine on the National Institutes of Health web site.

"I believe it was divine intervention," she said about her time in medical school at the University of Alabama.

It was at that point Benjamin said she realized "there was nothing else I'd rather do with my life than to be a doctor.

"I had never seen a black doctor before I went to college, so I did not have an idea that I wanted to be one. I never thought that I couldn't, but I never really thought about it at all."

Earlier this year high-profile CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta withdrew for consideration as Obama's surgeon general, citing family and career reasons.

ACLU: ‘Racial Profiling Remains Big Problem’

By Dorothy Rowley

Racial profiling remains commonplace among law enforcement, according to a new report. (Courtesy Photo)

(July 12, 2009) - Widespread racial profiling by law enforcement agents remains a pervasive problem throughout the United States, according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rights Working Group.

The report, released June 30, has been submitted to the U. N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The 88-page document also states that government policies are a major cause of the disproportionate stopping and searching of racial minorities by law enforcement officers.

Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, said the report shows that racial profiling remains too much of a factor in American society.

"It shows that we have not taken the steps that we need to eliminate it and it’s a practice that affects the day- to-day lives of millions of Americans because of their race or the religion or their ethnicity," Parker said. "And it’s long past time that we take steps to address it."

Racial profiling affects large groups of people, but mostly African Americans and Latinos, according to the ACLU.

Racial profiling also cuts across many other demographic lines. Parker said its victims are treated as members of a group rather than individuals, and people are being interfered with in their everyday lives for reasons that are not justifiable.

Parker said there are several steps that can be readily taken to offset racial profiling.

Among them, he said, would be Congress’ passing the End Racial Profiling Act.

"[The bill] will make it possible for the first time on a nationwide basis to take steps to eliminate racial profiling," said Parker.

He added however, that the federal government also has to take a careful look at all of its policies, including those that seek cooperation with local law enforcement agencies.

"There are a host of questions [including a focus on training] that have to be undertaken on a federal and state basis in order to allow people the freedom to enjoy their lives without what amounts to harassment by the government," Parker said.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU Human Rights Program, stated in the report that as an Illinois senator, President Barack Obama had broadly championed legislation to end racial profiling – which has most frequently occurred in the southern states. Obama also co-sponsored the bill.

"He appointed an attorney general to the Department of Justice who has stated that racial profiling is not good law enforcement and is committed to combat his practice," Dakwar said of the president.

Last year, after more than a decade of fighting for justice on behalf of individuals who were racially profiled on Interstate 95 in Maryland, the ACLU of Maryland announced a landmark settlement had been reached with the Maryland State Police to end a so-called "Driving While Black" lawsuit.

The settlement required that the state police retain an independent consultant to assess its progress towards eliminating the practice of racial profiling, and substantial damages were provided to the individual plaintiffs.

The agreement also called for a joint statement by all parties involved in the lawsuit condemning racial profiling and highlighting the importance of taking preventative action against this practice in the future.

Gary Rodwell, a plaintiff in the lawsuit stated that after "more than 12 years after being wrongfully pulled over, harassed, and humiliated on I-95 in Maryland, he could finally tell his son that justice is possible.”

The ACLU’s latest racial profiling report came in response to a last-minute Bush administration submission to the U.N. committee this past January that was described as being plagued by "omissions, deficiencies and mischaracterizations."

In both its initial report to the committee in April 2007 and the follow-up submission in January, the Bush administration was said to have relied on the Justice Department's 2003 "Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agents" to support claims the government was taking steps to eliminate racial profiling.

However, the ACLU stated that the Bush report does not cover profiling based on religion or national origin, nor does it apply to state or local law enforcement agencies. It also fails to include any mechanisms for enforcement or punishment for violating the recommendations.

"Instead of curbing racial profiling, the overbroad national security and border integrity exceptions in the Justice Department, [the report] actually promoted profiling and created justification for state and local law enforcement agents to racially profile those who are or appear to be Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Latino," said Margaret Huang, executive director of the Rights Working Group.

"We hope the Obama administration will fix the failed policies of the Bush administration and live up to its commitment to end racial profiling in the United States."

NASCAR's Hall of Fame Snubs Black Racing Legend

If you're a racing fan, you should be familiar with the name, Wendell Scott.

Scott broke the color barrier in stock car racing in 1952 and for years represented African Americans while breaking records and navigating imposed racial barriers.

Recently, NASCAR announced its first Hall of Fame class, which consisted of 25 nominees. Unfortunately, in a sport that has been criticized immensely for its lack of diversity, Scott did not make the cut.

Many consider Scott to be the Michael Jackson or Jackie Robinson of NASCAR. Just like Jackson and Robinson helped to integrate MTV and baseball, Scott did the same for NASCAR. He was the first black driver ever to win a NASCAR race. ...

The committee deciding the list consisted of 47 members, probably not a diverse team. Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty were just two of the inductees that you may be familiar with.
Some critics believe since this is the first NASCAR Hall of Fame class, there will be many more opportunities ahead for Scott and others to make it in.

Brian Donovan knows the story all too well. In 2008, he wrote a book about Scott's life entitled "Hard Driving: The American Odyssey of NASCAR's First Black Driver."

Donovan told the Bristol Herald Courier that the latest snub is consistent with the way Scott was treated during his 13-year Cup career.

"Wendell Scott's pioneering accomplishments certainly deserve recognition in NASCAR's Hall of Fame. But it's not surprising he's not on the list," Donovan said. "NASCAR doesn't seem ready to admit that powerful officials in the sport repeatedly did him wrong."

Cheney Ordered CIA Concealment

An amusing headline from NYT: “Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project.” I mean, obviously, Cheney is going to be linked. He’s everyone’s favorite evil mastermind.

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.

Now, if there’s anything we know about the CIA during the Bush years, they only kept secrets when they felt like it. Senior CIA officials routinely leaked to the press to cover their own backsides or when they disapproved of administration policy. Do we really think were going to break the law by lying to Congress on the orders of the vice president?

For that matter, it’s not entirely clear why they would consider Cheney part of their chain of command. Until early 2005, the CIA Director was dual hatted as Director of Central Intelligence, reporting directly to the president. Subsequently, the roles were split and the CIA Director reported to the Director of National Intelligence. The vice president has only referent power based on the strength of his relationship with the president. Indeed, some would argue that Dick Cheney wasn’t even a member of the executive branch!

UPDATE: Steven Taylor observes, “The broader problem here is that the current congressional oversight process over intelligence doesn’t work very well (if at all).” Ultimately, that’s the key takeaway. CIA simply doesn’t feel like it answers to Congress.

About the Author: James Joyner

LaToya Jackson Believes Michael was Murdered

They’re still investigating the details surrounding the death of Michael Jackson late last month, and now his sister LaToya says she thinks he was murdered.

She told press, “I believe Michael was murdered. I felt that from the start. Not just one person was involved, rather it was a conspiracy of people. He was surrounded by a bad circle. Michael was a very meek, quiet, loving person. People took advantage of that. People fought to be close to him, people who weren’t always on his side.”

LaToya also believes that MJ’s entourage was to blame for his drug addiction. “They got him hooked on drugs. He was pure and clean and then drugs came back into his system. I think it shocked his system so much it killed him.”

“He had needle marks on his neck and on his arms and more about those will emerge in the next few weeks. I cannot discuss that any further as I may jeopardize the investigation. I can, however, say that I have not changed my mind about my feeling that Michael was murdered.”

Amanda Rodrigues, Wife of Former Boxing Champion Arturo Gatti Arrested & Charged with His murder

Photo of Amanda Rodrigues, the 23-year-old wife of murdered boxer Arturo Gatti being escorted by police. Campos/JC Imagem/PAGOS

Former IBF and WBC champion Arturo Gatti, 37, was found murdered by strangulation over the weekend in Brazil, where the Italian-born Canadian was vacationing with his family. His wife, 23-year-old Amanda Carina Barbosa Rodrigues Gatti, has been detained as a suspect after inconsistencies in her story.

Police believe he was drunk and went to sleep, was first struck in the back of his head and then strangled with a purse strap, He may have been dead for 10 hours before authorities were called…

Amanda Gatti denies any connection to the murder and has blamed a third party. She could not explain why it took 10 hours for authorities to be notified. Police believe a third party involvement would be almost impossible because they were on the second floor with a key card security system with only one window. [Examiner]

People who watch boxing say that Gatti was a highly entertaining boxer, winning Fight of the Year honors three times on his way to a 40-9 record during a career that ended in 2007. Which makes me feel even worse about my reaction. A friend told me Saturday night that “Arturo Gatti” had been murdered in Brazil in what may have been a mob hit, and I said, “AWESOME!” I thought Arturo was one of the Gotti brothers. My bad.

Why Principle Matters

By Steve Lonegan

Since the Primary Election, loyal Republicans have been baffled by the behavior of the GOP establishment in New Jersey. First, operatives in the campaign of our nominee for Governor, Chris Christie, monkeyed around with the social issues page on his website, gaining the attention of the media before resolving what they caused.

Then, at the meeting of the Republican State Committee – the men and women elected from each county to formulate and advance the party’s principles – the party leadership blocked a move to formally adopt the platform of the national Republican Party, as well as blocking a resolution condemning Governor Corzine’s tax hikes. At least one major newspaper, the Star-Ledger, linked the leadership’s refusal to adopt our Party’s platform to the fact it contains Pro-Life and Pro-Traditional Marriage planks.

The impact of not adopting the platform – a set of principles to guide the party and its elected officials – would soon manifest itself. Just days later, Tom Keen Jr., the Republican leader in the New Jersey State Senate, led a small group of Republicans in voting with liberal Democrats in support of the life-time confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Barry Albin to the state’s highest court.

Albin has been the state’s most liberal activist judge, authoring the radical Lewis vs. Harris decision in support of civil unions—a decision that drastically alters the meaning of marriage and changes the course of our culture without voter input. Albin is the architect of the left wing social engineering scheme known as COAH and the failed Abbott education funding mandates that have given New Jersey the highest property taxes in America. The action of these Republicans was a slap in the face to their own nominee for Governor, who has promised to appoint “conservative judges who will uphold the Constitution”.

That same day, Senate Republican Leader Kean and his allies would rise alongside Jon Corzine to support another liberal scheme – the bonding of $400 million for “open space”. No one opposes open space, but at a time when the state’s debt has reached crushing levels more debt simply isn’t rational. Lacking any platform, Republicans like Senator Kean have left themselves increasingly vulnerable to emotional, feel-good appeals.

Meanwhile, over at the Assembly, Republican Leader Alex DeCroce lobbied to pass a destructive COAH bill. This legislation gives central planners in Trenton the power to override local mayors and councils and planning boards, forcing them to convert projects approved as “over-aged-55 housing” to open housing as long as there is a 20% low income housing component. This bill shifts power to Trenton bureaucrats and developers’ lobbyists. Republicans should be united behind defending home rule, but instead, without a guiding set of principles, they are lost.

But just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, along comes the vote on the largest tax increase in America’s history -- Barack Obama’s “Cap & Trade” scheme.

Only ten days after the failure of the New Jersey Republican State Committee to adopt the platform of the Republican Party, this tragic bill passed the House of Representatives by a narrow 219 to 212, with eight Republicans joining 211 Democrats. Our state had the dubious distinction of seeing three of those prosperity destroying votes cast by New Jersey Republican Congressmen Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo, and Chris Smith. No other state in America saw so many Republicans vote with President Obama and the Democrats. In New Jersey, three of our five Republican congressmen did.

To make matters worse, the Atlantic County Republican Committee sent out a release attacking those Republicans in Congress who stood up for taxpayers and came close to stopping President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and their destructive legislation. But it should come as no surprise that in a state where Republican leaders refuse to adopt Republican principles there is no semblance of principled leadership.

The question that haunts many of us is, “Why?”

To understand how we got here, we need to look at who controls the levers of power within the GOP establishment in New Jersey. For the most part, it’s not the elected officials. In New Jersey, most elected officials are part-timers. You must look behind the Republican “leader” – to the permanent bureaucracy who runs our legislative caucuses.

The players in this bureaucracy slide through a revolving door that takes them from legislative staffer, to lobbyist, to holder of government contracts or appointments, and then back in time to secure a fat taxpayer-funded pension. These are the hollow men who are there when a freshmen legislator arrives in Trenton – and remain twenty years after he’s gone.

Only our party – the Republican Party – can bring change to Trenton. The Democrats cannot bring the fiscal responsibility New Jersey needs. They are captive of their own base vote – of public employee unions and those dependent on government. They dare not risk their contract with these constituencies.

Republicans have a base vote who wants fiscal change. It is the hollow men who reject it, and they do so for the simple reason that it is in their financial interests to maintain the status quo. At the back of every seemingly inexplicable betrayal by a GOP “leader” sits a close personal advisor with his own personal reasons. And in a state GOP without principles – that fails to adopt its own party platform – this kind of venal corruption is rampant.

That’s why it is so important for the New Jersey Republican State Committee to take a principled stand, adopt the party platform, and then use those principles when the hollow men come round with their personal agendas.
Letters from State Committee officials Rob Eichmann and Donna Ward: