Wednesday, March 31, 2010

International Community Pledges Billions for Haitian Reconstruction

Members of the international community are at the United Nations Wednesday, committing serious financial assistance to Haiti for its long term reconstruction. Donors' offered millions of dollars to all sectors in a bid to help Haiti "build back better" after its devastating January earthquake.

Haiti's reconstruction is estimated to need 10 years and $11.5 billion. But Wednesday's conference aimed to meet reconstruction costs for just the first 18 months.

The Haitian government is going to be in the lead on this, and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive outlined his country's blueprint for a national action plan to guide the reconstruction to the 140 members of the international community who participated in the pledging conference.

He said funds are needed for every part of Haiti's infrastructure, to create jobs, and to put the country on the path to sustainable development.

"We need about $4 billion in the next 18 months to achieve the critical mass that is necessary to achieve the momentum to make the difference that we talked about together. We need to innovate. Favorable conditions are there and we must succeed," said the Haitian prime minister.

Countries lined up to help, with conference co-chair, the United States, leading the way. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said if Haiti creates strong, transparent and accountable institutions it can become a engine for progress and prosperity.

"To that end, the United States pledges $1.15 billion for Haiti's long-term recovery and reconstruction, which will go toward supporting the government of Haiti's plan to strengthen agriculture, energy, health, and security and governance," she said.

Also announcing their contributions early in the conference were the European Union, pledging over $1.6 billion, Brazil, offering $172 million, France giving $27 million, and Spain pledging $465 million.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, one of the co-chairs of the meeting, said reconstruction assistance must be well-invested and well-coordinated. He added that it must work in parallel with the continuing humanitarian assistance effort, and urged donors to further fund a U.N. appeal for $1.4 billion that is only half met. That money is to meet emergency needs - such as water, food, shelter and sanitation - for this year.

By the end of the day, the U.N. expects pledges of nearly $4 billion to be committed to Haiti.

Bush wiretapping program takes hit in Calif ruling

SAN FRANCISCO — In a repudiation of the Bush administration's now-defunct Terrorist Surveillance Program, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that government investigators illegally wiretapped the phone conversations of an Islamic charity and two American lawyers without a search warrant.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker said the plaintiffs provided enough evidence to show "they were subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance."

The judge's 45-page ruling focused narrowly on Al-Haramain case, touching vaguely on the larger question of the program's legality.

Nonetheless, Al-Haramain lawyer Jon Eisenberg said the ruling had larger implications.

"By virtue of finding what the Bush administration did to our clients was illegal, he found that the Terrorist Surveillance Program was unlawful," Eisenberg said.

At issue was a 2006 lawsuit filed by the Ashland, Ore., branch of the Saudi-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and two American lawyers Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor.

Belew and Ghafoor claimed their 2004 phone conversations with foundation official Soliman al-Buthi were wiretapped without warrants soon after the Treasury Department had declared the Oregon branch a supporter of terrorism. They argued that wiretaps installed without a judge's authorization are illegal.

It was the last active case pending before a trial judge challenging the wiretapping program that ended in 2007.

"The ruling ends the case, but without the fireworks everyone expected," George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr said. "It ended with a whimper."

The plaintiffs were seeking $1 million each, plus attorney fees in the case. Walker ordered more legal arguments before deciding on possible damages.

The ruling came after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the lawsuit threatened to expose ongoing intelligence work and must be thrown out.

In making the argument, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration's position on the case but insisted it came to the decision differently.

Holder's effort to stop the lawsuit marked the first time the administration has tried to invoke the state secrets privilege. Under the strategy, the government can have a lawsuit dismissed if hearing the case would jeopardize national security.

Holder said Judge Walker had been given a classified description of why the case must be dismissed so the court could "conduct its own independent assessment of our claim."

That was a departure from the Bush administration, which resisted providing specifics to judges handling such cases about what the national security concerns were.

Holder previously said the administration would respect the outcome of Walker's review.

Eisenberg called on the Obama administration to accept Wednesday's ruling and forgo any appeals.

"We are reviewing it," Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.

President Bush authorized the surveillance program shortly after 9/11, allowing National Security Agency officials to bypass the courts and intercept electronic communications believed connected to al-Qaida.

Generally, government investigators are required to obtain search warrants signed by judges to eavesdrop on domestic phone calls, e-mail traffic and other electronic communications.

In June, Judge Walker tossed out more than three dozen lawsuits against the nation's telecommunications companies for allegedly taking part in the program.

Congress in 2008 agreed on new surveillance rules that included protection from legal liability for telecommunications companies that allegedly helped the U.S. spy on Americans without warrants.

Walker previously upheld the constitutionality of the new surveillance rules. His ruling is being appealed.

Anthony Coppolino, the U.S. Department of Justice lawyer who has been in charge of the Islamic Foundation case under both administrations, has never addressed the legality of the wiretap program.

Read More..

D.C. shooting leaves 4 dead, 5 wounded

WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- Officials said a fourth person died Wednesday of wounds sustained in a shootout the previous evening in a southeast neighborhood in Washington.

District of Columbia police said shots were fired into a group of people in one of the District's deadliest shootings in years, The Washington Post reported.

Officials said three of the victims died Tuesday and the fourth Wednesday. Five other people were injured.

Police said a 10th person was found shot a few blocks from the scene but they said they weren't sure whether he was part of the gunfire exchange.

Three people were in custody but charges hadn't been filed, District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.

Two police vehicles crashed during a pursuit of the three individuals and four police officers suffered minor injuries, officials said.

Lanier said many people were outdoors in the District of Columbia's southern tip when a gunman began "spraying (bullets) into a crowd."

A man told the Post he heard sounds he described as "pat, pat, pat, pat, pat," followed by a loud boom.

Then, "all I saw was bodies dropping," the witness said. "It was like Vietnam."

Officials said a motive wasn't immediately known.

Sources told the Post they were investigating whether the shootings were tied to two incidents in March in the southern part of the district.

The number of people shot Tuesday may have been the most in one incident in Washington since 1994, when 10 people were wounded, one fatally, the Post said.

Empire State Observation Deck Remains Open After Death

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Empire State Building's 86th floor observation deck will remain open from its regular hours of 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday, a day after a man reported to be a Yale University student jumped to his death from the 86th floor Tuesday.

A customer service representative at the Empire State Building said that everything was operating as normal, and the incident had no impact on its regular schedule. However, a spokesman for the Empire State Building declined to comment on any inquiries surrounding the incident.
Dabaghi, 21, from Austin, Texas was an East Asian studies major and set to graduate next year. Police said he jumped from the building at about 6:15 p.m., plunging onto West 34th Street in front of a Bank of America building. Reports said the 86th floor was relatively quiet Tuesday evening due to the bad weather.
More than 30 people have jumped to their deaths from the Empire State Building since it opened in 1931.

Fox News, Sarah Palin vs. LL Cool J

Network announced rapper as one of first guests on former governor's show, but then things went downhill

By Alex Koppelman

The Ladies, in general, Love Cool James. But after today, we probably can't count former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin among LL Cool J's fans.

Fox News had announced the rapper as a guest on the debut episode of Palin's new show, "Real American Stories." The announcement -- and the oddity of it -- did serve to prompt some interest in the premiere. But then LL stepped in, announcing on Twitter, "Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palin's Show. WOW."

Fox says the interview was originally part of an online series also called "Real American Stories," the Los Angeles Times reports. But it decided to pull the segment anyway, and a spokeswoman said, "[A]s it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career."

Lest there be any confusion, Fox isn't really wishing LL "the best." That formulation -- more often expressed as some variation of "we wish X well" -- is a classic line from the network's P.R. people, unsubtle code meaning, basically, "Oh, and fuck you." In this case, they made it even more plain than usual with the "fledgling acting career" bit. The rapper may not be a megastar, but he's had a fair number of movie roles dating back to the early 1990s, and he's currently a regular cast member on "NCIS: Los Angeles."

Cops: Trenton 7-year-old gang raped after 15-year-old sister pimps her out

Staff Writer

Rowan Towers, allegedly the scene of one of the most disturbing crimes in recent history: the gang rape of a 7-year-old whose sister allegedly pimped her out. (Trentonian Photo/GREGG SLABODA)

TRENTON — City police have charged a 15-year-old girl as an accomplice to the gang rape of her 7-year-old sister.

Police said they believe the older sibling was paid for having sex with multiple partners Sunday night during a party at the troubled Rowan Towers apartment complex, and that she then sold her sister to others at the party.

Police said they believe the younger girl was raped by five to seven individuals, who held the girl against her will and threatened to kill her if she screamed or if she later told anyone about what happened.

Capt. Joe Juniak, commander of the department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, said he expects there to be many arrests in the case and he expects them imminently.

“The things that took place in there were just horrid,” Juniak said. “Anyone can imagine, especially those who have allow someone to do that to a 7-year-old is just beyond comprehension.”

Juniak noted that the girls were not full-blooded sisters. He said they were either half-sisters or stepsisters, but whatever the case, they were still raised as sisters.

Juniak said police were initially called by the girls’ family because they believed the 15-year-old had run away from home and that she took the younger girl with her. He said the 15-year-old had exhibited some behavior problems in the past.

Police officers were at the family’s home that night, after 9 p.m., when the 7-year-old returned without her older sister, and she told her mother that she had been raped, Juniak said. Police later located the 15-year-old, who relayed the same details regarding what had happened at the party, and she was arrested and charged.

Juniak said the party took place in a 13th-floor apartment in the complex at 620 West State St., where the 15-year-old met up with a couple of male acquaintances. He said the older sister then had sex with several party-goers for money in a bedroom, while leaving the younger girl unattended in the living room.

At some point, Juniak said, the older sister visited the 7-year-old in the living room and handed her a wad of money, telling her to let the assembled males have sex with her.

“She tells the sister, ‘Let the boys do what they want to do,’” Juniak said.

Juniak said the older girl promoted and watched the acts perpetrated upon her sister.

After the assaults, Juniak said, the 7-year-old got dressed and left the party, while her older sister stayed behind. Two unidentified individuals found the young girl crying outside, and they took her to her home nearby on West State Street, where police had already gathered.

The Rowan Towers complex has been the center of controversy lately, with an increasing number of violent crimes reported there.

Juniak said investigators have identified the apartment used during the party and the person listed as the renter of the unit. But he said that it doesn’t appear the individual was there at the time or that he had any knowledge of what occurred at the party.

Juniak said the tenant is in the process of being evicted from the apartment, which appears to already have been at least partially vacated.

“Individuals within that building have knowledge of what apartments are vacant, and they will gain access to those apartments and utilize them for drinking, partying or whatever else,” Juniak said. “That’s what we believe happened in this instance.”

The 15-year-old sister has been charged with complicity in an aggravated sexual assault, criminal restraint, terroristic threats, endangering the welfare of a child, and promoting prostitution. She was held in the Mercer County Youth Detention Center.

Trenton detectives are working with investigators from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, and the state Division of Youth and Family Services is involved with the case.

Juniak said there appear to have been 12 to 15 people at the party throughout the night, and detectives are searching for anyone who may have been there. He said charges could be brought against everyone, not just those physically involved with the rape of the 7-year-old.

Anyone who was there could be charged for allowing it to happen, and any adults who had sex with the 15-year-old will be prosecuted for rape because of the girl’s age, Juniak said.

“We’re going to identify everyone who was in that apartment,” he said.

Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, who has a 7-year-old daughter, called The Trentonian last night to express his outrage and to make a plea for the public’s help.

“I am just sick,” Palmer said. “Citizens have got to come forth if they have any information. If you ever wanted to get involved ... if there is nothing that will get your conscience to say ‘I have to step up,’ if it’s not this, then I don’t know what you’re waiting for.

“Police are working triple-overtime and not leaving any stone unturned to get justice for this innocent angel, but we need the people’s help.”

Anyone with additional information about the rape should contact the Trenton police confidential tip line at (609) 989-3663.

© Copyright 2010 The Trentonian, a Journal Register Property. All rights reserved

Breaking News: Jesse James Checks into Rehab, Begs Sandra Bullock Not to Divorce

more Sandra and Jesse after the jump…

Radar Online reports that a source close to the couple says “He offered to go to the same rehab center that Tiger Woods went to if Sandra would support him and stick with him. She said ‘no’, and that basically he’s the scum of the earth.”

Jesse is said to be desperate to save his marriage and he’s checked into Sierra Tuscon, a treatment facility in Arizona.

The source says that Jesse is in for sex rehab. “But no, Sandra is not there” the source said. “He (Jesse) is trying to show her he wants to recover. Sandra is tough and does not take humiliation well. It will take a lot more than Jesse going for a week to some clinic for her to even take him seriously.”

According to the same source, Sandra wants out of the marriage, she has felt humiliated, devastated and embarrassed by the whole Jesse’s cheating scandal.

rep told People magazine that “Jesse checked himself into a treatment facility to deal with personal issues,” “He realized that this time was crucial to help himself, help his family and help save his marriage.”

It sounds like too little, too late, doesn’t it? What do you think Sandra should do? Give Jesse a chance or not?

Obama to allow oil drilling off Virginia coast


WASHINGTON (AP) — In a reversal of a long-standing ban on most offshore drilling, President Barack Obama is allowing oil drilling 50 miles off Virginia’s shorelines. At the same time, he is rejecting some new drilling sites that had been planned in Alaska.

Obama’s plan offers few concessions to environmentalists, who have been strident in their opposition to more oil platforms off the nation’s shores. Hinted at for months, the plan modifies a ban that for more than 20 years has limited drilling along coastal areas other than the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama was set to announce the new drilling policy Wednesday at Andrews air base in Maryland. White House officials pitched the changes as ways to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and create jobs — both politically popular ideas — but the president’s decisions also could help secure support for a climate change bill languishing in Congress.

The president, joined by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, also was set to announce that proposed leases in Alaska’s Bristol Bay would be canceled. The Interior Department also planned to reverse last year’s decision to open up parts of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Instead, scientists would study the sites to see if they’re suitable to future leases.

Obama is allowing an expansion in Alaska’s Cook Inlet to go forward. The plan also would leave in place the moratorium on drilling off the West Coast.

In addition, the Interior Department has prepared a plan to add drilling platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico if Congress allows that moratorium to expire. Lawmakers in 2008 allowed a similar moratorium to expire; at the time President George W. Bush lifted the ban, which opened the door to Obama’s change in policy.

Under Obama’s plan, drilling could take place 125 miles from Florida’s Gulf coastline if lawmakers allow the moratorium to expire. Drilling already takes place in western and central areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

The president’s team has been busy on energy policy and Obama talked about it in his State of the Union address. During that speech, he said he wanted the United States to build a new generation of nuclear power plans and invest in biofuel and coal technologies.

“It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development,” he warned.

Obama also urged Congress to complete work on a climate change and energy bill, which has remained elusive. The president met with lawmakers earlier this month at the White House about a bill cutting emissions of pollution-causing greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020. The legislation would also expand domestic oil and gas drilling offshore and provide federal assistance for constructing nuclear power plants and carbon sequestration and storage projects at coal-fired utilities.

White House officials hope Wednesday’s announcement will attract support from Republicans, who adopted a chant of “Drill, baby, drill” during 2008’s presidential campaign.

The president’s Wednesday remarks would be paired with other energy proposals that were more likely to find praise from environmental groups. The White House planned to announce it had ordered 5,000 hybrid vehicles for the government fleet. And on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department are to sign a final rule that requires increased fuel efficiency standards for new cars.

ALG Condemns Congressional Efforts to “Discredit and Marginalize the American People”

March 30th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today condemned members of Congress who he said “are attempting to discredit and marginalize the American people who vehemently opposed the government takeover of the nation’s health care system.”

Wilson said the attacks were “contrived” and designed to intimidate the political opposition. “The allegations members of Congress are using now are simply a part of a pre-conceived narrative to criminalize dissent against the expansion of government. Members of Congress will stop at nothing to politically marginalize the primary threat to them holding onto power, and that’s the American people.”

“This is right out of the Hugo Chavez-Fidel Castro playbook to take normal political dissent and to delegitimize it,” Wilson declared. “Congressional Democrats, having failed to persuade the American people to support the health care takeover, have dusted off that playbook and are once again attempting to portray their own constituents in the most extreme and provocative terms.”

“I really hope that the DNC will stop using these Marxist tactics, and accord individuals the right to legitimate dissent,” Wilson added.

Wilson pointed to Congressman James Clyburn’s claim that tea parties were a “kind of terrorism.” Others have alleged that activists shouted racial epithets at members of Congress on March 20th at a protest against the health care bill, as reported by the American Thinker. Others have attested that acts of vandalism were linked to the tea parties.

“This is not the first time they’ve done this,” Wilson added, pointing to portrayals of demonstrators at tea parties and town halls throughout 2009 by Congressional Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote an oped in USA Today calling opponents “un-American”. Congressman Steve Kagen called opponents “uncivilized,” and Congressman Baron Hill called them “political terrorists.”

Congressman Brian Baird called opponents of the legislation “Brown Shirts” and compared them to domestic terrorists, “Some of the rhetoric that we’re hearing is… eerily reminiscent of the kind of things that drove Tim McVeigh to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma.”

Wilson said the allegations being made against the tea party movement as a whole were “absurd.”

“Members of tea parties are just regular Americans who are fed up with the unprecedented expansion of government they have witnessed over the past three years,” Wilson said. “They are concerned mothers and fathers, young people and the elderly, who simply do not want to see their nation bankrupted and don’t want government in charge of health care.”

Get full story here.

Editorial: The Costs of Expanding Medicaid Will Bankrupt States

One of the central aspects ObamaCare, besides the individual mandate to purchase insurance, is the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the poverty level. To entice Democrat lawmakers, especially in the Senate, to vote for this, Senate leaders assured the states that the federal government would cover the costs of the expansion until 2014. After that, they said, the states would be responsible for paying for 10 percent of the expansion.

According to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, the Medicaid expansion would “result in large increases in eligibles in most states and many new enrollees. Not only would eligibility standards be extended but the individual mandate, though somewhat difficult to enforce at these income levels, will mean that large numbers of both previously eligible and newly eligible people will enroll.” In other words, costs will go up. A lot.

Now the states are pushing back. Their case: the cost increases are immediate—and they are devastating. As reported by the AP, Arizona has said that the new Senate bill is forcing Arizona to rescind cuts it intended to make to Medicaid to balance its budget. As a result, says Arizona, the state will have to pay at least $3.8 billion in additional costs before 2014.

It gets worse, from the AP report, “For the seven years starting in 2014, Arizona will have to spend an additional $7.8 billion, AHCCCS Director Tom Betlach said in the report.” That’s money the people of Arizona simply do not have. Arizona, which already faces a $2 billion deficit on a $10 billion budget this year, now must find nearly an additional $1 billion to pay for the Medicaid cost increases.

In contrast, if Arizona’s eligibility had not been expanded, its costs over that same seven year period would have only been $1.8 billion. Therefore, thanks to ObamaCare, by 2020, Arizona will be a full $9.8 billion more in the hole than they would have been. This is a state that is literally on the brink of bankruptcy. Only California has a worse financial predicament than Arizona.

And that is just one example. In South Carolina, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services has said that the Medicaid expansion through 2019 will cost and additional $914 million, or about $100 million a year. South Carolina already faces a $1 billion deficit this year alone, and now will have to find additional sources of revenue to pay for what amounts to a mandate.

Coupled with mandatory insurance, the states are, in effect, being forced to bear the burden of anyone who is eligible for expanded Medicaid. Consider California where, according to the state’s deputy director of health care programs, “the extra load will cost at least an additional $2 billion to $3 billion annually.” From 2014 to 2020, those additional costs could therefore range anywhere from $14 to $21 billion.

In sum, the costs of the Medicaid expansion will be far beyond what anybody has estimated. For a state like California, the costs could be tens of billions of dollars by 2020. And for states in such fiscal dire straits, like California, New York, Arizona, and others, that is the difference between solvency and insolvency.

Therefore, these new costs will be more than the states can bear, which is why at least eleven states are suing in federal court over the costs involved, according to Bloomberg News. The suits will need the support of the American people, and a little bit of luck in the federal courts, to be successful. For, if they are not, and the legislation is not repealed entirely, the states will likely be bankrupted.

Tea Party in Russia

Did Lawmakers Play “Race Card” to Smear Protesters?

By Chris Slavens

Was a group of lawmakers, including Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), James Clyburn (D-SC), and Andre Carson (D-IN), verbally assaulted with racial slurs on March 20? Did protesters of the federal health-care takeover shout racial slurs at them? Was Rep. Cleaver spat upon? Was the rally held that weekend one of violence, hatred, and bigotry?

Mainstream media outlets have reported these incidents as factual, many commentators conveniently drawing the conclusion that “tea partiers” are racists trying to prevent black Americans from receiving free healthcare at the expense of working taxpayers. Even right-leaning Fox News reported the charges without questioning their basis.

In one case, there simply is no evidence. Video shows the congressmen walking to the Capitol, while protesters shouted “Kill the bill!” No racial slurs can be heard. In another case, emerging facts seem to expose the lie; Cleaver claimed that a protester spat on him and was arrested, yet Capitol Police spokesman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said that no arrests were made that day.

Was Cleaver mistaken about the alleged offender’s arrest? Or did the congressman simply make the whole thing up?

Get full story here.

Appointment Watch: Chatigny

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.

Robert Chatigny, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit

• Chatigny is currently a federal district court judge.
• Chatigny’s actions as a judge should have lead to his impeachment, not elevation.
• Chatigny as a judge has threatened counsel and abandoned the role of a neutral arbitrator.
• Chatigny’s nomination is currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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

Next week we will examine one more. Those who are interested in exclusive information before it reaches the public, please contact

Permalink here.

Arrests in China over dead babies

Authorities have arrested two mortuary workers of a hospital in eastern China believed to be involved in the dumping of bodies of 21 dead babies, according to Chinese state media.

Zhu Zhenyu and Wang Zhijun were dismissed and taken away by police on Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing Gong Zhenhua, the government spokesman for Jining.

Investigators found that the two men had "privately struck oral agreements with the families of the deceased babies to dispose of their remains and had taken payments from them", according to Xinhua.

Three senior hospital officials were also sacked or suspended and the government ordered the Jining Municipal Health Bureau to make a public apology.

"It exposes a serious loophole in the hospital's management and indicates a lack of ethics and legal awareness of some hospital staff," Gong was quoted as saying.

"It exerts a very negative impact on society and teaches us a profound lesson."

The two detained workers reportedly said the families of the dead babies had paid them to dispose of the bodies, but they instead dumped the bodies in the river.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tavis Smiley Black Agenda Forum (Video) C-Span

PBS Talk Show Host Tavis Smiley hosted african american leaders for a forum titled, "We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda." Panelists included, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Cornel West and Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan. Earlier this year, Smiley announced he will no longer host his annual State of the Black Union symposium.
Chicago, IL : 3 hr. 40 min.

Watch: Tavis Smiley Black Agenda Forum

Consumer Spending Up For Fifth Consecutive Month

Consumer spending in the US rose for a fifth consecutive month in February, according to data released yesterday by the Commerce Department.

To many analysts, including Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit, this data suggests that factors are falling into place for a sustained recovery.

Earlier this month, there was similarly encouraging news in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, which shows that the overall economy grew for the tenth consecutive month during February.

And, if you’re looking for even more “signposts of economic recovery,” see this Monthly Dashboard of Leading US Economic Indicators, compiled by the Corporate Executive Board.

While I’ll admit that it’s heartening to see the manufacturing sector undergoing a relatively stable recovery, industrial production and capacity utilization remain disappointing. Plus, a sustained global recovery will require not only continued growth in consumer spending, but also improved employment. We’ll learn more about that critical element when the Labor Department releases its new numbers at the end of the week. From what I hear, economists are expecting this new jobs report to show more good news: that employers added jobs this month for only the second time since the recession began in December 2007.

A table of the most recent economic indicators is available here.

by Kevin Cornish

Shawn Michaels Deserved Better

Author: Mario Alejandro

Last night’s WWE Raw was supposed to be a special moment for wrestling fans young and old. Shawn Michaels, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time was “forced” into retirement as a result of losing his match with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26 on Sunday.

Monday’s show was supposed to be The Heartbreak Kid’s sendoff and while WWE made good with lots of classic Michaels clips from his entire tenure with the company and a nice plug for his WWE DVD, it still did not have the feel of a show saying goodbye to one of its most reliable performers.

Instead, we were treated to horrible skits with two of the lesser stars of ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ and the one emotional moment, Triple H’s speech to his best friend, was interrupted by a run-in from Hunter’s new BFF, Sheamus. Oh, and more tired and played out John Cena.

As for Shawn’s career in The Hobby, you could build one hell of a collection as he’s been in trading card sets from as early back as the 80’s. More recently, Topps’ WWE releases have produced “worn” memorabilia relics and certified autographs, which in this blogger’s opinion, are less than desirable.

Here’s hoping Topps steps up their game and produces a card of Michaels in their next release WITH an on-card autograph. While Michaels is a legend in the business, it really should not be that difficult to give collectors something special by making the effort of having Shawn directly sign cards instead of stickers.

Amnesty says China Executed Thousands in 2009

Amnesty International has released its annual death penalty report, which shows the number of countries that use capital punishment is declining. But the report estimates that China executed several thousand people in 2009.

Arthur Judah Angel was sentenced to death in Nigeria in 1986 for a crime he says he didn't commit.

"Being on death row was like being in hell. You understand? In fact, it's very horrible. I don't have enough language – in English or my own – to explain it," said Angel.

He was 21 years old when he was arrested and spent the next 16 years in prison. Every night he was there, he says, he had nightmares.

He says inside the cell he wasn't even able to stretch his legs.


2010 NFL Free Agency Update: Nothing Big Except Philadelphia Eagles/Donovan McNabb Trade Rumors

by Steve Tomassetti

The 2010 edition of NFL free agency has slowed down to a crawl since the last time we reported on it. The biggest names still on the market are former teammates Terrell Owens and Brian Westbrook. Based on their performances last season, it appears that both of these once-great players have reached the end of road in terms of their NFL careers. Still, there is a good possibility that one or both players could be good mid or late-season acquisitions for teams looking for some additional players after the injury bug starts to hit rosters.

The biggest stories at this stage of free agency seem to be circling around the Philadelphia Eagles and their 11-year veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb. A different trade scenario is appearing daily both locally and nationally. It may be just wishful thinking though, as the ingrate Eagles fans and local sports media seem all too eager to ship out the main reason their irrelevant franchise was worth watching for the past decade, after years of futility. I can understand though, they have a proven quantity in Kevin Kolb waiting to step in… don’t they?

The rumored trade partners have been the Rams, Cardinals, Jaguars and most recently the Oakland Raiders, who seem to be so high on McNabb that they aren’t even worried about extending his contract that expires after the 2010 season. Check Twitter tomorrow for the latest garbage… I mean “news”.

The biggest entertainment of the offseason would be the reaction of the Eagles “fans” as Kevin Kolb is traded on draft day, they pick a QB early and McNabb plays out his contract.

BC fires Skinner

Mar 30, 2010 - Head coach Al Skinner has been fired as head coach of Boston College, according to the Globe. The official announcement is expected at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Skinner has been the head coach since 1997, and led the team to seven NCAA Tournament appearances during his tenure. He has the most wins all-time at BC (247-165, overall). The team finished under .500 in two of its last three seasons, however, including a 15-16 overall record and just six in-conference wins this year.

The Globe reports that the school has already requested permission to speak with Richmond coach Chris Mooney and Cornell's Steve Donahue, both of whom are hot commodities after resurrected the programs at their respective schools.

Controversy over Arctic conference

Five Arctic nations have agreed to work more closely to safeguard the region's environment and resolve disputes over territory.

Erykah Badu Bold Statement Or Publicity Ploy? You Decide...

By Gene Mueller

The thing is, it's a pretty decent song.

Trouble is, who's going to hear it ?

R-and-B singer Erykah Badu let the cameras as she dropped her clothes for a video for her new song "Window Seat".

Did I mention that the impromptu striptease happened in Dallas, Texas. At Dealey Plaza. Where President Kennedy was assassinated. In front of horrified onlookers (the murder AND the video).

Look for yourself.

Badu defends the move as an artistic statement. No one called the cops, and she hasn't been charged with anything.

So, is it art, or is it a publicity grab?

If it's the second, it worked. I'm not the only mope blogging about it, and the video supposedly is going viral on YouTube, according to the Dallas Morning News where you can read much more.

Like I said, it's a pretty decent song. Would you have even known it existed without Badu's naked romp? Is it bad taste, or solid (if tastefully questionable) marketing? Free speech, or sensationalistic exploitation of a national tragedy?

Holder Admits Johnsen Fulfilling Duties at DOJ Prior to Appointment; ALG Calls for Nominee to be Defeated

March 29th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Attorney General Eric Holder has admitted that Barack Obama’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General to the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen, was fulfilling key duties related to that post even though she has not been confirmed by the Senate.

According to Holder’s written testimony, when asked of allegations that Johnsen had been making hiring decisions at the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), he wrote that while the acting Assistant Attorney General has made all personnel decisions, “Professor Johnsen's participation in this process has been appropriate and consistent with the past practice of presidential nominees of both parties. Like such other nominees, she was involved in the consideration of candidates for political appointments, such as those persons who would serve as her deputies should she be confirmed.”

The testimony continued, “By contrast, with respect to applicants for civil service positions, Professor Johnsen simply forwarded some resumes for attorney positions to the Acting Assistant Attorney General for OLC and occasionally offered her views as to some candidates for those positions who came to her attention and on general attorney staffing issues.”

Holder denied that Johnsen participated “in the interviews of any candidates for career positions, nor was she part of the final selection process.”

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today renewed his call for the nominee to be defeated by the Senate. “Based upon Attorney General Holder’s own testimony, Dawn Johnsen has already had input into the makeup of the Office of Legal Counsel despite the fact that she has not been confirmed to the position of Assistant Attorney General.”

Wilson called Holder’s testimony “a smoking gun,” and said “raises a rather serious constitutional concern that Johnsen has averted the Advice and Consent Clause of the Constitution.”

ALG had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on October 26th, 2009 to the Justice Department’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel attempting to confirm allegations that Johnsen has been performing duties pursuant to that office without being confirmed by the Senate, including making hiring decisions.

Get full story here.

Does Obama actually want America to get back to work?

By Bill Wilson

Does Barack Obama actually want America to get back to work? That is the question that I asked myself as I read about his latest brainstorm: forcing mortgage lenders to not collect payments from those who are unemployed.

As reported by the Washington Post, “Banks and other lenders would have to reduce the payments to no more than 31 percent of a borrower's income, which would typically be their unemployment insurance, for up to six months. In some cases, administration officials said, a lender could allow a borrower to make no payments at all.”

While a typical Obama sound bite idea, in principle this is just another in a long series of economic disasters that has flowed daily from this Administration. It seems intent on plummeting the nation into Third World status.

Ronald Reagan’s old adage applies: “If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.” In this case, Obama’s basic plan is to use what remains of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to subsidize unemployment and sloth.

As a result, that is what they are going to get — a lot more of it. While everyone is sympathetic to the hardship faced in this tough economy, every American who pays their bills and plays by the rules is being screwed to the wall by Obama’s new mortgage bailout.

But, it’s even worse than that. The irony of Obama and his cohorts attempting to force the ever-shaky mortgage banking industry to cover the loans of the unemployed is that it creates the very real possibility of a double dip financial crisis. What bank is going to lend money in an environment where the government essentially demands that they not collect the debt? Of course, in the end, someone pays, and as usual it is the poor slob who pays his mortgage every month, or wants to buy a new house.

Get full story here.

Capitol South

Repeal and Start Over

By Robert Romano

Now that ObamaCare is the law of the land, and is as unpopular as ever, Congressional Republicans are left with the daunting task of peeling back the layers of the newly-expanded entitlement state left in the wake of the government takeover of health care.

A CBS News poll released last week found an overwhelming majority, 62 percent, of Americans want the GOP to continue their resistance to government-run health care. That includes 66 percent of political Independents, and even 41 percent of Democrats who said that Republicans should continue their opposition. This, as businesses (see: Boston Herald and New Hampshire Union Leader) warn that ObamaCare is a jobs-killer.

With any political mandate, however, the question becomes not whether or not to pursue the public’s agenda, but how. On that count, there appears to be a bit of debate. Should Republicans campaign on repealing the bill entirely, or should they maintain certain provisions?

As reported by Americans for Limited Government Director of Congressional Affairs, Derek Baker, “there has been much discussion and confusion about whether Republicans should pursue a strategy of ‘repeal’ (or ‘repeal and start all over’) versus ‘repeal and replace.’ While this may seem a matter of semantics to the casual observer, there is substance to the debate. At issue is what’s assumed in the repeal and replace mantra: leave the now current law mandate in place to cover preexisting conditions, rather than pursue the piecemeal strategy (once ObamaCare is repealed) that has been championed all year by Republicans of moving incremental bills that improve the healthcare system step-by-step (such as the ability to purchase insurance across state lines).”

The trouble with leaving the mandate in place for insurance companies to cover so-called preexisting conditions is that it accepts the premise of federal control over minimum levels of insurance coverage. As with any coverage expansion mandated by law, this will place upward pressure on the cost of premiums — the very problem health care reform purports to address.

In short, accepting it is tantamount to accepting higher premiums. One of the major reasons premiums have risen to the degree they have is because of the minimum insurance requirements that states already impose upon companies. Coupled with the ban on the interstate purchase of health insurance and thus the lack of a competitive national marketplace, some states have seen premiums rise faster than others.

To be certain, several states already have used what are called “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” rules that cover preexisting conditions. These rules require insurers to accept applicants without regards to factors like health status or age, and not to charge higher premiums as a result.

Get full story here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ricky Martin is livin' la vida open, says he's gay

NEW YORK — Ricky Martin is no longer denying the rumors: He's confirming that he is gay.

In a statement posted via Twitter in both Spanish and English, Martin said: "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am."

For many, Monday's announcement will come as no surprise; the "Livin' La Vida Loca" singer's sexuality has been speculated about for years. But the Puerto Rican star, who got his start as a child in the teen group Menudo, never directly addressed it and was usually seen at events with beautiful women on his arm.

Martin, 38, said he decided to reveal the truth after working on his memoirs helped him realize that he had to be free with himself, and not keep any more secrets.

"From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside," he said. "Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And this is something worth celebrating."

Martin said one of the reasons why he kept his homosexuality hidden was because he was told by some that it would hurt his career. While his U.S. career peaked after the release of his 1999 self-titled English album, a multiplatinum success that included the hits "Livin' La Vida Loca" and "Shake Your Bon-Bon," he is still a hugely successful Latin artist.

"Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth," he said in his statement. "Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions."

Martin, who is the father of two boys born via surrogate in 2008, said he couldn't continue to hide his sexuality now that he is a father: "Enough is enough. This has to change."

Martin's book is still a work in progress.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Santonio Holmes sued for alleged assault

As if the Pittsburgh Steelers needed more problems right now, USA Today reports: Santonio Holmes gets slapped with a civil suit for assault. True, it isn’t a criminal case, which could mean there was a lack of evidence to proceed there, but it’s enough to get the blue collar fans of the Steel City upset. There’s already talk that star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will miss the team’s offseason workout program as a possible criminal sexual assault case against him is pending; star wide receiver Santonio Holmes throwing his drink at Anshonoe Mills may be minor by comparison, but the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t need these kinds of distractions.

Santonio Holmes: pass catcher, drink thrower?

Anshonoe Mills alleges that Santonio Holmes “ordered her to get up” off a couch in the VIP area of the Rain Night Club in Orlando, Fla., on March 7. Apparently the two had a musical chairs-style tussle, and according to Mills, Santonio Holmes then threw his full drink in her face and the broken glass cut her. Whether she needed instant cash loans to pay an ER bill is unclear, but Mills does claim that Holmes and the Orlando PD tried to get her not to press charges. Santonio Holmes allegedly even offered her an undisclosed sum of money for her silence, which could have alleviated the potential need to seek out the services of payday lenders.

From Super Bowl XLIII MVP to trouble man
This isn’t the first time Santonio Holmes has been involved with the law and caused the Pittsburgh Steelers embarrassment. The wide receiver has been charged with marijuana possession in the past, and the cherry on the sundae is the Santonio Holmes nude photos that made the rounds online in 2008. Of the latest alleged incident between Holmes and Anshonoe Mills, no comment has been released from the Holmes camp, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

How will these men be viewed in Steelers history?
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Rooney family have a long and storied history of success. The Rooney family is one of character, and while the on-the-field, take-no-prisoners war conducted by players like Jack Lambert was tolerated, it is off-the-field embarrassment that the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes have brought the team that is particularly galling.

Of course, the media spotlight is much brighter today than it was during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ heyday of the 1970s. If TMZ and Bleacher Report had existed then, Pittsburgh fans would likely have a very different view of their sports heroes today. Neither Ben Roethlisberger nor Santonio Holmes has been convicted of late, but the air of bad decision-making plainly stinks.

Related Video:

NAACP: SunTrust Mortgage worker fired over e-mail


The NAACP says a 14-year employee was fired from SunTrust Mortgage Inc. in Richmond after she was accused of sending a chain e-mail she received at work that ultimately was forwarded to the NAACP.

The fired African-American employee said she found the e-mail offensive.

The e-mail contains pictures of 40 bumper stickers such as, "Clinton ruined a dress, Obama ruined a nation," "So I guess we're even on that slavery thing eh?" and, "Diversity -- It killed 13 at Fort Hood."

SunTrust issued a statement yesterday saying: "We do not endorse or condone the views expressed in the e-mail cited by the NAACP, and had already taken appropriate action to respond to the circulation of the e-mail."

A spokesman would not comment on whether others were reprimanded, citing personnel issues.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a copy of what it said was the e-mail sent by a SunTrust official to 13 office employees and one outside recipient under the subject line "FW: Bumper Stickers that Make Sense."

King Salim Khalfani, executive director of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, said several of the recipients were black and felt the subject matter was racially offensive.

One of the recipients forwarded it to Nicole Russ, a co-worker, writing, "I feel very offended. Look with (sic) this woman sent out to some of us!"

Russ, an accountant, said SunTrust conducted an internal investigation and then brought her into a meeting. There, she was told she was being terminated because her supervisor had "trust issues" with her and because of the e-mail, she said in a telephone interview.

She said SunTrust accused her of trying to go public with the e-mail by forwarding it to someone who would give it to the NAACP.

The official who sent the e-mail collected Russ' belongings and escorted Russ out of the building immediately after the Feb. 18 meeting, Russ said. She said she was paid through March 4.

"I always had good evaluations," she said. "He [her manager] said my performance was good. It definitely wasn't my performance."

Russ said she did send the e-mail to two people outside the company but only to see what they thought.

In its statement, SunTrust said: "We are committed to ensuring that our employees are treated consistently and fairly. And in that regard, this former employee can take advantage of our appeal process for another review of the facts that led to the decisions that were made."

Russ said she is in the process of filing a complaint with the Virginia Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"They're trying to give her due process after the fact," Khalfani said. "She wouldn't have known she could appeal if I didn't intervene."

SunTrust said it was "dedicated to diversity in all aspects of our operations."

US 'Christian militants' charged after FBI raids

"Captain Hutaree," his wife and two sons planned with other militia members to kill a law enforcement official to draw the officer's colleagues to the funeral, authorities say.

Feds: Philly man threatened Va. congressman

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia man charged with threatening the No. 2 Republican in the House was being held without bail Monday pending a psychiatric evaluation.

Norman Leboon, 38, is accused of trying to post a YouTube video in which he threatened to kill Republican Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia. Leboon is wanted by city authorities in another threat case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Reed said.

The threat against Cantor does not appear to be connected to the health care reform bill, though it's not clear whether Leboon was upset with the House Republican whip about other issues, Reed said. Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in Congress, and Passover begins Monday at sundown.

Reed told a judge that Leboon appears to have major psychiatric issues.

Leboon calls himself the "son of the god of Enoch" in the video and calls Cantor "pure evil," according to court documents.

Leboon's public defender declined comment.

Cantor said through a spokesman that authorities had notified him of a threat over the weekend and had been keeping him posted on Leboon's arrest. He referred further questions to the FBI.

Last week, police in Richmond, Va., determined that a bullet that hit a window of Cantor's office there had been randomly fired skyward.

At a news conference Thursday, Cantor said he has received threats since he's assumed elected office not only because of his leadership position but because of his faith.

Rio Tinto terminates employment of convicted staff

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Rio Tinto /quotes/comstock/22x!e:rio (AU:RIO 78.39, +0.07, +0.09%) /quotes/comstock/13*!rtp/quotes/nls/rtp (RTP 231.11, +4.95, +2.19%) said Monday that in accordance with its company policies, it will terminate the employment of the four Shanghai-based employees convicted of bribery and spying charges, saying in a statement the evidence it had reviewed in relation to the bribery charges pointed to "deplorable" conduct that was "at odds" with its ethical culture. "We have been informed of the clear evidence presented in court that showed beyond doubt that the four convicted employees had accepted bribes," Sam Walsh, the miner's chief executive, said in the statement. Rio said it was unable to comment on charges of obtaining commercial secrets, as it had not had the opportunity to consider the evidence in this part of the case.
By Chris Oliver

Something for everyone at 2010 Final Four

There's a favorite in Duke, a little guy in Butler, a team returning to the big-time in West Virginia and a regular hardly anyone figured would get so far this season in Michigan State.

One of the most unpredictable NCAA tournaments in recent history served up four distinctly different stories for the Final Four.

Butler, enrollment 4,500, plays in the gym where they filmed the basketball classic "Hoosiers" and is making its first Final Four appearance. The Bulldogs play Michigan State on Saturday, which is making its sixth and perhaps most unexpected trip in the past 12 years.

The other game features West Virginia, making its first appearance since 1959, against the Duke Blue Devils, who hadn't made it since 2004 — a long time by their standards.

"It's not about the moments that I've been in, it's the moment that your players put you in right now," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, making his 11th Final Four appearance.

The Blue Devils (33-5), 78-71 winners over Baylor on Sunday, are the only No. 1 seed to make the Final Four, and as such, are the early 3-2 favorite to win it all.

Returning after a much longer time away are West Virginia and coach Bob Huggins, who made it in 1992 when he coached Cincinnati. Since then, he's been on a coaching odyssey that has included trouble with the NCAA, a heart attack and a one-year stop at Kansas State before he returned to his alma mater in Morgantown.

Through it all, he has done a lot of winning. The latest was Saturday's 73-66 upset over No. 1 Kentucky in the East Regional that put the Mountaineers (31-6) in the Final Four for the first time since guard Jerry West was their biggest star.

read more..

Obama pays surprise visit to Afghanistan

President Obama flew into Afghanistan's capital Sunday night on an unannounced visit, his first trip as president to this war-battered country where tens of thousands of new US troops are being deployed.

Lawyer who found documents has long pursued church

Pope Benedict celebrated Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican. He did not refer directly to the scandal over the handling of sexual abuse by clergy members.

At least 3 arrests after FBI raids in Midwest

Michigan State Police stand guard on Tomer Street in Clayton, Mich. on Sunday March 28, 2010 after an FBI raid of a home of a suspected militia leader. The FBI said Sunday that agents conducted weekend raids in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and arrested at least three people. (AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero)

ADRIAN, Mich. — Some of the suspects from the FBI's weekend raids in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are expected in court.

It's not clear what prompted the raids, which the FBI says resulted in at least three arrests.

Federal warrants are sealed, but a federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said some of those arrested face gun charges and officials are pursuing other suspects. Court appearances are expected Monday.

A militia leader in Michigan said the target of at least one raid was a Christian militia group called Hutaree.

On its Web site, Hutaree states that it believes that Jesus wants people to be prepared to defend themselves against the Antichrist.

Female suicide bombers suspected in Moscow subway attacks

Moscow, Russia -- Explosions that rocked two subway stations in central Moscow during the Monday morning rush hour are being investigated as acts of terrorism, authorities said.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tony Mack at School Board Budget Meeting

This morning I attended the School Board Budget Meeting that was held at 8am and had a chance to talk to several board members and members of the public about the layoffs for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2010. At this point the Board is considering laying off 215 workers, which includes 85 security personnel. Below is a press release I have issued about these cuts and pictures from the event.

Trenton City School Budget Cuts -

Tavis Smiley Questions Minister Louis Farrakhan On President Barack Obama

From Tavis Smiley's "We Count! The Black Agenda is the America Agenda" symposium on March 20, 2010.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

British protesters demand Pope quits over abuse

British protesters called on Pope Benedict XVI to resign Sunday as they staged a demonstration over the Catholic Church’s handling of clerical sex abuse cases.

Demonstrators gathered outside Westminster Cathedral to call for action over the scandal, carrying placards displaying messages including “Pope? Nope!” and “Don’t Turn a Blind Eye,” though fewer than 50 people joined the rally.

Revelations of the sexual abuse of children by priests at Catholic institutions have swept across Europe, including in the pope’s native Germany.

Benedict has been criticized over a case dating to his tenure as archbishop of Munich, and his actions when head of the Vatican office responsible for disciplining priests.

“The buck stops with him and he should resign,” human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said at the London rally. “The pope has played a direct personal role in covering up sex abuse.”

However, Benedict won support from Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols who insisted the pope wouldn’t — and shouldn’t — quit.

“The pope will not resign, frankly there is no strong reason for him to do so,” he told BBC television. “In fact, it is the other way around. He is the one above all else in Rome that has tackled this thing head on.”

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Resegregation of North Carolina Schools Leads to Massive Protests

The school board in Wake County, which holds the capital city of North Carolina, agreed on Tuesday to turn back a busing policy designed to achieve diversity. The decision was approved by the board in a 5 to 4 vote and led to a tremendous amount of controversy. The rule allows students to attend schools closer to home and leads to what some critics consider to be the resegregation of the school system.

The gathering led to students chanting and protesting outside the meeting. Three men were arrested and charged with trespassing and resisting officers. One of the men were released, while two others remained in jail on Tuesday night.

"Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Resegregation has got to go," an arrested man chanted as officers placed him in the back of a squad car.

State NAACP Chief William Barber accused the new school board of having "racist attitudes," after hearing the chairman of the board referring to his critics as "animals out of the cages."

"It's morally wrong. It's legally wrong. It's economically wrong," Barber said. "Your press to go backward will only serve to intensify our moral, political and legal fight to go forward. We will never go back."

Suburban parents have always felt busing to be a tremendous inconvenience. These parents, many of whom are white and middle class, argue that their children should be able to attend schools in their own neighborhoods. Suburban parents worked to get the new school board in place, leading to the change in the law.

Bill Randall, a black conservative running for Congress, stated that the diversity program was not a serious problem.

"Let this school board do what they were elected to do," Randall said.

The situation in North Carolina is disturbing for a number of reasons. First, the idea that the chairman would refer to his critics, many of whom are black, brown and poor as "animals" is reflective of the kind of racism that exists in the South. This is similar to the recent incident in South Carolina (down the road), where many conservatives are appalled that black lawmakers are asking for just one seat on the 16-seat board of trustees at The University of South Carolina. Some in the South, particularly conservatives, maintain a perception of black people as being less than human, less than capable and less than deserving of true equality when it comes to power and opportunity.

On the issue of school desegregation, we must realize that desegregation was necessary mainly because the schools that were attended by black children were so inadequately funded. If there were equality of funding for all schools across America, I would be the first in line to advocate for children to be allowed to attend schools that are closer to home. The problem is, though, that dramatic differentials in opportunity, between inner-city and suburban schools, continue to make quality public education, for the most part, something that is only available or affordable to white America.

So, rather than being angry at the parents who want their kids to have a chance to attend better schools, suburban parents should look at the school boards and government officials who continue to keep educational resources away from children in urban America. Until we learn how to achieve true equality, we are always going to be faced with a fight.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the new book, "Black American Money." To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email.

California Board of Regents Apologizes for Racially-Motivated Incidents

The University of California Board of Regents got together for two hours on Wednesday to discuss racial and homophobic incidents that have occurred on their campuses recently. Two of the incidents involved the use of a racial epithet on a student television show at UC San Diego and swastikas painted and carved on multiple locations at UC Davis. An anti-gay slogan was spray painted on the UC Davis gay and lesbian center, and some UC San Diego students held a "Compton Cookout," featuring insulting images of African Americans.

The group decided to issue an apology to the incidents.

"It is the absence of inclusion that frees hatred, that frees bigotry, that allows it to go unchallenged. That's our biggest problem," regent Eddie Island said.

Mark Yudof, president of the University of California system, acknowledged the "Compton Cookout" incident and even mentioned the low African American enrollment on campus. He then argued that he wants all UC campuses to adopt an admissions process that he considers to be "holistic" in the way students are reviewed. The process would include evaluating test scores and high school grades in the context of life experience.

"I want a system that is less mechanical and takes a serious look at a range of talents and skills and history, and takes into account poverty," Yudof said.

UC San Diego, where the Compton Cookout took place allows for holistic review. But Yudof stated that he would like to use the same system at all nine of the UC undergraduate campuses. What is most interesting, however, is that Yudof should remember that talk is cheap and apologies only matter when you put your money where your mouth is. The truth is that if you do an analysis of the number of African American professors on most of the campuses in the UC system, you are probably going to be extremely disappointed. But I imagine that while the universities swear up and down that they can't find qualified black professors (although there are thousands out there), they have no problem going to South Central Los Angeles to find the next great black basketball phenom.

Most of us around the country are aware of the race problem at University of California colleges and universities. Since Ward Connerly was able to get Proposition 209 passed in the state, many of the state's universities are suffering an embarrassing litany of diversity issues that have turned the state into a prototype of racial exclusion. An environment that lacks diversity in the student and faculty body ultimately serves as an incubator for racial ignorance. When students make bad decisions, it is up to us as faculty to question what it is that we are teaching them.

Dr. Yudof and his colleagues would be well-advised to understand that we live in a world in which black and brown people are a significant and relevant piece of the global experience. By denying their students the opportunity to learn from faculty who come from under-represented minority groups, they are stealing their chance to understand America. By refusing to admit black and brown students, they are allowing UC students to learn about us by watching BET and NBA games. Therefore, the white students choosing to hold a "Compton Cookout" is a reflection of their most accurate and appropriate representation of people of color.

I spoke last month at Stanford University, only to find myself disturbed by the deflated spirits of many of the African American students. While Stanford is not part of the UC system, there was a general perception that diversity was no longer valued in California, and that the black and brown academic holocaust is being ignored. During this holocaust, student futures are being destroyed by those determined to raise the height of gates one is required to jump in order to obtain admission to their institutions. Had I grown up in that state, I never would have gone to college, and that would have ruined my life.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the new book, "Black American Money." To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email.

Kwame Kilpatrick's Family to be Deposed About Stripper's Murder

There's never a dull moment for former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. A judge ordered Kilpatrick's wife and father to answer questions in a civil lawsuit related to the shooting death of a stripper.

The family of the woman, whose name is Tamara Greene, claim that Kilpatrick stifled a probe into the woman's death in 2003. Her nickname was Strawberry, and she was believed to have performed at a party at the mayoral mansion in 2002.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen said that lawyers for the Greene family can speak with Carlita Kilpatrick (Kwame Kilpatrick's wife), Bernard Kilpatrick (his father) and a former Detroit police chief. The reasons for their depositions are not yet known.

A former police records clerk claims that she saw a report stating that Carlita Kilpatrick beat Greene. The Kilpatricks are denying the allegation. Kwame Kilpatrick resigned as mayor after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.

The legendary death of Strawberry the stripper, which appeared to be a calculated hit, is a tale that has intrigued Detroit residents for years. A rapper made a song about her, and people have whispered for years about how she was "coincidentally" found dead shortly after being wrapped in the drama of an embattled and powerful politician.

The story was made even more shocking when the attorney for Greene's family was allegedly told by the city attorney that "(He'll) end up face down in an alley with a knife in his back" if he chooses to depose individuals who draw too much media attention to the case. Yes, Detroit politics is apparently off the chain. I won't be running for office there anytime soon.

I feel sorry for Kwame Kilpatrick, who was no doubt being congratulated incessantly for having so much success at an early age. Now his life of luxury and power has been replaced with the humiliation of his family, stressful court dates, massive fines, jail time and perpetual disgrace. It is a reminder that all which glitters isn't gold and that access to power requires an increased dose of caution and responsibility.

To read more on the scandal, check out 'Attorney's Life Allegedly Threatened in Case Involving Kwame Kilpatrick.'

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and author of the new book, 'Black American Money

Teen charged in 2nd racial incident at NJ Walmart

teenager who allegedly made an announcement earlier this month ordering all black people to leave a southern New Jersey Walmart has been charged in a similar incident at the same store just after Christmas.
The 16-year-old Atlantic County boy, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was charged last week with harassment and bias intimidation in the March 14 incident.

Washington Township police said Thursday that the teen did the same thing Dec. 28 at the Gloucester County store. Police were not initially notified of that incident, but store officials turned over surveillance video this week.

Walmart has apologized and made changes to the store's intercom system to prevent future incidents. source

Health Care Bill Hits Companies In Wallet

Well, it has started. Major companies are already adding up the mounting costs of the health care takeover law recently signed by Obama:

AT&T Inc. will book $1 billion in first-quarter costs related to the health-care law signed this week by President Barack Obama, the most of any U.S. company so far.

AT&T, the biggest U.S. phone company, joins Caterpillar Inc., AK Steel Holding Corp. and 3M Co. in recording non-cash expenses against earnings as a result of the law. Health-care costs may shave as much as $14 billion from U.S. corporate profits, according to an estimate by benefits consulting firm Towers Watson. AT&T employed about 281,000 people as of the end of January.

AT&T previously received a tax-free benefit from the government to subsidize health-care costs for retirees, who would otherwise be on a Medicare Part D plan. Under the new bill, AT&T will no longer be able to deduct that subsidy.

“As a result of this legislation, including the additional tax burden, AT&T will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health-care benefits offered by the company,” the carrier said in the filing. Business Week

The health care takeover is costing businesses and their stockholders a lot of money. Businesses will have to make adjustments that will include removing retirees from subsidized plans and putting them on Medicare plans as well as downsizing the number of employees.

This will not be good for the economy.

The takeover is not about health and not about care. It is about control and about Socialism as pointed out by the NYT and other liberal sources.

We are watching the destruction of America.

Yep, this was a historic piece of legislation. Obama and his progressives will go down in history as the group that destroyed our way of life.

Never surrender, never submit.

Video: Sarah Palin stumps for John McCain in Arizona

Here is the full video of Sarah Palin stumping for John McCain in Arizona.

It is funny watching this video and thinking back to McCain’s concession speech. Sarah was not allowed to give her short speech. Today, McCain would probably give his eyetooth to have Sarah so much as wink to his audience. While McCain is still the same man he was then, Palin has grown by leaps and bounds.

Throughout Palin’s speech notice how she tried to cloak McCain in her brand of conservatism rather than sing praises for his. Also did you notice the immediate drop in enthusiasm once McCain took to the stage?

I cannot help but wonder how different things might have gone. Had the McCain campaign simply allowed Sarah to be Sarah, rather than trying to shoe horn her into McCain flawed RINO philosophies.

While some conservatives have a major problem with this endorsement, I don’t. After reading Going Rogue, I know she is doing it out of personal loyalty. I like Palin and her brand of conservatism, but just because she endorses someone, it doesn’t mean I have to vote for that candidate. If I were in Arizona, I would have gone to the rally, cheered Sarah, listen to McCain and then gone out and support JD Hayworth.

Rep. Artur Davis seeks to become Alabama's first African American governor

Rep. Artur Davis, long regarded as one of the most promising of a younger generation of black politicians that has emerged over the past decade, took a bold stance this week as he seeks to become the first African American governor of Alabama: distancing himself from the biggest legislative achievement of the first black president.

The four-term lawmaker joined 33 other Democrats, most of whom hail from the South, in opposing the health-care legislation that President Obama signed into law Tuesday. Davis originally voted against the House version of the legislation in November, and Democratic leaders did not spend much time trying to get him to change his vote, perhaps in a nod to the political dynamics of his state, where Obama won only 38 percent of the vote in 2008.

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Showdown in Searchlight: Tea party targets Reid

Sarah Palin and thousands of tea party activists plan to descend on Sen. Harry Reid's hometown in the Nevada desert Saturday to call for the ouster of Democrats who supported the health care overhaul.

Organizers predict as many as 10,000 people could come to tiny Searchlight, the hardscrabble former mining town where the Senate Democratic leader grew up and owns a home. But a light turnout or disruptions could lead to questions about the emerging movements' credibility and direction.

Since the health care vote, "Everyone is waiting to see if the tea party movement is reinvigorated or if we've resigned ourselves to defeat," Joe Wierzbicki, a spokesman for event sponsor Tea Party Express, said in an e-mail.

The rally that's been called a conservative Woodstock takes place just days after the historic health care vote that ushered in near-universal medical coverage and divided Congress and the nation.

The vote was followed by reports of threats and vandalism aimed at some Washington lawmakers, mostly Democrats who supported the new law.

Police don't expect problems but the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is sending dozens of uniformed and plainclothes officers to patrol the crowd.

Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, is scheduled to appear after spending Friday campaigning for Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who led the 2008 ticket.

Now a Fox News analyst and potential 2012 presidential candidate, Palin faced criticism after posting a map on her Facebook page that had circles and cross hairs over 20 Democratic districts. She also sent a tweet saying, "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!"

She said Friday she was alluding to votes, not guns.

A string of polls has shown Reid is vulnerable in politically moderate Nevada after pushing President Barack Obama's agenda in Congress. His standing has also been hurt by Nevada's double-digit unemployment and record foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.

The tea party movement is a far-flung coalition of conservative groups angered by Washington spending, rising taxes and the growth and reach of government. It takes its name from the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when colonists dumped tea off English ships to protest what they considered unfair taxation by the British crown.

The rally kicks off a 42-city bus tour that ends in Washington on April 15, tax day.