Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christie’s Critics Miss the Mark on Snowstorm

By Richard A. Lee

Politics is a full-contact sport. If you let your defenses down or make even the slightest misstep, your opponents are going to take full advantage of the opportunity to score political points.

So it comes as no surprise that, after repeatedly ending up with the short end of the stick in their battles with Republican Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey Democrats are slamming Christie and his Lieutenant Governor for being out-of-state while a massive snowstorm pummeled the East Coast.

The truth is the state’s top two officials should have better coordinated their schedules. If New Jersey is going to have a Lieutenant Governor whose responsibility is taking reins of the state while the Governor is away, he or she should avoid taking vacation at the same time as the boss. That’s the way most successful businesses operate.

But aside from the scheduling issue, criticism of the Christie Administration on this point is off the mark.

For starters, Governors really never are on vacation. They are in contact on a regular basis with senior officials who brief them on activities back home. There also are breaking issues and questions from staffers that must be addressed in a timely matter. I know this from personal experience. I worked in a Governor’s Office for three-and-a-half years, and I was one of those staffers who made the phone calls and asked the questions we needed answered.

Today’s technology also weakens the criticism being leveled at the Governor. As long as you’re connected to a smart phone or a BlackBerry, updates and information from your staff will reach you just as quickly in the Magic Kingdom as they would if you were in one of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities.

In addition, when it comes to managing snowstorms and other weather-related emergencies, a Governor may not be the most important person in the room. It is the emergency management, law enforcement and transportation professionals who have the knowledge and expertise to develop and implement effective response plans.. It is the Governor who signs off on their recommendations, relays information to the media, and then rides a snowplow for a photo op.

In terms of importance, it is difficult to make a convincing argument that a Governor’s whereabouts during a snowstorm should be a major priority. There are plenty of criteria to evaluate the performances of our state’s chief executives. How they manage the state during snowstorms certainly is a part of that equation, but it pales in comparison to how they address issues such as property taxes, education and health care.

Finally, we all need and deserve vacations – and public officials are no exceptions. Vacations make it possible to relax and spend time with our families. They also provide a break from the pressure and tension of the workplace, so that we return to our jobs energized and re-charged.

President Obama has been enjoying a holiday vacation in Hawaii with his family, and he still is managing to run the country. It will take more than a snowstorm to keep Chris Christie from running New Jersey.

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Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey.  A former journalist and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies.

A White Woman Explains Why She Prefers Black Men

How many white men can treat a woman like a lady and ravish her

By Susan Crain Bakos

Black skin is thick and lush, sensuous to the touch, like satin and velvet made flesh. There's only one patch of skin on a white man's body that remotely compares to nearly every inch of a black man's skin. The first time I caressed black skin, it felt like a luxury I shouldn't be able to afford. I craved it more strongly than Carrie Bradshaw craved Manolo Blahnik shoes. That phrase, "Once you go black, you never go back" is all about the feeling of the skin.

And I had the socially acceptable explanation for my craving. I used that paucity-of-available-white-partners rationale to explain my relationships with black men for several years. A white woman past forty is often passed over by her white-male contemporaries. She goes younger or ethnic or foreign-born or down the socioeconomic scale or darker or she spends lonely nights at home with her cats. Black men are happy to get the babe they couldn't have when she was twentysomething and fertile. The laws of the marketplace do prevail. It's not me, it's themthem being the white guys who weren't after me anymore, or so I claimed.

That's a lie. The truth is, I attract about the same percentage of available white men my age (and far younger!) now as I did when I was thirtyand that's not including the unavailable white men who want to play around anyway.

Enough white men want me that I was hardly facing enforced celibacy, but I don't want them.

I want black men. They want me. We look at one another and exchange a visible frisson of sexual energy in the lingering glances. And our attraction is based first on race. We are not those couples who "happen to fall in love" with someone of a different race or more purposefully come together but out of some greater sense of interracial understanding and respect. Not as politically-correct men and women do we seek one another out. The Internet has made it a lot easier for us to find each other now. Men advertise: ebony seeks ivory. Women write: seeking tall, dark, and handsome. Very dark. We are not the same people who say: Race is not important. It is important to us. We have race-specific desires.

Even in a time when nearly 40 percent of single Americans have dated outside their race, that deliberate seeking of the specific other makes some people, especially black women, damned mad.

We are what they denigrate and castigate: white women and black men who choose one another because of our racial differences. They resent our taking their men. Black men are two and a half times more likely to marry a white woman than a black woman is to marry a white man. Black women can point to that statistic in justifying their wrath. But in truth, black sisters, we're after the sex, not the ringand these guys aren't the marrying kind anyway.

Yes, the sex!

The woman who goes after black men is a variant of sex journalist Susie Bright's "white bitch in heat," a woman who puts sex first even though women aren't supposed to do that. According to one school of thought, white women turn to black men when their sex drives kick into higher gear and their social inhibitions recede into the rearview mirror. It's a "yes, baby, now I'm ready for you" reaction.

When we get to the "yes, baby" place, they know it, and they are ready and waiting for us. Black men have more energy, style and edge than white men. They know how to flirt, a nearly lost art among the rest of us. A black man is so damned sexy because he knows how to make a woman feel sexy.

I often felt in my White Period that only during heated sex does that little layer of air bubbles between me and the world pop and disappear, leaving me open to intimate connection. It takes a lot of friction for two white people to get that close. These black men, so alive with erotic electricity, cut through the bubbles with a touch, a caress, a kissand they free meand I can truly touch them. I am like a pampered passenger in a Porsche with an expert driver at the wheel. I know I could suggest a route change, but I never really want to do that. On the other hand, the last time I had sex with a white man, we slogged along a bumpy road in a really old VW, the driver like the typical bumbling tv husband who would neither ask for nor accept the directions he badly needed.

My current lover, a handsome businessman, seduced me via eye contact at a neighborhood bar while I was eating burgers with a friend. Without saying a word, he paid the compliments, asked the questions with his expressive eyes. He didn't move over to sit beside me and ask if he could buy me a drink until he knew the time was right. Both soft-spoken and assertive, he has impeccable manners and charm. I was kissing him in a cab 30 minutes after that drink.

On another night in that same bar, a different black man, an artist, knelt and kissed my knees.

I am sure there must be some black men who aren't good in bed. Personally, I have not experienced one who isn't. (True, I am not dating down the socioeconomic ladder, but I didn't do that when I dated white either, so the racial comparisons seem valid and fair.) They look better than white men, they touch and kiss and make love better than white men. Statistically, their penises are only a fraction of an inch bigger on average, but they seem bigger and harder.

White men over 40 have lost their waistlines and their zest for lifeif they ever had it. They carry resentments, grudges and extra pounds in their basketball bellies. Perhaps a good part of that bloat is unhappiness. Even the thin ones look flabby somehow and deeply aggrieved. They nurse the smallest perceived slight longer than their double shots of Scotch. Surely our culture as much as biology turns them into softer, spongier, less-interesting versions of their youthful selves just at the point where women and black men and other minorities are emerging strong. Society overvalues the white man, leaving him angry and bitter when he realizes, around age 40, that he's not all that.

With the exception of some Italians, white men don't turn me on anymore.

That admission puts me in the same category as the older man only interested primarily or exclusively in young women. While women my age scowl and frown at these aging, Upper West Side Boomers pushing strollers as the hand of the thin, blonde wife 20 years their junior rests lightly on their arm, I feel a kinship with the old goats. We are the same, me and that bald white guy, drawn to the exotic other, not caring that the object of our desire has no childhood memory of a Kennedy assassination or a typical WASP Sunday dinner of over-roasted beef, lumpy mashed potatoes and soggy vegetables.

Analyze the roots of attractions all you wantlike scientists have doneand you won't come up with a perfect explanation for why we crave what we do. Desire rises from our depths and is gloriously oblivious to the good opinion of others. Yet until recently, I pretended that my lust was an equal-opportunity craving, because that seemed like the right thing to do.

Halfway through the first glass of wine in my last date with a white man, I realized that little clouds of sadness and self-pity were regularly fluffing off his psyche like the dust clouds kicked up by that dirt-smudged "Peanuts" character as he walks through Charlie Brown's life. This guy was at least mildly depressed, and I wanted to tell him to exercise, lose weight, trim the combover and get interested in something outside yourself. I would have walked out on him immediately, but he seemed to expect that. I couldn't deliver the blow to his ego proffered like the naked neck of a martyr to the ax. My Southern cousins would describe his general demeanor as a "hangdog air." Into the second glass of wine and glancing longingly at the exit, I wanted to hang that dog myself when he mentioned that his face was flushedI hadn't noticedbecause he'd taken a Viagra "just in case."

What did he think would entice me more: That he assumed sex was probable because I'm a sex journalistor that he would need chemical help if sex did occur?

I cannot even imagine a black man bungling an attempted seduction in such a sad way.

That was my last token white guy. I recently came out of my racial-preference closet and told my friends, "I love black men. I'm not attracted to white men over 40, and I'm not dating them anymore. Really, it's not them, it's me.

Nobody was surprised.

What do you think? 
Black men have something white guys don't have anymore: confidence in their masculinity, their sexuality. They clearly know they're men. White men appear to be waiting for the latest sociological research study to let them know if they are men or not. Yet black men are gentlemen, something else white men no longer are. They make me feel like a woman, both respected and desired. I can let go of my inhibitions, my need to control, when I am with them. How many white men can treat a woman like a lady and ravish her too?

Ugly Truth: Most U.S. Kids Sentenced to Die In Prison Are Black

This is the second in a two-part series on juvenile life without parole. Read Part One here.

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases that could have major implications for the way juvenile offenders are treated in our criminal justice system. Sullivan v. Florida andGraham v. Florida both involve men who are serving life without the possibility of parole for crimes they were convicted of as teenagers -- crimes in which no one was killed.

Joe Sullivan was only 13 years old when he was accused of sexually assaulting a 72-year-old woman in her Pensacola, Fla., home, hours after he and a group of older teenagers robbed her house. Sullivan, who reportedly suffers from mental disabilities, insisted that, while he participated in the robbery, he did not commit the rape. But his co-defendants, 15-year-old Michael Gulley and 17-year-old Nathan McCants, 17 pinned the crime on him. Both were tried as juveniles; Sullivan was tried as an adult.

Sullivan is African American, a fact that was stressed repeatedly at trial. The victim, Lena Bruner, testified that her assailant was "a colored boy" with "kinky hair" -- "he was quite black, and he was small," she said. Bruner admitted that she "did not see him full in the face," but she remembered him saying, "If you can't identify me, I may not have to kill you."

According to the New York Times, "at his trial, Mr. Sullivan was made to say those words several times." ("'It's been six months,' the woman said on the witness stand. 'It's hard, but it does sound similar.' ")

Sullivan had shabby representation -- his lawyer didn't bother making an opening statement and later lost his license to practice in Florida -- and his one-day trial should have cast serious doubts about his guilt. "The only physical evidence was a fingerprint lifted from a plaque in the bedroom, which could have been made during the burglary," wrote Amy Bach in Slatelast week. "The clothing and other evidence have been destroyed and couldn't be tested for DNA." Nevertheless, he was found guilty, and at 14, Sullivan became the youngest person in the country to be sentenced to life without parole.

"I'm going to send him away for as long as I can," the judge said.

Today, Sullivan is one of some 109 prisoners in the country whose non-homicide crimes have condemned them to leave prison only in a coffin. No fewer than 76 of those prisoners are behind bars in Florida. (Until last month there were 77, but 29-year-old Travis Underhill, sentenced to life in 1999 for armed robbery, "collapsed while playing basketball at a Palm Beach County prison on Oct. 8 and died," according to the Miami Herald.) The vast majority -- 84 percent, in Florida -- are African American. On a national level, according to Human Rights Watch, African American youths are serving life without parole at a rate of about 10 times that of white youths.

Monday's oral arguments covered a lot of ground, including whether life-without-parole is comparable to the death penalty (which has been banned for juveniles); whether the purpose, ultimately, is about deterrence or retribution -- "What is the State's interest in keeping ... the defendant in custody for the rest of his life if he has been rehabilitated and is no longer a real danger?" -- whether, for sentencing purposes, there's any practical difference between a 13-year-old or a 10-year-old -- or, for that matter, an 18-year-old and a 17-and-11-month-old ("the line has to be drawn somewhere.") At points, it got downright philosophical ("Why does a juvenile have a constitutional right to hope, but an adult does not?" asked Justice Kennedy.) But at the center of the argument was the question of whether children -- and their potential for rehabilitation -- should be judged by the same standards as that of grown-ups. "To not recognize the difference between a child and an adult is cruel and unusual," defense attorney Bryan Stevenson told Justice Antonin Scalia.

Conspicuously absent from the oral arguments, however, was any discussion of race. The one time Stevenson attempted to mention it, as one of the "arbitrary features" of the distribution of life-without-parole sentences -- these prisoners are "disproportionately kids of color," Stevenson said -- he was interrupted by Justice Alito, who questioned the reliability of his statistics. ("What is your response to the State's argument that these statistics are not peer-reviewed?" he asked.)

It can be tricky to pin down exact numbers when it comes to specific prison populations from state to state, particularly given the differences between sentencing statutes across the country. And states have not traditionally kept track of how many juveniles are in their adult prisons. But when it comes to juvenile lifers, there are some figures that have been widely accepted (and not contested by the state of Florida.)

"There are 73 children 14 and younger who have been imprisoned for life without parole," Stevenson told the Court. "...For the age of 13 and younger, there are only nine kids, and that's including both kids convicted of homicide and non-homicide. For non-homicide, there are only two. They are both in Florida and Joe Sullivan is one of them."

What he did not get to say is that of the vast majority of kids who are sentenced to die in prison are black.

This is unfortunate. Racism has been central to the policies that led to the rise in life sentences for juveniles in the first place -- and not just in Florida. The Supreme Court may rely on legal precedents to make their decisions -- but that does not mean it necessarily considers history.

The Myth of the "Superpredator"

The crime that led Joe Sullivan to life in prison took place in 1989. It was the same year that would see notorious serial killer Ted Bundy executed at the Florida state prison in Starke -- an exceptional case that would capture the mood of the locals when it came to dealing with would-be-murderers. (The St. Petersburg Times reported that year, "Across Florida, radio stations bade 'Bye, Bye, Bundy,' while next door to the Chi Omega sorority, where Bundy killed two young women, a campus bar was offering 'Bundy fries' and 'Bundy fingers' -- actually, french fries and strips of alligator meat.")

Florida serial killers aside, 1989 was also the year that a young, blond investment banker from Manhattan brutally assaulted in New York's Central Park, a horrible crime that the cops, the press and even people who lived nowhere near New York City declared solved within days. The rapists, it was decided, were five young black and Latino teenagers from Harlem. All of then would turn out to be innocent (a fact that came out only after each lost years of their lives in prison.) But in the eyes of many commentators at the time, these teenagers were the worst kind of monsters:

"They were coming downtown from a world of crack, welfare, guns, knives, indifference and ignorance," New York Postcolumnist Pete Hamill wrote in the days after the crime. "They were coming from a land with no fathers. … They were coming from the anarchic province of the poor."

And driven by a collective fury, brimming with the rippling energies of youth, their minds teeming with the violent images of the streets and the movies, they had only one goal: to smash, hurt, rob, stomp, rape. The enemies were rich. The enemies were white.

So the country was introduced to the new urban "superpredator," as Princeton University Professor John DiIulio would brand this new prototype of youth crime. These twisted teenage thugs -- described in New York as traveling in "wolf packs" that hunted innocent people upon whom to inflict their mob violence ("wilding") -- were a whole new breed of criminal, he said, and existing laws were no match for their evolving standards of brutality.

DiIulio would spend the next few years spreading the gospel of the superpredator, warning that "Americans are sitting atop a demographic crime bomb."

"On the horizon ... are tens of thousands of morally impoverished juvenile superpredators," he wrote in The Weekly Standard in 1995. "They are perfectly capable of committing the most heinous acts of physical violence for the most trivial reasons."

The difference between teen criminals in decades past, he argued in his book, Body Count, amounted to "the difference between the Sharks and the Jets of West Side Story and the Bloods and the Crips."

"It is not inconceivable that the demographic surge of the next 10 years will bring with it young criminals who make the Bloods and the Crips look tame."

But how real was this so-called superpredator or the terrifying crime wave to come? Although the country saw a spike in juvenile crime in the early 1990s, it wasn't entirely clear what was behind it.

Some cited crack cocaine, others cited the country's changing demographics (with baby boomers' offspring entering adolescence), and others pointed to high unemployment. But in the years to come, one thing became clear: The teenage crime wave so ominously predicted by DiIulio and his political affiliates was pure fiction.

Owning up to this fact is none other than DiIulio himself, who pulled a fairly stunning 180 a few years ago, when he admitted that his influential theory of urban superpredators was wrong.

"If I knew then what I know now, I would have shouted for prevention of crimes," he told the New York Times in 2001. Indeed, crime among teenagers -- particularly violent crime, hit a historic low in recent years, with arrest rates of juveniles falling a whopping 49 percent between 1994 and 2004.

But the damage was already done: Throughout the 1990s, the country arrested teenagers -- many of them first-time offenders -- in record numbers, slapping them with long sentences previously reserved for hardened criminals.

Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, wrote in 2005 that in the years that followed the hysteria over superpredators, "More than 40 states made it easier to transfer children to adult criminal courts. Educators enacted 'zero-tolerance' policies to make it easier to expel youngsters from school, and numerous communities adopted youth curfews. Many jurisdictions turned to metal detectors in public schools, random locker searches, drug tests for athletes and mandatory school uniforms.

The panic was bipartisan. Every crime bill debated by Congress during the Clinton administration included new federal laws against juvenile crime. Paradoxically, as Attorney General Janet Reno advocated for wider and stronger social safety nets for vulnerable families, President Bill Clinton joined congressional leaders demanding tougher treatment of juvenile felons, including more incarceration in both the adult and youth correctional systems.

Paving the way was the Sunshine State. "Florida led the country in transferring juveniles into the adult courts," says Stephen K. Harper, a University of Miami professor who teaches juvenile law. At the same time, adult sentences were getting longer. In 1983, Florida abolished parole for most crimes, and in 1995, it got rid of parole altogether. "Adolescents were being transferred into the adult system, while simultaneously the adult system was becoming more punitive," Harper toldAlterNet.

Today, the results are a bit perverse. According to Florida State Law Professor Paolo Annino, "Florida takes the lead in placing the youngest children in the adult prison system."

"The most recent Florida data shows, there is 1 inmate who was 10, 4 inmates who were 11, 5 inmates who were 12, and 31 inmates who were 13 years old at the time of their offense."

Annino and Harper both point to what Harper calls the "unintended consequences" of Florida's rush to incarcerate juveniles. "In 1983 and 1995, the Florida Legislature did not contemplate that hundreds of children would be sent to adult prison in the last two decades," Annino wrote earlier this year. But before the Court, Florida Solicitor General Scott D. Makar defended Florida's large juvenile lifer population, suggesting that the state knew exactly what it was doing. "I believe Florida is very balanced," he told Scalia during oral arguments inGraham v. Florida.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum agrees. In his brief filed inGraham, McCollum argues that it was Florida's brand of tough-on-crime legislation that led to falling crime rates in the late 1990s -- a claim that law professors Jeffrey Fagan and Franklin E. Zimring call "as phony as last decade's crime scare."

"As a member of Congress in the 1990s," they wrote, "[McCollum] promised the United States a 'coming storm' of superpredators as a result of a population surge of kids from fatherless homes."

This, of course was the claim pushed by John DiIulio, the only difference being that, more than a decade later, McCollum still seems determined to believe it.

The "superpredator" myth -- and the racism that breathed life into it -- has been a driving force behind the rush to incarcerate youths of color across the country for years. That the human effects would go undiscussed by the Court may come as no surprise given the justices' routine upholding of other laws that disproportionately affect people and families of color. But in a country with 2.3 million prisoners, leaving race completely out of the decision would not just be willful ignorance; it would amount to what Bryan Stevenson has called an "appalling silence."

*The original version of this piece contained a statistical error in the headline, which stated that all 73 juveniles sentenced to life without parole are black. AlterNet regrets the error.

Single black women should end the blame game

By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Hopefully we can all agree that there is nothing more precious and beautiful than a well-made African-American woman. Your definition of "well-made" may vary from mine, but when I see my daughter, sister, mother and grandmother, they're exactly what I'm referring to.

I recently watched an ABC News special about black people not getting married. It featured a set of beautiful, intelligent black women who couldn't find husbands. One of the women was even a cheerleading attorney who said that, no matter how hard she tries, she just can't find a black man willing to marry her. The show quoted Steve Harvey, who wrote a book on relationships last year, and allowed the rest of America to drone on about how sad it is to be a black woman, where the men you want are just too blind and pathetic to see how great you really are.

I can't help but find it odd that black women in America are taking relationship advice from a comedian. Not to hate on Steve, but you've got to wonder if there is a qualified relationship counselor available somewhere who actually studied this stuff in school. Perhaps it's because black America is getting relationship advice from a comedian that our family structures have become a great big national joke.

We know the story: over 70% of all African-American women don't have husbands. That is a tragedy for the entire family, especially the children. The joint social trauma inflicted by a poor educational system, mass incarceration and massive unemployment among black men has come together to create an unsustainable set of social outcomes. That's not to mention the black men who've either chosen to date other men or can't see the beauty of black women when they know that Elin Nordegren might be available. Yes Houston, we have a problem.

I often wonder if there is more to the black relationships story than that. Here are some thoughts to consider:

1) Whites aren't staying married either, so this is not just solely a black issue. The next time Barack Obama gives a speech about black men "behaving like little boys" because they don't live with their children, I would love to see him give that same speech to the millions of divorcees in white America. Given that roughly 50% of white marriages end in divorce, we can't presume that black people create the only dysfunctional families in America. All of America is turning away from marriage, and that's just a fact.

2) Are men the only ones to blame here? When I watched the beautiful women on the ABC special who felt that they could never find a husband, I heard some of my educated, fully employed male friends say, "I'd marry any one of them right now!" Over the years, I've seen many women pass over good men who would make excellent husband/boyfriend/baby daddy material. (Sorry, I hold no ill will toward baby's daddies - I only care about love, not labels).

I've noticed that there are many women who spend all their time chasing the alpha male who may have 10 different girlfriends at once and ignoring the less-than-perfect man who is willing to be their lifelong mate. Given that it's illegal to marry more than one person at a time, many of these "Michael Jordan types" fill the gender gap single-handedly by occupying the attention and loyalty of several women at once.

Perhaps the next time you're chasing the super-fine, super-hunk man of your dreams, you might consider the fact that there is probably a new woman chasing him down every single day. That's not to say, however, that you don't have the right to be attracted to whatever you want - just realize that dating is a market, like searching for a job. The more constraints you put on your search, the fewer options you are going to have. So, if you are passing up men because they are 6'1" instead of 6'2", you'll get very little sympathy as you sit around the fire with your girlfriends crying into a glass of red wine. Your Prince Charming may never have belonged to you in the first place, and you may have kicked the real Prince Charming to the curb.

3) Doesn't it take two to tango? The last I checked, there were usually two people in a relationship. So, although Attorney General Eric Holder has joined the chorus of politicians gaining political points for blaming black men for being the sole cause of the breakdown of the African-American family, I often wonder why African-American women are rarely held to account. This does not imply that black women are systemically unbalanced; we all know that each individual is unique. But it does imply that the same challenges imposed by racism have affected all of us.

I'm sorry if this hurts your feelings, but I've got to be real. Most kind, attractive, intelligent women are able to find good husbands. Some of us spend our lives either barking up the wrong trees or barking in a way that sabotages our objectives. To obtain a good mate, you must learn how to be a good mate and how to choose a good mate. So, after you finish reading Steve Harvey's book, you may want to read, "Secrets about Men Every Woman Should Know," by Dr. Barbara De Angelis. She also wrote, "What Women Want Men to Know," a book based on scientific research, not just speculation. The idea is that in order to get what you want, you must learn how to give what others want. But you can't effectively give to others if you're only thinking about yourself.

4) What's REALLY going on with families and children? You don't necessarily get to declare yourself the hero in a failed relationship just because you kept the kids. In fact, oxytocin production in the brains of women during pregnancy creates a nearly unbreakable bond that makes it almost impossible for women to let go of their children. So, for us to presume that black fathers are being irresponsible because their children do not live with them is a terribly misguided assertion.

Also, while we are quick to share stories of fathers who don't spend time with their kids, we are not so quick to share the stories of fathers who've been alienated from their children or have children who've been trained to hate them. Trifling fathers need not apply for this explanation, but we know that irresponsible behavior does not always align with gender. The most important determinant of a child's outcomes in life is the disposition of the mother. If the mother does not open the door for a child to have a good relationship with his or her father, then no such relationship is going to exist.

5) Perhaps we should work together to solve the problems. Anyone who simply sits around complaining about how irritating other people are without doing any serious introspection is doomed for a life of frustration. Additionally, given that there are serious obstacles being faced by black men, perhaps we should all work together to support causes that serve to liberate African-American men from the shackles of oppression.

President Obama should hear consistent chants from the black community about the fact that black male unemployment is as high as 50% in some urban areas, keeping these men from being able to provide for a family. Anyone who loves any black man anywhere should tell Attorney General Holder that we must stop supporting the prison industrial complex and simultaneously create paths for ex-convicts to re-enter into society.

If you have a black son, brother, father, or husband, you should want to fight against the fact that black boys are nearly five times more likely to be placed in special education than white kids, severely impacting their graduation rates. An uneducated, unemployed man in the criminal justice system is not going to make a good husband; not every black man in these circumstances is consciously choosing to end up this way.

Whether we like it or not, we are in this boat together, and most of us are guilty of the blame game on some level. Perhaps it's time to stop blaming each other and find the real cause of these very real problems. To slightly modify the words of Steve Harvey, "Act like a lady, but fight for your man." The black family needs support from us all.

Israel: Iran 3 Years Away From Nuclear Bomb

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 VOA News An Israeli minister claims technical issues are delaying Iran's ambitions of building nuclear weapons.

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon told Israel Radio Wednesday that Iran's efforts have been delayed longer than Israeli intelligence previously believed. He added that Tehran could possibly produce nuclear weapons within the next three years.

Yaalon — a former military chief of staff — did not elaborate on Iran's technical difficulties or what the new assessment was based on.

Iran denies its nuclear program is
for anything but peaceful use.
Tehran has blamed Israel and the United States for the abduction and killing of several top nuclear scientists.
Israeli officials have been backing U.S.-led efforts to impose sanctions on Iran to prevent the government from moving ahead with its disputed nuclear program.

Israel says other options — including the use of military force — should be considered when dealing with Tehran.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran for its refusal to cooperate over international demands on the nuclear issue.

Posted by MsMarti

China Says Booming Economy Fueling Military Might

BEIJING - China's booming economy will underpin the modernization of its military - a process Beijing wants to carry out without foreign help, the country's defense minister said in reports on Dec. 29.

"In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction," Liang Guanglie said in an interview carried by several state newspapers.
We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away."

Liang said China's military would continue to advance its capability to fight and win high-tech wars, while also boosting its conventional arsenal.

But the defense minister - who in 10 days will receive U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates for talks in Beijing - said the 2.3-million-strong People's Liberation Army would not look abroad to improve its weaponry.

"We will stand on our own feet to solve the problem and develop our equipment. The modernization of the Chinese military cannot depend on others, and cannot be bought," Liang said.

China's massive annual military spending has aroused concern among its neighbors. Japan this month labeled its rival's military build-up a global "concern", citing its increased assertiveness in the East and South China Seas.

U.S. military officials and strategists meanwhile see Beijing as a potential threat to Washington's once unrivaled dominance of the Pacific.

China has repeatedly insisted its military growth does not pose any threat.

Liang said China was currently beefing up its navy, air force and strategic missile forces, while decreasing its ground forces.

"In the next five years, our economy and society will develop faster, boosting comprehensive national power," Liang said.

"We will take the opportunity and speed up modernization of the military."

Gates will come to Beijing from January 9-12 amid a spike in tensions in Northeast Asia, after North Korea's deadly shelling of a South Korean island in November.

The South has staged a series of military exercises, including one with the United States, since the shelling that killed four people, including two civilians, on the island in the Yellow Sea.

Gates' visit to China - North Korea's main ally - will come a year after Beijing ended military relations with Washington in protest against a multibillion-dollar U.S. arms package for rival Taiwan.

The two nations have since resumed low-level military contacts at a technical level. Gates' visit comes at the invitation of Liang.

Moscow - Russian Oil Tycoon Sentenced to 13.5 Years

Moscow, Russia - A judge has sentenced jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky to 13.5 years in prison following a trial seen as payback for his defiance of Vladimir Putin’s power.

Judge Viktor Danilkin on Thursday handed down the sentence after convicting Mr. Khodorkovsky of stealing oil from his own company and laundering the proceeds.

Mr. Khodorkovsky who is Jewish, is in the final year of an eight-year prison sentence. His lawyers say the new sentence is counted from his 2003 arrest and includes his previous term in jail.

Mr. Putin is seen as the driving force behind the trial of Khodorkovsky, who challenged him during his presidency.

Mr. Putin, eyeing a return to the presidency in 2012, appears unwilling to risk the possibility that a freed Mr. Khodorkovsky could help lead his political foes.

Grappling with the Katsav verdict

December 30, 2010 - 4:48 PM by David

Does today’s conviction of former president Moshe Katsav on two counts of rape as well sexual harrassment and committing indecent acts show Israel in a positive or negative light?

After all it’s not everyday that a leading public figure is found by judges to be a criminal, guilty of heinous acts. It doesn’t cast a glowing light on the state of our leaders, the neanderthal views toward women by a certain segment of Katsav’s generation of males, or our ability to suss out the bad apples in the barrel.

On the other hand, Katsav’s conviction is a testament to Israel’s vibrant democratic process, in which even the most powerful in the land are not above the law. Most reactions to Thursday’s court findings commented on this dichotomy.

While calling it “a sad day for Israel,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also said that “the court today delivered two clear messages, one being that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and the second the right of every woman to be in control of her own body,”

The state prosecutor Ronit Amiel also referred to the sadness surrounding the event but asserted that the verdict represented a “badge of honor for Israeli democracy.”

And Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said at a swearing-in ceremony for new judges that the verdict “demonstrates the value of equality before the law.”

Speaking at the same ceremony, President Shimon Peres said: “There are not two States of israel. There is only one State of Israel. There are not two justice systems in Israel. There is only one justice system. There are not two types of citizens in Israel. There is only one type of citizen, and all are equal before the law.”

And the Katsav case is not the only example of the good, bad and ugly of Israeli society. Since 2008, courts have indicted former PM Ehud Olmert for fraud, sentenced former finance minister Avraham Hirschson to five years imprisonment for theft and money laundering, and convicted former health minister Shlomo Benizri of taking bribes.

While we Israelis feel the bile and nausea over the realization that our former president committed depraved acts in the very halls which represent the country’s independence, we can also stand tall amid the legal process that brought him to justice. It was indeed, the worst and the best of days.

Iconic Marine Sets Career on Fire

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 — Why, the casual visitor might ask, has it been so long since we’ve posted here?

Well, we’ve been waiting for something as juicy as this, that’s why: videotape of Geico Insurance spokesperson R. Lee Ermey setting his career on fire in front of a live audience. We discovered this while perusing Reddit just now. We should have been wrapping up our latest outrage, which is due at the printer’s in less than 19 hours. What can we say? We’re bad.

Here’s a link to the original post at Windy City Watch, or just click on the picture above for the full video.

Or, to avoid a couple of minutes of extraneous music, just click on the arrow below for the audio of Ermey’s rant. The red meat portion of it starts at about 1:03 and goes to 2:00. We left his intro about Toys for Tots in there for context.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Or, you could take advantage of our fetish for transcription, and just read what Ermey said starting at the 1:03 point:
“… it’s time for Tots for Tots …
“I got to tell you folks, we’re having a big problem this year.
“The economy really sucks.

“Now, I hate to point fingers at anybody but the present administration probably had a lot to do with that.
“And the way I see it they’re not going to quit doing it until they bring this country to its knees. So I think we should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country.

“They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing and I’m sick and damned tired of it and I know you are too.

“But I know that the Marine Corps is going to be here forever — this administration won’t. Semper Fi. God bless you all. Hoorah.”

Sisters Parole Depends On Sharing A Kidney by Ron Hogan

In 1994, Jamie and Gladys Scott made headlines when the two women were given life sentences for armed robbery and assault charges.  The two women were convicted of luring two men into an ambush where three men jumped out, knocked them on the head with a shotgun, and took their wallets.  The grand take of the robbery was $11.  Since then, the women have spent the last 16 years in prison, but are looking to be freed by Mississippi governor Haley Barbour on one condition, and it’s a doozy:  Gladys Scott has to give a kidney to her sister Jamie Scott if the two women want to be paroled.

Interestingly enough, the kidney idea wasn’t the idea of Governor Barbour, who has been known to get creative with parole requests and has a history of controversial pardons.  The idea was the idea of 36-year-old Gladys, whose sister (38-year-old Jamie) requires dialysis treatments as a result of kidney failure.  So, when she petitioned for early release (the two were up for parole in 2014 anyway), she mentioned that she wanted to give her sister a kidney.  That set the wheels in motion, and it looks as though giving the gift of life and urine to her sister might be enough to get both women out of jail.

Feds target Christine O’Donnell in campaign finance investigation

o'donnell campaign financie investigationWednesday, December 29th, 2010 By Thomas Hart

Christine O’Donnell, the failed 2010 Republican candidate for the Delaware Senate seat, is in the national spotlight again. A federal campaign finance investigation has opened a criminal probe into the O’Donnell campaign. O’Donnell is suspected of spending campaign money for personal use.

The O'Donnell Senate campaign, which raised $7.3 million but lost the election, is the subject of a federal criminal probe. Image: CC

O’Donnell campaign faces multiple investigations

The federal campaign finance investigation into Republican Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell’s Senate bid comes after complaints were filed during her campaign. Two FBI agents in Delaware and two federal prosecutors were reported to be working on the O’Donnell case. The O’Donnell campaign already faces a Federal Elections Commission complaint filed by her own party during the Delaware Senate Republican primary. Her campaign is accused of illegally collaborating with the Tea Party Express on paid political ads and other communications.

The O’Donnell criminal probe

Christine O’Donnell’s campaign raised a Delaware state record $7.3 million, but she was soundly defeated by Democrat Chris Coons, who now sits in Vice President Joe Biden’s former Senate seat. During the campaign she was accused by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington of spending campaign funds for such personal expenses as gas and rent. The FEC could go after monetary damages against O’Donnell or her campaign committee. If it is determined that she willfully violated federal elections law, the Justice Department could pursue fines or jail time.

Christine O’Donnell’s money problems

During the O’Donnell for Senate campaign a former aide said she had been living off campaign donations for years and called her “a complete fraud.” Before O’Donnell’s 2010 campaign garnered national attention, she had run for the Delaware Senate seat in obscurity twice before. The failed candidate has compiled a dubious financial history. She was sued by Farleigh Dickinson University in 1994 for failing to pay $4,000 in tuition. In 2008 she was sued for mortgage default. Earlier this year, the IRS filed a lien against O’Donnell for more than $11,000 in unpaid federal income tax.


Delaware Online
The Atlantic
The Hill

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NFL fines Favre $50K for 'failure to cooperate'

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has fined Brett Favre $50,000 for a "failure to cooperate" with the investigation into allegations he sent inappropriate messages and lewd photos to a former New York Jets game-day hostess.

The league says Commissioner Roger Goodell "could not conclude" that Favre violated the league's personal conduct policy based on the evidence currently available.

The league's statement also says Goodell determined Favre was "not candid in several respects during the investigation resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, (Jenn) Sterger and the NFL." The league's investigation began in October and the fine was announced Wednesday.

Favre allegedly sent messages and photos to Sterger two years ago when they were both with the Jets. The allegations against the 41-year-old Minnesota Vikings quarterback surfaced on the website Deadspin.

Read More

Who’s to Blame for Weight Gain?

By Rebekah Rast
It’s no secret that delicious holiday food can add a few extra pounds to the waistline.

But recent studies are attempting to show that weight gain, especially as a young child, is not all the fault of too much food and not enough exercise.

A Newsweek article titled Born to be Big, states, “The evidence now emerging says that being overweight is not just the result of personal choices about what you eat, combined with inactivity," says Retha Newbold of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in North Carolina, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Exposure to environmental chemicals during development may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.” ’

What does this mean? That chemicals in the environment, newly termed obesogens, may lend a helping hand in the obesity epidemic, especially in babies and children. Studies show that these chemicals are found in the water and food supply as well as in other man-made chemicals.

As far-fetched as these new studies sound, one particular agency of the federal government is taking it very seriously — the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Get full story here.

Sarah Palin Is Still Owed Apologies

Video by Frank McCaffrey and Andrius Vaitekunas
Get permalink here.

The Real Financial Crisis

By Adam Bitely

The establishment in Washington, D.C. rose up from the murky swamp to renew their call for expanded, out-of-control government spending via the New York Times editorial page on Christmas. In their typical fashion, they call for more “stimulus” to fix state budgets that refuse to cut even the slightest amount of spending.

Too many people will lose government services if spending is cut, the New York Times and the D.C. establishment argue. How quickly they forget that this was the exact formula that Obama tried and failed miserably in 2009. Not to mention that it was government’s out of control spending that created the whole mess in the first place.

At some point in the late 90’s, politicians on all levels began to operate under an assumption that the prosperity would never end. Spending shot through the ceiling, and the services offered from the government expanded along with it. But now that the bills are coming due and the money has been spent, the very people that caused the mess are begging to be the ones to fix it.
This cannot be allowed.

They argue that all they need to do is have Washington, D.C. send ever more “stimulus” down to the states in order to balance the budgets that they didn’t deal with last year due to congressional handouts. Don’t cut spending, they say, because so many poor people would be affected.
Get full story here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Living With Bipolar Disorder: One Black Woman Shares Her Story

I have always been a person that was sort of flighty. I never wanted to conform to anything or any group of people when I was younger. I always fought hard for my independence from my family and from friends as well. For carrying out this attitude and way of thinking, I have had the sign of “CRAZY” placed around my neck by a number of people, be they family or friends. I never thought of myself as crazy, until a few days after I had my daughter.

I gave birth to my first child when I was about 21 years old. I loved being pregnant and had a ball with thought of being a new mommy and starting a new life with my then fiancé. I finally gave birth after being over 3 weeks past due and had my little girl that I knew I was going to have from the first moment I was told that I was pregnant. The second night in the hospital, I found myself crying like a mad woman, for apparently no good reason. During that same night, I had my first panic attack. I requested that only certain nurses touch my daughter, and that my fiancé sleep when I was awake and vice versa. I should have known something was wrong with me then, but was constantly told that it was just the “baby blues” and that it would all pass when I got home and got some rest.

After being at home for a month with my baby, we had a very violent thunderstorm in my town. I remember the storm because I had to take my fiancé to work and had my new baby in the car. The next thing I remember, I was pulling up to the hospital parking lot looking for a spot to park in. The fear of the storm drove me into some seriously dangerous and irrational behaviors. I would have moments in time, when crying was the order of the day and in some cases, the order of the week. I would then get bursts of energy that would lead me into doing things that were both silly and in some cases dangerous and destructive on a personal level. I would become a daredevil in my car, driving at speeds that would make anyone question my sanity. I would drink dangerous levels of alcohol and because I was on this “high” I never felt I was drunk or could get drunk. I paid dearly for that each morning I awoke. I went on for two years doing things like this, all while taking care of my daughter and preparing to get married.

After the wedding and learning that I was pregnant with my son, the highs and lows got worse. I started hearing voices and became extremely paranoid. At my lowest point, I spent three weeks in the bed, with my head under the covers, only coming out to have my husband give me a bath or shower and to attempt to eat. It was at this time, that he made the hard decision to put me into the hospital for observation. We were blessed to have his mother, who took both of our children and kept them until we found out what was wrong with me.

After being evaluated, I was diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar disorder. It was at that moment, that every voice I had ever heard call me crazy came back to me. I started to look at that word in a totally different manner. Did they see this in me before I did? Did they know I was not mentally well?

The road of mental health treatment has been a rocky one for me. I have been on just about every mental health medication known to man. Some of them lead me to feel better on a temporary basis; others made me even sicker than I already was. Today, I take nothing and instead opt for behavioral approaches to modify my swings of mood. I have also learned my triggers and have worked very hard to get over the irrational thoughts and fears that haunted me all of my life, but especially during this 12 year time span.

It was during that time, that I learned a few things about dealing with mental health issues.

1. You cannot pray this away!!!!!!!!!!! I know people will get mad at me for saying this, and that’s fine, but the fact is that you cannot pray depression away from you. Prayer and meditation have been known to work to help clear the mind for some who are dealing with depression and other mental health issues, but prayer alone will not cure you.
2. Listening to people tell you that nothing is wrong with you will set you up for failure in treatment. My mother was convinced that I was “just acting” and I needed to pull myself together. Even as I sat in the hospital in the psych ward, she was convinced that it was all an act and that “we” don’t have all these problems. She also managed to make my weight an issue as well. (I eventually had her removed from my visitors list!)
3. Black folks have to drop the attitude and stigma behind mental health care. I found that a number of the nurses on the psych floor who were black acted as though the white girls in my ward were actually sick, but gave me a totally different set of treatment. I guess their attitude is that, white women are supposed to be weak, but we are supposed to be stronger than this. The fact is that we suffer from mental illness in our community in large numbers and we tend to go untreated because we dismiss things as being crazy. That word is dismissive and a great way to not have to deal with someone or their issues.
4. Good alternative treatments our out there, but you have to be your own advocate. I know a great deal of people have issues with taking pills and I am one of them. There are a number of really wonderful techniques that are designed to treat depression and other mental illnesses that have nothing to do with medication. Medication is needed in some cases, but there are other options that can be used to help you need less medication. Being your own advocate and educating yourself is the key.
5. THIS IS A REAL ILLNESS!!!! Mental illness is just like high blood pressure, diabetes and any other physical illness that we suffer with in our community. We must realize to better serve our own needs and get the adequate help that we need.
Today, I am studying different methods of treatment with out medication in order to assist myself in coping with day to day issues. I still have my highs and lows, but they are not nearly as dangerous to me or my family. I have learned to notice when they are coming and deal with them before they happen. I still have to take medication for anxiety, but that is on an as needed basis, which is a far shot from where I was 12 years ago. Every day, it gets easier and easier to live and laugh and mean it.

I share this story to let black women know that there is help for you. If you feel you need assistance, there are a number of really good web sources you can turn to for help. The first step is reaching out for help, as with any other illness, you need to consult your doctor and start the process. Things will get better, with hard work and determination, you can learn to live with this and still have a productive and wonderful life.

Michelle is a Midwestern girl, with a Southern heart and a bit of an eccentric streak running through her. Along with being a wife and mother of 2, she also wears the hats of student, counselor, life coach,cook, friend and occasional matchmaker, all while keeping a Zen like approach to life and all that comes with it. Balance and comedy are the keys to keeping life interesting and livable and she has ALMOST mastered both.

Steele May Lack Support of RNC’s Black Members Read more: Steele May Lack Support of RNC’s Black Members

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has lost the support of key GOP constituencies in his bid for re-election as RNC chairman next month. And that includes at least one of the RNC’s two black members — Ada Fisher from North Carolina, Roll Call reports.

Fisher has spoken out vociferously against Steele since she voted against him in favor of former South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, who is white, in 2009.

"Nobody asked the black members of the RNC what they felt, and I don't know that the other people were courted or asked for their votes," Fisher says of that contest.

The other black RNC member, Glenn McCall of South Carolina, also supported Dawson for chairman of the RNC on all six ballots in 2009.

Fisher already says she won’t support Steele this time. As for McCall, “I haven't made up my mind," he tells Roll Call. "I'm getting feedback from grass-roots activists in the state and also our elected officials, and if I just went purely on that, it would say he's not the person the grass-roots activists want here in South Carolina."

Read more: Steele May Lack Support of RNC’s Black Members

Steven Spielberg’s Falling Skies Trailer

Steven Spielberg knows aliens. Just ask E.T. or Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind). You can even ask Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Sidebar: Harrison Ford isn’t trying to kill Indy, after all.

Now Spielberg is hard at work at a new alien invasion thriller. It isn’t a film. He is working on a slew of those, though, to include producing Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I Am Number Four, Cowboys & Aliens, and Super 8 (where he teams with J. J. Abrams), which all seem to involve elements of the extraterrestrial. He will also direct The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (produced by Peter Jackson). But the topic of the hour is Falling Skies.

The series, produced by DreamWorks Television and in development for the TNT network will hit the small screen June of 2011. It all begins with “a bright light that made all the electronics stop working” according to the brand spankin’ new trailer for the show. “Then they came. There were millions of them.” Welcome to the new war of the worlds, so to speak. It will be epic and will star E.R.‘s Noah Wyle and Termiantor: Salvation‘s Moon Bloodgood.

Click play, then journey on over to the official website where you can enjoy a vibrant web comic.

Former Shell Oil President: $5 Gasoline in U.S. by 2012

Americans will pay $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012, thanks to growing global demand for oil, tighter supplies and inadequate responses by the U.S. government, the former president of Shell Oil said Sunday in an interview with Platts Energy Week Television.

John Hofmeister also predicted little or no new drilling in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico for the next two years, as Washington continues to respond to the BP oil spill with tighter regulation of the oil and gas industry.
“If we stay on our current course, within a decade we’re into energy shortages in this country big time,” said Hofmeister, who retired from Shell in 2008 and now heads a grass-roots group called Citizens for Affordable Energy.

“Blackouts, brownouts, gas lines, rationing–that’s my projection based upon the current inability to make to make decisions,” Hofmeister said. “The politically driven choices that are being made, which are non-choices, essentially frittering at the edges of renewable energy, stifling production in hydrocarbon energy–that’s a sure path for not enough energy for American consumers. When American consumers are short or prices are so high–$5 a gallon for gasoline, for example, by 2012–that’s going to set a new tone. It’s going to be panic time for politicians. They’re suddenly going to get the sense that we better do something.”
“The 112th [Congress] has potential for compromise, but we’ll see. I’m predicting actually a worse outcome over the next two years, which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices, uncertainty as to the future of hydrocarbons, more regulation on the hydrocarbon industry based on who the administration is today,” he said. “And what I fear  the most is that by 2012 prices will be so high that we’ll have a backlash from the electorate and we’ll go into reverse and will go back to as hydro-carbon only type of future with maybe some nuclear, instead of moving on into the 21st century.”

Hofmeister said U.S. oil production will suffer from government response to the explosion of BP’s Macondo well last April and the resulting largest oil spill in U.S. history. He said while the government has officially lifted a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, slow implementation of new regulations means the freeze on new permits continues.

“I’m expecting no new drilling for two more years at least, maybe one or two token wells,” he said.
The government response will persuade oil companies to increasingly look outside the U.S. for drilling options, he said.

“What the administration doesn’t understand about the industry is how it plans its capital budgets,” he said. “It plans a capital budget on a three-year cycle. If the Gulf of Mexico is uncertain, which it is because nobody knows when they can drill again, then that money will be reallocated elsewhere around the world.”

Rendell Sounds Off

We’re unfamiliar with Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s politics … but we couldn’t agree more with his take on the National Football League’s controversial decision to cancel Sunday’s night’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.

“It goes against everything that football is all about,” the soon-to-be-former Keystone State chief executive said Monday on a radio show in Philadelphia.

“My biggest beef is that this is part of what’s happened in this country,” Rendell added. “I think we’ve become wussies.”

“We’ve become a nation of wusses,” he continued. “The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”
Um … he’s right.

We understand the fact that recent games have been postponed due to damaged stadiums, but the last time we checked bad weather at a stadium was not an acceptable excuse.

By fitsnews

Iran executes man as Israeli spy, hangs opposition group member

Ali Saremi

Iran Human Rights, December 28: According to the reports from Iran two political prisoners were hanged at Tehran’s Evin prison early this morning.

The prisoners are identified as Ali Saremi (63) convicted of Moharebeh (war with God) through membership in PMOI (Mujahedin-e-khalgh) and Ali Akbar Siadat convicted of espionage for Israel.

Ali Saremi is a well known political prisoner who was last time arrested in 2007, for holding a speech at the 19th anniversary of the 1988 massacre of the political prisoners in Iran. Last year he was sentenced to death by jugde Salavati in Tehran. His charges are membership in a mohareb group (PMOI) and "propaganda against the establishment".

Ali Saremi had been arrested several time during the past 20 years for his political acivities.

Ali AKbar Siadat was arrested in 2007 and later convicted for providing sensitive information to Israel. Iran Human Rights can not confirm Mr. Siadat’s charges.

These executions happen only two days after the scheduled execution of another political prisoner, Habibollah Lotfi, was postponed.

Iran Human Rights had previously warned about implementation of death sentences of the "sensitive" cases by the Iranian authorities during the Christmas holidays.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of Iran Human Rights, strongly condemned today’s executions and said: " I and surely millions of Iranians are sad and outraged by this news". He added:"Our thoughts go to Mr. Saremi and Mr. Siadat’s families, friends, and other prisoners who are going through a very difficult time right now". Amiry-Moghaddam continued:" Leadership of the Iranian regime must be kept responsible for this crime". "We urge the world community to condemn these executions because lack of a strong international reaction will be interpreted as a green light to the Iranian authorities".

Source: Iran Human Rights, December 28, 2010

Ancient Human Remains Found in Israel

By Miss Cellania in Archaeology on Dec 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm
Israeli archaeologists have found teeth of modern humans in a cave in central Israel that date back 400,000 years. That makes them twice as old as modern humans found in Africa, which is where they’ve been thought to have originated.
“It’s very exciting to come to this conclusion,” said archaeologist Avi Gopher, whose team examined the teeth with X-rays and CT scans and dated them according to the layers of earth where they were found.
He stressed that further research is needed to solidify the claim. If it does, he says, “this changes the whole picture of evolution.”
The accepted scientific theory is that Homo sapiens originated in Africa and migrated out of the continent. Gopher said if the remains are definitively linked to modern human’s ancestors, it could mean that modern man in fact originated in what is now Israel.
Sir Paul Mellars, a prehistory expert at Cambridge University, said the study is reputable, and the find is “important” because remains from that critical time period are scarce, but it is premature to say the remains are human.
The archaeologists from Tel Aviv University are confident that other human fossil evidence will be found at the site. Link -Thanks, özi!

(Image credit: AP/Oded Balilty)

5 Haitian Teens Found Dead in Florida Motel Room

The bodies of five Haitian teenagers were found Monday in a Florida motel room by a housemaid who peeked in a window.

The bodies were lying on and around a bed at the El Presidente Motel in Hialeah, Florida just North of Miami near the Miami International airport.

Police say the teens, who rented the $62-a-night room on Sunday to celebrate a friend’s birthday, died from carbon monoxide poisoning after they left a car running in the garage directly beneath their room. The car was still running when police arrived.

“The room is sealed shut like it was an aircraft,” one of the victims’ friends, Junior Reeds, 26, told the Miami Herald. “This is a hotel room. You got to have vents. A minor incident could cause a big tragedy.”

The dead boys are identified as Evans Charles, 19, Jonas Antenor, 18, Peterson Nazon, 17, and Jean Pierre Ferdinand, 16. They came from the neighboring Little Haiti cultural enclave in Miami.
No drugs or alcohol were found in the room.

Carl Zogby, a spokesman for police in Hialeah, Florida, said the deaths: “seems like this is a tragic accident.”

The boys borrowed a Kia from a friend to make the short trip to the motel. About an hour before they arived, the engine was jump started by another friend, identified in the Miami Herald as Maxon Ofea, 18.
Ofea, who grew up with the five dead teenagers, said they had left the car running in the single-car garage under the room because they were afraid it wouldn’t start again.

A door at the base of a staircase leading up to the room from the garage was propped open, allowing deadly odorless gas to seep into the room.

Peterson Nazon’s mother, who arrived from Little Haiti, couldn’t contain her grief at the scene: “They killed my son, they killed my son,” she cried in Creole.

She told the Miami Herald she had been phoning the room all morning. “Nobody answered,” she said.
Little Haiti was established in Miami in the 1980s by Haitian immigrants who arrived by boat after fleeing famine, poverty and persecution in Haiti.

Ironically, Hialeah is where Cuban immigrants settled after fleeing communism in Cuba in the 80s.

Posted By Sandra Rose

Post-Christmas travel is heavily disrupted by North-East blizzard

Sunshine and deep piles of sparkling snow blanketed the Northeast on Monday, but for frustrated commuters and holiday travelers struck by the winter’s first ferocious storm, the beauty was short-lived.

Gusting winds kicked up formidable snowdrifts further crippling an entire New York metropolitan region trying to dig out, shutting down the three major area airports for most of the day, stopping commuter trains and some subway lines — even stranding some passengers on trains overnight — and causing nightmarish delays without much of a sense of when the conditions would improve.

Newark International and John F. Kennedy International airports will both open at 6 p.m. for departing flights only, Sara Beth Joren, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said. La Guardia Airport opened at 4 p.m., and some flights would be leaving later Monday evening, Ms. Joren said. All three airports are expected to resume arrivals and departures on Tuesday morning.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, speaking at an afternoon news conference, succinctly captured the power of the storm: “A lot of snow, every place,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “It was a very heavy snowfall, and as you know, it was accompanied by intense winds.”

But, he concluded: “The world has not come to an end, the city is going fine.”

Still, nearly two feet of snow was dumped on the New York area through the overnight hours, and its cumulative effects were plainly evident during the day on Monday.

High winds damaged switches for train lines, knocked down power lines, drifted snow perilously deep on tracks and even caused plow trucks to get stuck. City buses stalled on hills and cars abandoned on side streets complicated snow removal as New York struggled mightily to recover before the evening commute began.