Monday, August 31, 2009

Educated Black women less likely to marry, study says

- Black women have made great gains in higher education and employment, yet the gains may have come at the cost of marriage and family, according to a recent study by researchers at Yale University.

Natalie Nitsche and Hannah Brueckner of Yale found that Black women born after 1950 were twice as likely as White women to not have married by age 45. They were also twice as likely to be divorced, widowed or separated.

The authors reviewed U.S. Census data dating back to the 1970s on race, gender, education, marriage and fertility. Their findings were presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco earlier this month.

“Highly educated Black women have increasingly fewer options when it comes to potential mates,” Brueckner said in a statement. “They are less likely than Black men to marry outside their race and, compared to Whites and Black men, they are less likely to marry a college-educated spouse.”

The initial findings of the study did not surprise Audrey Chapman, a radio show host who has written on the subject of Black relationships and has a show on Howard University’s WHUR station on the topic.

“I can make it quite simple, there are not as many educated Black men as Black women,” Chapman told the AFRO. “There are more Black men in jail than at a university. Statistics have shown that during the freshman year at college, there are 100 Black females compared to 88 Black males.”

“By the time the senior year comes around, there are only 49 Black males to every 100 Black females,” Chapman said. “Black women are having trouble looking for Black men of equal status in their lives.”

The study found that Black women with postgraduate educations born between 1956 and 1960, first gave birth at a median age of 34 years old. That age is about the same as White women in the same demographic, the study said.

But, according to the study, once White women reached their 30s, many more of them give birth, often more than once, while Black women did not. Statistics showed that the rate of childlessness among Black women of that age rose from 30 percent for those born between 1950 and 1955, to 45 percent for those born between 1956 and 1960.

Beyond the personal interests of individual women, the trend is significant because “in terms of American society, this is one additional obstacle” to the broadening of the Black middle class, Brueckner said.

“Fewer highly educated Black people having children means that they cannot pass on those advantages and knowledge,” she said.

While Dr. Denise Wright, a practicing D.C. psychologist, does not dispute the findings, she said that the data must be looked at in a broader context.

“The disparity between educated Black women and Black men in general is inherent in the society we live in,” said Wright. “Black men have to deal with such issues as the constant threat of incarceration, the work availability disparity between Black women and Black men and the end of the agrarian society, where the man was supposed to be the sole provider of the family and a welfare system that does not encourage family building. Those are things that have held Black men back and yet promoted Black women who want to educate themselves.”

Wright said that finding a mate is more than just “numbers and statistics.”

“The key in any relationship is personal chemistry and you have to look at the person’s heart, regardless of what status society has imposed on them,” she said.

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Black Woman Wins Mayorship in Italian Province

By a slim margin of just 38 votes, a Black woman has become mayor of a small town in northern Italy.

Sandy Cane, 48, won the election earlier this summer and will govern the town of Valceresio, population 5,300, which borders Varesotto and the Swiss confederation of Ticino. She will serve a five-year term.

A member of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, Cane was born in Springfield, Mass., the daughter of an African-American soldier and Italian mother who emigrated to northern France. Described as the voice of Italy’s right-wing party, she said she was happy about the election and that she threw her hat into race out of her love for the city of Viggiu.

“I became a candidate because I love Viggiu,” Cane was quoted as saying. “For me, it is fantastic. It is my city.”

Meanwhile, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Cane—who squared off in an election held concurrently with the European Parliament vote—is being lauded as “Italy’s Obama.”

She has been compared to the American president for her dark curly hair and her skin tone, both prominent in his genetic makeup, the Monitor reported. The two were also reportedly born in the same year.

But that’s just as far as the similarities go: for example, Cane stands firmly against immigration. She has said that she would not hesitate to round up the town’s illegal residents and deport them.

Naomi Campbell attacks companies for 'dropping' black models in recession

Never afraid of speaking her mind, Naomi Campbell has accused the advertising business of using the recession as an excuse to drop black models.

Naomi Campbell who is a friend of Nelson Mandela, has won support from Bruce Oldfield, the designer of the wedding dress worn by Samantha Cameron, the wife of the Tory leader Photo: Getty Images

The 39-year-old supermodel, who is a close friend of Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister's wife, claims that major companies are refusing to use non-white women to promote their products.

"This year, we have gone back all the way that we had advanced," she says. "I don't see any black woman, or of any other race, in big advertising campaigns."

Campbell, who was born in London to a mother of Caribbean descent, refers to the publication last year of a special edition of Italian Vogue dedicated to non-white models.

"That made some noise, but, unfortunately, we are the same as before," she says. "People, in the panic of the recession, don't dare to put a girl of colour in their campaign, full stop. Nor of any other race. It's a shame. It's very sad."

The model, who is a friend of Nelson Mandela, has won support from Bruce Oldfield, the designer of the wedding dress worn by Samantha Cameron, the wife of the Tory leader.

"It's absolutely true that black models will be not as popular for advertising companies and magazine covers as white girls," the designer tells Mandrake. "In a recession, it's probably doubly difficult for black girls to get a booking."

Oldfield is thought to be the son of a Jamaican boxer, but never knew his natural parents and grew up in an orphanage. "In this climate, things are worse, but it is compounding a problem that already exists," he adds. "Cover editors are going to choose white over black. Naomi is not far off the mark."

In 1988, Campbell appeared on the cover of French Vogue as its first black cover girl after Yves St Laurent, her late friend and mentor, threatened to withdraw all of his advertising from the magazine following its refusal to place Campbell, or any black model, on its
front page. She also became the first black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue.

Earlier this year, she described the fashion industry as "racist". In a magazine interview, she was quoted as saying "You know, the American president may be black, but, as a black woman, I am still an exception in this business. I always have to work harder to be treated equally."

In June, she attended the Glastonbury music festival with Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah. The pair were promoting the Million Mums charity, which aims to help prevent women from dying needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth.

African-American male teachers try to be role models

Several point to their own mentors from childhood as examples.
By Matt Soergel

Mandarin Middle Assistant Principal Dwayne Thomas (left) reacts as Brian Baham tells him he will start college today. Sunday was a day of prayer for black male teachers.

At a church service Sunday to honor African-American male teachers, the talk turned to the mentors who had made a difference in the lives of some black educators.

For George Maxey, the new principal at Raines High School, it was John Fox, a white teacher who inspired him in third grade, when Maxey lived in a housing project in Brooklyn, N.Y.

For Julius Paden, principal at private Lighthouse Christian School, it was the late Bernard Wilkes, basketball coach at Ribault High School for 30 years.

For Dwayne Thomas, assistant principal at Mandarin Middle School, it was Bud Hicks, who worked as a custodian at his school in Detroit.

The custodian encouraged Thomas, the son of a single mother, to go to school and keep up his grades. He took him to a Detroit Red Wings game. He nicknamed him "Slick" because he tried to slide out of work.

Then he got Thomas a job as a student custodian, working alongside him. "He told me, 'You've got to work hard, and stop being slick,'" said Thomas. "'Take pride in the work that you do.'"

Thomas, 48, still keeps in touch with Hicks. "The kind of person Bud Hicks was to me, that's what I want to be for some young male or female," he said.

Thomas was at Greater Macedonia Baptist Church on Englewood Avenue West for what was billed as A Day of Prayer for Education and Educators in the African-American Community.

Thomas came to teaching five years ago after careers in the Navy and the corporate world. It's a challenge and a reward, he said, especially when trying to be a positive male role model for students who don't have many. "We're trying to be the teacher, the father, the uncle, the friend," he said.

Maxey, from Raines, said teachers need to challenge students to be better. "Children want structure, they want a place where they fit in, they want something that's bigger than them. School can be that," he said.

Paden, from Lighthouse Christian, said teachers are role models in ways big and small. "When I walk in front of them, I don't say, 'Put your shirt in your pants,' and then have my shirt hanging out my pants," he said. "I've got to walk the walk before I can talk the talk."

Rangel Failed to Disclose More Income and Assets, Forms Show

Representative Charles B. Rangel failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets on his financial disclosure forms for 2002 through 2006, including tens of thousands of dollars in rental income from a Harlem brownstone he sold in 2004, according to records filed this month with the clerk of the House of Representatives.

Doug Mills/The New York Times
Charles B. Rangel is facing two House investigations.

Rangel Failed to Disclose $500,000 in Assets for ’07 (August 26, 2009)
Times Topics: Charles B. RangelMr. Rangel, who is facing investigations by two House subcommittees into his personal finances and fund-raising, filed amended financial disclosure forms on Aug. 12 acknowledging that he had omitted an array of assets, business transactions and sources of income. They include a Merrill Lynch Global account valued between $250,000 and $500,000; tens of thousands of dollars in municipal bonds; and $30,000 to $100,000 in rent from a multifamily brownstone building he owned on West 132nd Street.

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Michael Jackson birthday party hosted by Spike Lee in New York

Fans celebrate King of Pop's 51st birthday at an event in Brooklyn organised by film-maker

Comedian Tracy Morgan, left, dances as the director Spike Lee looks on during a birthday party for Michael Jackson. Photograph: Jason DeCrow/AP

Michael Jackson's 51st birthday was celebrated yesterday with a party in New York hosted by the director Spike Lee. Thousands of people braved the rain in Prospect Park in Brooklyn where Lee, who worked with Jackson on the music video They Don't Care About Us, had organised the free event to celebrate the life and music of the King of Pop.

Even through the sea of umbrellas and raincoats, tributes to Jackson were evident, from posters to commemorative badges and white gloves. The crowd, a mix of ages and races, sang Jackson's greatest hits from Bad to Dirty Diana, with music provided by DJ Spinna.

Some fans had hobbled to the event on crutches, others brought fold-up seats with them, but most were up on their feet dancing. They did the moonwalk and performed his iconic poses.

A few children dressed up as the cast of The Wiz, the 1978 film featuring Jackson and Diana Ross.

Jackson fan Patricia Brown, from the Bronx, was dressed in a black-and-white suit with bow-tie, holding a sign that declared: I'm the Off the Wall Michael, from 1978.

"I love Michael so much, I've been grieving, but his birthday is a day of celebration," she said.

Lee – who grew up on Jackson's music and said in a recent interview with The Root, an online magazine, "we're of the same era ... I wanted my Afro to be perfectly round like Michael's" – spent the afternoon on stage, wearing a Jackson tribute T-shirt and leading the singing.

Lee was joined by the Rev Al Sharpton, who began his speech saying: "Fifty-one years ago today, history changed."

He paid tribute to Jackson for defying "social and musical odds" and breaking barriers. Sharpton then paid his respects to Ted Kennedy, whose funeral also took place yesterday, calling the senator a trailblazer. Sharpton also asked the crowd to remember the victims of hurricane Katrina, on the fourth anniversary of the disaster.

After the sombre speech, the music came back on and the celebrations continued. The Way You Make Me Feel blasted over the speakers, with fans singing along to lyrics played on a big screen in the park. One of the fans, Diana Bourne, who grew up in Brooklyn, said: "I was born in the same year as Michael, so I had to come out and celebrate. I love him so much.

"At moments I have been teary-eyed but this is a great day. His music transcends age, race, everything. All over the world people love him and his music.

"He was phenomenal, there will be never be anybody like him."

BLOOD FOR OIL-- Lockerbie Bomber al-Megrahi Was Released For Oil

On 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. 270 people were killed in the bombing including 169 Americans.

The British government decided it was in their best interest to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi free for oil contracts with Libya.
The Times Online reported:

The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: “This is the strongest evidence yet that the British government has been involved for a long time in talks over al-Megrahi in which commercial considerations have been central to their thinking.”

China: Stocks Going into Free Fall Mode

FN: The Chinese growth miracle has morphed into an easy credit mirage. After both credit creation and stock prices went parabolic the last two months, Chinese authorities ordered their banks to "tighten". Since most of the credit was flowing straight into stocks, the bid disappeared.

China’s Stocks Slump Most Since June 2008, Cap Monthly Loss: "China’s stocks plunged, with the Shanghai Composite Index falling the most since June 2008 and entering a bear market, on concern a slowdown in lending growth may derail a recovery in the world’s third-largest economy.

The benchmark index tumbled 6.7 percent to 2,667.75, capping its biggest monthly loss since October. The gauge has slumped 23 percent from its 15-month high on Aug. 4 and is the worst performer this month among 89 benchmark indexes tracked by Bloomberg globally.

“The local market bears are convinced that tightening is already underway,” said Howard Wang, head of the Greater China team at JF Asset Management, which oversees $50 billion. Only “a very strong set of macro numbers in August” or “stronger statements from central authorities” would change this trend, Wang said.

At least 150 stocks on the 898-member index dropped by the daily 10 percent limit. Industrial Bank Co. and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. tumbled by the permitted cap after Caijing magazine reported new loan growth this month may be almost half that of July. Lower profits dragged Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., the nation’s biggest steelmaker, and China Southern Airlines Co. down at least 7 percent."

Hoover and the Great Depression, redux

By Steven Horwitz

I develop a theory of labor market failure for the Great Depression based on Hoover's industrial labor program that provided industry with protection from unions in return for keeping nominal wages fixed. I find that the theory accounts for much of the depth of the Depression and for the asymmetry of the depression across sectors. The theory also can reconcile why deflation and low levels of nominal spending apparently had such large real effects during the 1930s, but not during other periods of significant deflation.

Not surprisingly, he's taking a beating in the left-oriented press (see an example from Salon here) from those who simply cannot imagine that Hoover was anything but Rush Limbaugh's spiritual ancestor. The fact that Hoover might have been a significant interventionist, many of whose policies foreshadowed the New Deal, is one their brains simply cannot accept, no matter how much evidence there is. Of course, the fact that Rothbard and Vedder/Gallaway have hammered this point before is not discussed at all.

I have a piece in the next issue of Econ Journal Watch that provides a detailed critique of this AER piece on Hoover and Roosevelt, as well more generally offering a counter-narrative of whole 1929-45 period integrating a bunch of different research. I'll certainly post a link here when it's out, but I did want to include this bit of it as a counter to the Myth of Hoover the Laissez-Fairist:

Eggertsson’s portrayal of Hoover as dogmatically committed to a balanced budget and small government is utterly at odds with Hoover’s personal history and stated beliefs, as well as the actual policies he put into place while president. Hoover’s first major role in government was as head of the Food Administration upon the US entry into World War I in 1917. He leapt into that job with great energy, having long believed that government can and should play a large role in the economy. In 1912, he had supported Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressives for the presidency, and was touted by many, including Franklin Roosevelt, as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in the 1920s. He was a registered Republican, however, and in 1921 accepted a position as Secretary of Commerce under President Harding, a job that he retained through most of the 1920s.

Hoover vowed to turn what was one of the lowest-profile departments of the federal government into a more visible one, specifically by increased interaction with businesses and involvement in economic policy. Donald Stabile (1986) has characterized his views as a desire to “transform the structure of the US economy from one of laissez-faire to one of voluntary cooperation” (819). In her book Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive, Joan Hoff Wilson (1975, 68) summarizes Hoover’s economic views this way:

Where the classical economists like Adam Smith had argued for uncontrolled competition between independent economic units guided only by the invisible hand of supply and demand, he talked about voluntary national economic planning arising from cooperation between business interests and the government… Instead of negative government action in times of depression, he advocated the expansion of public works, avoidance of wage cuts, increased rather than decreased production—measures that would expand rather than contract purchasing power.

When paired with his long-standing antipathy to free trade (65-66), this was hardly the program of a “limited government” or “laissez-faire” dogmatist. Other ideas he championed around this time included “increased inheritance taxes, public dams, and, significantly, government regulation of the stock market” (Rothbard 2008 [1963], 188).

As early as the 1920-21 recession, Hoover was becoming famous for convening conferences with business leaders as a way to use the power of government to generate what he saw as desirable “cooperation” as opposed to individualistic competition. In contrast to Harding’s much more genuine commitment to laissez-faire during that recession, Hoover quickly got busy organizing conferences and relief efforts and exhorting businessmen and the public to bring that spirit of “mobilization” and “spontaneous cooperation” experienced during the war to peacetime economic reconstruction. At one conference on unemployment in September of 1921, Harding opened with remarks committing him to keeping the federal government out of such issues, and yet Hoover followed by expounding the need to “do something.” The conference leaders, with Hoover’s approval, coalesced around a call for more “government planning to combat depressions and to bolster the idea of public works as a depression remedy” (Rothbard 2008 [1963], 192). Historian David Kennedy (1999, 48) describes Hoover’s activism this way: “No previous administration had moved so purposefully and so creatively in the face of an economic downturn. Hoover had definitively made the point that government should not stand by idly when confronted with economic difficulty” (see also Vedder and Gallaway 1993, 67-68).

It remains a fascinating question why the proponents of the New Deal can't see in Hoover the precursor of so much of what the New Deal gave us. His call for maintaining nominal wages in the face of price deflation was a belief he'd held for at least a decade prior to the onset of the Great Depression. That is the Hoover that Americans voted for in 1928! Of course, what the Hoover-Roosevelt policies gave us was mostly disastrous, but to deny the fairly straightforward facts of what Hoover believed and what he did seems to me to be the worst sort of dogmatic "head in the sand"ism. Note that the citations here are not just to free market types. David Kennedy is a liberal and that book won a Pulitzer. Stablile and Wilson are, again, just historians doing their job. Wilson's book and its title are particularly telling here as she lays out the case for her title very clearly. It's not "free market" ideology to argue Hoover was an interventionist; it's good history.

What's even funnier is how the commenters at the Salon piece linked above accuse Ohanian of being a lousy historian and of New Deal critics of ignoring the facts, etc., while stubbornly clinging to an utterly false view of Hoover.

Physicians, heal thyselves.

UFC 102 Fighter Salaries: Nogueira and Couture Top Earners

Headliners Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Randy Couture were the top earners at Saturday’s UFC 102 event in Portland, according to figures released by the Oregon State Athletic Commission.

Nougiera, who defeated Couture by unanimous decision in the evening’s main event, earned $400,000 for the victory, while Couture received $250,000 in the loss.

The disclosed payroll for the pay-per-view event was $1,285,000.

The disclosed fighter salaries for UFC 102 were:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira ($400,000 – includes $150,000 bonus) def. Randy Couture ($250,000)

Thiago Silva ($58,000 – $29,000 win bonus) def. Keith Jardine ($55,000)

Jake Rosholt ($26,000 – $13,000 win bonus) def. Chris Leben ($30,000)

Nate Marquardt ($80,000 – $40,000 win bonus) def. Demian Maia ($28,000)

Brandon Vera ($70,0000 – $35,000 win bonus) def. Krzysztof Soszynski ($8,000)

Aaron Simpson ($18,000 – $9,000 win bonus) def. Ed Herman ($24,000)

Gabriel Gonzaga ($120,000 – $60,000 win bonus) def. Chris Tuchscherer ($10,000)

Mike Russow ($20,000 – $10,000 win bonus) def. Justin McCully ($15,000)

Todd Duffee ($10,000 – $5,000 win bonus) def. Tim Hague ($7,000)

Mark Munoz ($24,000 – $12,000 win bonus) def. Nick Catone ($5,000)

Evan Dunham ($14,000 – $7,000 win bonus) def. Marcus Aurelio ($13,000)

Remember, the salaries listed above are simply the figures the UFC is required to report to the OSAC, which exclude deductions for items such as taxes, licenses, and insurance, as well as additional payments, such as sponsorships, bonuses, and pay-per-view revenue.

For example, Nogueira and Couture, along with main card winners Nate Marquardt and Jake Rosholt, each took home an extra $60,000 “fight night” bonus for their performances on the card.

Brian Jones’ Death a Murder?

After 40 years, guitarist Brian Jones‘ death will be re-examined pending newly uncovered information.

Jones, a founding member of The Rolling Stones (and, to a far-lesser extent, a founding member of the 27 Club), was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool at Cotchford Farm in East Sussex, England on July 3rd, 1969. Though murder was heavily suspected at the time, Sussex police originally recorded a verdict of “death by misadventure,” barring any concrete evidence. After over four decades and constant speculation, the same police have just been given fresh information that may point to foul play in Jones’ death.

Though police intend to review these documents carefully, a full-on investigation has yet to be launched. “These papers will be examined by Sussex Police, but it is too early to comment at this time as to what the outcome will be,” said a spokesman for the Sussex police.

Obama’s communist green job czar

Van Jones is one of the most prominent radicals in America. When he was younger he was a black panther, later he became a radical leninist who joined organizations that wanted to cause a communist revolution in America thereby overthrowing the capitalist system.

Even though Jones is clearly a radical, he was recently appointed one of the most powerful men in America when President Barack Obama appointed Jones his ‘green jobs czar.’

Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), the revolutionary group formed by self-described “communist” and “rowdy black nationalist” Van Jones, held a vigil in Oakland, California, “mourning the victims of U.S. imperialism around the world” on the night after Sept. 11, 2001.

The reason this is important is because Van Jones is now President Obama’s green jobs czar. He does not appear to have distanced himself from his past communist activities and is now part of the Obama administration’s push to turn Sept. 11 into a National Day of Service focused on the promotion of the radical environmentalist agenda.

Jones’ STORM group published a revolutionary manifesto after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. In this manifesto, the group blames the United States government, not extremist Muslims, for the attack. The US brought these attacks upon itself, STORM said, by its imperialist and bigoted policies.

And now a prominent member of this leninist group is Obama’s green jobs czar. A man you’d protect your children against has become one of the most powerful and influential men in the most powerful country on earth.

It’s possibly only in Obama’s America.

Surprise! Ridge backpedals on pressure to raise terror alert level

Tom Ridge's book, "The Test of Our Times," comes out Tuesday and recounts his days as head of Homeland Security.
By Mimi Hall
Former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, speaking for the first time about accusations made in his new book, says he did not mean to suggest that other top Bush administration officials were playing politics with the nation's security before the 2004 presidential election.

"I'm not second-guessing my colleagues," Ridge said in an interview about The Test of Our Times, which comes out Tuesday and recounts his experiences as head of the nation's homeland security efforts in the first several years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In the book, Ridge portrays his fledgling department as playing second fiddle to other Cabinet-level heavyweights. As secretary, he says he was never invited to participate in National Security Council meetings, he was left out of the information loop by the FBI and his proposal to establish Homeland Security offices in major cities such as New Orleans were rejected.

His most explosive accusation: that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft pressed him to raise the national threat level after Osama bin Laden released a videotape criticizing President Bush shortly before Election Day 2004. Ridge writes he rejected raising the level because bin Laden had released nearly 20 such tapes since 9/11 and the latest contained nothing suggesting an imminent threat.

Noting that Bush's approval ratings typically went up when the threat level was raised, Ridge writes that Ashcroft and Rumsfeld pushed to elevate it during a "vigorous" discussion.

"Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level, and was supported by Rumsfeld," he writes. "There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None. I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?' "

Although he prevailed and the threat level was not elevated, Ridge writes that the episode reinforced his decision to resign. He did so weeks after the election.

Last week, when word got out about Ridge's accusations, Rumsfeld's spokesman Keith Urbahn issued a statement calling them "nonsense."

Now, Ridge says he did not mean to suggest he was pressured to raise the threat level, and he is not accusing anyone of trying to boost Bush in the polls. "I was never pressured," Ridge said.

The former secretary and Pennsylvania governor, who now heads a security consulting firm called Ridge Global, also said in the interview that:
He and his immediate successor, Michael Chertoff, recently were asked to speak with a panel considering changes to the color-coded threat advisory system for new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

He is "dumbfounded" that the government still has no way to track foreign visitors who don't leave the country when their visas expire, noting that two of the 9/11 hijackers were in the country on expired visas.

Government officials and members of Congress rarely discuss homeland security issues and have "lost the sense of urgency" about protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. Because of the economy and growing budget deficits, he also is worried about funding for future efforts to tighten security.

Bad Boys III Possibly Coming for You

With Michael Bay off making giant robot movies, Will Smith solidifying himself as one of the most bankable movie stars on Earth, and Martin Lawrence, well… still acting, it would be understandable if there was never a third installment in the Bad Boys series. However, by way of The Hollywood Reporter, comes news that not only has Columbia started to develop a Bad Boys 3 but has already signed a screenwriter to it.

Columbia has hired Peter Craig to write the Bad Boys 3 script - Craig doesn’t have any completed screenplays out there yet (he has three in development, including Cowboy Bebop), but according to Wikipedia he’s a published author of “darkly comic novels of imploding father-son relationships.” The hope is to have a script which will reunite director Michael Bay, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and stars, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

However, at this stage, even with a writer on-board, the project is still in the early stages and no deal has been made with any of the four main players from the first two to come back for another. Pretty much with all of them (except maybe Lawrence), there comes an expensive price tag attached. As stated, Smith is about the only true bankable movie star in the business (his last 8 movies have all surpassed the $100 million mark), and by now Bay is used to getting huge paychecks and collecting percentages of money from toy merchandising.

However, if you look at the money the first two movies made, I don’t think the studio should be that worried: The first one cost $19 million to make, and made over $140 million at the worldwide box office; the second one’s budget ballooned to a whopping $130 million (I guess the boys wanted bigger toys to play with), but still ending up making over $270 million worldwide. I’m sure if Bay were to come back he’d want a similarly high budget to play with (after all, he’s used to those giant fighting robots that cost a small country’s wealth to put on screen).

Big question, though: Is there still enough interest in Bad Boys to make a third installment worth the while? I’d actually guess that yeah, there probably is. With two (really) popular films to play off of, and the audience-drawing Smith as one of the leads (that’s presuming he comes back), I don’t think a Bad Boys 3 would have much trouble filling the seats.

As stated, although no agreements or deals have been made by Bay, Smith, Lawrence or Bruckheimer, all of them have expressed past interest in doing another Bad Boys. One quote from Bruckheimer said that towards the end of the shoot for the second film, both Smith and Lawrence were already ready to sign up for another one because they were having so much fun. Another quote from Smith at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards said that he’s got an idea for a story for the third movie, but that Bay is now, “too expensive… way too expensive.”

Have you looked in the mirror, lately, Mr. Smith?!…

I enjoyed the first two Bad Boys for what they were. They have some great action sequences (the one on the freeway in the second one is exhilarating), and Smith and Lawrence are fun to watch together. But I never held them in that high regard, and IMO are pretty throwaway (I say they could be classified as guilty pleasures) and I don’t really find myself wanting to revisit them. However, I’d give a third one a shot, if only for another dose of car chases and explosions with Smith and Lawrence leading - or rather, chasing after - the chaos once more.

What do you think about a Bad Boys 3? Are you all for it or is your reaction, “Aw, hell naw!”?

Jenna Bush Joins the Today Show

NBC's Today show has hired Jenna Bush Hager as a new correspondent.

The 27-year-old teacher and daughter of George W. Bush will contribute once a month with stories on issues like education to TV top-rated morning news show.

Jenna Bush said she has always wanted to be a teacher and a writer, and has already authored two books. But she was intrigued by the idea of getting into TV.

"It wasn't something I'd always dreamed to do," she said. "But one of the most important things in life is to be open-minded and to be open-minded for change."

Jenna will essentially work two part-time jobs as a correspondent for Today and in her school, where she will be a reading coordinator this year.

She was on the morning news program two years ago to promote her book about an HIV-infected single mother, Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope, and it went so well that Hager's short interview was stretched to nearly a half hour.

She and her mother, Laura Bush, also co-hosted an hour of Today about the time their picture book came out. She "just sort of popped to us as a natural presence, comfortable" on the air, said executive producer Jim Bell.

"I think she can handle it," he said. "I think she knows something about pressure and being under scrutiny. When she came here, she knocked it out of the park."

Jenna, who married Henry Hager last year, will work out of NBC's Washington bureau.

"I hope to focus on what I'm passionate about because I think I'd do them best job on them urban education, women and children's issues and literacy," she said.

While not as exciting as Melissa Rycroft joining the staff of Good Morning America, we're happy for Jenna and her newest career endeavor.

Disney To Acquire Marvel Entertainment For $4 Billion

The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced this morning. Under the terms of the agreement and based on last week’s closing price of Disney, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own.

Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, August 28, the total transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.

Under the deal, which has been approved by the boards of both companies, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its portfolio of over 5,000 Marvel characters. That portfolio includes many familiar names like Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor.

Says Disney CEO Robert A. Iger in a statement: “We believe that adding Marvel to Disney’s unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation.”

Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s CEO, added: “Disney is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses. This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney’s tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world.”

Mr. Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and will work directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel’s properties.

Marvel stock is surging following the news, up 10+ points at the time of writing (+27%), while Disney’s is down a little (-0,5%).

How to Donate to the Jaycee Dugard Trust Fund

The kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard took place on June 10, 1991. Dugard was abducted from a school bus stop, which was within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was abducted at the age of 11 and was reported missing for over 18 years. On August 26, 2009, Dugard appeared in the office of her alleged kidnapper's parole officer in California, and on August 27, 2009 her true identity was confirmed.

Law enforcement officers believe that Dugard was kept in a concealed area behind Phillip Garrido's house in Antioch, California, where she had remained for 18 years. Dugard had become pregnant at age 14, and conceived two daughters during this time. She had reportedly told a neighbor that she was their older sister. Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy Garrido, 55, of Antioch, California were arrested for kidnapping and other charges.