Monday, March 8, 2010

Latest 'Iron Man 2' Trailer Shows More Story and New Technology

We’ve got our first big Iron Man 2 tease poster for Today's News NJ friends. A high resolution Iron Man 2 poster featuring War Machine with right shoulder mounted gun. As teaser posters go, this one’s pretty awesome.

Greek debt crisis could raise problems for U.S. and other countries

By Neil Irwin

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, March 5, 2010; A12

Greece's economy is about the same size as that of Massachusetts. The Mediterranean nation ranks 63rd among buyers of U.S. exports. Athens is 5,139 miles from Washington.

But despite this literal and figurative distance, the Greek debt crisis has created a new set of risks for the U.S. economy -- remote risks, perhaps, but real nonetheless.

Economic policymakers and many private analysts see a danger that the Greek troubles will lead to the next wave of turmoil for the global economy. Investors are pouring money into government debt around the world, viewing it as a safe investment in an uncertain time. That has helped keep interest rates very low in most large countries, fueling the global economic recovery.

But any default or near-default by Greece could lead investors to question those assumptions, raising doubts that the debts of other nations, including Spain and Italy, and even Britain and the United States, are safe.

As investors perceive a greater risk, they would demand higher interest rates on their loans, causing rates to rise and choking economic growth. Mortgage rates would rise, for example, and it would become more expensive for businesses to borrow money to expand.

The fear among some analysts is that just as subprime mortgage loans -- representing a minuscule portion of the global financial landscape -- triggered a massive crisis back in 2007, so could Greece cause problems for much bigger, and apparently more stable, nations around the world.

A taste of Thailand

One of the lessons of the global financial meltdown is that crises tend to evolve in unpredictable ways. That was also the experience in the late 1990s, when market concerns about Thailand's foreign debt led investors to question the finances of several other East Asian nations, resulting in the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.

"Greece is like Thailand in 1997 and like subprime in the summer of 2007," said Robert H. Dugger, a managing partner at Hanover Investment Group, a financial consulting firm.

Such contagion has not yet spread from Greece, and forecasters generally view this prospect as a "tail risk" -- a danger that's unlikely to arise but that would be nasty if it did. Financial market participants seem confident that Greece's problems will be confined to Greece and perhaps a few other European nations with particularly ugly public finances.

Washington policymakers, their private concern notwithstanding, have said publicly only that they are monitoring the situation and are confident that European authorities will be responsible for any bailout.

So far, the episode has made it cheaper for the U.S. government to borrow, as investors have moved money into dollars -- and Treasury bonds in particular -- to try to reduce exposure to developments in Europe. The federal government could borrow money for 10 years at 3.6 percent on Thursday based on bond yields, very low by any historical standard and down from 3.84 percent at the beginning of the year.

And finally, there was good news Thursday even for Greece, which successfully sold 5 billion euros, about $6.8 billion, of 10-year debt, suggesting that global investors expect Athens to steer its finances into line.

But if a crisis of confidence in government debt were to erupt, it could spread quickly because of the way European economies are linked with one another and with the rest of the world.

Backing the banks

Consider, for example, a foreign bank that loses money on loans it made in Greece or other European nations with fragile finances. That bank's problems in turn can become trouble for its home government, especially now that banks in many large nations are effectively backed by their governments. This support is the result of efforts in many capitals to protect financial firms during the financial crisis by standing behind them.

"The banking system could really act as a shock enhancer in this case," said Elisa Parisi-Capone, a senior research analyst at Roubini Global Economics. "Given that banks in Europe hold large claims on Greece, if Greece gets in trouble and those claims lose value, the governments of the banks that hold Greek paper are on the hook. This is the link through which contagion propagates."

Spreading from one European country to another, these debt troubles could lead to a pullback in bank lending, slowing the continent's economy further. That in turn might have an indirect effect on the recovery in the United States as Europeans reduce their demand for American products.

But fiscal crises in Europe could have a more dramatic impact in the United States if they prompt investors to question the ability of the U.S. government to manage its finances. The United States is running large budget deficits, reflecting a sharp decline in tax revenue because of the recession and increased spending to stimulate the anemic economy.

If bond investors lose faith that the U.S. government will be able to bring the deficits down over time, rates could rise to reflect the risk of default. In turn, that could slow or stop the recovery.

The Federal Reserve controls short-term interest rates but has far less control over longer-term rates, which include those paid on home mortgages and corporate loans.

Moreover, higher Treasury bond rates, by making large budget deficits more expensive to finance, would signal to politicians that they need to trim the deficit more aggressively. This, too, could restrain the recovery by hamstringing efforts to stimulate the economy.

Climate Change: Having it Both Ways, Part 2

By Victor Morawski

In my previous column, we saw that defenders of Global Warming are trying to have it both ways when it comes to finding confirmations of their theory. They appeal to opposite sorts of natural phenomena as confirming evidence: Lack of snow in Vancouver, receding glaciers and recent milder winters on the one hand and this year's record-setting snows on the other.

This raises the question whether they would take any observational evidence as disconfirming their theory. If not, then we may wonder if global warming is nothing more than pseudo-science.

A response taken now by some defenders is that what they are really talking about is climate change, not weather change. This being the case, as meteorologist Jeff Masters points out, "no single weather event can be blamed on climate change." And no single weather event — such as Snowmageddon — can be cited as disconfirming it.

His point is that the predictions made by climate change proponents are not the simple "All swans are white" sorts of predictions discussed by Popper and countering the theory is not as simple as just finding one non-white swan to prove it false. Rather, they are statistical in nature.

As Masters notes, "one can 'load the dice' in favor of events that used to be rare — or unheard of — if the climate is changing to a new state… [T]he dice have been loaded in favor of more intense Nor'easters for the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast." According to the hypothesis, Climate Change predicts no specific intense storm but only an increase in their frequency in the long run.

Consistent with such long-term statistical predictions are short-term anomalies. Flipping a coin one thousand times will produce "heads" on half the throws. But somewhere in the process a series of throws may come up "tails" twenty times in a row. Such an anomaly does not necessarily overthrow the long-run prediction.

This fact has recently given a haven of refuge to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Jane Lubchenco. NOAA's mission purportedly includes, "'informing climate change mitigation and adaptation."

Asked recently about East Anglia University's Dr. Phil Jones' admission that "for the past 15 years there has been no 'statistically significant' warming," Lubchenco responded "that it is inappropriate to look at any particular short period of time to discern the long-term trend." She went on to say that one could find competing trends if one singles out any ten or fifteen-year period in the last century but "that longer history shows unequivocal increases in global average temperatures."

Now wait a minute. This is the same Jane Lubchenco who warned, of "an ecological tsunami [in the oceans] of unprecedented proportions." Elsewhere, when asked about climate change's effects on ocean life she replied, "as a result of the warming waters … corals are bleaching with increased frequency... it also is melting ice in the Arctic, and many species that are dependent on ice for their homes, from polar bears to ice seals… are becoming increasingly threatened with extinction."

Her agency recently released a report on how climate change will affect the US in the next 20 years or so, which predicted a reduction in Western mountain snowpacks adversely affecting water supplies, more heat related illnesses and deaths due to rising average temperatures and a rise in respiratory diseases.

But if we are now talking about climate change as a long-run phenomenon, shouldn't it be illegitimate to make such short range predictions? And is it not as questionable to refer to climate change as the explanation for a specific event like corals bleaching or melting Arctic ice, as it would be to point to a specific weather event like missing snows in Vancouver as explainable by it?

Lubchenco goes a step further, demanding immediate action. She said earlier this year in a Yale interview: "Climate change is real, it's causing changes in our own backyard… and therefore there is urgency in moving ahead with reducing heat-trapping pollution as soon as possible."

Again, if we are talking about it as a long-term phenomenon, where even a fifteen-year cooling period is not supposed to be inconsistent with its gradual development, then surely the long-developing nature of climate significantly undermines the case for urgent, immediate action.

Lubchenco would clearly like to have it both ways and construe climate change in whatever way best suits her immediate needs, a strategy which seems to be incoherent. It is certainly no basis for formulating any public policy radically reducing carbon emissions in the near term.

Victor Morawski, professor at Coppin State University, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

Capitol South

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Aponte: A Loyalty Risk for Ambassador?

By Richard McCarty

President Obama made a terrible mistake nominating Mari Del Carmen Aponte to be ambassador to El Salvador. Aside from the fact that Aponte has given tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats, why would Obama waste more political capital trying to get this controversial and incompetent nominee into government?

Nearly a dozen years ago, President Clinton nominated Aponte to be ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Several months later, her nomination was withdrawn because Aponte did not wish to answer Senators' tough questions about her past.

Aponte's biggest problem was her eight-year relationship with Roberto Tamayo, a man who was friendly with and indisputably in regular contact with Cuban intelligence. Some have even called him a spy. Tamayo loaned Aponte money, which allegedly came from the Cuban intelligence service; and Aponte never repaid the loan.

A Cuban defector once even asserted that Cuban intelligence wished to recruit Aponte. Of course, she denied any knowledge of Cuban intelligence efforts to recruit her.

The FBI questioned Aponte about her contact with Cuban intelligence, and she gave somewhat inconsistent answers. The FBI then requested that she take a polygraph test, but she refused saying that she was not subject to a background check.

These are hardly the actions of a trustworthy public servant who has nothing to hide. Over the objections of career personnel at the State Department, she received her top-secret security clearance—after all, she was a good friend of Hillary Clinton.

Regardless of the truth about her dealings with her boyfriend and his connections to Cuban intelligence, Aponte would seem to have divided loyalties. Although she has experience serving as an ambassador, she previously represented the "country" of Puerto Rico in the United States.

That's right, from 2001 to 2004, Aponte served as the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. In this cabinet-level role, she represented the governor of Puerto Rico in the United States. It appears that she viewed herself as an ambassador to the United States. At an official gathering in 2003, she referred to Puerto Rico as a "country." And this was no slip-of-the-tongue: several days later her office issued a press release calling her office building in D.C. an "embassy."

But even if we were to set these loyalty concerns aside, there are still plenty of troubling things about Aponte's record. Her record conclusively shows her to be both radical and incompetent.

She has served on the boards of the National Council of La Raza, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (now LatinoJustice PRLDEF), Democracia USA, and PODER PAC. La Raza (the Race) and LatinoJustice PRLDEF both advocate for rights for illegal immigrants, among other things.

Democracia USA is a group founded by the radical People for the American Way. Like ACORN, Democracia USA has been accused of voter registration fraud. PODER PAC is a discriminatory group that only supports liberal, female, Hispanic Democrats. Fittingly, its slogan is "by Latinas, for Latinas." This slogan is not far from the slogan of the blatantly racist group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), which is, "For The Race everything. Outside The Race nothing."

Aponte is also a member of the Belizean Grove, and she recommended Justice Sonia Sotomayor for membership. Of course, Sotomayor quit the females-only club before her Senate confirmation.

But even if we set aside concerns about Aponte's loyalty and her radicalism, she still has a disturbing record of incompetence. For example, she served on the board of the United Way of America as its president, Bill Aramony, lived a lavish lifestyle, and funneled United Way's money to his family and cronies.

What was the board's reaction as the problems came to light? After an internal investigation, the board unanimously offered its support for Aramony and attributed the problems to sloppiness and inattention to detail. Ultimately, Aramony went to prison, and the lackadaisical board was shaken up after local chapters withheld their dues to the national organization.

Aponte was a partner at a minority law firm that routinely changed its name partners—five times over the course of six years. At one point, the firm owed the IRS $1 million in back taxes. Eventually, the firm collapsed, and a creditor sued for $1 million claiming that the firm had filed fraudulent documents to obtain money.

The business license of Aponte & Tsaknis, another firm at which she served as partner, was revoked. Aponte was the registered agent for the firm. Furthermore, she was managing partner of KJN/DC, an advertising firm, whose business license was also revoked.

Finally, Aponte served as an unofficial advisor to the unpopular, one-term mayor of Washington, D.C., Sharon Pratt. Presumably, Aponte's relationship with Pratt helped her land a seat on the board of the University of the District of Columbia. Throughout Aponte's time on the board, the university was beset by problems.

There is certainly enough in Aponte's past for Senators to justify placing holds and demanding recorded roll call votes on this controversial nominee, whose radicalism on display, loyalty concerns, and incompetence are just another example of this Administration's astounding arrogance.

Richard McCarty is an assistant director of Research for Americans for Limited Government.

Calif state senator says he's gay after DUI arrest

— Republican state Sen. Roy Ashburn said Monday he is gay, ending days of speculation that began after his arrest last week for investigation of driving under the influence.

Ashburn, who consistently voted against gay rights measures during his 14 years in statewide office, came out in an interview with KERN radio in Bakersfield, the area he represents.

Ashburn said he felt compelled to address rumors that he had visited a gay nightclub near the Capitol before his DUI arrest.

"I am gay ... those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long," Ashburn told conservative talk show host Inga Barks.

The 55-year-old father of four said he had tried to keep his personal life separate from his professional life until his March 3 arrest.

"When I crossed the line and broke the law and put people at risk, that's different, and I do owe people an explanation," he said.

Ashburn was arrested after he was spotted driving erratically near the Capitol, according to the California Highway Patrol. Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman from the Sacramento County district attorney's office, said a breath test showed the senator's blood-alcohol level was .14 percent, or .06 points above the legal limit.

The next day, reports surfaced that Ashburn had left Faces, a gay nightclub, with an unidentified man in the passenger seat of his Senate-owned vehicle.

"The best way to handle that is to be truthful and to say to my constituents and all who care that I am gay," he said. "But I don't think it's something that has affected, nor will it affect, how I do my job."


Obama honors Alabama football team

President Barack Obama honored the national championship University of Alabama football team on Monday at a White House event where the president punctuated his remarks by declaring, "Roll Tide."

Obama congratulated the team for its undefeated season and invoked Alabama coaching legend Paul "Bear" Bryant as he recognized the program for its first national title in 17 years. He said the team's newfound success is due in large part to the efforts of coach Nick Saban, who quickly turned the program around after arriving in Tuscaloosa and won a championship in his third season.

"I think it's safe to say that the Tide is back," Obama said, to the occasional "Roll Tide" chant from his audience.

The president received a football, helmet and jersey from Alabama players after his speech and went on to shake the hands of most of the team, including Saban and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.

"As Coach Bryant once said, "I think the most important thing of all for any team is a winning attitude,'" Obama said. "I think this team would make him proud, because they've got that winning attitude."

Among those in attendance was Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who has repeatedly clashed with Obama on economic and banking issues by virtue of his position as the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

Obama also pointed out to the crowd that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was not in attendance. Gibbs is from Auburn — home to the Crimson Tide's heated rival.

"He's hiding in his office right now," Obama said to laughter.

Lil Wayne begins year jail term in NYC gun case

NEW YORK — After saying goodbye on concert stages and online video streams, Lil Wayne had nothing to add as he was sentenced Monday to a year in jail for having a loaded gun on his tour bus.

The Grammy Award-winning rapper delivered only a brief bow to fans and supporters as he was led out of a courtroom in handcuffs to start serving his sentence.

With that, Lil Wayne headed off to face his punishment in a case that had shadowed him as he became one of music's most prolific and profitable figures in recent years. Arrested in July 2007, he pleaded guilty in October to attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He admitted he had the loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun on his bus.

His lawyer, Stacey Richman, said the rapper was resolute as he was taken away.

"He knew what he had to do, and he's doing it," she said.

Lil Wayne will serve his sentence in the Rikers Island jail complex. Richman said she expected he would be held in protective custody, but the city Correction Department said it was still deciding on that. Protective custody is given to inmates who, for a variety of reasons including notoriety, require separation from the general prison population.

The 27-year-old rap star could be released in about eight months with good behavior.

Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Carter, is going behind bars with his career in full throttle. His "Tha Carter III" was the best-selling album of 2008 and won a Grammy for best rap album. His latest album, "Rebirth," was released last month.

He made a point of leaving fans with fanfare, from a "farewell tour" in recent months to a series of videos on the Web site Ustream on Sunday.

"Law is mind without reason ... I'll return," he wrote on his Twitter account Monday morning.

Dozens of fans jockeyed with photographers waiting on the courthouse steps Monday afternoon, cheering as Lil Wayne, fellow rapper Birdman and others arrived. Shouts of "Oh, man" and "Keep your head up, Weezy!" — a nickname he often uses — erupted in the courtroom as he was sentenced.

Although Lil Wayne had agreed to go to jail, a number of roadblocks kept him from starting his sentence in recent weeks.

First, his sentencing was postponed in February so he could undergo surgery on his bejeweled teeth. Then, a fire shut down Manhattan's main criminal courthouse while he was on his way there last week.

He told Rolling Stone for a story last month that he planned to keep working while behind bars.

"I'll be still rapping in there, have a gang of raps ready when I come back home," he said.

As for listening to music, inmates are allowed to buy AM/FM radios at the jail commissary.

Former Alabama Mayor Larry Langford Is Sentenced to 15 Years

Update: According to the Birmingham Business Journal, ex-mayor of Birmingham Larry Langford was sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting more than $200,000 in bribes:

"Former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his October bribery conviction by a judge in a Tuscaloosa court Friday.


"Federal prosecutors claimed two Langford associates gave him money, clothes and jewelry in exchange for millions of dollars of county business. The Tuscaloosa jury came back with the guilty verdict after two hours of deliberation."

Former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford is going to be sentenced today for a bribery scandal. Langford was convicted of 60 felony counts back in October and removed from office. He is expected to be sent to federal prison for taking roughly $235,000 in bribes.

Prosecutors are requesting that the 63-year-old Langford go to prison for no less than 24 years. Their argument is that he has not shown any remorse for his actions. They are also asking that he repay $119,000 in back taxes to the IRS.

The Larry Langford saga is an interesting reflection on the American political experience. I had a younger relative who thought about going in to politics. His dream was to become rich, famous and powerful, rubbing elbows with the biggest, baddest and brightest people in the world. He wanted to hang out with billionaires and show his face on national television.

When he told me about his dream, I got worried. A lot of people start their lives in idealistic pursuits of power, and allow those dreams to put them in to situations that ultimately undermine their happiness. They end up doing things that violate their personal code of ethics and being a part of games, where the rules are normally broken. Before long, that person may end up like Larry Langford, who at one point, probably thought he was living the American dream.

I am not here to say that Larry Langford is guilty or innocent, and I refuse to say whether he is a bad or good person. Sure the courts found him guilty, but innocent people are sent to prison all the time. Also, I am not sure if Langford was an especially dirty politician or a guy who did what everyone else does and found himself on the short-end of a nasty smear campaign. In many cases, there may be several politicians breaking the law at the same time, while only the least powerful one gets exposed to the public. But again, I am not sure that this is the case for Larry Langford.

At the very least, I am sure there was a point where Langford never saw himself in this situation. He never thought he'd one day expect to spend his last years on earth in a prison cell. He went to college, studied hard, made assertive choices and became a beloved mayor of a major city. This is hardly the story you'd expect to have a sad ending.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Black Professor Becomes Major Media Entrepreneur

If you are a black scholar in America, then you probably know about the work of Dr. Lee Jones. Dr. Jones is the founder of the largest organization of black male PhDs, The Brothers of the Academy. He has also spun his amazing organizational skills into the creation of Inspire Magazine, one of the strongest and fastest-growing publications in America.

AOL Black Voices had a chance to catch up with Dr. Jones:
1) Tell us about your career path over the past 15 – 20 years.

First let me say that I have been truly Blessed to have the opportunity to live within my purpose. I am doing exactly what I want to do, which is to serve and provide inspiration. I have met my Purpose in Person! I have enjoyed a very peaceful career in higher education thus far. I started as a Hall Director at The Ohio State University and moved up as Coordinator of the Mentoring Program, Director of Retention, Executive Assistant to VP of Business Affairs and adjunct professor before leaving Ohio State. I went on to Washington State University, where I served as Director of The Office of Multicultural Student Serves and Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership. It was at Washington State University, where we started Your Voice TV Show. After leaving WSU, I accepted a job at Florida State University as Associate Dean for Education and Associate Professor Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. I earned tenure at FSU. I also served as Executive Producer and Host of Your Voice TV. After leaving FSU, I accepted job as Dean of The School of Graduate Studies and Full Professor of Educational Leadership. Currently I am Professor, President and Executive Editor of InSpire Magazine! I have just started producing and hosting B-InSpired Talk Radio www.binspiredtalkradio

2) You created Brothers of the Academy, the largest organization in America for Black Male PhDs. Why did you create the group and how has it evolved through time?

Brothers of The Academy holds a special place in my heart. The organization was conceived by many people. I was selected as the first president to develop, nature, and cultivate the organization. We developed the organization with idea to nurture and cultivate collaborative scholarship among African American males in higher education. We were hoping to entice African American men to see the obtainment of advance degrees as a conceivable goal. We also wanted to assist brothers in obtaining tenure on their respective university campuses. As president emeritus, I am proud when I travel across the country and see brothers who are still a part of the organization and to know that we assisted in some small way with their success.

3) Why did you start Inspire Magazine? What is Inspire all about?

InSpire Magazine has been a long term goal that I thought about in the early stages of my career. I was tired of picking up magazines and seeing images that were degrading and stories that sensationalized peoples' pains and sorrows. I know that there is a market out there for people who want to hear and read about inspirational things that are going on in the world. I am not a complainer, so I started my own magazine! We have some very positive people who work behind the scenes to make InSpire what it is. We have received VERY positive comments from our readers and supporters. You may visit our website at Additionally, we have series of other initiatives under the auspices of our parent company: InSpire Enterprise, LLC:

InSpire Us Foundation
ILEAD Institute
Be-InSpired Publishing
InSpire Attire
InSpire Film
Your Voice T.V.
Talk Radio

4) You have a film coming out. What's the nature of the film and where can readers find it?

Yes. The movie is called "Let Your Haters Be Your Motivators" - This is a movie that actually derived from a speech I wrote back in 2006. I was going through a very trying time. I had just lost my oldest sister as well. This particular speech was one of my most requested speeches. I had no desire to develop the speech in to a movie, nor did I know a thing about producing movie. Well after God spoke to me, I called some friends and colleagues in New York and California and they gave me a crash course. The movie speaks to "haters" of which all of us have, who try to devalue you and your accomplishments. It is really a teaching movie. It points out the Haters, their motives and their behaviors. It also teaches those who are being "Hated On" how to deal with them. The trailer to the movie is on our website.

5) You are a powerful motivational speaker. What are the topics you tend to address?

Thank You! I do not consider myself a motivational speaker. Motivational speaking implies that you are going to make someone responding a certain way that they otherwise would not have done. I actually think that is quite presumptuous. While people introduce me as a motivational speaker, I am more of an Inspirational Speaker, In fact I have been given the undeserved title as "King of Inspiration." Some of my topics include: If You Are Not On The Way, Then You Are In The Way! The Consequences of Being Trifling! What is Your Word Worth! When Leadership Calls, Will You Be Ready? Just Enough Is Not Good Enough, etc. You may visit my personal website at

6) What are your plans for the future?

My plans are ordered by God. While I lead a highly visible life with being a Professor, TV and Radio Personality, Magazine Owner, National Orator (speaker), and servant, my life is pretty simple. I just simply want to serve and make a contribution. I have been in leadership positions all my life-from captain of my little league baseball team to CEO and President of InSpire Enterprise, LLC. I know a little about how difficult is to lead, especially leading people who, they, themselves do not know who they are. I know what it means to lead a group of people who want to be led. I know what it means to lead people who are thirsty for leadership. I have been very Blessed in that regard. So, my plans are to keep leading and keep serving!

7) Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?

Yes. I believe that each person living has been placed here for a purpose. Unfortunately 94% of all the people we meet will spend most of their time talking about what they are going to do, what they should have done, why they did not do it, etc. The other 4% of the people we meet due to their physical and/or mental alignment are not in a position to do what they really want to do. But, there are 2% of the people you will meet who will spend their time doing what the other 94% of the people said could not be done. I want to simply ask, are you a 2percenter? Now, Go Meet your Purpose in Person!

This profile was done by Dr. Boyce Watkins.

Does the Film Precious Promote Stereotypes? Yes, It Probably Does

I went to see the film "Precious" with a tremendous amount of anxiety. I'd heard the film received rave reviews from reviewers, award panelists and others in the media who love to see a good movie about dysfunctional black people. I knew the film was being analyzed by the same individuals more likely to notice Denzel Washington playing a sick, crooked cop in "Training Day" than to see him play a strong, intelligent black man in the film about the life of Malcolm X.

While reviewers might consider "Akeelah and the Bee" to be unrealistic, "Precious," or "Hustle and Flow" seem to be stunningly accurate reflections of their perception of life in Black America. Yes, we certainly have our share of pimps, prostitutes, and child molesters in the black community. But would hardly expect that we're any more problematically programmed than other ethnic groups.

I thought the performances in the film "Precious" were very good. I admit, however, that I found the film depressing. Not that the movie was entirely unrealistic. Rather, it seemed to feed itself off of one emotionally-draining scene after another. The star of the film was illiterate, poor, morbidly obese, physically abused, sexually abused, HIV positive, inclined to steal and suffering from low self-esteem. It was almost as if the directors said, "What else can we do to make people feel sorry for her? Oh yea! Let's let her mother be a welfare queen who beats her child and molests her when her sexually abusive father isn't home!" Yes, there are kids like this in the black community, but this film is not a representation of the prevailing experience for most black youth in America.

I am not here to say that the filmmakers expected their audience to see "Precious" as any kind of call to action. It may be the case that they just wanted to tell a good story about something that could happen to a few children across our country. Child abuse is nothing to laugh about, and it happens far too often. But we must be careful not to extrapolate the experience of "Precious" in a way that implies that her experience was typical or significantly more likely to happen to an African American child. If "Precious" is meant to spark a national conversation about all kinds of child abuse, then fine. But if it is another film saying that "black people are really screwed up," then we've got a problem.

Did you notice that many of the darker-skinned characters were either evil or mentally ill, while the two light-skinned characters (the male doctor and female teacher) were the heroes? Can we ever get past that please? It's as if some of us still believe that light-skinned blacks have purer souls than other people. Sorry, but they don't.

The film "Precious" almost seems to be public therapy for a screen writer or producer who has yet to overcome a crippling childhood. Rather than laying his/her issues out for the entire world to see, I would imagine that therapy could have been cheaper. Most filmmakers draw from their own life experience, and I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the damaged adult who has been made to believe that the experience of the film's main character is somehow typical. If the film can be watched through the lens of balance, then it is a good one. But it cannot, and should not be used to understand the black experience in America.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Lewis remembers 'Bloody Sunday' march, beatings

SELMA, Ala. — Georgia Congressman John Lewis strolled to the middle of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday and remembered the incident 45 years ago when he and other marchers were beaten on the day known as "Bloody Sunday."

Lewis spoke about the beating he and other marchers received during the 1965 march. He then joined about 10,000 in a recreation of the 1965 march. Marchers included Civil Rights foot soldiers and civil rights leaders including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Also Sunday in Washington, President Barack Obama marked the 45th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" by praising "these heroes" who marched into history and endured beatings by Alabama state troopers at the start of their landmark voting rights trek.

The nation's first black president said that despite all the progress since "that terrible day in Selma," more still needs to be done.

Marchers were a few blocks into their Selma-to-Montgomery march on March 7, 1965, when they were beaten by troopers on the bridge.

The march was later completed under federal protection, with Martin Luther King Jr. leading it. It led to passage of the Voting Rights Act, which opened Southern polling places to blacks and ended all-white government.

Also Sunday, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, was the keynote speaker at the Martin and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast in Selma. Madikizela-Mandela told the 500-plus audience at Wallace Community College in Selma that no American place in the civil rights struggle was more important than Selma.

Woman attacks deputy with breast milk

An Owensboro woman is in trouble after officers say she used a rather unusual technique to assault a jailer.

According to the Daviess County, Kentucky, Detention Center, Toni Tramel was picked up Thursday on charges of public intoxication.

As part of the process to book her into the jail, Tramel was sent into a room with a female jailer to change from her street clothes to jail clothes.

The jailer says while the inmate was changing, Tramel took off her bra and squeezed her breast, causing a stream of milk to hit the jailer in the face and the neck.A release from the jail says the officer was able to "decontaminate herself" and "clean the bio-hazard off her."

Tramel now faces charges of assault on a police officer.

With news video.

Adam Gadahn arrested in Pakistan

American Al Qaeda terrorist Adam Gadahn, aka ‘Azzam the American’, arrested in Pakistan

Adam Gadhan, the treasonous Californian Al Qaeda leader who has long been on Washington’s Most Wanted list, was nabbed in Pakistan Sunday – a huge victory in the battle against the terror network.

After some confusion in the intial reports, the Associated Press quoted Pakistani officials confirming the arrest of Osama bin Laden’s mouthpiece.

The Dawn, Karachi’s English-language newspaper, broke the news with a photo of a man being taken away with a bag on his head.

Gadahn was bagged just hours after releasing a new internet video urging American Muslims to go on shooting sprees like Maj. Nidal Hasan’s at Fort Hood last year.

He is the first American to be charged with treason since World War II.

If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

The arrest was the latest in a series of successes in the new partnership between Pakistan’s once-balky intelligence services and the CIA.

Strong Turkey quake kills 41

ELAZIG, Turkey — Rescuers struggled to dig survivors from under the rubble after a strong quake struck eastern Turkey early Monday, killing at least 41 people and injuring dozens more, officials said.

The quake, 6.0 on the Richter scale, struck at 04:32 am (0232 GMT) at a depth of five kilometres, with an epicentre near the Karakocan town in Elazig province, the Istanbul-based Kandilli observatory said on its web site.

The 39 known dead perished in five villages located near the epicentre of the tremor, Governor Muammer Erol told CNN Turk television, with rescuers trying to save at least four people trapped under the debris in one village.

The crisis management centre in capital Ankara said at least 60 people were injured, the Anatolia news agency reported. A previous death toll given by the centre stood at 17 dead in the villages of Okcular, Yukari Kanatli ve Kayali.

At least eight of the dead came from Okcular, one of the largest villages in the region with a population of about 800, many living in mud-brick homes built on hillsides, reports said.

"Villages consisting mainly of mud-brick houses have been damaged, but we have minimal damage such as cracks in buildings made of cement or stone," governor Erol said.

At least four of the victims were children.

Some 25 to 30 houses were demolished by the tremor in Okcular, Yasar Cagribay, the head of the rescue team, told CNN Turk said.

The local hospital was inundated with the injured, the channel said, adding that doctor reinforcements and medical aid were on their way.

The disaster management centre announced that it had sent rescuers, blankets and tents to the quake region.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek had left Ankara for the disaster zone along with Health Minister Recep Akdag, Housing Minister Mustafa Demir and State Minister Cevdet Yilmaz, Anatolia said.

The tremor was also felt in the neighbouring provinces of Bitlis and Diyarbakir, sending residents rushing out on to the streets in panic where they spent the rest of the night in fear, CNN-Turk said.

Several aftershocks were felt in the region.

Deadly earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which is crossed by several active fault-lines. Two powerful tremors in the heavily populated and industrialized northwest claimed about 20,000 lives in August and November 1999.

Iraq awaits election results, parties claim gains

BAGHDAD — Iraqi coalitions and political parties jockeyed Monday for position following the country's pivotal vote meant to usher in the next government, as the election commission head estimated a turnout of 55 and 60 percent.

Iraqis defied a wave of insurgent attacks that killed 36 people and voted Sunday in key balloting that will determine whether they can overcome deep sectarian divides that almost tore the nation apart. It will also usher in a new government as U.S. forces prepare to leave.

The range given by Faraj al-Haidari, who heads the Independent High Electoral Commission, is down from the previous Dec. 2005 parliamentary election turnout of 76 percent, although it's higher than last year's provincial elections when just over half of voters cast ballots.

Al-Haidari told The Associated Press the exact turnout would be released later Monday at a news conference and that the final results would come within a few days, most likely on Thursday.

Even then, the outcome will likely be followed by protracted negotiations on who will make up the next government.

No one coalition is expected to win an outright majority in the 325-seat parliament, so the coalition that gets the largest number of votes will be tasked with cobbling together a government with other partners — a process that could take months.


Vince Carter's 25 Points Lead Magic Past Lakers in Physical Affair

by Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Vince Carter had 25 points, Dwight Howard finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds and the Orlando Magic beat the Lakers 96-94 on Sunday to hand Los Angeles its first three-game losing streak of the Pau Gasol-Kobe Bryant era.

Carter made his first 13 free throws and kept the Magic in control, showing signs of why Orlando made the move for the eight-time All-Star after losing to the Lakers in last year's finals.

But Carter's lone miss gave the Lakers a chance at the end, with Bryant's 20-foot jumper falling short.

Bryant had 34 points and Gasol added 20 points for the Lakers, walking to the locker room distraught and dejected after their latest loss. And with quite a different feeling than that champagne-soaked championship celebration last June.

But this one had all the drama of that series.

Matt Barnes made a 3-pointer to push the Magic's lead to six with 1:10 remaining. A missed free throw by Jameer Nelson gave the Lakers a chance to tie, and Bryant delivered with a 3-pointer -- if only for a second -- with 12.9 seconds remaining.

Bryant jumped into his teammates pouring out from the bench in what would be a premature celebration. Officials reviewed the play and ruled that it was only a 2-pointer. And just like that, the Lakers are in their first three-game skid since they acquired Gasol from Memphis in February 2008.

The rematch had the physical feel of a finals.

Bryant and Barnes continuously traded elbows and were each hit with a technical foul in the third quarter after going chest-to-chest in a verbal spat. Barnes had a put-back dunk a few plays later and dangled his legs on Bryant, who extended his right arm slightly into his opponent's chest, leading to another confrontation.

Howard interjected and was called for a technical after muttering a few words at Bryant. The two All-Stars and Olympic teammates kept the verbal jabs going, showing no similar love when their NBA teams meet.

All the rough and tough play gave way to a foul fest.

The teams combined to shoot 29 free throws -- with Orlando going 17-for-18 -- in the opening quarter alone. Howard and Andrew Bynum were sidelined in foul trouble for most of the first three quarters, but a strong effort from Carter and the Magic bench put Orlando ahead by 12 points late in the third.

Then the Lakers provided a reminder of the finals.

They came back just like they did in Games 4 and 5 last year in Orlando, scoring 10 straight points -- including the first eight to start the fourth -- to cut the Magic's lead to 74-72.

Howard answered with a thunderous dunk over Gasol, who was called for a flagrant-one foul on the play about halfway through the fourth. Then like Game 4 -- when Howard missed a pair of crucial free throws -- he again missed badly on both, but still put Orlando ahead 81-74 in what would be a back-and-forth finish.

ACLU New York Times Ad Depicts Obama Morphing into George W. Bush

Whoa! Barack Obama looks downright scary. And painfully familiar. The ACLU's full page ad -- in which Barack, Obama morphs into George W. Bush -- is in today's New York Times. Read all about it at the ACLU:

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today published a full-page ad in the New York Times calling on President Obama not to back down from his administration’s decision to prosecute the 9/11 suspects in civilian courts. The ad comes in response to news reports that the Obama administration is on the verge of reversing Attorney General Eric Holder's November decision, turning instead to the discredited military commission system.

The ad features a picture of President Obama morphing into a picture of former President Bush.

Tom Delay: People Are Unemployed Because They Want To Be

Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay called Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) “brave” on Sunday for launching a one-man filibuster of unemployment benefits, arguing that they dissuaded people from going out and finding work.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Texas Republican said that Bunning’s fiscal responsibility was commendable, even if his shenanigans (refusing to allow unemployment benefits to be considered by unanimous consent) nearly brought the Senate to a halt.

“Nothing would have happened if the Democrats had just paid for [the benefits],” Delay said. “People would have gotten their unemployment compensation. I think Bunning was brave in standing up there and taking it on by himself.”

'The Hurt Locker' Win Best Picture & Tops The 2010 Academy Awards With 6 Awards

And bullseye. Goliath goes down. In your face 3D, "The Hurt Locker" won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture.

The intense action-based Iraq War film took six awards in total, including one for its director Kathryn Bigelow, who went down in the history books as the female director to ever win a Best Directing Academy Award prize.

Some argued the David vs. Goliath story over the blockbuster vs. the longtail award or the spectacle vs. quality, but suffice to say we were very pleased the indie picture dominated the night.

The Academy Branch tried their best to juke the stats this year, raising the Best Picture to 10 nominees, changing the voting system to a preferential ballot that favored populist films, but "Avatar," the highest grossing film of all time could still not defeat "The Hurt Locker," ironically, the lowest grossing picture of all the nominees (probably their win was the worst case scenario the Academy had in mind when they flipped the script this year, so we're kinda feeling a bit of schadenfreude that their cheap grab for ratings backfired). Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique took their respective acting categories, as predicted by many (including us, we got 18 picks correct), but the biggest surprise of the evening was definitely "Precious" winning Best Adapted Screenplay. Geoffrey Fletcher's screenplay took the award, which almost everyone assumed was Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner's "Up In The Air" award to lose. And lose it they did. But otherwise the evening went the way most expected it would.