Monday, September 14, 2009

'Dirty Dancing' star Patrick Swayze dies at 5

LOS ANGELES — Patrick Swayze, the hunky actor who danced his way into viewers' hearts with "Dirty Dancing" and then broke them with "Ghost," died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

"Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months," said a statement released Monday evening by his publicist, Annett Wolf. No other details were given.

Fans of the actor were saddened to learn in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from a particularly deadly form of cancer.

He had kept working despite the diagnosis, putting together a memoir with his wife and shooting "The Beast," an A&E drama series for which he had already made the pilot. It drew a respectable 1.3 million viewers when the 13 episodes ran in 2009, but A&E said it had reluctantly decided not to renew it for a second season.

Swayze said he opted not to use painkilling drugs while making "The Beast" because they would have taken the edge off his performance. He acknowledged that time might be running out given the grim nature of the disease.

When he first went public with the illness, some reports gave him only weeks to live, but his doctor said his situation was "considerably more optimistic" than that.

"I'd say five years is pretty wishful thinking," Swayze told ABC's Barbara Walters in early 2009. "Two years seems likely if you're going to believe statistics. I want to last until they find a cure, which means I'd better get a fire under it."

A three-time Golden Globe nominee, Swayze became a star with his performance as the misunderstood bad-boy Johnny Castle in "Dirty Dancing." As the son of a choreographer who began his career in musical theater, he seemed a natural to play the role.

A coming-of-age romance starring Jennifer Grey as an idealistic young woman on vacation with her family and Swayze as the Catskills resort's sexy (and much older) dance instructor, the film made great use of both his grace on his feet and his muscular physique.

It became an international phenomenon in the summer of 1987, spawning albums, an Oscar-winning hit song in "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," stage productions and a sequel, 2004's "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," in which he made a cameo.

Taylor -- Beyonce 'Immediately' Reached Out

As soon as the VMAs ended, Beyonce Knowles wasted no time distancing herself from Kanye West's infamous hissy fit -- we're told Bey's camp almost "immediately" approached Taylor Swift to make sure she was okay.

Taylor's rep tells us Beyonce's father Mathew Knowles approached Taylor outside her dressing room once her subway car performance was over.

We're told Mathew wanted to make sure Taylor was doing fine after West's diss -- and they even discussed ways to make up for it.

Taylor's rep tells us the singer was mainly upset because she wasn't able to thank her fans for voting for her -- which was eventually made right when Beyonce invited her back on stage to finish what she started.

Taylor's reps tell us she had never met Beyonce or Kanye before the last night's weirdness went down.

'US raid' kills Somalia commander

A helicopter raid in southern Somalia has killed a man wanted for questioning over the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya in 2002, unnamed US sources say.

Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, an al-Shabab commander, was killed along with at least one other fighter from the group when their car came under attack on Monday.

The US official, who did not want to be named, said the body of Nabhan, 28, was in US hands.

Nabhan, born in Kenya, was high on the FBI's list of most wanted "terror" suspects.

US special forces are believed to have attacked the car carrying Nabhan, also described as an al-Qaeda operative, in Barawe district.

An American official told the broadcaster ABC that a US Navy ship had been in the area to monitor the situation and to provide assistance.

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Rules on Wilson's outburst open to interpretation

WASHINGTON — Rep. Joe Wilson may have violated good taste when he yelled "You lie!" at President Barack Obama last week. But did he break any specific House rules?

The answer is more complicated than it seems, and the House's Democratic leaders were discussing late Monday what to do next. The rules that some initially cited don't appear to apply.

The House generally requires its members to abstain from personal insults during debate. Over the years, the institution has developed a long list of precedents deemed out of order, including insults directed at the president.

Some are downright odd: You can't call the president "a little bugger" or refer to any alleged sexual misconduct, for example. Others are more predictable: Don't call the president a liar or accuse him of lying.

Democrats initially cited the latter precedent in saying that Wilson's outburst was a violation.

But Wilson, R-S.C., could get off on a technicality on that score because Congress was meeting in a special joint session for Obama's speech on Wednesday, not under the House's normal rules of debate.

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NAACP Seeks Change After Cops Kill Unarmed Man

The NAACP is renewing a push for federal standards on police use of force after the shooting of an unarmed black man by two white police officers inside a church while day care children watched.

Witnesses say the man was surrendering, but officials in Rockford, Ill., near Chicago dispute that version of events, saying that Mark Anthony Barmore grabbed for an officer's gun after they cornered him in the church.

Both sides do agree, however, that Barmore fled when officers approached him in the church parking lot, which highlights the suspicion and fear that can poison relationships between police and minority communities across the country.

"There are no national standards for the use of force (or) training for use of force," Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Friday.

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Howard President Responds to Students' Demands

By Jessica Lewis -- Black College Wire
In an effort to address the student demands raised during the Sept. 4 protest , President Sidney A. Ribeau and Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer Alvin Thornton sat down with The Hilltop to go through each presented demand.

Demand: Hours of the Financial Aid office should be immediately extended until 7 p.m. until the set purge date with staff (i.e. certified financial aid officers and managers) in place to render quality customer service and to serve the unusually large number of students who have yet to be validated.

Response: “That’s something that I agree with and will, in fact, do,” Ribeau said.

Office of University Communications
Sidney A. RibeauThornton said even before students raised the concern, this issue was a priority. He said that the office will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. until the set purge date. He said additional staff people will be needed, but they have agreed to move a substantial part of the operation back to the Amour J. Blackburn Center. Ribeau said this move will be completed by Friday. “It’s not easy, but that’s what we’re going to do.”

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Seeking Healing, Seeing Hostility

Some at Black Family Reunion Criticize Protests Against Obama

By Yamiche Alcindor
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 14, 2009

On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters thronged to the U.S. Capitol to angrily accuse President Obama of taking the country in the wrong direction.

A day later, in the shadow of the Washington Monument, many participants at a much smaller gathering -- the 24th annual Black Family Reunion -- said the level of hostility toward the nation's first African American president had little to do with policy differences over health care or taxes and everything to do with race.

"It' s not conducive to the coalitions we need to build in this country," said Vera Hope, 60, of Mount Rainier as she left a booth promoting health prevention. "I'm disgusted and upset by the hostility. Let's call it was it is -- it's just a disguise for right-wing racists. They are fomenting a climate of violence to provoke people."

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Blagojevich Fundraiser Who Just Pleaded Guilty Dies From Possible Overdose

Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — The man federal prosecutors pressured to cooperate in the corruption probe of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich died of an apparent aspirin overdose on Saturday, law enforcement sources said.

Christopher Kelly, 51, of Burr Ridge, was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital at 10:46 a.m. An autopsy is scheduled for today, a Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman said.

Kelly was Blagojevich’s “go-to guy” who once was the mastermind of the ex-governor’s lucrative campaign fund.

Kelly’s death comes just four days after he pleaded guilty to a scheme involving $8.5 million in fraud at O’Hare Airport.

$30M bail set for Calif. kidnap suspect

— A judge has set bail at $30 million for a Northern California man accused of kidnapping a girl and holding her captive for 18 years.

Phillip Garrido has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, rape and false imprisonment charges and has been held without bail in an El Dorado County jail.

Garrido and his wife, Nancy, are accused of kidnapping 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard from her home in 1991, then raping her and holding her captive in a backyard jumble of tents and sheds for nearly two decades. Authorities say Phillip Garrido fathered two daughters with Dugard.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister set the high amount Monday, citing the serious nature of the charges, injuries to the victim and the fact that Garrido was on parole at the time of the alleged crime.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A couple accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old girl and holding her captive for 18 years is expected to return to a Northern California courtroom.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, rape and false imprisonment charges and are being held without bail in an El Dorado County jail. Prosecutors filed motions to increase their bail and will argue their case Monday.

The Garridos are accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard from her South Lake Tahoe home in 1991, then raping her and holding her captive in a backyard jumble of tents and sheds for nearly two decades. Authorities say Phillip Garrido fathered two daughters with Dugard.

The district attorney's office says the two are a clear danger to the public, particularly to children.

Tyler Perry's 'I Can Do Bad All by Myself' is No. 1 in weekend box office

Being bad just keeps getting better for Tyler Perry.

The comic genius behind the wildly popular "Madea" movies scored another winner when "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" opened at the top of the weekend box office with more than $24 million in ticket sales.

The movie features Perry as Madea, his brash, cross-dressing alter ego, as well as Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson as a hard-drinking nightclub singer forced to care for her delinquent niece and nephews.

While stars like Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Russell Crowe and Jack Black have underperformed at the box office this year, "I Can Do Bad" is Perry's second winner since February when "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail" debuted at No. 1 with $41 million.

Last year he opened Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, making it the first African-American owned movie studio in the country.

Meanwhile, the animated film "9" came in second, drawing an audience of young adults with its quirky content and grossing a solid $15.3 million.

"Inglourious Basterds" continued to be one of the season's biggest hits, coming in No. 3 on its third weekend with $6.5 million.

Two new thrillers had disappointing debuts.

"Sorority Row" opened at No. 6 with a soft $5.3 million in ticket sales while the flick "Whiteout" collected a disappointing $5.1 million and earned seventh place on its debut weekend.

Monday Eagles Hangover: A Good Many Of Us Have Slept Better Than Donovan McNabb

In case we didn't already know the answer, we now know what it takes to leave me anxious and slightly melancholy the morning after the Eagles win a game 38-10: injuries to Donovan McNabb.

While we're not panicked at the level of a knee/ ankle/ shoulder problem, anything that sidelines McNabb for a few weeks is cause for concern. And it almost ruined (and certainly continues to overshadow) what was otherwise a spectacularly entertaining debut for the 2009 Eagles. The second quarter had a certain 44-6 feel for a bit, and I was pretty giddy at halftime. But once McNabb went down, I couldn't even enjoy watching the Eagles work their way through the Panthers' QB depth chart. What a buzzkill.

Further observations from the game:

The pact is in effect. If nothing else, McNabb's injury offers a grand opportunity for Andy Reid and the local press to test their recently revealed secret pact regarding the disclosure of information related to player injuries. Woe be unto Dunavin should he choose to take his message to the Yardbarker. Woe!

Sean McDermott shows up for work. While Jake Delhomme appears to be one of the more favorable fellows to open against (as PFT noted yesterday, he has now thrown nine (9) picks in his last 51 pass attempts), McDermott's defense was fast and clever all day. Steve Smith wasn't a factor at all, and they were able to get to the quarterback throughout the afternoon. Certainly Sean Payton and Drew Brees present a more formidable challenge next Sunday, but we couldn't really ask for more in a debut. We expect we'll be swooning about the "Trent Cole rushing up the middle from the MLB spot" for weeks.

Silly me for worrying about the Panthers' running game. I thought the defensive line looked great and owned the line of scrimmage, which was certainly a good sign against a power running team. Bunkley and Patterson are still getting better, aren't they.

They definitely outsvelted us. And here we thought that Andy Reid had the market cornered on offseason weight loss. But no! That John Fox was positively slim! I actually didn't even recognize him over there on the sideline. Good for them both. Though I might say that this additional weight loss is something of a cautionary tale for Andy Reid -- got to be careful not to lose too much weight, lest you diminish your magic coaching powers (see also 2005).

Sheldon Brown gets a presser. It's a shame that it took a two-interception performance not far from his hometown to do it, but it was obviously a treat to see Sheldon Brown at the post-game podium. It's also worth noting that Brown was the defensive captain. I especially liked hearing the reporters lob softball questions to Brown about how his contract dispute hasn't seemed to impact his play (which was what they predicted all spring) -- nothing wrong with patting themselves on their collective back as they confirmed that they were right all along.

So it's 29 after all for Shady? I thought McCoy had changed his number to 25? That's at least what the Birds' site said mid-week. Huh?

Offensive tackle angst. So I guess we don't have to be quite so worried about young Winston Justice. He seemed to play a good game and certainly has a lot to be proud of this morning. As for Jason Peters, wow. Quite a talent when you see it live. One of course wasn't thrilled with his early pair of false-start penalties (which fit into the "Jason Peters showed up out of shape and missed too much of camp because he just signed a big contract and is known to be somewhat less than dedicated" meme), but this guy is a specimen. Perhaps the Birds really are going to run the 1987 Oklahoma Sooners offense.

And we didn't even see much of the offense in the second half. Part of what's nice about cruising to a victory on defense and special teams is that we didn't actually have to/ get to see much of the offensive playbook. Westbrook got to continue his preseason for most of the second half, even. Not so bad. And it leaves some additional anticipation for next week.

Yeah, it looked half a second late. The freakin' Panthers broke our quarterback's ribs again? Jerks. Should have know not to trust these guys. And yes, it did look a little late, but it's tough to make that call. Still, that looks like the sort of thing we can sign up a certain #7 for in the future (wild dives into the end zone).

Obama touts Wall St. changes on Lehman anniversary

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is going to Wall Street on the first anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse to outline financial changes to avert a future crisis like the one that sent the global economy into a tailspin.

Obama has called on Congress to pass a sweeping overhaul of how financial institutions behave but has seen slower-than-sought action. Administration officials said the president will use Lehman Brothers as a starting point to again decry a hands-off approach from Washington that enabled irresponsible lending that sent the nation's largest financial institutions to the brink of collapse and the larger economy to the edge.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president would focus on "the need to take the next series of steps in financial regulatory reform" — in other words: Congress, stop stalling and get it done.

The speech comes as the same banks that received tens of billions of taxpayer dollars last year to stay afloat are again betting on the same bonds, commodities and exotic financial products that landed them in trouble.

There is, however, nothing Obama or Washington can do without Congress' action.

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No settlement freeze - Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have rebuffed US demands for a total freeze on settlement building in the West Bank.

He is quoted as saying he had told Washington he would instead consider "scaling down construction" .

The US has called on Israel to halt all construction work in a bid to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.

US Mid-East envoy George Mitchell is in the region to finalise terms for renewed peace talks.

The US hopes the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York later this month.

Mr Mitchell said, after talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday, that they were working hard to reach agreement on "many outstanding issues".

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Why are tennis players so badly behaved?

The outburst by Serena Williams at the US Open was not the first time a tennis player has let off steam on court. So why all the tantrums?

When Serena Williams was dubiously penalised for a foot-fault when two points away from defeat, she could contain herself no longer.

Tennis tantrums are nothing new
She twice unleashed a tirade at the lineswoman and match officials intervened to award a point to her opponent, Kim Clijsters, effectively handing her the match and a place in the US Open final.

Earlier, Williams had been reprimanded for smashing her racket on the court.

In a sport where ill temper reached its apogee in the early 1980s antics of John McEnroe - why do there seem to be so many outbursts?

Former top British player Andrew Castle says that due to the intensity of the game, all tennis players suffer from bursts of anger that they ultimately have to keep under control.

"Most tennis players are just like any fit, young, wound-up people. But controlling your emotions is what training is about, what being a professional is about."

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EMC Plans to Hire Top Intel Exec: Report

HOPKINTON, Mass. (TheStreet) -- EMC(EMC Quote) is set to announce Monday it has hired Patrick Gelsinger, who heads Intel's(INTC Quote) core chip business, to lead EMC's storage-products operations and some smaller software units, a report says.

The appointment of Gelsinger, 48 years old, is effective immediately. EMC also promoted Howard Elias, 52, to head EMC's services division, the Journal reports.

Joseph Tucci, the current chairman and CEO, said the two men, along with Chief Financial Officer David Goulden, 50, are all possible successors as CEO, the Journal reports. Tucci, 62, said he plans to resign as CEO in three years.

Putting the succession plans in place could quell speculation that EMC is a takeover target, the Journal notes. EMC has long been seen as a target of Cisco(CSCO Quote), according to the newspaper.

The New York Times reports that as Gelsinger departs, Sean Maloney, Intel's head of sales and marketing, will lead the company's PC, graphics and server chips divisions, while Dadi Perlmutter, the head of Intel's laptop chips, will now oversee engineering for all the chip divisions.

Maloney has been considered a likely successor to current Intel CEO Paul Otellini, the Times reports.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York .