Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Detroit Could Be Completely Broke in Days

Detroit is on the verge of going broke Oct. 1 unless Mayor Dave Bing (above) can figure out a way to fix a $300 million deficit.

By: Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com
DETROIT - The clock is ticking on the Motor City.

The City of Detroit is on the verge of going broke in 10 days unless Mayor Dave Bing can figure out a way to fix a $300 million deficit.

Bing set Oct. 1 as the deadline to get the city’s financial crisis under control or the city could fall into receivership. People are being laid off. Bus routes are being discontinued. Schools are closing. City employees - including public school teachers - say they fear for their jobs.

And to make matters worse, in a city where crime is spiraling out of control, even Detroit’s top cops are getting mugged.

Last weekend, one of Detroit’s deputy police chief’s was robbed of $300 - at gunpoint. Deputy Chief Herbert Moreland was off duty and robbed outside of his car around 3 a.m., said spokesman John Roach.

“At some point the deputy chief struggled with the suspect, and the deputy chief had his departmental-issued weapon with him and fired several shots at the suspect, who fled,” Roach said.

How bad is the situation in Detroit when the city’s cops are getting jacked?

Residents are understandably nervous when police, who are sworn to protect the citizens, can barely protect themselves.

In an odd example of how out-of-control the city's motorists have become, the city has posted large signs on most major highways and roadways that say "Killing/Injuring" city workers on the road is punishable by a $7,500 fine and 15 years in prison.

The Full Story

Cop with cornrows pulled from street duty

PHILADELPHIA - To get booted off the street, a police officer has to do something pretty serious - like shoot a suspect or be accused of brutality.

But in the 35th District, which covers Logan, Olney and adjacent neighborhoods, apparently a hairdo will do it.

A cop who got cornrows was ordered off the street and kept on desk duty for two days until he cut his braids off, sources said.

While dozens of black officers across the city wear cornrows, Officer Thomas Strain is white. So when the five-year veteran showed up for work Sept. 3 with the traditionally black hairstyle, it didn't take long for his colleagues - or his bosses - to notice.

"They pulled him out of roll call and took him right up to the inspector's office," said an officer who asked to remain anonymous.

Reached last week, Strain declined to comment about the hair hubbub.

But multiple officers in the 35th say it's been hot gossip, overshadowed only by worries of potential police layoffs, which were averted Thursday when the state agreed to help alleviate the city's budget woes.

"It's absolutely discriminatory," said one officer. Strain's cornrows 'do "was neat. It was above his collar. It's not like he shaved a Nazi sign or something anti-black or anti-Hispanic on his head. It's just cornrows. I don't know what the problem is."

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Damon Dash Making A Comeback?

After the demise of the relationship between himself and Jay-Z, it seemed as though Damon Dash had begun to fade into obscurity.

Selling his portion of Roc-A-Fella to Def Jam in 2004, he switched gears and tried to rebuild as he launched Dame Dash Music Group and was allegedly taking pieces of the old Roc with him to rebuild the dynasty that was destroyed.

After his BET reality show Ultimate Hustler seemed to fizzle, things for Dash looked to be on a downfall. Hey, anytime an artist has to resort to reality TV, let alone BET, there is clearly an issue going on.

Dame has stepped back into the music realm, producing a new album called BlacRoc which will feature a vast amount of artists that will provide their lyrical presence over music that will be made by the rock/blues group known as The Black Keys. So far, names such as Mos Def, Jim Jones, Ludacris and Pharoahe Monch have appeared in relation to appearances for the upcoming project. The date of release is set for the day after Thanksgiving.

Having the mentality of a hustler, Dash hasn't stopped with the music and as he did with Rocawear, he intends to expand his branch and develop himself even further as he did back in the days with the Roc. Dash has announced plans to launch a new radio station entitled Magnet Radio. The station is set to place a heavy emphasis on music instead of having it oversaturated with ads to promote finances. Dash has stated that it's not about getting the money, but more about providing a platform for people to hear good music and this will serve as an emerging business model.

Dame has also placed his hand in the auto industry. Tiret New York, the luxury timepiece and jewelry brand established in 2004, alongside Daniel Lazar, have moved into a new realm with its latest creation: the Tiret Sport Coupe. Based on the Range Rover Sport, the luxe 2-door sport utility was just unveiled at Swiss watchmakers expo Baselworld alongside Tirets opulent bejeweled timepieces.

Some people take a situation and use it as an excuse to never pick themselves back up off their feet. Others, however, use their bumps and bruises as motivation to become even bigger than they once were. With the experiences already under their belt, they come the second time around revitalized and can be a formidable force.

NAACP: Black troopers targeted

Top leaders at the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol have retaliated against black troopers who filed a federal complaint, the head of a civil rights group said today.

NAACP state President Derrick Johnson said, based on his conversations with black troopers, the Department of Public Safety fired some, transferred others arbitrarily and handed out harsher discipline after the group filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January.

Johnson announced at a news conference today that charges of retaliation have been filed with the commission. Earlier this year, the EEOC said it found validity in the group’s complaint about DPS hiring and promotion practices.

That complaint has been forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department for review.

DPS Commissioner Steve Simpson has said he has no evidence of discrimination, and has repeatedly asked troopers to come forward with their allegations. DPS officials had no immediate comment on the retaliation charges.

To comment on this story, call Natalie Chandler at (601) 961-7075.

Tavis Smiley drops Wells Fargo

Tavis Smiley is distancing himself from Wells Fargo and & Co. over the company’s alleged discriminatory practices.

"I cut everything off with Wells Fargo," Tavis told Mije.org. The move was prompted by a lawsuit charging that the financial company’s Wealth Building seminars were nothing more than a front to sell risky subprime mortgages to minority customers, The Washington Independent reports.

The suit, filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, highlighted an often-overlooked explanation of the seminars that was in direct conflict with how the events had been advertised. Supposedly, the real aim had always been to lure Black and Latino borrowers into costly loans.

Tavis was frequently a featured speaker at the Wealth Building seminars that were often held in predominately Black neighborhoods in eight cities, including Baltimore and Chicago.

“According to a former Wells Fargo Home Mortgage employee, one of these ‘Wealth Building’ seminars held in Maryland was planned for an audience that would be virtually all African American,” the suit states. “The plan for the seminar was for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage employees to talk about subprime mortgages, although they were directed by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to use the term ‘alternative lending’ when marketing these products.”

Beyond that, the suit also charges, White employees were discouraged from presenting at the seminars. One was even told that she was “too white” to speak at one of the events.

Tavis asserted that his part at the seminars was part of a package deal: Wells Fargo would help support his radio show, and he, in exchange, would speak at their events. “I was never a spokesman for Wells Fargo,” the commentator insisted. “I hate payday loans. My role in these seminars was about financial literacy and wealth building.”

He also noted that the decision cost him “a lot of money,” but that he didn’t know exactly how much. The financial company backed his show on Radio Public International and it underwrote his annual State of the Black Union conference

ACORN: When Billions of Dollars are on the Line, REFORM

ACORN was caught--multiple tapes from multiple locations around the country, and the processes in each office wear nearly uniform. All the offices were ready to advocate helping an underage prostitution brothel get started in their communities. Wasn't the vision of community organizing according to community organizer numero uno to clean up the neighborhoods with the spirit of volunteerism? Yeah right.

We officially know the vision of community organizing activist groups are robbing Americans for as many tax dollars as an organization like ACORN can get. Show me the money people like Bertha Lewis, President of ACORN, scream--just don't look to deeply into our affairs.

When there are millions if not billions of dollars on the line, it's really easy to beg for forgiveness with every promise in the book. We are to forgive them just like we did Michael Vick, who by they got his suspension reduced in the NFL. They were simply temporarily misguided. Oh really? More like they saw their livelihood dry up so now they tell their sad story. They are victims of society.

Bertha Lewis maintains she is 'outraged' by the content of the tapes. I have a feeling she is outraged that they got caught. This went on in office after office. How could she not know it was going on? The stupidity claim is great when you are looking at your major source of funding being pulled, right Ms. Lewis. Pretend your outraged and that you had nothing to do with it while pleading to the government to allow ACORN itself to run its own internal audit. Ms. Lewis, you don't have anything to cover up personally do you?

"Internally, let's have some reform," Lewis said. "It's indefensible what I saw (in the tapes)."

So now we are being asked as if we were parents to give the bad child a second chance. They can do better we are told. Hell, I could put on my best behavior hat for a few months knowing billions are on the line. This is insane! What common good does ACORN serve anyway other than generate illegal votes for liberal candidates and promote little girls into prostitution. I don't care how many times Bertha Lewis says reform, reform all she wants, just not on our dime please.

Ex-NBA Player Testifies Against a Philly Cop Who Was Best Man at His Wedding

From the basketball court to the more serious court — federal court — ex-NBA player Jerome Richardson had one of those very painful moments in life when he had to turn on a very very close friend in a very public way.

By Joseph A. Slobodzian
Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA – After 10 years on the courts of the NBA, former Los Angeles Clippers point guard Jerome “Pooh” Richardson yesterday found himself in the worst venue ever.

He was on the witness stand, testifying for the prosecution, and across the federal courtroom was the defendant: his lifelong friend and the best man at his wedding, Rickie Durham.

Richardson was called to testify about an early-morning phone call he received on Aug. 10, 2005, from Durham - a Philadelphia police narcotics officer - warning him of an impending drug raid.

Richardson, living in Los Angeles, was not the subject of the raid. Rather, federal agents in Philadelphia were just three hours from a 6 a.m. raid on East Coast drug kingpin Alton “Ace Capone” Coles, who was living with Richardson’s sister Asya in Mullica Hill.

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Secret Service Found Drunk Boris Yeltsin in Underwear Hailing Cab for Pizza

PIZZA ANYONE? Boris Yeltsin with Clinton/bbc photo

Secret Service agents have seen a lot of history. This is one drop of history that was apparently kept secret for a long time. Yelstin in all likelihood probably had a little too much vodka. And what better way to take the edge off of a vodka binge than with a good slice of pizza.

The Times of London
WASHINGTON — Boris Yeltsin got so drunk during a 1995 visit to Washington that Secret Service agents found him a few hundred feet from the White House clad only in his underwear and trying to hail a cab - because, he explained, he wanted a pizza.

The encounter and near international incident involving the former Russian President was revealed yesterday in a new oral history of Bill Clinton’s presidency, based on 79 taped interviews between Mr Clinton and the historian Taylor Branch during late-night visits to the White House.

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General McChrystal Will Resign if Obama Does Not Provide Him What He Needs for Afghanistan

General McChrystal is sending President Obama a very important message: get serious about Afghanistan or I'm out. Bill Roggio brings us the story:

According to McClatchy, military officers close to General McChrystal said he is prepared to resign if he isn't given sufficient resources (read "troops") to implement a change of direction in Afghanistan.
I can't imagine how frustrating this must be for General McChrystal and his troops. They were charged with a winning a war and defeating the Taliban and by extension al Qaeda but are being undermined by their own Commander in Chief's ignorance, vacillation, and leftist loyalties.

Now we hear the White House wants to finish reviewing a "new strategy" before it accepts any new troop requests. This is not a good sign for our troops. If the administration still does not know what strategy it wants to implement in Afghanistan even now after it has had control of the helm for almost 9 months, it is because the president isn't interested enough in the war to have one.

Disaster Strikes the ATL!

With at least five people dead and massive expanses of land and roads under water, Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency Monday in the 17 counties hardest hit by flooding from severe weather. Gov. Sonny Perdue's announcement followed three deaths in north Georgia's Douglas County, one death in Gwinnett County and another in Carroll County, where a 2-year-old child was ripped from her father's arms by fierce floodwaters while he struggled to hold on to bushes, officials said.Those counties, near Atlanta, were among the 17 included in the state-of-emergency declaration. About 100 miles north of Atlanta, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one person was swept into rushing water and is presumed drowned, said Jeremy Heidt, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in Nashville. Three missing children in Douglas County, west of Atlanta, were found, but their mother was one of the flood's fatalities, said Dena Brummer, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Near Marietta northwest of Atlanta, a flooded bridge blocked the only road out of a residential area surrounded by a national park and the Chattahoochee River. Two buses picked up elementary school children Monday morning, but flooding prevented them from picking up older students later, and the buses couldn't return with the first batch in the afternoon, said iReporter Pritam Jaipuriar, who lives there.

Two of the Georgia fatalities involved people trying to drive through floodwater. A vehicle with one man in it was swept off a road in Douglas County, and a car carrying a woman was swept off a road in Lawrenceville in Gwinnett County, east of Atlanta, Brummer said. Seydi Burciaga, 39, was driving to her Lawrenceville home from work when flash flooding trapped her in her vehicle, Gwinnett County police said. She called 911 and police tried to locate her, but Burciaga could not tell them exactly where she was. Floodwater moved her car about 500 feet after she was swept off the roadway, and her attempts to guide rescuers to her by mentioning landmarks were unsuccessful, police said. By the time rescuers found her minivan, she was dead, police said.
In Tennessee, the presumed drowning victim was forced into a culvert, or underground storm water drain, about 6 p.m. Sunday, Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner told CNN. Sylvester Kitchens Jr., 46, was with a friend, Albert Miller, when the two decided to swim in a large, flooded ditch, Garner said. He said a Miller family member told him that "basically it was a bet."

Both managed to grab onto a chain link fence while being buffeted by the strong current, Garner said. A neighbor threw a garden hose for them to grab onto, and Kitchens reached for it but was unable to hold on. Miller clung to the fence for about 20 minutes and was eventually rescued by firefighters, Garner said. Kitchens' body has not been found, said Garner, who added that it "doesn't appear he could've survived."

In Which Obama Has A General Problem, Just Like A Real President*

Roggio at Long War points to and discusses a McClatchy report that McChrystal is ready to resign if not given the resources to prosecute the war in Afghanistan.

I’m going to guess Obama and Emanuel are not going to take kindly to being pressured, but it puts them in a spot.
They could always pre-emptively fire him, I suppose. But firing two generals who tell you that you need more, including the guy you hired to tell you how to do it with less, starts to look like a crisis. A grossly mishandled one. This is not exactly a Lincolnian crisis of generalship or a Truman-MacArthur one, either. Nor, contrary to all the Vietnam tooth-gnashing, is this LBJ and Westmoreland. It isn’t even a Bush wartime leadership crisis. Bush always played to win. He just needed to figure out how and find the right general for the job.

This one is all Obama. And it is not a crisis of generalship. It is a crisis of presidential leadership.

The tug-o-war playground politics of the matter aside, there is still the fact of war in Afghanistan, a persistent global threat, and the rapidly diminishing credibility of the United States as a stalwart, moral force in the world, from the limp handling of Iran to the delivery of tribute to Vladimir Putin, and now the dawdling and dithering over the erstwhile good war. For all their squawking about us, the Euros don’t need us to be another EU member. They need someone to do the dirty work. Ditto the Arabs. China and Russia have got to be enjoying this, though.

Totally related: Victor Davis Hanson at NRO looks at Two-Front Wars, Theirs and Ours and comes away with something other than the currently fashionable doom-and-gloom mongering. It’s al-Qaeda after eight years of war, on the ropes and desperate. I like the part about how al-Qaeda took their eye off the ball and committed resources to Iraq, to their detriment.

Anyway, think about it, Obama. History loves a warfighter who wins.

Commentary roundup at Memeorandum. In other war-related business, Malkin on the jihadi threat to America’s rail security. It’s about some guy named Najibullah Zazi. Afghan refugee, raised in Peshawar, naturalized American. It’s a small world after all!

* You know. One who recognizes that there are some things bigger than his own ambitions, image and political agenda, and maybe even recognizes that his ambitions, image and political agenda depend on recognizing that.

Michelle and Barack Solid as a Rock According to New Biography

A new book, penned by biographer Christopher Andersen, paints the First Couple’s marriage as rock solid, despite a few bumps in the road. ”What’s odd is that our first non-white first family is really the most all-American, down-to-earth couple we’ve ever had in the White House,” said Andersen according to USA TODAY. “They’re comfortable in their own skins.”

Hmmm, what I find odd is this statement. However, I am sure that Mr Andersen will sell lots of books and end up on the best seller list. His latest biography Barack & Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage hits shelves today. Andersen is famous for writing such controversial and original biographies as Jack & Jackie: Portrait of an American Family, Jackie After Jack: Portrait of the Lady, and George & Laura: Portrait of an American Family.

What always amazes me about biographies like this is that the authors have gathered such great detail, without interviewing the main subjects. According to Andersen he interviewed over 200 people for the biography. I’m thinking just not the Obamas. Excerpts from the book reveal very personal conversations between the First Couple and people in their lives. There is even a conversation between the First Lady and her mother.

“Barack just doesn’t seem to care what I think,” a frustrated Michelle complained to her mother, Marian Robinson. “He can be so selfish – and I just can’t get through to him that we’re supposed to be in this together.”

I wonder where Andersen picked up that little tidbit? I don’t know about any of you, but I’m inclined to think that people who know intimate details about a high profile marriage aren’t talking and the ones who are, really don’t know.

Andersen’s biography credits the First Lady for convincing her husband to adopt the slogan, “yes we can”, the selection of Joe Biden as VP, and Justice Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. In short, the excerpt reads likes a hodgepodge of President Obama books past, campaign interviews, and gossip blogs. Andersen says that his book is “a positive story. A love story” and that “…the funny thing is you write a book about the ultimate power couple, but it’s really just another classic love story. People can connect with it. It’s hard to connect with a dynasty (the Kennedys) or a driven couple like the Clintons. They’re devoted to each other. It’s unique. They’re one of a kind.” The White House has yet to comment on the book.

Michelle Obama Watchers, you be the judge, to read an excerpt click here. I’m pulling out my library card for this one.

Posted by Aminah Hanan

Clinton Backs Up Obama On Race, Says Prez Wants To Win “On The Merits”

Pretty interesting: President Obama got some important backing from Bill Clinton last night on the question of whether race is driving anti-Obama rage, with Clinton deftly remaining on message and amplifying Obama’s position that race is only a minor factor.

Clinton also added a pretty slick rhetorical flourish of his own, claiming twice that Obama wants to win the big policy fights “on the merits,” a reminder that Clinton knows a thing or two about navigating racial politics. Here’s Clinton’s answer to the race question on Larry King, worth quoting at length:

I believe that some of the right-wing extremists which oppose President Obama are also racially prejudiced and would prefer not to have an African-American president. But I don’t believe that all the people that oppose him on health care and all the conservatives are racist.

And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now would be opposing him then.

We have to win this health care fight on the merits. And that’s what the president said. He’s absolutely right about it. I respect President Carter for his concern about this. But this is a fight about whether we are going to basically keep making excuses for being the only wealthy country in the world that can’t figure out how to ensure everybody…

Let me put it this way. If Barak Obama were a white president, I believe virtually 100 percent of the people who oppose him on health care today would oppose him on health care anyway…

So, I don’t want to say that President Carter is wrong about there being some still racial prejudice involved in the opponents of President Obama, but this fight is a fight which would exist no matter the color of his skin…He wants to fight this on the merits.

The White House suggests folks in the media are looking for any excuse they can find to keep the race conversation going. If that’s true, then Clinton did Obama a big solid by refusing to disagree with Carter — which would have made news — while deftly helping downplay the notion that Obama harbors even a hint of racial grievance about his critics.

Top Democrat Fundraiser Hassan Nemazee indicted for Massive Ponzi Scheme: Close ties to New Yorkers Schumer, Gillibrand, Cuomo & Clinton


Iranian-American investments banker Hassan Nemazee has been indicted on one count of bank fraud. He was arrested Aug. 23 at the Newark Airport in New Jersey, ticket in hand, about to board a flight to Italy.

Nemazee had obtained a loan for $100 million from HSBC, which he used in what investigators claim was a giant "Ponzi Scheme," ala Bernie Madoff. But the total amount of dollars allegedly bilked from investers in the scam amounted to $292 million.

Nemazee posted $25 million in bail. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

From Reuters, Sept. 18:

The HSBC lawsuit, dated Sept. 2, said that "to accomplish the fraud, Nemazee represented to HSBC that he had $89 million in Treasury Notes, with a current market value of more than $125 million, in a specified brokerage firm account; submitted a supposed agreement from the brokerage firm with forged signatures, false addresses, and false telephone numbers; used a mail drop; and submitted fabricated brokerage statements."

HSBC said that on Aug. 24, "Nemazee drew $75 million from HSBC on his fraudulently obtained credit facility, and used the funds to pay off his Citibank loan."

In court papers, lawyers said the government had frozen two of Nemazee's accounts at JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N).

They said JPMorgan Chase froze his securities account at Brean Murray, Carret & Co and Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) froze his funds
The Feds are charging Nemazee, according to the Huffington Post, with defrauding government-owned Citibank by giving them:

"fraudulent and forged" documents showing he owned millions of dollars in collateral
HuffPo also lists a number of Democrat politicians who've received major donations from Nemazee and PACs he's been a board member of, including the Iranian American Political Comm. From HuffPo:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, freshman U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, and U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are among the many New York Democrats who accepted donations from a national Democratic fundraiser now charged with lying to get a $74 million business loan.

Cuomo and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli each received $5,000 in campaign contributions from investment banker Hassan Nemazee.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/28/hassan-nemazee-schumer-gi_n_271570.html

SEC to ‘vigorously pursue’ charges against BofA

The Securities and Exchange Commission says it will “vigorously pursue” Bank of America Corp. in court with allegations that the bank misled shareholders when it prepared to purchase Merrill Lynch & Co. late last year.

The SEC and BofA reached a settlement on the charges last month that required the bank to pay a $33 million fine. But U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff rejected the deal, saying the corporate fine would further punish shareholders, not the persons suspected of misleading investors.

BofA (NYSE:BAC) is accused of allowing Merrill to pay more than $3 billion in bonuses to its employees before the merger, but leading investors to believe such bonuses would not be paid.

After Rakoff rejected the proposed settlement, the SEC had to consider whether to drop the charges, submit a new settlement or proceed to court. The agency’s statement late Monday means BofA management will likely be required to defend its actions in open court.

Here’s the full statement from the SEC:

“As we alleged in our complaint last month, Bank of America did not provide investors with complete and accurate information about the bonuses to be paid by Merrill Lynch to employees. We believe that this disclosure failure violated the federal securities laws.

“We firmly believe that the settlement we submitted to the court was reasonable, appropriate and in the public interest. As we consider our legal options with respect to the court’s ruling, we will vigorously pursue our charges against Bank of America and take steps to prove our case in court. We will use the additional discovery available in the litigation to further pursue the facts and determine whether to seek the court’s permission to bring additional charges in this case.

“In deciding how to proceed, we will, as always, be guided by what the facts warrant and the law permits.”

NY court: Paterson can appoint lieutenant governor

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's top court has upheld Gov. David Paterson's power to appoint a lieutenant governor, reversing a lower court's decision.

The court ruling released Tuesday is a timely victory for Paterson, who is facing calls from national Democratic Party leaders to abandon his bid for governor in 2010.

The ruling makes Richard Ravitch the state's lietenant governor. Paterson appointed him July 8 to help break a monthlong Senate leadership struggle,

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos then filed a lawsuit challenging Paterson's authority to make the appointment.

The lieutenant governor's post had been empty since Paterson stepped up to replace Eliot Spitzer, who resigned last year amid a prostitution scandal.

Ex-NY Giant Burress gets 2 years in gun case

NEW YORK — Former Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison for possessing a gun at a night club.

The former New York Giants star tearfully told his family goodbye as he surrendered to begin his prison stint for attempted criminal possession of a weapon after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh.

Burress was indicted on two counts of weapon possession and one count of reckless endangerment and pleaded guilty Aug. 20. He had faced a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years on those charges if convicted at trial. He pleaded to the lesser charge and agreed to the two-year term.

With time off for good behavior, Burress likely will serve 20 months. He will be monitored an additional two years after he is freed from prison, which could come as early as the spring of 2011.

The Giants released Burress in April, but the 32-year-old told ESPN he hopes to resume his NFL career when he completes his sentence.

Burress, who caught the winning touchdown for the Giants over the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl, and former teammate Antonio Pierce were at the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan last November when a gun tucked into Burress' waistband slipped down his leg and fired, wounding him.

The gun was not licensed in New York or in New Jersey, where Burress lived. His license to carry a concealed weapon in the Florida had expired in May 2008.

Pierce, who drove Burress to a hospital after the shooting, was not indicted.

Defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman has said Burress was thinking of his family in taking the plea, but the attorney questioned the recommended prison sentence.

"This was not an intentional criminal act," Brafman said the day of the plea. "In my judgment, a two-year prison sentence is a very severe punishment."

Gil Brandt, an analyst on NFL Sirius Radio and the former head of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, said Burress won't be too old for a comeback when he's released from prison.

"First of all, Plaxico is a guy who keeps himself in pretty good shape," Brandt said. "Lots of times guys get heavy in the off-season. He is not a guy who has done that."

But Brandt intimated it could be difficult for Burress to reacquire his football skills after so much time on the sidelines.

"It's like a person who has gone to college or high school and drops out of school for two years," he said. "It is hard to reacquire your study habits. I think it is hard to reacquire the work habits you need to be successful when you have been away from the game for two years or so."

Terror Probe Puts U.S. Mass Transit Systems on Alert

A 24-year-old Afghan man at the center of an unfolding FBI investigation into a possible U.S. terrorism cell was ordered held without bond in Colorado Monday as authorities raced to learn more about an alleged plot using hydrogen peroxide explosives and who else might have been helping to carry it out.

Meanwhile, authorities in Washington and elsewhere were stepping up safety patrols on mass transit systems in response to an advisory issued in connection with the probe.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI sent a bulletin to transit agencies Friday repeating past warnings to be on guard for attacks on mass transit systems, and identifying hydrogen peroxide-based explosives as a specific risk. Federal officials called the notice "precautionary", and said it included possible countermeasures such as random checks of stations, trains and buses.

Local officials in Washington said the bulletin specifically mentioned Grand Central Station in New York City, but said they have nevertheless increased the number of random patrols. Because there was no specific threat for this region, Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said police have not implemented random bag searches.

The Full Story

Iran leader warns against attack

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned that it would retaliate against any possible military strike.

Speaking at a military parade in Tehran commemorating the start of the Iraq-Iran war, he said Iran would "cut the hand of anyone" who dared to attack it.

The comments come a day after Israel said it had not ruled out any options regarding Iran's nuclear programme.

The parade was marred by reports that a plane taking part the ceremonies had crashed south of Tehran, killing seven.

The crash was reported on state radio and state television showed video footage of burning wreckage from the plane surrounded by fire trucks, according to AFP news agency.

There was no information on the possible cause of the crash.

Iranian aircraft - both civilian and military - have been plagued by lethal accidents.

In July at least 180 people died in two incidents involving commercial aircraft.

The air force show had included US-made planes acquired before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, as well as Russian and domestically-built aircraft.

Mr Ahmadinejad's repeated his criticism of the presence of foreign forces in the region and praised the strength of Iran's armed forces.

The Full Story

Key US Senate panel opens health care push

Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Max Baucus
WASHINGTON — A key US Senate committee on Tuesday began work on its version of sweeping legislation to overhaul US health care, as the panel's chairman explicitly rejected Canadian and British approaches.

"This is a uniquely American solution. We are not Canada. We are not Britain. We are America," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana.

"Americans have a tradition of balance. We don?t buy into government-only solutions," said Baucus, who opposes a government-managed "public option" favored by President Barack Obama's core Democratic supporters.

After months of wrangling vainly aimed at winning Republican support, Baucus has unveiled a 10-year overhaul plan that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says will cost about 774 billion dollars.

Obama has made overhauling US health care his top domestic priority, seeking to curb out-of-control costs and extend coverage that currently fails to reach some 47 million people in the United States.

The committee's "mark-up" -- the process of changing a bill before sending it to the full Senate -- was expected to run through Friday, with hundreds of amendments to the legislation up for debate.

"The mark before us today is a balanced, common-sense plan that takes the best ideas from both sides," said Baucus. "But I don?t pretend that it?s the last word."

"I?m eager to work with other Senators to make this an even better bill," he said. "The time has come to reform America?s health care. The times demand nothing less."

Three House of Representatives Committees and one other Senate committee have approved their versions of the legislation, which must clear both houses before it reaches Obama's desk to be signed into law.

Obama: Climate Change May Lead to 'Irreversible Catastrophe'

US President Barack Obama speaks during Summit on Climate Change at United Nations in New York, 22 Sep 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama says inaction on climate change could leave future generations with an "irreversible catastrophe."

Mr. Obama called on global leaders Tuesday to move "boldly, swiftly, and together" to combat the problem.

Mr. Obama addressed world leaders gathered in New York City for a climate change summit called by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Ban opened the meeting by saying it would be "morally inexcusable" not to act.

In his address, President Obama said the security and stability of each nation and all peoples are in jeopardy and that time is running out to reverse the effects of climate change. But Mr. Obama said the current trend is reversible.

More than 90 heads of state are attending the meeting. Officials hope to make progress toward a global climate treaty that governments plan to finalize during a December meeting in Denmark.

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