Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TMZ.com-Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Suit Refiled

Joe Jackson:TMZ.com
(Story reported by TMZ.com)

If at first you don't succeed ... Joe Jackson has refiled the Michael Jackson wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Conrad Murray.

A federal judge threw out Joe's claim, ruling the case should have been filed in a California state court.  So Joe's lawyer has now refiled the case in L.A. County Superior Court.

Joe is alleging that Dr. Murray was negligent in administering the Propofol that killed the singer.

Joe is also suing Applied Pharmacy Services in Las Vegas, that sold the drug to Murray.

(Click here to read the full story on the TMZ.com website.)

UK Telegraph-Rupert Murdock Considers Selling MySpace

photo credit: UK Telegraph
(Story reported by Rupert Neate for the Telegraph UK)

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is considering selling MySpace after declaring the has been social networking site a “problem”. 

Chase Carey, News Corp's chief operation officer, said the media giant was actively considering selling the social networking site it bought for $580m in 2008.

Mr Carey said a sale or partnership with internet giants such as Yahoo or AOL were two or a number of options under consideration.

“There are opportunities here to do 20 things [with MySpace] but that doesn’t mean you’re going to do any of the 20. If there’s something there that makes sense you ought to think about it,” he said.

Mr Carey, who has previously described MySpace’s losses as “neither acceptable or sustainable”, refused to set a deadline for the social networking site to return to profitability before it push ahead with a sale. “I’m not going to break down [the number of] quarters,” he said. “It’s not years ... we need to deal with this with urgency.”

Mr Carey said the company’s engineers had done a “very good job” at redesigning MySpace to help it better match market leaders Facebook and Twitter. He said it would have been “pretty tough” to sell MySpace before the revamp.

(Click here to read the full story on the UK Telegraph website.)

Washington Post-President Obama Meets With The GOP

President Barack Obama speaks to the media after the 30 November 2010 meeting with the GOP: Jason Reed/Reuters
(Story reported by Perry Bacon and Shailagh Murray for the Washington Post)

President Obama and congressional Republican leaders praised each other for collegiality after a much-anticipated meeting Tuesday at the White House, but they made little headway on the issues that divide the two parties.

Their most tangible accomplishment was an agreement to work toward resolving an impasse over tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Jacob Lew, head of the Office of Management and Budget, will work with a group of four lawmakers - two from each party - "to break through this logjam," Obama said. 

The meeting, originally scheduled for an hour in the Roosevelt Room, turned into a two-hour session, including a 35-minute gathering in a private dining room that was not attended by Obama advisers. Instead, Obama and the eight lawmakers held what the White House described as a "more intimate session.

Obama told lawmakers he needed to do more to make sure the two parties could work together, press secretary Robert Gibbs said later. White House officials said the GOP did not offer a similar pledge.

"The president acknowledged he needed to do better," Gibbs said.

(Click here to read the full story on the Washington Post website.)

Mediaite-Doofus Alert; Steve King Calls President Obama "Very Urban"

Emotionally troubled GOP Rep. of Iowa, Steve King: C-Span/Mediaite
(Story reported by Hillary Busis for Mediaite)

Rep. Steve King of Iowa just can’t stop making racially charged statements. In June, he declared that President Obama “has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race, on the side that favors the black person.” In July, he questioned a class action lawsuit brought by black farmers against the USDA, implying that what the farmers really wanted were reparations. Today, he turned his focus back to Obama, calling the President “very, very urban”—and we all know what he means by “urban.”

Some background: King was talking, again, about the Pigford case, the aforementioned class action suit.

Here’s a breakdown of the case, courtesy of our own Tommy Christopher:
The Pigford case is a class action lawsuit that was brought by black farmers after the USDA admitted it had been discriminating against black farmers for years. In essence, Clinton Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman said, “Hey, all you black farmers out there, remember when we denied you that loan? It was because you’re black.”
Black farmers, naturally, were like, “Oh, well, that’s messed up. I could’ve saved/purchased my own farm with that loan. Pay me.”
Shirley Sherrod was the leader of a group of farmers called New Communities, Inc., who were collectively awarded $13 million for the loss of 6,000 acres of land due to USDA’s racial discrimination, and Sherrod was awarded $150,000, as was her husband Charles. Sherrod’s work on behalf of black farmers in this case is precisely why she was hired by Vilsack, to help “turn the corner” on decades of discriminatory practices.
Track A of the Pigford settlement was structured so that a fixed payment of $50,000 would be awarded to any black farmer who could prove that he:
* owned or leased, or attempted to own or lease, farm land, applied for a specific credit transaction at a USDA county office during the applicable period
* the loan was denied, provided late, approved for a lesser amount than requested, encumbered by restrictive conditions, or USDA failed to provide appropriate loan service, and such treatment was less favorable than that accorded specifically identified, similarly situated white farmers.
* the USDA’s treatment of the loan application led to economic damage.
Anyone who wanted to seek a larger amount would use “Track B,” which had an even stricter burden of proof.
King’s statement today began with the representative noting that “Bobby Scott of Virginia and others” introduced legislation aimed at increasing the federal government’s role in the Pigford settlement. As Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post notes, Scott is African-American.

(Click here to read the full story on the Mediaite website. Below is the C-SPAN video of King's moronic rant.)

Forbes-Is WikiLeaks About To Cyber-Snitch on Bank of America?

Julian Assange, founder of the cyber-snitching site, WikiLeaks: Forbes.com
(Story reported by Andy Greenberg for Forbes Magazine)

When I spoke with WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange earlier this month, he told me that in early 2011, the whistleblower site would release a “megaleak” regarding a major U.S. bank. That release, Assange said, would include tens of thousands of its documents that reveal some sort of unethical behavior. No details on the name or what sort of bad behavior would be exposed.

Now an eagle-eyed reader has sent me a link to this Computer World interview with Assange from October of 2009, which, if true, may contain a clue to that bank’s identity:
“At the moment, for example, we are sitting on five gigabytes from Bank of America, one of the executive’s hard drives,” he said. “Now how do we present that? It’s a difficult problem. We could just dump it all into one giant Zip file, but we know for a fact that has limited impact. To have impact, it needs to be easy for people to dive in and search it and get something out of it.”
I’ve contacted WikiLeaks for confirmation but haven’t immediately received a response–its staff is likely tied up by the fallout of its release of a quarter million diplomatic cables, and by the second of two cyberattacks to strike its website in the last few days. Bank Of America didn’t respond to a request for comment either.

If Assange does plan to release the five gigabytes of data he referenced in the Computer World interview, it’s very plausible that he’s been sitting on it for more than a year. As he’s quoted saying at the time, a full five gigabyte of documents was likely beyond the scope of WikiLeaks’ resources at the time to filter, organize, and publish. Today, compared with the 392,000 Iraq war documents the site dumped in October and the millions of diplomatic documents that WikiLeaks has promised to eventually release, it would be fairly standard.

(click here to read the full story on the Forbes.com website.)

LA Times-Wisconsin Teen Holds Class Hostage; Shoots Himself

Student gather in parking lot near Marinette High School in eastern Wisconsin, where a student took a class of 23 hostage, and then shot himself: The Associated Press
(Story reported by The Associated Press)

A teenager armed with a handgun held nearly two dozen students and a teacher hostage in a Wisconsin high school for about five hours before shooting himself when police broke into the classroom, authorities said Monday. No other injuries were reported.

Officers outside the Marinette High School classroom said they heard three gunshots shortly after 8 p.m. and broke through the door, said Police Chief Jeff Skorik. The gunman, a 15-year-old boy, then shot himself.

Skorik said the teen was taken to a hospital and his condition was not immediately known Monday night.

Five of the 23 students taken hostage had been released about 20 minutes before police entered the classroom because they told the gunman they had to use the bathroom, Skorik said.

The other 18 students and the teacher, who had acted as a mediator between the hostage-taker and authorities, were unharmed.

Skorik said the gunman had refused to communicate with officials, but allowed the teacher to speak with authorities by phone.

One of the students taken hostage said the gunman appeared depressed but didn't seem like he wanted to hurt anyone.

Zach Campbell said the students were watching a film in class when the teen pulled out a gun and shot at the projector. He said the gunman then fired another shot.

"It was a very scary event," Zach said.

(click here to read the full story on the LA Times website, and here for additional coverage on the Eagle Herald website, the hometown newspaper of Marinette, Wisconsin.)

BBC News-Google Under Investigation By The Eurpean Commission

Google: Getty Images
(Story reported by BBC News)

The European Commission has launched an investigation into Google after other search engines complained that the firm had abused its dominant position.

The EC will examine whether the world's largest search engine penalised competing services in its results.

The probe follows complaints by firms including price comparison site Foundem and legal search engine ejustice.fr.

Google denies the allegations but said it would work with the Commission to "address any concerns".

Earlier this year the attorney general of Texas launched a similar investigation following complaints from firms including Foundem.

The objections in both cases are from competitors which allege that Google manipulates its search results.

"The European Commission has decided to open an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google has abused a dominant position in online search," the body said in a statement.

It said the action followed "complaints by search service providers about unfavourable treatment of their services in Google's unpaid and sponsored search results coupled with an alleged preferential placement of Google's own services."

(Click here to read the full story on the BBC News website.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fox 4 Dallas-Teen Girls Facebook Beef Ends In Murder

Alysha Tann, 19, was murdered after an argument on Facebook with a friend turned deadly: Facebook
(Story by Lynn Kawano and Tracy DeLatte for Fox 4 News in Dallas-Fort Worth, Tx.)

ARLINGTON, Texas - Police said an online feud led to a public fist fight and then murder in Arlington over the weekend.

Though they were Facebook friends, witnesses told police that 19-year-old Alysha Tann and 18-year-old Nikki Bogan’s friendship had turned ugly. They were “beefing” on Facebook.

Then on Sunday night the two young women got into a fist fight in the parking lot of the Heather Glen Townhomes in Arlington.

An arrest warrant affidavit states Bogan lost the fight and then told her 20-year-old boyfriend, Darius Howard, to shoot Tann.

A witness saw him shoot a handgun six or seven times in the direction of Tann and a crowd of people in the parking lot, according to the affidavit.

Another person who was shot in the leg then drove Tann to the hospital where she died.

Tann’s Facebook page is now filled with R.I.P. posts.

(Click here to read the full story on the Fox 4 website.Below is the video of the Fox 4 news story)

BBC News-Mexico To U.S. Drug Tunnel Uncovered In Tijuana

Police in San Diego uncover an almost 3,000 ft underground tunnel leading from Tijuana to Otay Mesa, Ca.: Reuters
(Story reported by BBC News)

Police have uncovered a 670m (2,200ft) drug smugglers' tunnel under the US-Mexico border - the second such discovery this month.

The tunnel links the Mexican city of Tijuana with Otay Mesa in California.

Earlier this month a tunnel equipped with ventilation and lights was found. Local media say the new tunnel may be even be more sophisticated.

The authorities say the tunnels are used to smuggle marijuana into the US, bypassing stringent border controls.
Cartel link

Investigators with the San Diego Tunnel Task Force said the latest tunnel led from a house in Tijuana to a warehouse in Otay Mesa, California.

Several suspects were arrested both in Mexico and the US as part of the operation.

(Click here to read the full story on the BBC News website.)

Vanity Fair-Snapshots of Jean-Michel Basquiat

The late, great iconic painter, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and his girlfriend, Kelle Inman: Kelle Inman/Vanity Fair
(Story reported by Susan Michals for Vanity Fair.com) 

This year, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat would have turned 50 years old. And in half-century celebration, there are events all over the world: In Paris, you can see more than 100 of his works at the Museum of Modern Art through January 2011, as well as a special exhibition at Galerie Pascal Lansberg. In other cities, you can catch Tamra Davis’s new documentary, The Radiant Child, centered on an interview the director shot with Basquiat 20 years ago. And in New York, a Basquiat exhibition was on display for much of the fall at the Robert Miller Gallery, in Chelsea.

But in Los Angeles, there resides a much more personal collection. At LeadApron, a gallery on Melrose Place, gallerist Jonathan Brown has an unusual collection of ephemera: 112 pieces belonging to Basquiat, including self-portraits and even the signature bow tie he wore in his hair, all from the last year of his life.

Brown acquired this collection about five years ago from an old friend, Kelle Inman, Basquiat’s last girlfriend. “Kelle had a real mothering instinct; she wanted to care for you,” Brown says. “I think that may have been some of her connection to Jean-Michel, because she spent the last year of his life with him. She nursed him, cared for him, and tried to help him get off drugs.”

(Click here to read the full story on the Vanity Fair website.)

The Oregonian-Teen Bomb Suspect Thought It Was A Sin To Live In U.S.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the suspect in a Portland, Ore. bomb plot: freethinker.co.uk
(Story reported by Stuart Tomlinson for The Oregonian)

Mohamed Osman Mohamud was angry at his parents for keeping him from jihad and had thought about carrying out an operation, "something like Mumbai," since he was 17. On the two-year anniversary of the shooting and bombing attack on a Mumbai, India, hotel that killed 166 people, Mohamud pressed the buttons on a cell phone he thought would trigger an explosion, creating a "spectacular show" and killing hundreds at Pioneer Courthouse Square, the government alleges.

The Corvallis teenager, accused of plotting to detonate a bomb during the annual tree-lighting ceremony in "Portland's living room," will make his first court appearance Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Mohamud is accused of the federal crime of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Mohamud, 19, was arrested late Friday afternoon after a lengthy investigation and undercover sting conducted by the FBI and Oregon law enforcement officials. He will be arraigned at 9 a.m. before the federal magistrate assigned this month to handle arraignments, officials said.

According to court documents, Mohamud sent an e-mail June 25, 2010, to an undercover FBI operative that said he been "betrayed by my family" because he was unable to fly from the United Kingdom to Pakistan. After returning to Corvallis, and after he and undercover operatives blew up a backpack of explosives in a trial run early this month in a remote area of Lincoln County, Mohamud made a video and said that living in the U.S. "is a sin."

"To my parents, who held me back from Jihad in the cause of Allah. I say to them, if you make allies with the enemy, then Allah's power will ask you about that on the day of judgment ...," Mohamud said in the video, according to court documents.

(Click here to read the full story on The Oregonian website.)

AP-Swastika Branding of Navajo Man Tests Race Relations in N.Mexico

Swastika branded into the arm of a mentally disabled Native American in New Mexico: KOB.com

(Story reported by the Associated Press)

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Three friends had just finished their shifts at a McDonald's when prosecutors say they carried out a gruesome attack on a customer: They allegedly shaped a coat hanger into a swastika, placed it on a heated stove and branded the symbol on the arm of the mentally disabled Navajo man.

Authorities say they then shaved a swastika on the back of the 22-year-old victim's head and used markers to scrawl messages and images on his body, including "KKK," ''White Power," a pentagram and a graphic image of a penis.

The men have become the first in the nation to be charged under a new law that makes it easier for the federal government to prosecute people for hate crimes.

The case also marked the latest troubling race-related attack in this New Mexico community, prompting a renewed focus among local leaders on improving relations between Navajos and whites.

The defendants are accused of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and could face 10 years in prison if convicted. The sentences could be extended to life if the government proves kidnapping occurred.

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website, and here to read additional reporting on the KOB.com website.)

UK Guardian-WikiLeaks Reveal China Ready To Cut Off North Korea

Photo credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
(Story reported by Simon Tisdall for the Guardian UK)

China has signalled its readiness to accept Korean reunification and is privately distancing itself from the North Korean regime, according to leaked US embassy cables that reveal senior Beijing figures regard their official ally as a "spoiled child".

News of the Chinese shift comes at a crucial juncture after the North's artillery bombardment of a South Korean island last week that killed four people and led both sides to threaten war. China has refused to condemn the North Korean action. But today Beijing appeared to bow to US pressure to help bring about a diplomatic solution, calling for "emergency consultations" and inviting a senior North Korean official to Beijing.

China is sharply critical of US pressure tactics towards North Korea and wants a resumption of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks. But the Guardian can reveal Beijing's frustration with Pyongyang has grown since its missile and nuclear tests last year, worries about the economic impact of regional instability, and fears that the death of the dictator, Kim Jong-il, could spark a succession struggle.

China's moves to distance itself from Kim are revealed in the latest tranche of leaked US embassy cables published by the Guardian and four international newspapers. Tonight, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said the US "deeply regrets" the release of the material by WikiLeaks. They were an "attack on the international community", she said. "It puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems," she told reporters at the state department.

(Click here to read the full story on the UK Guardian website.)

Mediaite-Former German Chancellor Calls George W. Bush A Liar

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and former President George W. Bush: Mediaite
(Story reported by Hillary Busts for Mediaite)

Looks like there are still a few interesting news nuggets to be mined from Decision Points, George W. Bush’s bestselling memoir. In the book, the former president claims that then-Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder told Bush that his country would be behind an invasion of Iraq, then reneged on his promise. Schroeder, though, sees things differently—and tells The Telegraph that Bush is “not telling the truth” about what happened between the two world leaders.

According to Bush, after he told Schroeder in 2002 that he might invade Iraq, this is how Schroeder responded: “What is true of Afghanistan is true of Iraq. Nations that sponsor terror must face consequences. If you make it fast and make it decisive, I will be with you.” Later, he writes that Schroeder’s backpedaling was a betrayal: “Once that trust was violated, it was hard to have a constructive relationship again.”

Schroeder acknowledges that he did initially tell Bush he would “stand reliably on the side of the U.S.” if the Americans could prove that Saddam Hussein was harboring terrorists responsible for September 11. But the former chancellor also says that he did not break his word because of disloyalty:

“But this link [between Iraq and the Sept. 11 terrorists], as it became clear during 2002, was false and contrived. This goes for reasons [for the invasion] given by Bush and [then vice-president Dick] Cheney too.
“As we know today, the Bush administration’s reasons for the Iraq war were based on lies.”
(Click here to read the full story on the Mediaite website.)

LA Times-Congresswoman Maxine Waters Trial On Hold

Dem. Congresswoman Maxine Waters of Los Angeles, Ca.: Hyungwong Kang/Reuters)
(Story reported by Richard Simon for the LA Times)

The day her long-awaited ethics trial was supposed to begin, Rep. Maxine Waters (D- Los Angeles) stepped up her attack on the case against her.

"I have been denied basic due process,'' Waters said Monday, standing in front of the empty Capitol Hill hearing room where the charges against her were to have been heard by a bipartisan panel of eight fellow lawmakers. Earlier this month, the trial was put off indefinitely.

Waters, a South Los Angeles political fixture since the 1970s, said the delay, after nearly a year and a half of investigation, "demonstrates in no uncertain terms the weakness of their case against me,'' and she castigated the Ethics Committee for "lack of decency.''

"I want this issue resolved immediately,'' she said, "and I want my constituents to know that the person they reelected with 80% of the vote on Nov. 2 is doing exactly what they sent her here to do: fight for them. ''

Committee members put off Waters' trial because they said they had found new evidence that warranted further investigation.

Waters is accused of intervening improperly on behalf of OneUnited bank, on whose board her husband served and in which he owned stock. Three months after she called then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson during the financial crisis to set up a September 2008 meeting between his staff and representatives of minority-owned banks, OneUnited received $12 million in federal bailout funds.

Waters, 72, has defended her actions, saying they were in keeping with her work to aid minority-owned businesses. She repeated on Monday that she had not received any financial benefit.

(Click here to read the full story on the LA Times website.)

Wired-WikiLeaks Suffers Cyber Attack After Latest Cyber-Snitching Docs

Julian Assange, founder of the cyber-snitching site, WikiLeaks:
(Story reported by Kevin Poulsen for Wired.com)

The first news reports from WikiLeaks’ long-expected disclosure of a quarter-million State Department diplomatic cables appeared on major newspaper websites on Sunday, though WikiLeaks’ own website was unavailable, purportedly due to a traffic-flooding cyberattack.

WikiLeaks’ media partners report that the secret-spilling organization gave them 251,287 diplomatic cables from America’s 270 embassies and consulates around the world, and another 8,000 diplomatic “directives” from Washington. About the half the documents are unclassified; the remainder are mostly at the relatively-low classification level “Confidential.” About 11,000 are classified “Secret.”

WikiLeaks is calling their latest blockbuster “Cablegate.” So far the news from the organization’s media partners suggests the leak is unlikely to topple the presidency, but there are some brewing scandals.

Most prominently, a series of secret directives from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her predecessor Condoleezza Rice, instruct U.S. diplomats to gather intelligence on their foreign counterparts at the United Nations, including, according to one cable, “internet and intranet ‘handles’, internet email addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent-flier account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.” A directive sent to U.S. embassies in Africa instructs foreign service officers to collect DNA from local government officials, without specifying a method.

Another cable appears to confirm that the Chinese hacker attacks against the Dalai Lama, Google and a host of U.S. companies detected that surfaced over the last two years was the work of the Chinese government. A Chinese source for the American embassy revealed that China’s Politburo directed the intrusions as part of a cyber-intelligence gathering program erected in 2002.

(Click here to read the full story on the Wired.com website.)

CBS News-Justice Stevens; Supreme Court Was Unwise on Bush Election

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: 60 Minutes/CBS News
(Transcript written by 60 Minutes producer Jenny Dubin. Scott Pelley's interview with Supreme Court Justice John Paul Steven aired Sunday, 28 November 2010)

(CBS)  Justice John Paul Stevens has shaped more American history than any Supreme Court justice alive. And for most of his 35 years on the court, he followed the usual tradition: declining to talk about his cases in interviews.

As he prepared to retire, "60 Minutes" and correspondent Scott Pelley hoped he would overrule that custom and talk with us about the decisions that have changed our times.

We met Stevens at the Supreme Court this past summer as he prepared to retire at the age of 90. He was appointed by President Ford, but as a moderate Republican he ultimately became the leader of the court's liberal wing.

With nearly 35 years at the court, he is the third longest serving justice ever, and with history like that it's hard to know where to start.

But we picked the landmark case of 2000, which he thinks is one of the court's greatest blunders.

When asked what the court should have done with Bush v. Gore, Stevens told Pelley, "It should've denied the stay, period."

"And therefore let the recount go on in Florida?" Pelley asked.

"That's right," Stevens said.

Bush versus Gore: a month after Election Day, Florida was recounting ballots; Bush was ahead, but the recount might go either way.

So the Bush campaign asked the court for a stay, to stop the recount, on the grounds that the recount would cause irreparable harm to the nation. The night before the court heard the request, Stevens ran into another justice at a party.

"And I remember both of us saying to one another, 'Well, I guess we're gonna have to meet tomorrow on this, but that'll take us about ten minutes,' because it had obviously no merit to it. Because in order to get a stay in any situation, the applicant has to prove irreparable injury and there just obviously wasn't any irreparable injury to allowing a recount to go through because the worst that happens is you get a more accurate count of the votes. But much to our surprise, on the next day, the majority did decide to grant a stay," Stevens remembered.

Ultimately, the majority ruled that the recount wouldn't be fair because recount procedures were inconsistent across the state and couldn't be fixed before Florida's deadline.

"There were many people in this country who felt that the Supreme Court stole that election for President Bush. That was the accusation that was made," Pelley pointed out.

"It's unfortunate that that kind of accusation was made and that's one of the consequences of the decision that I think made it an unwise decision for the court to get involved in that particular issue," Stevens said.

(Click here to read the full "60 Minutes" transcript of the interview with Justice John Paul Stevens. You can watch Scott Pelley's entire "60 Minutes" interview with Justice Stevens below.)

Reuters-Charges of Voter Fraud Foment Protests Of Elections In Haiti

Protesters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
(Story reported by Joseph Guyler Delva and Pascal Fletcher for Reuters)

(Reuters) - Haiti's elections ended in confusion on Sunday as 12 of the 18 presidential candidates denounced "massive fraud" and demanded the polls be annulled and street protests erupted over voting delays and problems.

The repudiation of the elections by so many of the presidential candidates dealt a blow to the credibility of the U.N.-supported poll. The international community was hoping the vote could produce a stable, legitimate government in the poor earthquake-ravaged Caribbean country.

Voters' frustration at not being able to cast their ballots due to organizational problems at many polling stations in the capital Port-au-Prince boiled over into street protests. At least one polling station was trashed by one angry group.

"We denounce a massive fraud that is occurring across the country. ... We demand the cancellation pure and simple of these skewed elections," the 12 presidential candidates said in a statement read to reporters at a Port-au-Prince hotel.

Still, Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) said the elections went "well" at most of the more than 11,000 polling stations across the nation. "The CEP is comfortable with the vote," council president Gaillot Dorsainvil said.

(Click here to read the full story on the Reuters website.)

CNN-Reagan Finance Whiz Says GOP Tax Cuts Are A Dead End

Former GOP Congressman from Michigan, David Stockman: MSNBC.MSN.com
(Transcript from a 28 November 2010 boradcast of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" and Zakaria's interview with David Stockman, former Republican congressman from Michigan, and the late President Ronald Reagan's Director of the Office of Management and Budget)

ZAKARIA: The great political question of our time is whether the GOP, the Republican Party, can get the United States' fiscal house in order. That's what it campaigned on.

Now, in the GOP mindset, Ronald Reagan's presidency is often held up as the shining economic example that transitioned this country away from the malaise of the Carter years to the booming 1980s and '90s and that this is what we should all be trying to do.

Well, Ronald Reagan's first budget director was a 34-year-old Congressman from Michigan named David Stockman. Stockman left politics 25 years ago, but he is so worried about where we are headed, he has reentered the national debate. David Stockman joins me now. Welcome.

STOCKMAN: Great to be here.

ZAKARIA: So tell me what the economy looks like, first of all. You spent a lot of time looking at these kind of things. When you look at the data, what does the American economy look like now?  

STOCKMAN: I think it's very weak and I think we're not in any kind of conventional recovery. This isn't just a business cycle. I think we've been through a 30-year binge, if I can use that word, of massive debt creation, both in the public and the household sector.

We've had a Fed that's totally changed policy and has become very easy and run the printing press year after year, fueling this enormous current account deficit that we've had. We basically run $8 trillion worth of deficits with the rest of the world. That is, we're living beyond our means, by that extent, and it's cumulatively built up into all kinds of weaknesses in our economy.

And so today we're having a hard time recovering from the big recession that we went through over the last two years. And I think this is going to be par for the course, the new normal. Economic growth will be weak as we try to unwind this massive spree that we, unfortunately, indulged in and reduce the debt on the household sector and on the public sector at some point.  

ZAKARIA: So you're talking about a number of years of fairly poor growth, probably much worse than the current projections? 

STOCKMAN: Yes. I think that's right, and we've never faced that before, because for 40 or 50 years, this baby boom generation has always believed that things will get better and better and they did, and that when we ran into recessions, that we could spend our way and borrow our way out of it. Well, we did three or four or five times.  

But I think when we got to 2008, we were at the end of the road. We had $50 trillion of debt on the public and private sector combined in this economy. We had what would be called the leverage ratio that never before had been seen in history. Even during the great depression of the 1930s.  

So we were at a break point, and - and as a result of that we're now in an environment where it may take 10 years of very little growth, of difficult struggle to rebalance our economy, and bring it back to sustainable health. So we're in a real bind, and I think the budget projections ignore that, and, therefore, they're way too optimistic.

(Click here to read the full transcript, and here to watch Fareed Zakaria's inteview with David Stockman, on the CNN website.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

NY Times-Guy Fisher's Nephew Is Villanova's Rising Star

Corey Fisher, the nephew of former Harlem drug kingpin Guy Fisher, is a potential breakout star guard at Villanova:Henry Ray Abrams/Associated Press
(Story reported by John Branch for the NY Times)

Two Fisher boys, about 40 years apart, grew up in Bronx housing projects, playing basketball on the nearby playgrounds.

The elder, called Radio for his endless chatter, hustled clothes and cheap merchandise on the New York streets until it led him toward leadership of a notorious crime ring. The younger Fisher awoke at 4 a.m. on weekdays to make the quiet, convoluted public-transportation commute to a private high school in New Jersey. Flamboyant in his own way, he scored 105 points in a summer-league game last August.

Guy Fisher is serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary. Corey Fisher, his great-nephew, is the star senior guard for Villanova, the best player on one of the nation’s top basketball teams.

“My uncle, he got in trouble for some bad stuff: drugs, things like that,” Corey Fisher said after a recent practice at Villanova, in Philadelphia’s western suburbs. “A lot of people know about it.”

Fisher first heard about his great-uncle through street-corner whispers. He got the story from his mother when she thought he was old enough. Then he learned all he could about Guy Fisher and Nicky Barnes and the others whose high-style, heroin-fueled crime rings in 1970s Harlem were the basis of the 2007 film “American Gangster.” Finally, Corey Fisher, as a young teenager, went to visit Guy Fisher in prison, the start of a continuing long-range relationship.

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website.)

Be sure to pick up Barry Michael Cooper's (The screenwriter of "New Jack City," "Sugar Hill," and "Above The Rim") new anthology of '80s street reporting from the crack-era, "Hooked On The American Dream-Vol.1: New Jack City Eats Its Young," available exclusively on Kindle/Amazon. Only $1.99! Amazon/Kindle has a free, downloadable app for all computers and mobile devices. Click here to go to the "Hooked On The American Dream-Vol.1:New Jack City Eats Its Young" Kindle store site. Thank you for visiting Hooked On The American Dream and please...buy the book. Have a Blessed day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Phiadelphia Magazine: A Hack Reporter Tries To Destroy Dr. J (2003)

Former NBA All Star Julius "Dr.J" Erving: ESPN.com
(This is the case of a hack journalist--Bob Huber--who "caught feelings" when he tried to back former NBA great Julius Erving into a corner, after Julius refused to ask questions about his private life. This October 2003 feature story for Philadelphia Magazine, is Huber's thin, sophomoric attempt to recreate Gay Talese's 1968 Esquire Magazine piece, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold". Huber misses the mark, and instead, he pens a desperately malicious hatchet job. Huber even goes as far as trying to manipulate Julius's ex-wife, Turquoise, to get information he couldn't get out of Julius. One interesting tid-bit: Turquoise may have finally given solved a long standing mystery surrounding the real reason the late Teddy Pendergrass crashed his Rolls-Royce that night with his transvestite passenger, John "Tenika" Watson. That is, if Bob Huber did not embellish this account.)

A tap on my passenger window. 

Julius gets in next to me, she gets in back, behind him. “There's a change of plans,” Erving says.

He doesn't introduce us, I turn to say hello: young, lovely, a dusting of color like cinnamon. “Let's drive back to the Academy House” — where he has a condo, where I picked him up at noon to start a day of driving him all over attending to the task of being Julius Erving. “We're going to meet a car there.”

We head into town. I brought him to the Marriott — what? Three hours ago. He said he was getting a little service, wanted to change clothes, that he'd be down in 40 minutes. We were going to go to a party on Delaware Avenue, the follow-up to a basketball exhibition in West Philly in memory of his drug-troubled son Cory, who died three years ago down in Orlando when he drove his car into a retaining pond.

Now the woman leans forward to talk to Julius — 53 years old, a grandfather, his hair gone mostly write — on the far side of his headrest. Not for privacy, just to get close, to be near, to argue playfully about nothing, Julius volleying with a sporty mind-fuck — “You know I'm right because I said what you thought I said when you said …”

His mood has shifted, gotten lighter. Driving to the Marriott, he asked me, “Do you think I should coach the Sixers?” A startling question — not because it was actually on his plate, given that the team hadn't even contacted him, but because Julius Erving was wondering out loud what to do with his life. He was leaving the Orlando Magic, a mutual decision after six years of an increasingly nebulous PR vice presidency. He does not know what he's going to do next, or, for that matter, where he's going to live.

(Click here to read the full story on the Philadelphia Magazine website.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TMZ.com-Chris Brown; Working On His Man In The Mirror

Chris Brown in court: TMZ.com

(Story reported by TMZ.com)

During a progress report hearing in the Rihanna beating case, the judge said she was blown away by Chris' work ethic, commenting, "No one has ever done a better or more consistent job than you have."

Brown -- who pled guilty to felony assault back in June of 2009 -- only has seven domestic violence sessions left  ... and he's completed 581 hours of community service ... which still leaves 819 hours.

(Click here to read the story on the TMZ.com website.)

NY Times-Dems To President Obama On GOP; Fight Back

President Obama: Doug Mills/NY Times
(Story reported by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Helene Cooper for the NY Times)

WASHINGTON — President Obama was looking ahead to a busy week when he wandered to the back of Air Force One on Sunday on the way home from Japan. He was planning to play host to Republican leaders on Thursday, and told reporters he expected they would “want to engage constructively.” And he felt “reasonably good,” he said, that the Senate would ratify his arms control treaty with Russia.

The Thursday meeting is now off — pushed back to Nov. 30 after the Republicans complained that the White House had not consulted them about their schedule — and the arms treaty, which faces stiff Republican opposition, is in jeopardy. Two weeks after a midterm election that both sides interpreted as a mandate to change the way Washington does business, little, it seems, has changed.

Just how little was underscored on Wednesday when the two parties finished electing their leaders for the new Congress — the very same people, including Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who will go from speaker to the House minority leader, who have spent the past two years at one another’s throats.

For Mr. Obama, who has promised “midcourse corrections,” the developments are a stark reminder of just how difficult it will be to change the dynamic in Washington. While he was in Asia, top aides back in Washington sketched out their postelection agenda — and came up with a relatively narrow list of items that might win Republican cooperation, including revamping President George W. Bush’s landmark education bill and extending certain business tax credits. The White House also sees an opportunity to work with Republicans to cut the pet projects known as earmarks. Dan Pfeiffer, Mr. Obama’s communications director, described the White House as “hopeful but not na├»ve.”

But other Democrats say the president must come up with an aggressive strategy to put himself back in the driver’s seat. If he cannot pass legislation, they say, he must use his executive authority and the force of his office to advance his agenda in ways that do not require Republican cooperation. The Center for American Progress, a research group with close ties to the administration, put out a report this week called “The Power of the President” that sought to identify areas where Mr. Obama can bypass Congress.

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LA Times-Hollywood Publicist Ronni Chasen Murdered In Beverly Hills

Longtime publicist Ronni Chasen (2nd from right) was found in her car, shot five times in Beverly Hills: Timothy Norris/Getty Images
(Story reported by Harriet Ryan, Andrew Blankenstein and Martha Groves for the Los Angeles Times)

The premiere party for the movie "Burlesque" was just the sort of glitzy Hollywood affair that Ronni Chasen, a veteran movie publicist, loved, and as she had for four decades, she worked the room with relish. As celebrities, including Jane Fonda and the film's stars Cher and Christina Aguilera, mingled around a rooftop pool, Chasen moved among the revelers with a songwriter whose work she was promoting.

"She was happy-go-lucky and gossipy and fun, just like she always was," said Jim Dobson, a publicist who crossed paths with Chasen around midnight.

Less than an hour and a half later, Chasen was dead, gunned down in her Mercedes in an assault that baffled police and made a woman who spent her career touting others, the talk of Hollywood. When word of the slaying broke, some studios canceled meetings and conference calls that had been scheduled to strategize their Oscar campaigns — Chasen's specialty. One publicist set up a reward fund and others closed their offices for the day.

"I'm devastated by this," said Academy Award-winning producer Richard Zanuck, who had worked with Chasen since 1982 and had talked to her earlier in the day about the awards season campaign for his movie "Alice in Wonderland."

Detectives with the Beverly Hills Police Department spent Tuesday trying to piece together the final minutes of Chasen's life and discern a motive for the killing of a 64-year-old single woman who, according to friends, had no enemies.

"She was not a drinker. She never did drugs…. She had solid, really nice people as clients who became sort of her family," said New York publicist Kathie Berlin, a friend of 45 years.

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website. May GOD Rest her soul.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MSNBC-President Obama Awards Medal of Honor To Heroic Soldier

President Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta at the White House on Tuesday, 16 November 2010: NBC News
(Story reported by the Associated Press)

An Army staff sergeant who stepped into the line of fire to help a pair of comrades on the Afghan battlefield has been given a Medal of Honor, the nation's top military award.

President Barack Obama awarded the medal to Salvatore Giunta (jee-UN'-tah) Tuesday. That makes the 25-year-old Iowan the first living service member from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to be so honored. Seven others have received the award posthumously.

Obama called Giunta a solider who is "as humble as he is heroic" and said the ceremony was a "joyous occasion."

The Army says Giunta was a rifle team leader in eastern Afghanistan's Korengal Valley when his squad was split in two after an ambush by insurgents. While under fire, Giunta pulled a fellow soldier to cover and rescued another who was being dragged away by the enemy.

(Click here to read the full story on the MSNBC website.)

ESPN-Michael Vick's Redemption Song

Michael Vick and the Eagles demolished the Washington Redskins 59-28, 15 November 2010, at FedEx Field in Landover, Md: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
(Story reported by Matt Mosley for ESPN) 

LANDOVER, Md. -- The Washington Redskins did Michael Vick a massive favor Monday afternoon. They signed Donovan McNabb to a five-year extension worth $78 million that raised eyebrows across the country -- and definitely in the Eagles' locker room.

The Redskins made a decision based on hope rather than production. Only two weeks after head coach Mike Shanahan clumsily yanked McNabb from a game that hadn't been decided, the organization made a long-term commitment in the name of stability.

But McNabb's former team has a mercenary quarterback who may be the best in the league right now. And based on his record-breaking performance in a 59-28 beatdown of the Redskins at FedEx Field, Vick will be asking for more than McNabb money. It's hard to feel sorry for a man who reportedly received $40 million in guaranteed money (that total seems more ridiculous every time I type it), but McNabb looked old and slow in comparison to Vick. The Eagles quarterback was 20-of-28 for 333 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. For good measure, he ran eight times for 80 yards and two more touchdowns. He's the first player in league history to do all of those things in one game.

(Click here to read the full story on the ESPN website.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wash Po-Ted Koppel; Olbermann and O'Reilly Killed Real TV News

Former ABC "Nightline" host Ted Koppel: mediabistro.com
(Op-Ed written by Ted Koppel for the Washington Post)

To witness Keith Olbermann - the most opinionated among MSNBC's left-leaning, Fox-baiting, money-generating hosts - suspended even briefly last week for making financial contributions to Democratic political candidates seemed like a whimsical, arcane holdover from a long-gone era of television journalism, when the networks considered the collection and dissemination of substantive and unbiased news to be a public trust.

Back then, a policy against political contributions would have aimed to avoid even the appearance of partisanship. But today, when Olbermann draws more than 1 million like-minded viewers to his program every night precisely because he is avowedly, unabashedly and monotonously partisan, it is not clear what misdemeanor his donations constituted. Consistency?

We live now in a cable news universe that celebrates the opinions of Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly - individuals who hold up the twin pillars of political partisanship and who are encouraged to do so by their parent organizations because their brand of analysis and commentary is highly profitable.

(Click here to read the complete Ted Koppel Op-Ed piece on the Washington Post website.)

Reuters-Rioters In Haiti Attack UN Troops; Blame Them For Cholera

photo credit: Reuters
(Story reported by Joseph Guyler Delva for Reuters)

(Reuters) - Protesters in Haiti who blamed United Nations peacekeepers for the epidemic of cholera there rioted in two cities on Monday, hurling rocks and setting fire to a police station, police and eyewitnesses said.
In the country's second city of Cap-Haitien on the north coast, the demonstrators torched a police station after confronting U.N. troops, while in Hinche in the central region, they pelted Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers with stones.

"The whole city is blocked, businesses and schools have closed, cars have been burned. It's chaos here," a local businessman in Cap-Haitien, Georgesmain Prophete, told Reuters. There were no immediate details of any casualties.

A cholera epidemic, which broke out last month, has killed more than 900 people in the poor earthquake-hit Caribbean country, and the U.N. mission has repeatedly denied widespread rumors that Nepalese U.N. troops quartered in the central region brought the deadly disease to Haiti.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said DNA testing shows the cholera strain in Haiti is most closely related to a strain from South Asia.

But neither the CDC, the United Nations or the Haitian government has linked the outbreak to the Nepalese.

Experts say that while Haiti's poverty and poor sanitation have been major factors in the spread of the outbreak, cholera had been absent from the country for decades. But they said it would prove very difficult to trace the source with certainty, or determine how it had re-entered the country after such a long absence.

(Click here to read the full story on the Reuters website.)

TPM-Facebook Launches Its Own Email System

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: Business Insider/TPM.com
(Story reported by Henry Blodget for Talking Points Memo.com)

The secret product Facebook will announce on Monday is, in fact, its new email system, says TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid.

Given that Facebook has already replaced email for many younger Internet users--and become the "start-page" and communications hub for many of the rest--it makes great sense for Facebook to offer a full-fledged email product.

If Facebook offers a good email platform (easier said than done), the product could gradually have a devastating impact on Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, and other email systems.

In so doing, it could also hammer their financial performance. Yahoo and AOL, especially, generate an enormous number of page views (and, thereby, ad impressions) from their email users. As these users migrate to other platforms, they take their impressions with them.

The mass exodus from AOL Mail has played a big role in the company's financial collapse in recent years, and Yahoo Mail has begun to see the same sort of erosion. Thus far, the defectors have generally gone to Google. If Facebook's email client is strong, many of them will now likely go to Facebook.

(Click here to read the full story on the Talking Points Memo.com website.)

NY Times-Congressman Rangel Walks Out On House Ethics Hearing

NY Congressman Charles B. Rangel, walked out on the House Ethics hearing on Capital Hill: Steven Crowley/NY Times
(Story reported by David Kocieniewsky for the NY Times)

In an ominous sign for Representative Charles B. Rangel, the House ethics committee on Monday said the facts presented by a prosecutor accusing Mr. Rangel of violating Congressional rules were not in dispute and that the congressman himself had not refuted the charges.

The committee’s finding came after an unusual public hearing that was abbreviated by the longtime congressman’s dramatic exit from the proceedings. Mr. Rangel, who appeared at the inquiry alone, stunned the packed hearing room by walking out after complaining that he had no lawyer because he could not afford the millions of dollars in legal fees he had racked up during the two-year investigation.

After declaring that “I respectfully withdraw from these proceedings,” Mr. Rangel shook hands with the lawyers for the ethics committee who were preparing to lay out the case against him and strode steadily out of the room. But after meeting privately, committee members resumed the proceedings without Mr. Rangel, a Democrat who has represented Harlem for four decades.

In a rebuke to Mr. Rangel, members noted that he had been advised repeatedly, starting as early as September 2008, that he was well within his rights to set up a defense fund to raise money for his legal expenses. Mr. Rangel and his defense team from the firm Zuckerman Spaeder parted ways several weeks ago.

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NY Times-Dostoevsky Comes To You Tube

Actor-playwright Bill Camp performs in his stage adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevky's timeless novella, "Notes From Underground", as the Baryshnikov Arts Center in NYC: Richard Termine/NY Times
(Story reported by Ben Brantley for the NY Times)

Guess who’s getting ready for his YouTube close-up?

Here is, if you think about it, the perfect marriage of a man and a medium. What other showcase works as well for someone who is both a shut-in and an exhibitionist? And so now a couple of theater artists from the 21st century have put a tiny video camera into the hands of one of the most toxic characters of 19th-century fiction, with the implicit instructions, “Underground Man, broadcast yourself!”

The Yale Repertory Theater’s production of “Notes From Underground,” adapted by Bill Camp and Robert Woodruff, is true to the outline, and often to the letter, of the bombshell of a book that inspired it: Dostoyevsky’s short, relentless novel of self-laceration from 1864. But this production, directed by Mr. Woodruff and starring Mr. Camp, never seems closer to its source’s spirit than in its use of an anachronism: the little camera with which the Underground Man records his sorry confessions.

Consider the show’s very first scene, in which Mr. Camp recites the litany of degradation that begins Dostoyevsky’s novel: “I am a sick man. I am a wicked man. I am an unattractive man.” As Mr. Camp says these words, the projected image of his smiling, snarling face looms large and scary on the back of the stage of the Baryshnikov Arts Center, where “Notes,” presented here by Theater for a New Audience, runs through Nov. 28.

You look at that outsize, contemptuous, phantasmal face, and you see a charismatic specter in control, speaking words that unsettle you. But shift your gaze to stage left, to Mr. Camp in the flesh, hunched over his trinket-sized camera, which sits on a decrepit desk in a derelict room. In three dimensions, in a broader context, Mr. Camp seems small and pathetic. It’s like seeing both faces of the Wizard of Oz at the same time: a gigantic, bodiless head and that insignificant little man behind the curtain. 

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website.)

LA Times-President Obama Annoyed At Idea He Is Caving To GOP

President Barack Obama at G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea:Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
(Story by Peter Nicholas for the Tribune Washington Bureau)

Three days after the midterm elections, senior Obama aides suggested to a gathering of liberal groups at the White House that they might need to scale back their expectations. In the wake of the big Republican win, there would be no new major legislative pushes from President Obama in 2011.

The mood, according to some participants at the meeting, was dour. Although the White House advisors said job creation would be a central goal, they did not lay out a concrete plan for putting more people to work. "There was an undercurrent of, 'Hey, folks. We're going to have to play some defense,'" said one attendee.

Since then, the sense of a president in a crouch has only deepened. Obama was unable to seal a long-anticipated free trade agreement with South Korea during his trip to Asia and was the odd man out at the Group of 20 summit over global economic strategy, where preferences for belt-tightening policies predominate.

When he returns to Washington, he faces an energized Republican opposition. The first issue will be whether to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts, and Obama is already showing a willingness to compromise on his long-held position that the cuts should expire for families making more than $250,000 a year.

At a news conference Friday in Seoul, Obama bristled at reports that he was caving in to Republican pressure.

"It would be fiscally irresponsible for us to permanently extend the high-income tax cuts," he said. "I think that would be a mistake, particularly when we've got our Republican friends saying that their No. 1 priority is making sure that we deal with our debt and our deficit."

He added, though, that there "may be a whole host of ways to compromise around those issues."

(Click here to read the full story on the LA Times website.)