Thursday, September 10, 2009

President Obama Memorializes Walter Cronkite

The President heralds Americas most trusted newsman, Walter Cronkite, at the memorial service in New York. September 9, 2009

Breaking News: Tyler Perry Announces Dream Cast for 'Colored Girls'

When it was announced last week that Tyler Perry will be writing, directing and producing a film version of Ntozake Shange's award-winning 1975 play 'For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,' there was plenty of talk as to who would be cast.

Well, while promoting his latest film, 'I Can Do Bad All By Myself,' which opens Sept. 11, Perry talked about who he wanted to appear in the movie. Among the chosen few are Oscar winner Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Thandie Newton, Kimberly Elise, Beyonce Knowles, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys.

Of the 11 actresses mentioned, six have already committed to be in the film, but Perry wouldn't say who exactly.

Oprah loves to act, so will you ever do a film for her?

Tyler Perry: Yes, she's in my next movie, 'For Colored Girls.' Here's what I will tell you. Here's my dream cast, and it hasn't been officially announced yet. There are 15 characters in the film and my dream cast is Kimberly Elise, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Thandie Newton, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, and Beyonce. I've talked to 6 of the women and they have said yes. You have to figured out that part.

No Mary J. Blige?

She just told me that she wants to be in it, so we'll see.

Will 'Colored' be different from the play and will you be throwing your name in front of the title?

TP: My name will not be in front of the title because it's not an original work for me. There will be no Madea, so all of you can relax. It's going to be true to what it is. If you know anything about the play, you know that it's a bunch of poems. There's no real story, and that's probably why it's never been made into a movie. The way the movie opens is that all of these different women are leading their own lives, and they pass each other and you follow their stories. No one knows each other and halfway in the movie, they end up in this center that this woman started called 'The Colored Girl center,' where women go through like a 12-step program for healing. That's what the script is about. I want to make sure that I respect and honor the play because it was written before I was born.

Principal photography is scheduled to begin in Atlanta in November and continue through December, with a release planned for next year.

What do you think?

EXCLUSIVE: Inquiry opened into New Black Panther case

By Jerry Seper

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has begun an official inquiry into the dismissal in May of a civil complaint against the New Black Panther Party and two of its members who disrupted a Philadelphia polling place during the November general elections.

The inquiry is disclosed in an Aug. 28 letter to Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee who first raised questions about the dismissal in May and asked unsuccessfully that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. make available the head of the department's Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division for a closed-door briefing on the decision.

In the letter, Mary Patrice Brown, acting OPR counsel, told the veteran congressman from Texas that the office had "initiated an inquiry into the matter" and that it would "contact you with the results of our inquiry once it is completed." A copy of the letter was obtained by The Washington Times.

"I am pleased that someone at the Justice Department is finally taking the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party case seriously," Mr. Smith said Wednesday. "The Justice Department's decision to drop a case against political allies who allegedly intimidated voters on Election Day 2008 reeks of political interference."

Mr. Smith said the department's refusal to provide Congress with an explanation for the dismissal "only further raises concerns that political favoritism played a role in this case."

"Voter intimidation threatens democracy," he said. "These cases must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law without political considerations."

In January, the Justice Department filed a civil complaint in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia against the New Black Panther Party, claiming two of its members in black berets, black combat boots, black shirts and black jackets with military insignias intimidated voters with racial insults, slurs and a nightstick. A third party member was accused of managing, directing and endorsing their behavior.

The complaint said two New Black Panthers engaged in "coercion, threats and intimidation racial threats and insults menacing and intimidating gestures and movements directed at individuals who were present to vote." It said that unless prohibited by court sanctions, they would continue to direct intimidation, threats and coercion at voters and potential voters "by again deploying uniformed and armed members at the entrance to polling locations in future elections, both in Philadelphia and throughout the country."

The original incident was captured on videotape and gained national attention after the video was distributed on YouTube.

Black Women: Successful And Still Unmarried

The popular sitcom Girlfriends, which ran for eight seasons, featured a group of four educated black women. Here, Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross) has a drink with Maya (Golden Brooks), whose marriage to her high-school sweetheart ended on the show.

If you are a black woman with an advanced degree, there's a good chance you've never been married.

New research from Yale University suggests that highly educated black women are twice as likely to have never been married by the age of 45 as white women with similar education.

Hannah Bruckner, who leads the Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course at Yale University, says the disparity can be partly explained by a difference in dating preferences between some black men and women.

"Black men are more likely to marry outside of their race, and black women are more likely to marry outside of their education," she says.

Bruckner says that is compounded by tough competition for a smaller pool of highly educated black men.

Finding 'Mr. Right'

Kimberly Hill, 37, agrees that the market is slim. But Hill, who has a master's degree and heads up a political consulting firm in Detroit, says black women may need to redefine their ideal partner.

Sep. 4, 2009"I believe there are a lot of prospects," Hill says. "Perhaps we need to change what we're looking for."

Hill says she is searching for a man with more than a degree. "I'm not only looking for someone who has attained a great level of achievement, but also someone who is spiritually grounded."

Niambi Carter, 31, has a Ph.D. and is an assistant professor of political science at Purdue University, admits that she has been hard-pressed to find a black mate with a similar level of education.

But she says it may be just as hard to find an interested man who is not black.

"Black women are not seen as marriageable by those outside of their race," she says. "We are not seen as adding status."

Carter says a persistent double standard adds to the challenge: Women are penalized for waiting to get married, while men are rewarded for their patience.

"Men tend to become 'distinguished' as they get older," Carter says. "Women just get old."

A Question Of Priorities?

Both Hill and Carter agree that finding a compatible partner is only part of the problem. They argue that black women are often encouraged to choose advanced education, but sometimes at the expense of personal relationships.

Carter recalls that when she decided to go to graduate school at age 21, marriage was not on her horizon.

"I thought either you do school or you do marriage ... but never thought of them as being able to co-exist," she says.

Hill takes it a step further. She points to a sense of obligation felt by many black women to break socioeconomic barriers that have hindered their predecessors. That pursuit, she says, can overshadow other goals.

"We may have become distracted," Hill says.

Black infant mortality draws more scrutiny

Tonya Lewis Lee is the lead spokeswoman for the Office of Minority Health's national campaign 'A Healthy Baby Begins With You.'

Married to an acclaimed movie director and herself a filmmaker, Tonya Lewis Lee has produced documentaries and TV miniseries revolving around subjects she's most passionate about.

Outspoken on issues involving women, children and race, one of Lee's next film scripts will explore the hot topic of infant-mortality rates in the African American community, its causes and the role that she says racism plays in it.

Lee's push for more research on the topic has brought her to New Orleans, where she will take part in a health fair at the Allie Mae Williams Community Center, 2020 Jackson Ave., today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The health fair is sponsored by the city health department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Full Story

White Half-Naked Missouri Woman Charged With Lying to FBI About Being Abducted By Black Men and Raped

Did the Russian Mob Kill NY Cop Ralph Dols?

Was the Russian mob responsible for the 1997 murder of a cop in Brooklyn? Here’s a report by long-time mob reporter Jerry Capeci, which suggests that’s a good possibility.

By Jerry Capeci
Gang Land News

Who killed Police Officer Ralph Dols?

The feds say the 1997 murder in front of his Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn home was a mob hit, one that was ordered and orchestrated by a jealous high-level mobster who was outraged that the young, muscular housing cop had married the wiseguy’s ex-wife.

But could Russian organized crime figures have done it?

For Full Story

Warning of Further Kidnappings Issued in Afghanistan

Security experts are warning more abductions of reporters and other foreign personnel are likely in the war-torn country, following the kidnapping and controversial rescue of a British journalist in Afghanistan.

The alert was issued after the kidnapping and rescue of a New York Times reporter in Kunduz province. Another correspondent for the same newspaper was kidnapped outside Kabul last December and escaped his captors seven months later, after being taken to Pakistan.

News about the two kidnappings was initially withheld from the public while authorities worked to secure the release of the reporters.

Risk consultant John Drake, of the British security company AKE, predicts several more such incidents will take place this year in Afghanistan.

"The security situation has not improved in the country over recent weeks," he said. "And it looks like it is only going to get worse with no strong imposition of security or authority even after the election."

The Full Story

Steve Jobs slates e-readers

Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Jobs is back in the building. After receiving a rapturous applause from the Apple faithful at yesterday’s iPod event, the Apple head honcho took time to return to his favourite game: baiting competitors. And this time he’s got e-readers in his sights.

Speaking with The New York Times just minutes after he’d unveiled the new video camera–packing iPod nano, Jobs was asked about Apple’s plans for the future. When quizzed about e-readers, the turtle–necked one didn’t hold back.

“I’m sure there will always be dedicated devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing,” he said. “But I think the general-purpose devices will win the day. Because I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device.”

Ellen DeGeneres Is Replacing Paula Abdul On American Idol

It looks like a lot more laughter is heading to 'American Idol' this season. Ellen DeGeneres has officially signed onto REPLACE Paula Abdul as a judge on the hit reality show program.

What ever will Simon Cowell do? Will he be able to remain so blunt and honest with the comedian around?

"DeGeneres will sit alongside Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi and offer her own unique perspective to the contestants throughout the competition," Fox television says in a statement.

What does Ellen say about the new job?

"I'm going to have a day job and a night job," DeGeneres said at her talk show taping Wednesday, assuring her audience that The Ellen DeGeneres Show will continue. "This is so exciting for me."
Can't wait to see how she does!

Vick addresses students in Philadelphia

Michael Vick spoke to a group of Philadelphia high school students Tuesday, warning them against the dangers of peer pressure and urging them to make the right choices and resist the temptation to follow the crowd.

The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback addressed 200 freshmen on their first day at Nueva Esperanza Academy, a North Philadelphia charter school.

“I didn’t choose to go the right way, which led to 18 months in prison, which was the toughest time of my life,” he said. “Being away from my family, being away from my kids who I adore dearly, and being away from the game of football, doing something so foolish, and I wish I could take it all back.

“I was influenced by so many people when I should have been a leader, not a follower.”

The 10-minute talk marked Vick’s first anti-dogfighting public appearance in Philadelphia since he signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Eagles on Aug. 13, the Associated Press reported.

“My future was promising … at some point, I got sidetracked. I started listening to my friends and doing some things that were not ethical and not right.”

Vick visited the school with Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle met with Vick in prison at the quarterback’s request and agreed to allow him help in the organization’s anti-dogfighting campaign.

Once the highest paid player in the NFL, Vick was suspended from the league following his conviction in August 2007 on charges of conspiracy and organizing the dogfighting ring. He was released from federal custody in July and was signed by the Eagles in August.

Vick is suspended for the first two games of the regular season and is eligible to play beginning Sept. 27.

California Assemblyman Michael Duvall Resigns After Boasting of How He Sleeps With Lobbyists

Republican California Assemblyman Michael D. Duvall has resigned shortly after the release of the video below where he brags in disgusting and graphic detail about sleeping with lobbyists in his office. The conservative politician who was known for campaigning on family and Christian values may now return to selling insurance with his partner . . . his wife.

I have refrained from publishing a transcript of the initial part of the comments by Duvall (unwittingly made into a live mic) because they are shocking and gross. You may listen to the tape at your own risk. As noted earlier, it is astonishing that Duvall felt comfortable discussing such an encounter, which says something about the legislative culture in the California state legislature.

After the most disgusting part of his comments, the married father of two then continues to add: “So, I am getting into spanking her. Yeah, I like it. I like spanking her. She goes, ‘I know you like spanking me.’ I said, ‘Yeah! Because you’re such a bad girl!” [Laughing] And so her birthday was Monday,” he said at the Wednesday, July 8 committee hearing. “I was 54 on June 14, so for a month, she was 19 years younger than me. I said, ‘Now, you’re getting old. I am going to have to trade you in.’ And she goes, ‘[I'm] 36.’ She is 18 years younger than me. And so I keep teasing her, and she goes, ‘I know you French men. You divide your age by
two and add seven, and if you’re older than that, you dump us.’”

Duvall is vice chairman of the Assembly’s powerful Committee on Utilities & Commerce and one site has named ” veteran Sacramento-based lobbyist Heidi DeJong Barsuglia turned 36 years old on Monday, July 6.” Here is her lobbyist page and picture. She works as a lobbyist for Sempra Energy, which has supported Duvall with campaign contributions. She is a lawyer and previously worked as a speechwriter for former California Governor Pete Wilson. She also held an important post with the California Retailers Association. Her company issued the following statement:

Sempra Energy takes very seriously any reports involving the conduct of our employees. We are investigating this matter and the recent media reports that named one of our employees. The employee has denied the speculative media reports. Our investigation will be conducted to ensure not only that our policies on employee conduct are strictly adhered to, but also that our employee is treated fairly.

New Hubble Camera Photo of Butterfly Nebula

This photo of the Butterfly Nebula was imaged on July 27, 2009 with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a new camera aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It's actually a composite composed from images of emissions from oxygen, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur that were captured as part of the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Early Release Observations. WFC3 was installed by NASA astronauts in May 2009, during the servicing mission to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble telescope. The Butterfly Nebula is in our own galaxy, at a distance of about 3,800 ligh-years. Thanks to Alice Polk for pointing me to this image. (Image NASA)

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) stole the show for the GOP by heckling the President during the speech

Ben Smith reports that it was Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) who yelled "lie" during the President's speech tonight:

A loud voice from the Republican side of the hall answered, "Lie" -- my colleague Glenn Thrush reports it was Rep. Joe Wilson (R - S.C.) -- drawing a second "It's not true," from Obama and a shake of Nancy Pelosi's head.

The bill is designed to exclude those immigrants, though some Republicans have called for more explicit bans on funding for illegal immigrants and have claimed the bill will funnel money to illegal immigrants. described those claims as "false" and noted that one version of the legislation already includes an explicit bar on federal funding for illegal immigrants' health care.
So, we had the President acting like a statesman and continuing to offer to work with Republicans (even as he did call out some of their lies.) And, we had a Republican member of Congress screaming like an idiot.

Wilson will probably be a hero to teabaggers and immigrant-bashers. He'll probably be on Lou Dobbs tomorrow night. But, the best response I saw was from HunterDK on Twitter:
Old white southern congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), confused, shouts at Obama to get off his lawn.
UPDATE: John McCain blasted Wilson tonight on Larry King Live saying the South Carolina Republican was "totally disrespectful" and should "apologize immediately."

Priest used juice cans to hijack Mexican plane

Protestant priest Jose Mar Flores Pereira pictured after his arrest in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY — A Protestant priest who hijacked a Mexican plane with 104 people aboard on a divine mission to save Mexico used three juice cans to convince crew members he had a bomb, he later told reporters.

Bible-carrying Jose Mar Flores Pereira, 44, also a singer and former drug addict, surrendered to authorities here Wednesday after hijacking the Aeromexico Boeing 737 on a flight from the popular tourist resort of Cancun to Mexico City.

All the passengers -- most of whom had no idea they had been taken hostage -- were safely evacuated as security forces swarmed Mexico's international airport within minutes of the plane landing.

The airline said it was originally alerted to the situation after it "received a bomb threat while in flight," according to a statement.

"It wasn't a bomb," a smiling Flores Pereira told reporters after his arrest. "It was three Jumex (juice) cans that I filled with sand and put some little colored lights on."

Initial media reports that the hijacking involved multiple hijackers carrying explosives were later denied by Transport Secretary Juan Francisco Molinar Horcasitas, who said no explosives were found on the plane, only a fake bomb.

The Full Story

Russia, China studying Iran's nuclear proposal

Russia and China say they are studying the new package proposed by Iran to resolve the standoff over the country's nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Wednesday submitted the package to the Ambassadors of China, France, Germany, Russia and Switzerland, on behalf of the US, and the British chargé d'affaires in Tehran.

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Thursday that the Iranian package needs "expert evaluation".

"The document should be studied, it contains quite a lot of arguments which require expert evaluations," AFP quoted Nesterenko as saying.

Nesterenko said Russia would be discussing the package with the Group 5+1 to reach agreement on "how to evaluate the document".

Iran had earlier announced that it would offer a package of proposals to the West in order to settle the dispute with over its nuclear issue. The details of the new package have yet to be disclosed.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu urged the major powers to move to resolve the standoff.

"Relevant parties should step up diplomatic efforts and resume talks as soon as possible to seek a comprehensive, long-term and proper settlement of the issue," Jiang told reporters.

"We have just received Iran's package of proposals and are studying it".

Tehran has repeatedly declared that while it is willing to talk with the West, it will not give up the Iranian nation's legitimate right, granted under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), to uranium enrichment.

"This proposal encompasses all the main issues such as economic and security cooperation, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, energy supply and demand, energy supply security, and peaceful applications of atomic technology," Iran's envoy to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh said regarding the new package.

Barack Obama health care speech in full

Barack Obama has delivered his high-stakes health care speech to Congress. Here is the full text of the speech:

Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, and the American people: When I spoke here last winter, this nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month. Credit was frozen. And our financial system was on the verge of collapse.

As any American who is still looking for work or a way to pay their bills will tell you, we are by no means out of the woods. A full and vibrant recovery is many months away. And I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them; until those businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes. That is our ultimate goal. But thanks to the bold and decisive action we have taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.

The Full Story