From the Associated Press via the New York Times:
A 25-year-old Egyptian man cut off his own penis to spite his family after he was refused permission to marry a girl from a lower class family, police reported Sunday.
After unsuccessfully petitioning his father for two years to marry the girl, the man heated up a knife and sliced off his reproductive organ, said a police official.
The young man came from a prominent family in the southern Egyptian province of Qena, one of Egypt's poorest and most conservative areas that is also home to the famed ancient Egyptian ruins of Luxor.
The man was rushed to the hospital but doctors were unable to reattach the severed member, the official added citing the police report filed after the incident.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press, added that the man was still recovering in the hospital.
Traditionally, marriages in these conservative part of southern Egypt are between similar social classes and often within the same extended families -- and are rarely for love.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
From the Associated Press via the New York Times:
Buca di Beppo (which literally translates into "Joe's Basement") has won our poll as the best chain Italian restaurant.
Buca polled nearly a third of all votes (32%) followed by Maggiano's and the Olive Garden in second place at 20% each. Bertucci's came in third at 16% followed by Carrabba's (which was last) at 12%.
As for me, my choices are the reverse of yours: Maggiano's is my first choice (great lasagna) followed by Bertucci's (best value) then Carrabba's, the Olive Garden and Buca (too salty).
The region's most respected newspapers are lining up to endorse Christopher Christie in the Republican primary.
They recognize that New Jersey is broke and Christie can fix it. Here are some excerpts:
Asbury Park Press: "He is bright, has the leadership skills needed to govern, the backbone needed to stand up to what is sure to be a Democratic-controlled Legislature - at least for the first two years of the governorship - and the powers of persuasion needed to help sell his program." (Editorial, "Opt for Christie in Republican Primary," Asbury Park Press, 05/28/09)
Daily Record: "Throwing bad guys in jail may have no direct correlation with reforming property taxes or how to deal with the Highlands Act, but an ability to get things done does. The leadership and boldness he showed as U.S. attorney earns Christie the chance to compete in the governor's race. He is the best choice for Republicans..." (Editorial, "Republicans should pick him on Tuesday," 05/31/09)
The Record: "Christie is the best choice among three candidates for the GOP nomination." (Editorial, "A reasoned fighter," The Record, 05/28/09)
New York Post: "...he's made clear that he means to pare down the state's bloated public workforce, reduce New Jersey's soaring debt and end one-shot revenue gimmicks." (Editorial, "Christie for Jersey," New York Post, 05/26/09)
Philadelphia Inquirer: "The Inquirer endorses [Christie] in the Republican primary. Christie is the most electable candidate - so much so that Democrats have tried to boost the prospects of right-wing rival Steve Lonegan." (Editorial, "Christie in GOP primary," Philadelphia Inquirer, 05/24/09)
Recorder Newspapers: "Our nod in the Republican primary, therefore, goes to Chris Christie, whose tax policies...are more in line with the diverse nature of New Jersey's needs and its current fiscal crisis than the views expressed by Lonegan." (Editorial, "Christie for GOP nomination for governor," Recorder Newspapers, 05/22/09)
To liberals, those of us with origins in Spanish-speaking cultures are a voting block or interest group. They aren't interested in celebrating our real diversity, only in mobilizing political power to support their policies. The bigger the group, the bigger the clout, so create an imaginary identity like "Hispanic" or "Latina" with no cultural roots or authenticity.
Case in point: Ruth Marcus published an article the other day entitled Souter with a Salsa Beat that goes to the heart of liberals' racial profiling and stereotyping.
You killed it. All of you who bought Japanese cars killed it.
The romance between you and the automobile died when you succumbed to the fiction that Japanese cars were more efficient.
You traded style and romance for box cars, some jerryrigged measure of "customer satisfaction" and resale value.
You gave up on the idea of a car being more than a mode of transportation.
You embraced the notion that you needed to be practical, mundane, beige.
But someone has said all this much better than I.
From P. J. O'Rourke in the Wall Street Journal:
The phrase “bankrupt General Motors,” which we expect to hear uttered on Monday, leaves Americans my age in economic shock. The words are as melodramatic as “Mom’s nude photos.” And, indeed, if we want to understand what doomed the American automobile, we should give up on economics and turn to melodrama. Politicians, journalists, financial analysts and other purveyors of banality have been looking at cars as if a convertible were a business. Fire the MBAs and hire a poet. The fate of Detroit isn’t a matter of financial crisis, foreign competition, corporate greed, union intransigence, energy costs or measuring the shoe size of the footprints in the carbon. It’s a tragic romance—unleashed passions, titanic clashes, lost love and wild horses. . . .
And there’s the end of the American automobile industry. When it comes to dull, practical, ugly things that bore and annoy me, Japanese things cost less and the cup holders are more conveniently located. The American automobile is—that is, was—never a product of Japanese-style industrialism. America’s steel, coal, beer, beaver pelts and PCs may have come from our business plutocracy, but American cars have been manufactured mostly by romantic fools. David Buick, Ransom E. Olds, Louis Chevrolet, Robert and Louis Hupp of the Hupmobile, the Dodge brothers, the Studebaker brothers, the Packard brothers, the Duesenberg brothers, Charles W. Nash, E. L. Cord, John North Willys, Preston Tucker and William H. Murphy, whose Cadillac cars were designed by the young Henry Ford, all went broke making cars. The man who founded General Motors in 1908, William Crapo (really) Durant, went broke twice. Henry Ford, of course, did not go broke, nor was he a romantic, but judging by his opinions he certainly was a fool.
Among certain youths—often first-generation Americans—there remains a vestigial fondness for Chevelle low-riders or Honda “tuners.” The pointy-headed busybodies have yet to enfold these youngsters in the iron-clad conformity of cultural diversity’s embrace. Soon the kids will be expressing their creative energy in a more constructive way, planting bok choy in community gardens and decorating homeless shelters with murals of Che.
Sphere: Related Content
President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama landed in New York Saturday afternoon, and after taking a helicopter from JFK into Manhattan, drove up the West Side Highway, where the northbound lanes were shut down by police for their visit, past Ground Zero, into the Village for dinner at the Village's Blue Hill restaurant. From there, they went north to Times Square, where they went to to see a production of "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" at the Belasco Theater on West 44 Street. Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest read a statement from Obama: "I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished." Asked about the cost of the trip, which Republicans have criticized as indulgent, coming just ahead of the expected announcement of GM's bankruptcy filing on Monday, Josh Earnest told pool reporter Dave Michaels of the Dallas Morning News, that he "didn't anticipate being able to provide a cost estimate tonight." After the play let out at about 11:30 p.m., the presidential motorcade went down Sixth Avenue, shut down by the NYPD, and onlookers packed onto the East side of the street cheered as the presidential motorcade passed as the Obamas headed back to JFK for a return flight to Washington.
The Republican National Committee slammed the outing in an "RNC Research Piece": "As President Obama prepares to wing into Manhattan’s theater district on Air Force One to take in a Broadway show, GM is preparing to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills. ... Have a great Saturday evening – even if you’re not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense. ... PUTTING ON A SHOW: Obamas Wing Into The City For An Evening Out While Another Iconic American Company Prepares For Bankruptcy." The RNC's Gail Gitcho added: "If President Obama wants to go to the theater, isn’t the Presidential box at the Kennedy Center good enough?”
And, from Asher Embry at The American Spectator:
Kim Jong Il’s deployed plutonium, and missles, threats, and lies. Iran is daily plotting still for Israel’s demise. In Pakistan there’s turmoil and the country could implode. Near Georgia, Russia readies troops and trouble they forebode. At home, our spending’s soaring, and our deficits balloon. Tax revenues are sinking fast, down drastically through June. GM’s declaring bankruptcy, and no one knows who else. So all of us are cutting back and tightening our belts. While “everyday Americans” are struggling every day, So glad Barack could find the time for dinner and Broadway.
Sphere: Related Content
"I must say that even today I have difficulty in understanding how the Lord was able to think of me, choose me for this mission," Benedict said when a child, one of thousands who visited the Vatican on Saturday, asked Benedict if he ever thought he would grow up to be pope, Reuters reported.
"But I accept it from his hands, even if it's surprising and appears far beyond my forces." Talk about humility.
Benedict added that he was "a rather naive boy in a small village very far from the center, in a forgotten province."
He said when he was 8 or 9 he would sometimes get into fights with his friends at the small village in Germany where all grew up, the AP reported.Sphere: Related Content
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The Next Governor of the State of New Jersey, Christopher Christie, will be at Ponzio's on Route 70 in Cherry Hill, tomorrow, Sunday May 31 at 1 PM.
Come on out to Ponzio's for brunch or just a cup of coffee and meet Chris.
You'll discover a guy who's direct, friendly, down-to-earth and refreshingly straightforward.
New Jersey is broken Chris Christie will fix it.
Chris Christie is smart enough to fix our states finance's and tough enough to clean up its culture of corruption. But he's also sensible enough to do it the right way and to start by listening to you. He understands ordinary people. Unlike the wacky guy at the helm of our state now, Chris is a people person.
Come out and meet him.
And, BTW: Here's the more of the Chris Christie schedule for the weekend:
Sunday, May 31st
CAPE MAY COUNTY
Sphere: Related Content
From Britain's Daily Mail:
Prince Harry paid tribute [Friday] to the 3,000 victims of the September 11 attacks, laying a wreath at Ground Zero in New York.
In a sombre start to his two-day visit of the city, Harry bowed his head and observed a minute's silence after placing the memorial on the fence where the World Trade Centre once stood.
He was then taken on a brief tour of the construction site before meeting firefighters from a nearby station who were involved in the rescue attempt.
The wreath, made up of yellow roses and peonies, carried a personal message signed by the visiting royal.
It read: 'In respectful memory of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and in admiration of the courage shown by the people of this great city on that day.' . . .
Before laying the wreath on the wire fence, he spoke to families of those killed in the attack.
Speaking before his arrival, Monica Iken, a 39-year-old New Yorker who lost her husband Michael in the atrocity, said it was fantastic Harry was making the effort to attend the site.
She said: 'It is great he wanted to come here and show that people still care, and it shows respect to our loved one that died on that day.'
As many Americans forget September 11 or suppress the memories of that day, Prince Harry remembers.
Prince Harry perpetuates the memory of those who were lost and those who acted so courageously and he also reminds us of the remarkable friendship between the people of our two nations and the enduring alliance that sustains us. Britain is our most treasured ally. And Prince Harry represents the sound continuation of this alliance into new generations.
Thank you, Harry for remembering!
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs walked back controversial comments made by Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor in 2001 when she said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”
“I think she’d say her word choice in 2001 was poor,” Gibbs said. “She was simply making the point that experiences are relevant to the process of judging. Your personal experiences have a tendency to make you more aware of certain facts and certain cases, that your experiences impact your understanding.”
Gibbs was told Sotomayor feels this way by two people heading her confirmation team, vice president Joe Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain and Biden’s counsel Cynthia Hogan.
Sotomayor made the comments at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. This week critics including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh have characterized the remarks as racist.
Senator John Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee , dipped into the fray a bit criticizing her remarks as well: "I think the problem is that when judges begin to focus on themselves rather than the role at hand -- which is to interpret the law -- they start to get in trouble," the Texas Republican told NPR.
About her use of the word “better,” Gibbs said “I think if she had the speech to do all over again I think she’d change that word.”Sphere: Related Content
From Dick Morris at The Hill:
Asked why he was naming some of his rivals to top administration jobs, President Lyndon B. Johnson said it best: “I’d rather have them inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.” President Obama seems to echo Johnson’s management style in his handling of Bill and Hillary Clinton. By bringing them into his inner circle, he has marginalized them both and sharply reduced their freedom of action.
It may appear odd to describe a secretary of State as marginalized, but Obama has surrounded Hillary with his people and carved up her jurisdiction geographically. Former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) is in charge of Arab-Israeli relations. Dennis Ross has Iran. Former U.N. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke has Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Hillary has to share her foreign policy role on the National Security Council (NSC) with Vice President Biden, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, CIA chief Leon Panetta, and NSC staffer Samantha Powers (who once called Hillary a “monster”).
With peers who are competitors and subordinates who can deal directly with the president, Hillary is reduced to announcing foreign aid packages for Pakistan while Holbrooke does the heavy lifting.
Part of Hillary’s problem is the institutional shrinking of the State Department. During the Bush years, while war raged, the Defense Department became more relevant to the conduct of foreign policy. And, under Obama, the financial crisis has propelled the Treasury into the forefront. State, with its emphasis on traditional diplomacy, has been forced to take a back seat. Even though Obama appointed Hillary, he clearly has not been willing to make her a co-president and confines her to the diminished role of her department.
For his part, Bill Clinton has been asked to be a special envoy to Haiti. Yes, Haiti. Obama’s predecessor asked the former president to orchestrate the response to the Asian tsunami and then to Hurricane Katrina. Obama gives him Haiti.
Meanwhile, both Clintons are effectively muzzled and cannot criticize Obama even as he reverses President Clinton’s free market proclivities and budget balancing discipline. Hillary, the supposed friend of Israel, must sit by quietly and watch Iran get the bomb while trying all the while to stop Israel from preventing it.
From Ben Smith at Politico:
On his trip to get a burger with Brian Williams at Five Guys [Friday] afternoon, the President appears to have learned of the existence of a Defense Department intelligence arm, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, from an agency employee also at the burger restaurant.
"So explain to me exactly what this National Geospatial..." Obama said, after the worker mentioned his employer, according to a video of the event.
"We work with, uh, satellite imagery," the worker, Walter replied.
A Politico reader caught the exchange, which starts around 5:45 on this C-SPAN video.
Obama: What do you do Walter?
Walter: I work at, uh, NGA, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Obama: Outstanding, how long you been doing that?
Walter: About six years
Obama: You like it?
Walter: I do, keeps me...
Obama: So explain to me exactly what this National Geospatial...uh...
Walter: Uh, we work with, uh, satellite imagery..
Walter: [unintelligible] ...support systems, so...
Obama: Sounds like good work.
Walter: Enjoy the weekend.
Obama: Appreciate it.
According to the Defense Department:
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a Department of Defense combat support agency and a member of the national Intelligence Community (IC). NGA develops imagery and map-based intelligence solutions for U.S. national defense, homeland security and safety of navigation.
NGA provides timely, relevant and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security objectives. The term "geospatial intelligence" means the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. Geospatial intelligence consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial (e.g., mapping, charting and geodesy) information.
Guess they're not getting much airtime in the President's Daily Brief.Sphere: Related Content
From Jo Becker and Adam Liptak in the New York Times:
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s Supreme Court choice, has a blunt and even testy side, and it was on display in December during an argument before the federal appeals court in New York. The case concerned a Canadian man who said American officials had sent him to Syria to be tortured, and Judge Sotomayor peppered a government lawyer with skeptical questions. “So the minute the executive raises the specter of foreign policy, national security,” Judge Sotomayor asked the lawyer, Jonathan F. Cohn, “it is the government’s position that that is a license to torture anyone?” Mr. Cohn managed to get out two and a half words: “No, your hon—— .” Judge Sotomayor cut him off, then hit him with two more questions and a flat declaration of what she said was his position. The lawyer managed to say she was wrong, but could not clarify the point until the chief judge, Dennis G. Jacobs, stepped in, asking, “Why don’t we just get the position?” To supporters, Judge Sotomayor’s vigorous questioning of the Bush administration’s position in the case of the Canadian, Maher Arar, showcases some of her strengths. She is known as a formidably intelligent judge with a prodigious memory who meticulously prepares for oral arguments and is not shy about grilling the lawyers who appear before her to ensure that she fully understands their arguments. But to detractors, Judge Sotomayor’s sharp-tongued and occasionally combative manner — some lawyers have described her as “difficult” and “nasty” — raises questions about her judicial temperament and willingness to listen. Her demeanor on the bench is an issue that conservatives opposed to her nomination see as a potential vulnerability — and one that Mr. Obama carefully considered before selecting her. . . . In the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which conducts anonymous interviews with lawyers to assess judges, she has gone from generally rave reviews to more tepid endorsements. Among the comments from lawyers was that she is a “terror on the bench” who “behaves in an out-of-control manner” and attacks lawyers “for making an argument she doesn’t like.” “I felt she could be very judgmental in the sense that she doesn’t let you finish your argument before she jumps in and starts asking questions,” said Sheema Chaudhry, who appeared before Judge Sotomayor in an asylum case last year.
“She’s brilliant and she’s qualified, but I just feel that she can be very, how do you say, temperamental.” Gerald Lefcourt, a New York defense lawyer, has dealt with Ms. Sotomayor since she was an assistant district attorney and later a federal district judge.
Mr. Lefcourt said she was “more strident and much more vocal” than some of her colleagues in his most recent appearance before her, involving an appeal of a securities fraud conviction. “She used her questioning to make a point,” he said, “as opposed to really looking for an answer to a question she did not understand.”
I've just completed two more podcast interviews as part of my "Hot Interviews With Very Cool People" series for the Philadelphia Bar Association.
The first is with Malcolm Lazin, executive director of Equality Forum, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to advance national and international gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights through education.
The second interview is with Catherine M. Cahill, President and CEO of Philadelphia's Mann Center for the Perfoming Arts. Cahill previews the Mann's 2009 summer season which is just beinning.
These are two fun and interesting interviews.
You can listen to them by clicking here.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Earlier this week we had a wonderful time at a tasting party at the new Naked Chocolate location at 30 South 17th St. in Philadelphia.
If you haven't been to the Naked Chocolate Cafe you simply haven't had chocolate.
Naked Chocolate has won national acclaim for its chocolate candies, cupcakes, hot and cold chocolate drinks and other chocolate treats. And now Naked Chocolate has three great locations: 1317 Walnut, 17th St., and 3401 Walnut in University City.
The latest Naked Chocolate is just a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square and the two-level interior is spacious and airy.
The tasting party was sponsored by the wonderful Nochumson Law Firm and hosted by our dear friends Alan Nochumson and Natalie Klyashtorny, who have each been named by Philadelphia Magazine as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer Rising Star. The event welcomed the newest member of the Nochumson firm, David M. Koller.
At the party we also reunited with an old friend and former workmate, Sheryl Axelrod of The Axelrod Firm. Sheryl has started her own firm in the city and is doing quite well, thank you. She's one of the very nicest people we know.
Well, we had a great time and we thank Natalie and Alan for thinking of us!
From Philly's best gossip columnist, Dan Gross in the Daily News:
Why were real estate mogul Allan Domb and restaurateur Stephen Starr recently spotted together on a train to Washington, DC? Starr this afternoon told us he was looking at a potential restaurant space there and Domb, who "has a minority interest in Starr Restaurants," accompanied him as he may want to invest in the DC location as well.
The pair have been working together for a few years as Domb's real estate company owns the Barclay, which houses Starr’s Barclay Prime and the Parc Rittenhouse which contains Starr’s French bistro Parc. Starr says Domb owns a bigger piece of Barclay Prime than he does in Starr's other restaurants in Philadelphia, New York and Atlantic City. He declined to discuss specific ownership percentages and Domb has not returned a request for comment this afternoon.
As for the concept for the possible DC location, Starr says it "could be a version of Parc."
What is your favorite chain Italian restaurant?
Is it Bertucci's, Buca di Beppo, Carrabba's, Maggiano's or The Olive Garden?
We're asking you to vote in our poll.
You can vote at the top right of this page. Vote today!
In speeches, Sotomayor has harkened back to her and her brother's beginnings in a poor Bronx neighborhood, roots that President Barack Obama highlighted in introducing her this week.
"Born in the South Bronx, she was raised in a housing project," Obama said. "And even as she has accomplished so much in her life, she has never forgotten where she began, never lost touch with the community that supported her."
Yet Sotomayor did not live her entire childhood in a housing project in the South Bronx—she spent most of her teenage years in a middle-class neighborhood, attending private school and winning scholarships to Princeton and then Yale.
And Sotomayor's life and lifestyle after law school largely resemble the background of many lawyers who rise to powerful positions in Washington. She climbed her way up through New York's Democratic power structure boosted by its ultimate brokers over those years—Gov. Mario Cuomo, Mayor Ed Koch, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
That's the access of a partner in a corporate law firm, not a kid from the South Bronx.
She now earns more than $200,000 a year and owns a condominium in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood of million-dollar-plus homes. Her brother, Dr. Juan Sotomayor, is a physician in North Syracuse, N.Y., whose practice doesn't accept Medicaid or Medicare—programs for the poor and elderly—according to its Web site.
Sphere: Related Content
From the Associated Press:
A northwestern Pennsylvania newspaper is apologizing for running a classified advertisement calling for the assassination of President Barack Obama. Warren Times Observer Publisher John Elchert says the ad appeared Thursday.
It read, "May Obama follow in the steps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy!" The four presidents were all assassinated.
Elchert tells The Associated Press that the newspaper's advertising staff didn't make the historical connection.
He says the newspaper turned information over to police and that the Secret Service is investigating the person who placed the ad.
A note in Friday's paper says the newspaper "apologizes for the oversight."
From Flash News:
Killing your boss may be the most effective technique for anger management.
Former "Simpsons" animator Tom Winkler runs whackyourboss.com, a web game in which a disgruntled office worker must find 17 ways to kill his boss using the items in his cubicle.
The bloody game includes such murder methods as using a umbrella to stab the boss or a computer monitor to clunk him in the head.
Winkler says the game is a commentary on the stress of working in corporate America and many fed up employees relate to it.
He gets repeat players who admit they use the game to "relieve tension" and find it to be a soothing anger management tool.
Winkler thinks the most appealing part of the game is how realistic it is, since only common office supplies are used as weapons.
He wanted to show how real workers could be resourceful and make deadly tools out of stuff like scissors, a file cabinet, a ruler, and a stapler.
In the last presidential campaign John McCain was excoriated for allegedly not using a computer or a BlackBerry. Liberals and the media made fun of McCain because they said he didn't visit blogs or Twitter of Facebook.
Forget that the claims weren't entirely true. And forget that McCain may not be able to use some of the devices because of his war injuries.
Now, read this buried deep inside the upcoming story about former President Bill Clinton in the New York Times:
He [Clinton] watches “Mad Men,” “24” and “Damages.” The man who ushered in the Internet age still does not use a computer, much less a BlackBerry, but keeps up with blogs and sites like The Huffington Post through clips printed out by aides.
Sphere: Related Content
A super daddy aged just 29 has set a new record in the US by fathering TWENTY ONE kids. Desmond Hatchett's children have 11 different mums and their ages range from a newborn to 11-years-old.
The prolific father even boasted of fathering four tots by different women in the same year.
His giant brood came to light after authorities in Tennessee took Hatchett to court for non payment of child support. His name appeared on official documents 11 times representing 15 of his 21 kids.
He has claimed he didn't plan to set a record, adding: "It just happened."
US authorities are now braced for more women coming forward to claim he is the dad of their children after he appeared on local TV. Hatchett, who earns minimum wage, told reporters he knows the names and ages of all his children. And he said the women he was involved with were all aware of his large family.
One mum, who has two kids with Hatchett, said she should get £44-a-month but rarely receives any child support. She revealed: "It's frustrating, but usually, when I ask he gives it to me." Hatchett told the TV station that he did not plan to have any more youngsters.
"I'm done. I'll say I'm done," he said.
From Timothy McNulty at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A Navy veteran with a Harvard University degree plans to challenge U.S. Rep. John Murtha for the Democratic nomination for the 12th District congressional seat next year.
Ryan Bucchianeri, 34, of Monongahela, announced plans Tuesday to run against the 35-year incumbent, stressing that his Navy service, experience in private industry and youthful perspective would better serve voters in Pennsylvania's southwest corner.
Mr. Murtha, 77, of Johnstown, has been battered lately on the propriety of federal spending he has steered toward the district, using his powerful position as chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on military spending.
Two Republicans, William Russell and Tim Burns, are already vying to run against him next year. It would be the first run for political office for Mr. Bucchianeri, who switched his party registration from independent to Democrat this year.
"I'm running for Congress to further my lifelong commitment to public service and responsibly address the unprecedented policy challenges we face today, here and abroad," he said Tuesday.
From the New York Post:
Britain's Prince Harry is arriving in New York for his first official visit to America.
At midday Friday, the 24-year-old prince plans to visit the World Trade Center site.
He'll also name a lower Manhattan garden to honor the 67 British victims of the terrorist attack. And on Saturday on Governors Island, the younger son of the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles will play one of the British royal family's favorite sports -- polo.
Third in line to the British throne, the prince is a much-watched member of the royal family. His "party-boy" image and brushes with scandal regularly make newspaper headlines.
We hope Harry has a great time in New York.
Live it up, Harry. Be yourself. Shake up the town!Sphere: Related Content
More from that New York Times piece on Bill Clinton now:
In the past 140 years, only two other Democratic presidents, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter, lived long enough to see another Democrat in the White House — and Carter’s relations with Clinton were difficult, to say the least. Clinton chooses to look at Obama as the next stage in a political movement he led. But it’s not at all clear that Obama sees it that way. During the campaign, Obama dismissed Clinton as a historical placeholder. “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not,” Obama said then. . . .
Rahm Emanuel, who was a senior adviser to Clinton and now is chief of staff for Obama, recently described the current White House as a far more cohesive operation than his last one. “We don’t, rather, have the kind of New Democrats versus traditionalist split that existed in that White House,” he said on CNBC. “We don’t have in this White House the president-versus-vice-president staff divisions that have been in other White Houses.” Emanuel credited “the tone and tenor that the president of the United States has set in expectations.” The next day on ABC, he suggested Obama would rank among the best American leaders, comparing him with “successful presidents and transformative presidents” like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan. Emanuel made no mention of Clinton.
Big upcoming profile of Bill Clinton now by Peter Baker in the New York Times.
We're told that Bill Clinton is now mellowing.
He travels around the world. He gives speeches. He shops.
Bill Clinton in Peru:
Standing all by himself, the former president of the United States moved his eyes methodically across shelves of wooden carvings, jewelry and sculptures as he searched for something distinctive to bring his wife. “She used to look forward to me coming home from wherever I’ve been,” he mused with a laugh. “Now I’m afraid I’ll be second fiddle to whatever world leader she’s just met.”
Awwwww . . .
Clinton was once the astonishing "Boy President." But now, like the rest of us, Bill Clinton lives in The Age of Obama. And in the Age of Obama, there's only room for one Obama.
The advent of a new Democratic administration, with his wife in the top cabinet slot, has opened a new chapter in the eventful life of the nation’s 42nd president. No longer in exile, yet not exactly in the inner circle, Clinton is trying to define his role and find his place in the Age of Obama. He agreed to some limits on his activities to satisfy the good-government advocates around Obama, but he is still traveling the globe, pushing his favorite philanthropic programs, collecting six-figure checks for speeches, dining with foreign leaders and in his own way speaking for America again.
Clinton would like to play some type of role. He wouldn't be Clinton if he didn't.
But Obama's not interested. Obama just doesn't feel he needs Clinton.
Obama has not tapped Clinton to do anything significant for the new administration yet. Unless Obama messes up, says a former top Clinton aide, “President Clinton is irrelevant.” Obama does not need him. “This is not a circumstance in which Bill Clinton is going to have much of a role,” the aide says.
Still, sometimes Clinton's and Obama's paths do cross. But even then, Obama's not very interested in interacting with his predecessor.
Clinton was invited to join Obama for a ceremony enacting legislation to expand the AmeriCorps service program, one of the former president’s favorite legacies. By the time Clinton left office, more people had served in AmeriCorps than have served in the Peace Corps in its entire history. The ceremony was held at a school in a poorer, predominantly African-American section of Washington. Clinton was acknowledged in the remarks but was not invited onto the main stage or given a speaking role. Instead, Obama used the occasion to heap praise on Senator Edward Kennedy, a key patron during last year’s campaign.
There's a lot more in this extensive article - all worth our attention.
Botton line: Clinton ain't so bad. Though complicated, he remains irrepressibly human.
And Obama? Well, the human parts are hard to find in a man who prides himself on cool detachment and nouveau narcissism.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
From Flash News:
Women will rub anything on their face if it promises to make them more beautiful.
Taking Botox injections might seem downright wholesome when you consider that 150 British women have volunteered to take a new skin treatment derived from the discarded foreskins of baby boys.
Buck Wolf of About.com’s Weird News Central says the women who’ve tried it are raving about the new substance – called Vavelta – and say it works wonders on wrinkles, acne, burns, and surgical incisions.
This research comes as a Norwegian company is touting “Spermine,” a powerful antioxidant found in human sperm that’s becoming a sensation in European spas.
Two New York City salons are already offering Spermine, but the Vavelta foreskin treatment is not yet kosher with the FDA.
Wolf comments, “Some women are shelling out $250 for a Spermine facial. That seems like something you can get in any college frat house for free.”
Last night we attended an advance preview of the new Sandra Bullock romantic comedy, The Proposal.
Here's the synopsis: A pushy boss forces her young assistant to marry her in order to keep her Visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada.
It sort of reminded us of the 1990 comedy, Green Card. Here's the synopsis of Green Card: A man wanting to stay in the US enters into a marriage of convenience, but it turns into more than that.
So, The Proposal has the element of a pushy female boss.
Does that sound romantic to you?
And Green Card richly benefited from the presence of Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell (ravishingly beautiful) in the starring roles. To that you could add Bebe Neuwirth.
The Proposal has Bullock, the boyishly charming Ryan Reynolds, Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen and Betty White hamming it up as an eccentric Alaskan grandmom.
For all that talent The Proposal doesn't quite make it.
This is another one of those "fish out of water" movies. This time Sandra Bullock (also the executive producer of the film) gets transplanted from Manhattan to Alaska. In a similar comedic turn earlier this year Renee Zellweger was transplanted from Miami to Wisconsin. That movie (with Harry Connick, Jr.) was called New In Town and it didn't last very long in theaters either.
Hollywood just can't seem to make zany romantic comedies anymore.
I think it's because we've become too jaded. We're ultra-critical and can no longer tolerate a story that's implausible unless it's science fiction, an all-out action flick or shamelessly vulgar and juvenile.
We're cynics now and that doesn't leave much room for finesse, for subtlety, for smooth sophistication within an obviously fictitious plot.
The Proposal does have its moments. The timing in some of the scenes is just this side of perfect. And Bullock and Reynolds make for a very seductive team. They're great fun to watch. Plus, there's something refreshing about an older, shapely woman with a younger man.
It's light summer fare.
But at the current cost of admission, we have a right to expect more from a major studio Hollywood flick.
Opening June 19 from Touchstone Pictures.
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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has endorsed Christopher Christie for governor of New Jersey.
The endorsement came this morning here in South Jersey on the steps of Haddonfield Borough Hall in the picturesque historic town that serves as a model for communities throughout the state.
Christie was beaming with pride. The former federal prosecutor has the look and feel of a winner.
Romney was personable and carried himself with a presidential bearing as he vigorously endorsed and praised Christie before a crowd of town resident led by Haddonfield's extraordinary Mayor Tish Columbi.
Romney praised Christie’s conservative values, his commitment to bringing jobs back to New Jersey and his promise to restore fiscal balance by reigning in out-of-control spending.
“I’m convinced the challenges facing New Jersey and the rest of the country can be overcome with courageous leadership. Chris Christie is a strong conservative voice for balanced budgets, low taxes and more jobs. He will bring badly-needed change to state government,” said Romney.
“By electing Chris Christie, the people of New Jersey will be taking a giant step toward a brighter and more prosperous future,” Romney added.
Romney's Free and Strong America PAC supports officeholders and candidates who are dedicated to advancing social, fiscal and foreign policies that will strengthen America. The guiding focus is on the core principles that have built and nurtured America since its founding – uncompromised military strength, an emphasis on strong families, a federalist approach to government that leaves decision-making as close to the people as possible and a belief in the power of free markets and that a competitive America is one where taxes are low and government is small.
This is a big, big boost for Christie in his campaign to unseat New Jersey's wacky Governor Jon Corzine. Romney is well-positioned to lead the Republican Party (and pssibly the nation) into the future.
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From Flash News:
Wal-Mart is about to score major points with their cool summer giveaway.
This Saturday (May 30), 2,000 participating Wal-Mart Supercenters nationwide will be holding “Ice Cream Socials,” where patrons can get free ice cream to celebrate the start of summer.
Here’s the scoop: Those looking for sweet relief from the heat will be treated by Wal-Mart to pre-packaged goodies like Ben and Jerry’s “Flipped Out Cup” ice cream, Blue Bunny Aspen Frozen Yogurt Granola Bars, and Dibs snack bags.
They plan on dishing out about 1 million ice cream treats, from 11 AM to 4 PM.
To prep for the social, the popular chain has scooped out info on Americans’ frozen treat tendencies.
For instance, Americans’ top five favorite ice cream flavors are vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan, mint chip, and neapolitan.
Three Americans to every one American prefer vanilla over chocolate, and in the Southwest, butter pecan flavor is more popular than chocolate.
From Real Clear Politics:
The possibility that Specter's primary switch could lead him to still lose his primary has to be giving conservatives a serious case of schadenfreude. No polling yet on the Specter-Sestak matchup, but I'd expect some in the next few days. On the other hand, this probably pushes Specter to the left for the remainder of the term, which means that more of Obama's agenda becomes a reality.
Sestak's district is a swing district (D+3), so it opens up an opportunity for the Republicans, especially if recruiting is stronPost Optionsg and things begin to go south for the Democrats.
From Clout at Philly.com and Talking Points Memo:
Here's an excerpt:
Sphere: Related ContentRep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) is privately telling supporters that he intends to run for Senate, TPMDC has confirmed.
"He intends to get in the race," says Meg Infantino, the Congressman's sister, who works at Sestak for Congress. "In the not too distant future, he will sit down with his wife and daughter to make the final decision."
The move would constitute a primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who intends to run for re-election in 2010, after having switched parties earlier this year.
From E. J. Dionne at Real Clear Politics:
Republicans would be foolish to fight the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court because she is the most conservative choice that President Obama could have made.
And even though they should support her confirmation, liberals would be foolish to embrace Sotomayor as one of their own because her record is clearly that of a moderate. It is highly unlikely that she will push the court to the left. Indeed, on many issues of concern to business, she is likely to make the Chamber of Commerce perfectly happy. . . .
Obama may have found himself an empathetic judge, but she practices her empathy from the middle of the road.
A careful analysis of her record by Business Week, for example, concluded that she is a "moderate on business issues" and would fit the court's current alignment of such questions.
She also upheld a ban on federal funds going to family planning groups that provided abortions overseas. Sotomayor wrote that "the Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds."
Dan Gilgoff, on his excellent "God and Country" blog, points out that Sotomayor also ruled in favor of a group of Connecticut anti-abortion protesters who asserted that police "used excessive force against them at a demonstration." He concludes that her "thin record on abortion is most likely a relief" to pro-life groups. In picking her, Obama sent another signal that he is serious in seeking common ground on abortion.
Liberals should not take the bait of the right-wingers by allowing the debate over Sotomayor to be premised on the idea that she is a bold ideological choice. She's not. But if conservatives succeed in painting this moderate as a radical, they will skew future arguments over the court. In fact, liberals should press Sotomayor on her more conservative decisions on business issues, an area in which the current court already tilts too far right.
As for Republican senators, they have to ask if it's worth alienating Latino voters to wage a fierce battle against a woman who is, from their point of view, the best nominee Obama was likely to give them.
From Charlie Savage in the New York Times:
In nearly 11 years as a federal appeals court judge, President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, has never directly ruled on whether the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. But when she has written opinions that touched tangentially on abortion disputes, she has reached outcomes in some cases that were favorable to abortion opponents.
Now, some abortion rights advocates are quietly expressing unease that Judge Sotomayor may not be a reliable vote to uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision.
In a letter, Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, urged supporters to press senators to demand that Judge Sotomayor reveal her views on privacy rights before any confirmation vote. “Discussion about Roe v. Wade will — and must — be part of this nomination process,” Ms. Keenan wrote. “As you know, choice hangs in the balance on the Supreme Court as the last two major choice-related cases were decided by a 5-to-4 margin.”. . .
In his briefing to reporters on Tuesday, the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, was asked whether Mr. Obama had asked Judge Sotomayor about abortion or privacy rights. Mr. Gibbs replied that Mr. Obama “did not ask that specifically.” . . .
[Judge Sotomayor] had several cases involving abortion-related disputes that turned on other legal issues. While those cases cannot be taken as a proxy for her views on the constitutionality of abortion, she often reached results favorable to abortion opponents.
In a 2002 case, she wrote an opinion upholding the Bush administration policy of withholding aid from international groups that provide or promote abortion services overseas.
“The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position,” she wrote, “and can do so with public funds.”
In a 2004 case, she largely sided with some anti-abortion protesters who wanted to sue some police officers for allegedly violating their constitutional rights by using excessive force to break up demonstrations at an abortion clinic. Judge Sotomayor said the protesters deserved a day in court.
Judge Sotomayor has also ruled on several immigration cases involving people fighting deportation orders to China on the grounds that its population-control policy of forcible abortions and birth control constituted persecution.
In a 2007 case, she strongly criticized colleagues on the court who said that only women, and not their husbands, could seek asylum based on China’s abortion policy. “The termination of a wanted pregnancy under a coercive population control program can only be devastating to any couple, akin, no doubt, to the killing of a child,” she wrote, also taking note of “the unique biological nature of pregnancy and special reverence every civilization has accorded to child-rearing and parenthood in marriage.”
And in a 2008 case, she wrote an opinion vacating a deportation order for a woman who had worked in an abortion clinic in China. Although Judge Sotomayor’s decision turned on a technicality, her opinion described in detail the woman’s account of how she would be persecuted in China because she had once permitted the escape of a woman who was seven months pregnant and scheduled for a forced abortion. In China, to allow such an escape was a crime, the woman said. . . .
Mr. Waldman of BeliefNet.com also noted that Judge Sotomayor was raised Roman Catholic, although there are many judges who do not follow the church’s dogma — like opposing abortion and the death penalty — in their jurisprudence.
Moreover, he said, it is significant that as a group, Hispanics include a higher percentage of abortion opponents than many other parts of the Democratic Party’s coalition. Judge Sotomayor’s parents moved from Puerto Rico.
“At the very least, she grew up in a culture that didn’t hold the pro-life position in contempt,” Mr. Waldman said.
From Flash News:
There are lots of weird ways to get money for college.
According to Kevin Ladd of scholarships.com, college aid isn’t just for academics and athletes, kooky students have a shot too if they apply for the wackier scholarships.
For instance, the Duck Brand Duct Tape “Stuck At Prom” Scholarship Contest awards students who fashion the most fabulous formal wear for their prom out of duct tape.
Then there’s the Chick & Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest, which gives college aid to those who make the best duck calls.
The National Marbles Tournament Scholarship grants college cash to the winners of a marbles competition, while the Tall Clubs International Scholarship is awarded to students who are simply tall.
Other scholarships fund students who wish to study offbeat subjects like mycology – the study of fungus – or parapsychology, the study of psychic abilities.
Ladd says it’s smart to steer toward the weirder scholarships because they usually have less applicants. If enough small grants are amassed, one’s education could be practically paid for.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
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From Mike Boehm at the Los Angeles Times:
A public that wants to know everything about Barack Obama can thank Lisa Jack for a glimpse of what the future president was like when he was just another college freshman trying to cut a figure in this world -- with a partly unbuttoned Oxford shirt, a big Panama hat and puffs of cigarette smoke as his props of choice for projecting that coveted aura of post-adolescent confidence and cool. Obama can thank Jack for keeping the roll of photographs she took of him in 1980 out of circulation until he was elected.
Nine were first published in Time magazine's December "Person of the Year" spread on Obama; now 21 of the 36 photos, plus a blow-up of her original contact sheet, make up "Barack Obama: The Freshman," an exhibition opening Thursday at M+B Gallery in West Hollywood. Jack rummaged for the long-ignored negatives in her Minneapolis basement early in 2008, after it became clear Obama was a serious contender for the presidency.
The callow kid kicking back on a couch in a living room near L.A.'s Occidental College, where he and Jack were students, may not have been the image the Obama campaign wanted to project. . . .
"I'm sure Hillary would have paid a fortune for them: 'Is this who you want picking up the phone at 3 a.m.?' " Jack said from Minneapolis, her discourse earthy, humorous and freewheeling, sometimes salty. "I could have made a boatload of money, probably, but I wanted to do it right.". . .
The young woman from Rye, N.Y., loved her psychology courses but cared enough about photography to find mentors on the faculty who tutored her in independent study courses. With a blanket thrown over the couch she recalls as "a plaid horrible thing," the living room of the apartment she shared in a nondescript quadruplex near the campus in Eagle Rock became Jack's makeshift photo studio.
Students from her circle of friends and acquaintances would pose for portraits that she would hand in as her weekly assignments. That day a friend was telling her about a student named Barry she ought to photograph "because he's so cute."
Moments later, the man himself walked in. He agreed to the shoot. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the session, Jack says, although it impressed her that Obama had taken the initiative to bring the big, banded hat, a leather, bomber-style jacket with a fur collar and cigarettes as grist for her lens. "He obviously thought about how he wanted to have his picture taken." . . .
Jack appreciated Obama when she ran into him that summer in a Honolulu nightclub -- he a local, she a visiting summer student. "He was sitting there with a woman on each lap. They were babes, and I'm not a babe." But the president-to-be extricated himself, came over to Jack's table and chatted. . . .
The White House media office declined a request for comment from the president, who spent two years at Occidental then graduated from Columbia University. . . .
From Alexander Bolton at The Hill:
Senate Republicans are planning on pressing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on what they believe is her willingness to disregard the rule of law in order to help minorities and the poor.
The strategy would be risky, especially because it could trigger a backlash from Hispanic voters, a key demographic. But some Republicans, armed with her rulings on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, believe they can portray Sotomayor as antagonistic toward the middle class.
Obama had said he would pick an empathetic judge who understands the hardships of the working class, and the selection of Sotomayor, who was raised by a widowed mother in the Bronx, is consistent with that pledge.
Yet some Republicans wonder if she is too eager to press her thumb on the scale in favor of the poor and minorities without paying full heed to the law.
Conservative activists wasted no time Tuesday in blasting Sotomayor, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, as an intellectual lightweight and an activist judge with a political agenda.
Senate Republicans held their public fire, issuing cautious statements about how Sotomayor’s nomination needs a careful review.
Behind the scenes, Senate GOP officials vetting Sotomayor’s record are focusing on two controversial rulings and a potentially damaging remark she made in 2005.
In one case, Ricci v. DeStefano, Sotomayor upheld the rejection of a lawsuit by white firefighters who alleged racial discrimination against the city of New Haven, Conn., for discounting a promotional test that would have hindered the advancement of African-American candidates who scored poorly.
In the second, Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor ruled that the Second Amendment only applied to the federal government, in effect giving state governments greater freedom to regulate weapons.
Senate Republican aides are also looking closely at an off-the-cuff remark Sotomayor made several years ago at a panel discussion hosted by Duke University Law School: The “Court of Appeals is where policy is made,” she said.
She quickly added, “I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don’t make law. I know. OK. I know. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. OK,”chuckling as the audience laughed along.
From Flash News:
Bob Hope lived to be 100 and his widow, Dolores Hope, turns 100 today (May 27), so what’s their aging secret?
According to Dolores, there are three main reasons for her and her hubby’s long lives: Massage, golf, and humor.
The couple married in 1934 and Dolores says their wellness rituals always included relaxing massages and quality time on the golf course.
She says humor also prolongs life and since there was never a shortage of laughter in their home, Bob was able to live an entire century and she’s still truckin’.
The birthday girl has kept just as busy as her late husband.
Dolores has been singing in clubs since the ’30s, which is how she met Bob in the first place.
She entertained U.S. troops overseas alongside Bob for decades, and recorded her first album – Dolores Hope: Now And Then – at age 83.
She’s since had three follow-up albums and a Christmas CD with Bob.
was indisputably the second Jewish justice on the Supreme Court. Was he also the first Hispanic? There is no conclusive answer.
The Federal Judicial Center, on its Web site, says he was not. Some readers, objecting to the description of as the first Hispanic nominee to the high court, say Cardozo was Hispanic.
According to Harvard professor and Cardozo biographer Andrew L. Kaufman, "it's all in the context."
Cardozo was nominated to the court by President Herbert Hoover in 1932. He was a member of a prominent family of Sephardic Jews who claim Portuguese heritage.
That's where the certainty ends.
Some definitions of Hispanic include Portugal and Portuguese-speaking cultures; others don't.
Kaufman said Cardozo's ancestors came to the Americans colonies in the 1700s from England and Holland, but no one has ever firmly established that the family's roots were, in fact, in Portugal.
Cardozo himself was proud of his heritage, Kaufman said, but he probably never had occasion to consider whether he was Hispanic.
"It just wasn't a term in common political parlance, or social parlance, at the time," Kaufman said.
"I think it would be a surprise to most Hispanics to learn that Justice Cardozo was the first Hispanic and I think it would be a surprise to most people at to learn it," said Michael Herz, vice dean of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at New York's Yeshiva University.
By another measure, though, Cardozo was an "ethnic pick," Herz said.
Cardozo had three things going against him — his religion, his address and his Democratic Party affiliation, Herz said.
In an era when there was a Jewish seat, a Catholic seat and regional seats on the court, there already was a Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis, and a New Yorker serving. Cardozo also was a Democrat, while Hoover was a Republican.
Yet Hoover nominated Cardozo and the Senate confirmed him unanimously.
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