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Friday, August 31, 2012

Eagles Cut Kafka, Hanson, Atogwe

Eagles Cut Kafka, Hanson, Atogwe

(Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Trent Edwards beat out Mike Kafka for the third-string quarterback job with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kafka was released Friday afternoon, leaving Edwards and rookie Nick Foles behind Michael Vick on the depth chart.

“There was great competition at the quarterback position,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “That’s what football and training camp is all about. In the end, we had to make the difficult decision to let Mike Kafka go. Mike is a class act, a student of the game and a great person and I think he’ll have no problem finding a job in the National Football League very soon.”

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Art Museum To Be Open This Weekend Despite ‘Made in America’

Art Museum To Be Open This Weekend Despite ‘Made in America’

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Despite all of the road closures and traffic restrictions from Made in America, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is still accessible and open.

The museum’s president Gail Harrity says people can enter through the west entrance.

“Vehicular traffic can come in on Kelly Drive and enter Water Works Drive, right into the museum’s parking garage,” Harrity explains.

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Ex-Marine kills 2, self at NJ supermarket

Ex-Marine kills 2, self at NJ supermarket

AP Photo
Middlesex County prosecutor Bruce Kaplan inspects the scene of a shooting at a Pathmark grocery store in Old Bridge, N.J., Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. An employee of the supermarket opened fire at the closed store early Friday as a dozen or more colleagues worked inside, killing two of them and himself, Kaplan said.

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (AP) -- An ex-Marine who had suffered from depression and once tweeted about killing "everyone I see" opened fire in camouflage gear at a New Jersey supermarket, gunning down two co-workers before he killed himself, authorities said.

Terence Tyler, 23, left his night clerk shift at a Pathmark store in Old Bridge Township around 3:30 a.m., drove off and returned 20 minutes later to the closed store with a handgun and an assault rifle similar to an AK-47, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said. About 12 to 14 workers were still there, inputting new prices into the computer.

Tyler fired more than 16 rounds from his rifle - shooting at an employee standing outside and firing as he entered the store, blowing out the front windows, authorities said. He shot at five other workers in an aisle, killing Christine LoBrutto, 18, and Bryan Been, 24, Kaplan said.

"I do not believe that they were specifically targeted. I believe everybody in the store was a target," said Kaplan.

Tyler, who began working at the supermarket less than two weeks ago, drew his handgun and killed himself, the prosecutor said.

The motive was under investigation. But family members said Tyler had been discharged from the Marines two years ago after suffering from depression and had never gotten over his mother's death; the five-year anniversary was coming up next week, they said.

And on a Twitter account where he posted in 2009, with a photograph identified by family members as Tyler, he posted about hating Marine life.

"I'm starting to see why plp go on killin sprees," he wrote in October 2009, using the handle (at)Tylerbkstyle . And these m----f----- are reeeeeeally pushin my kill everyone I see button."

At the top of Tyler's Facebook page reads the motto, "Be optimistic. All the people you hate are going to eventually die."

Kaplan and police walked through the shooting scene at the supermarket Friday morning, with two long windows in the front completely shot through. Evidence markers were placed next to broken glass outside the store, in a suburban shopping center about 40 miles south of Manhattan. Several ammunition magazines were recovered along with Tyler's rifle and a .45-caliber handgun, he said.

John Niccollai, president of a foodworkers union, said many of the employees working escaped the gunfire when an assistant manager got many of them to flee out the back door.

Breen and LoBrutto were both cashiers who normally worked day shifts, but pulled overnight shifts every few weeks to input new price changes, Niccolai said.Tyler began just worked for Pathmark since Aug. 20 as a night clerk stocking shelves.

Pathmark worker Miranda Miranda said she steered clear of Tyler. "The way he looked at me, he gave me an uneasy vibe," she said.

Miranda had regularly worked the overnight shift on Thursday but said LoBrutto agreed to take over the shift for her a few weeks ago. "That could've been me," she said of LoBrutto.

Tyler was discharged from the Marines in 2010 after just under two years in the service in Twentynine Palms, Calif., the Marines said. The infantryman from New York City never served overseas, said Marine spokeswoman Capt. Kendra Motz. She wouldn't comment on the circumstances of his discharge.

His uncle, Christopher Dyson, said he left after suffering from depression, and a cousin said he had been hospitalized and was never happy with the Marines. Tyler, who also lived in San Diego, left California in June to move to New Jersey, where he lived with his uncle.

"He was a quiet cat, you know?" Dyson said. "We don't know anything that would compel him to do this."

His cousin, Shanteya Dyson said Tyler had not been the same since his mother died of cancer. His father died when he was young.

"That was his best friend. He was always a quiet guy. But he got more quiet. He really didn't speak at all. He was just blank," said Dyson.

Tyler spent the July 4 weekend drinking at Jersey shore bars with Manase Acheantong, who said Tyler was his friend's cousin.

"We went out. We had drinks. He was a normal kid. He didn't start no fights. He didn't seem crazy," said Acheantong, 25, of Old Bridge.

Pathmark's parent company, Montvale-based Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. said Friday the company is "deeply saddened" by the shooting and is cooperating with investigators.

A vigil was planned Friday at Old Bridge School for LoBrutto and Breen, who both graduated from the school. LoBrutto, who was a horn player in the school band, graduated this year, Schools Superintendent Timothy Brennan said. Breen graduated in 2006.

Jessica Ruano knew Christina from school. "She was a really bubbly girl," said Ruano, 16. "She was silly. She was sweet."

Celebs and pols: When the star alliance misfires

Celebs and pols: When the star alliance misfires

AP Photo
Actor Clint Eastwood addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.

NEW YORK (AP) -- In the aftermath of Clint Eastwood's perplexing and ridiculed "invisible Obama" monologue at the Republican National Convention, conservative blogger Moe Lane summed up what many on both sides of the political divide are thinking.

"The term `surfing on the edge of the catastrophe curve' comes to mind," Lane wrote at RedState, concluding the bit that had the 82-year-old Hollywood icon talking to an empty chair did work but, "I would not recommend that the GOP make it a habit."

Celebrities have courted politicians, and vice versa, since the dawn of Hollywood, but what happens when the alliance backfires, when the two worlds are suddenly speaking different languages?

The crowd Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, just ahead of Romney's "speech of a lifetime," greeted the Eastwood Moment with hearty laughter and applause, a welcome break of levity on the last day of a tightly choreographed convention.

But behind the scenes, Romney's campaign staff didn't find it so humorous. Asked about it immediately after the convention concluded, a half-dozen staffers said little. The campaign quickly went into damage control.

Unlike every other convention speaker, the teleprompter in the hall wasn't used during Eastwood's speech, which had him lampooning President Barack Obama as if he were there. The routine from the Oscar-winning director of "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby" lasted twice as long as scheduled, cutting into the hour of prime time coverage for Republicans.

It also sucked up Friday morning coverage of Romney's speech that had him accepting the Republican nomination for president.

On "CBS This Morning," Ann Romney cast about for words. Asked whether his contribution was a distraction or a mistake, she responded: "He's a unique guy and he did a unique thing last night." But the wife of the new nominee was quick to add that "we're grateful for everyone's support and especially grateful for what a great night it was last night."

Grateful, too, like plenty of politicians, for any financial support that comes along with celebrity pals, though Eastwood's bucks may not be in the mix.

Eastwood endorsed Romney on Aug. 3, in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he attended a fundraiser, so any money he would have contributed personally or through his company hasn't turned up yet in financial records filed with the Federal Election Commission. After the fundraiser, Eastwood let the campaign know he was interested in participating in the convention, a Romney aide said.

In this world of oversharing, when the like-minded or contrary are only a tweet away, social media blew up over Eastwood's confusing convention appearance, along with political-pundit quarterbacking on both ends of the spectrum.

"It ... was odd. Not consistently terrible as some argued," observed National Review's Jim Geraghty. "I have no doubt some folks loved it. It may very well have actually moved some votes. But boy, did it get weird at times."

What of the visible president? Was he watching, and taking notes on how to manage his crowded stable of actors and artists among friends and supporters?

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had no observations on Eastwood's appearance. Nor did he watch the Republican convention, the spokesman said, but his official feed on Twitter - (hashtag)BarackObama - most certainly did.

"This seat's taken," the account tweeted late Thursday as Twitter exploded with mockers - and some supporters.

Discomfort or mere awkwardness aside, it's rare for a celebrity endorsement to backfire in a big way, said Steve Ross, a professor of history at the University of Southern California who has studied the impact of star endorsements in political campaigns.

While some stars, such as Jane Fonda, have proven toxic (she went to North Vietnam during the war in 1972), Eastwood carries enough gravitas and respect that he will get more people to pay attention to Mitt Romney, Ross said.

Eastwood is no Jane Fonda.

In 1986, a Missouri Senate candidate was pilloried for the simple acceptance of $2,000 from the actress. The candidate, the now-dead Harriet Woods, was branded "Hanoi Harriet," linking her to Fonda's "Hanoi Jane" moniker, and she lost the election, Ross said.

Nor is Eastwood a regular contributor of political punditry or skewering standup routines.

"This isn't Jeff Foxworthy. This isn't some comedian," Ross said. Eastwood is "Mr. Law and Order. I can't think of a bigger national spokesperson they could get."

Yet freewheeling celebrities do bring their risks:

- Though far from a catastrophe, during a stop at an Obama fundraiser in March, Robert De Niro found himself at the center of a White House apology over a joke about candidates' wives.

"`Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?' De Niro asked the crowd, according to a White House pool report.

Gingrich howled. The White House apologized, and so did the actor.

- George Clooney, the Hollywood darling of the Obama administration, got arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington that same month, managing to suck up plenty of limelight after traveling to the troubled region himself and testifying before the Senate.

- In 2008, Scarlett Johansson got a little too close for Obama's comfort. She claimed publicly that she had his ear in regular personal email exchanges after she endorsed him. Not so, the embarrassed candidate had to explain. There had been one email, forwarded by an aide.

- It was an "Oprahpalooza" during primary season in 2007. The talk show queen endorsed Obama and stumped in Iowa before thousands, detracting hugely from Hillary Rodham Clinton's two surrogates, mom Dorothy Rodham and daughter, Chelsea, both appearing publicly for the first time. The reluctant Chelsea Clinton's emergence would otherwise have been big news.

Linking celebrities to candidates was a process that started in the late `20s, when movie stars were sent on the road to stump with politicians, Ross said. The idea was to draw in more people - many of whom would leave after seeing the star but others who would stay and listen to the candidate's message.

Capitalizing on celebrity culture to capture new votes, especially among the undecided, was the value, he said.

"This has been the key idea whether it was 1928 or 2012 with Clint Eastwood," Ross said.

Van Stone's Female Chiropractic Warrior Shadai Chiropractra: A New Action Comics Character In 2012

Van Stone's Female Chiropractic Warrior Shadai Chiropractra: A New Action Comics Character In 2012

Shadai Chiropractra, second at the top left, is
a chiropractic warrior in the Van Stone comics series
Heroes of the Last Q.

Shadai Chiropractra

Shadai Chiropractra is a fictional comic strip and paperback book character created by writer Van Stone. She first appeared in The World of Van Stone Heroes of the Last Q Comic Strip Issue March 24-30, (1994), and has since appeared in the paperback book Heroes of the Last Q 1994 by printer/publisher, company, UB & US Communications Systems, Inc. The issue and book was written by Van Stone and drawn by illustrators Chuck Gholsten and Darius Jones.

Shadai is a young woman of mixed Native American and Black American as well as Hispanic ancestry volunteered into a modern-day war between Black Indians of the infamous Grand Kaiser of the man made planet called Planet Hated. She is no ordinary female heroine. Shadai Chiropractra is a doctor in the health care profession of chiropractic medicine. planet Hated’s Kaiseron illness, spinal misalignment, where she adjusts the spine, help U7 defeats the Kaiserons mutant humans and restore all to good health. She also works to prevent the illness from spreading to other areas of planet earth. By the end of the attack of the Kaiserons she defeats the Kaiserons with the help of the Incredible U7.

As the story is deeply rooted in Black Indian and Hispanic, Biblical-Interest history, mythology, and spiritual inspiration, "Shadai" literally translates to Name by which/and or the name of God (Gen. 28:3, Gen 35:11, Gen. 49:25) or also, God was known; Almighty; destroyer, as one of the aspects of God; Guardian of the Doors of Israel and/or Eden on an inaccessible mountaintop; as well as God known as a woman in Hebrew, and her signature weapon is the activator device.

The series often touches on spiritual issues, especially as they pertain to Shadai’s dual background in the traditions of the Black American Indian/Hispanic Leaders, straight philosophy chiropractor doctors, and Mythology.

Shadia Chirapractra is a female protagonist of the Heroes of the Last Q social-science fiction action story series by Van Stone Downing. Introduced in the 1994 comic strip and paperback book Heroes of the Last Q (Quirinal: means government), Shadai is a youth Chiropractic doctor health care professional concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromuscloskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health. Her practice of chiropractic medicine involves a range of diagnostic methods including skeletal imaging, observational and tactile assessments, and orthopedic and neurological evaluation. Shadai does common patient management which involves spinal manipulation (SM) and other manual therapies to the joints and soft tissues, rehabilitative exercises, health promotion, electrical modalities, complementary procedures, and lifestyle counseling.

She is a Sonic Defenders Patrol Last Quirinal space soldier turned super chiropractor who has an activator device that is both a medical tool and weapon. Her activator device can be used as a weapon that includes beams and missiles. For most of her service Shadai has battled with mainstream medicine, sustained by pseudoscientific ideas such as subluxation, innate intelligence, and chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy. Because the Science Senate of the Last Q had once boycotted chiropractic medicine until losing its case against chiropractor Shadai and peers in court. Shadai often seriously considers declaring chiropractic a religion wherever she provides healing services, and when she does this at her own risk, she faces certain dangers and battles with those who disagree with her. Shade and other chiropractors face heavy opposition from organized medicine. Shade is one of the most wanted chiropractors hunted where ever she is out of the neutral zone for chiropractic care as thousands of chiropractors are prosecuted for practicing medicine, and she and very few other chiropractors are called upon as rescuers of fellow chiropractors who are unjustly jailed. She aligns herself with the common man against intellectuals and fanatics, among which they included the Science Senate of the Last Q. Her main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, including manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues.

Throughout the series, she and superhero Ace Powers, a.k.a. U7 executes missions given to them by the Sonic Defenders Patrol of the Last Q. Meanwhile she is hunting the antagonistic Mainstream Medicine Doctors and their leader, The Science Senate. Shadai has appeared in all Heroes of the Last Q comics and books. She is well known as one of the earliest female protagonists in paperback book history and remains a popular character over a decade after her first appearance.

Brief History

Shadai is a teenage woman named Shadai Chiropractra who comes from a family line of Chiropractic warrirors. Her father Salvino is a Black American and Native American Indian Chiropractic warrior and her mother Yolanda is a Hispanic American chiropractor doctor. As a child, Shadai witnessed the false imprisonment of both family medicine doctors and chiropractic medicine doctors at the hands of the supporters of the Science Senate of the Last Q. After this, she was trained to do both chiropractic medical procedures and battle with anyone who tried to jail chiropractic doctors. Shadai was trained by her mother Yolanda in the martial arts and spiritual inspiration which includes super spinal manipulations that can heal and produce force field shields for over the body. And it was her own father who taught her about the fine details that her name is the name of God Almighty. He also trained her to use a super enhanced chiropractic formula based on the D.D. Palmer theory of medicine. Using this formula she would therefore become a super heroine protector of those who believe in chiropractic medicine VS mainstream medicine.

Shadai would be both hunted by enemies of chiropractic health care and the hunter of beings who have jailed chiropractic supporters. She would join the Sonic Defenders Patrol as a special volunteer in the youth military service. Most of her service revolved around getting rid of ailments elements such as common illnesses and the mysterious illnesses not known to mainstream medical physicians, who can drain life suddenly and are frequently used as weapons of illnesses.

In order to support D.D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, established a practice based upon spine manipulations, she changed the super enhanced chiropractic formula to create her personal weapon the activator device. The activator device becomes powered to be both a weapon that includes beams, missiles, and super adjustments for healing. The activator device can scan objects such as the body to learn more about it.

Shadai’s life work is dedicated to live up the name”Shadai” (“Name by which/and or the name of God; “God known as a woman in Hebrew,” and “Destroyer, as one of the aspects of God”) for her belief in justice and medicine.

In Heroes of the Last Q Shadai is eventually able to assess the source of the planet Hated’s Kaiseron illness, spinal misalignment, where she adjusts the spine, help U7 defeats the Kaiserons mutant humans and restore all to good health. She also works to prevent the illness from spreading to other areas of planet earth. By the end of the attack of the Kaiserons she defeats the Kaiserons with the help of the Incredible U7.

Romney asks US to 'turn page,' Obama pans GOP plan

Romney asks US to 'turn page,' Obama pans GOP plan

AP Photo
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney addresses delegates before speaking at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Mitt Romney is making the first stop of his fall campaign for the White House a visit to hurricane-damage Louisiana, hoping to convince Americans he is not just the right man to fix the economy but an all-around leader for the nation. President Barack Obama, for his part, served notice that he will use his powers of incumbency to make Romney's mission hard.

Fresh from the Republican National Convention, Romney scheduled a surprise visit to Lafitte, outside New Orleans, where he was to tour storm damage with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Romney was joining part of Jindal's scheduled day.

GOP running mate Paul Ryan was headed for the battleground state of Virginia solo, rather than in tandem with Romney.

Isaac left a wake of misery in Louisiana, leaving dozens of neighborhoods under deep flood waters and more than 800,000 people without power. While New Orleans was spared major damage, the storm walloped surrounding suburbs, topping smaller levees with days of rain and forcing more than 4,000 from their homes.

The Romney campaign has been considering a trip to the Gulf coast for days and scrapped a plan to visit earlier in the week because weather conditions on the ground were considered too dangerous.

Romney, who canceled the first day of his convention due to Isaac, is plunging into the presidential campaign's final 67 days with his primary focus on jobs and the economy, and depicting Obama as a well-meaning but inept man who must be replaced.

"America has been patient," he said in his speech to the nation Thursday night. "Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page."

His wife made the rounds of Friday morning talk shows to pronounce her husband the right man to fix a troubled economy, and predicted that argument would win over women voters who haven't voted Republican in the past.

Ann Romney said women tell her: "It's time for the grown-up to come, the man that's going to take this very seriously and the future of our children very, very seriously," Mrs. Romney said on CNN. "I very much believe this is going to be an economic election, and I think a lot of women may be voting this cycle around in a different way than they usually are, and that is thinking about the economy."

Obama, who will hold his own convention next week, planned to visit a Texas military base exactly two years after declaring the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, the war that haunts the last Republican president. This, as Democrats prepare to gather in Charlotte, N.C., for Obama's convention.

His campaign issued a morning-after critique of Romney's speech that faulted the GOP nominee for skipping over failings in his record on job-creation as Massachusetts governor and for not being up-front with voters about details of his economic plans that Obama says would reduce taxes for the wealthy and increase burdens on the middle class.

"Thursday was Mitt Romney's big night to tell America his plans for moving forward, yet he chose not to," the Obama campaign's web video says.

Romney capped a high-energy night closing to the convention with a spirited and unusually personal speech infused with his family life, touching on his Mormon faith and recounting his youth. The cheers were loud and frequent, surely music to the ears of a candidate who struggled throughout the bruising primary season and beyond to bury doubts among many in his party that he was the authentic conservative in the field.

"Now is the time to restore the promise of America," Romney declared to a nation struggling with unemployment and the slowest economic recovery in decades.

Polls suggest a to-the-wire campaign finish. The two men will spend the next 10 weeks in a handful of competitive states, none more important than Florida and Ohio, and meet in one-on-one debates where the stakes could hardly be any higher.

The campaign themes are mostly set. Romney depicts the president as a once-inspiring but disappointing figure who doesn't understand job-creation or ordinary Americans' frustrations. Democrats portray Romney as a man shifting ever rightward in the absence of core convictions, and a wealthy plutocrat who can't relate to the middle class.

Hanging over the campaign is a big number: the nation's 8.3 percent unemployment rate. It is Obama's biggest impediment to a second term. Republicans seem to be banking on the notion that it will bring Obama down if Romney simply presents himself as a competent alternative.

Strikingly absent from Romney's campaign, including the three-day convention in Tampa, were detailed explanations of how he would tame deficit spending while also cutting taxes and expanding the armed forces. He seems to be asking voters to trust his ability to create jobs and to make tough, unpopular decisions later.

Romney used his biggest moment yet in the spotlight, Thursday's televised acceptance speech, to put a softer glow on his business record and to make short work of a conservative checklist that is now less important as he pursues swing voters.

He briefly hailed "the sanctity of life," but did not mention "abortion," illegal immigration, or even Ronald Reagan by his first name.

Romney's speech also omitted many of the sharp barbs that he and his allies often throw at Obama.

"I wish President Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed," Romney said. "But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. ... We deserve better."

He repeated his claim that Obama can't lead America out its economic doldrums because he has no business background.

"Jobs to him are about government," Romney said.

The relatively toned-down rhetoric was a shift from Romney's taunt, only two weeks ago, of "Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago."

Thursday's gentler tone by Romney might simply be a nod to reality. Polls repeatedly find that voters find Obama more likable than Romney. Romney's convention message was: It's OK to like Obama even as you fire him.

Of course other top Republicans, and Romney himself, might revert to ripping into Obama, especially if they don't see polls moving in Romney's direction soon in the 10 or so states up for grabs.

Democrats hope their convention in Charlotte will, at a minimum, neutralize any GOP bounce out of Tampa.

Obama seemed equally willing to avoid bombastic rhetoric for a while. He told Time magazine he hoped his re-election would help end the political stalemate in Washington, much like "popping a blister."

The president also said he wants to do a better job of explaining how his policies will help boost the economy.

Obama planned to campaign this weekend in Ohio, Colorado and Iowa.

Romney planned to campaign Friday in Virginia, Saturday in Ohio and both days in Florida before taking a couple of days to rest while Democrats start their quadrennial show in Charlotte.

Obama narrowly won North Carolina in 2008, and scheduled his 2012 convention there in hopes of repeating the unexpected feat. Romney's path to victory is severely complicated unless he puts the state back in the GOP column.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama's visit to Fort Bliss on Friday will highlight administration efforts to support U.S. service members and their families, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those efforts include attempts to combat what Carney called "unseen wounds" of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Romney avoided the topic of terrorism and wars in Islamic countries, which bedeviled President George W. Bush's final years and helped launch Obama's career. In his big speech Thursday, Romney did not mention Iraq, Afghanistan or terrorism.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

State Police Still Searching For Missing New Jersey Officer

State Police Still Searching For Missing New Jersey Officer

Jason Sill (Credit: Middle Township Police)

Jason Sill

WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) — State Police officers continue to search for a southern New Jersey police officer who disappeared after taking his boat out into the ocean this week.

The Coast Guard stopped looking for Middle Township Patrolman Jason Sill of Cape May Court House in the waters off Wildwood at 10 p.m. Tuesday. But state police crews continued to look for him on Wednesday and will resume their efforts on Thursday morning.

Sill was last seen taking his boat out from a Wildwood marina at 11 a.m. Monday. An hour later, a passing boater saw it empty in the water, and called the Coast Guard.

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Westbrook Says Thank You, Retires An Eagle

Westbrook Says Thank You, Retires An Eagle

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It was a different kind of retirement speech than we heard from Tra Thomas and Brian Dawkins in recent months. There were no tears from Brian Westbrook as he spoke to the media Wednesday morning, but he was clearly thankful for his experience in Philadelphia.

Westbrook signed his one-day contract with the Eagles, and will be honored on December 23rd, during halftime of a game against the Redskins. As he closed the book on his career, one of the greatest in Eagles history, he said thank you … to just about everyone.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brian Westbrook To Retire A Philadelphia Eagle

Brian Westbrook To Retire A Philadelphia Eagle

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – First it was Brian Dawkins, then it was Tra Thomas, and now Brian Westbrook will retire as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles this year.

The former Eagles great will be honored during halftime of the Eagles December 23rd game against the Redskins.

“I will always remember Brian for the electrifying, game-changing plays he made during his great career in Philadelphia,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said via press release. “He was one of those players you knew could score from anywhere on the field and one of the most exciting players I have ever watched. He was a great runner, receiver and returner and was certainly a fan favorite. We are thrilled to have him retire as an Eagle and we look forward to honoring him at Lincoln Financial Field on December 23 against the Redskins in what should be a very exciting atmosphere.”

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Andy Reid Says Foles Is #2, As Of Right Now

Andy Reid Says Foles Is #2, As Of Right Now

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Eagles close out their preseason schedule with a home game against the Jets and Andy Reid announced he would rest his top unit. Other veterans such as Jason Avant and Joselio Hanson will also have the night off. Reid believes it will open up the door for several young players fighting to make the roster.

“It’s a great opportunity for these guys,” said Reid. “They were told when they came here they were going to have an opportunity to play. If they make our team, then more power to them. If they don’t, it gives them more of an opportunity to catch on with somebody else.”

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Officials: Bucks County Officer Falsely Reported Shooting

Officials: Bucks County Officer Falsely Reported Shooting

CHALFONT, Pa. (CBS) – A Bucks County police officer is in custody after authorities say he falsely reported he had been shot by a suspect early Monday morning.

On Monday, Officer Jon Cousin was on routine patrol when he says he saw a car parked in the lot of the Lenape Valley Swim Club, along Westview Avenue.

Authorities say Officer Cousin reported as he got out of his patrol car and approached the suspected vehicle, the driver rushed him while a passenger took one shot at him.

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Lawyer: Md. school shooting suspect was bullied

Lawyer: Md. school shooting suspect was bullied

AP Photo
This booking photo made available by the Baltimore County Police Department, shows Robert Wayne Gladden, Jr., 15, of Baltimore. Gladden, Jr. was charged as an adult with attempted first degree murder and first degree assault in the shooting of a classmate on the first day of school at a Baltimore high school.

PERRY HALL, Md. (AP) -- At 6:27 a.m. on his first day as a sophomore at Perry Hall High School in the Baltimore suburbs, Robert Wayne Gladden Jr. updated his Facebook status.

"First day of school, last day of my life," he wrote. He then typed a symbol resembling a person with two middle fingers extended before adding "f--- the world."

Gladden, a pale youth with long, dark hair who turned 15 just three weeks ago, has been charged as an adult in the shooting of a 17-year-old classmate, who was hit in the back with a shotgun blast in the school's cafeteria Monday morning. The victim, Daniel Borowy, remained in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.

While authorities did not discuss a motive for the shooting, Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson said Gladden planned the attack and fired a shot at random before school staff rushed him. A second shot hit the ceiling during the struggle, police said.

But Gladden's attorney, George Psoras, challenged that version of events, saying that the teenager brought the shotgun to school to intimidate bullies and did not aim it at classmates or intend to harm anyone. Psoras said he believes Gladden fired into the floor and the gun discharged again accidentally while teachers tried to wrestle it away.

"The stereotype right now is that we have a Columbine," Psoras told The Associated Press. "It's simply not the case. This is a typical teenager who was just starting this school year. He was being bullied, and the bullying has to stop."

The police chief said Gladden told investigators directly that bullying was not the motive for the shooting. But Psoras said that his client made those comments under duress and he criticized police for their interrogation tactics. Elise Armacost, a police spokesman, said the department stood by the chief's statements.

Meanwhile, Gladden's Facebook page and comments from his classmates suggested a troubled and withdrawn young man. Patrick Waters, a 14-year-old sophomore at Perry Hall, said that Gladden didn't have many friends and dressed "kind of different." He also said Gladden had been disciplined in middle school.

"He would just walk up and hit people," Waters said.

Waters said he'd played football against Gladden in middle school, but he didn't think Gladden was involved in sports anymore.

Humberto Cardona, 15, said Gladden dressed "kind of gothic" and grew his hair out.

"He'd like wear it in front of his face, like he was hiding," Cardona said.

The Facebook page, which classmates confirmed was his, makes references to murder-suicide and to mass murderer Charles Manson. Gladden gave himself the nickname "SuicidalSmile," and the three photos of him all show his face hidden behind his long hair. He describes himself as a "metalhead" and a fan of musicians Marilyn Manson and Slipknot.

There were also indications of a troubled home life. Gladden's father and stepfather both have criminal records, and his stepfather is facing gun charges stemming from a search of his home Monday. The charges are not related to the school shooting, police said.

According to the timeline provided by Johnson and by prosecutors in charging documents, Gladden rode the bus to school, carrying a bag with a disassembled shotgun, 21 rounds of ammunition and a bottle of vodka.

When he arrived at Perry Hall High School - the county's largest school, serving the quiet, middle-class suburbs northeast of Baltimore - he attended his first two classes. On the way to lunch, he stashed the bag with the gun in a restroom.

He was inside the cafeteria briefly before returning to the restroom to assemble the double-barreled shotgun, which was manufactured before 1968 and had been taken from his father's house in Middle River, police said.

At some point he sipped from the vodka bottle, but he was not drunk, police said. He hid the gun under his clothing and went back to the cafeteria.

Once inside the bustling lunchroom, he lifted the shotgun and fired at a nearby table, striking Borowy, police said. But Psoras said Gladden fired the first shot into the ground. He said the second shot was fired accidentally as school staff struggled with his client for control of the gun.

School officials and witnesses praised guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer for wrestling the gun out of Gladden's hands.

"This situation could have been much, much worse," county schools Superintendent Dallas Dance said. "Thanks to Jesse for his quick thinking."

The victim, Borowy, has Down syndrome, according to classmates. His family issued a statement thanking supporters for their prayers and asking for privacy.

Gladden was being held without bail. A bail review was expected Wednesday, and assistant state's attorney Garret Glennon said he would argue that the teen continue to be held without bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 7.

Psoras cautioned against a rush to judgment.

"There are no pat generalizations that can ever explain these types of cases. The human brain is exceptionally complex," he said. "When all the facts come out, you'll see that Mr. Gladden was not some demon."

Gladden's father, Robert W. Gladden, told the AP Monday night that his son had been bullied, although he did not elaborate.

Classes resumed Tuesday at the school amid a low-key police presence. About 150 students turned out for a prayer vigil organized by local churches on the school grounds. Some students wore T-shirts and bracelets reading "Pray for Daniel" and "Team Wasmer" in reference to the victim and the guidance counselor.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vick Back At Practice And “Close To 100 Percent”

Vick Back At Practice And “Close To 100 Percent”

Michael Vick (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Michael Vick

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Michael Vick is back practicing after injuring his ribs last week and Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg says he’s “real close to 100 percent.”

Vick returned to the field Sunday night for the Philadelphia’s annual practice party at Lincoln Financial Field. He left last Monday night’s game after taking a hard hit that left him with bruised ribs and didn’t play in Friday’s game at Cleveland.

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Copper Thieves Target Main Line Temple Once Again

Copper Thieves Target Main Line Temple Once Again

BERWYN, Pa. (CBS) - The Main Line temple was getting ready for the upcoming school year and the high holidays when members of Congregation Or Shalom noticed they had a problem, once again.

Copper thieves broke into a fenced area behind the synagogue and stole copper piping from five air conditioning units one day after the temple put up fencing around the units. Thieves cut the lock, then cut the pipes. They stole freon pipes that connect the units to the building.

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Paul delegates mounting floor fight over new rules

Paul delegates mounting floor fight over new rules

AP Photo
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks at a rally at the University of South Florida Sun Dome on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Ron Paul's delegates are trying to mount a floor fight over new GOP rules designed to limit the ability of insurgent presidential candidates to amass delegates to future Republican conventions.

They are getting help from other delegates, though it is unclear whether they can rally enough support to challenge the rules on the floor of the convention Tuesday.

Mitt Romney, the party's presumptive nominee, has plenty of delegates to win any floor fight. But the dispute could provide an unwanted distraction for party leaders who would rather focus on promoting Romney and defeating President Barack Obama.

"It's so heavily scripted. This is not the forum in they want to air the proverbial dirty laundry," said Juliette Jordal, a Paul delegate from Minnesota.

The new GOP rules would bind delegates to the outcome of presidential primaries and caucuses, allowing candidates to choose which delegates would represent them at future national conventions. Currently, state parties choose national delegates, usually at state and congressional district conventions.

The new rules would also make it more difficult for insurgent candidates to get their names placed in nomination at the convention. This year, candidates need a plurality of delegates from five states to get their name placed in nomination, a threshold Paul did not reach. The new rules would require support from eight states.

The convention's rules committee approved the new rules last week before the start of the convention in Tampa, Fla. The rules were scheduled for a vote by the full convention Monday but many activities were delayed because of Tropical Storm Isaac.

A handful of Paul delegates tried to provide a taste of what's to come after Monday's brief convention session. After the session, a handful of Paul's supporters gathered near the rear of the convention hall and waved signs bearing Paul's name.

They included delegates from Oregon, Nevada and other states where the Texas congressman had support. They said they were upset about the pending rule changes.

"It's going to shut us out of the process," said Oregon delegate Larry Ericksen, a Paul backer compelled by state rules to vote for Romney at the convention. "We deserve a voice in the process."

The Romney campaign treads lightly around Paul while making it clear this is Romney's convention. On Monday, Romney's pick for vice president, Rep. Paul Ryan, downplayed the rift between Paul's supporters and the GOP ticket.

"We see eye to eye on a lot of issues and believe in sound money, We believe in limited government," Ryan told Fox News. "We believe in academic freedom. We believe in the founding principles. We believe that this is a watershed moment for America, whether or not we're going to reclaim the American idea or we're going to become, you know, a cradle-to-the-grave welfare state, which is where I think the president is taking us."

"So I think, in the final analysis, Ron is clearly going to ... he and his supporters should be very comfortable with us," Ryan said. "Ron is a friend of mine. I've known him a long time in Congress."

Romney's convention planner, Russ Schriefer, sidestepped questions about whether efforts by Paul supporters would project a lack of unity.

"In terms of unity, we are a big party. We have people with different opposing viewpoints. I don't think this is a particularly divisive point of view," Schriefer told reporters Monday. "The one thing we know is we're all united in defeating Barack Obama and at the end of the day, I guarantee you on Thursday as we walk out of this convention we will be 100 percent united behind MR and defeating Barack Obama for the good of the country."

Supporters of the new rules say voters expect the delegate count to reflect the outcome of state primaries and caucuses.

They point to states like Maine and Minnesota. Romney narrowly won local caucuses in Maine and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum handily won the presidential caucuses in Minnesota. But Paul's dedicated supporters were able to win most of the delegates in each of those states by taking control of the state conventions.

Ten Paul delegates from Maine were subsequently replaced by a convention panel last week after the panel decided they were picked through a flawed state selection process.

Paul didn't win a single primary but he was able to amass 177 delegates, according to the tally by The Associated Press, largely by organizing supporters at state conventions.

Opponents of the new rule say it would limit the ability of state parties to reward local activists, and Monday's weather delay is giving them time to organize.

"A lot of people who get elected as delegates and alternates to the convention are people who have been paying their dues for years and years," said Stavros Mendros, a Paul delegate from Maine. "I think it's a big mistake for the RNC to make."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lee, Rollins Help Phillies Sweep Nationals

Lee, Rollins Help Phillies Sweep Nationals

(credit: Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cliff Lee tossed seven sharp innings to earn his first home win in nearly a year and the Philadelphia Phillies completed a three-game sweep against the major league-leading Washington Nationals with a 4-1 victory on Sunday.

Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run homer and Laynce Nix had a solo shot to back Lee (3-7). The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner hadn’t won at Citizens Bank Park since September 5, going 0-6 in his previous 12 starts.

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Second Suspect In Custody In Murder Of Officer Moses Walker, Jr.

Second Suspect In Custody In Murder Of Officer Moses Walker, Jr.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia homicide detectives said on Sunday the second suspect in the murder of Officer Moses Walker, Jr. is in police custody in Montgomery, Alabama.

According to police, the suspect, 19-year-old Chancier McFarland, turned himself in to federal authorities at 2 p.m. on Sunday. He had been on the run since the August 18th shooting in which Officer Walker was gunned down along Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia as he left his shift in the 22nd Police District in what police say was an attempted robbery.

“We had been tracking him, we knew he was in that area,” said Captain James Clark. “We reached out to the family, they then reached out to us and said that he wanted to turn himself in. He called the local FBI out there and he turned himself in to them out there.”

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Togo women push sex strike to unseat president

Togo women push sex strike to unseat president

AP Photo
In this Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012 photo, female opposition leader Isabelle Ameganvi calls on Togo's women to observe a one-week sex strike beginning Monday, in Lome, Togo. The female wing of a civil rights group is urging women in Togo to stage a week-long sex strike to demand the resignation of the country's president.

LOME, Togo (AP) -- The female wing of a civil rights group is urging women in Togo to stage a week-long sex strike to demand the resignation of the country's president.

Women are being asked to start withholding sex from their husbands or partners as of Monday, said Isabelle Ameganvi, leader of the women's wing of the group Let's Save Togo. She said the strike will put pressure on Togo's men to take action against President Faure Gnassingbe.

Ameganvi, a lawyer, told The Associated Press that her group is following the example of Liberia's women, who used a sex strike in 2003 to campaign for peace.

"We have many means to oblige men to understand what women want in Togo," Ameganvi said.

The sex strike was announced at a rally Saturday of several thousand in the capital city, Lome. The demonstration was organized by a coalition that is protesting recent electoral reforms, which they say will make it easier for Gnassingbe's party to win re-election in the parliamentary polls set for October.

Gnassingbe came to power in 2005, following the death of his father, Eyadema Gnassingbe, who ruled the West African country for 38 years. Gnassingbe has not commented on the sex strike, nor has his wife. Earlier this month, two anti-Gnassingbe protests were dispersed by police using tear gas and more than 100 people were arrested.

At Saturday's rally, which ended peacefully, Jean-Pierre Fabre, leader of the National Alliance for Change opposition party, called for Gnassingbe's resignation. Other opposition leaders called for civil disobedience.

But it is the sex strike that has people talking in this small country of more than 6 million people.

"It's a good thing for us women to observe this sex strike as long as our children are in jail now. I believe that by observing this, we will get them released," Abla Tamekloe said. "For me, it's like fasting, and unless you fast, you will not get what you want from God."

When asked if her husband would agree, Tamekloe said: "It is easy for me to observe it. I am used to it, but I am not sure my husband will accept, but I have to explain to him."

Another Togolese woman said she supports the sex strike, but she does not know if she can carry it out for a full week.

"I do agree that we women have to observe this sex strike but I know my husband will not let me complete it. He may agree at first, but as far as I know him, he will change overnight," Judith Agbetoglo said. "So I don't believe I can do the one-week sex strike. Otherwise, I will have serious issues with him. He likes that too much."

Though the call for a sex strike seemed to please many women, some men, including heads of opposition parties and human rights groups in the anti-Gnassingbe coalition, did not believe it would be a success.

"One week sex strike is too much," said Fabre of the National Alliance for Change, who suggested a shorter period, amid laughter from the crowd at the demonstration. "Let's go for only two days".

Others were skeptical of Isabelle Ameganvi's call.

"It is easy for her to say because she is not married herself. She does not live with a man at home," said Ekoue Blame, a Togolese journalist. "Does she think women who live with their husband will be able to observe that? By the way, who controls what couples do behind closed doors?"

AP-GfK poll: Raise taxes to save Social Security

AP-GfK poll: Raise taxes to save Social Security

AP Photo
In this photo taken July 26, 2012, Marge Youngs adjusts the flame on her stove at her home in Toledo, Ohio. When given a choice on how to fix Social Security's serious long-term financial problems, 53 percent of adults said they would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for future generations, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. "Right now, it seems like we're taxed so much, but if that would be the only way to go, I guess I'd have to be for it to preserve it," said Youngs, a 77-year-old widow. "It's extremely important to me. It's most of my income."

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most Americans say go ahead and raise taxes if it will save Social Security benefits for future generations. And raise the retirement age, if you have to.

Both options are preferable to cutting monthly benefits, even for people who are years away from applying for them.

Those are the findings of a new Associated Press-GfK poll on public attitudes toward the nation's largest federal program.

Social Security is facing serious long-term financial problems. When given a choice on how to fix them, 53 percent of adults said they would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for future generations, according to the poll. Just 36 percent said they would cut benefits instead.

The results were similar when people were asked whether they would rather raise the retirement age or cut monthly payments for future generations - 53 percent said they would raise the retirement age, while 35 percent said they would cut monthly payments.

"Right now, it seems like we're taxed so much, but if that would be the only way to go, I guess I'd have to be for it to preserve it," said Marge Youngs, a 77-year-old widow from Toledo, Ohio. "It's extremely important to me. It's most of my income."

Social Security is being hit by a wave of millions of retiring baby boomers, leaving relatively fewer workers to pay into the system. The trustees who oversee the massive retirement and disability program say Social Security's trust funds will run out of money in 2033. At that point, Social Security will only collect enough tax revenue to pay 75 percent of benefits, unless Congress acts.

Lawmakers from both political parties say there is a good chance Congress will address Social Security in the next year or two - if the White House takes the lead. Yet so far, Social Security has not played a big role in the presidential election.

In previous polls, Democrats have typically scored better than Republicans on handling Social Security. But the AP-GfK poll shows Americans are closely divided on which presidential candidate they trust to handle the issue.

Forty-seven percent said they trust President Barack Obama to do a better job on Social Security, and 44 percent said they trust his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. The difference is within the poll's margin of sampling error.

Charles McSwain, 69, of Philadelphia, said he trusts Obama because he thinks the president is more likely to stick up for the middle class.

"He at least gives the appearance of trying to help people that aren't super rich, and Romney doesn't," said McSwain, who works part time selling real estate.

But Jeff Victory of Nashville, Tenn., worries that Obama doesn't have the stomach to cut benefits to help rein in the program.

"Barack has already shown he's going to give anything free out to everyone he possibly can, so I'm going to have to go with Romney on that one," said Victory, a 26-year-old electrician.

Romney has said he favors gradually increasing the retirement age, but he opposes tax increases to shore up Social Security. For future generations, Romney would slow the growth of benefits "for those with higher incomes."

Obama hasn't laid out a detailed plan for addressing Social Security. But during the 2008 campaign, he called for applying the Social Security payroll tax to wages above $250,000. It is now limited to wages below $110,100, a level that increases with inflation.

Obama says any changes to Social Security should be done "without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable or people with disabilities, without slashing benefits for future generations and without subjecting Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market."

Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has been a leading proponent in Congress of allowing workers to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal investment accounts. Romney has not fully embraced the idea, but Democrats are using it to accuse Republicans of trying to privatize Social Security.

Romney put Ryan on the ticket Aug. 11. The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Aug. 16-20.

About 56 million people get Social Security benefits. Monthly payments average $1,236 for retirees.

The options for fixing Social Security fall into two broad categories - raising taxes or cutting benefits, or some combination of the two. But there are many options within each category. For example, raising the retirement age is a benefit cut for future generations, because they would have to wait longer to qualify for full benefits.

Retirees now can qualify for full benefits at age 66, a threshold that is rising to 67 for people born in 1960 or later.

In previous polls, most of the options for addressing Social Security scored poorly among the public, which helps explain why Congress hasn't embraced them. But the AP-GfK poll forced people to make a choice: Raise taxes or cut benefits? Raise the retirement age or cut monthly payments?

Democrats, Republicans and independents all favored raising the retirement age over cutting monthly payments. But there was a big divide on raising taxes. Sixty-five percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents supported higher taxes, compared with just 38 percent of Republicans.

"Raising taxes, especially on the people that provide the jobs for us, is not an option because what you do there, you discourage promoting jobs," said James Taylor, a 68-year-old retiree from Golden, Miss.

But Juan Tellez, a 22-year-old college student in Gainesville, Fla., said he would accept higher taxes if it means preserving benefits, even though he's not very confident Social Security will be around for his generation.

"I think of Social Security as an investment, as a public investment almost, something more communal," Tellez said. "I feel like I would want to invest in that."

About three-quarters of the public believe Social Security is an important issue, though there is no consensus about whether people will be able to rely on it throughout their retirement. Only 30 percent said it was very likely or extremely likely they will be able to rely on Social Security.

Among people younger than 35, just 20 percent believe Social Security will provide income throughout their retirement, while 55 percent of people 65 and older said the same.

"I'm not planning on it at all, honestly," said Victory, the 26-year-old electrician.

The poll involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,006 adults nationwide. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rookie QB Foles Lead Eagles Over Browns 27-10

Rookie QB Foles Lead Eagles Over Browns 27-10

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 24: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks for a receiver against the Cleveland Browns looks on at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 24, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 24: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks for a receiver against the Cleveland Browns looks on at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 24, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie quarterback Nick Foles, filling in for injured starter Michael Vick, threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a 27-10 victory over the mistake-prone Cleveland Browns on Friday night.

With Vick sidelined with bruised ribs, Foles stepped in and played impressively for the Eagles (3-0), who open the regular season in Cleveland on Sept. 9. Foles finished 12 of 19 for 146 yards with one interception.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Suspect In Officer’s Shooting Death Charged With Murder; 2nd Suspect Identified

Suspect In Officer’s Shooting Death Charged With Murder; 2nd Suspect Identified

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A suspect was officially charged with murder Friday in the shooting death of a Philadelphia police officer, while authorities identified a second suspect wanted in the case.

On Friday morning, the District Attorney’s Office approved the murder charge against suspect Rafael Jones. Jones has also been charged with robbery and other released offenses.

Investigators say they are currently searching for 19-year-old Chancier McFarland for his alleged role in the shooting death of Officer Moses Walker Jr.

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Jerry Nelson, Count of 'Sesame Street,' dies at 78

Jerry Nelson, Count of 'Sesame Street,' dies at 78

AP Photo
In this June 2012 publicity photo released by "Sesame Street," puppeteer Jerry Nelson is shown with "Sesame Street" character Count von Count in New York. Sesame Workshop announced that Nelson, who suffered from emphysema, died at age 78 on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, in his Massachusetts home on Cape Cod.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer behind a delightful menagerie of characters including Count von Count on "Sesame Street" and Gobo Fraggle on "Fraggle Rock," has died. He was 78.

Nelson, who suffered from emphysema, died Thursday night in his Massachusetts home on Cape Cod, the Sesame Workshop said Friday.

"Every description of his characters describes Jerry as well," said "Sesame Street" executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente. "Silly, funny, vulnerable, passionate and musical, for sure. That voice of his was superb."

Although he'd been in declining health for some time "his attitude was never bad," Parente said Friday. "He was always so grateful for what he had in his life."

"We're having a rough day on the Street," she said.

In a tribute posted online by the nonprofit Sesame Workshop, Nelson was lauded for his artistry and the "laughter he brought to children worldwide" with the Count and other Muppet puppets including Sherlock Hemlock, Herry Monster and the Amazing Mumford.

Nelson was part of other projects featuring Jim Henson's Muppets, including the 1984 movie "The Muppets Take Manhattan" and TV series including the 1980s "Fraggle Rock" and 1990s "Muppets Tonight"

In recent years, Nelson gave up the physically demanding job of operating the Count and other puppets on "Sesame Street" but still voiced the characters, the workshop said. The show's new season launches in September and Nelson's voice will be heard.

In 2010, he released the album "Truro Daydreams," the title that referred to the Massachusetts town.

Survivors include Nelson's wife, Jan, Parente said. Funeral plans were not immediately available.

Teen charged with snatching baby from Pa. hospital

Teen charged with snatching baby from Pa. hospital

AP Photo
This undated photo provided by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, shows Breona Moore, of of McKeesport, Pa., who was arraigned Friday, Aug. 24, 2012, on charges she kidnapped a 3-day-old infant from Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC. The newborn was found with Moore on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 and was reunited with his parents unharmed. Moore remains jailed unable to post $250,000 bond and was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation by a city court judge.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A 19-year-old woman who falsely claimed to be pregnant was arraigned Friday on charges she kidnapped a 3-day-old infant from a hospital after pretending to be a nurse and sneaking the boy out inside a zippered handbag, police said.

The newborn was found with the kidnapping suspect, Breona Moore, of McKeesport, early Thursday night and was reunited with his parents unharmed at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Moore, who was arraigned on charges she kidnapped Bryce Coleman on Thursday. She remained jailed unable to post $250,000 bond and was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.

Moore's family contacted police as soon as they heard media reports of the kidnapping, saying that Moore had told them and made Facebook posts that she was pregnant, but they were doubtful, Police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said. Moore's build apparently made her claims at least somewhat credible, as a criminal complaint lists her as 5-foot-4 and 230 pounds.

Moore told police "she had convinced people that she was pregnant and told people she had just had a baby," according to a criminal complaint. She also had claimed to have a C-section on Monday and said the baby would be released on Thursday because he was sick and needed additional care, police said.

Moore had posted the message, "Ooh My I Just Wanna Give Him So Much Love" on Facebook after previously posting pictures of herself, supposedly pregnant, as well as ultrasound images in recent months.

Asked to comment, Moore told reporters as police led her away in handcuffs Thursday night, "I hurt one person's feelings that I loved" - an apparent reference to her boyfriend, Saevon Josey, 19.

The Associated Press could not immediately locate Josey, but he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Moore claimed to be pregnant when he tried to break up with her in December.

Josey believed Moore, quit school, got a job, took parenting classes and even shopped for baby clothes. When Josey was told she had given birth, he pressed Moore for details until she met him at the downtown building where she showed him the baby about 30 minutes before her arrest.

"I went through so much stuff because of her lies," Josey told the Post-Gazette.

UPMC officials said in a statement that they're cooperating with police and "will be reviewing this event to see what improvements could be made in our security procedures."

Police gave the following account in the criminal complaint:

Moore, wearing hospital scrubs she bought from a store nearby, entered the hospital Thursday and was seen loitering by one employee. The worker noticed she didn't have an identification badge and asked Moore whether she was coming on duty or just leaving. Moore told that employee she was getting off duty.

When another employee saw Moore near the baby's mother's room, Moore pretended to be the sister of the baby's mother, Rhonda King, and that she was waiting to drive her sister home.

After the other employee left, Moore followed a discharge nurse into King's room and appeared to the baby's family to be a nurse's aide.

The discharge nurse removed the security wristbands from King and the baby, who were preparing to leave the hospital, then left. That's when "Moore approached King and took the baby from King and told her that one more physical test needed to be conducted on the baby and that she would return Bryce right away."

Instead, Moore went to a secluded area, put the baby in a red zippered cloth handbag and left the hospital. She quickly moved away from the hospital when she heard police sirens.

Officers later found Moore hiding in a closet with the baby, and she was arrested.

She was charged with kidnapping, concealing the whereabouts of a child, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, interference with custody of a child, reckless endangerment and falsely impersonating a nurse.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Autopsy: NJ boy, 2, alive before being decapitated

Autopsy: NJ boy, 2, alive before being decapitated

AP Photo
An air conditioner rests on a porch roof, second from left, at 1415 Kaighn Ave., in Camden, N.J., Wednesday, August 22, 2012, after police in Camden say a 2-year-old boy was decapitated, apparently by his mother, and his head left in the freezer of their home before woman fatally stabbed herself. Chevonne Thomas, 33, called 911 just after midnight to say something had happened to her child and it "sounded like she had done it," Camden County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Jason Laughlin said. Officers found Zahree Thomas' body on the first floor of the home on Kaighn Avenue and the boy's head in the freezer.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Autopsy results released Thursday show that a 2-year-old boy was alive before he was decapitated, and his mother, who authorities said killed him, died from a self-inflicted knife wound to the neck.

Police found the body of 2-year-old Zahree Thomas in the family's Camden rowhouse early Wednesday. His head was in the freezer. His mother, Chevonne Thomas, stabbed herself in the neck minutes after placing a rambling, sometimes incoherent call to 911. Thomas told a dispatcher that she had stabbed her son.

Thomas lost custody of the boy in 2010 after admitting to police that she smoked marijuana laced with the hallucinogenic drug PCP, blacked out and left Zahree alone in a car. She regained custody in April 2010 under an order signed by Judge Angelo DiCamillo of Camden County Superior Court's Family division, according to Tamara Kendig, a court spokeswoman.

Kendig said all standard procedures for placing a child in a home, including substance abuse, mental health and parenting skill evaluations were carried out in Thomas's case.

Jason Laughlin, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, said it will take weeks for toxicology tests to come back. But there were indications that Thomas might have still been using drugs, Laughlin said.

Thomas told 911 dispatchers she was on the anti-depressant Prozac but didn't take it that day.

"I didn't take it today, but I should have. I should have," she said.

The case raises questions about New Jersey's Department of Children and Family Services, which has been under federal oversight for more than a decade. Agency spokeswoman Kristine Brown said it's still investigating the circumstances of Zahree and Chevonne Thomas' deaths.

The department said Wednesday it had an open case on the Thomases and its "staff visited with the family regularly, and was in communication with all service providers." The state said it provided the family with substance abuse testing, reunification services, counseling and other services.

The case comes a month after a report from a federal court monitor showed that social worker caseloads at the Department of Children and Families were starting to rise and only 55 percent of children put in foster care placement had two documented visits by caseworkers each month, the number mandated by the federal settlement.

"The Monitor continues to be very concerned by this low performance given the importance of visitation by caseworkers during the first few months of placement to assess children and families' needs and to ensure stability," the report states.

The state Legislature cut $11.5 million from the 2013 DCF budget.

Mary Coogan, the assistant director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, a nonprofit children's organization, said it will try to get more detail on the Thomas case.

"How often were people actually out to this home?" Ms. Coogan asked. "We hope the department really looks at a case like this in detail and really has a public conversation about it."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Police Release 911 Call After Camden Mother Decapitates Son, Kills Herself

Police Release 911 Call After Camden Mother Decapitates Son, Kills Herself

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – Authorities in Camden are investigating an unspeakable crime. They say a woman decapitated a toddler then killed herself.

Investigators say Chevonne Thomas, 33, called 911 and dispatchers alerted police that her son was in trouble.

(Warning: audio contains indecent language and may be disturbing)

Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County prosecutor’s office, says when police arrived at the home in the 1400 block of Kaighns Avenue, they found the headless body of Thomas’ two-year-old son, Zharee.

For full story go to:

Syrian civil war shakes Damascus-Beirut ties

Syrian civil war shakes Damascus-Beirut ties

AP Photo
In this Aug. 9, 2012 photo, Lebanese security forces stand at the entrance building of former Lebanese Information Minister Michel Samaha as they raid his house after they arrested him. Samaha an ardent supporter of President Bashar Assad who has long acted as his unofficial media adviser, was arrested in a dramatic, high profile police operation on August 9, 2012 and subsequently indicted for plotting terror attacks in Lebanon at Syria's behest. The civil war in Syria is affecting its fragile, tiny neighbor Lebanon in countless ways and has already spilled over into sectarian street clashes, kidnappings and general government paralysis.

BEIRUT (AP) -- The Syrian civil war has spilled over into Lebanon, bringing with it sectarian street clashes, mob violence and general government paralysis in Beirut.

But it was the dramatic arrest earlier this month of a former Lebanese government minister and prominent supporter of Syria's embattled president that has suggested the conflict may be causing Lebanon to slip further away from Damascus' long domination.

The bloodshed in Syria has drawn Lebanon deeper into the unrest - a troubling sign for a country that has gone through its own 15-year civil war and has an explosive sectarian mix as well as deep divisions between pro- and anti-Syrian factions, many of which are armed.

The chaos could give Sunni Muslim fighters in northern Lebanon more leeway to establish supply lines to the rebels inside Syria in their battle to oust President Bashar Assad.

Tensions and intermittent fighting in the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli continued Wednesday following two days of clashes between pro- and anti-Assad groups that killed at least six people and wounded more than 70.

In New York, United Nations political chief Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council Wednesday that as the crisis in Syria continues to deteriorate, "the situation in Lebanon has become more precarious and the need for continued international support to the government and the Lebanese Armed Forces increasingly important."

Feltman said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about two-way arms smuggling across the Syrian-Lebanese border, which poses risks to both countries and violates a council resolution that ended the month-long war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which dominates Lebanese politics.

Seventeen times bigger than Lebanon and four times more populous, Syria has long had powerful allies here, including the Iran-backed militant Hezbollah group that now dominates the government. For much of the past 30 years, Lebanese have lived under Syrian military and political domination.

That grip began to slip in 2005, when former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in Beirut. Widely accused of involvement- something it has always denied - Syria was forced to withdraw its troops. But the killings of anti-Syrian figures continued and opponents of Assad's regime say he has maintained his influence through allies who now control the government.

All this made the Aug. 9 arrest of former Information Minister Michel Samaha all the more shocking.

Samaha, one of Syria's most loyal allies in Lebanon who has long acted as an unofficial media adviser to Assad, was plucked from his bed at dawn by special police forces who burst into his summer mountain home. Within hours, various leaks began emerging that Samaha had confessed to having personally transported explosives in his car from Syria to Lebanon with the purpose of killing Lebanese personalities at the behest of Syria.

Two days later, a military court indicted Samaha, along with Syrian Brig. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks inside Lebanon. Mamlouk, who was appointed last month by Assad to head Syria's National Security Bureau, was indicted in absentia on charges he furnished the explosives to Samaha.

According to a senior Lebanese police official, Samaha confessed after he was confronted with audio and video footage taken by a double agent using a camera-equipped pen. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations.

The case stunned many in Lebanon, where political assassinations have occurred with impunity for decades. While Syria has been blamed for many of the killings, no one has been held accountable.

Syria's allies in Lebanon - including Hezbollah - were mostly silent following Samaha's arrest, apparently believing that the evidence against him was solid.

"I think the policy (in Lebanon) has been shifting away from alliance with Syria," said Ayham Kamel, a Middle East analyst at the Eurasia Group in London. "The Syrian regime has been under intense pressure, so its allies in Lebanon have recalibrated."

Syria's opponents in Lebanon cited the Samaha case as proof that Damascus was trying to incite sectarian strife in its neighbor to deflect attention from its own problems, and they called for the Syrian ambassador to be expelled.

In unusually bold comments by a Lebanese head of state, President Michel Suleiman said he expected Assad to explain the situation.

"When any relationship with a foreign entity harms Lebanon, we end it. And when the relationship is again in Lebanon's interest, we reinstate it," Suleiman said in an apparent reference to Syria. His comments were published in the Lebanese media.

Analysts say Suleiman is aiming to be the new face of a more independent Lebanon, taking advantage of a weakened regime in Syria.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who heads a government dominated by Hezbollah and pro-Syrian groups, said he isn't taking sides in the Syria crisis, adopting a policy of "disassociation." Critics say that has led to a general government paralysis in which authorities are afraid to take sides when it comes to Lebanon's feuding pro- and anti-Syrian camps.

Mikati commended the security operation that resulted in Samaha's arrest, saying it saved Lebanon from "major disaster."

"The Syrian regime's allies are shrinking. The Lebanese government, which was `Made in Syria,' was among the regime's last allies, and they seem to be losing even that," said Hadi Hobeish, an anti-Syrian lawmaker.

Syria accuses Sunni groups in Lebanon of trying to establish a supply line to Syrian rebels across Lebanon's northern frontier, bringing across fighters and weapons.

The Lebanese military has been deployed along the porous border area to try to prevent the smuggling efforts, but if Beirut turns against Damascus, such operations could become easier to carry out.

Even Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group backed by Iran and Syria, has sought to distance itself from the turmoil in Syria. When Shiite clans abducted scores of Syrians in Lebanon last week in retaliation for a kidnapping by Syrian rebels in Damascus, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the mayhem was out of the group's control.

Analysts say Assad still has the tools and the allies he needs to stir up trouble in Lebanon.

"I don't think the Syrian regime has fully lost influence in Lebanon," said Kamel, the Eurasia analyst. "But definitely it has less ability and even willingness to intervene on the same level in Lebanese politics," he added.

Hanin Ghaddar, managing editor of the Lebanon opposition website NOWLebanon, said Lebanon is at a significant crossroads in its relationship with Syria.

"Assad's aura in Lebanon is fading," Ghaddar wrote last week.

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