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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Boondocks At Phila. Front Page News

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Teaching Young Kids How to Have Fun While Being Green

Teaching Young Kids How to Have Fun While Being Green

Our leaders of the future are learning about environmental responsibility in a fun way.

KYW’s John McDevitt reports at the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill a group of four-year-olds were making musical instruments like maracas out of empty juice and sports drinks bottles, filling them with dry beans then decorating them to their liking.

Nikki Williams of Cinnaminson knows all about recycling:

For full story go to:

Obama visits New Orleans on Katrina anniversary

Obama visits New Orleans on Katrina anniversary

AP Photo
The Hurricane Katrina Memorial for St. Bernard Parish is seen in Shell Beach, La., one day before the fifth anniversary of the storm, which took over 1,000 lives and devastated the region, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- President Barack Obama is in New Orleans celebrating the city's revival from Hurricane Katrina and pledging common purpose with residents in the continuing struggle to protect and rebuild the Gulf Coast.

The president on Sunday visited a local institution in the once-flooded midcity, the Parkway Bakery and Tavern, en route to a speech at Xavier University. Obama came to the Gulf five years to the day from when Katrina roared ashore in Louisiana and flooded 80 percent of the city.

Joined by his family, Obama mingled with customers at the midcity landmark, posed with an engaged couple and ordered from the counter.

Still on his plate: an address checking off what's been done and remains to be done after both Katrina and the Gulf oil spill.

Fate of Dodgers could rest in McCourt divorce case

Fate of Dodgers could rest in McCourt divorce case

AP Photo
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2008 photo, Los Angeles Dodgers owner and chairman Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie McCourt after the Dodgers' baseball game against the San Diego Padres in Los Angeles. As the Los Angeles Dodgers cling to fading playoff hopes, a more important struggle for their future is taking place off the field over who owns the team. Starting on Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, attorneys for former Dodger CEO Jamie McCourt will try to convince Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon she's entitled to a stake in the team that her estranged husband, Frank McCourt, says belongs solely to him.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- As the Los Angeles Dodgers cling to playoff hopes, a more important struggle for their future is taking place off the field over who owns the team.

Starting on Monday, attorneys for former Dodger CEO Jamie McCourt will try to convince Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon she's entitled to a stake in the team that her estranged husband, Frank McCourt, says belongs solely to him.

The key question facing the judge during an 11-day divorce trial is the validity of a postnuptial marital agreement signed by the couple in March 2004, shortly after purchasing the Dodgers for about $430 million. The pact supposedly gives Frank McCourt the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding land, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, while Jamie McCourt receives a half-dozen luxurious homes.

The battle is bound to give Dodgers players, fans and the front office a glimpse into what has been going on behind the scenes since the couple's storybook romance soured into something more akin to "War of the Roses."

The McCourts married in 1979 after meeting at Georgetown University. He went into real estate, while she practiced family law and raised the couple's now adult four sons. Jamie McCourt has said she gave her husband $1,000 to start his company.

Frank McCourt has been described in court papers as taking risky ventures for the potential of greater rewards, while his wife was more conservative and wanted to protect their assets from creditors after several of his ventures failed.

The two earned a fortune by snapping up property in the Boston area and turned their interest earlier this decade to buying a professional baseball team. After failing to acquire the Boston Red Sox and the team now known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim they bought the Dodgers from News Corp. in a highly leveraged deal.

They were touted in a team press release as co-owners, although Major League Baseball rules dictate only one controlling interest. The storied franchise was bleeding money under the previous owner, according to court documents, but the McCourts helped make it profitable and the Dodgers went to the playoffs four out of the last six years.

Not all was well, however, in Dodgertown.

Frank McCourt unceremoniously booted his wife from the front office after the playoffs last year and accused her of having an affair with her bodyguard-driver, a former Dodgers employee. The McCourts also appeared to be spending beyond their means, traveling by private jet, staying at five-star resorts and making huge home improvements.

By his own admission, Frank McCourt has said the couple's lifestyle had become out-of-control and unsustainable. In court filings by Jamie McCourt's attorneys, they claim the couple took out more than $100 million from Dodger-related businesses.

Out of the public eye, the two were being briefed on the ramifications of the marital agreement they had signed in Massachusetts. Jamie McCourt's attorneys have argued while she wanted the couple's homes in her name, she would never have ceded control over the Dodgers or other assets she believed she shared with her husband.

"It simply is not credible that she knowingly would have given up her rights to the Dodger assets under any circumstances," her attorneys wrote in a recent filing.

Frank McCourt's lawyers maintain his wife pushed for the marital agreement and they plan on calling more than a half-dozen witnesses who will say she had concerns about the risks associated with buying the Dodgers and wanted to protect her own nest egg.

Under California law, property is usually divided equally between divorcing couples, unless there is a valid agreement spelling out how assets should be distributed.

Gordon will have many factors to consider as he weighs whether to favor one side or order the sale of the Dodgers.

"The judge is faced with a task that he may not want to undertake," said Richard Banks, a law professor at Stanford University. "The parties almost always can make better decisions than the judge can."

Gordon has already awarded Jamie McCourt $225,000 a month in temporary support and ordered Frank McCourt to pay more than $400,000 a month for six homes and a condominium. To help satisfy that arrangement and an estimated $9 million in attorney fees for his wife, Frank McCourt recently sold a lot in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for more than $5 million.

As recently as two weeks ago, Jamie McCourt's attorneys said they found three signed copies of the marital agreement that list the Dodgers as community property. Frank McCourt's lawyers say they have three signed versions that have the team as their client's separate property. His attorneys said a typo was to blame for the three other copies.

Jamie McCourt's legal team has suggested that three of the documents were "fraudulently altered" to give the Dodgers to her estranged husband.

"Her name is not on any piece of paper when they bought the Dodgers. If she was a partner, she was the most silent partner in the world," said Steve Susman, one of Frank McCourt's attorneys.

While some legal experts believe all six copies will be entered into evidence, the foggier the picture for Gordon, the better the chances are for Jamie McCourt.

"The confusion over the documents is going to weigh very strongly in Jamie's favor," said Los Angeles-based family law attorney Steve Mindel. "If it's a close call, I think Judge Gordon will put aside the agreement."

The McCourts also have argued about the value of the Dodgers, the stadium and the land. Frank McCourt's team puts it somewhere between $800 million and $900 million, while Jamie McCourt estimates the potential amount at more than $2 billion.

For Dodger fans, the fight is unsettling.

"I think people are very distrustful of the McCourts," said Josh Fisher, 24, a law school student at the University of Minnesota, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and created a website, "Their lifestyle is perfectly acceptable to fans if the future outlook for the team was brighter than it is. All the success over the last three to four years have come at pretty dear cost through prospects and organizational stability."

Neither side seems willing to budge, although Susman said Frank McCourt has offered his wife an extremely generous amount of money. He refused to disclose the figure.

Jamie McCourt's lawyers said she deserves a slice of the team she cherished so much.

"It's a deal that cries out for compromise. She's not going to take zero and he's not going to give her half," attorney David Boies said.

Some observers think that the McCourts may reconsider once the trial begins and they see how Gordon weighs the evidence.

"The most likely scenario would be to settle during trial but before the judge renders a decision," Banks said. "The judge could come up with a ruling that either party doesn't want."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Volunteers Clean Up Medal of Honor Site in Valley Forge

Volunteers Clean Up Medal of Honor Site in Valley Forge

Last month, there were reports of deteriorating conditions within a 52-acre site dedicated on the grounds of the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge to honor Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. It appears news of the problem has prompted volunteers to step up, willing to clean up.

KYW’s David Madden reports
foundation officials have said the recession, paired with low attendance, allowed the Medal of Honor grove to fall into disrepair. And it would take a $500,000 to fix it up; money the non-profit doesn’t have.

Foundation spokesman Jeff Oddo says word of the grove’s condition has touched a lot of people:

For full story go to:

Rare Find at Construction Site in Philadelphia

Rare Find at Construction Site in Philadelphia

It’s still a mystery. Where did an object that appeared to be a 20 foot torpedo come from and how did it end up in a Port Richmond construction site yesterday?

KYW’s John McDevitt reports the Philadelphia police bomb disposal unit was called to the construction site at Cumberland and Richmond Streets around 8:30am.

For full story go to:

Imam behind NYC mosque faces divisions over center

Imam behind NYC mosque faces divisions over center

AP Photo
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2010 file photo, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, standing center, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, greets worshipers inside a Muharraq, Bahrain, mosque after leading midday prayers. Rauf is now in the midst of a polarizing political, religious and cultural debate over his plans for a multi-story Islamic center that will feature a mosque, health club and theater about two blocks north of ground zero in New York.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has long worked to bridge divisions, be they fissures between interfaith husbands and wives or political chasms separating the United States and the Muslim world.

The 61-year-old clergyman is now in the midst of a polarizing political, religious and cultural debate over plans for a multistory Islamic center that will feature a mosque, health club and theater about two blocks north of ground zero. He is one of the leaders of the Park51 project, but has largely been absent from the national debate over the implications of building a Muslim house of worship so close to where terrorists killed more than 2,700 people.

Though Rauf has said the center, which could cost more than $100 million, would serve as a space for interfaith dialogue, moderate Muslim practice and peaceful prayer, critics say it will create a base for radical, anti-American Islam. Some critics have also asked where the funding for the center might originate and whether it may come from sources linked to Muslim extremists.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, called the backers of the project "radical Islamists." "They're trying to make a case about supremacy" with the center, he said.

The American Jewish Committee has said that while Park51's leaders have a right to build their center, they must "fully reveal" their sources of funding and "unconditionally condemn" terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology before they can obtain the organization's support.

Those who know Rauf and have worked with him say that he is anything but extreme in his beliefs or intentions. ?

"He is one of the really important Muslim leaders in America, working for and working with other religions," said the Rev. James Parks Morton, the former dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine who has known Rauf and his family for more than 30 years. "He's a very, very conciliatory, intellectual guy."

During the past few months, Rauf has been in Malaysia, where his family has long-standing ties, and on a State Department-financed goodwill tour of Gulf countries.

Through a spokesman and his wife, he declined to speak with The Associated Press in recent weeks. His few interviews lately have been with local Arabic media during his State Department tour.

He told the daily Bahrain newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej on Aug. 24 that he blamed the news media, in part, for strained relations between Muslims and Americans. Rauf said the media "has succeeded in portraying stereotypical images, focusing on the negative and criticizing the other."

With Rauf largely absent from the debate, opponents have scoured past statements and critics portray the imam as tone-deaf to the sensitivities of families who lost relatives on Sept. 11. They argue he should forthrightly condemn Arab political movements such as Hamas that the U.S. government has designated as terrorist organizations.

Asked in June by WABC-AM whether he believed the State Department was correct in designating Hamas as a terrorist organization, Rauf gave a winding response: "I am not a politician. ... The issue of terrorism is a very complex question. ... I do not want to be placed ... in a position of ... where I am the target of one side or another."

Rauf rarely deviates in his interviews, speeches and books from a core message of the need for interfaith dialogue to resolve religious conflicts. What emerges is a portrait of a man who has passionately argued that Islam is inherently compatible with American life, and that each is enriched by the other.

He has strongly opposed acts of violence in the name of Islam.

"The Quran allows fighting only in defense - when we are attacked or thrown from our homes or denied our basic rights because of what we choose to believe," he writes in his 2004 book.

"But even in those cases where fighting is allowed, the Quran never allows the killing of innocent people."

The annex of his book includes a 2001 fatwa, or religious ruling, signed by five Islamic scholars, that permits Muslims to fight for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

He also writes that there is no circumstance under which the Prophet permitted suicide, and says so-called "martyrdom operations" are unsupported by Islam.

"It is a phenomena that no civilized society - in the Muslim world or the West - should be content to accept," he said.

Rauf was born in Kuwait, the son of an Egyptian imam and noted Islamic scholar, Muhammad Abdul Rauf, who came to New York City in the 1960s and helped lead efforts to establish the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, the city's first building designed as a mosque. The multimillion-dollar project took more than 25 years and opened in 1991. The elder Rauf also led the Islamic Center of Washington before taking a job in Malaysia.

The younger Rauf didn't follow his father's path into religion until later in life. He studied physics at Columbia University and in New Jersey, and dabbled in teaching, sales and real estate. He married, first to an American who converted to Islam, and a second time to a Malaysian woman. He has two children from each of the marriages.

In the late 1990s, he married his third wife, Daisy Khan, who has actively supported the Islamic center proposal.

In 1983, Rauf was asked to lead prayers at a small mosque in lower Manhattan, 12 blocks from the World Trade Center site and near the Park51 project. The mosque, Masjid al-Farah, was created by a Sufi order called Nur Ashki Jerrahi, currently led by a woman, which means the order of light and love. Sufism is a mystical tradition that emphasizes a direct and personal experience of God through chanting and other acts of devotion, and is known for adapting to local culture.

Rauf is especially popular among young, urban professionals.

Author Asra Nomani said she once attended a retreat organized by Rauf and Khan, and noted that Rauf allowed parallel prayer sections for men and women - a rare practice. In the majority of mosques, women sit behind men, shielded by a room divider.

"Imam Feisal, he has always been on a moderate course - many of us would call it a liberal-progressive course," said Saleemah Abdul, 36, who works for the United Nations and is editor of a book on American Muslim women. "He has promoted women's leadership, youth leadership in a time and a place where many Muslims felt isolated and alienated."

Rauf helped to establish the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, two organizations with missions to build dialogue between Muslims and the West.

His travels have been financed partly by the U.S. government, which has been sending him on diplomatic trips to Muslim nations since the Bush administration. Contributions to his nonprofit organizations have come from American groups like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Ford Foundation, government agencies in Qatar and the Netherlands, and the Kingdom Foundation, a philanthropy affiliated with Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the largest shareholder in Citigroup.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Rauf was called on repeatedly by news organizations to help explain to Americans why the U.S. was so hated by some factions in the Muslim world.

Some of his comments then have now been seized on by critics as evidence of anti-American views.

"We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims," he said in a 2005 lecture in Australia. "You may remember that the U.S.-led sanction against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations."

Rauf told an interviewer in July that about a decade ago he envisioned a global association of Muslim community centers modeled after the Young Men's Christian Association, serving as centers of interfaith dialogue and spreading moderate Islam worldwide.

The first of these Cordoba Houses, as he initially referred to them, would be established in New York City.

"Our stated objective is to establish this as a launching point, as a headquarters if you want, of a global understanding, of a moderate Islam that is true to its fundamental principles," he told the New York-based Intersections International, a group that has endorsed the Islamic center. "And to accuse us as being the opposite of that flies in the face off our stated vision, our mission, my track record and everything I've ever done or stood for."

Friday, August 27, 2010

PHA Board Votes to Put Director Greene on Paid Leave

PHA Board Votes to Put Director Greene on Paid Leave

The board of the Philadelphia Housing Authority voted this afternoon to put embattled director Carl Greene on paid leave as the agency investigates sexual harassment and other complaints against him.

KYW’s Mike Dunn reports that Greene, until today one of the most powerful figures in the city, controlled hundreds of millions of dollars in federal housing funds.

The furor over Greene (right) first began when his own luxury condominium apartment went into foreclosure then grew by leaps and bounds amid word of at least four sexual misconduct claims by female workers.

The calls for his ouster grew to a crescendo this week, including from Mayor Nutter and this from Zack Stalberg of the political watchdog group Committee of 70:

“I think the board has no choice but to ask for his resignation or to fire him.”

For full story go to:

More Prisoners Mistakenly Released from Delco Prison

More Prisoners Mistakenly Released from Delco Prison

It has happened again — inmates allowed to walk
out of the Delaware County prison by mistake.

KYW’s Mike DeNardo reports that authorities are searching for two more inmates accidentally released this month from the privately-run George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton.

One of the inmates was 19-year-old David Wilson (right in photo) of Chester, convicted of a gun offense. The other was Ateia Polk, 32, of Philadelphia, awaiting trial on robbery and assault charges.

A county official tells the Daily News this is the fifth time in recent months that the prison has released inmates by mistake. In the case of the woman – she was reportedly allowed to walk free because a prison employee mistook a judge’s “no bail” order to mean that she did not have to post bail.

The prison is run by the Community Education Centers company for Delaware County.

For full story go to:

Woods looks like the Tiger of old at The Barclays

Woods looks like the Tiger of old at The Barclays

AP Photo
Tiger Woods hits from a bunker on the 11th hole during the first round of The Barclays golf tournament Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010, in Paramus, N.J.

PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) -- A season filled with "worsts" finally gave way to a couple of "firsts" for Tiger Woods.

By missing only one fairway and having a birdie putt on all but two holes, Woods began the FedEx Cup playoffs with a 6-under 65 for a share of the lead with Vaughn Taylor after one round at The Barclays.

It was the first time in 335 days that he found his name atop the leaderboard on the PGA Tour.

It was the first time in 12 rounds, dating to the opening round at St. Andrews six weeks ago, that he broke 70.

It was the first time since the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool that he hit 3-wood on every par 5, an example of Woods choosing to navigate his way smartly around Ridgewood Country Club in soft conditions.

It was the first time he played a round without ever seeing anyone in front of him on the golf course, courtesy of being so far down in the FedEx Cup standings (No. 112) that he was in the first group off Thursday morning.

The first time he hit the ball so well?

Not quite.

But it sure felt that way.

"It's exciting to hit the ball flush like this again," Woods said. "It's something I've been missing all year. I haven't hit it flush. And it felt good to hit the ball and shape it both ways and really hit it through the wind. I've hit so many shots this year that haven't been hit flush enough to get through the wind. But today, I was doing it all day."

The next step, and perhaps a more important step, is where he goes from here.

It might have been sheer coincidence that Woods finally looked like the No. 1 player in his first competitive round since his divorce on Monday. There is not much left to say about his car crash after Thanksgiving night, the sex scandal that dominated supermarket tabloids, his five-month break from the game, his worst 36-hole score and worst 72-hole score in his PGA Tour career, and the end of his marriage.

It was all about his golf on a sunny day in northern New Jersey, and the news was good for a change.

Did he feel a weight lifted from his shoulders?

"I can't really say that's the case," Woods said. "As far as golf, it was nice to put it together."

It started with a simple 3-wood down the middle of the opening hole, a pitching wedge that landed 20 feet behind the hole and spun back on the spongy green to 15 feet below the cup, and the confident stride toward the hole when the birdie putt disappeared.

He made birdie on a par 5 - that's news these days.

On one of the two holes where he hit driver - the par-4 fifth, measuring 291 yards - it was so flawless that his tee shot landed some 10 feet left of the flag and settled 15 feet away for a two-putt birdie.

Woods didn't miss a green until the 11th hole, and while he dropped his only shot from a fairway bunker on No. 12, he recovered quickly with a birdie on the 13th, and a 6-iron that plopped down 2 feet from the cup.

Woods and Taylor both played in the morning, when the greens were smooth and the conditions were only breezy. They had a one-shot lead over Adam Scott, Brian Gay and Ryan Palmer. Scott played in the afternoon, where a gust of wind played tricks on him at the final hole and led to bogey.

Scott endured a long day in the pro-am Wednesday and didn't think Ridgewood would serve up a 65 to anyone.

"Seeing some good scores this morning made me change my mind," he said.

That one of those scores belonged to Woods was hardly a surprise.

"For him to piece things together can't be too hard," Scott said. "He's very good."

The 65 was his lowest score in 46 rounds, dating to a 62 in the BMW Championship last year. Taylor grinned when asked if he was surprised to see Woods' name on the leaderboard.

"Somewhat, you know?" he said. "It's good to see him back up top."

With sunshine and a light breeze, conditions were ripe for scoring. Palmer had a chance to join the leaders until a three-putt bogey on the 18th put him at 66. Even though the greens became bumpy in the afternoon after so much foot traffic, the course was soft enough to allow for good scores. There were 14 players who shot 67, including Davis Love III, defending champion Heath Slocum and Stewart Cink.

Phil Mickelson, with his ninth chance in the past four months to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world, made only one birdie for a 72.

For Woods, the timing could not have been better.

Only the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings advance to the second round of the playoffs next week in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Woods at least needs to make the cut, then finish in the middle of the pack. He had a better solution.

"I figure if I win, I should be OK," Woods said.

For one of the few times this year, he gave himself ample reason to believe that.

Baby tiger found stuffed in bag at Thai airport

Baby tiger found stuffed in bag at Thai airport

AP Photo
Thai veterinarian Phimchanok Srongmongkul feeds a baby tiger cub at the Wildlife Health Unit at the Department of National Parks in Bngkok Thailand on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010. Thai authorities found the baby tiger cub that had been drugged and hidden among stuffed toy tigers in the suitcase of a woman flying from Bangkok to Iran, an official and a wildlife protection group said Friday.

BANGKOK (AP) -- Authorities at Bangkok's international airport found a baby tiger cub that had been drugged and hidden among stuffed toy tigers in the suitcase of a woman flying from Thailand to Iran, an official and a wildlife protection group said Friday.

The woman, a Thai national, had checked in for her flight and her oversized bag was sent for an X-ray which showed what appeared to be a live animal inside, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group.

The woman was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport before boarding her Sunday flight. The cub, estimated to be about 3 months old, was sent to a wildlife conservation center in Bangkok.

"The cub arrived at our unit Monday," said Chaiyaporn Chareesaeng, head of the Wildlife Health Unit at the Department of National Parks' Wildlife and Plant Conservation Center, where the animal was put under close supervision.

"He appeared exhausted, dehydrated and couldn't walk, so we had to give him oxygen, water and lactation," said Chaiyaporn. "We have monitored him closely. As of today, he looks better and can walk a little now."

A DNA test was expected to provide details about its origin, said Chaiyaporn.

The woman, identified as Piyawan Palasarn, 31, faces up to four years in prison and a 40,000 baht ($1,300) fine for two wildlife smuggling-related charges, police said.

She denied the luggage with the cub belonged to her and said another passenger had asked her to carry it for them, said Adisorn Noochdumrong, head of an international wildlife division at the conservation center.

The cub could have fetched about 100,000 baht ($3,200) on the black market in Iran, where it is popular to have exotic pets, Adisorn said. He said he did not know what the woman allegedly intended to do with this particular cub.

Wildlife experts say the number of tigers in Asia have plummeted over the years due mainly to habitat loss and poachers who sell their skins and body parts to booming medicinal and souvenir markets, mostly in China.

Conservationists say the government needs to do more to eliminate trafficking networks that operate out of the country.

"We applaud all agencies that came together to uncover this brazen smuggling attempt," Chris R. Shepherd, TRAFFIC's deputy regional director for Southeast Asia, said in a statement.

New video gives tour of trapped miners' refuge

New video gives tour of trapped miners' refuge

AP Photo
An image made from a video released by Television Nacional de Chile via the Chilean government Thursday Aug. 26, 2010, shows one of the trapped miners in the underground chamber waving at the camera.

COPIAPO, Chile (AP) -- The first video released of the 33 men trapped deep in a Chilean copper mine shows the men stripped to the waist and appearing slim but healthy, arm-in-arm, singing the national anthem and yelling "long live Chile, and long live the miners!" - images that bolstered family members' spirits Friday.

Camping just outside the entrance to the mine, those waiting for the miners' return said they were elated after seeing their loved ones - and that the men appeared to be in better shape than thought.

"It's entirely the opposite of what I thought!" said Antonio Bugueno, whose brother Carlos is one of those trapped. "I thought he would look much worse. But he appeared strong of heart and mind."

Only about five minutes of what is reportedly a 45-minute video were released late Thursday by Television Nacional de Chile via the Chilean government.

The men made the video with a small camera sent down to them through a small emergency shaft drilled to their emergency shelter deep in the San Jose mine.

The grainy, night-vision images show some men standing, others lying down and apparently just waking up. One man proudly displays the way they have organized the living room-sized shelter where they took refuge after a landslide trapped them. They also showed off areas outside the shelter where they can walk around.

The miners were trapped by an Aug. 5 collapse, and rescuers established contact with them 17 days later by drilling a 6-inch-wide (15-centimeter-wide) hole to the shelter. Rescuers are working to drill an escape tunnel that will be about 26 inches (66 centimeters) wide and could take weeks or months to complete.

An animated miner gives a guided tour through the ample space where the men have plenty of room to stand and lie down. He shows where the men meet and pray daily and points out the "little cup to brush our teeth."

"We have everything organized," he says.

The few items they have are carefully laid out: a first-aid cabinet, shelves holding unidentified bottles, mats in a corner for rest.

As the camera shows a table with dominoes laid out, the tour guide says that "this is where we entertain ourselves, where we play cards."

"We meet here everyday," he adds. "We plan, we have assemblies here everyday so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33."

Bugueno said his brother was sitting at the table where men had laid out the dominoes.

"He didn't say anything in the video, but that is his way, he is a man of few words. For that reason, I know he is basically his same old self," Antonio Bugueno said of Carlos, 27, who has worked in the mine for more than a year. "He has always been camera shy, and I noticed that he turned away from the camera when it was pointed at him."

The camera used to make the video was sent down through a bore-hole used for communications. Another small hole that snakes down to the men's shelter is used for lowering food and a third provides ventilation.

Many of the miners appeared in the video wearing their hard hats. As the camera pans to them, some flash peace signs, wave and smile. Others look groggy as if just awakened.

"Greetings to my family! Get us out of here soon, please!" says one unidentified man.

At one point the footage shows a close-up of a thermometer reading 29.5 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit).

Another man displays what psychiatrists have said is a key trait to keeping the men motivated and optimistic - a sense that they have a role in their own destinies.

"There are a large number of professionals who are going to help in the rescue efforts from down here," the man says.

What the men may not know is that the mining company that hired them is doing nothing to join them in a rescue. The San Esteban company says it can't afford to pay their wages and may go bankrupt.

San Esteban is in such bad shape that it has neither the equipment nor the money to rescue the men; Chile's state-owned mining company is going to drill the escape tunnel, which will cost about $1.7 million.

In the days after the tunnel collapse at the gold and copper mine, company leaders defended their safety measures, but have since gone mum and attempts to reach anyone at San Esteban were not successful.

On Thursday, the first of many expected lawsuits against San Esteban and the government were filed, and a judge ordered the retention of $1.8 million of company money in anticipation of the suits.

Despite advances in technology and increased emphasis on safety - at least publicly - mining remains a dangerous profession.

Since 2000, about 34 people have died every year on average in mining accidents in Chile, with a high of 43 in 2008, according to a review of Sernageomin data.

The agency declined interview requests, citing the investigation and internal overhaul that Pinera ordered.

NKorea releases American imprisoned since January

NKorea releases American imprisoned since January

AP Photo
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, center, and Aijalon Gomes, right, prepare to leave North Korea from Pyongyang, on Friday August 27, 2010. Looking gaunt but relieved, American Gomes freed after nearly seven months jailed in North Korea left Pyongyang on Friday in the company of the former U.S. president. Gomes hugged Carter just before they boarded a plane at Pyongyang's airport, footage aired by broadcaster APTN in North Korea showed.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- A smile flickered across Aijalon Gomes' face as he hugged former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and boarded a plane for Boston on Friday, seven months after his arrest in North Korea.

Carter flew to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, this week on a private mission to secure a pardon for the 31-year-old American.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il granted Carter's request to "leniently forgive" Gomes, the official Korean Central News Agency reported, and Carter and Gomes were due back in Boston later Friday for a reunion with his mother, Carter's spokeswoman Deanna Congileo said in Atlanta.

There was no indication that Kim - who was making a surprise trip to China this week - met with Carter as widely anticipated.

In Washington, the State Department welcomed the news of Gomes' release. We "are relieved that he will soon be safely reunited with his family," spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

Gomes was the fourth American in a year arrested for trespassing in North Korea, a communist nation that fought against the U.S. during the 1950-53 Korean War and does not have diplomatic relations with Washington.

Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested last March and released only after former President Bill Clinton made a similar trip to Pyongyang to plead for their freedom.

Activist Robert Park deliberately crossed into the country from China in December but was expelled some 40 days later after issuing an apology carried by North Korean state media.

Aijalon Gomes (pronounced EYE-jah-lahn GOHMS), who had been teaching English in South Korea, attended rallies in Seoul in January calling for Park's release. He was arrested in North Korea just two weeks later.

In April, he was sentenced to eight years of hard labor and fined 70 million won - more than $600,000 - for sneaking into the country illegally and committing a "hostile act."

There were concerns about Gomes' health. Last month, North Korean media said Gomes attempted suicide, "driven by his strong guilty conscience, disappointment and despair at the U.S. government that has not taken any measure for his freedom."

A U.S. delegation tried unsuccessfully in a secret visit to Pyongyang earlier this month to secure his release, Crowley said last week.

This week's decision to "set free the illegal entrant is a manifestation of (North Korea's) humanitarianism and peace-loving policy," KCNA said.

On Friday, Gomes looked markedly thin but relieved. He was dressed in a striped polo shirt and slacks in footage from the tarmac aired by broadcaster APTN in Pyongyang.

Footage showed a young North Korean girl giving Carter a snappy salute and a bouquet. Carter returned the salute, gave her a hug and kiss, and paused to pose with her for a photo.

Top North Korean nuclear envoy Kim Kye Gwan and senior diplomat Ri Gun shook Carter's hand and then waved as the plane took off in a drizzling rain.

The Carter Center, the Atlanta-based organization founded by Carter and his wife, Roslynn, and U.S. officials have emphasized that the ex-president's trip was a private humanitarian mission. Still, such visits have in the past provided an opportunity for unofficial diplomacy.

KCNA said Carter met with North Korea's No. 2 official, Kim Yong Nam, who relayed Pyongyang's interest in resuming the six-nation disarmament talks and reiterated the regime's commitment to denuclearization.

Carter and his party also held "an openhearted discussion" with North Korea's foreign minister and the vice foreign minister for U.S. affairs, on their countries' relations as well as denuclearization, the news agency said.

Six-nation nuclear talks have been stalled since North Korea walked away from the disarmament process last year.

Pyongyang, believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for a half-dozen atomic bombs in addition to a uranium-enrichment program, routinely cites the U.S. military and nuclear threat as a main reason behind its need for nuclear weapons.

Washington maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect the longtime ally.

Carter met with Kim's father, late President Kim Il Sung, during a 1994 visit - friendly talks that led to a landmark nuclear disarmament pact.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

PHA Board Meeting to Decide Carl Greene’s Fate

PHA Board Meeting to Decide Carl Greene’s Fate

The board of the Philadelphia Housing Authority meets later this afternoon, with the fate of embattled director Carl Greene in the balance. Support for Greene has eroded in the wake of word of at least four sexual harassments complaints against him.

KYW’s Mike Dunn reports that the furor over Greene (right) began when his condo went into foreclosure but grew in leaps and bounds amid words of multiple sexual misconduct claims by female workers.

The calls for his ouster grew to a crescendo Wednesday, including from Mayor Nutter, and this from Zack Stalberg of the political watchdog group Committee of 70:

“I think the board has no choice but to ask for his resignation or to fire him.”

For full story go to:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Judge Hears Jurors’ Questions

Judge Hears Jurors’ Questions


The jury has completed a second day of deliberations without reaching a decision on the penalty for two men convicted of murdering Philadelphia police sergeant Stephen Liczbinski. But jurors had a couple of questions.

KYW’s Tony Hanson reports from the Criminal Justice Center the jury must determine if there are so-called aggravating or mitigating factors and if so, weigh them in deciding the penalty, life in prison or death, for defendants Eric Floyd and Levon Warner.

The jury wanted the judge to explain, again, how it should go about weighing those factors.

The judge has given the example of the scales of justice: if the aggravating factors tip the scale ever so slightly, a death sentence is appropriate.

For full story go to:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kolb, Vick impress in Eagles' win over Jaguars Read more:

Kolb, Vick impress in Eagles' win over Jaguar

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick breaks a tackle by Jacksonville Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson to score a touchdown in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick
breaks a tackle by Jacksonville Jaguars safety
Reggie Nelson to score a touchdown in the first
half of an NFL preseason football game,
Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, in Philadelphia.

Playing their first game without Donovan McNabb, the Philadelphia Eagles showed they have capable quarterbacks.

Starter Kevin Kolb was impressive and backup Michael Vick displayed flashes of his old self before rookie Mike Kafka rallied the Eagles to a 28-27 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason opener Friday night.

Pro Bowl kicker David Akers made all five of his field goals, including a 36-yarder that gave the Eagles a one-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Jaguars backup Luke McCown picked apart Philadelphia's junior-varsity secondary, throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns.

But the focus was on Kolb, anointed the starter and given a contract extension after McNabb was traded to Washington in April.

Kolb was 6 of 11 for 95 yards. Vick was 11 of 17 for 119 yards and ran for 50 yards. He made a couple spectacular plays, but also lost a fumble and threw an interception.

There's certainly no quarterback controversy here. It's Kolb's job.

But Vick, a three-time Pro Bowl pick with Atlanta, gives the Eagles insurance. He's entering the final season of a two-year deal he signed following his release from federal prison last summer.

McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl during 11 seasons in Philadelphia, but the organization felt it was time to move on with Kolb. There might be no drop-off. Kolb played well in two starts last year, and was sharp in one quarter against the Jaguars.

While the Eagles managed a pair of field goals from their starting offense, Jacksonville's first-team unit couldn't get going. David Garrard was 5 of 10 for 35 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew had only two carries for 0 yards.

The Eagles will need to work on their red zone offense, though. They reached Jacksonville's 14, 11, 10 and 13 on their first four possessions and ended up with nine points.

Helped by a 46-yard pass interference penalty, the Eagles scored on Kafka's first drive. Martell Mallett ran in from the 3 to cut it to 27-25 early in the fourth quarter. The 2-point conversion failed.

Kafka's 57-yard pass to Chad Hall set up Akers' go-ahead kick.

Vick ran in from the 10 to give the Eagles a 16-7 lead in the second quarter. He showed a burst he seemed to be missing last year after sitting out two seasons because of his involvement in dogfighting.

Vick was intercepted by Michael Coe in the final minute of the first half, setting up Josh Scobee's 36-yard field goal that gave the Jaguars a 17-16 lead.

McCown threw TD passes of 73 yards to Troy Williamson, 30 yards to John Matthews and 55 yards to Tiquan Underwood.

Kolb connected with DeSean Jackson for 21 yards on his first pass. Then he showed his scrambling ability, running 6 yards to prolong the opening drive. Kolb connected with Jeremy Maclin for 29 yards and nearly finished off the drive with a TD pass. However, Brent Celek dropped Kolb's toss and Akers kicked a 29-yard field goal.

On Philadelphia's second possession, Kolb hit Jackson for a 26-yard gain. Then Vick entered on second-and-2 and tossed a 6-yard pass to Celek. But the drive stalled and Akers kicked a 32-yarder.

Kolb and the rest of the starters left mid-drive after Jackson's nifty 17-yard run ended the first quarter. On the next play, Vick threw a beautiful deep pass to rookie Riley Cooper, who made an over-the-shoulder catch for a 46-yard gain to the Jaguars 10.

But Vick fumbled after he was sacked by Derrick Harvey. Anthony Smith recovered and ran 19 yards.

8 shot, 4 fatally, outside Buffalo, NY, restaurant

8 shot, 4 fatally, outside Buffalo, NY, restaurant

AP Photo
Unidentified women react at the scene of a multiple fatal shooting that happened in the early morning hours in front of the City Grill bar and restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Police say a man celebrating his first wedding anniversary was among four people killed during a shooting outside a downtown Buffalo, N.Y., restaurant. Four others were wounded.

Police say the victims were leaving a party inside the City Grill about 2:30 a.m. Saturday when gunfire erupted.

Chief of Detectives Dennis Richards says reports indicate that, shortly before the shootings, at least one person was escorted from the restaurant following a verbal confrontation.

Richards says one of the victims, a 30-year-old man, had traveled with his wife from Texas to celebrate their anniversary with Buffalo-area friends and relatives.

Late Saturday morning, police converged on a Buffalo house and brought one man out in handcuffs. Police wouldn't say whether it was related to the shootings.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A shooting outside a restaurant in downtown Buffalo early Saturday left four people dead and four wounded, police said.

The victims were leaving a large party inside the City Grill bar and restaurant about 2:30 a.m. when gunfire erupted, police and witnesses said. Police were investigating witness reports that an argument may have broken out inside. Investigators did not know how many shooters there were.

"We're trying to sort all of that out," Homicide Chief Dennis Richards said. "We're checking to see if something precipitated this from inside."

Three victims were pronounced dead at the scene in the city's business district and a fourth died at a hospital. The dead included two men and two women, Richards said. Authorities did not release their identities.

Raymond Wilhite returned the restaurant a few hours after the shooting and said his 32-year-old daughter, Tiffany Wilhite, was among the victims.

The conditions of the wounded, all men, were not immediately available. Spokesmen at Erie County Medical Center and Buffalo General Hospital confirmed some of the wounded were brought in but declined to release their conditions.

Tommy Dates, 35, of Buffalo, said he was at the bar area of the restaurant with his friends when he noticed a party had broken up. He said people started leaving the restaurant but rushed back inside a few minutes later.

"A lot of people were real upset, just trying to get out of the way," Dates said. "Nobody know where anything was coming from. Everyone was in a panic."

A message left for the restaurant's owners was not immediately returned.

Three covered bodies lay in front of the restaurant for several hours, one of them on the sidewalk across the street. About 20 people stood behind yellow crime scene tape, some trying to console grief-stricken relatives and friends.

The window of an office next to the Main Street restaurant was shattered, as was glass in a subway entrance across the street.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Jury Begins Deliberating Death Penalty for Phila. Cop Killers

Jury Begins Deliberating Death Penalty for Phila. Cop Killers

The jury that convicted two men of the 2008
first-degree murder of a Philadelphia police officer
is now deciding their fate.

The jury that convicted two men of the 2008 first-degree murder of a Philadelphia police officer is now deciding their fate.

For full story go to:

Police: Israeli man also suspect in Israel attack

Police: Israeli man also suspect in Israel attack

AP Photo
Elias Abuelazam, 33, attends an extradition hearing in Fulton County Superior Court on Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, in Atlanta. Abuelazam, an Israeli citizen, is suspected in several stabbing attacts in Michigan, Ohio and Virginia. He was arresting at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport before boarding a flight to Israel.

RAMLE, Israel (AP) -- Israeli police said Friday the suspect in stabbings in three states also was a suspect in a separate stabbing attack in Israel earlier this year, but charges were never pressed.

A senior police commander said Elias Abuelazam was believed to have stabbed a close acquaintance during an argument in a parked car in central Israel about six months ago. The commander said police dropped the case because the victim refused to cooperate with investigators.

The commander spoke on condition of anonymity because he was barred from speaking to the media under official policy.

Abuelazam is suspected of attacking people in Michigan, Ohio and Virginia, leaving five people dead and 13 wounded. He was arrested Wednesday in Atlanta as he prepared to board a flight to his native Israel.

The 33-year-old man appeared in an Atlanta courtroom on Friday, agreeing during a brief hearing to return to Michigan to face charges in one of the attacks - an attempted murder in a July 27 knife strike in Flint, Mich., that put the victim in a hospital for a week. Authorities said more charges were expected in the three states.

Abuelazam, who was expressionless as he responded to questions from Judge Richard Hicks, first told Hicks he wanted to stay in Georgia and face the charges. But Hicks told him he would have to return to Michigan if he wanted to fight them.

After Hicks explained the process further, Abuelazam agreed to waive an extradition fight, a process that could take months, and go back to Michigan.

"All right, then I'll do so," he said. "It sounds more logical to go right now than in 90 days."

But moments after the hearing ended, Abuelazam's attorney called Fulton County Superior Court to request another hearing. Hicks appeared in the courtroom later Friday and said Abuelazam had waived extradition.

In Ramle, a hardscrabble Israeli town southeast of Tel Aviv with a mixed Jewish-Arab population, residents in the Arab neighborhood where Abuelazam grew up expressed shock that the shy son of a respected family could be a suspect in such a gruesome crime spree.

"I wouldn't believe it even if I saw it with my own eyes," said Abuelazam's cousin, also named Elias Abuelazam. He said the news had devastated the suspect's mother. "I was there last night. She couldn't stand up. She took medicine to reduce her blood pressure. She was hysterical."

But the senior Israeli police official said Abuelazam was believed to be the attacker in the car stabbing months ago. The official said he and the close acquaintance got into an argument and Abuelazam pulled out a screwdriver and stabbed the other man in the face.

The official said Ramle police investigated, but because the victim refused to press charges, authorities could not arrest Abuelazam.

Ramle's 3,000-member Arab Christian community is extremely tight knit, and residents were extremely cautious about discussing Abuelazam's past.

The Flint stabbings started in May, shortly after Abuelazam is believed to have returned to the U.S. from Israel, with the attacker approaching men on lonely roads at night and asking for directions or help with a broken-down car. Then he would pull out a knife, plunge it into his victim and speed away.

A tip - one of more than 500 - led police this week to a market in Mount Morris Township, outside Flint, where Abuelazam had worked for a month. Investigators talked to employees, and a store video showed that he matched the description of the man wanted by authorities.

Abuelazam, however, was gone: He told people he was off to Virginia and hadn't been seen since his Aug. 1 shift.

Police in Arlington, Va., stopped him for a traffic offense Aug. 5 and arrested him on a 2008 misdemeanor assault charge from Leesburg, Va., where he had lived and worked in the mental-health field. A hammer and a knife were found inside the Chevrolet Blazer, which was returned to him after his brief detention. There was no national alert for Abuelazam or his vehicle.

Virginia authorities "had no idea at that time that he was involved in these crimes," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton in Michigan said.

Abuelazam eventually returned to Michigan, obtained a $3,000 ticket to Tel Aviv from his uncle and made it as far as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where officers snatched the man in flip-flops and shorts after he was paged over the intercom.

The youngest victim was 15; the oldest 67. At least 15 victims were black, although there's no evidence that race played a role, Leyton said. A motive was not known.

Abuelazam is charged with attacking Antwione Marshall of Flint, who said he was going into his apartment building two weeks ago when an assailant approached and asked for help with his car. Three of his organs were cut, and he has a long scar from his chest to his pelvic area.

Marshall, 26, said he wants to retaliate but "I'll let God handle it. Every time I look at my scar, I get angry."

Killed were David Motley, 31, Emmanuel A. Muhammad, 59, Darwin Marshall, 43, and Arnold R. Minor, 49, all of Flint, and Frank Kellybrew, 60, of Flint Township. They died before Aug. 4, when authorities concluded the attacks were the work of a serial killer.

Even if the assaults are over, at least some fear remains in Flint, the battered industrial city 14 of the stabbings, including all five deaths, occurred.

"It makes you not want to give anybody a hand with a vehicle if it breaks down," Aldridge Gardner, 46, said as he waited for a bus. "If it was a female, I would help her. If it was a guy, no, I'd be skeptical."


Associated Press Writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta; Corey Williams in Flint, Mich.; David Runk in Flint; Ed White in Detroit; Greg Bluestein in Atlanta; Nafeesa Syeed in Washington; and Matthew Barakat in Leesburg, Va., contributed to this report.

Judge doubts gay marriage ban's backers can appeal

Judge doubts gay marriage ban's backers can appeal

AP Photo
A man who identified himself as Richard prepares a sign in opposition to gay marriage Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010, outside City Hall in San Francisco. A federal judge put gay marriages on hold for at least another six days in California, disappointing dozens of gay couples who lined up outside City Hall hoping to tie the knot Thursday. Judge Vaughn Walker gave opponents of same-sex weddings until Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. to get a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether gay marriage should resume. Gay marriages could happen at that point or be put off indefinitely depending on how the court rules.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The federal judge who overturned California's same-sex marriage ban has more bad news for the measure's backers: He doubts they have the right to challenge his ruling that gay couples can begin marrying next week.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker on Thursday rejected a request to delay his decision barring Proposition 8 from taking effect until high courts can take up an appeal lodged by its supporters. One of the reasons, the judge said, is he's not sure the proponents have the authority to appeal since they would not be affected by or responsible for implementing his ruling.

By contrast, same-sex couples are being denied their constitutional rights every day they are prohibited from marrying, Walker said.

The ban's backers "point to harm resulting from a 'cloud of uncertainty' surrounding the validity of marriages performed after judgment is entered but before proponents' appeal is resolved," he said. "Proponents have not, however, argued that any of them seek to wed a same-sex spouse."

Walker gave opponents of same-sex marriage until Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. to get a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether gay marriages should start before the court considers their broader appeal. Their lawyers filed a request asking the 9th Circuit to intervene and block the weddings on an emergency basis late Thursday.

They argued the appeals court should grant a stay of Walker's order requiring state officials to cease enforcing Proposition 8 "to avoid the confusion and irreparable injury that would flow from the creation of a class of purported same-sex marriages."

Depending on how the 9th Circuit rules, same-sex couples could begin tying the knot in California as early as next week or be put off while the appeal works its way through the court and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court as well.

California voters passed Proposition 8 as a state constitutional amendment in November 2008, five months after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples already had married.

In refusing to suspend his ruling for more than a few days, Walker agreed with the lawyers who sued to strike down the ban that it's unclear if Proposition 8's sponsors have legal standing to appeal.

Although he allowed the coalition of religious and conservative groups that sponsored the measure to defend the lawsuit during the 13-day trial over which he presided, the judge said appellate courts have different rules for deciding when a party is eligible to challenge a lower court.

Based on his interpretation of those rules, it appears the ban's sponsors can only appeal his decision with the backing of either Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or Attorney General Jerry Brown, Walker said. But that seems unlikely as both officials refused to defend Proposition 8 in Walker's court and said last week they see no reason why gay couples should not be able to tie the knot now.

Walker also turned aside arguments that marriages performed now could be thrown into legal chaos if Proposition 8 is later upheld by an appeals court. He pointed to the 18,000 same-sex couples who married legally in the five months that gay marriage was legal in California as proof.

San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, who during the trial helped argue that Proposition 8 should be overturned, said that while it will not be up to Walker to decide the eligibility issue, "it's very realistic" that the 9th Circuit could reach the same conclusion.

"We allocate the decision-making authority over how to enforce and defend and prosecute the laws to the executive branch," Stewart said. "Do you want every Tom, Dick and Harry second-guessing what the attorney general does and challenging every ruling the attorney general chooses not to?"

The ban's backers addressed the potential for such a roadblock in their emergency stay request, saying California's strong citizen initiative law permits ballot measure proponents to defend their interests when state officials refuse to.

"We are confident we do have standing to seek the appellate review here, and we realize this case has just begun and we will get the decision overturned on appeal," said Jim Campbell, an Alliance Defense Fund lawyer who is part of the legal team defending Proposition 8.

Other legal analysts think the appeals court will allow the group that raised $40 million to pass Proposition 8 to formally challenge Walker's ruling.

"What Judge Walker's ruling means is you can sponsor a proposition, direct it, research it, work for it, raise $40 million for it, get it on a ballot, successfully campaign for it and then have no ability to defend it independently in court," said Dale Carpenter, a University of Minnesota constitutional law professor who supports same-sex marriage. "And then a judge maybe let you be the sole defender in a full-blown trial and then says, 'by the way, you never can defend this.' It just seems very unlikely to me the higher courts will buy that."

Walker's order clearing the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California for the first time since 52 percent of the state's voters approved Proposition 8 nonetheless raised hopes among gay couples who flocked to government offices to await word that they soon will be able to exchange vows.

"We just want equal rights. We're tired of being second-class citizens," said Amber Fox, 35, who went to the Beverly Hills Municipal Courthouse on Thursday morning in hopes of marrying her partner. The couple wed in Massachusetts in June but wanted to make it official in their home state.

Teresa Rowe, 31, and her partner, Kristin Orbin, 31, said they were still happy with the decision even though the ceremony didn't happen. The couple went to San Francisco City Hall early Thursday morning to fill out a marriage license application.

"It's sad that we have to wait a little longer, but it's been six years," Rowe said.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Groundbreaking Held for New S.W. Phila. Housing Project

Groundbreaking Held for New S.W. Phila. Housing Project

The Philadelphia Housing Authority broke ground today
for a major townhouse construction project in a Southwest
Philadelphia neighborhood.

KYW’s Mark Abrams reports that it’s called Paschall Village, and it’s located at 72nd Street and Paschall Avenue, on the site of the former Paschall Apartments, which were demolished this past spring.

The $38-million project will feature 100 townhouse rental units, 20 of which will be handicapped accessible.

Housing Authority executive director Carl Greene (right) said more than $13 million in federal stimulus money is being applied to the project because of its “green energy” component:

For full story go to:

Officials testing seal at BP's busted Gulf well

Officials testing seal at BP's busted Gulf well

AP Photo
In this Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010 photo, a pelican flies over new marsh grass in an area that had been impacted by the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill near East Grand Terre Island, where the Gulf of Mexico meets Barataria Bay along the Louisiana coast. In the background is a dredging project initiated by the State of Louisiana.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- In the strongest indication yet that BP's broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico may be plugged for good, officials on Thursday said they're conducting tests to determine if further work to seal the well is needed.

A final decision was expected Friday on whether crews need to go ahead with drilling relief wells to allow for a so-called "bottom kill," in which mud and cement are pumped from deep underground to permanently seal the well.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the Obama administration's point man on the oil spill, said at a news conference that an earlier effort to temporarily plug the well may have had the unintended effect of creating a permanent seal.

However, he cautioned it's more likely that drilling will continue on two relief wells, which have long been said to be the only way to ensure the blown-out well doesn't leak again. That work has been delayed because of bad weather and wouldn't resume for about another four days, if testing shows it's needed.

Last month, after a cap meant to be temporary was fitted on top of the broken well and halted the oil flow, crews pumped in mud and cement from above in a so-called "static kill." Some of the cement may have gone down into the reservoir, come back up and plugged the space between the inner piping and the outer casing - which is what engineers were hoping to do with the bottom kill, Allen said.

"A bottom kill finishes this well. The question is whether it's already been done with the static kill," he said.

Officials are testing pressure levels in that space between the inner piping and outer casing. Rising pressure means the bottom kill still needs to be done, Allen said. Steady pressure may mean cement already has plugged that space.

However, Allen said tests won't show how much cement is in the space, making the original plan for a bottom kill a better way to ensure the well is permanently plugged.

"What we hope we'll find is an immediate rise in pressure," he said. "It would be more problematic and quizzical if there were no immediate change in pressure."

A decision not to proceed with the relief well would bring an unexpected conclusion to the phase of the disaster that began on April 20 with an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The federal government estimates that 206 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf, the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

Although the flow into the waters of the Gulf was stopped nearly a month ago with a temporary cap, officials have maintained that they wouldn't declare victory until the well is sealed for good.

Because of that, stopping without the expected bottom kill might not win immediate acclaim from the public, said Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute.

"It doesn't make much sense to drill a hole into cement to pump more cement into it," he said. "But it's a public relations nightmare to explain that."

Stabbing spree suspect nabbed before Israel flight

Stabbing spree suspect nabbed before Israel flight

AP Photo
This undated photo released by the Arlington, Va., County Police Department shows Elias Abuelazam. Abuelazam, suspect in a string of 18 stabbings that terrorized people across three states and left five dead, was charged Thursday, August 12, 2010 with assault with intent to murder in connection with a July 27 stabbing in Flint, Michigan. Abuelazam was arrested at a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as he tried to board a plane for Israel, officials said Thursday.

ATLANTA (AP) -- Elias Abuelazam was about to board a plane for Israel when police arrested him in connection with a three-month stabbing spree that left five men dead, 13 others wounded and a Michigan city in terror. In the moments before the pudgy man in flip-flops and shorts was handcuffed, passengers saw him nervously talking on his cell phone, insisting he wasn't violent.

The Israeli citizen and legal U.S. resident was charged Thursday in just one case out of Flint, Mich., the battered industrial city where most of the stabbings occurred, but authorities said more charges are expected there and in Ohio and Virginia. At least 15 of the 18 victims were black but it was unclear whether the attacks were racially motivated.

Flint residents hope the arrest ends their summer of fear. Roughly every four days since late May on average, the killer approached men on lonely roads at night, asking for directions or help with a broken-down car. Then he'd pull out a knife, plunge it into his victim and speed away; in one case he used a hammer. The youngest victim was 15; the oldest 67.

Abuelazam, 33, was arrested late Wednesday at a boarding gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport shortly before his plane to Tel Aviv was to take off. Officers seized him after he was paged over the intercom and told to report at a ticket counter. He has been booked into the Fulton County Jail awaiting an extradition hearing in the next few days.

Passengers on the Delta Air Lines flight were stunned but said Abuelazam appeared tense. He was talking to someone on his cell phone "about not being violent and different things like that," passenger Eugene Williams said after the plane landed in Tel Aviv.

Abuelazam's mother, Iyam al-Azzam, told Israel Radio that she talked to her son by phone before he was supposed to board "and he sounded the same as usual, quiet and calm."

She said she was getting ready to pick her son up at the airport when relatives told her he had been arrested. "I do not believe these charges are true," she said. "Elias, my son, is a religious, God-fearing man who always assists anyone who needs help."

In Ramla, a mixed Israeli Jewish-Arab working class town between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the shabby, two-story house where the suspect's mother and sister live was dark late Thursday. Neighbors, who refused to give their names, said the family is Christian but told reporters little else.

In Michigan, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said authorities don't know the motive for the stabbings, and that despite the fact that most victims were black there is no evidence race played a role.

Killed were David Motley, 31, Emmanuel A. Muhammad, 59, Darwin Marshall, 43, and Arnold R. Minor, 49, all of Flint, and Frank Kellybrew, 60, of Flint Township. All died before Aug. 4, when Michigan authorities concluded the attacks were the work of one serial killer.

A tip late Tuesday - one of more than 500 received in the stabbings - led police to a market near Flint where Abuelazam worked. Leyton said investigators talked to employees, and a store video showed that he matched the description of the man wanted by authorities.

Antwione Marshall, the victim of the July 27 stabbing in which Abuelazam has been charged, told The Associated Press that he identified Abuelazam as his assailant when the FBI visited him at 3 a.m. to show him a photograph of the suspect.

Marshall, 26, of Flint, said he was going into his apartment building when the assailant approached and asked for help fixing his car. He was stabbed twice when he opened the hood, and now has a long scar from his chest to his pelvic area.

Marshall said he wants to "retaliate" but "I'll let God handle it. Every time I look at my scar, I get angry."

Abuelazam was living in Flint, where his uncle owned two adjacent homes. Leyton said police searched them and removed evidence but he declined to describe it.

The suspect left his vehicle in Michigan and flew Wednesday to Louisville, Ky., and then to Atlanta, the last stop before the planned international flight. Leyton said Abuelazam's uncle bought him the plane ticket, which cost about $3,000, and is now cooperating with police.

A few dozen people who heard about the arrest gathered outside Abuelazam's former workplace, Kingwater Market in Mount Morris Township. One yelled that the owner should have been suspicious. Police cleared the parking lot.

Store manager Abdulla Farrah said Abuelazam worked there for about a month before leaving Aug. 1. He said he seemed like a "very polite, nice guy" who "didn't show any kind of racism," but he also said, "I hope if he's the one that did this I hope they hang him, I hope he gets the death penalty." Michigan does not have capital punishment.

Sam Peters, 30, recalled seeing Abuelazam with a bandage on his right hand and cuts on his fingers when he went into the store.

Peters, who is black, said people around the store hadn't suspected the assailant was among them.

"We always thought somebody was trying to perpetrate a hate crime against us," he said. "People were calling me from out of town, telling me to be careful."

A judge in Flint signed a warrant Thursday charging Abuelazam with assault with intent to murder in connection with the stabbing of Marshall. Authorities suspect him of stabbing a total of 14 men in Flint.

Abuelazam has ties to Leesburg, Va., the site of three similar attacks last week, Leesburg police Officer Chris Jones said. Authorities in Toledo, Ohio, say a stabbing in that city Saturday appears to be linked to the violent spree.

Authorities initially said Abuelazam was suspected in 20 stabbings, but two Michigan incidents were ruled out after further investigation. Leyton said authorities will be "methodical and thorough" as they continue to investigate and file charges.

Atlanta police said Abuelazam was being housed temporarily at the city jail after his arrest, but the jail had no record of him. It was not clear if he had an attorney or when he might be extradited to Michigan.

The trail to Abuelazam began last week, when he was arrested in Arlington, Va., during a routine traffic stop. Arlington Detective Crystal L. Nosal said police realized he was wanted on a simple assault warrant in Leesburg, about 30 miles away, but a magistrate released him on personal recognizance.

The warrant was unrelated to the stabbings, and Leyton said there was no national alert for Abuelazam or his vehicle when he was stopped.

Leyton said Arlington police found a knife and a hammer in Abuelazam's 1996 green and gold Chevrolet Blazer, which police returned to Abuelazam after briefly impounding it. The vehicle matched one described by some stabbing victims, and a hammer was used in one later attack in Virginia, on a 19-year-old man in a parking lot. Two other attacks - one in Leesburg and the one in Toledo - also occurred after the traffic stop.

Abuelazam is an Israeli citizen who is living in the U.S. with a green card, Leyton said.

According to court records in Virginia's Loudoun County, where Leesburg is located, he was arrested in December 2007 and charged with felony gun possession. Those charges were dropped the next year. He was also charged with misdemeanor assault in 2008, and had a court date scheduled next week.

Steve Guss, a lawyer who represented Abuelazam in the gun case, said that charge was a misunderstanding stemming from a previous bad-check charge out of California that Abuelazam did not realize was a felony. Guss also helped Abuelazam get his green card, and recalled him as a "laid-back type of guy" who thanked him for his work by bringing baklava and other pastries to his law firm.

Jessica Nimitz, an Arlington, Texas, woman who was married to Abuelazam from 2004 to 2007, said she was struggling to cope with the news.

"I'm shocked," she said in a phone interview. "I'm trying to figure out what's going on."

The couple married when Jessica was in her late teens, her father said. Jim Hirth said Abuelazam "seemed all right at the time but I haven't been with him day in and day out ... My whole family is shocked."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cowboys to take on Cowboys North - the Bengals

Cowboys to take on Cowboys North - the Bengals

AP Photo
Fans cheer as former Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith is introduced at the start of the enshrinement ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010.

CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Call them America's Team's expatriates.

Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson are among the former Dallas Cowboys who now reside in Cincinnati. The Bengals and Cowboys will meet Sunday night in the Hall of Fame game, and while T.O. and the other veterans might not spend much time on the field, they will draw plenty of attention when they are in the lineup.

Owens, of course, always gets the spotlight, whether he's with the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills or, now, the Bengals.

"I'm a playmaker," Owens said. "I know Michael Irvin has adopted that title, but that's what I do and have done throughout my career is make plays. The coaches know what I'm capable of once the ball is in my hands. They're going to get all of Terrell on the field.

"I'm glad to be with my new team and we'll see where it takes us."

For now, it's taken them to Canton's Fawcett Field, where Owens will get some time with the regulars early in the first preseason game. He's never caught passes from Carson Palmer against an opposing defense, and while it's too soon to expect that connection to click precisely, it's never to soon to begin the process.

"I think the opportunity to play against other people is always good," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "I don't know if it'll affect Terrell and Carson as much since Terrell's learning on the move. He's a veteran player. There are things he has done that maybe we coach a little differently. The terminology may be different in some instances, but he's basically carrying what he already knows."

What Owens also knows is that he belongs in the Hall of Fame, saying earlier this week all he lacks is the bust.

Pacman Jones hardly is in that class.

The defensive back was out of the NFL last season, none of the 32 teams willing to sign him after his repeated off-field problems, including a run-in with a bodyguard that cost him his job in Dallas. The Bengals, known for giving second chances, twice worked out Jones before signing him in May.

Sunday night, he returns to the NFL on national television - against the Cowboys.

"Whoever it was it would have been special," Jones said. "I haven't played a real game in a whole season.

"I have a lot of friends on the Cowboys. I talk to those guys all the time. It was no love lost when I left there. People have to make business decisions, and it is what it is. I'm happy to be a Bengal."

Johnson merely is happy to be healthy after a right foot injury limited him last year. Johnson served an eight-game suspension in 2007 for off-field issues, but had no such problems with the Cowboys or last season with Cincinnati.

"Injuries or not, I've been able to play through stuff most of the time," Johnson said. "Being able to feel good going into a game rather than having to get injections just to make yourself feel good is a plus."

Starters rarely go more than two series in this game. Lewis and Cowboys coach Wade Phillips admitted that's likely to be repeated Sunday night.

Still, when the former Cowboys, particularly Owens, are on the field, interest will be high.

"That's the Cowboys North," Dallas wide receiver Patrick Crayton said.

"It will be good to see him again," he added about Owens. "Him and a couple of other guys that were here and stuff. It's always good to see old friends and old teammates.

"Is there anything about facing (Owens)? I never even thought about facing him, because I don't have to stick him."

Tony Romo, who had his ups and downs throwing to T.O. over three seasons, won't carry any bitterness toward the former Cowboys into the game.

"I know. Dallas No. 2," he said with a chuckle about the Cincinnati roster that also includes safety Roy Williams and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who have strong ties to the Cowboys. "Those guys are all good guys and we enjoyed having every one of them. It allowed us to have great success when we were here, in a lot of ways. It'll be good to see them and say hi and wish them good luck, hopefully not quite as good against us. I root for them."

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