Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tag Heuer stands by Tiger Woods, 'the best in his domain'

• Golfer's private life 'not our business', says watch manufacturer
• Sponsor's seven-year association with Woods to continue

An advert for Tag Heuer watches featuring Tiger Woods on a billboard in Los Angeles. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

The Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer has said it will continue its association with Tiger Woods despite the golfer's highly public personal problems.

"We will continue," the company spokeswoman, Mariam Sylla, told the Associated Press. "He's the best in his domain. We respect his performance in the sport." She added that Woods's personal life is "not our business".

Tag Heuer has been sponsoring Woods, who last week announced that he is taking an indefinite leave from golf, since 2002. Financial details of the agreement have not been announced.

Tag Heuer's comment came a day after the global consulting firm Accenture became the first major sponsor to announce it was cutting ties with Woods. Gillette, another major sponsor, has announced that it is to phase the golfer out of its promotional material, at least temporarily. "Tiger is still part of Gillette," the company's spokesman, Mike Norton, said. "We support him as he takes a break from his professional career and that's why we're supporting him by limiting his role in our marketing programmes." Nike and the computer game company Electronic Arts both continue to support Woods.

Oral Roberts "Called Home" at 91

Evangelist Oral Roberts once announced that if he did not receive eight million dollars in donations by a certain date, God would "call me home." You will hear this mentioned a lot today, as Roberts has died at the age of 91.

Roberts was a very successfully preacher of the old healing and hallelujah sort, first in churches and tents and then on television. He established Oral Roberts University in 1963, which he still served as chancellor at the time of his death; in recent years the school's sports teams were in the news more than he, but the earning power of his name remained powerful to the end; whenever the wolf arrived at the door, Roberts was able to turn it back...

Roberts even founded a holistic medical practice, the City of Faith Medical and Research Center, which closed after eight years but, an adherent writes, left "a lasting impact on the understanding by many medical professionals of the importance of treating the whole person -- body, mind and spirit." The facilities were later turned into an office park.

Roberts spawned a lot of disciples -- including the recently-deceased celebrity preacher Billy Joe Daugherty, who was among the first graduates of ORU. Roberts' son still conducts Oral Roberts ministries around the world. Though Roberts is gone, and the style of televangelists may be altered from his heyday, his legacy will be with us for a while.

Roberts wrote in 2002 that while "my body is no longer young... the whole story includes: the vibrancy of the Spirit within me; a mind constantly renewed through the prayer language of the Spirit... all of these hold back the aging process and renew my strength like the eagle's."

'Precious' Gets Best Picture Nod From Golden Globes

We sure hope Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique have their gowns lined up for award season. The 67th Annual Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning and, as anticipated, by critics and fans alike, the pair earned nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama, respectfully, for their performances in "Precious." The film, directed by Lee Daniels and executive-produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, also received honors for Best Motion Picture, Drama.

Speaking of motion pictures, "The Princess and the Frog," which stars Tony Award-winner and ESSENCE covergirl, Anika Noni Rose, as Disney's first, Black princess (and grabbed the top spot at the box office last weekend), received a nomination for Best Animated Feature. And last, but certainly not least, veteran actor, Morgan Freeman, will compete for the Best Actor statue for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in "Invictus" while British actor, Chitwel Ejiofor is up for Best Actor in a Mini-Series for "Endgame."

For a complete listing of nominations, visit www.goldenglobes.org. The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards will be presented in Hollywood on January 17, 2010.

Holder Calls On Black Fathers To Take Responsibility

Attorney General Eric Holder called on absentee black fathers yesterday to take an active role in their children’s lives, Newsday reported today.

Holder, a Queens native and the first black Attorney General, urged the 400 worshippers at the Memorial Presbyterian Church on Baldwin Turnpike in Queens, N.Y., to orchestrate a “spiritual awakening,” according to the New York newspaper. The Attorney General said a father’s involvement in a family can help combat poverty and crime in black neighborhoods, according to Newsday.

Eric Holder ( Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice)
“Too many men in the black community have created children and left them to be raised by caring mothers. These women do a wonderful job, but we ask too much of them and too little of our men,” Holder told the congregation, which included members of his family, according to Newsday. “It should simply be unacceptable for a man to have a child and then not play an integral part in the raising and nurturing of the child.”

Holder’s comments hearken back to comedian Bill Cosby’s speech before the NAACP in 2004, in which he sparked a national debate by urging African-American fathers to take responsibility for their children. And on Father’s Day 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama gave a speech in whcih he said “too many fathers” are “missing from too many lives and too many homes.”

The nation’s top federal law enforcement official steered clear of domestic policy matters during his speech in the church, Newsday said. But, outside the church, more than 50 people protested his decision to try 9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspected terrorists in a New York City federal court, according to the newspaper.

Holder met with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and other officials earlier last week to discuss the upcoming trials.

Study Investigates Relationship Perceptions Among African-American Youth

UA undergraduate researcher Beatrice Abiero

In studying youth perceptions of romantic relationships, Beatrice Abiero's survey sample included more than 2,300 individuals.

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications December 14, 2009

The existent literature about African-American youth and their relationships has tended to focus on sexual activity, instances of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

University of Arizona undergraduate researcher Beatrice Abiero said this as problematic, stating that researchers often fail to investigate perceptions associated with romantic relationships, particularly among African-American youth.

"Positive as well as negative views about romantic relationships exist," said Abiero, a student in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

"However, research has typically neglected examining the root cause and implications of romantic perceptions among African-American adolescents," she added.

Through an internship with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Abiero was encouraged to develop her own study based on the Mobile Youth Survey data set, a longitudinal study focusing on African-American youth that includes more than 400 questions.

Abiero opted to examine the romantic perceptions of more than 2,300 African-Americans, ages 9 to 19, living in high poverty neighborhoods in Mobile, Ala.

For her project, "Perceptions of Romantic Relationships and Self Worth Among Low Income Urban African-American Adolescents-Findings From the Mobile Youth Survey," Abiero investigated how self-expression and also feelings of self-worth and hopelessness relate to how youth view themselves. She also studied how the youth perceived their romantic partners.

The project earned her a second place award in 2009 in the Graduate and Professional Student Council's Student Showcase. She also won a first place award during last year's showcase.

Also, Abiero has presented her research in several other forums, including an oral presentation during a scientific session at the American Public Health Association's annual conference held last month in Philadelphia.

As part of her research, Abiero found that younger participants who had little or no experience with romantic relationships and no one to talk to when worried held more positive believes about romantic relationship.

"My view is that for the younger kids who do not have anyone to talk to when they are worried [then] a relationship is a positive way of expressing their worries," Abiero said.

During her research, she received support from John Bolland and Brad Lian, principal investigators, researchers and professors at the University of Alabama. She was also assisted by fellow intern Chris Lum of San jose State University.

"Overall, there was a negative relationship between age and positive romantic perceptions. This means that as the participants aged, they held more negative romantic relationship views," Abiero said, noting that the negative views were self-directed and also directed toward romantic partners.

"Perhaps, this may be attributed to more dating experience as people get older," she added.

She also found that maternal attachment had no effect on the participants' relationship perceptions.

"This was especially surprising considering that most literature emphasizes maternal attachment as a significant predictor of development of romantic perceptions," she said.

She also found that girls who were in exclusive relationships held more positive views of romantic relationships than did boys.

Abiero said that while additional research is necessary, her early findings carry implications for teachers and health professionals, particularly those in the public health.

"Because this study highlights the importance of communication, social support and self-esteem, we need to include parents, teachers and other community members in developing comprehensive prevention programming that focus on effective coping and communication skills," she said. "It just boils down to teaching youth how to build and maintain successful relationships."

Abiero, who said she may return to Alabama during the summer to continue her research, said her findings indicate that showing youth how to develop and maintain stable relationships carries multiple benefits.

"Having positive views about relationships," she said, "can lead to improved communication skills and self-esteem, decreased aggression, dating violence, and risky sexual behavior."

NAACP Asks for Review of Lawlor Verdict

Connecticut’s NAACP wants the federal government to review the acquittal of former Hartford police officer Robert Lawlor.

Lawlor was cleared last week in the shooting death of 18-year-old Jashon Bryant when he was acquitted of manslaughter and assault charges.

After the verdict was read on Tuesday, Bryant's grief-stricken family rushed from the courtroom, the Hartford Courant reports. Bryant's mother, Cynthia, almost collapsed outside court.

"A policeman has license to kill black people in our neighborhood and get away with it," Keith Thomas, Bryant's father, said outside court, according to the Courant. "It was my son who got bullets put into him. [Lawlor] should be going to prison."

It got so heated outside the court house that Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez intervened and called for calm in the city. Three churches were open that afternoon for people seeking spiritual guidance or for a place to reflect.

Mug Shots in the News
Mug Shots in the News
“We are closing a difficult chapter for our City. Families have been devastated but we must come together today as one city, one Hartford,” Perez said in a statement.

The NAACP is concerned that an all-white jury exonerated Lawlor. The organization and Bryant’s family plan to hold a press conference today in front of the federal building on Main Street in Hartford.

“The NAACP, the family of Jashon Bryant, and many in the community believe this was a flawed, racially biased process,” State Conference President Scot X. Esdaile said in a news release. “People have commented that this case put the community on trial, not a former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed young man. We’re asking the Justice Department to review this case and ensure that justice was served.”

Bryant was 18 when he was killed by Lawlor in May 2005. Lawlor said he believed Bryant had a gun, and that he opened fire when Bryant's friend drove his car toward an FBI agent with whom Lawlor was working.

“He just got away with killing my son again,” Bryant’s mother, Cynthia, said. “He killed him two times.”

The verdict came down the day before Jashon’s birthday, his family said.

“I don’t get to say ‘Happy Birthday,’” his sister told Lawlor. She also said she was bothered that the officer never apologized.

Outside the courthouse, Lawlor defended himself and said he took an oath.

“I did nothing wrong,” he said.

Lawyers for the now-retired 18-year veteran police officer argued that Lawlor was obligated to protect the people of the city he served and that's even if it meant using a gun.

Prosecutors argued that police, just like the rest of us, have to follow the laws.
A manslaughter and assault conviction carries a prison sentence of as much as 40 years.

Michael Lohan Arrested Again

Michael Lohan was arrested and thrown back in jail after he broke a restraining order by calling his ex-girlfriend Erin Muller. Michael was arrested in Medford, New York yesterday.

Michael has been releasing recorded phone calls with his ex-wife Dina recently, who also has a restraining order that forbids Michael from having contact with Dina by phone.

Michael is now charged with criminal contempt of court for violating the order of protection against him.

Muller nailed Michael before he could record THEIR phone call. Dina Lohan, Lindsay Lohan, and Jon Gosselin are probably all feeling better now after Michael did his best to make them look bad publicly by releasing recorded phone calls with them.

Smoking Gun Documents Show Iran Working on Atomic Bomb in 2007

The Times of London published a piece on Monday, based on classified documents, showing that Iran was working on building a nuclear bomb in 2007. The technical documents obtained by the paper describe Iran’s plan to test a neutron initiator, which is used to set off the explosion of a nuclear bomb. The documents contravene a 2007 report prepared by US intelligence agencies, which concluded that Iran had ended its program to produce nuclear weapons in 2003.
According to the report in The Times:

“The technical document describes the use of a neutron source, uranium deuteride, which independent experts confirm has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon. Uranium deuteride is the material used in Pakistan’s bomb, from where Iran obtained its blueprint.”

Iran has long been claiming that its nuclear research is being used to build nuclear power plants to supply the country’s growing population with electricity. But the country has massive oil and gas reserves.

Critics believes Iran’s goal is to produce atomic bombs under the cover of a civilian program to build nuclear power plants. Iran was caught just last year hiding an uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom.

The classified documents reveal a four-year plan, beginning in 2007 to develop and test the neutron initiator, which if true, means the country could be working on the device right now.

“The documents detail a plan for tests to determine whether the device works — without detonating an explosion leaving traces of uranium detectable by the outside world. If such traces were found, they would be taken as irreversible evidence of Iran’s intention to become a nuclear-armed power.”

Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London is quoted in the paper, referring to the revelations contained in the documents, as “casus belli” with “no diplomatic solution” and a “smoking gun.”

The UN will be taking up the issue of imposing additional sanctions on Iran this week.

Swine Flu Facts

About 50 million Americans had contracted pandemic H1N1 influenza through Nov. 14, according to the newest CDC estimates meaning that about 15% of the entire country has been infected, about 1 in every 6 people.

The agency also reported that more than 200,000 people had been hospitalized and nearly 10,000 had died.

The 200,000 hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic seven months ago is about the same as in a usual flu season. The deaths are lower than the 35,000 associated with seasonal flu in a typical year, but the breakdown is sharply different. The 10,000 deaths include 1,100 children and 7,500 adults 18 to 64. Those figures are much higher than in a usual flu season.

In a normal flu season, there are about 1,000 deaths among Americans under 50. "But a large proportion of the 7,500 adults [who died] are under 50," he said. Hospitalizations among the younger group are also several times higher than normal. - LA Times

An August report by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology proposed a "plausible" death toll that could fall anywhere between 30,000 and 90,000. - USA Today

July: British health projection of flu deaths: 65,000
Nov: British health projection of flu deaths: 1,000

New data reveal that there were 26 deaths out of every 100,000 cases of swine flu in England (a fatality rate of 0.026%). The authors conclude that "the first influenza pandemic of the 21 st century is considerably less lethal than was feared in advance.". . . The researchers say their fatality rate estimate compares well with the other three 20 th century influenza pandemics - the rate for the 1918 Spanish flu was 2-3% and subsequent pandemics (1957-8 and 1967-8) had rates of around 0.2%. -British Medical Journal

Doses of flu vaccine available: 42,000,000
Reported adverse effects: 1700
Number of serious adverse effects: 68
Number of reported subsequent cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome: 6

Closing Gitmo update: some prisoners headed to Illinois

From the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet comes the scoop tonight that the Obama White House has settled on a destination for at least some prisoners from Guantanamo Bay:

WASHINGTON–The White House will announce Tuesday that President Obama will seek to acquire the Thomson Correctional Center in northwestern Illinois to house detainees now held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
I reported in Saturday’s editions of the Sun-Times that the Obama administration had settled on the nearly vacant Thomson and would be making the announcement soon.

Obama has directed the federal government to proceed with the acquisition of Thomson to house federal inmates under Bureau of Prisons authority and a “limited number” of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay Military prison–estimated to be under 100– to be housed in a portion of Thomson to be operated by the Department of Defense.

The Bureau of Prisons would occupy 75 percent of the facility and the Defense Department would use 25 percent of the space for the detainees. The plan calls for two “entirely separate facilities side by side.”

“Closing the detention center at Guantanamo is essential to protecting our national security and helping our troops by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of al Qaeda. Tomorrow’s announcement is an important step forward as we work to achieve our national security objectives,” an official said in a statement.

Perhaps anticipating the major firestorm from the right regarding the move to bring terror suspects (and perhaps the remaining old men and minors still languishing in the infamous Bush-Cheney-era prison camp) onto American soil, the administration is couching the move in terms most Americans (and certainly most Illinoians) can understand: jobs, jobs, jobs.

Gov. Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) champions of the project–arguing that it will create a jobs boom in a part of the state with high unemployment–will be briefed by administration officials at the White House Tuesday afternoon on how the acquisition will proceed. GOP members of the congressional delegation have been critical of the plan.

Looks like the White House is looking to complete their campaign promise shopping list before Christmas

Gore gets caught in a factual fabrication at Copenhagen

From the “Inconvenient Truths” department, the Times is reporting that Gore got called out for saying older figures on Arctic sea ice as “fresh” when they were not, and misrepresenting what the scientist actually said. This latest gaff makes three in a row for Mr. Gore, who recently made bizarre claims of the leaked CRU emails being “10 years old”, when there were many, many in the last decade, some in the last month. Gore also recently stated on national television recently that the Earth’s mantle was “several million degrees”, making it likely hotter than our sun.

As indicated by the Times article, his latest gaffe has not gone unnoticed by the MSM.

Excerpts of the Times article:
There are many kinds of truth. Al Gore was poleaxed by an inconvenient one yesterday.

The former US Vice-President, who became an unlikely figurehead for the green movement after narrating the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, became entangled in a new climate change “spin” row.

Mr Gore, speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, stated the latest research showed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free in five years.

Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”

However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.

“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”

Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.

“This is an exaggeration that opens the science up to criticism from sceptics,” Professor Jim Overland, a leading oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

“You really don’t need to exaggerate the changes in the Arctic.”

[Maslowksi said] “I was very explicit that we were talking about near-ice-free conditions and not completely ice-free conditions in the northern ocean. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this,” he said. “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at, based on the information I provided to Al Gore’s office.”

The Halladay–Lee Blockbuster

So, it seems that the Blue Jays, Phillies, and Mariners have arranged a blockbuster deal where Roy Halladay will go to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee will end up in Seattle. The Phillies also get Mariners prospects Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and Juan Ramirez, plus $6 million in cash from the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays get Phillies prospects Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis D’Arnaud (thanks to MLBTradeRumors.com for gathering the details from all the circulating reports).

This is quite a deal to break down, but I’ll try. There are only two major-league players involved, and both have one year left on their current deals before becoming free agents. Halladay will make almost $16 million and I have being worth around $17 million. Lee will make $8 million, and I estimate him being worth $15 million. Straight-up the Phillies don’t look so good here, but this is where the cash and prospects come in. I have recently developed a system for valuing prospects based on their minor-league performance. It’s complicated, and I will be explaining it in my forthcoming book (details on that to come), but it involves projecting the expected worth of minor-league players based on their performance. So, below, I have the expected value of the rights to all the players in the deal in millions of dollars. These values are crude, but they should get the job done.

The pluses indicate that there is some unquantified value. For D’Audard, he is so low in the minors that I cannot adequately project his worth. He’s worth something positive, but it’s hard to say how much. For Halladay, the + reflects the value to the Phillies to being able to lock up Halladay before he hits the free agent market. This may net them a small discount as well as offers stability. Note that Toronto doesn’t loose this value, because he was not going to sign with the team. John Heyman is reporting that the Phillies and Halladay have agreed to a three-year $60 million deal, plus some vesting options. I have Halladay worth $55 million over that span to the average team—close to the actual contract—and because the Phillies are a good team he ought to be worth more. So, he seems to be getting a good deal and the Phillies may be getting a small discount.

In the end, all the teams are coming out about even, and of course all the GMs believe they are coming out ahead with a new group of players. I’m kind of surprised it worked out so neatly, especially with so much cash involved.

Blast Kills 20 in Central Pakistan

Officials say the blast ripped through a market Tuesday near the home of a politician in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan.

Pakistani officials say a suspected car bomb has killed at least 20 people and wounded 60 others in central Pakistan.

Officials say the blast ripped through a busy market Tuesday near the home of a politician in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan. Investigators say several buildings have been badly damaged and they fear many people may be trapped under rubble.

The attack is the latest in a series of bombings that has killed more than 500 people in Pakistan since October.

Officials say militants are retaliating for an army offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in the South Waziristan tribal region.

Last week, Pakistan's prime minister said the military's nearly three-month-old ground offensive in South Waziristan has been successful and officials are considering launching a new assault on strongholds in the Orakzai tribal agency.

The military released a statement Tuesday saying 17 suspected militants had been arrested and four had voluntarily surrendered within the past 24 hours of the operation. The claims are difficult to verify because the military bars many reporters and aid workers from the region.

Pakistan's military says that overall, some 600 Taliban militants and 80 soldiers have been killed in the offensive.