Monday, August 3, 2009

Photo of the Day: Trenton man shows the police how he really feels about them..

Photo of the Day: Trenton man shows the police how he really feels about them..
This maybe the greatest photo ever, lol.....

Money, Custody on Line in Jackson Hearing

3:00 -- The judge just admitted Jackson's 2002 will into probate. The will names John Branca and John McClain as co-executors. We know Katherine has a beef with that. The question -- will she challenge the co-executors or possibly ask that she be named as a third executor. Court is in recess for an hour-and-a half. Stay tuned.

2:50 -- The judge has ruled that AEG has to provide a copy of their contract with Michael to Katherine Jackson.

2:32 -- The judge has taken the bench.

2:28 -- Family members have begun to file back into the courtroom. The judge has yet to come back.

1:03 -- The judge has called for a 30-minute break.

12:55 -- The judge decided on the lesser amount because of concerns about duplicate expenses for the monthly allowance approved for Katherine.

12:42 -- The judge has just granted 83.5% of what was requested for the children's allowance. Specific amounts were not discussed.

12:41 -- The lawyers are now discussing the allowance for Jackson's three kids.

12:40 -- Debbie Rowe will have visitation rights with her two kids and will continue getting spousal support based on the agreement she struck with Michael several years ago.

12:39 -- The judge granted Katherine a financial allowance for six months retro from the time Michael died. The amount of the allowance wasn't discussed in open court.

12:37 -- The judge just named Katherine permanent guardian of all three kids.

12:26 -- Debbie Rowe's lawyer, Eric George, just said he won't object to Katherine being appointed temporary guardian, but permanent guardianship could be delayed. It's curious given the supposed settlement between Debbie and Katherine.

12:24 -- The judge just said Klein has no legal standing to lodge an objection ... that Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe are the parents.

NYC grand jury indicts Burress on weapons charges

NEW YORK — Former New York Giants star Plaxico Burress was indicted by a grand jury on weapons charges after shooting himself in the thigh at a Manhattan night club last winter, prosecutors announced Monday.

The indictment charged the 31-year-old Burress with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.

Burress' former teammate, Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, was not indicted for his role in the incident.

"A grand jury applied the law to the facts of this case," Morgenthau said.

No one else is likely to face charges in the case, Morgenthau said. He said some of the others involved in the incident "showed first-degree bad judgement," but their actions didn't rise to the level of a crime.

Burress was at the Latin Quarter nightclub Nov. 29 when he shot himself in the thigh after a gun tucked in the waist of his track pants slipped down his leg and fired. Authorities say Pierce, who was with Burress at the club, drove his then-teammate to the hospital and took the gun to Burress' home in Totowa, N.J.

The gun was not licensed. No one called police to report the gunshot wound, as required by law: Not the players, nor NFL officials, nor the hospital where Burress was treated.

Both Burress and Pierce testified before the grand jury last week. Burress told reporters then that he was sorry for his actions.

"I was truthful, I was honest, and I'm truly remorseful for what I've done and for what happened," Burress said.

The 31-year-old wide receiver faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty to weapons charges earlier this year and is free on $100,000 bail.

Burress, who caught the winning touchdown for the Giants over the New England Patriots in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl, also could face disciplinary action by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell under the league's personal conduct policy. Goodell's office announced in June that the league already had started its examination of the shooting.

The Giants released Burress in April and he has yet to sign with another team.

Strong quake hits Mexico's Gulf of California

MEXICO CITY — A powerful earthquake Monday shook the fishing villages along Mexico's Gulf of California, prompting alarm as far away as Phoenix, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The U.S. National Earthquake Information Center said the 6.9-magnitude quake struck at 12:59 p.m. (1:59 EDT, 17:59 GMT) and was centered 331 miles (533 kilometers)southeast of the border city of Tijuana.

Civil protection officials in the two states on either side of the quake — Baja California and Sonora — said there were no reports of damage or injury.

The magnitude-6.9 quake came minutes after two others calculated at magnitudes 5.8 and 5.0, according to the earthquake center.

The quakes were all centered in the middle of the narrow slice of sea between the Baja peninsula and Mexico's mainland, which should help cut down on its chances of causing major damage, said Don Blakeman, an analyst at the center.

"It's going to be felt extremely widely and it's possible there may be some damage but there's no way to speculate at this point," Blakeman said.

Ominous Obamite Mutterings Raise Middle Class Tax Hike Fears

The Scary Man will take your money away.

President Obama may have to break his campaign pledge and raise taxes on middle-class Americans to pay for public health care and the growing deficit


"We will not get this economy back on track, recovery will be not strong and sustained, unless we ... can convince the American people that we're going to have the will to bring these deficits down once recovery is firmly established," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said on ABC's "This Week."

WTF?! They're saying they got to confiscate more of Americans' money for the good of the economy?

Only communists could be so delusional and incorrect.

Asked point blank whether it was right to suggest it is a matter of when, not if, taxes will be raised, Geithner responded, "It is absolutely right."

What a turnaround. Five years ago I was suffering under Liberal tyranny up here in Canada, and wished that things were up here like they were in America under Bush.

Today, however, things have been reversed, turned upside down. I know I'm better off under the Harper Conservatives than I would be under the Obama Democrats.

Hey, Barry-O! Not everyone in Canada thinks you're hot shiite!

Arrest in death of Holocaust survivor, disco owner

A woman was charged with murder in the strangling of an 89-year-old man who once ran a disco-era nightclub, and police said they were searching for a man seen with her in the victim's car.

The victim, Guido Felix Brinkmann, regularly brought young women back to his apartment for sex, authorities said, but it wasn't clear how the woman knew the victim.

Angela Murray, 30, was being held without bail on second-degree murder and robbery charges. Her attorney did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press on Monday.

Brinkmann was found Thursday in his bed with his hands bound, a sheet draped over his body. He had been beaten and was asphyxiated. His apartment was messy, but there was no sign of forced entry.

Police say a woman and a man in their 30s were seen going into his apartment the night before, and later left through the basement garage in Brinkmann's car. Investigators are still searching for the man.

The car was found Friday in the Bronx. Police said Brinkmann's safe, ID and some tax records were found in Murray's Bronx apartment, and phone records show she called Brinkmann sometime before midnight Thursday, according to a criminal complaint.

Brinkmann was the former owner of the Adam's Apple nightclub and, until his death, was a manager for a commercial building in the Bronx. He also was a Holocaust survivor who had been sent to Auschwitz. His friends and family said he was a vibrant, amiable and dapper man.

Murray was arraigned on the charges Sunday.


in the Christian Post:

Shifts in a culture are often signaled by unexpected developments that represent far more than may first meet the eye. The cover story in the August 2009 edition of Christianity Today may signal such a shift among American evangelicals. In this case the cultural shift is nothing less than an awakening to the priority of marriage. At the very least, it represents a public airing of the question of the delay of marriage among evangelical young people. In that sense, it is a bombshell.

In "The Case for Early Marriage," sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas in Austin argues that far too many American evangelicals have attempted to deal with sex without understanding marriage. In particular, he asserts that the "prevailing discourse of abstinence culture in contemporary American evangelicalism" has run aground. While not devaluing abstinence, Regnerus explains that his research has led him to believe "that few evangelicals accomplish what their pastors and parents wanted them to do" -- which is to refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage.

Regerus understands that many evangelical parents and pastors are most likely to respond to this reality with the reflex mechanism of an even greater emphasis upon sexual abstinence. Nevertheless, the data reveal that the majority of evangelical young people -- most of whom have been targeted for years with messages of sexual abstinence -- are engaging in sexual intercourse before marriage. ...

In making his own argument, Mark Regnerus helpfully dispels many of the common arguments against early marriage. Of equal importance, he also points to a concern peculiar to American evangelicalism. "The ratio of devoutly Christian young women to men is far from even. Among evangelical churchgoers, there are about three single women for every two single men. This is the elephant in the corner of almost every congregation -- a shortage of young Christian men." This is a sobering but very important observation. As Regnerus also notes, men often delay marriage believing that they can always marry when ever they are "ready." Meanwhile, their evangelical sisters are often very ready for marriage, even as they watch their prospects for both marriage and fertility falling.

Is This Birth Certificate For Real Or Just Another Hoax?

Two talk radio shows aired on Indianapolis' WIBC-FM last night, "The Big Show With Bill Cunningham" and "Coast To Coast" were buzzing over a World Net Daily report about California attorney Orly Taitz filing what purports to be a photo image of a Kenyan birth certificate of Barack Obama with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The document shown in the the photo indicates that Obama's place of birth was Coast Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya on August 4, 1961. In her lawsuit, Taitz is seeking the Court's permission to obtain documents from the Kenyan government and to depose Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The document purports to have been issued by the Kenyan government in 1964, the year it became independent from Great Britain. While the alleged document's contents are quite intriguing, I think it should be viewed with suspicion, particularly since Hawaiian officials have declared the Certification of Live Birth produced by Obama during last year's campaign showing his birth there as legitimate. The report doesn't indicate where Taitz obtained the photo image of the document. During last year's campaign, there were Internet rumors that Republican campaign operatives had obtained such a document that would be revealed during the presidential race between Obama and Sen. John McCain. Those rumors proved to be untrue. This may be a hoax to completely discredit Taitz ala Dan Rather in her pursuit of numerous lawsuits against Obama challenging his natural born citizen status, a constitutional requirement for being president of the United States. The Daily Kos is already having fun debunking the document here. Poor Orly. She means well.

Google chief leaves Apple board

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has quit Apple's board of directors because the search giant's business is increasingly competing with Apple's.

Apple boss Steve Jobs said that had Mr Schmidt stayed on, crossovers between the two firms' projects mean he would have to leave chunks of meetings.

Google's Android operating system is used in mobile devices that compete with Apple's iPhone.

Google is also developing an operating system based on its Chrome web browser.

The Federal Trade Commission has been examining whether Google's common ties with Apple might discourage competition.

In May, Mr Schmidt said that he had not contemplated stepping down as an Apple director because he did not see the company as a "primary competitor".

The decision for him to depart was a mutual one, Mr Jobs said.

"Unfortunately...Eric's effectiveness as an Apple board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest."

Google is beginning to promote its Google Voice service - which assigns a phone number to users, who can let the user divert calls to that number to other phone lines.

Last week the Federal Communications Commission wrote to Apple and Google seeking more information about Apple's rejection of a Google Voice application for the iPhone.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. mulls moving over death threats

CHILMARK - Black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. has received numerous death threats since he accused a white officer of racially profiling him in a controversial arrest last month, prompting Harvard University officials to suggest he consider moving, the professor told a crowd yesterday.

“You should die; you’re a racist,” read one e-mail that Gates recalled in his first public appearance since sharing a beer at the White House with President Obama and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley, who arrested him July 16. The threats forced Gates to change his e-mail address and cell phone number.

Crowley was investigating a possible burglary at Gates’ home, which Harvard University owns. While Crowley claims Gates became enraged and continued to yell despite warnings, Gates has alleged racial profiling and said he never raised his voice. A charge of disorderly conduct against Gates was dropped.

The arrest incited a national debate over race and class that Gates said yesterday shows no sign of abating.

“They have not been resolved at all,” Gates said before 150 spectators at the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival, where he was promoting his book, “In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past.”

On July 25, someone posted signs outside Gates’ Ware Street home calling him “shameful” and a “racist.” Gates said he has also received bomb threats.

Gates said he dreamed he was arrested at the White House the night before his meeting with Obama and Crowley. He said his family and Crowley’s were “like a deer caught in headlights” upon meeting.

But the two were able to use humor to break the ice, Gates said.

“I offered to get his kids into Harvard if he doesn’t arrest me again,” Gates said.

“I said to him, ‘I would have sworn you were 6-feet-8 inches tall,’ ” Gates said. “He said, ‘I used to be, but I’ve lost 2 to 3 feet over the last two weeks.’ How can you be mad at a guy like that? When he’s not arresting you, Sgt. Crowley is a nice guy.”

They even talked about meeting again, perhaps going to a Red Sox [team stats] or Celtics [team stats] game, Gates said.

A man in the crowd told Gates he admired his sense of humor, prompting Gates to quip: “I should have been funnier in the kitchen of my house on July 16.”

Gates is planning a documentary from both the perspective of police and people who have been victims of racial profiling so “Americans can understand that you can have two equally valid perceptions of the same event.”

Susan Milton reports for the Cape Cod Times. Associated Press material was used in this report.

Big Ben vs. Kobe? Does Race Matter in Rape Allegations?

OK, for those of you who got angry with me for not taking sides in the case between Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley last week (if only you knew what I know about this case), I thought I should describe a racially-charged situation that makes me say, "hmmmm?" That would be the case of Big Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the surprising rape accusation filed by a woman in Las Vegas.

In a civil lawsuit, Andrea McNulty accuses "Big Ben" of engaging in some disturbing activities. She claims that Ben forced himself on her sexually when she went into his hotel room to check on a broken television set. All of this allegedly took place in Vegas and of course Ben is denying it. I am not sure if he did it or not, since I've never wanted to know much about Ben Roethlisberger's sex life.

Ben's situation is similar to the disturbing allegations made against NBA star Kobe Bryant in the summer of 2003. Kobe's case was not much different from Ben's, in which Kobe was also accused of doing some pretty unacceptable things.

Both cases have their shaky points. For Kobe, there was the evidence that the alleged victim spent a lot of "quality time" (sexually) with other men during the same week she was allegedly raped by Mr. Bryant. This doesn't mean that she couldn't have been raped, but it certainly hurt her case in the eyes of the American public. In Ben's situation, the woman waited nearly a year to file a civil suit against him. Not a criminal suit; a civil one. Whether she was raped or not, she has decided that she definitely wants to get paid.

Again, wanting to get paid doesn't imply that you can't be raped, but similar to Kobe's accuser, Andrea McNulty's request for cash has weakened her case in the eyes of those trying to sort out the facts. Fortunately, the public doesn't decide rape cases, since there is enough bias in favor of high profile athletes. Simultaneously, there are many people in the world wishing to take advantage of athletes, as false rape charges are all too common.

What is also interesting about these two seemingly similar situations, is that while Kobe's case was all over the news for several days in a row, the world has heard barely a peep about the case of Ben Roethlisberger. Sure, I've seen it mentioned in the news here and there, but there hasn't been the sort of brain-drain hyperanalysis which took place during the Kobe Bryant fiasco or in the case of Michael Vick. Why would that be?

Some might say that it has to do with the fact that Ben's case seems far shakier and less interesting than that of Bryant. Others might argue that Kobe is the bigger star between the two - Ben has only two championship rings to Kobe's four, but they've both had pretty good careers. Then, there is the final possibility that our imagery of black men as criminals and sexual aggressors makes it easier to believe that Kobe raped a white woman. The truth is that while we can point to several cases in which black male athletes are lifted to America as public enemy number one (Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, Terrell Owens, Ron Artest, Latrell Sprewell, Randy Moss), we are hard pressed to find any white athletes who are hoisted into the same infamous light.

What is also interesting is that seeing so many African American men in trouble on TV leads the public to wonder why black men choose to misbehave. We tend to forget, however, that the media makes a decision on which behavior to spotlight and which to leave out of the news cycle. For example, while we are very quick to see cases of black male athletes behaving badly, we are less likely to see cases like that of Myron Rolle, the Florida State Seminole who passed up the NFL draft in order to become a Rhodes Scholar.

In the interview below, Delores Jones of Your Black World interviews Dr. Deborah Stroman of the College Sport Research Institute. Dr. Stroman and Delores talk about the cases of Kobe Bryant and Big Ben and whether there is a difference in public perception of the two. Finally, there is the question of whether or not this difference is related to race. Enjoy!

Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. He does regular commentary in national media, including CNN, MSNBC, BET and more.. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered directly to your email, please click here.
Tagged as: ben roethlisberger, black speakers, dr boyce watkins, kobe bryant, syracuse university

Lil Wayne: Not Shot, But Praying For Drake

It wouldn't be a Sunday night without a fake celebrity death rumor to wake up to the following morning, causing you to momentarily freak the f*%k out that one of your favorite celebrities may have passed away as you slept.

Or Lil Wayne, for that matter.

In any case, if you heard that some gang shot Lil Wayne and left the fertile rapper critically wounded and/or dead, that's not true. Lil Wayne has not been shot.

He is free to get stoned and impregnate women today as planned.

As far as Lil Wayne news that is actually true, he is calling fans to pray for his Young Money labelmate Drake (Aubrey Graham) as the "Best I Ever Had" star is set to undergo knee surgery, after recently collapsing onstage in New Jersey.

Going against doctor's orders, Drake performed with a torn ACL during The Young Money Presents America's Most Wanted Music Festival tour stop on Friday.

The Canadian-born rapper and sometimes Rihanna BF was determined to make a brief cameo at each show to collaborate with Lil Wayne on "Best I Ever Had."

After attempting a spin, Drake fell to the stage in agony and was rushed out by medics. Needless to say, he won't try this again. See gruesome video below ...

Naomi Campbell Accused of Attacking Photographer

Naomi Campbell’s fiery reputation is continuing to haunt her.

The British supermodel, 39, has been accused of hitting photographer Gaetano Di Giovanni with her handbag while in Italy.

“I had just started to photograph her. First she hit me with her bag, screaming at me in English,” Di Giovanni said. “Then she tried to slap me but I managed to avoid her — but her nails still got my eye. For a few seconds I could not see a thing. I could hear her bodyguards and her boyfriend trying to drag her away.

“The hospital doctor said that I would need a few days to recover and have to go to an eye specialist. I am thinking about taking Miss Campbell to court.”

Naomi has been on holiday on the yacht of her billionaire boyfriend Mikhail Prokhorov on the Italian island of Lipari.

Campbell’s spokesman said, “Reports that Naomi attacked a photographer are completely untrue.”

American Children Lacking in Vitamin D

Boston (DbTechNo) - Results from a pair of new studies indicate that millions of American children are lacking in daily vitamin D.

Vitamin D is a very important ingredient to a healthy lifestyle, and is found in breads, cereals and even the sun.

People who are living with low vitamin D levels are at increased risk of serious health problems, including; heart disease, diabetes and bone problems.

According to researchers, young girls are the most prone demographic to be living with low vitamin D levels, as well as those who have darker skin.

According to researchers of one of the studies, the vastly decreased amount of outside playtime that children are getting is one factor that would explain their vitamin D deficiency.

They say that 7 out of 10 young children are not getting the recommended vitamin D levels, which is putting them at risk for the above health problems.

“We expected the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency would be high, but the magnitude of the problem nationwide was shocking,” says lead author Juhi Kumar, M.D., M.P.H., a fellow in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center.

Geithner: We do not plan to ask for more bank bailout money

A financial collapse is "not going to happen" Geithner said

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Obama administration doesn't plan to ask Congress for more funds to expand an existing $700 billion bank bailout program it launched in October.

"We do not plan to ask for more money and I think it's quite unlikely that we do," Geithner said on ABC's This Week program on Sunday. "People need to understand that we will do what is necessary to make sure that viable businesses, families that have been very conservative and prudent, have access to credit at reasonable terms."

In a wide ranging interview, which included a discussion about heath care, deficit reduction, executive compensation and job creation, Geithner said he was optimistic that the Treasury department won't seek to have Congress approve more funds beyond the existing bank bailout fund, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Fund.

TARP funds have been used to provide capital injections into banks, car manufacturers and servicers and insurance companies. So far, a group of 10 large financial, as well as a number of smaller banks, have paid back TARP funds, bringing the fund's assets to roughly $130 billion, up from $40 billion the Treasury had available in the program in April.

Geithner added that he doesn't know how much remaining TARP funds he expects large financial institutions to pay back, but he said he expects a "substantial amount" to be returned. Critics on Capitol Hill worry that large sums of TARP funds, such as $85 billion that went to the automotive sector and $2 billion extended to the troubled CIT Group Inc., will not be paid back.


Geithner added that he expects to see the pace of job losses to continue to slow materially. "Again most private forecasters -- let's use their judgment -- suggest you're going to see unemployment start to come down maybe beginning in the second half of next year," Geithner said.

White House Economic Council Director Larry Summers said on Sunday's NBC "Meet the Press" that the economy is no longer in free fall despite the high unemployment. See full story.

However, Geithner did not say the administration will move to extend unemployment benefits, after reports that roughly 1.5 million people could be losing their unemployment benefits by the end of the year.

"I think that is something that the administration and Congress are going to look very carefully at as we get closer to the end of this year," Geithner said.

Deficit reduction

Geithner also declined to say whether the administration would consider new revenue generation ideas as a means of reducing the expanding deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the White House's budget would add $9 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years.

"Well, we're going to have to look at - we're going to have to do what's necessary," Geithner said. "Remember the critical thing is people understand that when we have recovery established, led by the private sector, then we have to bring these deficits down very dramatically."

Turbulence slams Continental jet, at least 26 hurt

A Continental Airlines jet carrying 179 people from Brazil to Texas hit severe turbulence over the Atlantic early Monday, injuring at least 26 — including four seriously — and forcing an emergency landing in Miami, officials said.

One passenger said he felt Continental Flight 128 drop without warning while flight attendants were in the aisles. Some were thrown against the roof.

Houston-based Continental said there were 168 people and 11 crew on the Boeing 767. The airline released a statement that said the fasten seat belt sign was illuminated at the time and that about 28 passengers were treated in Miami.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Elkin Sierra said four people were seriously injured and another 22 had bumps and bruises. A total of 14 people were taken to hospitals.

The plane was on an overnight flight from Rio de Janeiro to Houston. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the turbulence struck about halfway between Puerto Rico and Grand Turk island, north of the Dominican Republic.

The plane reported hitting severe turbulence at 4:30 a.m. and landed safely at 5:30 a.m, at Miami International Airport, Bergen said.

Passenger Fabio Ottolini of Houston said it was about six hours into the flight when he felt the aircraft suddenly drop.

"People didn't have time to do anything," he said.

Ottolini said flight attendants were serving items in the aisles when the turbulence hit. He said some flight attendants were thrown against the roof of the cabin and may have been among those injured.

Carolina Portella, 18, was on the flight and headed to college in San Francisco. She said the plane hit a little turbulence and then suddenly dropped severely. The oxygen masks popped out.

"The plane just dropped," she said. "I just grabbed the hand of the person next to me and held on."

The rest of the flight, she said, was smooth.

Rio de Janeiro was also the departure airport for Air France Flight 447, which crashed amid thunderstorms June 1 in the mid-Atlantic more than 900 miles off Brazil's northeastern coast, killing all 228 people on board.

The FAA's Bergen cautioned against drawing any parallels and said the cause and severity of the turbulence in the Continental case was still being investigated. "I wouldn't draw any conclusions and comparisons," Bergen said.

Airport officials say some passengers were going on to Houston on various Continental flights about midday. He did not know when the remaining passengers would be expected to arrive in Houston.

Iran's Opposition Leaders Boycott Ahmadinejad Endorsement Event

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, formally gave his blessing to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term on Monday. The ceremony comes two days before his formal inauguration, but many opposition figures and two former presidents boycotted the event.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) embraces President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) after presenting him with a decree during an official ceremony in Tehran, 03 Aug 2009

The crowd of several hundred stood solemnly for Iran's national anthem at the opening of Monday's ceremony, in which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei confirmed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second four-year term in office. He is due to be formally inaugurated in front of parliament on Wednesday.

Former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Khatami did not attend the event, which was also boycotted by opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani was, however, seated on the podium.

After the call to prayer, the crowd of several hundred attending the ceremony chanted in approval, as Mr. Ahmedinejad bowed to the Ayatollah, in respect, and kissed him on his shoulder. The Ayatollah appeared to rebuff an attempt by Mr. Ahmedinejad to kiss his hand.

Reports of friction between the two men surfaced recently, after the Ayatollah wrote a sternly worded letter demanding that Mr. Ahmadinejad withdraw the controversial choice of the father of his son-in-law, Esfandiar Rahim Meshai, as first vice president.

The choice also triggered an uproar from some of Mr. Ahmadinejad's hardline supporters.

During Monday's ceremony, Ayatollah Khamenei insisted on praising the outcome of Iran's disputed June 12th presidential election, which have resulted in weeks of popular and sometimes violent unrest, and charges of widespread vote-rigging. Mr. Ahmadinejad officially won 64% of the vote.

Looking stern, but determined, the Ayatollah also criticized Western nations, as he has done repeatedly, since the election, referring to them as the forces of "global arrogance" and "enemies of our state."

These nations, he insisted, were behind a "profound conspiracy to create strife…and poison the success of our great election." "But," he added, "through the grace of God and wisdom of our leaders, these plots were neutralized."

Mr. Ahmadinejad, for his part, also decried foreign powers' alleged interference in Iran's domestic affairs, going on to say, "the era when a number of bullying powers dictated their rules and attitudes to [other] nations is over, now."

The start of inauguration festivities for Mr. Ahmadinejad comes in the midst of the trials of top reformist leaders and activists by a revolutionary court in Tehran. Charges against them include violence, fomenting strife, and attempting to overthrow the government.

Sunday, defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi denounced the trials as "trumped up," and insisted that they merely pointed to the "moral collapse and discredit of [their] instigators."

Fort Worth firm testing swine flu vaccine on volunteers

Patients are informed that serious injury, or even death, is a possibility.

FORT WORTH – When Angela Witkamp heard that a local research company would soon be testing a swine flu vaccine, she had no reservations about signing up her two young daughters for a clinical trial.

“Any vaccination you get, there are side effects,” Witkamp said. “But the benefits of getting the vaccination definitely outweigh them. There are people dying from the swine flu.

“Some of my friends call us guinea pigs, but they are not fully informed. The vaccination that they will be studying will be the same that anyone can get at the health department [when it is approved].”

Witkamp and her girls, Baylee, 3, and Emmie, 5, are among thousands of people rolling up their sleeves for science as drug companies, doctors and government officials work to get a safe and effective swine flu vaccine on the market by October.

In June, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic of H1N1, or the swine flu, which has killed more than 300 and sickened more than 43,000 in the U.S. In Texas, 5,373 cases have been reported, with 357 confirmed in Dallas County and 210 in Tarrant County, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Officials expect to see those numbers rise when school starts, which is why large-scale clinical trials are being conducted worldwide.

In Fort Worth, Benchmark Research is conducting clinical trials for several drug companies, testing to see patients’ reactions to the experimental vaccine and whether it produces an immune response to the H1N1 virus. Benchmark, which is paying patients $200 to $600, depending on the study and its protocol, will begin administering injections next week.

“What we are doing is private and independent,” said Dr. William Seger, Benchmark’s principal investigator, who also has a private medical practice next door. “These are private companies that are developing the flu vaccine, and they need to prove to the FDA that they are acceptable. They may be the one to help bring us a vaccine that is first to the market. We are going to need them all to produce the gazillion H1N1s that we are going to need worldwide.”

Although studies are being conducted on all ages, Seger especially needs patients 6 months to 17 years old, the population that is most likely to come into contact with H1N1.

Good experiences

Sara Rix’s sons, Tyler, 8, and Nathan, 6, are among those participating in a clinical trial. The boys have participated in previous trials at Benchmark for other flu studies and meningitis.

“I have had good experiences in the past,” said Rix, 38, a part-time preschool teacher. “I think it is beneficial, not only for the general public, but for my children. I want them to be protected. … There are parents out there who do not vaccinate their kids at all. To me, I just don’t understand that. It is like getting in a car; you want to wear a seat belt.”

Tyler – a third-grader in the Lake Worth school district, which had closed down this year because of the swine flu – said he isn’t afraid to get the shot.

“I know once I get the shot, I won’t get that virus,” Tyler said. “The shot is good.”

Seger said patients who qualify for a study will be examined, have their blood drawn and receive the vaccine. For several months, they will record their temperatures, aches and pains and if there are any side effects.

In subsequent visits, their blood will be checked to see whether their immune system is building up antibodies against the H1N1 virus. The data are continuously being sent to the drug companies.

Risks involved

Seger acknowledges that there are always risks and said patients are informed that serious injury, or even death, is a possibility. In 1976, more than 500 Americans ended up with a rare neurodegenerative condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome during a mass vaccination campaign for the swine flu. Twenty-five people died.

Seger pointed out, however, that science and medicine have come a long way and that flu vaccines have been used safely for decades. He stressed that, while there is a push to get the vaccine on the market quickly, corners are not being cut.

Geithner and Summers: Tax Hike for the Middle Class

Tax increases for the middle class are on the way.

If they weren't, you can be sure Obama would be instructing his mouthpieces to make that clear.

From the Washington Times:

Wavering on an emphatic promise he made in the spring, top White House economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers would not rule out middle-class tax increases Sunday as a way for the Obama administration to pay for a sweeping health care plan.

The statement, which was echoed by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Sunday's talk shows, pries open a door to the kinds of broad tax increases that Mr. Obama opposed in his campaign and that he and his advisers have ruled out since taking office in January.

In March, Mr. Summers told CNBC emphatically, "Let's be very clear. ... There are no, no tax increases this year. There are no, no tax increases next year."

On Sunday, however, Mr. Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, was much more circumspect, saying that circumstances change and options cannot be ruled out.

"There is a lot, though, there is a lot that can happen over time," Mr. Summers said when pressed on CBS' "Face the Nation" about whether the Obama administration would raise taxes on the middle class to cover the massive planned expansion of federal health care coverage and the ballooning federal deficits.

"It's never a good idea to absolutely rule things out no matter what," Mr. Summers said, elaborating by saying the administration would not act in ways that would be funded "primarily" by the middle class.

"But what the president has been completely clear on is that he is not going to pursue any of his priorities - not health care, not energy, nothing - in ways that are primarily burdening middle-class families," he said.

Mr. Geithner spoke similarly, declining to rule out broadly based tax increases, when pressed during an interview that aired Sunday. ABC's George Stephanopoulos invited Mr. Geithner five times to rule out raising taxes to pay for health care reform and/or to close the budget deficit - and he never did.

"Again, we're not at the point yet where we're going to make a judgment about what it's going to take," Mr. Geithner said on ABC's "This Week."

When asked about tax increases, "you're not ruling it out, you can't rule it out," Mr. Geithner responded: "I think that what the country needs to do is understand we're going to have to do what it takes. We're going to do what's necessary."

His remarks differed from Mr. Summers' words in March and contradicted what Mr. Obama called "a firm pledge" that no one other than the rich would have taxes raised.

OBAMA: And I can make a firm pledge: under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase - not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.