Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Teddy Riley's Daughter Files Restraining Order

Teddy Riley, of R&B group Blackstreet, has been accused of attacking his daughters with a guitar from the Wii "Rock Band" video game, according to TMZ.

Riley's 18-year-old daughter Taja received a temporary restraining order against Teddy, which claimed that her father attacked her and her older sister, "stomping, punching and bashing them" in his house in LA on December 23, TMZ reported.

Documents filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court state Taja's claim that her dad, "lifted a Rock Band guitar and threatened to kill person(s) with it." Taja also claims she suffered "bashes to the temple, contusions to the face" and "pain in [the] knee."

According to TMZ, Teddy must stay 100 yards away from his daughter. A hearing has been scheduled for January.

Artur Davis finds opposition coming from older black leadership

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, has found that his strongest opposition comes from black leaders who were on the front lines of the civil rights movement.
The man vying to become Alabama's first black governor is battling some unlikely critics -- black Democratic leaders who were on the front lines of the civil rights movement.

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, 42, wasted little time launching his campaign after Barack Obama's presidential victory last year. The prospects seemed promising for the Harvard-educated lawyer, a moderate with proven appeal to white voters who will be running in a June Democratic primary where black voters could account for as much as half the turnout.

But a year in, Davis is finding that racial prejudice is not the biggest obstacle to presiding at the Capitol where Gov. George C. Wallace once proclaimed "segregation forever."

Among those criticizing him are Joe Reed, founder and longtime chairman of the black wing of the state Democratic Party, and former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, who was that city's first black mayor.

Across the South, a legitimate black candidate for governor is a rarity, but finding old-fashioned political opposition within black political ranks is not.

Ferrel Guillory, an expert in Southern politics at the University of North Carolina, says there is a "generational cleavage" caused by the emergence of black leaders like Obama and Davis who are too young to have been part of the civil rights era. Those who were on the front lines of that movement want to maintain their influence.

Davis, a three-term congressman who was Obama's campaign chairman in Alabama, is no stranger to the phenomenon. Reed and Arrington opposed him in 2002 when he recruited strong white support to beat an incumbent black congressman with a long civil rights resume, and again in 2008 when many black leaders at first supported Hillary Clinton over Obama, warning that America wasn't ready to elect a black president.

"There is a group of insiders in this state who benefit from protecting the status quo," Davis said.

D'Linell Finley, an expert in minority politics at Auburn University Montgomery, says some Democrats are also concerned that if Davis tops the ticket in November, some white voters will cast straight Republican tickets and doom other Democrats.

"They may have some merit," Finley said.

After all, Obama received only about 10 percent of the white vote in Alabama, according to some exit polls, and did worse among white Alabama voters than John Kerry four years earlier. In modern times, no black candidate has won any statewide office in the executive branch of Alabama's government. Only about 25 percent of the state's registered voters are black.

Davis and Obama got to know each other at Harvard law school, but Davis' political record is much more moderate -- and on health care legislation, a sensitive issue for black voters, he has veered to the conservative side. Criticism from Reed was fast and pointed when Davis was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the health care overhaul bill.

Reed said Davis voted "no" to help himself in the governor's race by appealing to more conservative voters, not to help constituents in his mostly black, low-income district that stretches across the civil rights battlegrounds of Birmingham and Selma.

"He is not likely to get a 'profiles in courage' award when any political issue makes him uncomfortable," Reed said.

For many black leaders from the civil rights generation, health care legislation "is a litmus test," Guillory said.

But Davis said he rejects Reed's "insinuation that there is a uniquely 'black' way of understanding an issue, and I strongly suspect that most Alabamians will as well."

Reed, 72, didn't take kindly to criticism from someone 30 years his junior.

"My record is second to none, and I was doing this when Congressman Davis was making mud cakes under the shade tree," he said.

Reed has been a power broker in Alabama politics since about the time Davis was born. He is chairman of the party's black wing, the Alabama Democratic Conference. He's also the No. 2 official at the state teachers' organization, which has more than 100,000 members and has contributed to Davis' white opponent in the Democratic primary, Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.

Sparks is running with the support of Arrington, 75, the first black mayor of Birmingham.

"As good a man as Artur Davis is, I'm not sure he can win and, frankly, I'm concerned that with him at the top of the ticket I'm not sure what that might mean for Democratic control of the House and state Senate," Arrington said.

Even if Davis wins the primary, he could face an uphill battle. Republicans have won every Alabama governor's race but one since 1986. Republican incumbent Bob Riley has served two terms and can't run again, but the GOP has a big field of contenders.

Davis is focusing his campaign on rewriting Alabama's heavily amended constitution and enacting tougher government ethics standards, reforms that appeal to middle-class voters. It's his opponent, Sparks, who is stressing issues that traditionally appeal to black Alabama voters -- creating a state lottery and expanding gambling to provide money for education and Medicaid. Sparks has also endorsed the federal health care legislation.

Still, Sparks is trying to win a June primary where nearly half the vote is traditionally black. His chances of winning go up if Davis alienates significant numbers of black voters and can't manage to appeal to white voters.

Byrdie Larkin, a political scientist at historically black Alabama State University, said Davis has positioned himself as more conservative than Sparks, but that might not be enough for him to capture the white votes needed to win.

"They might see Davis as an answer to their concerns, but for a majority of Alabamians, race is still a factor," she said.

Citywide Jobless Map Reveals Blacks Worst Hit by Recession

Courtesy NY Times
The overall unemployment rate in NYC was 10.1 percent in the third quarter of 2009, but the jobless numbers vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood, according to a distressing, if unsurprising, new study by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a liberal research group. For example, overall unemployment was 5.1% on Manhattan's Upper East and West Sides, compared to 15.7% in Central Bronx and 19.2% in East New York. FPI also broke down the data by race, finding that blacks rank #1 in the jobless category in almost every part of NYC (except areas of Staten Island and Whitestone, Queens, where info on blacks was "not applicable.")

Both The Wall Street Journal and City Room have great interactive maps of the damage; by scrolling over City Room's map, you can see how individual racial and ethnic groups fared in different parts of town. "Wall Street might be recovering, but the recession rages on in New York City's Main Street neighborhoods," said FPI's Chief Economist James Parrott in a statement. "In some cases, great disparities exist within neighborhoods. For example, in the West Brooklyn neighborhood stretching from Brooklyn Heights to Red Hook and Park Slope, white male unemployment was 3 percent, while in the same neighborhood, 46 percent of black men were jobless."

Of course, it's important and depressing to bear in mind that these numbers don't account for those unemployed souls who've given up and stopped seeking employment. Though the city's unemployment rate in November fell to 10.0 percent (seasonally adjusted) from 10.3 percent in October, FPI does not believe this signals an improvement in the local job market. Instead, the report attributes the decline entirely to people leaving the labor force, rather than an increase in the number of jobs. Here's a pdf of the full report; enjoy it with a warm bath and a nice bottle of pills.

US sharply steps up military, economic aid to Yemen

WASHINGTON — The United States is sharply increasing both military and economic aid to Yemen, as it has been doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to fight a growing threat from Al-Qaeda, officials said Wednesday.

The threat has been highlighted by the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who reportedly confessed to being trained by an Al-Qaeda bomb maker in Yemen for his mission to blow up a US-bound jet.

"To a certain extent you can argue that the airline incident on Christmas day brought attention, public attention to Yemen," a senior State Department official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

But "certainly within this government and certainly other governments around the world... we have been quite sensitive to what's happening in Yemen," the official said.

"Over the last year or so, there has been a renewed focus on what can we do, how can we really speed up the process and have... quick impact programs that will allow people to see changes in their life," the official said.

In the 2010 fiscal year, US development and security assistance to Yemen is expected to rise to 63 million dollars from a total of 40.3 million dollars in the 2009 fiscal year, another State Department official said.

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Eight Americans killed in Afghan attack: US embassy

KABUL — Eight Americans have been killed in an attack in eastern Afghanistan, an embassy official and NATO said on Wednesday.

The attack in Khost province was believed to be a suicide bombing, a Western military official told AFP.

A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said: "No US and no ISAF military personnel were killed or injured" in the incident.

The US embassy in Kabul confirmed that eight Americans had been killed.

"Eight Americans have been killed in an attack on RC-East," the official said, referring to the military region of eastern Afghanistan that includes 14 provinces.

No other information was immediately available, she said.

Suicide attacks are a hallmark of the Taliban, waging a virulent insurgency to topple the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The number of foreign civilians in Afghanistan is mushrooming as the war takes a turn away from concentrating on battlefield fighting amid a growing emphasis on development and aid.

As civilian teams arrive, they are being sent to provincial military bases, where many they are billeted to work alongside military reconstruction teams.

The attack on the Americans comes as the international forces in Afghanistan -- numbering 113,000 and set to grow to 150,000 next year -- are embroiled in controversy over the deaths of Afghan civilians in an operation on Saturday.

President Hamid Karzai has accused international forces of shooting dead ten unarmed civilians, including eight teenagers, though ISAF has disputed the findings of an Afghan government investigation.

Mary J Blige Album Stronger Debuts At #2; Susan Boyle Still Killing Them

The last two years America has seen a British invasion like no other when it comes to music, and now Susan Boyle is proving the UK is nothing to mess with. She has managed to keep Alicia Keys and Mary J Blige from the #1 spot, by outselling all Americans for the past 5 weeks. She’s even beat Taylor Swift.

Mary J Blige managed to sell about 330,000 units which isn’t bad considering she hit her husband during her debut week. Young Money debuted at #9, selling only 142,000 units. Last but not least Alicia Keys album dropped to the #4 spot, which is really great, considering Chris Brown and Rihanna fell off the top ten, and the top 20 for that matter during their second weeks.

You can read more about this week in sales, here, but let’s just say it hasn’t been the best year for Hip-Hop and R&B.

Director Harold Ramis Says ‘Ghostbusters 3′ Shoots This Summer

The 20 year awaited sequel Ghostbusters 3 looks like it will finally begin shooting this summer for a release in 2011 according to director Harold Ramis.

“Something’s going to happen. Dan [Aykroyd] did write a spec GB3 screenplay a few years ago, but no one was motivated to pursue it. Now, 25 years after the original, there seems to be some willingness to proceed and apparently a substantial public appetite for a sequel. We’ll introduce some new young Ghostbusters, and all the old guys will be in it, too. Think Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future … GB3 is progressing with plans to shoot next summer and release in 2011 … Oh, and I have two one-of-a-kind Ghostbuster yarmulkessent by fans.”

I’m looking forward to this movie, but I can’t say my hopes are extremely high. I mean look at Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s hard to make a sequel to something that was a hit 20 years ago, regardless of your fond youthful memories.

Lakers 124, Warriors 118

The lone new addition to the Lakers this season was leaning forward in his Staples Center skybox seat next to Lakers owner Jerry Buss on Tuesday night. Ron Artest’s dizziness from his Christmas night concussion forced him to sit out his third consecutive game.

So it was an almost forgotten corner of the Lakers’ roster that used to help win a lot of games - young guards Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic - who helped the Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors.

Oh, and the longest-tenured Laker, Kobe Bryant, did his thing, too: 44 points, 11 assists. Despite playing with his fractured right index finger and sore right elbow, Bryant made all 16 of his attempts from the free-throw line.

Sidekick Pau Gasol’s push for another All-Star berth continued with a season-high 27 points, plus 12 rebounds.

It was the Lakers’ fourth game in five days. The physical and mental fatigue was such that after a sloppy entry pass from Derek Fisher to Bryant midway through the second quarter, neither Bryant nor Fisher moved for it, each expecting the other to go.

The ball bounced untouched … then out of bounds. Warriors ball.

The Warriors led by 15 points in the second and nine in the third before the Lakers rallied. Farmar gave the Lakers some higher-octane fuel in the second half and played more and later than Fisher for a change, creating more good than bad with his activity and finishing with 12 points and five assists in 25 minutes.

Vujacic played a season-high 22 minutes, including the entire fourth quarter in the backcourt while Phil Jackson played Bryant at small forward.

Surprise! Fannie & Freddie Get Blank Checks, Executive Bonuses Skyrocket

The Obama Administration is under fire this week over their decision to remove the caps that limited the amount of available capital to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to $200 billion each. The Administration is being skewered for their sneaky timing, announcing this move quietly on Christmas Eve when consumers were distracted and federal offices were closed for the remainder of the week making contact for comment impossible.

From the WSJ, “unlimited access to bailout funds through 2012 was ‘necessary for preserving the continued strength and stability of the mortgage market,’ the Treasury said.”

Okay, that sounds great, but it’s all too convenient that this announcement came immediately before Fannie & Freddie disclosed their executive pay packages which include millions of dollars in bonuses and why wouldn’t it? Give a crackhead a blank check and see how long it takes him/her to be the proud new owner of all of the crack in a five mile radius. Give your teen daughter a blank check and tell her she can have anything she wants because she needs it and see if you don’t hear tires peeling out as she skyrockets to the mall.

The argument with any golden package given to executives is essentially that you get what you pay for, meaning large corporations (government or otherwise) must compensate qualified and talented leadership.

Okay, BUT unemployment is at a heartbreaking 10% and Texas Representative Jeb Hensarling said, “to be handing out $6 million bonuses to essentially federal employees is unconscionable,” and further criticized the Obama Administration for approving the compensation without settling on a plan to remove taxpayer supports- “to be doing that with no plan in place is just unconscionable.”

What do you think- is the timing to remove the cap too conveniently timed with disclosure of executive pay giving millions to each executive OR was the cap removal crucial for keeping Freddie and Fannie in the position our economy needs them to be? What do you think about this?

Yemen details 'jet bomber' moves, say he was over there studying Arabic

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is seen in this screen grab taken from an Islamist website December 28, 2009.

You wonder why Yemen doesn't shut these radical preachers down ~ is it because of 'respect' for Islam.

The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a jet over the US on Christmas Day was living in Yemen until earlier this month, Yemeni officials have said.

The foreign ministry said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, was in Yemen from August until the beginning of December, the official Saba news agency reported.

He had a visa to study Arabic at an institute in the capital Sanaa. [..]

A web posting by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which included a photograph purportedly of Mr Abdulmutallab in front of its banner, said it had been a response to US attacks against its operatives. [..]


On Tuesday, an official at the Yemeni foreign ministry told Saba that the Migration and Passport Authority had confirmed that Mr Abdulmutallab arrived in Yemen at the beginning of August to study Arabic and left for Ethiopia four months later.

"The entry visa was granted to the Nigerian after authorities found he could get visas from other friendly countries and saw his US visa was still valid," he said.

The security services were now trying to find out who Mr Abdulmutallab had contact with while in Yemen and would co-operate with the US, he added.

"Yemen condemns such terrorist acts targeting the innocent and it reiterates its full support for the fight against terror anywhere."

US officials are said to be concerned there may be more al-Qaeda-trained young men in the country planning to bring down US planes.

Online posts

ABC News earlier reported that among the group who planned the alleged attack were two men who were released by the US from its Guantanamo Bay detention centre in November 2007.


•Son of a wealthy Nigerian businessman
•Attended a British school in Togo
•Studied mechanical engineering at University College London
•Spent time in Dubai, Yemen and Egypt
Mohammed Attik al-Harbi, also known as Mohammed al-Awfi, and Said Ali Shari were sent home to Saudi Arabia, where they were admitted to an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and later set free, US and Saudi officials said.

Both men appeared in a video in January along with the man described as the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser Abdul Karim al-Wahishi.

She also demanded to know why officials had not revoked Mr Abdulmutallab's two-year multiple-entry visa - which was issued in June 2008 - after his father voiced fears to the US embassy in Abuja that his son was becoming radicalised.

Mr Abdulmutallab's name was added to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) watch list, but was not put on a no-fly list.

Online postings apparently written by the young Nigerian between 2005 and 2007 meanwhile suggest the young Nigerian was "lonely" and had "never found a true Muslim friend", according to the Washington Post.

"I have no one to speak too," read one entry by a user named farouk1986 in January 2005, when Mr Abdulmutallab was attending boarding school in Togo.

"No one to consult, no one to support me and I feel depressed and lonely. I do not know what to do. And then I think this loneliness leads me to other problems."


Groundhog Day

We were wondering when Dick would crawl out from under his secure & undisclosed rock:

[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe,” Cheney said in a statement to POLITICO. “Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society.”

But we have to give the prize to “former Romney spokesman Kevin Madden”, who despite being completely unknown, managed to get onto CNN this morning to drop this whopper:

You have to also remember the fact that the president being on vacation in Hawaii, it’s much different than being in Texas. Hawaii to many Americans seems like a foreign place.

Actually, Texas seems quite foreign to us. But if you’re keeping score, the Sarah Palin Hawaiian Yellow Peril meme is taking hold.

Texas Tech fires football coach Mike Leach, two days after suspension

Texas Tech fired coach Mike Leach on Wednesday, just two days after he was suspended by the school as it investigated his treatment of a player with a concussion.

The school handed a termination letter to Leach's lawyer Ted Liggett, just minutes before the two sides were to appear in a Lubbock, Texas, courtroom for a hearing on the coach's suspension.

Liggett said the letter said Leach was "terminated with cause effective immediately."

In February, Leach and the school agreed to a US$12.7 million, five-year contract. According to terms of the deal, Leach was due a $800,000 bonus on Dec. 31 if he were still the head coach at Texas Tech.

Leach was suspended by the university on Monday after receiver Adam James alleged the coach twice confined him to small, dark spaces while the practised.

James is the son of former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James.

Texas Tech plays Michigan State on Saturday in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

Tech is the second Big 12 school to launch an internal investigation into a coach's treatment of his players.

On Nov. 16, Kansas investigated Mark Mangino, who got a big raise after he was national coach of the year and went 12-1 in 2007. Some players said he was insensitive, though others defended him.

Mangino resigned Dec. 3 after reaching a settlement with the school that was later disclosed as a $3 million buyout.

In an affidavit included in Tuesday's court filing, Leach said he "would never intentionally harm or endanger a player" and that he has been "forced into this situation without being afforded any process." He also said "absolutely" no evidence had been given to him that showed he had violated any university rules or standards.

Russia's Armageddon plan to save Earth from collision with asteroid

Moscow, Russia (AHN) - Russia's space agency expects an asteroid to hit Earth in 2036 and has created an international project to prevent the collision by disrupting its trajectory.

Roscosmos chief Anatoly Perminov said Wednesday the project may involve the building and deployment of a spacecraft that will break the path of Apophis without using a nuclear explosive.

Roscosmos will invite other space agencies to join the project,

Discovered in 2004, Apophis is thrice larger than the Tunguska Meteorite and is predicted to pass near Earth from 2029 to 2036. NASA initially has a similar forecast but has changed its reading.

Iran holds pro-government rallies

Tehran's crackdown on opposition protests has earned it condemnation from international powers
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Iran for a series of state-sponsored rallies designed as a show of strength following days of pro-opposition demonstrations.

State television footage showed crowds in areas including Tehran's Enghelab Square, chanting slogans and waving pro-regime placards.

The government gave all civil servants and employees a day off to attend the rallies and organised buses to transport groups of schoolchildren and supporters from outlying rural areas to the protests.

Demonstrators at a rally in Tehran chanted "Death to Mousavi," a reference to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Some shouted "Rioter hypocrites must be executed" and held up a banner that read: "We sacrifice our blood for the supreme leader."

Conflicting reports

The state news agency IRNA said that the two senior leaders of the opposition, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, had fled Tehran on Wednesday, while a website said they were in custody for their own protection.

"Two of the chiefs of the sedition left Tehran for the north of Iran after learning that the population was increasingly angry and demanding their punishment," IRNA said.

Opposition website Rahesabz said "members of the Revolutionary Guards and the intelligence ministry picked up Mousavi and Karroubi in the city of Kelar-Abad to protect them from the anger of the people."

A top aid to Mousavi, however, denied the reports, telling Al Jazeera that "Mousavi is in Tehran."

'No mercy'
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