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 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

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.