Saturday, February 27, 2010

Report: Michael Jordan Buys Charlotte Bobcats

Michael Jordan is upping his presence in his home state of North Carolina by reportedly purchasing full ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats.

His Airness has previously been a part-owner of the Bobcats since 2006, and ran the personnel for the team. BET founder Robert Johnson is selling the team to Jordan in a deal for which not all details have been made public.

AP reports say that Jordan will control 100 percent of the team, which puts the longtime financial loser entirely on his shoulders. Jordan has been criticized for not being a more visible part of the team at times.

The Bobcats are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and are battling for a playoff spot.

Anderson, Oklahoma State topple No. 1 Kansas 85-77

STILLWATER, Okla. — James Anderson scored 27 points, Keiton Page was perfect on four 3-point tries at crucial times and Oklahoma State denied a bid by No. 1 Kansas to go undefeated through Big 12 play with an 85-77 victory on Saturday.

The Jayhawks (27-2, 13-1) had won their last 13 games since losing at Tennessee to close nonconference play and suffered their second loss of the season just hours after No. 2 Kentucky also lost to the Volunteers.

The last time the top two teams lost on the same day was Jan. 21, 2006, when No. 1 Duke lost to Georgetown and No. 2 Florida lost to Tennessee. Both of those teams were 17-0 at the time.

Students stormed the court after Oklahoma State (20-8, 8-6) moved to 3-1 against top-ranked teams all-time at home and likely removed any doubt of whether it would make the NCAA tournament for a second straight season. Despite entering the game in seventh place in the Big 12, the Cowboys had an RPI of 33.

It was OSU's first win against a No. 1 team since beating Oklahoma on Feb. 4, 1989, and the landmark victory came in the same season the program got its first road win over a top 10 team in 52 years.

Sherron Collins had 22 points to lead Kansas, which allowed Oklahoma State to shoot 60 percent from the field and make 10 of 19 from 3-point range. Freshman Xavier Henry added 17 points and Cole Aldrich scored 11 but had little impact on the boards with only five rebounds.

The Cowboys used strong 3-point shooting to build a 19-point lead late in the first half and then held off a late charge by Kansas fueled by its full-court press. The Jayhawks closed within 80-74 on Henry's 3-pointer with 1:08 remaining but Anderson hit three of four free throws on the Cowboys' next two possessions and swatted Tyshawn Taylor's shot in between.

The only thing that stopped the celebration after that was a malfunction that stopped the clock as it ran down — fittingly with all ones at 11.1.

Matt Pilgrim had 18 points after missing OSU's last game due to a suspension, Obi Muonelo scored 17 and Page was 4-for-4 from 3-point range on his way to 15 points. Oklahoma State was 32-for-53 from the field and became only the second of Kansas' past 103 opponents to shoot over 50 percent.

Page hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to keep the Jayhawks at bay after they had closed within 63-50 as Anderson rested on the bench midway through the second half. That proved to be a big enough margin for the Cowboys to protect despite difficulties against pressure down the stretch.

OSU beat Kansas for the fourth time in six games at Gallagher-Iba Arena, including its last visit in 2008. That proved to be the Jayhawks' last loss on their way to the national championship.

Kansas hadn't trailed by more than 11 all season and led from start to finish in each of its previous two games.

The Cowboys capitalized on a brief, 42-second period when Kansas put both Collins and Aldrich on the bench to create an early spark. Anderson and Page hit back-to-back 3-pointers before Bill Self called timeout and put Collins back in, but OSU was already on its way to a 16-2 run. Pilgrim's jumper put Oklahoma State up 23-12, and the Cowboys wouldn't trail again.

Kansas scored the next five points before a lengthy replay determined Marcus Morris wasn't behind the arc for what had been ruled a 3-pointer, and Anderson and Page hit consecutive 3s again — with Aldrich and Collins on the bench again — to put the Cowboys up by 12.

Anderson curled into the lane for a layup and then hit a 3-pointer to make it 36-20, causing Self to call on seldom-used reserve Jeff Withey to find a spark. The Cowboys added to their lead, though, with Anderson making a baseline jumper and then setting up Marshall Moses for a left-handed dunk that made it 45-26 with 1:02 left before halftime.

Collins made a 3-pointer to get the Jayhawks within 16 at intermission but OSU restored its lead early in the second half.

Buffett: Execs should pay price for risky bets

OMAHA, Neb. — Billionaire Warren Buffett, in his annual letter to shareholders, sternly urged companies to develop harsh penalties for executives who get into trouble with risky investments.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. delivered a 61 percent jump in net income because the value of its investments and derivatives rose sharply in 2009 after taking a beating the year before. But its businesses' exposure to housing construction helped keep it from outperforming the S&P 500 for the first time since 2004.

Buffett used most of his letter, released Saturday, to reiterate the business basics that have made his company a juggernaut. But it did include a section about how corporations should manage risk. Buffett said CEOs and the boards that hired them should pay a steep price if their companies get into trouble with risky investments.

Buffett lamented that shareholders, not CEOs and directors, have borne most of the burden of company failures during the economic crisis.

"In my view a board of directors of a huge financial institution is derelict if it does not insist that its CEO bear full responsibility for risk control," Buffett wrote. "If he's incapable of handling that job, he should look for other employment. And if he fails at it — with the government thereupon required to step in with funds or guarantees — the financial consequences for him and his board should be severe."

Buffett told his shareholders he takes responsibility for the risks Berkshire takes. He also has 98 percent of his net worth tied up in Berkshire stock, so he takes a personal hit if the company has trouble.

Berkshire's derivative contracts helped deliver a largely unrealized $787 million gain in investments in 2009 after a $7.5 billion loss recorded in 2008.

Most of Berkshire's derivatives operate similar to insurance policies. Some of them cover whether certain stock market indexes will be lower 15 or 20 years in the future. Others cover credit losses at groups of 100 companies, and some cover credit risks of individual companies.

That investment gain helped Berkshire post net income of $8.055 billion, or $5,193 per Class A share, for 2009. That's up 61 percent from last year's $4.994 billion, or $3,224 per share, and better than analysts expected.

Revenue rose 4.4 percent to $112.5 billion in 2009.

But Buffett also acknowledged mistakes in the past year, including letting debt and losses at fractional jet ownership unit NetJets grow for too long, and suggesting a credit card through the Geico insurance unit that turned into a fiasco that had to be sold for a $50 million pretax loss.

Buffett devoted much of his letter to educating new shareholders about the company. Berkshire added about 65,000 shareholders in February as part of its $26.7 billion acquisition of railroad operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. So those new investors may not be familiar with Buffett's hands-off approach to managing its roughly 80 subsidiaries.

Berkshire's holdings include clothing, furniture and jewelry businesses, but its insurance and utility businesses typically account for more than half of the company's revenue. It also has major investments in companies such as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

Analyst Justin Fuller said over the last two years Buffett appears to be using his annual letter to talk mostly about Berkshire while using interviews and media commentaries to weigh in on other issues.

"They've really transitioned away from using the letter to pontificate on things," said Fuller, who writes online at http://www.buffettologist.com.

Much of the reason for the increase in profit in 2009 had to do with the value of Berkshire's investments and derivative contracts, some of which are worth more when certain stock indexes are up. While Berkshire's annual profit exceeded what analysts expected, the company fell short of the growth posted by the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which is Buffett's preferred measure of performance.

Buffett said Berkshire's book value — assets minus liabilities — grew 19.8 percent to $84,487 in 2009. The S&P 500, which Berkshire recently joined, gained 26.5 percent last year when dividends are factored in.

Three analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated that Berkshire's book value per share at the end of 2009 would be $83,391.44. They had expected full-year earnings per share of $4,712.47.

Buffett said he would love to add to Berkshire's collection of companies that deliver high returns without much new investment, like See's Candies, but the railroad and utility acquisitions made sense because they offer good uses for Berkshire's cash.

"If our expectations are met — and we believe that they will be — Berkshire's ever-growing collection of good to great businesses should produce above-average, though certainly not spectacular, returns in the decades ahead," Buffett said.

Berkshire's utility division, which includes MidAmerican and PacifiCorp, added $1.07 billion net income during 2009, down from $1.7 billion in 2008 because the recession led to lower demand for electricity. Burlington Northern's results will be added to the utility unit in future quarters.

Berkshire's manufacturing, retail and service businesses suffered because of the recession last year, and many of those businesses, such as Acme Brick and Shaw Carpet, are tied to construction. That business unit contributed $1.1 billion net income to Berkshire in 2009, less than half the $2.3 billion profit it generated the previous year.

That division includes NetJets, which lost $711 million in 2009. Buffett said he failed shareholders by letting the problems at NetJets continue so long, but now he's been bailed out by MidAmerican Chairman David Sokol, who took over NetJets.

Buffett said Sokol has made NetJets solidly profitable, partly by laying off 500 pilots and delaying an expansion of NetJets' Columbus, Ohio, headquarters.

Andy Kilpatrick, the stockbroker-author of "Of Permanent Value, the Story of Warren Buffett," said he thinks Berkshire's businesses are primed to rebound.

"If the economy turns a little bit, he's going to be a huge beneficiary," Kilpatrick said.

Berkshire finished the year with $30.6 billion in cash on hand, although it has since used about $8 billion of that to acquire Burlington Northern. The company's cash is down 31 percent from the $44.3 billion it held at the end of 2008 because it made a number of investments.

"It's been an ideal period for investors: a climate of fear is their best friend," Buffett wrote.

Arrested Terrorist Leader Exposes Extensive CIA Connections

(SteveWatson) – The leader of a Pakistan based terrorist organisation closely affiliated with Al Qaeda has detailed how his group benefited from extensive political and financial support from the CIA in return for continued attacks against the government, the people and the infrastructure of Iran.

Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of the Pakistan-based Jundullah terrorist organization was captured earlier this week by Iranian security officials in the south of the country.

Rigi was tracked by Iranian intelligence when he boarded a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday.

According to officials, Rigi was using a forged Afghan passport which was issued to him by the U.S. government.

The 31-year-old terror leader issued a statement on Iranian state TV yesterday, during which he alleged that he had made a pact with the U.S. for safe haven and unlimited military aid to pursue terrorist activities against the Iranian government.

“They said they would cooperate with us and will give me military equipment, arms and machine guns. They also promised to give us a base along the border with Afghanistan next to Iran,” Rigi said.

“They [were] prepared to give [us] training and/or any assistance that [we] would require, in terms of telecommunications security and procedures as well as other support, the Americans said they would be willing to provide it at an extensive level,” he added.

Rigi indicated that the relationship with U.S. intelligence continued through the election of Barack Obama and up to the present day.

Iranian officials paraded Rigi before the press and presented a photo they claim showed the terrorist leader entering a U.S. base in Afghanistan one day before his arrest.

The Pentagon has strenuously denied having any links to the Jundullah, describing the revelations as “fabrications” and “propaganda” concocted by Iranian officials.

Iran’s intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi also alleged that Rigi had met the then Nato secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, in Afghanistan in 2008, and had visited European countries.

Moslehi said agents had tracked Rigi’s movements for five months, calling his arrest “a great defeat for the US and UK”.

Iran has repeatedly claimed that Jundullah, which has carried out scores of bombings against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, killing hundreds of civilians in the process, is backed directly by Pakistan, Britain and Israel, as well as America.

So why should we give any credence to a captured terrorist who has undergone hours of interrogation from Iranian officials?

Because his confession backs up already substantial evidence that the the Jundullah group, in addition to other anti-Iranian terrorist groups, have enjoyed fruitful relationships with western intelligence.

US woman gets prison for gang-rape lie that put man behind bars for crime he didn't commit


'NEW YORK - A woman who fabricated a gang rape accusation was sentenced Tuesday to up to three years behind bars herself, saying she was riven with remorse for sending an innocent man to prison.

Biurny Peguero, 27, pleaded guilty in December to perjury, admitting she made up the September 2005 incident that unjustly put construction worker William McCaffrey in jail and prison for nearly four years. A judge overturned his rape conviction in December, with new DNA evidence also playing a role.
...
McCaffrey, now 32, said she had agreed to go with them to a party. He said they dropped her off unharmed after she changed her mind.
...
Prosecutors have said she told them she claimed she was raped to make her friends feel sorry for her. Assistant District Attorney Evan Krutoy suggested Tuesday that she may have lied out of anger at a man who had upset - but not attacked - her.

"I don't know the reason why, but she wanted to do this," he said, urging a two-to six-year sentence.'

Former All-Star Alvin Robertson wanted on charges in Texas

The last time you probably heard Alvin Robertson’s name, Chris Paul was breaking his NBA record for most consecutive games with a steal last season. This isn’t the way to get back in the news. From USA Today:

Former NBA All-Star Alvin Robertson is a wanted man.

The former San Antonio Spurs star, who spent 10 seasons in the NBA, has been charged with sexual assault of a child, trafficking an underage child for purposes of sex and forcing a sexual performance by a child.

Authorities allege that the 47-year-old was part of a ring that kidnapped a 14-year-old girl from San Antonio, forced her to have sex with clients and to dance in a Corpus Christi, Texas, strip club last year.

The girl escaped one of her alleged captors and waved down a police cruiser, prompting the investigation.

In all, seven people have been charged, including Robertson’s girlfriend. All have been arrested except for Robertson, who authorities are still looking for.

Robertson was a four-time All-Star and five-time All-Defensive Team member during his run with the Spurs and Bucks, winning Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player in ‘86. He also played with the Pistons and Raptors. Three times he led the NBA in steals, and averaged 14 points, 5.2 assists and 2.7 steals for his career. Robertson ranks 9th all-time in total steals and first all-time in steals per game.

Back in 1990, while he was still in the League, Robertson spend a month in jail stemming from charges of assaulting his wife. In 1997, he was again sentenced to prison time for domestic abuse, and was also arrested in ‘07 on similar charges. His son, Tyrell Johnson, plays safety for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.

Grammy-winning singer Anita Baker reaches deal in music royalty dispute, avoids jail

Singer Anita Baker avoids jail in royalty dispute

DETROIT — Anita Baker and her attorneys have worked out an agreement that will help determine how much the Grammy-winning singer’s ex-husband is owed in music royalties as part of a divorce settlement.

Baker was ordered to a Detroit court Friday after the 52-year-old R&B singer missed a deadline Wednesday to sign related documents and declined again to sign them Thursday. The judge threatened to jail Baker if she didn’t sign the papers.

The documents empower a court-appointed expert to seek information from the record companies on how much Walter Bridgforth is owed.

After going behind closed doors, Baker and lawyers from both sides emerged Friday afternoon to inform Wayne County Chief Family Court Judge Lita Masini Popke that they had reached a deal.

BREAKING NEWS: Tacoma teacher shot, killed at elementary school

KOMO 4 News is reporting that a Birney Elementary School teacher in Tacoma, Wash. has been shot and killed in what appears to be a domestic-violence-related incident.

The teacher, a woman whose name has not been released, was killed before students began arriving for school.

According to the news reports, the gunman was pursued by Pierce County Sheriff's deputies who tracked him down and then shot and killed him.

Pierce County has seen more than its share of violent deaths at the hands of gun-toting murderers in the past few months. Four Lakewood police officers were shot to death at a coffee shop in late November. Maurice Clemmons, the assailant in that case, was himself shot to death by a Seattle police officer two days after that incident.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Should Politicians Send Their Kids to Public Schools?


At a press conference at the White House on Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke about President Barack Obama and his mission to transform public education around the country. I couldn't help but wonder, If their own children went to D.C. public schools, wouldn't that be a transformative experience in itself?
Obama's children attended private schools in Chicago (University of Chicago Lab School) and are attending private school (Sidwell Friends Lower School) in Washington.

Only 44 percent of Senators and 36 percent of Representatives send their children to public schools. Arne Duncan's children do attend public schools, albeit in Arlington, Virginia.

We haven't had a sitting president with children attend public school since Jimmy Carter's daughter, Amy, attended Stevens Elementary and Hardy Middle School in Washington, D.C., before going to Holton-Arms, a private school in Bethesda. At the public school, Amy wasn't allowed outside for recess, because the school's playground was too near the street. She also had trouble making friends because of security around her all of the time.

Her being there, though, sent a powerful message to other students around the city. I was in public school at the time, and we were proud that the president's daughter went to a school like ours. It also lent credibility to Carter's mission to improve public schools-he was struggling with the system like every other parent.

Of course, choosing a school is a parent's decision often made based on the individual personality and challenges of their particular children. But for students in elementary school, socialization is a large part of the learning process. I feel blessed that at that age I was able to go to school with children from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and races. Do you think that politicians should walk the talk and send their children to public school?

By Ericka Blount Danois

Incredulous But True: 80-Year-Old Woman Sentenced to Prison for Burglary


Emagine an 80-year old woman ransacking and stealing cash from a major medical office in Torrance, Calif., with an extensive rap sheet stemming all the way back from 1955.

Sounds incredulous, right? Not.

Meet 80-year-old Doris Thompson, a tiny, feeble old woman with a hearing impairment. From the outside, Thompson seems harmless, but boy, looks can be deceiving.


On Wednesday, February 25th, Thompson was sentenced to three years in prison for burglarizing a Southern California medical office in Torrance, Calif.

Oh, and it gets crazier, Thompson had a widespread history of theft and has used 27 aliases in her lifetime. In addition, the elderly woman has even been arrested countless times during the past 55 years for burglary and petty theft.

During her hearing, the medical employees of the Southern California medical office described Thompson as being "sly and quiet," and stated that she must staged her robbery by slipping inside the medical office as a male employee worked and hid out until he left.

With her hair styled in pig tails and white bows, Thompson pleaded "guilty" and thanked the judge for not sending her to Los Angeles county jail, saying, "I don't think I'll ever come back-except I'm going to die and be in a morgue."

Knowing that she could have spent 12 years in prison for her recent break in, Thompson quickly accepted a plea bargain and showed the judge her gratitude for her shortened sentence by saying, "God Bless You."

Thompson was ordered to pay $1,400 in restitution for her crime and will be eligible for parole in 16 months.

Arbitron Promotes the Value of Ethnic Radio

Black Radio Today 2009 and Hispanic Radio Today 2009 Studies now available

COLUMBIA, Md., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Arbitron Inc. (NYSE: ARB) announced today that the Black Radio Today 2009, How America Listens to Radio and Hispanic Radio Today 2009, How America Listens to Radio have released and are available on Arbitron.com. Both of these studies feature Portable People Meter(TM) (PPM(TM)) data information for the first time.

"Ethnic formatted stations reach millions of listeners everyday," said Alton Adams. "These studies show the strength of radio as a media companion to ethnic consumers. Radio's relationship with ethnic listeners has been consistent over time; year over year, more than 90 percent of black and Hispanic listeners tune in to radio for news, culture and sounds of the community."

Black Radio Today 2009, How America Listens to Radio shows:
• For the first time, Urban Contemporary formatted stations had higher weekend ratings in Fall 08 than in weekday afternoons.
• African-American Urban Adult Contemporary listeners spent more time each week with the format (8 hours, 30 minutes) than any other format in the study.
• More than half of Urban Contemporary's 18+ consumers attended or graduated from college, and one in seven had advanced degrees or beyond.
• News/Talk/Information has 2,634 stations and attracts 2.7 million African-American listeners weekly.



Hispanic Radio Today 2009, How America Listens to Radio key findings include:
• #1 English-language format among Hispanics is Rhythmic CHR.
• #1 Spanish-Dominant format is Spanish News/Talk.
• Radio's Reach among Hispanics Remain Strong.
◦ Radio's reach among Hispanic listeners has remained between 94% and 96%, since the beginning of the Hispanic Radio Today series in 2001
• Hispanic weekend ratings have grown in relation to weekday listening



These reports are available on the Radio Today page http://www.arbitron.com/study/grt.asp

Highlights from these and other studies can be found on Twitter. Follow us at ArbitronInc and RadioFunFacts.

About Arbitron

Arbitron Inc. (NYSE: ARB) is a media and marketing research firm serving the media – radio, television, cable, online radio and out-of-home – as well as advertisers and advertising agencies. Arbitron's core businesses are measuring network and local market radio audiences across the United States; surveying the retail, media and product patterns of local market consumers; and providing application software used for analyzing media audience and marketing information data. The company has developed the Portable People Meter(TM), a new technology for media and marketing research.

Portable People Meter(TM) and PPM(TM) are marks of Arbitron Inc.

Strong quake hits southern Japan

A strong earthquake has hit Japan's southern Okinawa island, prompting a tsunami warning for waves of up to two metres in some areas to be issued, but later withdrawn.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said that the 6.9 quake occurred off the coast of the island of Okinawa at a depth of 10km at 5.31am on Saturday (2031 GMT on Friday).

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake had a 7.3 magnitude.


Noritomi Kikuzato, an Okinawa prefectural police official, said there were no reports of injuries or major damage.

Seiboku Sueyoshi, an official in Naha city, southern Okinawa, said: "First there was a strong vertical shake, then sideways. The strong quake lasted for about 10 seconds."


Small waves of around 10cms were recorded in southern areas of Okinawa island, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said, adding that additional minor surges of the sea level may still be seen near the island.

'Big one' feared

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas.

The country accounts for about 20 per cent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

Geologists warn that Japan is overdue for a massive and potentially devastating earthquake.

They point to an 87 per cent chance that the "Big One" - a magnitude-eight earthquake or worse - will strike the greater Tokyo region, home to around 35 million people, within the next 30 years.

The last time a massive earthquake struck Tokyo was in 1923, when the Great Kanto Earthquake claimed more than 140,000 lives, many of them in fires.

In October 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck the Niigata region in northern Japan, killing 65 people and injuring more than 3,000.

That was the deadliest quake since a magnitude 7.3 tremor hit the city of Kobe in 1995, killing more than 6,400.

Gary Coleman Hospitalized After Seizure

Gary Coleman suffered an apparent seizure Friday morning while on the set of CBS' "The Insider" and was rushed to the hospital.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, a fellow panelist on the entertainment news show, assisted Coleman until paramedics arrived.

Coleman, 42, has long suffered from kidney and other health problems. He also was hospitalized after a seizure on Jan. 6

Early Morning Explosions Kill 17 in Afghan Capital

Afghan authorities say attackers struck in central Kabul early Friday, killing at least 17 people and wounding 32 others in a series of explosions and gunfire. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying five suicide bombers were involved. This is the latest assault in Kabul since last month when Taliban insurgents carrying automatic weapons and wearing suicide vests attacked several heavily guarded Afghan government buildings.


Residents in central Kabul say they awoke early Friday to loud explosions and sounds of sporadic gunfire.

Afghan police say the attacks occurred near a major shopping area and two guest houses that are frequented by foreigners.

In the aftermath of the violence, a plume of black smoke hung in the air and shards of glass littered the ground.

General Adbul Ghafar Sayedzada is the head of criminal investigation for the Kabul police.

He tells reporters that he believes the attackers' main target was the Hamid Guesthouse where Indian citizens frequently stay.

He says the first car bomb took place in front of that building. Then several suicide bombers entered the nearby Park Residence guest house and exploded.

One survivor of the attack said he was an Indian embassy employee.

He says it was early in the morning when the gunfire started in the guest house and that he, along with the other residents, locked their doors and stayed hidden in their rooms.

Subod Sanjirpal is an Indian doctor who was wounded in the attack.

"I [was] confined in my bathroom at least three hours when firing [was] going on, first car bomb got exploded, then full roof came on my head," said Subod Sanjirpal.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks and offered his "deep sympathies and condolences" to India.

This is not the first time Indian citizens have been the targets of insurgent attacks.

Late last year, a car bomb exploded outside India's diplomatic compound in Kabul, wounding several people. In mid-2008, a similar bombing left dozens of people dead, including two Indian diplomats.

India contributes substantial aid to Afghanistan, totaling more than $1 billion. Most of that goes to building roads, electrical power plants and providing health care.

Obama social secretary Rogers resigning

WASHINGTON — White House social secretary Desiree Rogers is stepping down three months after an uninvited couple crashed the Obama administration's first state dinner and she was heavily criticized for allowing it to happen.


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama issued a statement thanking their longtime friend from Chicago for "the terrific job she's done" organizing hundreds of events during her little more than a year on the job.

They indicated no reason for the departure, effective sometime next month after a transition period.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Rogers was neither forced out nor asked to leave.

"She's decided it's time to go back to doing things that she loves," Gibbs said Friday.

Rogers' handling of the Nov. 24 state dinner came under fire after a celebrity-seeking northern Virginia couple got into the exclusive South Lawn affair without a formal invitation, despite heavy White House security. As social secretary, Rogers was in charge of the event.

She later acknowledged not having staff from her office at security checkpoints to help identify guests, a departure from the practice in previous administrations. Lawmakers had demanded that she testify about her handling of the event, and one wanted to subpoena her. The White House would not allow her to testify, citing the constitutional separation of powers.

Tall and glamorous, Rogers also was criticized for having a profile higher than the social secretaries before her. She gave interviews, appeared in glossy magazine photo spreads and dressed in high-end designer labels.

Rogers, 50, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday that she was leaving because she had achieved a major goal of the Obamas: turning the White House into the "people's house" by opening it up to many of those who normally do not get to visit.

"My work was really to create this framework. I think I completed that work," she told her hometown paper. "Our office has been able to lay the foundation for what will be known as the 'people's house' and it has already taken shape."

Rogers said she planned to explore opportunities in the corporate world, where she worked before joining the administration. She arrived in Chicago after getting an MBA and has worked at AT&T and a gas and utilities company.

Gibbs said she personally informed the Obamas of her decision.

"When she took this position, we asked Desiree to help make sure that the White House truly is the people's house and she did that by welcoming scores of everyday Americans through its doors, from wounded warriors to local schoolchildren to NASCAR drivers," the president and Mrs. Obama said.

New York's Paterson Won't Seek New Term

New York Governor David Paterson will end his election campaign, according to a Democratic Party official, following published reports that he and state police officers spoke with a woman who had filed domestic abuse charges against one of his aides.

Paterson, 55, the former lieutenant governor who took office after Eliot Spitzer resigned in March 2008, plans to make the announcement later today, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Paterson hasn’t made his decision public. The governor announced his candidacy on Feb. 20 at a rally in Hempstead, New York.

“Let’s see if the decision not to run stops the bleeding,” said Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College in Manhattan. “My sense is that a lot of people in Albany really want to see him out of office.”

The decision to forgo a campaign comes as the state faces a budget deficit of at least $8.2 billion in the next fiscal year. Sinking public approval ratings had provoked a likely September primary challenge from state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whom Paterson asked this week to probe the allegations.

On Feb. 24 the New York Times reported state police officers and Paterson spoke with a former girlfriend of David Johnson, 37, whom the newspaper described as one of Paterson’s closest aides, after she accused Johnson of assault and sought a court-issued protective order against him.

Paterson suspended Johnson without pay, the governor said in a Feb. 24 statement.

Paterson represented New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in the state Senate for 21 years, becoming Democratic senate minority leader in 2002, before Spitzer chose him as his running mate in his successful 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Andrew Koening Found Dead In Stanley Park

The search for Andrew Koenig has come to a tragic end.

After a high-profile, weeklong hunt for the former Growing Pains star, Vancouver police announced Thursday that they believe they have found the body of the 41-year-old in the park where he was last seen alive 11 days ago.

The remains were discovered around noon in the expansive Stanley Park. More details are expected to be announced at a 5 p.m. press conference.

Police launched an exhaustive search for the actor-filmmaker on Sunday, when he was reported missing after failing to board his flight back to the U.S.

Koenig, who had a history of depression, was last seen just two days earlier, on Feb. 14.

His disappearance prompted multiple public and heartfelt pleas from his parents, Walter and Judith Koenig, while numerous famous friends sounded the alarm online.

Zazi Co-Defendants Plead Not Guilty

Two co-defendants of Najibullah Zazi, the 25-year-old who has admitted to planning suicide attacks on the New York City subway, have pled not guilty. Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedazy stand accused alongside Zazi, their former high-school classmate, of travelling to Pakistan in 2008 and learning bomb-making from Al Qaeda. They are also charged with providing material support to Al Qaeda. Zazi pleaded guilty earlier this week and is cooperating with investigators.

Count On A Nosy Government


By Michael Swartz



Since 1790, every 10 years the federal government has come around to count every American in an effort to determine proportional representation. This is dictated by Article I, Section 2 of our Constitution and it's one of the rare instances the Constitution has been rigidly followed throughout our 230-plus year history.



In March, most households will receive a fairly short form intended to provide the information the government needs to determine these Congressional districts. (Others get a longer form which asks a number of questions about living situation, income, and other personal items.) In either case, though, respondents are asked about much more than the number of people living in their dwelling.



Consider the 10-question short form most Americans will receive. While Question 1 seeks the essential information about how many occupy the subject's residence, other questions on the short form ask about home ownership, gender, and race.



More importantly, the government database being created also has name, age, date of birth, and telephone number. While the Census Bureau vows that the information collected will be kept secure, one has to wonder just how private this information will remain in an age of hackers and identity theft. Remember, none of this information is truly necessary to achieve the mandated purpose of determining population numbers for proportional representation.



In truth, the Census facts and figures have grown to meet purposes far beyond the intentions of the Founding Fathers, just as the size and scope of the government they created has. According to the Census Bureau, the status of living arrangements is asked because the answers are, "used to administer housing programs and to inform planning decisions." Similarly, the age and date of birth are used for, "forecasting the number of people eligible for Social Security or Medicare services," and the gender question is asked because, "many federal programs must differentiate between males and females for funding, implementing, and evaluating their programs."



But even the obvious reason for the decennial count has fallen prey to overt discrimination on the part of bureaucrats in Washington, for it's not Question 1 which determines the proper number of representatives to Congress per state, but Question 9.



And what is Question 9? It asks the race of each person in the household, yet, "state governments use the data to determine congressional, state, and local voting districts." So much for the colorblind society those in power claim they wish to create. Instead, these numbers are used to create monolithic voting districts which forever doom minorities to second-class status.



The Census Bureau website claims that the count is necessary because, "(e)ach question helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to communities across the country." Their radio spots talk about the need to respond because otherwise we'd not know if a school grew enough for new classrooms or if a town needed a traffic signal. They conveniently forget, though, that there's other less intrusive measures to come up with the appropriate figures. As always, it becomes a question of following the money.



It's been said many times in several variants that, "a house divided against itself cannot stand." We see the results of pitting groups against one another – a weakening of freedom and an erosion of liberty.



In response, we should call on our leaders to return the Census to the noble purpose for which it was intended and not continue using it as the wedge it's become. While it's not advisable to ignore the Census, we should think twice about just what information we share with Washington.



Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

Obama's Health Summit

The GOP: A Time for Truth



By Robert Romano



In his latest generic ballot question, Rasmussen Reports show Republicans holding a substantial 44 to 35 percent lead over Democrats for the 2010 Congressional elections. In fact, the poll shows that Republicans have led consistently since June 28th, 2009, just two days after the House passed its onerous legislation capping carbon emissions and taxing energy consumption.


That week was marked by an intense call-in and write-in campaign by the American people against the takeover of the energy industry, urged on talk radio hosts such as Mark Levin who called for what he dubbed a "Levin Surge." It worked; the American people practically shut down the Capitol switchboard that week, and the bill only passed by a slim 219 to 212 margin.


The Senate has hardly done anything with the bill, which insiders and even proponents such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) consider to be dead.


It was in this context that the debate over ObamaCare was picking up in earnest, leading to the ill-fated August recess and angry town halls where Congressional Democrats were confronted by their constituents, who intensely opposed the national takeover of health care.


Deadline after deadline was breached as Democrats fought amongst themselves, shut Republicans out of any meaningful negotiations, and finally passed on party-line votes the takeover in November and December in both houses.


And those votes promptly cost Democrats the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia — and then the Massachusetts Senate seat.


It should be noted that the same intensity by the American people pervades to date, and could turn into a true groundswell if Democrats invoke reconciliation — effectively eliminating the filibuster and the two-party system — to ram the bill down the throats of an unwilling American public. In Rasmussen's latest poll on the question, 56 percent remain opposed to the health takeover. And a full 61 percent wish that Congress would simply start over.


Instead, of course, today kicks off Barack Obama's much ballyhooed, six hour health takeover "summit," where once again, Obama will attempt to coerce and cajole Congressional Republican support for his plan. This will fail. It may prove the narrative that Republicans are against his agenda, but nothing more will come out of it.


The American people have good reasons for opposing this takeover. Republicans are certain to point out that it will cost $2.5 trillion from 2014-2023, ration care away from seniors, increase the costs of premiums, decrease quality, and put even more pressure on the nation's debt, which will top 100 percent of GDP as soon as next year.


They are also certain to point out that the "negotiations" are nothing more than a theater of the absurd. If Democrats truly do intend on invoking reconciliation, they do not need any Republican support. Without the filibuster threat, Republicans lack any leverage on this or any other issue facing the nation. Eliminating it create de facto one-party rule. A true tyranny of the tone-deaf majority.


Beyond the meaningless summit, the new generic Congressional poll means that Republicans have some substantial political capital. By merely standing against and slowing down these government takeovers of health care and energy, Republicans have won the support of political Independents and a good swath of the tea party movement.


But, the GOP faces peril after a likely 2010 win, if it fails to outline an aggressive platform meant to cope with the legitimate concerns of the American people. Republicans need to be preparing the American people for the necessary, painful cuts that are to come.


Specifically, Republicans should be presenting a balanced budget, a plan for paying off the gargantuan national debt, reforming entitlements, and implementing permanent tax relief. They need to outline two broad principles that they will oppose: 1) printing money to finance government spending and borrowing; 2) tax increases to pay for government spending and paying down the debt.


They need to make abundantly clear that they will only support balancing the budget by cutting spending. Unfortunately, as the New York Times' Paul Krugman rightly points out, Republicans have yet to comprehensively lay out such an agenda. Noting that the beast is starving, he writes, "It should be time, then, for conservatives to explain which parts of the beast they want to cut."


On the other hand, Krugman is wrong to blame tax cuts of the 1980's and 2000's for the soaring national debt. As reported by the Congressional Budget Office, revenues have soared from $517.1 billion in 1980 to a peak of $2.568 trillion in 2007 in spite of the tax cuts, and chiefly because of the economic growth they produced. In 2009, they sank to a more modest $2.104 trillion in the wake of the recession.


Nonetheless, there is no need to raise taxes to balance the budget when the budget deficit is a projected $1.556 trillion. It is an annual shortfall that will only rise should ObamaCare be enacted, an entitlement expansion that the American people overwhelmingly oppose.


Krugman makes another correct point: "Since [Republicans] are adamantly opposed to reducing the deficit with tax increases, they would have to explain what spending they want to cut." He is right. But, if he believes that is some sort of masterful trap, he is wrong.



The American people do want cuts because they know that they are necessary. They rightly see the sovereign debt crisis spreading from Greece. They see the writing on the wall. They understand that all roads lead to Rome, and that in this case, all those unfulfilled debt obligation dominoes are falling towards Washington.


They want Washington to deal with it before it becomes a crisis that ruins the nation's full faith and credit, saddling the American people with hyperinflation, soaring interest rates, and economic desolation.


Republicans should not shy away from this debate when the winds are at their back. Otherwise, they will make the same mistake Barack Obama made in 2008, when he never outlined in specific detail his takeovers of the health care and energy industry.


Obama never prepared the American people for his Big Government agenda. Republicans, on the other hand, have an opportunity to prepare the American people for their limited government agenda, as ALG News has previously reported. If they do so with courage and specifically address these concerns, they have political support when the painful cuts begin. And they could rightly argue that they campaigned on it.


The alternative is to ride out the political opposition to Obama without addressing the legitimate concerns of the American people. If they choose to do nothing, they will assuredly find their current lead in the Congressional ballot evaporate rather quickly in 2011 and 2012, when they stand for re-election.



The support the American people now give them will come to naught, just as it did in 2006 when the voters turned on a Do-Nothing GOP majority that turned out to be a fraud.



Robert Romano is Senior Editor of ALG News.

'My heart, my choice,' Williams says, defending decision for U.S. heart surgery

Canadian Press

Tara Brautigam

February 23, 2010



An unapologetic Danny Williams says he was aware his trip to the United States for heart surgery earlier this month would spark outcry, but he concluded his personal health trumped any public fallout over the controversial decision.



In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a "minimally invasive" surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.



"This was my heart, my choice and my health," Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota , Fla.



"I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics."



The 60-year-old Williams said doctors detected a heart murmur last spring and told him that one of his heart valves wasn't closing properly, creating a leakage.



He said he was told at the time that the problem was "moderate" and that he should come back for a checkup in six months.



Eight months later, in December, his doctors told him the problem had become severe and urged him to get his valve repaired immediately or risk heart failure, he said.



His doctors in Canada presented him with two options - a full or partial sternotomy, both of which would've required breaking bones, he said.



He said he spoke with and provided his medical information to a leading cardiac surgeon in New Jersey who is also from Newfoundland and Labrador . He advised him to seek treatment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami .



That's where he was treated by Dr. Joseph Lamelas, a cardiac surgeon who has performed more than 8,000 open-heart surgeries.



Williams said Lamelas made an incision under his arm that didn't require any bone breakage.



"I wanted to get in, get out fast, get back to work in a short period of time," the premier said.



Williams said he didn't announce his departure south of the border because he didn't want to create "a media gong show," but added that criticism would've followed him had he chose to have surgery in Canada.



"I would've been criticized if I had stayed in Canada and had been perceived as jumping a line or a wait list. ... I accept that. That's public life," he said.



"(But) this is not a unique phenomenon to me. This is something that happens with lots of families throughout this country, so I make no apologies for that."



Williams said his decision to go to the U.S. did not reflect any lack of faith in his own province's health care system.



"I have the utmost confidence in our own health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador , but we are just over half a million people," he said.



"We do whatever we can to provide the best possible health care that we can in Newfoundland and Labrador . The Canadian health care system has a great reputation, but this is a very specialized piece of surgery that had to be done and I went to somebody who's doing this three or four times a day, five, six days a week."



He quipped that he had "a heart of a 40-year-old, so that gives me 20 years new life," and said he intends to run in the next provincial election in 2011.



"I'm probably going to be around for a long time, hopefully, if God willing," he said.



"God forbid for the Canadian public I won't be around longer than ever."



Williams also said he paid for the treatment, but added he would seek any refunds he would be eligible for in Canada .



"If I'm entitled to any reimbursement from any Canadian health care system or any provincial health care system, then obviously I will apply for that as anybody else would," he said.



"But I wrote out the cheque myself and paid for it myself and to this point, I haven't even looked into the possibility of any reimbursement. I don't know what I'm entitled to, if anything, and if it's nothing, then so be it."



He is expected back at work in early March.

Abusive Harry Reid

Editorial: Televised Circus at 1600 Penn

"Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up! Hurry, hurry! Here's a sight you haven't seen before: bipartisan healthcare negotiations!" That's what President Obama has been trumpeting to the American people for over two weeks now, with his healthcare summit at the historic Blair House now less than 24 hours away.



There's only one minor problem. It is literally impossible for this meeting to resemble or produce anything faintly bipartisan. You know it's true, and so does Obama and every Democrat and Republican member of Congress too.



Let's review the facts and see what went wrong. On Super Bowl Sunday, Barack Obama stated, "I want to come back [after the Presidents Day congressional recess] and have a large meeting — Republicans and Democrats — to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward."



Any American with a modicum of common sense could – and did – deduce from that statement that Obama was proposing a truly bipartisan healthcare discussion, one starting with a "clean-slate" if you will. Meaning, Obama and the Democrats would not show up with a partisan, trillion dollar bill already written. Nor would Democrats come loaded with a controversial plan mapped out utilizing budget reconciliation to pass the partisan bill by a party-line vote (i.e., not bipartisan) under special procedures. But, as you already know, this is precisely what has come to pass.



Obama introduced his own healthcare proposal just three days ago and declared it to be the "starting point" for the summit discussions. The proposal is not an actual bill, mind you, since it's only 11-pages long and does not contain sufficient detail to be scored by CBO. Nevertheless, it bears a striking resemblance to the Senate-passed bill that failed to garner a single Republican vote, and has been referred to as "toxic" by more than one Democrat House member. This is apparently Obama's definition of working with Republicans in a "bipartisan manner."



This fact actually explains the continued erosion of public support for the Democrats current healthcare reform efforts. Rasmussen's latest poll on ObamaCare finds 56 percent of voters opposed to the plan, including a whopping 45 percent who strongly oppose it. Rasmussen also conducted a poll just after the president first announced the summit, and discovered that 61 percent of voters believe Congress should scrap the current plan and start all over again. In the same poll, only 35 percent of voters believe Congress should pass healthcare reform before the November elections.



Republicans, for their part, have been singing with the chorus of the Rasmussen poll daily. Just yesterday, Boehner stated in a release that, "Americans want us to scrap this massive bill and start over with a step-by-step approach focused on lowering costs."



So with Obama on the record in support of true bipartisan healthcare discussions and the polls overwhelmingly in support of the Republican position of starting with a clean slate, why is the summit set up to fail? Unfortunately, largely because Boehner and McConnell failed to initially set any terms for their attendance. Yes, they criticized Obama daily as his plan became increasingly obvious, but by the time the ground rules were set – heavily in favor of the Democrats as expected – it was too late for Republicans to back out while saving face.



They were simply never bold enough to demand as little as one condition – a clean slate as the starting point of discussions – or threaten to boycott the event. Now, the optics and parameters are so lopsided, Republicans even expect to get whipped tomorrow. Consider the following: Obama is making the opening statement, followed by the Republican and Democrat leader, so it's already two-on-one. Obama is the moderator. Obama determined the "discussion points" which include "How will each side ensure universal coverage of the 30 million Americans currently uninsured." This is a false question for Republicans, since they reject the very premise of the question on constitutional and free-market grounds, but it is the key to Democrats strategy. Democrats will castigate Republicans for refusing to attend, or attack their plan as woefully inadequate for failing to meet the "bare minimum" in healthcare reform, according to Obama's own standard.



Hope still remains, since the facts are on the side of the Republicans. While many of the most articulate conservative members have apparently not even been invited – such as Rep. Mike Pence and Rep. Paul Ryan – Boehner and McConnell are well aware of the stakes and are sure to come out swinging. Let's hope they land a few for the American people, deliver ObamaCare a TKO, and send this circus packing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tragic killer whale accident at Shamu Stadium kills SeaWorld employee


by Scott Carmichael


(This is a developing story)

A SeaWorld employee died this afternoon when she was grabbed by one of the whales at the start of a public show.

According to a park guest, the trainer had just finished explaining the show when a killer whale popped up out of the water and grabbed her.

The whale thrashed her around, at which point the sirens went off in the stadium forcing all guests to be evacuated. The trainer was pronounced dead by rescue personnel, but no more information has been released by SeaWorld.

Update: According to a breaking news source on Twitter, the whale in question is Tilikum (Tilly), the world's largest whale in captivity. If correct, this would be the third time Tillikum has killed a human.

Update 2: All shows at Shamu stadium have been canceled for today.

Malcolm X's legacy ignored 45 years after his murder



By Dr. Boyce Watkins

Apparently, Malcolm X does not exist. At least that's what you might think while visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. During our rally for the Heather Ellis case, the young woman who faced 15 years in prison after cutting line at a Wal-Mart, I took a tour of the museum. After completing the hour-long tour, I realized that they'd forgotten something. Even though the museum had hundreds of pictures of other events representing the civil rights struggle in America, I saw only one picture of Malcolm X.

This incredibly disappointing display at the Civil Rights Museum is a reflection of how Malcolm's legacy has been treated like the neglected step-child of the African-American struggle for freedom and equality. Malcolm fought for civil rights just as diligently as Dr. King. He was just as impactful as Dr. King. He gave his life like Dr. King. But for some reason, most of us don't remember Malcolm's birthday. We've never considered having a holiday to commemorate his contribution. He is rarely discussed in the same sentence with Dr. King. We just ignore him and this has got to change.

Read More....

Why Obama should reconcile with Rev. Jesse Jackson



By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Say what you want about Rev. Jesse Jackson, but the value of his legacy cannot be denied. Few have made the sacrifices Jackson has made, and few can match his historical significance when it comes to America's quest for equality and civil rights. Every politician or American citizen who wishes to question the methods by which Jackson achieves his objectives need only compare his record to their own. Most politicians can't say that they nearly died in order to serve their constituencies, but Jesse Jackson can certainly make such a statement.

What is important to understand about the legacy of Rev. Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and others is that most of what we know about these men has been presented through the lens of an American media construct that is conditioned to project negative imagery of black men. Therefore, when Bill Clinton has an affair, he's just another philandering politician. When Jesse Jackson has an affair, he is considered unfit to lead. When Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Harry Reid say racially insensitive things about Obama, it becomes water under the bridge. When Rev. Jackson slips and makes a televised error, some have the audacity to argue that he is no longer relevant. The decision by some to toss out black leadership in exchange for a black president becomes mind boggling in light of the fact that our black president has made it abundantly clear that he has almost no interest in pursuing targeted advocacy for the African-American community.

Read More...

Sharpton-Smiley fight reveals rift in black leadership over Obama


By Dr. Boyce Watkins

I sat at my desk, as frozen as a block of ice, listening to one of the most heated conversations I've ever heard on the radio. Tavis Smiley and Rev. Al Sharpton were mad, and you could hear it in their voices. This wasn't "radio mad," where you pretend to fight in order to get ratings. It was "I'm coming to your mama's house to get you" mad, the kind of anger that normally doesn't spill over to the American public.
The contentious dialogue was rooted in Smiley's recent attack on Rev. Sharpton for a New York Times article in which Sharpton was quoted as saying that he feels the president is wise not to "ballyhoo" a black agenda. In a platform granted to him by The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Tavis put Rev. Sharpton, NAACP President Ben Jealous, Urban League President Marc Morial, Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree and even Dorothy Height on "super blast," arguing that these individuals have not shown sufficient evidence that they care about the interests of the African-American community.
Bad move Tavis. Very bad.

Read More...

Pakistan to hand over Mullah Baradar to Afghanistan


Pakistan will hand over detained top Taliban commander Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar to the Afghan government, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Wednesday.

Malik, his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Hanif Atmar and U.S. FBI chief Robert Miller held a joint meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Briefing media after the meeting, Malik said that it was decided to hand over the arrested Taliban second-in-command to Afghan authorities.

He said biometric system would be installed on the Pakistan- Afghanistan border within two months.

U.S. authorities has asked Pakistan to transfer Baradar and other wanted terrorists to America but Pakistan said they will be extradited to the country of their origin if they have not violated Pakistani law.

Last week Pakistan and the White House confirmed that Mullah Baradar was captured in southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, hailed as big success in U.S.-Pakistani cooperation in counter- terrorism.

Meet The Real Victim Of Last Week's Terror Attack On IRS Building - Vietnam Vet, Vernon Hunter



By Logan Murphy
Last week, Joseph Stack set his house on fire, drove to the airport, jumped in his plane and flew it into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. This deliberate, cowardly act of domestic terrorism resulted in injuring thirteen IRS workers and left one man dead -- a veteran of the Vietnam War:

When Ken Hunter first heard about a plane crashing into his father's office building in Austin, he said he hoped his dad, Vernon Hunter, wasn't there.

After several attempts to reach his father, a 67-year-old IRS worker, he discovered his dad was missing.

In the hours that followed, Ken said he heard lots of talk about the pilot's motivations and felt compelled to speak out on his father's behalf.

"There was just too much going on about what the guy did and what he believed in, and enough's enough," he said. "They don't need to talk about him. Talk about my dad. You know, some people are trying to make this guy out to be a hero, a patriot. My dad served two terms in Vietnam. This guy never served at all. My dad wasn't responsible for his tax problems." Read on...

Stack's political views can be debated, but he wasn't the real victim here. He committed an act of terrorism that took the life of an American veteran. As the son of a vet, I felt compelled to write this post and make sure that Vernon Hunter was acknowledged instead of being overshadowed by the sick, selfish coward who ended his life.

Regulatin Ur Prop Trading, Or Not


Here’s your sporadic update on where we stand when it comes to regulating prop trading. We all know it isn’t going to go anywhere, but Obama is still talking big about turning the vampire squid into calamari, Volcker style:

The Obama administration said on Tuesday it is still committed to the “Volcker rule” to ban risky trading by banks…President Barack Obama had originally framed the proposed Volcker rule on January 21 as an outright ban, which stunned markets and complicated extended negotiations in Congress over legislation to tighten bank and capital market regulation.

He proposed that banks “no longer be allowed to own, invest, or sponsor hedge funds, private equity funds, or proprietary trading operations for their own profit, unrelated to serving their customers.” The Volcker rule could affect as much as 10 percent of net revenues at Goldman Sachs, said a senior executive of the Wall Street giant earlier this month.

To go ahead and make the argument against – is it the brightest thing to tell these banks “Stop trading or investing in anything for your own profit”? The biggest banks aren’t about to run out and reincorporate themselves as 501(c)(3)’s any time soon, so isn’t this going to equate to “Find new and innovative ways to bleed customers through fees and such?” But, anyhow. Ordering Lloyd Blankfein to go to yoga and meditate on the Zen art of portfolio balance isn’t in the cards.

The House and Senate are considering a weaksauce iteration:

The committee is considering including a watered-down version of the Volcker rule in the bill, which will also propose new rules to protect financial consumers, rein in derivatives markets and tackle the “too big to fail” problem. Financial services industry lobbyists said senators may add language to their bill from a bill approved in December by the House of Representatives. The House bill would allow, but not require, regulators to restrict proprietary trading at firms judged to pose a risk to the stability of the financial system. Regulators could also order firms out of the hedge fund business under the Democratic House bill, which got no votes of support from Republicans.

So when it comes to vampire squid ceviche, Obama wants to get the knives, Treasury – which you’d think would agree with the administration, but nah – wants “mandatory limits,” and the House wants to retain the rights to step in… maybe.

Oddest quote of the article award goes, I think, to this, from Representative Paul Kanjorski:

“When your dog just keeps wetting the carpet, there’s only one thing to do, you’ve got to whack him on the nose to let him know that’s not what he’s supposed to do. Maybe the regulators have to whack the banks a little bit to make them respond.”

Ohhhh. So THAT is what this entire financial crisis equates to — a dog peeing on the floor. Finally, now I get it. Sparky just needs a little scolding. Dude who said this is an author of the House bill. Frankly I don’t think this analogy does his point any favors. He could’ve at least evoked Giant George and a pooper scooper if he was going to go the canine route.

Video: Kobe Bryant Game Winning 3 Over Memphis Grizzlies


MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kobe Bryant returned to lineup after missing five games with an ankle injury and hit a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 99-98 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night.

Bryant led the Lakers with 32 points, including his team's final nine points. His 3-pointer with 54 seconds left tied the game.

Pau Gasol added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who won for the seventh time in their last eight road games.

The Grizzlies, who lost their fifth straight home game, were led by O.J. Mayo's 25 points. Zach Randolph scored 20 and grabbed 14 rebounds, his seventh straight double-double.

Mayo's two missed free throws with 18.8 seconds allowed the Lakers an opportunity to complete a comeback from nine points down early in the fourth quarter. Had Mayo made his free throws, the Grizzlies would have led by four.

Absent from the Lakers lineup for his longest stretch in five years, Bryant scored nine points in the opening quarter, including a four-point play, and triggered a late first-quarter run with two breakaway dunks to increase the Lakers' lead to 11.

Bryant last played Feb. 5 and Los Angeles went 4-1 without him.

The Grizzlies took their first lead early in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Mayo for a 59-56 advantage and didn't trail again until Bryant's game-winning shot.

Bryant, averaging 42.5 points against Memphis in two previous games this season, began his late nine-point run with a jumper from the left wing with 2:23 to go to trim the Memphis lead to 95-92.

With Bryant scoring 17 of his points in the first half, the Lakers built several 14-point leads before settling for a 53-48 halftime advantage.

BRIAN WESTBROOK, NOW HURT IN ANOTHER, MORE EMOTIONAL WAY


Brian Westbrook will have to get hurt wearing somebody else’s uniform next season. The Philadelphia Eagles just cut him.

“Brian is one of the greatest Eagles of all time and he is even a better person and leader,” coach Andy Reid. “In my mind, there has not been a more versatile running back that the NFL has seen. I had a conversation with Brian this morning to let him know. This is by far the most difficult part of this job. We wanted to make this move now in order to maximize Brian’s chances of landing with another NFL team.” –FOX News.

Interesting dichotomy, seeing as this comes one day after the release of Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson. While LT was a reliable fantasy football workhorse through most of his career, Westbrook was the proverbial box of chocolates. He could run for 150 yards and then sit out for a month, it seemed. It’s too bad, that such a beautiful fantasy chameleon is winding down his career. I always enjoyed watching people overvalue him the last three years. And yeah, that includes the Eagles.

Tony Kornheiser Suspended by ESPN for Criticizing Hannah Storm


Tony Kornheiser, a former Washington Post columnist and ESPN radio show host, has been suspended by the network for criticizing the wardrobe of SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm.

Last week, Kornheiser opened his show by critiquing the clothing Storm donned while she hosted a morning edition of SportsCenter. His exact words:

Hannah Storm in a horrifying, horrifying outfit today. She's got on red go-go boots and a catholic school plaid skirt. Way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now. And she's got on her typically very, very tight shirt. So she looks like she's got sausage casing wrapping around her upper body... I know she's very good, and I'm not supposed to be critical of ESPN people..But, Hannah Storm, come on now!

Kornheiser later called Storm to apologize and also publicly apologized for the comments. He told his listeners today:

"I apologize, unequivocally. I'm a sarcastic, subversive guy... I'm a troll, look at me. I have no right to insult what anybody looks like or what anybody wears. That, I think, should go without saying."

ESPN has suspended the host for two weeks. We get it, you can't exactly call out a co-worker in the fashion with which he referenced Storm. (THG note: Free Britney once called my cut-off T-shirt "cheap" and was forced to fetch my coffee for a month.)

But Kornheiser makes ESPN gobs of money by co-hosting Pardon the Interruption. His biting, sardonic attitude is a major appeal for fans that watch the show.

Moreover, by suspending Kornheiser, the network has actually made national news of a story that few would have noticed if no punishment had been handed down. Ironic.

Michael Steele an 'imperial chairman'


Republican donors have accused Michael Steele, the party's national chairman, of wasteful spending, with one fundraiser describing his habits as "imperial."

They point to his decision to hold the Republican National Committee's winter meeting in Hawaii, Politico reports, and to hire an upmarket caterer for a Christmas party at the Newseum, Politico reports.

Politico compared Steele's spending in 2009 to the party's expenses in 2005, also an off-year before a midterm election. It said RNC spending on chartered planes doubled and catering costs jumped from $306,000 to $599,000.

"Michael Steele is an imperial chairman," a longtime fundraiser told Politico. "He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people's money."

Louis Pope, head of the Budget Committee, defended Steele, saying "nobody is living it up." Pope said Steele travels more than Ken Mehlman, the 2005 chairman, because he is in demand.

Mom of school stabbing victim lost another son in ’08 tragedy


By L.A. PARKER
Staff Writer of Trentonian

TRENTON — Yesterday’s second stabbing at a Trenton school in 28 days made the victim’s mother fearful she’d be burying a son for the second time in 17 months.

Misty DeJesus’ 13-year-old son received two minor wounds when attacked as he was walking out of the boys room at the troubled Dunn Middle School in the South Ward at 11:30 a.m.

“Sure, that went through my mind after hearing that my son had been stabbed. I didn’t know how bad it was at the time, but I thought the worst,” the mother said.

DeJesus’ seventh-grade son suffered minor wounds to his back and arm. Capital Health-Fuld treated and released him after administering several tests.

Police said the stabbing was the result of a “play fight” in a boys lavatory. They said the suspect, a 12-year-old classmate, pulled out a large folding knife during the scuffle.

The victim, police said, was walking out of the bathroom when he realized he had been cut during the incident. They said he then ran to his classroom and told his teacher what occurred.

DeJesus said she received a phone call about her injured son at 11:40 a.m.: “They just said he had been stabbed and that he was being taken to Helene Fuld.

“My son said he was in the bathroom and two boys were in there fighting,” said DeJesus, a nurse. “One boy had a knife and he was waving it in the face of the other boy. As my son came out of the bathroom stall to wash his hands, he got stabbed in the back.”

In August 2008, DeJesus buried an 8-year-old son, Malachi Williams, who police said hanged himself in an accidental asphyxiation. Investigators never determined if Williams had engaged in what’s called the “hanging game” or “choking game,” in which children intentionally strangle themselves to a point near passing out.

Police found Williams hanging on the third floor of his family’s home on the 300 block of Woodland Street.

Yesterday’s attack marked a second knife incident in a month at a city school. On Jan. 27, a Trenton Central High School coed pulled a knife out of her bra and attempted to attack another girl.

A security officer, Tyrone McNeese, intervened and received a slash on his arm, an injury that required several stitches and forced him to miss work for several days.

A few days later Superintendent of Schools Rodney Lofton said concern about patting down girls figured into security officers getting lax and letting female students through when they touch off the metal detectors at the school entry.

Lofton and the school security chief, retired city detective Howard B. White, said the procedures will be tightened to prevent another such stabbing.

After yesterday’s Dunn incident, Trenton police spokesman Sgt. Pedro Medina said investigators found out that the victim, like McNeese last month, was injured when caught in the middle of a fight between two others.

Police said the victim’s teacher secured the knife and the 12-year-old suspect was detained, charged with aggravated assault and held in the Mercer County youth lockup in Ewing.

Breaking: Shooting In Littleton, Colorado–Again



Two teenagers were victims in a shooting at Dry Creek Middle School in Littleton, Colorado that was carried out by an adult male Tuesday afternoon. So far, the media is not sure if the shooter is a twenty-something or a forty-something, but he was said to be wearing camouflage pants. A witness told Fox 31 news the gunman opened fire on some students waiting for the bus after school when a teacher tackled him to the ground. That gunman is in custody. Authorities say a female student sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. The other victim, a male student, was shot in the arm. Both were taken to Littleton Adventist Hospital with non-life threatening wounds. One was listed in serious condition, the other in fair condition.The kids shot do not appear to be in serious condition.

Creek Middle School is two miles away from Columbine High School where 12 students and one teacher were killed in an infamous 1999 shooting.

Appointment Watch: Lamb-Hale



The mainstream media continue to ignore President Obama's appointment of bizarre personnel to run the government. Personnel is policy. That being the case the American people need to know about these appointments. This week we look another Obama appointee. This is not an isolated incident or an occasional bad apple. This appointment is representative of the appointments he is making with little or no push back from the Senate during the confirmation process.



Nicole Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services

· Lamb-Hale was a law school classmate of President Obama

· Lamb-Hale doesn't have relevant manufacturing experience.

· Lamb-Hale only connection to manufacturing is her bankruptcy practice.

· Lamb-Hale was confirmed on February 11, 2010, without one Senator objecting.

This is just a sample of the type of people President Obama has placed in positions of power within his Administration. If you want more information please visit:

Stay On Top of Electoral Manipulation


By David Bozeman


After being pummeled in '06 and '08, Republicans are regaining their footing. With the potential for huge gains this November -- including the possibility of retaking the House and Senate -- the base isn't going to let anything as mundane as electoral manipulation dampen their spirits.

It is not merely the registering-of-the-dead style of which ACORN has been accused that should keep Republicans alert. Open legislation, primarily by Democrats, and court rulings could add millions of new voters to the rolls and change the dynamics of elections well into the future.

A new bill before Congress, the Voter Registration Modernization Act, would require all state to allow voters to register online by 2012. Arizona pioneered the practice, which other states are considering, and numerous others, including the electorally vital Michigan , New Jersey and New York are debating their own pending legislation.

Universal voter registration is a vital plank in the liberal agenda. According to WorldNetDaily.com, Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) and Representative John Conyers (MI), both Democrats, are planning to introduce a universal voter registration bill. Details are sketchy, but author John Fund (How the Obama Administration Plans to Undermine Our Elections) writes that Obama and the Democrats would like to see every eligible citizen automatically and permanently registered, using DMV records, income tax returns, welfare rolls and unemployment lists.

Putting it under federal control, according to the left's reasoning, would streamline the process and reduce instances of local corruption (and one always hears of 'convenience' for Internet-generation voters). According to The Nation, between two and four millions people were denied their voting rights in 2008. Editor Katrina Heuvel and other leftists routinely tout the 90% registration rates in Canada , France , Venezuela , Russia and other progressive nations.

In the U.S. , the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit Court recently cleared the way for inmates to vote from prison, ruling that a denial of their rights (in Washington state) is unfair to those groups with higher incarceration rates.


One might ask why the concern with bringing new voters into the process. The concern is less with numbers than with mindset. While conservatives and liberals cherish voting as a fundamental right, conservatives tend to stress the inherent responsibility to make reasoned, informed decisions on what is best for the community, state or nation. The Michigan online law, by contrast, would reportedly allow procrastinators and the idle to register up to 4pm the day before an election. Spur-of-the-moment voters also enjoy same-day registration in nine other states, including Iowa , North Carolina and Wisconsin .

Are these really the most informed, passionate citizens among us? Yet through them, Democrats seek to swell their numbers and seal permanent majorities. While conservatives certainly work within electoral realities, they tend to recognize voters not as blocs but as autonomous citizens with a distinct duty to keep their governments small and accountable.

Streamlining and simplifying the electoral process is fine, but not to cater to the civic-ally lazy. If registering and voting takes a little extra effort, then maybe citizens will give each vote the weight it deserves. Our republic need not buckle beneath the will of the uninformed if we insist that electoral reform serve the needs of an enlightened citizenry and not replace it.


David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

Obama's New Compromise



ALG Editor's Note: William Warren's award-winning cartoons published at GetLiberty.org are a free service of ALG News Bureau. They may be reused and redistributed free of charge.

Editorial: "New-and-Improved ObamaCare!"


Yesterday, Barack Obama unveiled his latest, "new-and-improved" version of ObamaCare. Sadly for the American people, it's more of the same. According to the New York Times, the Obama proposal "sticks largely to the version passed by the Senate in December." This is therefore the same proposal that 58 percent of voters overwhelmingly oppose, as reported by Rasmussen Reports. A full 61 percent want Congress to simply start over.

As well they should. As Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson commented yesterday, "This is pretty much the same government-run health care proposal that the American people have already rejected." Indeed.


According to the Times, the White House claims the plan will cost some $950 billion atop the already swelling entitlement burden that cost $1.441 trillion in 2010 alone. It also proposes extending taxpayer-subsidized coverage to some 31 million Americans.


Unfortunately, the proposal was so vague, the Congressional Budget Office cannot even grade it properly. Writes CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf: "preparing a cost estimate requires very detailed specifications of numerous provisions, and the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions."

Rest assured, if this latest abomination is anything like the Senate version, as is reported, the true cost will be more like $2.5 trillion over ten years once fully implemented, as Senate Republicans have claimed of the bill they opposed in the Senate.


And, lest anyone doubt the veracity of that figure, such as Senator Al Franken or Talking Points Memo, just check with the Congressional Budget Office, as reported by the Weekly Standard in December: "The Democrats are irresponsibly and disingenuously claiming that the bill would cost $871 billion over 10 years. But that's not what the CBO says. Rather, the CBO says that $871 billion would be the costs from 2010 to 2019 for expansions in insurance coverage alone. But less than 2 percent of those '10-year costs' would kick in before the fifth year of that span. In its real first 10 years (2014 to 2023), the CBO says that the bill would cost $1.8 trillion -- for insurance coverage expansions alone. Other parts of the bill would cost approximately $700 billion more, bringing the bill's full 10-year tab to approximately $2.5 trillion -- according to the CBO."

Even Senator Max Baucus admitted that the bill would cost $2.5 trillion when he said, "health care reform, whether you use a ten-year number or when you start in 2010 or start in 2014, wherever you start at, so it is still either $1 trillion or it's $2.5 Trillion, depending on where you start…"


Although the White House in one breath claims the bill will be "deficit-neutral," it is forced to admit that it will indeed be funded by taxpayers: "Millions of families will receive hundreds of billions of dollars in tax credits to help them pay for insurance in the new exchanges… The Act also provides financial assistance to reduce out-of-pocket costs for moderate and low-income eligible Americans." Those are direct subsidies for health benefits; to call them tax credits is like calling Medicare or welfare a tax credit.


Obama's claim to deficit-neutrality depends on the critical $483 billion in ten-year cuts to Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid. But, a $210 billion "doc-fix" bill — kept apart from ObamaCare — that passed the House in November restores a good portion of those cuts, as reported by FOX News.


This is where the rationing comes in. As the government's unfunded health care liabilities become increasingly unsustainable over the next several years, the growing costs of providing health benefits for everyone will assuredly eat into the benefits of providing coverage to seniors and the poor.

The greater the insurance pool, the more costly the "doc-fixes" and other subsidies will be in the future, and the less benefits there will be to go around.


This is therefore a bill that will ultimately ration care away from seniors, lower the quality of medical treatment, increase premiums, drive the American people off of their private health options and onto government-run ObamaCare, and bankrupt the Treasury with unsustainable costs. And one that Congressional Democrats intend to pass by simply eliminating the filibuster and weakening the nation's two-party system, as ALG News has previously reported.

If one needed any more proof of the phoniness of this White House, look no further than February 25th's health care summit, where Obama hopes to create a theater of bipartisanship, all the while hocking the same old, wretched Congressional bill that barely survived the town halls.


Of course, it's a theater of the absurd. And the meeting is a stage for Obama to pretend that it is not. The bill is to be rammed through regardless of the summit; with or without Republican support. This "new-and-improved" proposal, its much ballyhooed summit, and the pretense of honest, faithful negotiations have more in common with a reprehensible, Orwellian, Third World banana republic than a fully mature citizen republic. This is not change, it is a fraud.