Friday, January 29, 2010

Michelle Obama: Child obesity a crisis

The economy can make it harder for families to make healthy choices but childhood obesity threatens America's future, first lady Michelle Obama said Thursday.

During an appearance in Alexandria, Va., with Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. Judith Palfrey, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in Alexandria, Va., the first lady said childhood obesity is "nothing short of a public health crisis threatening the future of this nation."

The first lady and the officials released a paper by the surgeon general on the public health challenge of obesity and toured a YMCA playroom that featured physical activities, including interactive video games good for groups, bikes set up so kids can race others on a screen and a dancing game.

Obama told an audience that included representatives from scouting, the YMCA, YWCA, Children's Defense Fund, Girls Inc. and the National PTA that the activity room represented the "next generation" and should be encouraged in other places.

"It's just easier" to order pizza or go through a fast-food drive-through, especially in tough economic times, she said.

Obama said her family is making healthier choices by limiting TV time, keeping an eye on portion sizes and some "very minor stuff" like throwing apples and water bottles into her daughters' school lunches.

"Small changes can lead to big results," Obama said.

US considering 9/11 trial move from New York

WASHINGTON — US officials are discussing options to move the trial of the alleged 9/11 mastermind out of New York City after mounting pressure from local politicians, an administration official said Friday.

"Conversations have occurred within the administration to discuss contingency options should the possibility of a trial in Lower Manhattan be foreclosed upon by Congress or locally," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A group of eight New York lawmakers wrote to US Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday expressing concern about plans to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described chief organizer of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and four other co-accused to Manhattan for trial.

The move would be a blow to the Obama administration's bid to bring the accused plotters to trial in civilian federal court just blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.

Signatories to the letter included Democratic Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velazquez and the speaker of New York State's assembly, Sheldon Silver.

On Wednesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, expressed his opposition to the idea, reversing his initial support.

GDP Rose in 4th Quarter 2009

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has announced the estimate of Gross Domestic Product for the final quarter of last year:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 2.2 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the fourth-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 4). The “second” estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on February 26, 2010.

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from private inventory investment, exports, and personal consumption expenditures (PCE). Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The acceleration in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected an acceleration in private inventory investment, a deceleration in imports, and an upturn in nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by decelerations in federal government spending and in PCE.

Motor vehicle output added 0.61 percentage point to the fourth-quarter change in real GDP after adding 1.45 percentage points to the third-quarter change. Final sales of computers subtracted 0.03 percentage point from the fourth-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 0.08 percentage point from the third-quarter change.

There’s a “cup half empty” and a “cup half full” way to view these figures.

The good news is that 5.7% is a very solid growth rate, an expanding economy is better than a contracting one, and things, e.g. motor vehicles, that were subsidized did well. The bad news is that things that weren’t subsidized, e.g. computers, contracted, which still shows weakness. I should also point out that strong growth in the face of declining employment indicates rising productivity. As long as productivity is rising, outputs are increasing, and the future is as uncertain as it is will we see an increase in employment?

'Wall Street 2' trailer: Gordon Gekko is back

Even Gordon Gekko is feeling a bit of distress in these hard economic times.

Check out the trailer for the Oliver Stone-directed sequel "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps."

The music, quick cuts and Michael Douglas acting like his badass self make the film look like a lot of fun. Oh, and make sure to check out the oversized '80s mobile phone.

Fun doesn't necessarily convey plot though, so here's a quick rundown. It's 2008 and Gordon Gekko has just been released from jail. There's definitely a bit of culture shock, but Gekko is still a money whisperer and can tell which way the financial winds are blowing -- towards a stock market crash.

Unfortunately, no one will listen to his warnings, so he finally gets help from his estranged daughter's (Carey Mulligan) fiance Jacob (Shia LaBeouf), who is looking for revenge after his mentor was killed.

"Wall Street 2" will hit theaters on April 23.

Federer Stomps Tsonga, Teases Murray Entering Australian Open Final

by Staff
World No. 1 Roger Federer turned back the clock on Friday at the Australian Open, looking his invincible best in thrashing Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to gain his fifth career final at the Australian Open.

“In these matches you always have to deal with how your opponent plays — but sometimes they play exactly how you want,” said Federer, who committed only 13 unforced errors over three sets, and his victory was never in doubt, unlike his early struggles against Nikolay Davydenko in the quarerfinals. “I just think it’s easier with the top players if you get them in the first set. It’s nice going through like this.”

The win was also a bit of revenge for the Swiss, who lost to Tsonga in Montreal last year. The win advanced him to a record 22nd Slam final.

For the fatigued Tsonga it was difficult going after coming off two consecutive five-set wins.

“I was just a bit more tired after the first set,” said Tsonga, the Aussie Open runner-up two years ago. “And, yeah, it was tough to play against him today. He was really good, and that’s it…sometimes you play against him again and he play just unbelievable.”

A frustrated and emotional Federer broke down crying during his post-match speech to an appreciative Aussie crowd after losing last year’s five-set final against Rafael Nadal. After cruising past Tsonga, and with the Slam-less Andy Murray waiting for him in the final rather than Nadal, Federer was in a more jovial mood.

“I know he’d like to win the first [Slam title] for British tennis since what is it, 150,000 years?” Federer joked to the crowd after the match regarding Murray. “The poor guy who has to go through those moments over and over again…”

Murray’s best Slam effort was a runner-up at the US Open in 2008, last year reaching the semis at Wimbledon, losing in the quarters at the French, and the 4th round at the Aussie Open and the US Open. Federer by contrast is appearing in his 22nd Slam final in 27 Slams contested since he won his first major at Wimbledon in 2003.

It remains to be seen whether Federer’s confidence approach versus Murray is bravado meant to intimidate his opponent, or to cover nerves. Murray’s off-speed, flow-killing game style has given the Swiss problems through their 10 career meetings thus far.

Federer has won his last two matches against Murray in tight fashion, but lost to the Brit twice last year in Indian Wells and Doha. Murray leads the career head-to-head with Federer 6-4.

TSA agent given desk job after being caught sleeping at the airport

New York writer Bucky Turco (of the awesome Animal New York blog) snapped this picture when he was waiting for a flight out of La Guardia airport. The TSA agent has obviously had a long day, and needed to catch some Z's, but failed to realize that doing this in the public departure lounge may not be the best place.

The agent has been reassigned to a desk job pending an investigation. I'm slightly torn on the issue (as are most other people talking about the incident). On the one hand, I understand how tough the job can be - a long day of screening people who still don't know about liquid bans will probably be enough to put anyone to sleep, but to do so in public is just plain stupid.

The TSA is having a pretty crappy month already - first they let someone enter Newark airport through a door that was supposed to be monitored, then someone passes into a secure area at JFK.

With road games against the Hawks and Lakers looming in the next few days, the Celtics desperately needed to get off on the right foot when they visit

6-year-old Jasmina Amena lost her courageous battle to leukemia yesterday. Her mother Thea made the sad announcement: “Today, January 27, at 10:55 p.m., Jasmina lost her fight against leukemia.”

Singers Rihanna and Lil Mama helped rally support to help find a suitable bone marrow donor for their young fan. But it was too late.

Commenting from the White House, U.S. president Barack Obama said:

It is with great sadness today that Michelle and I extend our condolences on the passing of Jasmina Anema. Jasmina showed tremendous bravery in the face of adversity, and her ability to stay positive throughout her battle was an inspiration to me and to all those she touched. As the parents of two young girls, our hearts particularly go out to Jasmina’s devoted mother Thea. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and with all who knew and loved Jasmina.”

Celtics Blow 16-Point Lead, Fall to Magic 96-94 on Late Layup

With road games against the Hawks and Lakers looming in the next few days, the Celtics desperately needed to get off on the right foot when they visited the Magic on Thursday.

The outcome wasn't exactly what Boston imagined.

After being down by as many as 16, the Magic took their first lead of the night with 4:52 left in the fourth quarter and escaped with a 96-94 win. Rashard Lewis beat Kevin Garnett off the dribble and notched the game-winning layup with 1.3 seconds left on the clock.

Ray Allen led the Celtics with 20 points and Rasheed Wallace chipped in with 17 off the bench. Orlando's Dwight Howard was limited in the first half due to foul trouble but still finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes.

Magic 96, Celtics 94
Amway Arena, Orlando, Fla.

NBA All-Star Reserves Leak

The official word comes tonight, but the guys at Ball Don’t Lie got the scoop on the All-Star reserves. As a Boston fan, I’m happy Rajon Rondo got a deserved spot. Paul Pierce too, even if it may be on legacy at this stage.

Point guards Deron Williams of Utah, Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Boston’s Rajon Rondo will make their All-Star Game debuts next month in Dallas, sources said Thursday. Besides Rondo and Rose, the East roster includes Boston’s Paul Pierce, Toronto’s Chris Bosh, Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace and Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and Al Horford.

The West reserves are the New Orleans’ Chris Paul, the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, Memphis’ Zach Randolph and Portland’s Brandon Roy.

Knicks fans, quit your whining. David Lee hasn’t played defense since his days at the Swamp.

The amount of young talent on the team bodes well for the future of the league as well as for the tens of thousands that will flock to Dallas’ football mega church for the game. Now if only AI can come up with a phantom ankle injury…

Bill Gates pledges $10 bln for vaccines for poor

DAVOS, Switzerland — Bill Gates, the world's richest man, on Friday promised 10 billion dollars to develop vaccines for the world's poorest nations.

The Microsoft tycoon announced at the World Economic Forum that the money will come over the next decade from the foundation he runs with his wife Melinda, and that vaccines will become the top priority for the foundation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has now committed more than 25 billion dollars to various health projects, especially targeting AIDS and polio and other diseases that hit poor countries.

"We must make this the decade of vaccines," Bill Gates said in Davos. "Vaccines already save and improve millions of lives in developing countries.

"Innovation will make it possible to save more children than ever before."

Increased vaccination could save more than eight million children by 2020, he added, but called on governments and the private sector to do more.

"Increased investment in vaccines by governments and the private sector could help developing countries dramatically reduce child mortality by the end of the decade," Gates said in a statement.

Melinda Gates added: "Vaccines are a miracle -- with just a few doses, they can prevent deadly diseases for a lifetime.

"We?ve made vaccines our number-one priority at the Gates Foundation because we?ve seen first hand their incredible impact on children?s lives," she added.

Gates began working full time at the Foundation after leaving Microsoft in July, 2008. He is in Davos as the world's leading philanthropist and his activities again overshadowed those of the political and business elite at the Swiss ski resort.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou held new meetings seeking to shore up international support for his country's austerity programme as its borrowing costs shoot up and debt problems in Greece and other countries put pressure on the euro.

Blair defends Iraq war at inquiry

Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, has defended his decision to send UK troops into Iraq, saying the September 11 attacks changed the "calculus of risk" associated with Saddam Hussein.

Giving evidence at a public inquiry in London on Friday, Blair conceded that the Iraqi leader did not become a greater threat following the attacks but said that the "perception of risk" had changed.

"The point about this act in New York was that had they been able to kill even more people than those 3,000 they would have. And so after that time, my view was you could not take risks with this issue at all."

"From that moment Iran, Libya, North Korea, Iraq ... all of this had to be brought to an end," he said.

"The primary consideration for me was to send an absolutely powerful, clear and unremitting message that after September 11 if you were a regime engaged in WMD [weapons of mass destruction], you had to stop."

'Political theatre'

The inquiry is Britain's third major investigation into the conflict. It was set up last year by Gordon Brown, who took over from Blair as the UK's prime minister, to learn lessons from the conflict.

Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera's correspondent in London, said the inquiry was not going to see "any smoking guns".

"Everyone calls this judgement day, but this isn't really judgement day, it's political theatre. And Tony Blair knows the part he's got to play," he said.

Blair's decision to send 45,000 British troops to Iraq in 2003 was the most controversial move of his 10-year leadership.

Hundreds of protesters, including anti-war campaigners and the families of some of the 179 soldiers who have died in Iraq, have gathered outside the building where Blair is giving evidence.

Many accused the former prime minister on Friday of being a "coward" after it was reported that he had been driven into the building through a side entrance.

Others have called for Blair to be tried for war crimes over his decision to join the US-led invasion.

'Not a trial'
As the hearing opened John Chilcot, the panel's chairman, reminded the audience that the hearing "is not a trial".

Anthony Seldon, a political commentator and biographer of Blair, said the hearing would be a "pivotal day him [Blair], for the British public and for Britain's moral authority in the world".

"This is an enormous day and it goes way beyond him and his own reputation," he said.

But Shane Greer, the executive editor of the UK-based Total Politics magazine, said the inquiry was unlikely to really challenge Blair.

"I don't think we're going to see anything particularly new from this," he told Al Jazeera.

"Tony Blair is a tremendous communicator and this is very much a natural environment for him. He's someone who is used to facing very severe questioning."

'Dodgy dossier'

The inquiry is likely to focus on the public justification Blair's government gave for the war, notably the so-called dodgy dossier of September 2002.

In a foreword to the dossier Blair wrote that possession of chemical and biological weapons by Saddam Hussein, the then ruler of Iraq, was "beyond doubt" and that he could deploy them within 45 minutes.

But the inquiry has already heard from senior civil servants who said intelligence in the days before the invasion indicated that Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" had been dismantled.

Blair has always insisted the war was legal, but he has been unable to shake off accusations that intelligence was doctored to support the case for it.

Critics of the inquiry say the five-person team has been too soft on witnesses.

Senate Confirms Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a Second Term

With just 72 hours left before his term ended, the Senate voted 70-30 Thursday to confirm beleagued Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second, four-year term.
"To vote against confirmation could unnerve investors and exacerbate economic uncertainty in the marketplace, which is exactly what we do not need at this time," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey). "We need the wisdom of patience. Let us not judge the man or the work prematurely."
The Senate voted 77-23 to end debate, which lasted more than two hours. Lawmakers were harshly critical of Bernanke's handling of the financial crisis and said the Federal Reserve failed to heed warning signs that the housing and credit markets were destined to crash.
Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said "Bernanke fiddled while our markets burned."
"The Federal Reserve played a key role in setting the stage for the financial crisis," he added.
But Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, who was was the principal author of legislation that bailed out foundering Wall Street banks to the tune of $700 billion, said the Bernanke was caught between a rock and a hard place.
"The chairmanship of Ben Bernanke has in no small measure made it possible for this nation to avoid a catastrophe," Dodd said.
Dodd recently announced his retirement from the Senate, which was due, in part, to the fact that he fell out of favor with Democratic voters after revelations surfaced that the Connecticut lawmaker received special treatment in his acquisition of a mortgage loan from subprime mortgage company Countrywide Financial, through a program that identified him and others as friends of Countrywide chief executive Angelo Mozilo.
The New York Times reported that Bernanke's confirmation "came after a week in which top White House officials and Mr. Bernanke himself met with Democratic leaders in the Senate to secure support and it served as an indication that Congress would insist on transparency form a historically secretive institution following its extraordinary interventions in the market since 2008."
Bernanke was at the center of one of the Federal Reserve's most controversial moves, the Wall Street Journal noted, just as the financial crisis started to peak:
Deciding which firms to save and which to let fail. Each of those steps, from rescuing American Internation Group Inc. to allowing Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. to go down, is being scrutinized by lawmakers.

Critics have assailed the Fed for supporting AIG at taxpayers' expense. The insurer got about $180 billion from the federal government and AIG counterparties, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA, got $62 billion for tearing up insurance contracts with the embattled insurer.

On Wednesday, Bernanke sent a letter sent to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) and said the financial stability of AIG's major trading partners did not play a role in deciding what institutions should be bailed out. Bernanke added that while he backed the decision to rescue AIG, he "was not directly involved in the negotiations with the counterparties."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Black students in hiding after racist threats

NELSONVILLE, Ohio: Officials at Hocking College, a campus carved into a forest in the Appalachian foothills, say they are taking seriously a threat scrawled on a bathroom wall warning that black students would be killed on February 2.

The Ohio college has provided temporary housing for students who are too scared to stay in Hocking Heights, the dorm where the threats were found.

For those wary of venturing outside until after February 2, teachers are making allow-ances for missed class work.

Campus spokeswoman Judy Sinnott said she had not heard previous complaints of racist taunting, but that on a small campus anything could happen.

"Any time that there are young people, you know, there's going to be tension," Sinnott said. - Sapa-AP

Study: Black Buying Power Increased Dramatically

The percentage of blacks in America is growing, and so is the amount of money blacks have available to spend on goods and services, according to a study released this week.

The "African-Americans Revealed" study, based on a BET survey of 80,000 black consumers over 18 months, showed a 10 percent increase in America’s black population between 2000 and 2008 and 55 percent increase in black buying power over the same period.

According to the survey, black buying power is estimated now at about $913 billion and is projected to increase to $1.2 trillion by 2013.

A similar study released in November by the Selig Center at the University of Georgia estimated that black buying power would be about $1.1 trillion by 2014, with current spending power for blacks at about $910 billion.

"'African-Americans Revealed' shows us that the black community should never be referred to as one homogeneous population," said Matthew Barnhill, senior vice president of corporate research at BET Networks. "We hope this report will help organizations better connect with an audience and intimately recognize all of its

Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University business professor, said he is not surprised by studies that show growth in black spending power.

Full Story

Full Video: Obama’s 2010 State of The Union Address

China's share in Russian arms export dropping

MOSCOW: Buying of arms by Russia's one-time biggest customer, China, has seen a decline and such trend may continue, head of the country's sole state intermediary agency for export-import of defence-related technologies and services said today.

"China's share in our (arms) exports is now less than 18 per cent and will further drop," Director General of Rosoboronexport, Anatoly Isaikin said.

Addressing a press conference here, Isaikin said the dwindling volume of arms sales to China was logical.

"Their military-industrial complex is successfully developing. That's why China buys very little," he said.

During the last 15 years, China has been Russia's largest arms buyer followed by India.

In the first decade of the century, beginning from 2001, China has bought USD 16 billion worth of arms from Russia, including 200 Sukhoi fighters of various modifications, S-300 air defence missiles, Sovremenny class destroyers and Kilo class diesel-electric submarines.

Last year, Russia signed an agreement for the sale of 100 RD-93 engines for Chinese J-10 fighters.

Meanwhile, in an apparent reference to India, Isaikin said a similar tendency is visible with other partners also, with the focus shifting from 'buyer-seller' relationship to joint development and production of weapon systems.

Why Elizabeth Edwards Showed John the Door

In addition, a soon-to-be-released book by a longtime former aide to John Edwards claims to offer details about the Edwards marriage, and John's romps -- including word of a possible sex tape.

In Defense Of Geithner

By Douglas McIntyre

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was cross-examined yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. The lawmakers could not understand why AIG (AIG) got $182 billion in taxpayer bailout cash.

They said that it was an even greater enigma that $62 billion of that money should go to pay AIG counterparties which are essentially firms that used the insurance company to cover risk on their derivatives investments. It is fair for Congress to ask why a firm like Goldman Sachs (GS) received 100 cents on a dollar from AIG when the NY Fed or Treasury might have forced Goldman to take less go save taxpayer’s money.

Geithner’s answers were not what the committee wanted to hear, but they were almost certainly based on an accurate assessment of the credit markets at the time of the crisis late in the fall of 2008. Geithner says that they NY Fed did not have the right nor did it have the time to enter into negotiations with each of AIG’s counterparties. Some of those counterparties might have faced financial
distress of their own if AIG had failed to pay them full face value for its obligations.

Steve Jobs & The iPad Ten Commandments

Steve Jobs & The iPad Ten Commandments
January 28th, 2010 by Ron Callari Share Steve Jobs, after having parted the Red Seas of Apple-land with the release of his iPod and iPhone was looking for a new challenge. So while leading the flock of the digerati to the promised land of sweet new gadgets, it was important not to divulge too much in advance. For months while keeping his secret under wraps, his followers thought he had taken ill. Others thought he passed on. But the faithful knew that something miraculous was about to take place.

News and rumors traveled by word of mouth from tribe to tribe, from Twitter to Facebook, from Cupertino to Bangkok and all points in between. For 40 days and 40 nights prior to January 27, 2010, he communed with God. God sure had a lot to tell Jobs. God wanted to make sure that Jobs delivered his new inspirational toy with rules attached, so they could be best instructed how to use this miraculous new device.

So upon return from Mac mountain, Job delivered the much anticipated "iPad" in the form of tablets. And as important as this new innovation was to be for his flock, it was equally important to note that the iPad Ten Commandments that came part and parcel were not so much about what the new iPad offered, but more along the lines of what it would not.

Chris Matthews “Forgot Obama Was Black” Comments [VIDEO]

By Super Bro..

Really glad Chris Matthews could forget Obama is black for an hour. Somehow, I remain unable to forget that Matthews is a horse’s ass…..

President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address has been marred by controversy after noted MSNBC correspondent Chris Matthews remarked that he “forgot Obama was black” during his post-speech commentary with pundit Keith Olbermann.

“You know, I was trying to think about who he was tonight. It’s interesting: he is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and past so much history, in just a year or two,” the Hardball host reflected as video of the President’s motorcade leaving the US Capitol played on a split screen beside him.

I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about. I was watching, I said, wait a minute, he’s an African American
guy in front of a bunch of other white people,” Chris continued. “And here he is president of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don’t think in terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard. A very subtle fact. It’s so hard to talk about. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but I am. I thought it was profound that way.”

While there’s been no apology — or even acknowledgment — by MSNBC, Matthews’ racially-insensitive comments have opened the floodgates of Hell on Twitter, with numerous Tweeters spreading the news and voicing their outrage via a series of angry Tweets.

People Hate Congress, Like Obama

Another result from the poll discussed below. When asked who is to blame for the government’s failure to solve national problems, voters are unimpressed with either congressional party, but like Democrats more than Republicans and Obama a lot more than Congress:

Under the circumstances you would think electorally vulnerable congressional Democrats would be eager to just shut up and align themselves with the popular White House. Instead they’ve tended to pursue a strategy of calling attention to themselves and trying to affiliate with the very unpopular congressional Republicans. It’s strange.

VIDEO: Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito visibly disapproved as President Obama criticized Supreme Court ruling in State of the Union address last ni

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama showed his disapproval of SCOTUS’s recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. However, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, sitting in front of the President, showed visible disagreement over the President’s remarks.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Report: Warner expected to retire on Friday

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Cardinals have scheduled a Friday press conference to address Kurt Warner’s future and according to Schefter, all signs point towards Warner retiring.

Teammate Antrel Rolle also believes Warner will hang ‘em up (From Player

“Judging from conversations that I’ve had with him I think he understands that he’s had a great, Hall of Fame career. I think football has taken its course. But he’s the best teammate I’ve ever had. He’s been a leader on and off the field.” -excerpt from Rolle’s January 26th blog.

Warner has racked up 32,344 yards and 208 touchdown passes throughout his stellar career. He has also compiled a 93.7 passer rating, a 65.5% completion percentage and only Peyton manning (four) and Brett Favre (three) have compiled more MVP awards than Warner (two).

There’s nothing left for Warner to prove and if the game isn’t fun for him anymore, then it makes sense that he would retire now. He took one hell of a shot in the Divisional Round against the Saints and it no doubt reminded him that he has other things that he wants to pursue when he’s done with football.

There have been rumors that Arizona might pursue Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick, but it makes more sense that Matt Leinart will get the first crack at the starting QB job if Warner does retire. And if that happens, the Cardinals’ offense will definitely change from a pass-first unit to a balanced approach that features young running back Beanie Wells.

Acting Boss of N.Y. Genovese Crime Family Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Charges

The acting head of the Genovese organized crime family, Daniel Leo, aka “The Lion,” and his nephew Joseph Leo, a lieutenant, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Manhattan federal court to racketeering charges related to loan sharking, extortion and illegal gambling.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged that Daniel Leo became the acting boss of the Genovese organized crime family in 2005, rising from the family’s ruling council to run the show. The Genovese family is one of New York’s five legendary Mafia families.

Today’s guilty pleas were considered significant, part of the ongoing crackdown in recent years on the infamous New York mob, which has often been glamorized in films and TV. But the FBI asserts that Genovese and Gambino crime families in particular continue to thrive.

“They certainly have taken hits with the RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act), but organized crime in the New York City area is alive and well,” said David Shafer, assistant special agent in charge of the New York Office of the organized crime branch. “The Genovese family is a very, very strong family.”

For Full Story

Men Who Tampered With Sen. Landrieu’s Phone Were Pulling a Prank, NBC Reports

NBC’s Pete Williams is reporting that the four men arrested Monday for tampering with Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phones in her downtown New Orleans office were not trying to wiretap the phones, but “wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative.”

Williams’ attributed the information to a law enforcement official. The group of men were led by conservative videomaker James O’Keefe, who once duped the organization ACORN by posing as a pimp.

Authorities charged that O’Keefe, using his cellphone, videotaped two other men who entered the office posing as phone repairmen, who were trying to tamper with the phones.

The U.S. Marshals office arrested them.

Williams wrote that “they were apparently motivated, the official says, by criticism that when Sen. Landrieu became a big player in the health care debate, people in Louisiana were having a hard time getting through on the phones to register their views.”

Other Shoe Drops: 2nd NBA Player Jarvaris Crittenton Pleads Guilty of Gun Charge

WASHINGTON — The other shoe dropped Monday in the gun drama involving suspended Washington Wizards’ star Gilbert Arenas.

The other figure in the scandal, Wizards player Jarvaris Crittenton, 21, who has been injured all year, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession of an unregistered Firearm and was sentenced to one year probation, D.C. U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips announced.

D.C. Senior Superior Judge Bruce Beaudin also ordered Crittenton to perform community service through the NBA’S Haiti project, and perform community service with a children’s organization in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities say Crittenton had brought a firearm to the Verizon Center in the Chinatown district of downtown in December 2009 following an argument with Arenas on a plane two days earlier.

According to a U.S. Attorney press release:

“The factual proffer presented at the plea hearing, on December 19, 2009, into the early morning hours of December 20, 2009, Crittenton and Arenas became involved in a verbal exchange following a card game.

“In a heated exchange, Arenas stated he was too old to fistfight and threatened to shoot Crittenton in the face. Crittenton responded that he would shoot Arenas in his surgically-repaired knee. On the shuttle bus from the airplane to the terminal, Arenas further stated that he was going to burn or blow up Crittenton’s car when they came to practice the following Monday. According to Crittenton, he believed that Arenas intended to harm him.”

“On December 21, 2009, at approximately 9:00 a.m., Crittenton arrived at the Verizon Center, 601 F Street N.W., Washington, D.C., to receive medical treatment and attend Wizards’ practice.

“According to Crittenton, before he left his home in Virginia for practice that day,Crittenton had placed a lawfully owned, unloaded handgun into his backpack because he believed that Arenas would carry out his threat to shoot him that day.

“Once Crittenton entered the Wizards’ locker room, he put his backpack in his locker and went to a separate room to see team trainers and medical personnel. When Crittenton returned to the locker room, he saw Arenas walking away from the area in front of Crittenton’s locker.

“On the chair located directly in front of Crittenton’s locker, Arenas had placed several handguns with

a piece of paper with the message “PICK 1.” According to Crittenton, he believed that Arenas intended Crittenton to select a firearm with which Arenas would carry out his threat to shoot Crittenton. Arenas has claimed he placed the guns on Crittenton’s chair as part of a practical


“Crittenton asked Arenas “[w]hat is this?” and told him to get the guns off his chair, picking up one of the firearms by its extended clip and tossing it along the floor away from his chair.

“According to Crittenton, he feared for his own safety, so he told Arenas he had his own gun.

“Crittenton took his handgun out of his backpack and, without pointing it at anyone, showed it to

Arenas, holding it below his waist pointed downward.

“There is no evidence that Crittenton’s firearm was loaded when he pulled it out of his backpack or that Crittenton ever loaded the firearm with ammunition. There also is no evidence that Crittenton ever chambered a round, pulled back the hammer, raised or pointed the firearm, or otherwise brandished the firearm in a threatening manner at any time during this incident. After

deciding that Arenas did not intend to shoot Crittenton at that time, Crittenton placed his firearm

back in his backpack and went from the locker room to the trainer’s room.

“Crittenton arranged for the voluntary surrender of the firearm involved in this incident, an unloaded silver and black nine millimeter semi-automatic Taurus with magazine, which is now in possession of law enforcement. Crittenton, who was 21 years old at the time of the incident, has no criminal record, has never been arrested, and has been cooperative and forthcoming with

law enforcement.

“Gilbert Arenas plead guilty in connection with this case on January 15, 2010, to Carrying a Pistol Without a License before Judge Robert Morin in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Arenas is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Morin on March 26, 2010.

“In announcing today’s guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Phillips praised the work of MPD Detectives Robbie Saunders, Timothy Smith, and Joseph Oh, Officer Jeff Janczyk, and Sergeant James Black of MPD’s Intelligence Branch.

“He also acknowledged the efforts of members of his

own staff including Investigators Christopher Brophy and Larry Grasso, Paralegal Kalisha Johnson-Clark, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh, who handled the investigation and prosecution of this matter.

Clyburn: House Dems Will Pass Senate Bill If Fix Is Guaranteed; Urges Obama To Push Dems Harder

Clyburn: House Dems Will Pass Senate Bill If Fix Is Guaranteed; Urges Obama To Push Dems Harder
An influential House Democrat is now predicting that House Dems will pass the Senate health bill if they are persuaded they have a guarantee that it will be fixed in reconciliation — a declaration that could give a boost of momentum for the prospects of getting reform done via this route.

In an interview with me, House majority whip James Clyburn also urged the President to throw his weight behind this approach during tomorrow’s State of the Union Address, declaring that it would be “helpful.”

The comments from Clyburn — who’s been canvassing opinion from members in recent days — could contribute to a growing sense that this is course of action most likely to succeed, and could give ammo to to those pressing this case.

“I feel certain that the House Democrats will pass health care reform if the fixes that we feel need to be made to the Senate bill are guaranteed,” Clyburn said. Asked directly if the House votes would be there if this happened, Clyburn said: “Yes, sir.”

Clyburn’s comments suggest that if Dem leaders figure out a way of demonstrating to House Democrats that the reconciliation fix is iron-clad, they could support the Senate bill in large enough numbers to pass.

Clyburn cautioned, however, that House Dems would have to be convinced of the veracity of the fix, citing the “natural distrust between the two bodies.” He added that House Dems would want to see the fix address their opposition to the “Cadillac” tax, to state-based exchanges, and to various sweetheart deals for Senators.

Clyburn called on the President to use his clout and prestige to urge Congressional Dems to follow this course of action during tomorrow’s speech.

“I think that would be helpful,” Clyburn said. “I would like for him to say that we ought to do the fixes…and pass the rest of the Senate bill. I think it would be good for him to let everybody know.”

Howard Zinn Dies at 87

Sad news. Howard Zinn, the American historian best known for his book, A People’s History of the United States, died today of a heart attack at the age of 87. The Boston Herald has more on his life and passing here. If you’re familiar with Zinn’s biography, you’ll know that he served in World War II and later took a strong position against the Vietnam War. So, perhaps fittingly, we feature Zinn talking above about wars and the role governments play in manufacturing them…

State of the Union 2010: President Obama delivers another eloquent call to action... but will there be any action?

Minutes ago, President Obama finished delivering a beautifully crafted, endurance-themed State of the Union Address that called on Congress (but perhaps more specifically, the Senate) to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to responsibly govern our United States of America.

The speech was very unlike either of the past two addresses the President made to Congress (January and September 2009). It touched on several major policy directions, from healthcare to economic security to national defense.

Notably, Obama asked Congress to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, provide thirty billion dollars of repaid TARP money to help community banks make loans, and a vaguely-defined National Export Initiative to help farmers and small businesses reach untapped markets around the globe.

Like past State of the Union addresses, this one was heavy on platitudes and light on concrete details, but it was nevertheless uplifting.

One of the more subtle aspects of the speech that stood out for me was that the President deliberately made the effort to single out and praise the House of Representatives for acting on his administration's priorities.

He did this not one, not two, not three, but four times:

•"The House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps. As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same. People are out of work. They are hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay."
•"The House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. And the lobbyists are already trying to kill it. Well, we cannot let them win this fight. And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back. "
•"I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families."
•"And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. "
Not surprisingly, he got spirited cheers from the House Democratic caucus at each of the moments where he spoke the words excerpted above. The White House cleverly took advantage of the speech as an opportunity to create a juxtaposition between the House (which has been moving legislation to better the country) and the Senate (which has failed to accomplish much of anything during the past year) without explicitly condemning the Senate for seemingly endless dithering.

Although Republicans allowed their lack of enthusiasm for the President's agenda to clearly show during the first half of the speech, their resolve to stay seated eventually withered, and many of them were joining in on the applause lines by the end. There were no shouts of "You lie!", although there was grumbling and mumbling when the President talked about needing to solve the climate crisis.

The speech ended up being more sobering than soaring. It managed to be both optimistic and realistic about the challenges that confront our country. It was, to be sure, an eloquent call to action. The question is, will it lead to any action?

President Obama has spoken eloquently before, to disappointing results. If 2009 taught us anything, it is that great speeches do not equal great legislative achievements... or even substantial progress. The White House is simply going to have to provide some parental supervision in the Senate if it wants to get Congress' dysfunctional half to confront our nation's challenges.

Former PM Villepin cleared in Sarkozy smear case

A Paris court on Thursday found former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin not guilty of complicity to libel President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The court cleared the 56-year-old Villepin of the charge that he had done nothing to stop the dissemination of a falsified list of individuals, including Mr. Sarkozy, who were alleged to have received kickbacks from the 1991 sale of six French frigates to Taiwan.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trenton City schools are weapons of mass destruction

L.A. PARKER: City schools are weapons of mass destruction

Imagine a brand new $135 million high school with beautiful floors, an auditorium, expansive gymnasium, science labs, beautiful cafeteria, and a roller coaster that can take you to any bathroom.


Now imagine that same school filled with a number of inadequate teachers who milk the system and make tenure sound like a birthright.

Add a number of students who, as they did yesterday, continue to bring embarrassment to the city of Trenton, their families and themselves with violence.

A knife and scissors fight luckily did not deliver a femme fatality.

Show me a girl who carries a knife in her bra and I will show you a child in need of serious help.

We can build schools that look like the Taj Mahal, but without a change in direction regarding personal responsibility, Trenton will be a doomsday project ready to explode at a moment’s notice.

Trenton needs new schools, but this city’s education system and social system first needs a major overhaul.

Granted, it’s not all kids at Trenton High because I attended a Haiti relief event at the Chambers St. campus on Saturday, one made beautiful by the school’s Inspirational Chorus.

These kids were wonderful, but there is a fear that this strong-voiced company is about as far from the norm as Venus or Mars.

Our city cannot take much more of this crap that allows parents to check out of their kids’ lives, allows teachers to act only as prison guards who spend their day just keeping the lid on, and featuring administrators who make extraordinary salaries with few positive results.

If this were my school district, today would start with a visit to Trenton High accompanied by parents, police and teachers who care.

There would be a locker sweep as parents made every complaint in the world while calling the ACLU.

The message would be simple — from this moment until we head home for summer break, life and times at Trenton Central High School will be different.

No cell phones, text messages, tweets or twitters, head wraps, baggie pants, T-shirts, or cussing.

All teachers will be required to stand guard in every hallway until students reach their assigned classrooms.

All detentions will require students to perform certain school duties — sweeping floors, collecting garbage on school grounds, cleaning the gymnasium, etc.

City officials and education administrators discounted an idea here that school uniforms are needed throughout the district but it’s still on the table.

“We wanted the students to participate in choosing uniform colors,” school officials said. Maybe they should ask students which weapons they should be allowed to bring on campus.

L.A. Parker is a Trentonian columnist.
© Copyright 2010 The Trentonian

Report: Nordegren, Woods Trying To Work It Out

Elin Nordegren has reportedly done an about-face and now wants to stay married to Tiger Woods.

"People" magazine reports that Nordegren wants her two children to grow up with a father, something she never had.

An unnamed source in Florida said, quote, "She was a child of divorce and felt her dad slighted her." The source added that the Swedish beauty, quote, "wants to keep her family together even if she and Tiger live together as friends instead of lovers."

Nordegren reportedly went to visit the tomcatting Tiger at a sex addiction clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi recently.

Woods is there for six weeks of therapy after news broke that he had some 14 different mistresses over the course of his five-year marriage.

Woods, who's now on a self-imposed hiatus from pro golf, has lost millions of dollars in endorsements.

The source said Woods badly wants his old, blemish-free reputation back, including the endorsements.

Woods, quote, "wants his clients, who have kids of their own, to think he is a good family man."

Susan Boyle Discovers Home Intruder

According to the UK singing sensation returned from London to find an intruder in her home. She reportedly brushed shoulders with the unexpected guest when he ran out of the home right past her.

"Lothian and Borders Police were called to an address in Blackburn at around 9:50 p.m. yesterday following reports of a disturbance. A man was detained in connection with the incident and released without charge pending further inquiries," authorities told the mag.

Susan still lives in the same four-bedroom public housing residence she grew up in.

With a best-selling album on the charts, she had reportedly been in a London recording studio. There, she contributed to Simon Cowell's version of REM's "Everybody Hurts," which will help the Haiti relief effort.

NJ Goes to Washington Again -- But Why?

NJ Goes to Washington Again -- But Why?

By Richard A. Lee

For years, the question “Why can’t government run like a business?” was a popular refrain from those frustrated by bureaucracy and inefficiencies in the public sector.

But that was before the days of corporate bailouts.

These days, a Wall Street pedigree no longer carries the weight it once did. We’ve all learned that big business doesn’t run as smoothly as we may have thought – and one need not be an MBA to notice the inefficiencies.

Take for example the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Walk to Washington. Every year, a chartered Amtrak train takes some 1,500 people from New Jersey to the nation’s capital for the event, which provides an opportunity to network and attend a dinner with members of the state’s Congressional delegation.

All of that is well and good, but why go to Washington to do it? Those who participate in this annual event leave New Jersey at midday Thursday, spend a few hours on a train and then head to the Marriott Wardman where the evening’s festivities take place. Before noon the next day, they’re back on a train heading home. There’s little time to see or experience much of Washington other than train stations and hotel ballrooms – and you can find plenty of those right here in New Jersey.

Strictly from an efficiency standpoint, it doesn’t make sense. The event costs $560 for chamber members and $660 for non-members. With 1,500 people attending, that’s a total expense of $840,000 -- if they all are Chamber members. And that doesn’t include the price of hotel rooms at the Marriott. If this same group of people got together for networking and dinner someplace in New Jersey, it would cost a whole lot less – and it’s not like they would miss out on seeing the sights in Washington because most of them don’t get to do that anyway.

But wouldn’t they miss their opportunity to network with the New Jersey Congressional delegation? Not really. The truth is, with 1,500 attendees, the dinner is hardly an intimate affair. The odds of catching the ear of a U.S. Senator or Congressional representative for a meaningful discussion are slim.

All things considered, it would make more sense -- both in terms of efficiency and cost -- if the state’s two U.S. Senators and 13 Congressional representatives came to New Jersey -- instead of 1,500 people traveling to Washington. Besides, we’re all thinking green these days. How much energy is used when an Amtrak train filled with 1,500 people makes a round trip from New Jersey to Washington?

Throughout its long history and tradition, the Chamber’s Walk to Washington has had its fair share of critics. Good government groups contend it gives lobbyists an unfair advantage to influence legislators. The party atmosphere and heavy drinking on the train also have come under criticism at times – especially from women who claim that some of those doing the networking literally get too close for comfort.

This year, Governor Christie and his staff are skipping the trip. “We have too much work to do, candidly, to take a couple of days off to go down and schmooze with political folks and business leaders,” the new Governor told reporters.

While no one can question the volume of work confronting the Christie Administration, the seeds of his decision to take a pass on the Chamber trip may have been planted a while ago when the organization took actions that did not sit well with Christie.

In defense of the Chamber, there is an intangible benefit to the Walk to Washington that cannot be quantified. Even in today’s technological world of email and social networking, there is a value in face-to-face contact and the personal relationships it fosters. As Michael Winerip explained in a New York Times column about the changes technology has brought to the workplace, “…the core of my job -- going out and talking in person to strangers about their stories -- has not changed at all, is no easier. I heard the same thing from my brothers-in-law in real estate and office furniture, and from my father-in-law in insurance. They still must travel by car, taxi, subway, plane, and meet the clients to build the bonds that close the sales at the core of their labor.”

With 1,500 people taking part in the Walk to Washington, odds are there will be a few deals that get closed on the train or at the dinner – and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good for business, it’s good for the economy, and it’s good for New Jersey.

But if there is a better and more efficient way to get those deals done, it may be time to think about doing things differently.

# # #

Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey. A former journalist and former 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.

Alabama Leads Nation in Sentencing Black Kids to Life Imprisonment

A national study found that more prisoners today are serving life sentences across the country than ever before. Alabama ranks among the top three states for number of life sentences imposed and is the national leader in racially disproportionate sentencing of children to life in prison.

Nationwide, 140,610 out of 2.3 million inmates being held in jails and prisons are serving sentences of life imprisonment with or without parole. The study, conducted by the Sentencing Project, noted that number is up from 34,000 life sentences in 1984.

Alabama ranks third in the country in the percentage of inmates it locks up for life with or without parole: 17.3 percent of the state prison population is serving life. Alabama has the nation's fifth largest incarceration rate, and the state's overcrowded, underfunded prison system is under increasing strain.

Two-thirds of prisoners serving life sentences in the United States are Latino or black. Alabama leads the nation with the highest percentage of African American children serving life sentences. More than 84% of children sentenced to life without parole in Alabama are black; the national average is 56%.

Alabama Department of Corrections officials are among those calling for reform of Alabama's sentencing scheme. State Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett told The Birmingham News, “Something must give. If you want to continue to lock folks up at this rate, you're going to have to pay for it. Otherwise you need to look at your sentencing structure." As EJI Director Bryan Stevenson observed, “It costs $15,000 a year to keep a person in prison. And in the case of juveniles, we would be paying that for decades."

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

The U.S. stands alone in the world in condemning thousands of juveniles to life without parole. And race is a huge factor. Will the Supreme Court even consider it?

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 and Graham 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.


"Hip Hop 4 Haiti"

January 26, 2010

Contact: Beautiful SeeAsia

(862) 763-6604

Newark, New Jersey: Beautiful SeeAsia and Jessica "Jayda" Jacques to host "Hip Hop 4 Haiti"- A National Movement & Day of Observance

Date: Saturday, January 30, 2010 3:00PM - 7:30 pm

January 26, 2010 - "Hip Hop 4 Haiti" brainchild Queen YoNasda, granddaughter of the Nation of Islam's Minister Louis Farrakhan along with (32) other cities will host hip hop fundraiser concerts nationwide for victims of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Activist and Concert Coordinator, Beautiful SeeAsia and Jessica "Jayda" Jacques (of Haitian descent), star of NAACP's 2010 Image Award nominated documentary "Brick City", founder of Newark's non-profit organization, Nine Strong Women will host this historical event. But it will be the venue's proud sponsors, Central High School's student body anticipated to raise the hype and enthusiasm behind this benefit concert.

The "Got Love? 4 Haiti" movement came from the alumni of the International Youth Organization (IYO) during a strategy meeting to support earthquake victims in Haiti and their families within the metropolitan area. Because Newark and its surrounding communities have one of the largest proportions of Haitian residents in the nation, organizations such as IYO along with having a Haitian American Board president to inspire the mission, immediately branded a course of action with a title to follow. While SeeAsia was coordinating ideas with her IYO constituents for the "Got Love? 4 Haiti" campaign she ironically received an email from Queen YoNasda to coordinate a "Hip Hop 4 Haiti" concert in Newark, New Jersey. Of course with hip hop having its shares of relevancy invested by the youth, SeeAsia contacted friend and Principal Ras Baraka along with Parent Liaison, Pastor Vincent Rouse both of Central High School to have the student body be the main sponsors of making the event a success on behalf of the Haitian community.

Also, diverse talents on board to assist with making this event a success is Newark's own Do-It-All Dupree (Lords of the Underground), KRS One's "Temple of Hip Hop" artists, producer & emcee R-kitech, poet Lamar Hill, Divine Allah of the New Black Panther Party and the Maroon Society, Stop Shootin', FP YouthOutcry, Jael Divine, Infinite Mind Allah, S.U.N., poet Peter Rainmaker and the IYO Poet All-Stars, Sanajah "Star" Simms, break dancing, graffiti artists, DJ sets and more headliners expected to confirm.

The centerpiece of the day will be the "Solidarity & Bridging Ceremony" hosted by Fugees Refugee All-Star member and Haitian American, Sam Jean who will do a brief presentation on Haitian history and a moment of solidarity between Haitian and African American students known for its decades of rivalry in local high schools.

The Hip Hop 4 Haiti concert will be streamed live on its website via and by one of the media sponsors Jah Jah Shakur's, Shades Media, and Ronella "Realism" Hargrave's Blackosity Magazine, The Brick City documentary team who are all supporters of Haiti's relief efforts.

Other non-profit organizations and supporters such as Saving Our Selves (S.O.S.) Omar Sharif Foundation (Cut Creaters), Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, Newark Public Schools, Temple of Hip Hop, Stop the Violence, Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, Da Youth, Street Warriors, Black Cops Against Police Brutality, NJ for Haiti and more.

Hip Hop 4 Haiti is a national fundraising event throughout the hip hop community for Haitians affected by the earthquake. Got Love? 4 Haiti of IYO is a catalyst for solidarity and the forging of relationships between all mankind to step up together with the ongoing relief efforts for Haiti. Hip hop has been the voice of the underground railroad since its inception and will be used in this instance by its stakeholders (the youth) to rebuild a community that has been ravaged by a magnitude of loss.

The International Youth Organization's CEO, Carolyn Wallace was nominated by Governor Ritchie as one of the five "New Jersey's Heroes" out of hundreds of nominations during his January 19, 2010 inauguration. Newark's Mayor, Corey Booker nominated Mrs. Wallace as one of the 2010 "Mentoring Champions" during a mentoring month celebration at City Hall. It is clear that she is the extension of her late husband, James Wallace who founded the organization back in 1970. Over the last forty-years the agency has crafted a community of outcasted youth into leaders of politics, civil service industries, educational institutions and so on. Therefore with staff support and volunteers the agency will manifest its name of being an "international" service to the community by standing for the righteous efforts to support Haiti.

All proceeds will go directly to local Haitian families affected by the earthquake via IYO's Got Love? 4 Haiti Fund. The event is open to the public and will be held at Central High School from 3:00PM - 7:30PM in Newark with a suggested $10 minimum donation, however in today's economy people can bring a donation they can afford.

Hip hop has never failed with raising the consciousness of the people but with this being a relief effort that requires an immediate response it is anticipated that this day can actually raise dollars for the families in a community who need our support.

The official performance list will be announced at Thursday's press conference held at the International Youth Organization, Thursday, January 28, 2010, 1:00PM. Please contact Denise Toney or (973) 621-1100, ext. 252 to be a part of this impacting event.

Also for additional corporate, foundation, individual donations and/or sponsorship please contact Denise Toney. All donations are tax-deductible. All media inquiries or additional questions contact Beautiful SeeAsia or (862) 763-6604. National Hip Hop 4 Haiti Coordinator, Queen Yonasda Lonewolf can be reached at (602) 487-4885 or All national event details can be checked at

City could have 8,500 fewer teachers next year, Bloomberg says

by Anna Phillips

Claiming that Governor Paterson’s budget plan would put an undue burden on New York City, Mayor Bloomberg said the state’s proposed cut to city schools would mean 8,500 fewer teachers next year.

The cut to schools — Bloomberg put it at $500 million while the state says it’s $418 million — likely means that principals will have a hard time finding funds to replace teachers who leave the system or retire and may have to lay off others. Those who do find replacements will likely have to woo teachers from other schools who are already on the city’s payroll, leading to a complicated reshuffling.

Bloomberg is also unhappy with Paterson’s decision to shift $51 million, the cost of summer special education classes, from the state’s budget to the city’s.

“But let’s be clear — our schools are under Federal mandate to provide these services, no ifs, ands, or buts. So this is not a cut in spending; it’s a cost shift, pure and simple. And it ought to be understood as an unfunded mandate,” he said in his testimony.

Just about the only item in the governor’s budget plan that pleased the mayor was a provision that would reduce the city’s borrowing costs for school construction.

Bloomberg also laid out his administration’s legislative goals for the city schools:

“The prospect of layoffs in our schools also adds urgency to our proposed reform of the ‘last in, first out’ teacher layoff policy. Clearly the only thing worse than having to lay off teachers would be laying off great teachers instead of failing ones.

“So we need you to empower us to objectively and transparently evaluate teachers, and then make personnel decisions based on what that tells us about what matters most: success in the classroom. We also need reform of the absurdly difficult, expensive, and lengthy process of firing incompetent teachers.

“And let’s also lift the State’s cap on charter schools. The success of charter schools is indisputable; charter school students continue to consistently outpace their age-mates on the State’s standardized math and reading proficiency tests.

Why Obama Is Making A Mistake Of Herbert Hoover Proportions And Will Be A One-Term President

Every instinct the President has honed, every voice he hears in Washington, every inclination of our political culture urges incrementalism, urges deliberation, and an abundance of caution, particularly in regard to our “unsustainable government spending.” And for all of his apparent newfound populist vigour, it now appears that the President is about to heed these voices of caution. The moves against the banks, coupled with yesterday’s announcement of a spending freeze and previously voiced support for a bipartisan commission on the deficit, all point to Clinton-style triangulation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama intends to propose a three-year freeze in spending that accounts for one-sixth of the federal budget. The move is designed “to attack the $1.4 trillion deficit” and would “propose limits on discretionary spending unrelated to the military, veterans, homeland security and international affairs, according to senior administration officials. Also untouched are big entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.”

As with so much else with this president, the effect, then, is likely to be cosmetic, but it sends out an awful statement about Obama’s increasingly “Hoover-esque” governing philosophy, and the future likely direction of fiscal policy. The cuts will apparently be supplemented with some “middle class friendly” proposals to be introduced in the State of the Union Address. But the words of the Who’s Pete Townsend spring to mind from the song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”:

“Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.”

Any kind of spending cuts in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression is insane. What we are beginning to see is the return of Herbert Hoover and the “liquidationists.”

As my friend Mike Norman reminded me, Obama opposed the idea of a spending freeze during the campaign, when it was proposed by McCain. McCain lost the presidency. Now Obama supports it???

What’s next? Raising taxes as the Japanese did in the middle of their recession in the mid-1990s?

Those who rant about the runaway size of government in the US should just go to the BEA statistics page. Bill Mitchell points out that government spending as a percentage of real GDP has actually DECLINED over the past year: “In March 2003 it was 9.4 per cent (and it wasn’t much less than about 10 years earlier as well). It peaked at 12.4 per cent in September 2008 at the height of the crisis when investment was heading south and consumption was still in decline. A year later it was at 11.4 per cent.”

It’s certainly not the image of an out of control, wildly spending, “socialist” government.

If Barack Obama continues to listen to the siren songs of the deficit terrorists, he will almost certainly be a one-term president.

Report Gives Government Failing Grade for Preparing for WMD Attack

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Ex-CIA Spy Retracts Statement About Waterboarding

WASHINGTON – There’s no shortage of B.S. in this town.

Enter John Kiriakou, the former CIA operative.

Reporter Jeff Stein has penned an article in Foreign Policy magazine saying that Kiriakou’s claim that waterboarding quickly unloosed the tongues of hard-core terrorists was simply misleading.

Stein writes that “Kiriakou, a 15-year veteran of the agency’s intelligence analysis and operations directorates, electrified the hand-wringing national debate over torture in December 2007 when he told ABC’s Brian Ross and Richard Esposito in a much ballyhooed, exclusive interview that senior al Qaeda commando Abu Zubaydah cracked after only one application of the face cloth and water.”

But Stein writes: ” Now comes John Kiriakou, again, with a wholly different story. On the next-to-last page of a new memoir, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror (written with Michael Ruby), Kiriakou now rather off handedly admits that he basically made it all up.”


“What I told Brian Ross in late 2007 was wrong on a couple counts,” he writes, according to Stein. “I suggested that Abu Zubaydah had lasted only thirty or thirty-five seconds during his waterboarding before he begged his interrogators to stop; after that, I said he opened up and gave the agency actionable intelligence.”

But never mind, he says now.

“I wasn’t there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I’d heard and read inside the agency at the time,” he said, according to Stein.

In a word, it was hearsay, water-cooler talk, Stein says.

“Now we know,” Kiriakou goes on, according to Stein “that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied.”

Body found on farm, “most likely” that of Morgan Harrington

Skeletal remains found on a Virginia farm may be that of Morgan Harrington, but an official identification has not yet been made.

Harrington’s mother Gil spoke to a local CBS affiliate, saying the remains are “probably” her daughters, and Harrington’s parents were on the scene to assist in identifying the body:

“We don’t think it’s been proved definitively yet, but it’s most likely,” she said. “So, we want to go and be on hand and see if that determination can be made. Or if we can help in making that determination.”

Gil Harrington said she wanted to thank people for all their prayers and the efforts to find Morgan.

“I was hoping we would find her alive, but at least we won’t always be wondering for a lifetime,” she said.

David Bass, owner of Anchorage Farm where the body was located, told press he was checking fences in a cow pasture when he discovered the remains. He initially believed the body to be that of a deer, but contacted police when he realized that it may have belonged to a human.

Morgan Harrington was last seen between 8:30 and 9PM on October 27th, 2009. Harrington attended a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia, but was denied re-entry after leaving during the show. She has not been seen since.

Update: Police say they are “fairly confident” the body is Harrington’s, and the farmer says his first thought upon discovering the body was that the remains belonged to the missing student.

Indonesian Group Wants Obama Statue Torn Down

Indonesians, who welcomed Barack Obama as one of their own two years ago, now want a statue commemorating his Jakarta school years to be removed, a sign the U.S. president's global appeal may be waning.


Indonesian authorities said Monday they are considering a petition to tear down a statue of US President Barack Obama as a boy, only a month after the bronze was unveiled in Jakarta.

The statue of “Little Barry” — as Obama was known when he lived in the capital in the late 1960s — stands in central Jakarta’s Menteng Park, a short walk from the US president’s former elementary school.

Critics say the site should have been used to honour an Indonesian and 55,000 people have joined a page on social networking website Facebook calling for the statue to be removed.

“We’ve been discussing for the past two weeks what to do with the statue… whether to take it down, move it elsewhere or retain it. We’re finding the best solution,” Jakarta parks agency official Dwi Bintarto said.
The statue of Obama as a 10-year-old was installed in Menteng park in central Jakarta in December 2009 to mark the four years he attended a local primary school there while living in Jakarta.

A month later, a campaign to pull down the statue has gathered momentum in the world's most populous Muslim nation which not so long ago embraced Obama almost as a native son.

By Wednesday, a Facebook group called Take Down the Barack Obama Statue in Menteng Park had attracted over 55,500 members and local newspaper the Jakarta Post this week reported the group had filed a lawsuit to have the statue removed.

"Barack Obama has not yet made any important contribution to Indonesia and, if we may say, Obama has only ever eaten and defecated in Menteng," the Facebook group's page said.

NY Fed Counsel Davis Polk Should Tune In To Hearing Tomorrow

BY Erin Geiger Smith
Tomorrow is the big day: Tim Geithner and New York Fed general counsel Thomas Baxter are testifying to a house committee about the AIG bailout.

We're guessing AIG's outside counsel, Davis Polk, will be tuning in. As the hearing draws near, more and more emails are being discussed relating to the NY Fed's desire to keep certain aspects of the AIG bailout quiet. And that strategy, or at least the analysis of it, ran directly through Davis Polk.

Forbes: Federal Reserve Bank of New York officials scrambled to do damage control in the days after their $180 billion rescue ofAmerican International Group in September 2008, including an effort to control information by asking AIG to run significant outside communications through the Fed's outside counsel.

The damage control effort is revealed in e-mail between an in-house New York Fed lawyer, its outside counsel, a partner in charge of the restructuring practice at Davis Polk Wardwell, and other New York Fed and Treasury officials.

Insinuations are flying that the NY Fed under-represented the influence it was exerting over what should and should not be disclosed, though no one has suggested that Davis Polk did anything wrong. So far this seems to be a case of what should have been disclosed, rather than questions of actual illegality.

That does not mean, of course, that emails discussing secretive document deliveries to the SEC so nothing will "get in the wrong hands" (that one authored by former Davis Polk lawyer, and new Mayer Brown partner Diego Rotsztain) are fun to see in print.

Law firms do not like seeing their names in lights, or at least not in on the front page of papers accusing them of helping to hide information from the tax-paying public. But law firms in the news have been a by product of the financial crisis -- over and over we read about law firms getting caught representing their clients.