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Families sent wrong Marine packages December 14, 2011

Washington (CNN) — Some Marine Corps families, mourning a son or daughter killed in action, received an unexpected surprise for the holidays: an ornament of the Purple Heart, a letter addressed to their fallen hero and even information about athletic reconditioning.

The Marine Corps was apologizing Tuesday for sending the packages to families of the fallen instead of the Marines wounded in action but still alive.

“There are no words to express how very sorry we are for the hurt such a mistake has caused the families of our fallen warriors,” said Col. John L. Mayer, commanding officer of the Marines Wounded Warrior Regiment. “We always strive to honor the sacrifices these Marines, sailors and their families gave to this country.”

Mayer, alerted to the problem when families began phoning in Monday, said there was no excuse for what happened.

“We accept full responsibility for this error and are moving quickly to reach out to the families we have affected,” he said in a statement. “This initiative was meant to thank combat-wounded Marines and sailors for their service.”

Mayer is calling some of the families who telephoned after they received the packages in error and all will receive a letter of apology.

More than 9,000 were sent out, but 1,150 went out to families of the Marines who had died.


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Purple Heart ornaments sent to wrong families

Washington (CNN) — Some Marine Corps families, mourning a son or daughter killed in action, received an unexpected surprise for the holidays: an ornament of the Purple Heart, a letter addressed to their fallen hero and even information about athletic reconditioning.

The Marine Corps was apologizing Tuesday for sending the packages to families of the fallen instead of the Marines wounded in action but still alive.

“There are no words to express how very sorry we are for the hurt such a mistake has caused the families of our fallen warriors,” said Col. John L. Mayer, commanding officer of the Marines Wounded Warrior Regiment. “We always strive to honor the sacrifices these Marines, sailors and their families gave to this country.”

Mayer, alerted to the problem when families began phoning in Monday, said there was no excuse for what happened.

“We accept full responsibility for this error and are moving quickly to reach out to the families we have affected,” he said in a statement. “This initiative was meant to thank combat-wounded Marines and sailors for their service.”

Mayer is calling some of the families who telephoned after they received the packages in error and all will receive a letter of apology.

More than 9,000 were sent out, but 1,150 went out to families of the Marines who had died.


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Durban talks: how Connie Hedegaard got countries to agree on climate deal December 11, 2011

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate chief, has been hailed the hero of the Durban meeting that reached an unexpectedly solid outcome in the early hours of Sunday .

“She is very, very good and we are very lucky to have her,” says Chris Huhne, the UK energy and climate change secretary. “She held everything together in a very impressive manner – a class act.”

Hedegaard, below, once the youngest person elected to the Danish parliament, was the architect of the EU plan to gather developed and developing economies together for the first time in a legally binding agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. A deal was struck that met nearly all of the EU’s aims, satisfied most developing countries and even brought the US on board.

In doing so, Hedegaard saved the UN process of negotiations, which without a deal at Durban would have fallen apart. Hedegaard’s manoeuvring also forced China to acknowledge that it will take on commitments on an equal legal footing to developed countries.

“You could hear the shifting of tectonic plates,” said one diplomat. “This is hugely important not just for the climate talks but in geopolitical terms.”

Key to her success was the hardline attitude Hedegaard adopted. Developing countries, including China, have long insisted that the 1997 Kyoto protocol should be extended when its current targets run out in 2012. EU member states are virtually the only countries willing to do so. But while some member states wanted to offer the extension as a matter of course, Hedegaard had other ideas – it would only be agreed if developing countries also signed up to her roadmap.

That would entail committing to curb emissions on the same legally binding footing as the rich world, as an acknowledgement that the distinctions between developed and emerging economies have changed since 1997, when the Kyoto protocol was drawn up. This also made it possible for the US to join in, because America had insisted it will only join up to any agreement on the basis of such legal parity.Hedegaard knows about negotiations failing – as Denmark’s environment minister since 2004, she was the host and president of the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit.

There she witnessed, excruciatingly, at firsthand the embarrassment of the EU at the hands of the US and the BASIC countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China — when President Obama took his counterparts behind the scenes to forge a deal on emissions that left out the EU. European and UN officials were left visibly flummoxed as Obama announced his deal to the media. That deal was instantly denounced as weak, because countries had not agreed that it was legally enforceable, and the summit ended in scenes of chaos and acrimony.

Durban was Hedegaard’s chance to raise a new phoenix from the ashes of the Copenhagen conflagration. And she was determined to do so.

At stake was the whole process of United Nations climate negotiations. The Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997 by all countries, including the US. But the Clinton administration was unable to put it put before Congress because opposition to it was so strong. Since then, the UN talks have been in trouble. Without the active participation of the US – now the second biggest emitter – they could not succeed.

Hedegaard’s roadmap was crafted in the back offices of the European commission, and she embarked on private meetings with ministers in big and small countries. In October, she had it rubber-stamped by the EU member states.

Despite the battering she received in the conference – from Indian and Chinese ministers, who attacked the EU for trying to strongarm them — she held her nerve. Up to the last moment, negotiators for other countries were briefing that the EU would cave in, and concede that an agreement was not possible. But in the final minutes, the EU agreed a phrase that it said would ensure future commitments were binding. – they would take the form of “an agreed outcome with legal force”.

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Is Batman the hero that Occupy protesters need? | Stephen Kelly October 27, 2011

He’s the hero that Gotham deserves, but is he the hero that Occupy Wall Street needs? This weekend, following speculation that Christopher Nolan is going to use the protests as a backdrop for scenes in The Dark Knight Rises, the movement could play host to a caped crusader who’s both friend and foe. And if it does turns out to be false (Entertainment Weekly rebutted the rumours earlier this week), then it’s a missed opportunity.

Of course, cynical clever-clogs who sneer at protesters for owning iPhones and drinking Starbucks will no doubt see the irony of it all: a $250m film about a billionaire that is being made by the very system some want to destroy. But that’s not the point here; Batman is one of the most politically complex fictional characters there has ever been. By his very nature and ideals, he is not only more relevant to the Occupy Wall Street protests than its current anarchist veneer of V for Vendetta, but also holds up a mirror to its uneasy reality. Such is the beauty and the beast of subversive popular culture.

For, while you cannot deny the revolutionary backbone of V and the ability of his masks to lazily signify automatic rebellion, he is not the hero we need right now. Batman, on the other hand, is a hero rooted in our reality – one set in a fictional city beset by economic deprivation and grotesque greed. His main animus, if not his methods, is defined by the ideals of philanthropy and a simplistic sense of justice: a selfless billionaire by day who strives to protect the defenceless people of Gotham by night – the 1% fighting for the 99%. In Frank Miller’s fantastic comic, Year One, the character crashes a dinner party of a corrupt elite and issues the following warning: “You have eaten well. You’ve eaten Gotham’s wealth. Its spirit. Your feast is nearly over.”

Yet Batman’s entire nature as a fictional “force for good’” also raises various issues in relation to the Occupy movement. For the hero operates under the guise that to succeed in real change, you have to become more than a man – you have to become a symbol, an idea, something for people to rally behind. To quote the supposed last words of Che Guevara: “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot – you are only going to kill a man.” The Occupy movement – beyond the notion of occupation – lacks such concrete direction. It is leaderless, faceless and without a clear objective. Protesting against corporate greed is one thing, hoping to destroy the western capitalist system is just silly. This is another grim reality that Batman offers us: for any hope of actual impact against the obscenities of 1% greed, the Occupy movement must be prepared to work with them for change.

Of course, despite his heroic portrayal, Batman is politically dubious. His ideals stem from rightwing values; the American “dream” of not only getting off your own backside to get stuff done, but also to do whatever it takes to succeed. There were even unsettling theories that The Dark Knight – with its scenes of extraordinary rendition, intrusive surveillance technology and references to the Joker as a “terrorist” – was an analogy for the Bush administration’s approach to the “war on terror”. Last year Slavoj Žižek wrote an article for the London Review of Books where he discusses the similarities between its ending and the outrage of the US governments towards WikiLeaks: the concept of a “noble lies” which preserve the status quo.

That’s the danger of using pop culture icons as shortcuts for our own political values – we can use them to hold a mirror up to our world but we can’t ask them to live in it. If we could, we may have sent up the Bat-Signal long ago.

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Zurana Horton was a hero – she just didn’t look like one | Teresa Wiltz October 26, 2011

At first blush, it’s the kind of story made for the insta-news cycle of 21st-century media: a mother picking up her kid up from school in Brooklyn spots a rooftop sniper, throws herself into the line of fire to protect a group of schoolkids and, while saving them, is shot and killed herself.

Most likely, if Zurana Horton were white and blonde, she would have been catapulted to the top of the news, her short and tragic story the stuff of People magazine covers and breathless segments on the Today show. After all, we’re a society obsessed with the stories of pretty white women and girls who come up missing or dead. Witness the endless coverage over Natalee Holloway, or Caylee Anthony, or the scary story du jour: missing baby Lisa.

But Horton, who was 34, was neither white nor blonde nor particularly photogenic: the first published picture of her was a blurry shot where large sunglasses obscured most of her smiling face. Nor did she have the kind of squeaky-clean narrative that fits easily into the feel-good story mould. She was poor, unmarried and the mother of 13; she lived in Brownsville, one of Brooklyn’s most notorious neighbourhoods. And she was black. On Monday, police charged three youths with the shooting.

Instead of being heralded for her bravery, Horton’s life is currently being held up for scrutiny and debate in the blogosphere. A typical post – Laurence Scott, a commenter on Global Grind, writes: “13 kids and pregnant and living in public housing. WOW. Rome is burning.” Meanwhile, on the New York Daily News site, commenters attack her – and each other – with ferocity. “I wonder how much of my tax money, both NY and federal, is going to go to supporting those 13 kids for the next several decades,” writes one commenter. “Hero? She would have been a hero if she had stopped at 2, at least to the rest of society that now has to pay for their welfare, education, Medicaid, food stamps.”

On The Root, an African-American website published by the Washington Post (full disclosure: I am the site’s senior editor), some took the “blame the victim” route. Writes WandaDoesIt: “Where it is OK for unmarred [sic] women to have 13 fatherless children can pretty much expect to have boys and young men shooting up the place … It is so tragic, but we can’t disconnect how she died from how she lived.” Then there’s BLKSeaGoat, who writes: “Her death was sad and the act heroic, but given the demographics of the neighborhood, coupled with the fact that she was working on her 13th [sic] child, can anyone honestly belive [sic] that this outcome wasn’t to be expected?”

Early reports that Horton was pregnant when she was killed didn’t help matters (according to the Daily News, the medical examiner on the case disputed those reports). The image of a black woman living in the projects and working on baby No 14 conjures old, hoary stereotypes of the fecund “welfare queen” vilified by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, who liked to talk about how the welfare queen had 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 social security cards, and collected benefits for “four nonexisting deceased husbands”, scamming the welfare system out of “over $150,000″.

As it turns out, Reagan’s queen didn’t exist; it is believed that he based his story on news reports at the time of a woman with two aliases who bilked the government out of $8,000. But fictional or not, she lives on in the psyche of the American public, her spectre hovering over news stories about a blameless Brooklyn mom who just happened to be at the right – and wrong – place at the right and wrong time.

There’s nothing like the internet to highlight just how far we haven’t come in this allegedly “post-racial” era of ours. Race is such a lightning rod, still, and the relative anonymity of the wild, wild web seems to unleash the worst in many of us. More often than not, our racial anxieties get played out in the comments sections. It’s interesting to note that Horton’s personal history came under attack from commenters of all races – black, white and other. Horton’s story becomes a kind of racial Rorschach blot, with everyone projecting his or her own fears and biases on to her tragedy.

Our willingness to judge Zurana Horton and find her wanting says a lot more about us than it does about this one heroic woman’s life.

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127 Hours: the sequel September 27, 2011

The desire to pay homage to your favourite film isn’t new: that’s why Carnforth tea room is still packed 66 years after Brief Encounter and romcom fans ram the Empire State Building every Valentine’s Day in tribute to Sleepless in Seattle. But few have followed in their cinematic hero’s footsteps so slavishly as Amos Wayne Richards, a 64-year-old who was inspired to hike across the Utah desert after watching Danny Boyle’s Oscar-nominated 127 Hours. That film took its title from the length of time its hero, Aron Ralston (played by James Franco), spent trapped in a canyon, swigging his own urine, sobbing through flashbacks and finally lopping off his own arm, which was pinned beneath a boulder. It turned out to be only slightly longer than the ordeal endured by Richards, who, after tumbling 10ft down a cliff this month, broke his leg, dislocated his shoulder and spent four days crawling back to his car, sustained by two protein bars and rainwater. Like Ralston, he was without mobile reception, and hadn’t told anyone where he was going. Drive fans, take heed: Ryan Gosling may look cool flipping cars and stomping gangsters, but don’t try it at home.

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Texas town pulls the plug on police department June 30, 2011

Attention gun-toting Texas natives: if you were looking to go a’looting, your time is now!

City Council members in Alto, Texas, a town of around 1,200, have voted to abolish the city’s police department for at least six months as the community considers if they will be able to afford the force into 2012.

As of June 15, Alto is being run by the Cherokee County sheriff’s office, whose headquarters are around 12 miles north of town. With only two dozen employees on the force there, overseeing security in the city of Alto will be a burden on the 1,000-square-mile stretch of land that the department is already in charge of.

“I’m going to try, but I can’t guarantee you there will always be an officer in the town,” says Sheriff James Campbell to the Wall Street Journal.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department is also the sole enforcer in Wells, Texas, which has a population of around 800. Earlier this year they relieved their only police officer.

Alto Mayor Monty Collins was against the measure, and he says now that the town’s citizens are instructing others to “bolt your doors” and “buy a gun.”

City Council officials in Alto calculate a budget shortfall of around $185,000 for the fiscal year ending on September 30, but note that it costs about $230,000 to run the town’s PD.

“We had to do something drastic,” says Jerry Flowers to WSJ. Flowers is both a councilman and hay farmer in Alto. “The police department, being a non-money-making entity, was the easiest to get rid of while we catch our breath and build up some cash.”

Apparently the council was given the choice of funding the police department or repairing the city-owned natural gas distribution system. With the latter generating most of the city’s revenue, it was an easy decision for lawmakers.

Charles Barron, however, feels otherwise. As Alto police chief, Barron says that the per-capita crime rate in 2010 exceeded the statewide level. The city was subjected to 66 reported crimes that year, including two dozen burglaries and 39 larcenies.

An antiquated printing press used by an Alto newspaper has been moved to a nearby museum in the meantime to protect it from looters.

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Blagojevich Mess Will Linger for Years in Illinois June 29, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — In the end, Rod Blagojevich did not bring doom for his party or the national political figures whose names got dragged into his scandal. But long after he is behind bars, Illinois will still be cleaning up the mess left behind by the state’s cartoonish former governor.

Blagojevich — who drew laughs around the nation for his goofy haircut, foot-in-mouth quotes and affinity for Elvis Presley — will also be remembered here for six years of dysfunctional leadership. He contributed to a massive budget deficit, nearly paralyzed the government with his stubborn inaction and damaged the reputations of some fellow Democrats in President Barack Obama’s home state.

A day after Blagojevich was convicted on wide-ranging corruption charges, experts and veterans of Illinois politics said his attempt to sell Obama’s Senate seat was only the most heinous example of the harm inflicted by a lazy, disinterested chief executive.

“Clearly he was one of the worst governors that we’ve seen in modern times,” said Chris Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “Not only in terms of ethical shenanigans … but he really was incompetent. He didn’t understand what he was doing.”

Testimony at Blagojevich’s two trials depicted a governor who all but left the state to run itself. Lawmakers quickly concluded they couldn’t trust him to spend money fairly and refused to work with him — a political breakdown that carried lasting consequences.

If Blagojevich was in his office — which was rare — he seemed unwilling to do his job. Aides said he was known to hide in the bathroom to avoid discussing complex issues.

They talked about tracking the governor down at his tailor or even a bowling alley to force him to sign legislation. He showed up late for meetings and public events and explained that he had been busy jogging or playing video games with his children.

The lack of cooperation that developed with lawmakers delayed many proposals, including major public works projects that would have created jobs.

“His approach tarnished everything he touched,” agreed Debbie Halvorson, a former Democratic state legislator and member of Congress.

Blagojevich didn’t create the state’s budget problems, which began under Republican Gov. George Ryan and were caused by national economic trends. But there’s ample evidence that Blagojevich made the crisis worse at a time when decisive action might have helped.

He didn’t cut spending when tax revenue plummeted. Instead, he got lawmakers to go along with temporary fixes like skipping the state’s annual pension payment. Those maneuvers got the state through one budget season but left an even bigger hole to fill the next year.

Blagojevich’s core political promise was that he wouldn’t raise income taxes or sales taxes, and he kept that pledge even when the state’s deficit grew to billions of dollars. But that didn’t keep him from spending more money, sometimes without legislative approval, on things like expanded health care for children and free prescription drugs for the elderly.

Mooney said Blagojevich also hired unqualified candidates to run programs and drove competent people out of government. His handed jobs to campaign donors and circumvented laws that give preference to veterans so he could hire political allies.

State employees flocked to unions under Blagojevich’s tenure, partly to gain protection from his salary cuts and political hiring decisions.

But Alan Gitelson, a Loyola University political scientist, cautioned against blaming all of Illinois’ problems on Blagojevich.

“There’s a limited amount of damage any governor can do because he is dealing with the Legislature,” Gitelson said. “These are joint efforts.”

Blagojevich’s troubles did not extend in any lasting way to his party.

The state still has a Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, who was elected despite twice serving as Blagojevich’s lieutenant governor. And Obama’s name surfaced repeatedly in Blagojevich’s two trials, but there was never any suggestion that he did anything wrong as Blagojevich schemed to benefit from his power to choose Obama’s Senate replacement.

Last fall, when Rahm Emanuel left his post as White House chief of staff, some political analysts warned that his dealings with Blagojevich could doom his chances to be elected mayor of Chicago.

But Emanuel easily won. And while he testified briefly at Blagojevich’s second trial, he was never accused of any wrongdoing. In fact, on the charge directly involving Emanuel — that Blagojevich tried to shake down Emanuel for a fundraiser — jurors were unable to reach a verdict.

The politician hurt most by his association with Blagojevich was Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., whose name arose in a scheme by the governor to solicit campaign contributions in exchange for naming Jackson to the Senate.

By the time jurors convicted Blagojevich, Jackson had been badly damaged.

Gitelson said Jackson had been “a bright light” for the party who might have been a contender for Chicago mayor or U.S. senator.

Now it’s unlikely that Jackson “is in any sense a viable candidate outside his congressional district,” Gitelson said.

Blagojevich gave the public reason to question the judgment of Democratic leaders who supported the governor long after evidence of misconduct had surfaced.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, also chairman of the state Democratic Party, eventually refused to attend meetings with the governor because he felt it was a waste of time. That did not stop Madigan from serving as co-chairman of Blagojevich’s re-election campaign, however.

Quinn vouched for Blagojevich’s honesty. Obama endorsed Blagojevich for re-election.

“We’ve got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois,” Obama said in 2006.

Republicans seemed to pay a higher price after one of their own, Gov. George Ryan, left office amid scandal in 2003 and eventually went to prison. The GOP lost every statewide race in the next election, and four years later their candidate for governor lost in large part because the Blagojevich campaign portrayed her as Ryan’s best friend.

Still, Ryan will also be remembered for his stance on the death penalty. He is an international hero among death penalty opponents for pardoning wrongly convicted death row inmates and eventually halting executions and commuting 167 death sentences to life in prison.

Blagojevich has no such legacy. His biggest initiatives, such as providing health care and preschool for all children, were hobbled by the state’s record-setting deficit. They’re footnotes in an administration that will always be associated with scandal.

Stephen Schnorf, budget director under two Republican governors who preceded Blagojevich, said the disgraced former governor never seemed to have any ambition to lead.

“It was as if not working was the purpose of the whole thing, as if that was the goal,” he said.

___

Babwin reported from Chicago.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Union Official Apologizes for Calling Christie Adolf Hitler in Heated NJ Budget Battle June 19, 2011

TRENTON, N.J.— Labor leaders rallying for collective-bargaining rights in New Jersey went on the offensive Thursday — with one even comparing Gov. Chris Christie with Adolf Hitler and two Democratic legislative leaders to his generals, then apologizing amid widespread criticism.

The stinging criticism came one day after the three agreed on a deal to sharply restrict state employee bargaining rights and increase healthcare and pension costs.

“Welcome to Nazi Germany,” Christopher Shelton, international vice president of the Communication Workers of America’s District 1, told the large crowd gathered on the Statehouse lawn. “It’s going to take World War III to get rid of Adolf Christie.”

Hours after criticism over the remarks starting coming from all directions, Shelton acknowledged that his comments were inappropriate, and he apologized to “the governor and to anyone else I may have offended.”

Carrying signs that read “negotiate, don’t legislate,” an estimated 3,500 people took to the Statehouse lawn Thursday to protest the deal, which was reached late Wednesday night with mostly support from Republicans and a few Democrats, who have long enjoyed union backing.

“I think (Christie) is doing the same thing that Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin,” Lee Saunders, secretary-treasurer of AFSCME, told The Associated Press. “It’s unacceptable to preclude us from the right to collectively bargain for our rights.”

The rally was planned before Christie, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver agreed to put forward a bill to require the state’s 500,000 government employees to pay a portion of their health care premiums based on income and to contribute more toward their pensions.

“I view this as union busting,” said Jersey City police officer Mark Razzoli, who accused lawmakers of trying to turn the public against public workers when he said lawmakers deserved blame for raiding the pension system in flush years.

“Not that long ago, we were heroes, you know,” Razzoli said. “I was at ground zero, as many other people were. It is disgraceful what is going on here.”

Several Democratic lawmakers told the rally they opposed the deal; that group included Senator Ray Lesniak and Assemblymen Daniel Benson, Patrick Diegnan, Wayne DeAngelo, Reed Gusciora, and Vincent Prieto.

“Today is the difference between sheep and lions,” Gusciora, D-Princeton, said. “There’s a lot of sheep inside while the lions are out here protecting workers’ rights.”

DeAngelo told the crowd: “I’m not inside because my mind is already made up.”

Inside the Statehouse, a Senate budget committee was considering the bill sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, an official with the ironworkers union.

As Sweeney spoke, union members at the rally chanted “Sweeney is a rat” with some pointing to a 10-foot inflatable rat holding a sign saying: “Pension Betrayal.”

Workers also brought along a coffin with a sign proclaiming: “The death of collective bargaining.”

The Senate panel passed the measure 9-4, with four Democrats supporting it, but not before 25 union members were taken out of the hearing room and arrested for disorderly conduct because they were chanting, “Kill the bill.”

The Assembly and full Senate are to consider the bill next week in what is expected to be a contentious vote, given that all 120 legislators are up for re-election in November — a fact that union leaders noted Thursday with this warning: “We’ll remember in November.”

Sweeney seemed unfazed, saying, “I’m not going to be here to be told what to do.”

Christie said public employees in New Jersey eventually will thank him and the leaders of the Democratic-majority for saving their pensions.

“New Jersey is setting a model for dealing with these problems in an honest, forthright and bipartisan way,” the governor said.

Lou Venezia, a 33-year-old firefighter in Bloomfield, wasn’t in a thanking mood when he compared lawmakers to criminals.

“I’m down here protesting all the pimps, thieves, prostitutes and racketeers,” Venezia said, “and I’m not at Trenton State Prison, I’m at the Statehouse.”

Amid the unfiltered criticism, there was a call for temperance.

Lesniak, D-Elizabeth, who was opposed by the NJEA in a tough primary election last week, urged Democrats to distance themselves from inflammatory genocide remarks.

“We cannot support equating Chris Christie and Steve Sweeney and Sheila Oliver with Nazis,” Lesniak said. “We support your rights totally, but we cannot be associated with those comments.”

More rallies are planned for next week.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Airport Workers Honored for Stopping Rape June 15, 2011

DENVER — Police say the Frontier Airlines’ employees who came to the aid of a woman being assaulted at Denver International Airport are being honored for their actions.

Denver police said Mark Adams and Kris Musil will be presented with the Bill Daniels Neighborhood Hero Awards for assisting a woman they was being raped at an empty gate in April.

Police say Adams and Musil were on a ramp at the airport when they witnessed the attack, ran to the gate and assisted the woman. The two told KMGH-TV they wish they could have gotten there sooner.

The victim’s family members have raised questions about the airport’s security, saying some employees witnessed the attack and walked by without intervening. DIA officials say airport workers responded appropriately.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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‘Act of Valor’ SEALs Movie Lands at Perfect Time, After bin Laden Death June 14, 2011

Relativity Media will reach the beachhead first with a movie about the Navy SEALs — and featuring active-duty members of the elite force — beating another project to the punch with rights to a film that had been in the making for two years before a SEALs team killed Osama bin Laden last month.

“Act of Valor,” targeted for release in 2012, stars Roselyn Sanchez of “Rush Hour 2” and Emilio Rivera of “Traffic,” Beverly Hills, Calif.,-based Relativity announced Sunday, describing the Bandito Brothers’ production as a “groundbreaking film” and “an intense action-thriller.”

The movie will be “truly one-of-a-kind — ripped from today’s headline-making heroic missions, an incredibly crafted film featuring active-duty Navy SEALs, in a remarkable and fast-paced story that will give audiences an authentic inside glimpse and make them proud of America’s finest,” said Tucker Tooley, Relativity’s worldwide production president.

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“Act of Valor” will follow a SEALs squad on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent, during which it also foils a complex web of terrorist cells determined to strike America at all costs.

“The filmmakers had unprecedented Naval access resulting in high-octane combat sequences and never-before-seen military operation scenes which are composited from actual events in the lives of the men appearing in the film and their comrades,” Relativity says.

Kurt Johnstad, who wrote the “300” film chronicling the sacrificial deaths of 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, wrote “Act of Valor,” and directors are former stuntmen and documentary filmmakers Mike “Mouse” McCoy (Dust to Glory) and Scott Waugh (Step Into Liquid).
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“The world has always had deep admiration for these men who continually risk their lives to protect our freedom,” Waugh said.
“To witness their incredible brotherhood and to tell their actual stories was inspirational and such a privilege,” McCoy said.

Last month, Columbia Pictures announced that it had hired “The Hurt Locker” Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal to make a film about the SEALs.

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FBI Wants Unabomber’s DNA for 1982 Tylenol Poisoning Probe May 21, 2011

May 19 (Bloomberg) — The FBI is seeking DNA from Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, who’s serving a life sentence for killing three people with homemade bombs, in connection with the 1982 Tylenol poisonings

Seven people in the Chicago area died, and thousands of bottles of the over-the-counter painkiller were withdrawn. The case was never solved.

Kaczynski made the disclosure in court papers in an effort to stop an auction of his belongings now in progress. It was confirmed today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“As part of our re-examination of the evidence developed in connection with the 1982 Tylenol poisonings, we have attempted to secure DNA samples from numerous individuals, including Ted Kaczynski,” the agency said today in a statement. “To date, Mr. Kaczynski has declined to voluntarily provide this sample.”

Kaczynski said in a handwritten court document that prison personnel told him the Chicago office of the FBI “wanted a sample of my DNA to compare with the partial DNA profiles connected with a 1982 event in which someone put potassium cyanide in Tylenol.”

“I have never even possessed any potassium cyanide,” wrote Kaczynski, 68, a former mathematics professor.

Kaczynski, who grew up in the Chicago area, said he refused to surrender a sample unless “the FBI would satisfy a certain condition that is not relevant here.”

DNA Request

Kacyzinski wrote that two prison officers approached him on April 27 and told him the FBI would seek a court order unless he voluntarily gave a DNA sample.

He cited the visit in his attempt to prevent the auctioning of his belongings, asking federal courts in San Francisco and Sacramento, California, to keep until his death some of the things seized from his Montana cabin when they arrested him in 1996.

He wants the government to keep all his journals, which “may provide evidence as to my whereabouts and activities in 1982,” for example.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Shelledy, who represented the government in the auction case, said in an e-mail, “We will not comment further on the investigation” Kaczynski mentioned.

In court papers responding to Kaczynski’s motion, Shelledy wrote, “Kaczynski has not been indicted” in the Tylenol case, and “no such federal prosecution is currently planned.”

Possible Evidence

Kaczynski wrote that some of the items the government is auctioning could “turn out to be important” in resolving whether he had anything to do with the poisonings.

DNA testing, he said, might cast suspicion on innocent people because 1 percent to 5 percent of Americans share partial profiles.

He also asked that everything he wrote in code be withheld from the sale, because that’s how he wrote when describing his illegal acts.

Neither court ruled on the auction, which started yesterday and will end June 2.

Kaczynski attended high school in Evergreen Park in suburban Chicago. He graduated from Harvard College, then got master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan.

Tracked and caught by the FBI, he pleaded guilty in 1998 in Sacramento, California, to 13 charges. They included allegations growing from four Sacramento-area explosions that left two men dead and accusations related to a third death, in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported at the time.

Case Still Open

The Tylenol case was being examined by grand juries in two Illinois counties in January 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing people familiar with the investigation. DNA was taken from one suspect after a court order, the Tribune said.

Johnson Johnson, maker of the drug, was viewed as a “hero” for withdrawing 31 million bottles of Tylenol and offering replacements in tablet form, which was safer, according to the New York Times.

Bill Price, a JJ spokesman, declined to comment in an e- mail today.

–With assistance from Michael Riley in Washington. Editors: Charles Carter, Andrew Dunn.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

© Copyright 2011 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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Is this Reporter History after Obama interview… April 20, 2011

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http://www.politico.com/politico44/perm/0411/nobody_interrupts_potus_480c750d-358b-487e-8416-24b1e907c727.html

Obama gets talked to as a human and he does not like it…

Common Obama the pressure getting to you?

Keep an eye out for what happens to this reporter. Just keep an eye on it…

He should be a hero and give a gold star…

The president of the United States was not happy. Obama had been corrected (he lost Texas by 12 points, not “a few,” in 2008), he was accused of punishing the state for political reasons (he denied that the White House had any part in the decision not to award a space shuttle to Houston), and he was challenged with the most basic of political questions: Why are you so unpopular in Texas?

Coffee Talk!

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