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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Phillies Acquire Pence From Astros

Phillies Acquire Pence From Astros

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros, shoring up their lineup for the stretch run.

The Phillies got Pence and cash from Houston on Friday for three minor leaguers and a player to be named.

The 28-year-old Pence began the day with a .309 batting average, 11 homers and 62 RBIs.

Houston nabbed two of Philadelphia’s top prospects in first baseman Jonathan Singleton and right-hander Jarred Cosart. But the Phillies managed to hold onto talented outfielder Domonic Brown.

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Howard Goes Deep And Phillies Beat Pirates 7-4

Howard Goes Deep And Phillies Beat Pirates 7-4

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ryan Howard had four hits, including a homer and two doubles, and three RBIs to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.

Hunter Pence had an RBI single in his debut for the Phillies after he was acquired from the Houston Astros Friday night for three minor leaguers.

Cliff Lee (10-7) struck out 11 to reach double digits for the 16th time in his 10-year career, including seven this season. He allowed four runs on eight hits and walked two in 7 2-3 innings.

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Police Find Dead Body Wrapped In Blankets in South Philadelphia

Police Find Dead Body Wrapped In Blankets in South Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Police are investigating a suspicious death in South Philadelphia on Sunday morning.

At approximately 5:40 a.m., police from the 3rd District were called to the 1000 block of Jackson Street in South Philadelphia where they discovered a dead body in the back of a mini-van.

The victim is described as a white male in his 30’s. His body was found wrapped in blankets in the back of the van. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Philadelphia Philanthropist Ruth Perelman Dies At Age 90

Philadelphia Philanthropist Ruth Perelman Dies At Age 90

(Credit: AFP/Getty)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A well-known Philadelphia philanthropist died on Sunday.

Ruth Perelman (photo, red dress) – of Rittenhouse Square – and her husband Raymond Perelman have contributed millions of dollars to various Philadelphia institutions including the Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Perelman Jewish Day School.

Michael Rosenzweig is President and CEO of the National Museum of American Jewish History.

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Delaware Police Seek Owner Of Wandering Horses, Ponies

Delaware Police Seek Owner Of Wandering Horses, Ponies

(Credit: New Castle County Police Department)

Centerville, Del. (AP) – New Castle County police say two horses and two ponies were found wandering throughout the community of Centerville Reserve.

Officers were called to Centrenest Lane early Sunday morning for a report of four loose horses. Area residents corralled the horses and they are being cared for by a resident of the development who has a small horse farm. Police say it appears that the horses have been well cared for.

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From jail to Jets, Burress finds a new NFL home

From jail to Jets, Burress finds a new NFL home

AP Photo
FILE - In this June 13, 2011 file photo, Plaxico Burress, the 33-year-old former New York Giants receiver, smiles during a news conference, in New York. The former Super Bowl star with the Giants, recently released from prison after serving 20 months on a gun charge, reached an agreement in principle Sunday, July 31, 2011, on a one-year deal with the New York Jets.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stuck in prison and his NFL career derailed, Plaxico Burress insisted he'd be back one day.

Rex Ryan and the New York Jets are giving him that second chance.

The former Super Bowl star with the Giants, recently released from prison after serving 20 months on a gun charge, reached an agreement in principle Sunday on a one-year deal with the Jets.

Burress, who turns 34 on Aug. 12, caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants' upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl, before his career derailed after he accidentally shot himself in a New York nightclub later that year.

Now, the Jets are hoping Burress can revive his career the way Michael Vick did with the Eagles. Vick served 18 months in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring before returning to football in 2009. He was eased back into things by the Eagles before taking over as the starting quarterback last year and capping a terrific season by being selected as the AP's Comeback Player of the Year.

Burress has a chance to make even more of an immediate impact for the Jets. New York was interested in Burress a few years ago before he went to prison. Now, he'll likely join the recently re-signed Santonio Holmes as one of Mark Sanchez's top receivers.

Burress wrote on his Twitter page: "East Coast here I come!" Sanchez retweeted his new receiver and added: "Paperwork in hand??? Haha welcome to the squad."

ESPN first reported the deal, saying it is for more than $3 million fully guaranteed. Burress was in Los Angeles on his way to a meeting with the San Francisco 49ers, ESPN reported, but canceled that trip when the Jets contacted him.

A few hours after announcing the agreement, the Jets were accepting pre-orders for replica Burress jerseys for $80 on their website. Matt Higgins, the Jets' executive vice president of business operations, tweeted that Burress would be wearing No. 17 - Braylon Edwards' number the last two seasons.

Burress met with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he spent his first five seasons, on Saturday after sitting down with Giants coach Tom Coughlin on Friday. On Sunday, Coughlin said his conversation with Burress was "very good" and "very sincere."

"His decision was to go elsewhere," he added. "It sounded like a bigger guarantee. I don't know all of the facts about that. That's what happens in this business. His decision was made and, again, we wish he and his family well."

Burress mentioned he would be interested in playing for several teams, including the Jets - and didn't even need to meet with Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum to make his decision.

Because of the NFL's post-lockout rules, Burress can't practice with the team until Thursday. But clearly, the Jets are confident - sight unseen - that the former Pro Bowl receiver has a lot left as they try for a Super Bowl run even though he hasn't played in the NFL since 2008.

There will be plenty of questions, though: How soon can he be in football shape? Has he lost a significant amount of speed? Does he still have those sure hands? Can he handle the media spotlight of being back in New York?

One thing the Jets know is that Burress gives Sanchez a big receiver - he's 6-foot-5 - who's a red-zone presence to complement Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller and a solid running game with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Burress pleaded guilty in August 2009 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub in November 2008, accepting a two-year prison term. He was released about three months early for good behavior, but will be on parole for two years.

He was told to get and keep a job, undergo substance abuse testing, obey any curfew established by his Florida parole officer, support his family and undergo any anger counseling or other conditions required by his parole officer.

Burress has 505 catches for 7,845 yards and 55 touchdowns in his NFL career with the Steelers and Giants.

The move softens the blow for the Jets after losing out on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who was New York's top priority after re-signing Holmes. But Asomugha surprisingly signed with Philadelphia, and the Jets were forced to turn their attention elsewhere.

The addition of Burress likely means Edwards will not be back after nearly two seasons in New York. Edwards, a free agent, repeatedly said he was interested in returning, but it was believed the Jets wouldn't be able to keep both him and Holmes.

So, the Jets went after Burress, hoping he'll be able to help the passing game. Ryan, in a voice message to Jets fans after the lockout ended, said the team planned to have Sanchez "let it fly a little more than we have in the past."

Burress appeared to have a good visit with the Steelers on Saturday. He caught up with former teammates - including Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward - and met with owner Art Rooney, director of football operations Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin.

That came a day after Burress spent 90 minutes talking with Coughlin. Despite not meeting with him during his visit, quarterback Eli Manning said he would be happy to have Burress back with the Giants, but added that he wasn't going to lobby management to re-sign him.

"Sure, you think about Plax and the things he did in the past, and, sure, it makes sense to think about bringing him in," Giants receiver Ramses Barden said Sunday. "But the guys who are here have to produce. Everyone else wants to jump on the bandwagon, thinking Plax was going to be a big thing for us. We just have to perform."

Manning and Burress combined for 33 touchdown receptions from 2005-08, with none more important than the winning TD in the Super Bowl victory over New England in February 2008, when Manning won the MVP.

Burress was drafted eighth overall by Pittsburgh in 2000 out of Michigan State and quickly emerged as a game-changing receiver. He left Pittsburgh after the 2004 season and signed a six-year, $25 million deal with the Giants.

Burress' career in New York was filled with terrific moments along with troubles - missed meetings, a one-game suspension, a contract dispute. Then came the incident that changed his life.

He was released in April 2009, a few months before beginning his prison sentence. Now he's free and motivated to show he can still be a productive playmaker, and the Jets are willing to let Burress prove it while they go for a Super Bowl of their own.

'Cowboys & Aliens,' 'Smurfs' tie for No. 1 spot

'Cowboys & Aliens,' 'Smurfs' tie for No. 1 spot

AP Photo
Singer Katy Perry poses with a Smurf character at the premiere of "The Smurfs" at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Sunday, July 24, 2011 in New York.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Little blue Smurfs and not-so-little green men from space are in a photo finish for the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office.

Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford's sci-fi Western "Cowboys & Aliens" and the family adventure "The Smurfs" both opened with $36.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That leaves Sony's "Smurfs" and Universal's "Cowboys & Aliens" tied for the top spot. Figuring out the No. 1 movie will have to wait until final numbers are counted Monday.

"In all my years, I've never really seen a race this close," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker "Generally, in the world of movie box office, $1 million is a close call, so to have two films in a dollar-to-dollar tie is somewhat unprecedented."

Studios often round off their Sunday numbers, which include Friday and Saturday totals plus an estimate of Sunday business based on how similar movies have done in the past.

So Sunday figures typically are rounded off to the nearest $50,000 or $100,000, with more accurate, to-the-dollar numbers generally coming in Monday's final tally.

But Universal released an estimate of $36,206,250, which would have put "Cowboys & Aliens" a fraction ahead of "The Smurfs" in Sunday's rankings. So Sony, which had reported a rounded-off figure of $36.2 million, matched that $36,206,250 estimate for "The Smurfs."

"We're going with that extra $6,250, because it's just too close to call," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony. "It just seems like the most fair thing to do is call it a tie and let Monday sort it out."

Studios jockey for the top box-office spot to earn "No. 1 film in America" bragging rights in advertising for the coming week.

Going into the weekend, "Cowboys & Aliens" seemed to have the edge, with analysts figuring it might top $40 million, while "The Smurfs" might come in around $30 million.

But the two movies met in the middle, "Cowboys & Aliens" doing worse than expected and "The Smurfs" doing better.

"This is truly a photo finish," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. "Nobody can call it. The truth of the matter is, it's a tie, and with two totally different kinds of films."

"Cowboys & Aliens" stars Craig as an amnesiac wanderer who teams with cattle baron Ford to take on hulking aliens that invade a town in the Old West. "The Smurfs" brings the blue cartoon creatures to the big screen, with a voice and live-action cast that includes Katy Perry, Hank Azaria, George Lopez and Neil Patrick Harris.

Because it opened in fewer theaters, "The Smurfs" did more business on average at cinemas. Playing in 3,395 locations, "The Smurfs" averaged $10,665 a theater, compared to a $9,655 average in 3,750 cinemas for "Cowboys & Aliens."

"The Smurfs" had a ticket-price advantage with 3-D screenings, which cost a few dollars more and accounted for 45 percent of business. But 25 percent of its business came from children under 12, who get in at discount prices, while "Cowboys & Aliens" drew adult crowds paying full admission.

So it's tough to determine which movie actually sold more tickets.

The weekend's other new wide release, the Warner Bros. romantic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love," opened modestly at No. 5 with $19.3 million. The movie stars Steve Carell as a one-woman man who learns the art of seduction from a playboy (Ryan Gosling) after his marriage falls apart.

The previous weekend's top movie, "Captain America: The First Avenger," slipped to No. 3 with $24.9 million and raised its domestic total to $116.8 million.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" pulled in $21.9 million to become the franchise's top-grossing chapter at $318.5 million domestically.

That tops the previous high of $317.6 million for the 2001 original, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." But factoring in today's higher ticket prices, "Deathly Hallows: Part 2" so far has sold fewer tickets than "Sorcerer's Stone."

Also this weekend, the "Harry Potter" finale became the first of the franchise's eight movies to top $1 billion at the box office worldwide.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1 (tie). "Cowboys & Aliens," $36.2 million.

1 (tie). "The Smurfs," $36.2 million.

3. "Captain America: The First Avenger," $24.9 million ($48.5 million international).

4. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," $21.9 million.

5. "Crazy, Stupid, Love," $19.3 million.

6. "Friends with Benefits," $9.3 million.

7. "Horrible Bosses," $7.1 million.

8. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," $6 million ($42 million international).

9. "Zookeeper," $4.2 million.

10. "Cars 2," $2.3 million ($30 million international).

Divers search NH pond for sign of missing girl, 11

Divers search NH pond for sign of missing girl, 11

AP Photo
This 2010 photo provided by the New Hampshire State Police shows Celina Cass of West Stewartstown, N.H., in a basketball team uniform in Canann, Vt. Law enforcement officials are searching for Cass, who they say was last seen at her home the night of Monday, July 25, 2011.

STEWARTSTOWN, N.H. (AP) -- Divers were deployed to a pond in northern New Hampshire on Sunday in the search for an 11-year-old girl who's been missing for several days.

State Fish and Game Department divers searched Back Pond for any sign of fifth-grader Celina Cass, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said. The small pond is less than a mile from Celina's home in Stewartstown, a community of 800 residents with one blinking streetlight and a handful of stores.

Vermont and New Hampshire state police, the FBI and other agencies also were continuing their ground search in those states and in Canada, Young said.

"We're searching for Celina Cass as a missing person," she said. "We have no evidence to categorize this any other way."

Celina, who lives with her mother and stepfather, was last seen Monday night at her home computer in her small town in far northern New Hampshire.

Residents described Celina as a sweet, friendly child. One of Celina's best friends, 11-year-old Makayla Riendeau, said Celina loves her mother and likes her stepfather and wouldn't run away. She said Celina is very athletic, is a stickler about getting her school work done on time and loves having friends over to her house.

"She's a very good friend, and she never lets anybody down," Makayla said.

In the search for the tall, gap-toothed girl, investigators have knocked on hundreds of doors, and hundreds of fliers with her photo have been put up throughout Stewartstown and nearby communities. Law enforcement agencies have set up a command post at the local school.

The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information in the case, and a community member has added $5,000.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Surprise! Eagles Sign DB Asomugha To 5-Year Deal

Surprise! Eagles Sign DB Asomugha To 5-Year Deal

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) – One day after acquiring Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Cardinals, the Eagles signed another Pro Bowl cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha, to a five-year contract, the team announced Friday.

Asomugha, considered the top free agent on the market, spent his first eight seasons with the Raiders. He had a career-high eight interceptions in 2006, went to the Pro Bowl after the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons and was named a first-team all-pro in 2008 and 2010.

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Eagles Formally Announce Signing Of QB Vince Young

Eagles Formally Announce Signing Of QB Vince Young

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) – After a busy day at Lehigh University, on Day 1 of training camp, the Philadelphia Eagles closed up shop by formally announcing a one-year deal for Vince Young.

Young, a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback and a former first-round pick of Tennessee, will replace Kevin Kolb as Michael Vick’s backup.

A standout at Texas, where he went 30-2 and led the Longhorns to a national championship only to have an up-and-down career with the Titans, Young will get a fresh start in Philadelphia, and won’t have to deal with the pressure of performing right off the bat.

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Eagles New Lineup Is Getting Ready To Hit The Field

Eagles New Lineup Is Getting Ready To Hit The Field

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The free agents signed by the Eagles can’t practice until next week because of NFL guidelines.

But cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was acquired in a trade, so he hit the field at Lehigh on Saturday.

“It’s still football as far as covering guys and reading guys down, so that part was fun. It was fun to get out there and learn about some of my teammates and how they act and the type of atmosphere out here,” says Rodgers-Cromartie.

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400 attend roller rink shooting victims' funeral

400 attend roller rink shooting victims' funeral

AP Photo
Rev. Peter Quang Le, left, of the Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Barling, Ark., on Saturday, July 30, 2011, conducts a service for four of the five victims of a shooting rampage last weekend at a Grand Prairie, Texas roller rink. Trini Do, 29, her sisters, Lynn Ta, 16, and Michelle Ta, 28, and her brother, Hien Ta, 21, were killed when her estranged husband opened fire during a birthday party for the couple's 11-year-old son. Tan Do, 35, later killed himself. Trini Do received a protective order in December against her husband, but she had it withdrawn earlier this year against a prosecutor's advice because she wanted to give him another chance, an aunt has said.

BARLING, Ark. (AP) -- Four siblings killed in a shooting rampage at a Texas roller rink were remembered Saturday as a part of a tight-knit family, even as the hundreds gathered in an Arkansas church to mourn them tried to make sense of the tragedy.

More than 400 people attended a service for Trini Do, 29, her sisters, Lynn Ta, 16, and Michelle Ta, 28, and her brother, Hien Ta, 21. Trini Do's estranged husband, Tan Do, 35, shot her and her siblings during a birthday party for their 11-year-old son and then killed himself.

Police in Grand Prairie, Texas, have said they believe the shooting was planned and followed years of domestic violence. Trini Do received a protective order in December against her husband, but she had it withdrawn earlier this year against a prosecutor's advice and wanted to give him another chance, an aunt has said.

The fifth victim in the shooting rampage, Thuy Nguyen, 25, was Trini Do's sister-in-law. She will be buried in Vietnam.

Four others were wounded in the rampage, but police said their injuries were not life-threatening.

The siblings' deaths have shaken the immigrant community in western Arkansas, where more than 1,300 Vietnamese live in the Fort Smith area. Trini Do and her siblings moved to Fort Smith from Vietnam in 1994.

Their friends and relatives gathered Saturday in the Sacred Heart of Mary Church in nearby Barling. A choir performed a hymn in Vietnamese entitled "Coming Home" as the caskets were escorted into the auditorium. Children carried framed photos of the dead, and a procession of relatives followed. Many youth tied white strips of cloth around their foreheads as a sign of respect.

The Rev. Peter Quang Le, in a homily delivered primarily in Vietnamese, described how many were still in disbelief after the shootings, even after seeing the bodies of the dead.

"We cannot understand it," he said.

Le asked the audience not to be angry or seek revenge, but to pray for the victims and their family.

"The psychological wounds because of violence in the minds of (the Ta) family will endure all their lives," he said.

Everyone in the auditorium stood, raised their right hand and turned toward Le as he touched the chest of Hoi Ta, the siblings' father, and prayed. Ta stood in silence, his arms crossed and his shirt sleeves rolled.

When the caskets were opened at the end of the service, Hoi Ta led a long line of mourners to the bodies. He leaned into the faces of his children and whispered a few quiet words to each.

Trini Do's aunt, Janice Tran, and other relatives remembered her as a good-natured person who worked two jobs and loved to travel.

"When you talked to her, you know what kind of person (she was)," Tran said.

Relatives remembered Lynn Ta, who attended a Fort Smith high school, for her smile and passion for taking photos with her friends. Michelle Ta loved to shop and cook, they said. Hien Ta was an avid swimmer and basketball player.

The siblings were among about 30 friends and family who attended the private party at the rented roller rink. A DJ at the rink told The Associated Press that guests had just finished singing "Happy Birthday" to the couple's son when Tan Do spoke to him briefly, then pulled out a gun and shot Trini Do and her relatives.

One of Trini Do's four surviving siblings was wounded in the rampage and remains hospitalized, Tran said. Trini and Tran Do's son and his 3-year-old sister were not injured in the shootings and have been in the care of other relatives. Tran said they were at the funeral.

Fight over debt tests leadership of Obama, Boehner

Fight over debt tests leadership of Obama, Boehner

AP Photo
President Barack Obama meets with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Saturday, July 23, 2011, in Washington, to discuss the debt.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The fight over the debt ceiling has turned into a dramatic leadership test for President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, opponents in a divided government who've gone from negotiating in secret to facing off in public at a watershed moment for the country and their own political careers.

As the standoff enters its uncertain endgame, it's unclear which of them will come out ahead - or if the two leaders will rise or fall together with days left to strike a deal and stave off a potentially catastrophic default on U.S. financial obligations.

After Boehner succeeded in maneuvering Obama to the sidelines and grabbing control of the debate, the speaker's standing was abruptly thrown into question late Thursday when he failed to muster the necessary votes from tea party-backed conservatives to pass debt-ceiling legislation opposed by Obama and Senate Democrats. Boehner revised the bill to make it more palatable to conservatives, but the delay and disarray undercut the speaker's claim to be the responsible leader, giving Obama another opening to try to secure that mantle for himself.

Obama quickly deployed his unique bully pulpit, asking the public Friday to put pressure on lawmakers. "If you want to see a bipartisan compromise - a bill that can pass both houses of Congress and that I can sign - let your members of Congress know," Obama exhorted. Congressional phone lines were flooded.

Indeed throughout the twists and turns of the debate Obama and Democrats have appeared to come out on top politically, with polls showing that the public thinks Republicans are being less reasonable and need to compromise as the 2012 presidential election approaches.

Yet by most accounts, Boehner and his Republicans have already won on policy, forcing a national conversation about debt and pushing Obama to focus on historic spending cuts and drop demands for new taxes. "If you're spending more money than you're taking in, you need to spend less of it," Boehner said.

Now the question is how it ends.

Boehner could be forced to swallow a compromise opposed by enough tea party conservatives to pose a threat to his speakership. Meanwhile, Obama is holding out for his one remaining criterion, a compromise that ensures the debt ceiling will be raised until 2013.

A last-minute crisis-averting deal could prove a bitter victory at best.

If they don't pull it off, though, Obama could go down as the president who lost the country' triple-A credit rating, and Boehner as the House speaker who let it happen.

The consequential developments have played out around a first-term president and newly elected speaker who've forged a solid if not particularly warm working relationship, shot through with moments of deep frustration.

Personally, the two have little in common. Boehner, 61, is a laid-back, sometimes emotional small-business owner from Ohio; Obama, 49, a cerebral and aloof law professor from Chicago. Their off-the-clock socializing to date started and ended with a game of golf in June.

The two men achieved one major legislative win together when they reached a deal to stave off a government shutdown in April. They have a ways to go before they forge a relationship to rival the storied pairings of predecessors such as President Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O'Neill.

But aides to both men note that they trust each other enough to have begun working together on a so-called grand bargain of historic spending cuts, Medicare reform and tax increases, although aides differ about whose idea it was. Boehner's camp says the speaker pushed the president toward the big deal in a conversation during their game of golf, while White House aides say Obama already wanted to go in that direction.

Although each blamed the other when the deal subsequently went south, the fact that they couldn't pull it off had little if anything to do with their personal relationship, analysts said. Boehner was contending with a tea party-influenced caucus ready to revolt over tax increases, while Obama held out for a major package that could dramatically impact the deficit while taking the debt ceiling off the table through the 2012 presidential election.

"By the time we got to June, it could have been Jesus in the White House and Buddha leading the House of Representatives and it's not clear to me that talks would have reached a substantially different conclusion," said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

That hasn't kept the ups and downs of their relationship from being analyzed like a celebrity summer romance, a narrative Obama himself played into earlier this month after Boehner pulled out of talks with him for the second time.

Obama complained that Boehner hadn't been returning his calls and added wryly, "I've been left at the altar now a couple of times."

For his part, Boehner said that Obama had "moved the goal posts" by putting more taxes on the table, and contended that negotiating with the White House was like dealing "with Jell-O."

At times the mutual recriminations have been strikingly similar.

"The question is, What can you say yes to?" Obama asked of House Republicans.

"The president would not take yes for an answer," Boehner complained.

The conflict peaked Monday, when Obama delivered a prime-time address on the debt - and Boehner, having decided not to let Obama's appearances go unanswered, requested and got television time to follow him. That presented a spectacle usually seen only on the evening of the State of the Union address, when the president addresses the nation and a member of the opposition party rebuts him.

But as Boehner walked away from the microphones, he made a comment not meant to be overheard by reporters: "I didn't sign up for going mano a mano with the president." Aides said it was an expression of the speaker's humility and the surreal nature of the events unfolding. But a pitched rivalry with the House speaker might not be exactly what Obama signed up for, either.

On tea party bandwagon, DeMint in driver's seat

On tea party bandwagon, DeMint in driver's seat

AP Photo
FILE - In this June 14, 2011, file photo Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., speaks to media on Capitol Hill in Washington. In these nervous days of debt limit warfare and pre-election posturing DeMint, who calls himself Sen. Tea Party, is specific and focused on what change, exactly, he wants: passage — not just a vote — of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Without it, he says, no consideration should be given to raising the nation's borrowing limit.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- He calls himself Sen. Tea Party.

That almost says it all about Sen. Jim DeMint's role on the nation's political scene in these nervous days of debt limit warfare and pre-election posturing.

But unlike the fractious movement as a whole, DeMint is specific and focused on what change, exactly, he wants: passage - not just a vote - of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Without it, he says, no consideration should be given to raising the nation's borrowing limit. Even, he says, if the country runs out of money for paying all its bills after Aug. 2.

The larger problem for DeMint is the government's $14.3 trillion debt, the equivalent of $46,580 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

"That is the threat, not a debt ceiling, but the debt," the South Carolina senator told a tea party audience this week at a Capitol Hill rally.

DeMint's preference for conservative principles over compromise - and his success last year getting tea partyers nominated over some GOP party favorites in last year's elections - have vexed Republican leaders. Some in the GOP complained that while DeMint's activities may have won like-minded conservatives several seats in Congress, they also enabled Democrats to keep some vulnerable seats and maintain their majority.

His insistence on a balanced-budget amendment as part of any debt deal was the inspiration for several House Republicans - some of them also from South Carolina - to force Speaker John Boehner to pull his own debt-ceiling proposal and amend it to their liking so it could win passage in the House Friday evening. Within two hours, the Senate rejected it. Six Republicans joined all of the majority Democrats in doing it.

Earlier in the week, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, the Republicans' presidential nominee in 2008 and one of the party's biggest maverick, disparaged the tea party by name and DeMint implicitly for acting is if a balanced-budget amendment could be passed as part of a debt-ceiling increase under such a tight deadline.

"Maybe some people (who) have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that," said McCain, a balanced-budget amendment supporter himself. "Others know better."

DeMint's support for like-minded candidates in GOP primaries has boosted his influence in the party since his election to the Senate in 2004. Earlier this month, moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine co-authored an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal with DeMint, giving her re-election campaign some conservative credibility in the face of a challenge from the right. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who watched his fellow Utah Sen. Robert Bennett fall to a tea party challenge in 2010, is actively courting the populist movement more than a year out from Election Day.

And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, long an unapologetic defender of the special spending "earmarks" that DeMint deplores, switched and embraced the earmark ban now in effect.

The man behind the revolutionizing is a 59-year-old grandfather who used to play drums in a band called Salt and Pepper but now sticks to the guitar. His mother once ran a school of dance and decorum out of his boyhood home in Greenville, S.C. He has little use, however, for many Washington rituals - backslapping, small talk, Sunday shows or fancy dinners with other political players.

The former marketing executive, educated at the University of Tennessee and Clemson University, has been in Washington since 1999 but says he dislikes politics and will not run for a third Senate term. Washington's titans have not embraced DeMint, either.

In his new book, "The Great American Awakening," DeMint writes of feeling unwelcome for years after his arrival in the Senate, including at a 2009 GOP caucus meeting in which he urged his colleagues to shake up the institution's cherished seniority rules.

More-senior senators got better shots at inserting federal dollars for home state projects into spending bills. DeMint was opposed to earmarks. Many of his GOP colleagues shunned him.

"'You can't change the Senate,'" a colleague told DeMint.

Frustrated, DeMint formed a fundraising committee for supporting candidates he considers true conservatives - and outing those he considers weak-kneed Republicans. His Senate Conservatives Fund ranks his colleagues on their positions. He considers the years of George W. Bush's presidency an embarrassment because, even with a Republican in the White House and the GOP in control of both houses, the government drove up spending and debt.

"I decided my work could no longer be with other senators," DeMint wrote. "I would have to work with the American people to elect a new class of senators who would help me to stop the spending, debt and the expansion of the federal government."

He began building up GOP primary candidates who embraced his view of true conservative values: free trade; opposition to earmarks; a commitment to cut spending. The result was that these tea party (Taxed Enough Already) candidates took out some veterans in the primaries. Sen. Robert Bennett in Utah was defeated in a party convention by now-Sen. Mike Lee; Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware, a former governor, was defeated by Christine O'Donnell.

McConnell's preferred candidate for Senate in Kentucky, Trey Grayson, was defeated for the GOP nomination by DeMint's pick, now-Sen. Rand Paul.

Not all of the candidates backed by DeMint won Senate seats. O'Donnell lost to Democrat Chris Coons in Delaware. Underdog tea party candidate Joe Miller upset incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's Republican primary, but Murkowski came back as an independent candidate and kept her seat in the November general election.

DeMint said he didn't care that some candidates he helped catapult to primary victories lost the general election, or that perhaps, as his Senate colleagues bitterly noted later, that those losses cost Republicans a Senate majority. He says he'd rather be in the minority than an unprincipled majority.

So when the House on Friday passed Boehner's debt limit bill with changes that would require Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment before the next time Congress has to raise the debt limit, DeMint still voted against it in the Senate. The change also wasn't good enough for four of South Carolina's five Republican House members, who, like DeMint, insisted that Congress first pass the constitutional amendment as a condition for any debt-ceiling increase.

"Principled conservatives may disagree on this matter, and I respect their opinion," DeMint wrote, "But I believe America cannot wait any longer before we get serious about balancing the budget."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Recession risks up amid slow growth, debt standoff

Recession risks up amid slow growth, debt standoff

AP Photo
Chart shows the quarterly rate of change in gross domestic product.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The economy is at risk of slipping into another recession.

It nearly stalled in the first six months of the year, the government reported Friday. Economic growth was feeble in the second quarter and practically non-existent in the first.

The new picture of an economy far weaker than most analysts had expected suddenly made a second recession a more serious threat - and the threat will rise if Congress can't reach a deal to raise the government's debt limit.

"The only question now is, how much weaker could things get?" says Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.

In April, May and June, the economy grew at a 1.3 percent annual rate, below expectations. And the government changed its growth figure for January, February and March to 0.4 percent, far below the previous estimate of 1.9 percent.

Combined, the first half of the year amounts to the worst six-month performance since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009.

Over the past year, the gross domestic product - the total output of goods and services in the United States, and the broadest measure of the economy's health - recorded actual growth of 1.6 percent.

Since 1950, year-to-year growth has dipped below 2 percent 12 times. Ten of those times, the economy was already in recession or soon fell into one, says Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities.

Normal economic growth is closer to 3 percent.

High gasoline prices leave people with less money to spend on other goods and services. And not all spending on gas contributes to the U.S. economy because some of the money goes to oil-producing countries. GDP figures are also inflation-adjusted, so spending $1 more for a gallon doesn't mean $1 of additional help to the economy.

Manufacturing disruptions from the Japan earthquake, cuts in state and local government and tighter household budgets have weighed down the economy, too.

Add to those problems the uncertainty fanned by the political stalemate in Washington, with Republicans refusing to raise the federal government's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit unless Democrats agree to deep federal spending cuts on the GOP's terms.

Without an agreement, the Treasury Department says, the government won't have enough money to pay all its bills after Tuesday. It will have to cut spending by about 40 percent and choose which programs and beneficiaries receive money and which don't.

The dismal second-quarter report led economists to reduce their estimates for growth in the second half of the year. Capital Economics, which had expected the economy to grow 2.5 percent this year, now says 2 percent looks more likely.

Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors says he's waiting until the debt-limit deadline passes to revise his economic forecasts for the rest of 2011. He knows he'll scale back his estimates. He just doesn't know how much.

If a deal isn't reached for another month, Naroff estimates there's an 80 to 90 percent chance that the spending cuts would tip the economy into recession. Even if there is a deal, it would likely trigger significant spending cuts that would slow growth, at least in the short run.

"You kick the federal government, and the economy is going to be doubled over in pain," Naroff says.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other economists have warned Congress against cutting too much too soon because the economy remains so fragile.

The economy needs to expand so it can create jobs for a growing population. It must grow at a 2.5 percent annual rate to keep the unemployment rate from rising and at a 5 percent rate to bring unemployment down significantly.

In a Twitter message, economist Justin Wolfers of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School said he thinks there's a 40 percent chance the economy has already been in a recession for the past four months.

Normally, when the economy is this weak, the government spends more and the Federal Reserve aggressively tries to stimulate growth. But President Barack Obama's $862 billion stimulus package of spending programs and tax cuts ran out last year - and won't be revived by a Congress focused on cutting government debt.

And the Federal Reserve last month ended a $600 billion bond-buying program designed to jolt the economy by lowering long-term interest rates and lifting stock prices.

The Fed is keeping short-term interest rates near zero, and Bernanke this month said the Fed is prepared to do more if the economy remains weak. But the central bank has been more worried recently about a resurgence of inflation.

The private sector hasn't picked up the slack. The housing industry, which usually drives economic recoveries, is still depressed after home prices started tumbling in 2006 and 2007.

Americans are still carrying heavy debts, and what little gains they've made in wages have been eaten up by higher gas and food prices. Businesses, getting more work out of staffs downsized during the recession, are reluctant to hire until they're sure their sales will pick up.

"What business is going to hire into the unknown?" Naroff says.

House approves debt bill; Senate ready to reject

House approves debt bill; Senate ready to reject

AP Photo
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gives a thumbs-up as he leaves the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 29, 2011, after House passage of his debt-limit legislation that was rewritten overnight to win the support of conservative holdouts.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Riven by partisanship, the Republican-controlled House approved emergency legislation Friday night to prevent a threatened government default and bundled it off to swift and certain defeat in the Senate.

"We are almost out of time" for a compromise, warned President Barack Obama as U.S. financial markets trembled at the prospect of economic chaos next week.

The final outcome - with the White House and Senate Democrats calling anew for compromise while criticizing Republicans as Tuesday's deadline drew near - was anything but certain.

The House vote was 218-210, almost entirely along party lines.

The legislation would provide a quick $900 billion increase in U.S. borrowing authority - essential to allow the government to continue paying all its bills - along with $917 billion in cuts from federal spending.

It was rewritten hastily overnight to say that before any additional increase in the debt limit could take place, Congress must approve a balanced budget-amendment to the Constitution and send it to the states for ratification.

"Today we have a chance to end this debt limit crisis," declared House Speaker John Boehner, who had been forced by rebels in his own party to put off a scheduled vote 24 hours earlier.

But the change relating to the balanced budget amendment, a concession to tea party-backed conservatives and others, further alienated Democrats. And it diminished prospects of a compromise that can clear both houses and win Obama's signature by next Tuesday's deadline.

At the other end of the Capitol, Senate Democrats waited to reject the bill as swiftly as possible in a prelude to another attempt at compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had an alternative measure to cut spending by $2.2 trillion and raise the debt limit by $2.7 trillion, enough to meet Obama's terms that it tide the Treasury over until 2013.

Reid invited Republicans to suggest changes, saying, "This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default."

The Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, sounded as if he wanted Reid to go first. "I eagerly await the majority leader's plan for preventing this crisis," he said in a statement noting the House had now passed two bills to avoid a default and the Senate none.

At the same time Reid appealed for bipartisanship, he and other party leaders accused Boehner of caving in to extremists in the GOP ranks - "the last holdouts of the tea party," Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois called them.

Republicans conceded that the overnight delay had weakened Boehner's hand in the endgame with Obama and Senate Democrats.

But the Ohio Republican drew applause from his rank and file when he said the House, alone, had advanced legislation to cut deficits, and that he had "stuck his neck out" in recent weeks in hopes of concluding a sweeping deficit reduction deal with Obama.

Boehner's measure would provide a quick $900 billion increase in borrowing authority - essential for the U.S. to keep paying all its bills after next Tuesday - and $917 billion in spending cuts. After the bill's latest alteration, any future increases in the debt limit would be contingent on Congress approving the constitutional amendment and sending it to the states for ratification.

"With conservatives insisting on the addition of a balanced-budget amendment requirement, Speaker Boehner's bill will now cut, cap and balance" federal spending, said Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona as Friday's scheduled vote approached.

The White House called the bill a non-starter. "'Amend the Constitution or default' is a highly dangerous game to play," said press secretary Jay Carney, and Democrats said they would scuttle it as soon as it arrived in the Senate.

The developments occurred one day after Boehner was forced to postpone a vote in the House for fear the earlier version of his measure would suffer a defeat. But by forcing a delay the conservative rebels upended the leadership's strategy of making their bill the only one that could clear Congress before a default and win Obama's reluctant signature.

"Everybody acknowledges that because of the dust-up yesterday we've lost some leverage," said Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, an ally of the speaker.

The rebels said they were more worried about stemming the nation's steady rise of red ink.

Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., a, a first-term lawmaker, issued a statement saying his pressure had paid off.

"The American people have strongly renewed their November calls of bringing fiscal sanity to Washington. I am blessed to be a vehicle driving their wishes to fruition," he said. "This plan is not a Washington deal but a real solution to fundamentally change the way Washington operates."

Administration officials say that without legislation in place by Tuesday, the Treasury will no longer be able to pay all its bills. The result could inflict significant damage on the economy, they add, causing interest rates to rise and financial markets to sink.

Executives from the country's biggest banks met with U.S. Treasury officials to discuss how debt auctions will be handled if Congress fails to raise the borrowing limit before Tuesday's deadline.

But Carney said the administration did not plan to provide the public with details Friday on how the government will prioritize payments.

The day's economic news wasn't very upbeat to begin with - an economy that grew at an annual rate of only 1.3 percent in the second quarter of the year.

Investors weren't impressed with either the economy or the efforts in Washington.

The Dow Jones industrial average appeared headed for a sixth straight day of losses, and bond yields fell as investors sought safer investments in the event of a default.

At the White House, Obama cited the potential toll on the economy as he urged lawmakers to find a way out of gridlock.

He said that for all the partisanship, the two sides were not that far apart. Both agree on initial spending cuts to take effect in exchange for an increase in the debt limit, he said, as well as on a way to consider additional reductions in government benefit programs in the coming months.

"And if we need to put in place some kind of enforcement mechanism to hold us all accountable for making these reforms, I'll support that, too, if it's done in a smart and balanced way," he said.

That went to the crux of the conflict - his insistence that Congress raise the government's borrowing authority by enough to avoid a repeat of the current crisis during the heat of the 2012 election campaigns.

Republicans have resisted, accusing him of injecting purely political considerations into the debt limit negotiations.

But Boehner's failure to line up the votes for his legislation Thursday night seemed to embolden Democrats.

Obama asked his 9.4 million followers on Twitter to send tweets to Republican lawmakers.

"The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan (hash)compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet," Obama wrote in a tweet, signed "-BO."

Judge Rules 5 Defendants In Priest Sex Abuse Case Will Be Tried Together

Judge Rules 5 Defendants In Priest Sex Abuse Case Will Be Tried Together

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia judge has ruled on pre-trial motions, finding a Monsignor, three priests and a lay teacher charged with endangering and sexually abusing children will be tried together.

Defense attorneys for Monsignor William Lynn; priests Edward Avery, Charles Engelhardt and James Brennan; and lay teacher Bernard Shero had argued that certain charges, including conspiracy, should be dismissed and the defendants should be tried separately.

For full story go to:

Judge: Time to unseal Nixon's Watergate testimony

Judge: Time to unseal Nixon's Watergate testimony

AP Photo
FILE - In this Aug. 9, 1974 black-and-white file photo, President Richard M. Nixon and his wife Pat Nixon are shown standing together in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Thirty-six years after Nixon testified secretly to a grand jury investigating Watergate, a federal judge orders the first public release of the transcript.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thirty-six years after Richard Nixon testified to a grand jury about the Watergate break-in that drove him from office, a federal judge on Friday ordered the secret transcript made public.

But the 297 pages of testimony won't be available immediately, because the government gets time to decide whether to appeal.

The Obama administration opposed the transcript's release, chiefly to protect the privacy of people discussed during the ex-president's testimony who are still alive.

Nevertheless, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth agreed with historians who sued for release of the documents that the historical significance outweighs arguments for secrecy, because the investigations are long over and Nixon has been dead 17 years.

Nixon was interviewed behind closed doors near his California home for 11 hours over two days in June 1975, 10 months after resigning the presidency. Two grand jurors were flown in and the transcript was read to the rest of the panel sitting back in Washington. It was the first time a former U.S. president testified before a grand jury - Bill Clinton became the first sitting president to do so during the Monica Lewinsky investigation.

At the time of his testimony, Nixon could not be prosecuted for conduct related to Watergate because he had been pardoned by President Gerald Ford. Ten days after Nixon testified, the grand jury was dismissed without making any indictments based on what he told them.

The historians say the testimony could address ongoing debate over Nixon's knowledge of the break-in at Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate complex and his role in the cover-up.

"Nixon knew when you testified before a grand jury you exposed yourself to perjury, so I'm betting he told the truth," said University of Wisconsin Professor Stanley Kutler, who filed the lawsuit along with four historians' organizations. Kutler, author of "Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes," previously successfully sued to force the release of audio recordings Nixon secretly made in the Oval Office. "Now, what did he tell the truth about? I don't know."

Newspapers reported at the time of Nixon's testimony that he was questioned about the 18 1/2-minute gap in his Oval Office tapes, changes made to White House transcripts of the recordings, his administration's use of the Internal Revenue Service to harass his political enemies, and a $100,000 campaign contribution from billionaire Howard Hughes. But the details of what the president said have never leaked out.

Several Watergate figures filed declarations in support of the historians' petition, including Nixon's White House counsel John Dean, who served prison time for his role in the scandal. Dean wrote that Nixon's testimony covers topics that the president only vaguely discussed in his memoirs and his revelations to the grand jury would help stop "those wanting to twist and distort history."

In rejecting the Obama administration's arguments for privacy, Lamberth pointed out that most of the surviving Watergate figures have either written about it, given interviews or spoke under oath about their involvement in testimony that is already public. "The court is confident that disclosure will greatly benefit the public and its understanding of Watergate without compromising the tradition and objectives of grand jury secrecy," Lamberth wrote.

Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said Friday that government attorneys were reviewing the ruling.

Other courts have on occasion ordered the release of grand jury records because of their historical value, including those investigating espionage allegations against Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

A week later, Norway mourns 77 victims of massacre

A week later, Norway mourns 77 victims of massacre

AP Photo
A mourner weeps during the funeral service for Bano Abobakar Rashid, 18, the first victim of the shooting rampage at Utoeya to be buried, at a church in Nesodden, near Oslo, Norway, Friday July 29, 2011. Rashid, whose family fled to Norway from Iran in 1996, was one of the victims on Utoya island, where gunman Anders Behring Breivik killed at least 68 people, exactly one week ago

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Norway began burying the dead on Friday, a week after an anti-Muslim extremist killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage. Mourners of all ages vowed they would not let the massacre threaten their nation's openness and democracy.

An 18-year-old Muslim girl was the first victim to be laid to rest since the gunman opened fire at a political youth camp and bombed the government headquarters in Oslo.

After a funeral service in the Nesodden church outside the capital, Bano Rashid, a Kurdish immigrant from Iraq, was buried in a Muslim rite. Sobbing youth accompanied her coffin, which was draped in a Kurdish flag.

The attack will "not destroy Norway's commitment to democracy, tolerance and fighting racism," Labor Party youth-wing leader Eskil Pedersen said at a memorial service in Oslo.

Pedersen, who was on the island retreat of Utoya when the gunman's attack began, said: "Long before he stands before a court we can say: he has lost."

Pedersen said the youth organization would return to Utoya next year for its annual summer gathering, a tradition that stretches back decades.

Police raised the death toll to 77, from 76, and said all those killed in the July 22 terror attacks in Oslo and on Utoya have now been identified and those reported missing have been accounted for.

Norway's Police Security Service said the threat from right-wing extremists remains unchanged after Anders Behring Breivik's attack. It said the 32-year-old Norwegian's actions lack parallels in Europe or elsewhere, his views differ from the ideology of most racist and neo-Nazi groups, and very few people in Norway are capable of replicating what he did.

Since the massacre, questions have persisted about whether authorities had underestimated extremist dangers in Norway.

At Friday's memorial service in Oslo at the assembly hall of the "People's House," a community center for Norway's labor movement, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said: "Today it is one week since Norway was hit by evil."

The bullets struck dozens of members of the youth faction of his Labor Party, but they were aimed at the entire nation, Stoltenberg said, on a stage adorned with red roses, the symbol of his party.

"I think July 22 will be a very strong symbol of the Norwegian people's wish to be united in our fight against violence, and will be a symbol of how the nation can answer with love," he told reporters after the ceremony.

Members of the audience raised bouquets of flowers as each speaker took the stage, and some of them fought back tears as they spoke.

Later, Stoltenberg spoke at a Muslim memorial service in Gronland, an immigrant neighborhood in Oslo. The prime minister called for unity across ethnic and religious lines, a message he has repeated many times since the attacks.

Breivik, a vehement anti-Muslim, was questioned by police Friday for the second time since surrendering to an anti-terror squad on Utoya, where his victims lay strewn across the shore and in the water. Many were teens who were gunned down as they tried to flee the onslaught.

In a 1,500-page manifesto released just before the attacks, Breivik ranted about Europe being overrun by Muslim immigrants and blamed left-wing political forces for making the continent multicultural.

Police attorney Paal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby said the Breivik remained calm and cooperative during the questioning session, in which investigators reviewed with him his statements from an earlier session on Saturday. Investigators believe Breivik acted alone, after years of meticulous planning, and haven't found anything to support his claims that he's part of an anti-Muslim militant network plotting a series of coups d'etat across Europe.

Police also said they have identified all of the victims, 68 of whom were killed on the island and eight who died after a car bomb exploded in downtown Oslo. Breivik has confessed to both attacks but denies criminal guilt because he believes he's in a state of war, his lawyer and police have said.

Police have charged Breivik with terrorism, which carries a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison. However, it's possible the charge will change during the investigation to crimes against humanity, which carries a 30-year prison term, Norway's top prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch told The Associated Press.

"Such charges will be considered when the entire police investigation has been finalized," he said. "It is an extensive investigation. We will charge Breivik for each individual killing."

Prosecutors can also seek a special kind of sentence that would enable the court to keep Breivik in prison indefinitely. A formal indictment isn't expected until next year, Busch said.

A weapons supplier in Norway confirmed his company sold device that enables quick loading of magazines for a rifle and four 30-round clips for a Glock 17 pistol to Breivik, who ordered the equipment online in November and December last year.

Flemming Mark Pedersen, owner of Capsicum Solutions AS, said the purchase was legal and there was no indication of what Breivik was up to.

"But just like the police officer who approved his (gun) license, the company that provided him with fertilizer and the firm that sold him diesel, we feel guilty to a certain level and wonder whether this could have been prevented in some way," Pedersen told The Associated Press.

Since the attacks, immigrants and ethnic Norwegians have come together in grief for the victims, and with disdain for the attacker and his motives. A sometimes divisive debate about immigration has been put aside.

So many roses have been placed at makeshift memorials around Oslo and other Norwegian cities that domestic suppliers cannot keep up with demand. The government has suspended a tax on foreign roses to allow for more imports between July 26 and Aug. 2, Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

Rhoda Blount Making West Philadelphia's Rising Stars Shine by Mike Morgan (267) 322-8764

Rhoda Blount Making West Philadelphia's Rising Stars Shine by Mike Morgan

Rhoda Blount

Rhoda Blount, having her cultural roots grounded in jazz, has paved the way for many young jazz artists in the West Philadelphia area. During her 14 years as the Director of Education at the MANN, where she created the education department, she continues to connect children culturally through the world of jazz. Noticing the lack of connection inner-city children had with jazz while at one of the Philadelphia Orchestra's concerts, she sought to become the connector for them. Rhoda created a jazz concert series tailored specifically for elementary and middle school aged children and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal.

Fourteen years ago, at the jazz program's inception, it began with 800 children. Today that same jazz program has from 4500 to 6500 children. Rhoda's slogan is, "I'll give you an opportunity to see the world without leaving Philadelphia." And for many inner-city children she's done just that by adding "global performances" to the curriculum. But Rhoda's involvement doesn't stop there. In addition to the concert series she also connects with children city-wide through another program she created - Connecting Arts With School. Throughout the academic year she goes into schools city-wide overseeing Multi-art performances of music theater and dance where the children in her program perform.

Most admirable is the fact that the programs that Rhoda is involved with are free. The production, audio/visual, even the transportation for the children are all free. The workshops are all under the auspices of The Greenfield Performance Treasures program. The diversity of culture in these workshops broaden the children's cultural horizons. Rhoda is the central piece in orchestrating that.

Rhoda has seen several children she has developed culturally go on to college, become polished musicians, and travel the world. Rhoda's compassion for the cultural development for the children of West Philadelphia, in my book, makes her a star!

Shine on Rhoda Blount! Shine on! For more information about Education at the MANN call (215) 546-7900 ext109 or email

Michael Morgan: Giving Customers & Our Black Kids Lots Of Reasons To Smile by Van Stone (267) 293-9201

Michael Morgan: Giving Customers & Our Black Kids Lots Of Reasons To Smile by Van Stone (267) 293-9201

Michael Morgan - Photo by Joel Perlish Photography

Michael Morgan was born in Raleigh, NC, August 29, 1966 to Black American parents, Earl Morgan Sr. and Barbara Morgan. He is the fifth of ten children. As a student at Overbrook High School, he excelled academically. Being placed in a business administration course in his freshman year he began his work career as a Disability Benefits Specialists for the Social Security Administration. He also had a paper route in his neighborhood working with youth and used that route to begin his own volunteer work for the elderly. That work included cleaning their houses, landscaping, trash removal, snow removal, grocery shopping, and a host of other responsibilities.

After graduating from Overbrook High School in 1984 as one of the fastest typist in the nation, Michael furthered his career as a tax consultant for the IRS. After a brief military career he went to work for the University of Penn Dental School as the Coordinator where he led children who resided in the Southwest Philadelphia community to better understand the importance of pediatric dentistry and the early intervention for maintaining healthy teeth. However, while he was at the dental school, from 1991 to 1998, Michael watched how crime was beginning to deteriorate the campus area. He visibly witnessed the murder of an African American undergraduate student. Michael used his prior background in volunteer work to volunteer to assist youth violence reduction in the campus area. He became the Head Mentor for the incoming African American Undergraduate class to help build up and restore the declining morale in the West Philadelphia area.

In 1998 Michael began to turn his attention to Van Stone Productions (VSP) Foundation because the nonprofit was working with groups in the South Philadelphia communities such as the Christian Street YMCA. For the next ten years Michael encouraged the healthy development of youth, and volunteered to work with the YMCA’s national Healthy Kids Day, the nation’s largest health day care for kids and families. It was easy for him to talk to children about the benefit of having good oral health from infancy through teenage years and emphasize the importance of play in keeping kids healthy and happy.

This work influenced him into a legal direction and in 1998 he graduated with a bachelor's in paralegal studies. With a newfound inspiration he used his legal background to volunteer with several law firms in multi-district litigation cases for product liability and unemployment compensation. And from 2000 to 2005 Michael did some volunteering with Women Against Abuse and the Homeless Advocacy Group.

Unfortunately a set back occurred in Morgan’s life in 2001. Tragedy struck when a motor vehicle accident left him with 12 herniated discs, 4 pinched nerves, a traumatized pancreas, uncontrolled diabetes, the amputation of two toes on his right foot, and a host of other infirmities. But Mike fully rebounded in 2006 to resume volunteering with the Diabetes Foundation. Michael is the owner of Morgan's Transportation and still lives and volunteers in both the Southwest and South Philadelphia area.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

George The Chemist Guralnik Fights On Under-card: Independence Fight Night Friday July 29th At The Asylum Arena

George The Chemist Guralnik Fights On Under-card: Independence Fight Night Friday July 29th At The Asylum Arena

George The Chemist Guralnik, from the Ukraine, who train at Shuelers Gym in West
, has his second professional boxing fight on Friday, July 29, 2011 at the Asylum Arena . He is an up and coming heavy weight division fighter who did kickboxing since early childhood.

In 2004, George took second place in the World Muya Thai championship. Currently he trains under Steven and Tim Witherspoon and Robert bam- bam hines.

His Pro boxing record at 1-0 sets him off to become two and 0 after finishing his next
fight Friday the 29th. Guralnik came to the USA in 2000, worked hard and went to school at the same time earning a chemistry degree. His earning his degree helped him to help his family out. George goal is to help kids at the gym by giving them equipment, pay gym dues, and set a good example. For ticket info call Steve Witherspoon at (215) 255-5932.

Kevin Kolb Dealt To Arizona

Kevin Kolb Dealt To Arizona

(credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–The time had been rumored to be arriving ever since the Eagles took Kevin Kolb with the 37th overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Donovan McNabb’s days were supposed to be numbered, making way sometime soon for the “Kevin Kolb Era” to begin.

When McNabb was traded to Washington, Kolb’s time was supposed to arrive last season. It never did exactly get here, and now the Eagles have shuttled Kolb off to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft, according to a number of published reports.

For full story go to:

Please Touch Museum Hosts Financial Literacy Program For Kids

Please Touch Museum Hosts Financial Literacy Program For Kids

(Credit: Hadas Kuznits)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A six-week program now running at the Please Touch Museum is aimed at teaching kids about money, starting at an early age.

“Back off honey, that’s not your money!” says a chorus of puppets.

The folks at the Please Touch Musem are using puppetry to give kids a foundation of financial literacy.

Harris Fishman, president of First Financial Group, says his company teamed up with the museum for a the six-week program called “Kids Smart Start,” which highlights some important lessons.

For full story go to:

Philadelphia Teen Will Stand Trial For Attempted Murder of Bicycle Cop

Philadelphia Teen Will Stand Trial For Attempted Murder of Bicycle Cop

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Southwest Philadelphia teen has been ordered to stand trial for attempted murder of a police officer in what the officer is calling an unbelievable ambush attack.

Bicycle patrol officer Michael Alice testified today that he couldn’t believe it when the 16-year-old boy he told to move along suddenly turned and opened fire.

It happened at Front and South Streets on a Saturday night earlier this month.

Officer Alice says Devon Marcus, 16, was among a group of rowdy teens he told to head home because it was almost curfew time and South Street was no longer open to them.

For full story go to:

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