Tuesday, May 18, 2010
WASHINGTON — Political novice Rand Paul rode support from tea party activists to victory in Kentucky's Republican Senate primary Tuesday night, delivering a jolt to the GOP establishment and providing fresh evidence of widespread voter discontent in a turbulent midterm election season.
Paul had 59 percent of the vote — with returns counted from 29 percent of the precincts — to 37 percent for Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who had been recruited to run by the state's dominant Republican, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In a Democratic primary that commanded far less national attention, Attorney General Jack Conway led Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, 49 percent to 39 percent.
On the busiest primary night of the year so far, Democratic Sens. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas struggled uncertainly for nomination to new terms.
In a fourth race with national implications, Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz vied to fill out the final few months in the term of the late Rep. John Murtha in Pennsylvania. Each political party invested nearly $1 million in that contest and said the race to succeed the longtime Democratic lawmaker was something of a bellwether for the fall.
In Oregon, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden faced little opposition for nomination to a third full term.
Voters in Pennsylvania and Oregon also selected gubernatorial candidates.
NEW YORK — Hank Jones, a jazz master pianist who played with many of the greats, has died in New York, aged 91.
His agent Jean-Pierre Leduc confirmed his death Sunday after an illness that started in March. Leduc said he had seen him "serene and smiling" in hospital on Saturday.
Jones was born in 1918 in Mississippi in a jazz family that included Elvin Jones, the legendary drummer for John Coltrane, and trumpeter-composer Thad Jones.
Inducted to the US National Endowment for the Arts as a jazz master and to the International Jazz Hall of Fame, Jones played often in the background until later in life.
He was one of the survivors of jazz's golden era during which he played with Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie "Bird" Parker and Benny Goodman.
He accompanied Marilyn Monroe when she sang "Happy Birthday Mr President" to president John F. Kennedy.
"In over seventy years as a jazz pianist and composer, his playing style has embodied the essence of mainstream jazz making him one of the most sought after and recorded jazz pianists throughout jazz history," his official website said.
From his 60s, Jones developed a new career, moving out of the sidelines to record and perform under his own name.
The New York Times in 1989 enthusiastically reviewed a performance by Jones, saying he "resonates with jazz history."
In the 1990s he combined his piano with a variety of other genres, ranging from classical to spirituals.
He toured Europe in 2009, with shows in Vienna, Paris, Geneva, the Czech Republic and Istanbul.
Richard Blumenthal in 2008 lying about serving in Vietnam
The Register Citizen
Did attorney general and senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal ever serve in Vietnam? Well, no. But according to The New York Times, Blumenthal is suggesting the opposite.
Blumenthal also claims he served as the Captain of the Harvard swim team, despite records at the college showing that he was never on the team.
“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Blumenthal said to a group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. But Blumehthal according to the Times, obtained five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took steps to avoid going to war.
“In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he enlisted in the Marine Reserve, landing a coveted spot in a unit in Washington, D.C., which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. The unit conducted part-time drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive,” The Times report says.
The paper asked the attorney general about the contrast, and Blumenthal reportedly responded that he had misspoken.
“My intention has always been to be completely clear and accurate and straightforward, out of respect to the veterans who served in Vietnam,” he told the paper in an interview.
But The Times goes on to list several speeches during which it suggests Blumenthal misled his audience about his military career.
At a rally in Bridgeport in 2003, Blumenthal was quoted as saying, “When we returned, we saw nothing like this,”
In 2008, in Shelton, Blumenthal spoke at a veterans’ memorial dedication saying, “I served during the Vietnam era. … I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse.”
“As a veteran myself, anyone who lies about their service should be ashamed of themselves,” City Councilor Rick Dalla Valle, himself a veteran said. “People give their lives every day, and anyone that lies about their service should be ashamed.”
Bob Hunter, Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 9086, and a Navy Veteran beleives that anyone that may have lied about their service should do whatever is necessary to make it right.
“I take issue with anyone that might lie about their service, it is up to the person to make ammends,” Hunter said. Hunter served in the navy from 1980 to 1984.
Blumenthal came out later today and blamed Republicans for his lies. He will appear at a press conference today with Connecticut veterans.
Vietnam allegations threaten frontrunning Blumenthal in CT-Senate (blames Republicans for his lies)
BANGOR, Maine — A spokesman for John Travolta says the actor's two dogs were leashed when they were run over and killed at Maine's Bangor International Airport.
Paul Bloch said Tuesday that the dogs were being walked from the tarmac to a grassy area when the accident happened last Thursday. The city says a service vehicle struck and killed the dogs after the airplane carrying members of Travolta's family landed.
The "Saturday Night Fever" and "Pulp Fiction" actor is an accomplished pilot who often flies to Bangor while en route to his home on Islesboro, off the Maine coast. It's unclear whether he was in the cockpit the night his dogs died.
Airport Director Rebecca Hupp says the incident is under investigation.
The gay Malawian couple arrested in December have been found guilty of unnatural acts and gross indecency.
Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa issued the verdict today, Associated Press reports.
Stephen Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were arrested after holding a traditional wedding ceremony.
They have been in custody since their arrest on December 27th and denied the charges against them.
Under Malawi's laws, they could face up to 14 years in jail.
The pair are expected to be sentenced on Thursday.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has been championing their case, argued that the prosecution had not proved they broke the law.
He told PinkNews.co.uk: "This is an appalling verdict. There is no evidence to justify it.
"Steven and Tiwonge freely confirmed their love for each other but the prosecution presented no credible evidence that they had committed any sexual acts.
"The law under which they were convicted is a law that only applies to same-sex relationships.
"It violates article 20 of the Malawi constitution, which guarantees equality and non-discrimination."
Lawyers for Mr Monjeza and Mr Chimbalanga attempted to have the case thrown out by arguing the trial violated constitutional laws but were unsuccessful.
Swizz Beatz reportedly bought Alicia Keys a 7.5 carat engagement ring according to Mashonda Dean’s lawyer, Bernard Clair. In a statement release to the press defending Mashonda’s decision to sue Swizz Beatz for missing court ordered payments, Bernard Clair confirms that Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys are engaged, and have purchased a $14.5 million penthouse together.
Dean’s lawyer, Bernard Clair, called the nonpayment “particularly troubling” because of reports that Beatz bought a seven-carat engagement ring for Keys earlier this year and that they’re moving into a $14.5 million duplex penthouse on Crosby Street.
By Aron Phillips
Whenever I get into the debate over where LeBron is going to sign this summer, people ask me why I don’t think he’d sign with the Nets. While Jay-Z and playing in Brooklyn are great incentives, people don’t realize that the Nets will spend the next two seasons at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. But there is one free agent that not only would love to play in Newark, but hopes the team never leaves: Shaquille O’Neal.
As a Newark native, after losing to the Celtics last week, Shaq told the New York Post that he would consider the Nets as a destination this summer now that they reside in his hometown.
“I think it’s better than most arenas, I think it’s one of the best arenas in the country,” O’Neal said. “Hopefully they can stay there forever. I don’t know what’s going on with the Brooklyn situation, but it says a lot for the city of Newark.
“I’ve got a lot of options. We’ll just see. I still got to sit down and look at all my options. I don’t want to comment on [the Nets]. It’s too early.”
As the oldest active player in the NBA, it’s actually not a bad idea. Coming into a team that can only go up from here, Shaq could end his career in Newark before the Nets move to Brooklyn for the start of the 2012-13 season. And with young seven-footers in Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian to tutor, they’d welcome him with open arms.
What do you think? Where should Shaq play next year?
1. New Jersey Nets
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
3. Washington Wizards
4. Los Angeles Clippers
5. Philadelphia 76ers
What do you think? Which team needs the No. 1 pick the most?
PHILADELPHIA — Kyle Kendrick pitched eight impressive innings, Ryan Howard hit a grand slam and had six RBIs, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-2 on Monday night.
Jayson Werth had a three-run homer for the NL East-leading Phillies, who have won four straight and 12 of 15. The two-time defending NL champions are 24-13 despite a slew of injuries.
Pitching in a steady rain, Kendrick (2-1) allowed two runs and five hits, striking out four.
The Phillies got one of their injured stars back when Jimmy Rollins returned to the lineup after missing 29 games with a calf injury. The three-time All-Star shortstop and 2007 NL MVP had two hits and an RBI.
Pirates starter Charlie Morton (1-7) gave up six runs and six hits in four innings.
On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other federal officials will come under questioning for what the government did — or did not do — to prevent the oil spill, and how they have responded since oil started streaming into the Gulf last month.
Salazar, who oversees the federal agency that monitors offshore drilling, will testify before two Senate committees. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen also will testify at separate hearings, and oil company executives are back for a second round of questions.
The hearings come amid the first high-level resignation related to the oil spill and a decision by President Barack Obama to name a presidential commission to investigate the cause of the rig explosion that unleashed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, where engineers are struggling after three weeks to stop the flow.
The presidential panel will be similar to ones that examined the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been formally announced.
The commission would be one of nearly a dozen investigations and reviews launched since the April 20 explosion, although it probably would be the most comprehensive.
With BP PLC, the company that owns the well, finally gaining some control over the amount of oil spewing into the gulf, scientists are increasingly worried that huge plumes of crude already spilled could get caught in a current that would carry the mess all the way to the Florida Keys and beyond, damaging coral reefs and killing wildlife.
The Texas school board is trying this week to jam its right-wing views into the classroom. Arch conservative board member Don McLeroy is urging changes which, if Friday’s vote goes his way, will drastically change the kind of information conveyed to students.
The new amendment (.pdf), which is expected to get a vote on Thursday, would require high school history students to “discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the decreasing worker to retiree ratio” and also “evaluate efforts by global organizations to undermine U. S. sovereignty.”
McLeroy was voted off the board as of next term, but is still influential, and explains his reasoning:
“Threats of global government to individual freedom and liberty include the votes of the U.N. General Assembly, the International Criminal Court, the U. N. Gun Ban proposal, forced redistribution of American wealth to third world countries, and global environmental initiatives.”
But don’t take comfort in the departure of McLeroy from the board. His successor, Gail Lowe, is a creationist appointed by Governor Rick Perry. Texas is particularly significant in that textbook publishers listen carefully what will sell there because they are such a big client, and those texts then get distributed elsewhere in the country.
Supreme Court Overturns Life Sentences Without Parole for Violent Juveniles, Citing “International Opinion”
by Hans Bader
The Supreme Court has just held that violent juveniles cannot be given a life sentence without the opportunity for parole, unless they succeed in killing their victim. Even torturers and rapists who attempt to commit murder cannot be denied the opportunity for release under the Court’s decision today in Graham v. Florida.
Most states have long authorized life sentences without parole for vicious 17-year-olds who commit rape and attempted murder. But the Court looked instead to “international opinion” to declare such sentences “cruel and unusual,” writing that “The United States adheres to a sentencing practice rejected the world over,” illustrating “the climate of international opinion” against life without parole.
The Court’s opinion was joined in by all the liberal Supreme Court justices–including Obama’s appointee, Sonia Sotomayor–and authored by swing vote Anthony Kennedy. Conservative justices Alito, Thomas, and Scalia dissented.
Chief Justice Roberts agreed with the liberal majority only that the defendant in this particular case deserved a chance for parole. But he disagreed with its sweeping ruling that all violent juveniles must be given a chance for parole unless they succeeded in killing their victim. He cited the examples of nightmarishly evil people who will now be given an opportunity for parole thanks to the Supreme Court:
“But what about Milagro Cunningham, a 17-year-old who beat and raped an 8-year-old girl before leaving her to die under 197 pounds of rock in a recycling bin in a remote landfill?” asked the Chief Justice. “Or Nathan Walker and Jakaris Taylor, the Florida juveniles who together with their friends gang-raped a woman and forced her to perform oral sex on her 12-year-old son?” These vicious predators will now be free to seek parole.
The Court’s decision today illustrates that the Supreme Court is a liberal court, not a moderate or conservative court. The great majority of states–even “Blue States” like California–permit life without parole for violent juvenile torturers and rapists. The Court ignored the wisdom of the sages, such as the ancient maxim that “he who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind.”
In relying on “international opinion” to decide the case, the Supreme Court ignored the pleas of civil libertarians and libertarian think tanks like the Cato Institute not to smuggle international standards into the interpretation of the American Constitution, since doing so is a dangerous precedent: international law and opinion are often hostile to important American civil liberties like free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion; the right to self-defense against home intruders; and laws designed to secure those protections.
The libertarian Cato Institute, which frequently files amicus briefs in the Supreme Court seeking to promote civil liberties and privacy rights, filed an amicus brief in today’s case asking the court not to rely on “international norms,” since doing so would “undermine the democratic process and rule of law, casting considerable uncertainty over many U.S. laws.” (Disclosure: Competitive Enterprise Institute joined that brief.) Sadly, the Court ignored that brief.
Courts should not rely on “international opinion” to decide cases, since it is vague and manipulable. So-called international law is applied selectively by lawyers and judges, who cite real or imagined ”international law” to push the ideological goals they support, while ignoring actual international court rulings they don’t like.
Left-wing lawyers take vague international treaties and interpret them as mandating liberals’ ideological wishlists, like restricting criticism of Islam and minority religions as “hate speech,” banning Mother’s Day as sexist, and mandating quota-based affirmative action. For example, the CEDAW equal-rights treaty has been construed by an international committee as requiring “redistribution of wealth,” “affirmative action,” “gender studies” in academia, government-sponsored “access to rapid and easy abortion,” “comparable worth,” and “the application of quotas and numerical goals and measurable targets aimed at increasing women’s political participation.” Never mind that most countries don’t even have affirmative action.
But they ignore foreign law and world opinion when it calls into question liberal policies in the United States. One classic example is the horror that most countries’ courts have for the American practice of letting virtually unguided juries award punitive damages. In most of the world, punitive damages are forbidden. But you will never see a liberal Supreme Court justice talk about “international law” or “international opinion” when it comes to punitive damages, which are sacrosanct in the eyes of many liberal judges.
Ultimately, even liberals may come to regret the reliance on “international opinion” by today’s Supreme Court decision, which sets a dangerous precedent for civil liberties.
In USA Today, liberal law professor Jonathan Turley earlier criticized the Obama administration for foolishly endorsing a “blasphemy” exception to free speech at the UN, in an effort to curry favor with Muslim countries: “Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.”
Turley says Western blasphemy cases have included the arrest of a Dutch cartoonist for depicting Christian and Muslim fundamentalists as zombies; the investigation of an Italian comedian for joking that in 20 years, the Pope will be in hell; the exclusion of a Dutch politician from Britain because he made a movie describing Islam’s holy book as “fascist”; and the prosecution of writers for calling Mohammed a “pedophile” because of his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha (which was consummated when she was 9).
Earlier, conservatives and civil libertarians criticized the Obama administration for endorsing restrictions on so-called “hate speech” at the United Nations in an effort to ingratiate itself with other countries. The Administration is backing proposals to classify hate speech as a violation of international human rights law. Some left-wing lawyers are now likely to argue that these proposals constitute “customary international law” binding on the U.S., as a consensus interpretation of treaties the U.S. has already signed, like the CEDAW equal rights treaty. The U.S. courts are unlikely to accept such arguments in the near future, although if Obama manages to appoint enough left-wing judges, the chances of such arguments prevailing will increase.
In Canada, hate speech laws have been used to punish ministers for anti-gay sermons. In the U.S., college hate-speech codes have been used to discipline students for criticizing affirmative action, writing about the racial implications of the death penalty, and calling homosexuality immoral. Ironically, hate speech laws have often been used against minorities in the Third World, with prosecutors arguing that advocating the rights of minorities is an inflammatory form of racial separatism.
The Lakers crushed the Suns 128-107 thanks to a huge night offensively for No. 24.
Bryant had his knee drained and didn’t practice all week after the Lakers finished off the Utah Jazz, but that didn’t seem to bother him at all. Thanks to a great first half from Lamar Odom, Bryant and the Lakers entered the break up 62-55.
In the third quarter, Bryant took over. Despite lingering injuries to his knee, ankle and index finger, Kobe completely took over the first 12 minutes after halftime, dropping 21 points on the Suns. Bryant made Grant Hill look awful defensively. Jared Dudley and Jason Richardson also took turns shadowing Bryant and both came away looking hapless.
The Mamba just had everything working. His jumper was nearly flawless on the night (13-for-23 from the field, 3-for-6 from 3-point range), he was knifing through Phoenix’s defense to find teammates and he was getting to the line with regularity (11-for-12 free throws).
Kobe finished the night with 40 points, five rebounds and five assists in a dominant performance. It was his 11th career 40-point game in the playoffs. Bryant had more than 30 points in each of the four games against Utah and the final game of the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s a six-game streak of 30-plus point games, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to let up any time soon.
In addition to Bryant’s fantastic night, the Lakers got contributions from almost everyone on the roster. Odom finished with 19 points and 19 rebounds, Pau Gasol had 21 points, four rebounds and five assists and Ron Artest dropped in 14 points, while adding five rebounds and five assists. Jordan Farmar added 10 points and Shannon Brown also put in nine.
If anyone was wondering whether or not the Suns could effectively defend the Lakers, Monday night gave us a resounding answer: No.
Phoenix allowed the Lakers to shoot 58 percent on the night. Fifty-eight percent. In a playoff game. That’s absurd, and the Suns should be ashamed of themselves. The Lakers also shot 47.1 percent from beyond the arc and out-rebounded Phoenix 42-34.
The only way the Suns can hope to take games in this series is to pray Los Angeles has a huge off-night on the offensive end. The Lakers have too much size and are too disciplined on the offensive end for the Suns to skate by without playing any defense.
Clearly, Kobe Bryant just wont let that happen.