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Friday, November 30, 2012

3 Pa. Parole Board Employees Fired In Wake of Murder of Philadelphia Cop

3 Pa. Parole Board Employees Fired In Wake of Murder of Philadelphia Cop

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole says three employees have been fired as the result of an investigation following last summer’s murder of an off-duty Philadelphia police officer.

The alleged killer had been released from prison just ten days before the murder.
Police say Rafael Jones shot and killed veteran officer Moses Walker Jr. last August, during a pre-dawn robbery attempt.

For full story go to  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Suspect in baby, grandma deaths had casino losses

Suspect in baby, grandma deaths had casino losses 

AP Photo
Raghunandan Yandamuri is escorted to a Montgomery County district court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, in Bridgeport, Pa. Investigators said Yandamuri killed 10-month-old Saanvi Venna and her grandmother Satyavathi Venna in a botched ransom kidnapping. He is being held without bail on murder, kidnapping and other charges.

BRIDGEPORT, Pa. (AP) -- A young man mired in gambling debts told police he killed a 10-month-old girl and her grandmother during a botched kidnapping after losing at least $15,000 at a casino near his office.

Raghunandan Yandamuri, 26, knew the family from his apartment complex. Like him, the baby's parents were young technology professionals from India. He had gone to the wife's birthday party, met the visiting grandmother and - tellingly - used family nicknames in a ransom note demanding $50,000.

"They both are working, so I thought maybe they have some money," Yandamuri told police in a videotaped statement played at his preliminary hearing Wednesday, during which a suburban Philadelphia judge ordered him to stand trial on murder, kidnapping and other charges.

"My intention was not to kill anyone or not to harm anyone," he said. "I only tried to kidnap the baby."

Yandamuri told investigators he panicked after the grandmother, who had opened the apartment door to him on Oct. 22, was killed in a struggle over a kitchen knife he had brought.

He accidentally dropped the baby, put a handkerchief over her mouth to quiet her and tied a towel around her head, he told police. He then left the infant - with her dark hair, huge dark eyes and white dress - in a trash-strewn, unused sauna in a basement fitness center, he said.

He said he returned hours later with milk for her, but found her "unconscious."

Yandamuri was arrested days later as police, given the nicknames in the ransom note, zeroed in on people who knew the couple.

Venkata Venna, and his wife, Chenchu Latha Punuruss, did not know of anyone with a grudge against them. 

They are both software engineers who came to the U.S. in 2007.

They had left for work about 8 a.m. that Monday, leaving their only child with Venna's mother, 61-year-old Satyavathi Venna, who was visiting from India. Venna raced home at 12:30 p.m. when his mother didn't answer the phone. He found her in a pool of blood, and discovered his daughter was missing.

Yandamuri worked in information technology for GSI Commerce Inc., a unit of eBay Inc. that builds e-commerce sites for other businesses. Its office in King of Prussia, Pa., is less than a mile from the Valley Forge Casino Resort.

When asked by police if he had a gambling problem, he replied "a bit."

"Last week I lost $15,000 to $20,000, but last month I won $20,000," he said on the videotape.

He said he had cleared most of his debts through a March bankruptcy filing in California.

Those records show that Yandamuri had amassed $26,000 in credit card debts since 2008, most of it on six accounts he opened in 2011. He was making $6,500 a month at the time, and netting $4,500 after taxes and deductions, he said. He reported sending $600 a month to his parents in India.

Yandamuri moved to the Philadelphia area from San Jose in the spring, about the same time his wife was expected to come to the U.S., the bankruptcy filings show. She has since returned to India, defense lawyer Stephen Heckman said Wednesday.

He worked for GSI from March to Oct. 26, when he was dismissed, the company said.

Yandamuri told police that he drafted the ransom note on his computer at work and left 10 copies at the apartment. After the slayings, he showered and returned to work, he said. Later that week, he made and distributed fliers to help in the search for the missing baby.

The victims' relatives moaned as they watched him re-enact the crime with a detective during the taped interview. Venkata Venna was among them, but his wife chose to wait in a nearby room.

Heckman tried to have the first-degree murder charges dismissed, arguing that his client lacked the intent to kill required for a conviction. However, a district judge said there was enough evidence to send the first-degree murder, felony murder and the other counts to trial.

Heckman hopes to help his client avoid the death penalty, which is under consideration by prosecutors.

"I'll have to talk to my client and see what he wants to do," Heckman said. "He was very sorry for what happened."

Kevin Steele, first assistant district attorney of Montgomery County, called the murders "vicious."

"This is one of those cases that haunts you," Steele said.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Task Force Recommends Major Changes to Pennsylvania Child Protection Laws

Task Force Recommends Major Changes to Pennsylvania Child Protection Laws
 
(The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, at Tuesday's meeting.  Credit: Tony Romeo)

The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection,
at Tuesday’s meeting.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — A task force created by Governor Tom Corbett and state legislative leaders in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal is recommending sweeping changes to Pennsylvania’s child protection laws.

The Task Force on Child Protection calls for, essentially, a complete rewrite of Pennsylvania’s child services
law.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Brash boxer 'Macho' Camacho dies in Puerto Rico

Brash boxer 'Macho' Camacho dies in Puerto Rico 

AP Photo
FILE - In this July 7, 2001 file photo, boxing champ Hector "Macho" Camacho acknowledges fans at KeySpan Park in New York's Coney Island. Camacho, a boxer known for skill and flamboyance in the ring, as well as for a messy personal life and run-ins with the police, has died, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, after being taken off life support. He was 50.


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Hector "Macho" Camacho was a brash fighter with a mean jab and an aggressive style, launching himself furiously against some of the biggest names in boxing. And his bad-boy persona was not entirely an act, with a history of legal scrapes that began in his teens and continued throughout his life.

The man who once starred at the pinnacle of boxing, winning several world titles, died Saturday after being ambushed in a parking lot back in the Puerto Rican town of Bayamon where he was born. Packets of cocaine were found were found in the car in which he was shot.

Camacho, 50, left behind a reputation for flamboyance - leading fans in cheers of "It's Macho time!" before fights - and for fearsome skills as one of the top fighters of his generation.

"He excited boxing fans around the world with his inimitable style," promoter Don King told The Associated Press.

Camacho fought professionally for three decades, from his humble debut against David Brown at New York's Felt Forum in 1980 to an equally forgettable swansong against Saul Duran in Kissimmee, Florida, in 2010.

In between, he fought some of the biggest stars spanning two eras, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Roberto Duran.

"Hector was a fighter who brought a lot of excitement to boxing," said Ed Brophy, executive director of International the Boxing Hall of Fame. "He was a good champion. Roberto Duran is kind of in a class of his own, but Hector surely was an exciting fighter that gave his all to the sport."

Camacho's family moved to New York when he was young and he grew up in Spanish Harlem, which at the time was rife with crime. Camacho landed in jail as a teenager before turning to boxing, which for many kids in his neighborhood provided an outlet for their aggression.

"This is something I've done all my life, you know?" Camacho told The Associated Press after a workout in 2010. "A couple years back, when I was doing it, I was still enjoying it. The competition, to see myself perform. I know I'm at the age that some people can't do this no more."

Former featherweight champion Juan Laporte, a friend since childhood, described Camacho as "like a little brother who was always getting into trouble," but otherwise combined a friendly nature with a powerful jab.

"He's a good human being, a good hearted person," Laporte said as he waited with other friends and members of the boxer's family outside the hospital in San Juan after the shooting. "A lot of people think of him as a cocky person but that was his motto ... Inside he was just a kid looking for something."

Laporte lamented that Camacho never found a mentor to guide him outside the boxing ring.

"The people around him didn't have the guts or strength to lead him in the right direction," Laporte said. 

"There was no one strong enough to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him how to do it."

George Lozada, a longtime friend from New York who flew to Puerto Rico on Saturday, recalled that just hours after he was released from prison after serving a murder sentence, he received a call from Camacho, who was waiting outside his apartment in a black Porsche.

"He said, `Come down, I'm taking you shopping,'" Lozada said, wiping away tears.

"Because of him, man, I got what I got today," he said, pointing to pictures on his smartphone of his 6-year-old daughter. "Because of Hector, I stopped the drug scene ... He's helped so many people."

Drug, alcohol and other problems trailed Camacho himself after the prime of his boxing career. He was sentenced in 2007 to seven years in prison for the burglary of a computer store in Mississippi. While arresting him on the burglary charge in January 2005, police also found the drug ecstasy.

A judge eventually suspended all but one year of the sentence and gave Camacho probation. He wound up serving two weeks in jail, though, after violating that probation.

Camacho's former wife, Amy, obtained a restraining order against him in 1998, alleging he threatened her and one of their children. The couple, who had two children at the time, later divorced.

He divided his time between Puerto Rico and Florida in recent years, appearing on Spanish-language television as well as on a reality show called "Es Macho Time!" on YouTube.

Inside the boxing ring, Camacho flourished. He won three Golden Gloves titles as an amateur, and after turning pro, he quickly became a contender with an all-action style reminiscent of other Puerto Rican fighters.

Long promoted by Don King, Camacho won his first world title by beating Rafael Limon in a super-featherweight bout in Puerto Rico on Aug. 7, 1983. He moved up in weight two years later to capture a lightweight title by defeating Jose Luis Ramirez, and successfully defended the belt against fellow countryman Edwin Rosario.

The Rosario fight, in which the victorious Camacho still took a savage beating, persuaded him to scale back his ultra-aggressive style in favor of a more cerebral, defensive approach.

The change in style was a big reason that Camacho, at the time 38-0, lost a close split decision to Greg Haugen at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in 1991.

Camacho won the rematch to set up his signature fight against Mexico's Julio Cesar Chavez, this time at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Camacho was roundly criticized for his lack of action, and the Mexican champion won a lopsided unanimous decision to retain the lightweight title.

"Even though people say I beat him easily, it wasn't that way," Chavez told Mexico's ESPN-Radio Formula this week. "He was a very fast fighter, he faced everything and it was very hard for me."

"He revolutionized boxing, Chavez said. "It's a shame he got mixed up in so many problems."

After that loss, Camacho became the name opponent for other rising contenders, rather than the headliner fighting for his own glory.

He lost a unanimous decision to another young Puerto Rican fighter, Trinidad, and was soundly defeated by De La Hoya. In 1997, Camacho ended Leonard's final comeback with a fifth-round knockout. It was Camacho's last big victory even though he boxed for another decade.

The fighter's last title bout came in 1997 against welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya, who won by unanimous decision. Camacho's last fight was his defeat by Saul Duran in May 2010. He had a career record of 79-6-3.

Doctors pronounced Camacho dead on Saturday after he was removed from life support at his family's direction. He never regained consciousness after at least one gunman crept up to the car in a darkened parking lot and opened fire.

No arrests and have been made, and authorities have not revealed many details beyond the facts that police found cocaine in the car and that the boxer and his friend, who was killed at the scene, had no idea the attack was coming. "Apparently, this was a surprise," said Alex Diaz, a police spokesman.

Survivors include his mother; three sisters, Raquel, Estrella and Ester; a brother, Felix; and four sons, Hector Jr., Taylor, Christian and Justin.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Griffin Shines, Redskins Hold Off Cowboys, 38-31

Griffin Shines, Redskins Hold Off Cowboys, 38-31














ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Robert Griffin III threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns, helping the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-31 on Thursday.

The Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor made the Cowboys (5-6) look like an overmatched college team during the decisive second quarter in his first trip to Texas as a pro.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/.

Limited Free Meter Parking In City Begins Saturday

Limited Free Meter Parking In City Begins Saturday
 
A parking kiosk in Center City. (Credit: John McDevitt)
A parking kiosk in Center City.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The City of Philadelphia offers it’s annual gift of free meter parking to holiday shoppers on selected days and times. And it starts tomorrow.
 
It’s an incentive offered by the city every year around this time to get more holiday shoppers to do their gift buying in Philadelphia rather than the malls. Many shoppers say its a good idea.
 
For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/.
 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Woman gets 80 years for deadly Texas day care fire

Woman gets 80 years for deadly Texas day care fire 

AP Photo
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2012 file photo, home day care operator Jessica Tata is seen in Houston's Harris County Criminal Justice Center. Tata was sentenced to 80 years Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 for her felony murder conviction in the death of one of four children killed in a fire at her home day care in Houston.

HOUSTON (AP) -- It had been Jessica Tata's dream to run a day care.

She was soon in over her head, caring for too many kids and taking chances by leaving them alone to run errands. The young woman's actions ultimately proved fatal: Four children died and three others were injured when a fire broke out at her home day care after she had left them alone to go shopping at a nearby Target.

On Tuesday, jurors sentenced the 24-year-old woman to 80 years in prison for the death of one of the children, 16-month-old Elias Castillo. She still faces charges related to the rest of the children.

"Nobody wins in this situation," Elias' great-grandmother, Patty Sparks, said after the sentence was announced. "My heart goes out to the Tata family and those precious mothers and fathers who lost their babies."

Tata, who was only a few years removed from her teens when she started her day care, worked alone most of the time. Investigators said the February 2011 blaze happened when a pan of oil she had left cooking on the stove ignited while she was out shopping.

The same jury that decided her sentence had convicted Tata last week of one count of felony murder. The jury could have sentenced her to anywhere from five years to life in prison. Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, while defense attorneys asked only that jurors not give her an excessive sentence.

She will have to serve 30 years of her sentence before she is eligible for parole. Tata also was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Jurors deliberated her punishment for seven hours over two days. The former day care owner had no visible reaction after the sentence was announced.

Tata's attorneys contended she was a good person who loved children but made a terrible mistake.

Prosecutors argued she was an irresponsible day care owner who had doomed the children when she left them alone. They said Tata had repeatedly left kids she was responsible for unsupervised and it was only a matter of time before her actions led to tragedy.

Defense attorney Mike DeGeurin said he still believes Tata should not have been tried for murder because the deaths were an accident.

"The sentence is not going to fix things. It's not going to make anybody feel better later on. But the jury has spoken. That's their sentence," DeGeurin said.

Tata's family and friends, who declined to comment after the sentence was announced, had testified she had changed since her troubled teenage years, when she had pleaded guilty to arson for starting two fires at her high school on the same day.

Defense attorneys had presented expert testimony to argue that a faulty stove or refrigerator may have sparked the blaze.

Prosecutor Steve Baldassano said that while he has sympathy for Tata's family, she had nobody to blame but herself.

"She was being paid to watch these children. She knew better," Baldassano said. "It's not the stove. It's not the refrigerator. It's not any parents' fault. It's nobody's fault but her own."

One of the surviving children, Makayla Dickerson, stood next to Baldassano as he spoke. Makayla, whose 3-year-old brother Shomari died in the fire, showed reporters scars the fire left on her right forearm.

Tata's attorneys argued she never intended to hurt the children, who ranged in age from 16 months to 3 years old, and whom Tata had referred to as "her babies." But prosecutors did not need to show she intended to harm them, only that the deaths occurred because she put them in danger by leaving them alone. Under Texas law, a person can be convicted of felony murder if he or she committed an underlying felony and that action led to the death.

In a victim impact statement Sparks read in court after the verdict was announced, she told Tata the children were never "your babies."

"They don't belong to you. They never did," she said.

But Sparks said that while she holds Tata accountable for what happened, she forgives her. After reading the statement, Sparks went over to Tata's mother in the courtroom and hugged her.

Jurors declined to speak with reporters after the sentence was announced.

Tata fled to Nigeria after the fire but was captured after about a month, returned to the U.S. in March 2011 and has remained jailed since. She was born in the U.S. but has Nigerian citizenship.

Tata still faces three more counts of felony murder in relation to the other children who died, and three counts of abandoning a child and two counts of reckless injury to a child in relation to the three who were hurt. 

Baldassano said prosecutors planned to pursue trials on the remaining felony murder charges.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Turner Leads 76ers Over Reeling Cavaliers, 86-79

Turner Leads 76ers Over Reeling Cavaliers, 86-79
 
(credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Evan Turner had 19 points and nine assists to lead the Philadelphia 76ers over the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers 86-79 Sunday night.

Spencer Hawes and Jrue Holiday each added 14 points for the Sixers, who’ve won two straight and five of seven.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Steady US housing recovery is boosting economy

Steady US housing recovery is boosting economy 

AP Photo
FILE - This Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 file photo shows a for-sale sign at a home in Glenview, Ill. U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose solidly in October, helped by improvement in the job market and record-low mortgage rates.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- From purchases and prices to builder sentiment and construction, the U.S. housing market is making consistent gains.

The latest evidence came in reports Monday that sales of previously occupied homes rose solidly in October and that builders are more confident than at any other time in 6 1/2 years.

New-home sales and home-price indexes have reached multi-year highs. And Lowe's Cos. on Monday reported a surge in net income, a sign that home-improvement retailers are benefiting.

The housing market's recovery still has a long way to go. But for now, it's helping prop up an economy that's being squeezed by a global slowdown and looming spending cuts and tax increases.

Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank, estimates that the housing recovery could boost U.S. economic growth by a full percentage point next year. That's because a stronger housing market would mean more jobs, especially in industries like construction, and more consumer spending.

"Housing could provide a meaningful - and critical - lift to overall economic activity when other growth drivers, like exports, are slowing," LaVorgna said.

Helping drive the housing rebound is growing confidence among builders. An index of builder sentiment compiled by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo rose to 46 this month, up from 41 in October. It was the highest reading since May 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.

Readings below 50 signal negative sentiment about the housing market. The index last reached that level in April 2006. Still, the index has been rising since October 2011, when it was 17. It's surged 27 points in the past 12 months, the sharpest annual increase on record.

A second report Monday said sales of previously occupied homes are near five-year highs, excluding temporary spikes in 2009 and 2010 when a homebuyer tax credit boosted purchases. Sales rose 2.1 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million, the National Association of Realtors said.

Sales are nearly 11 percent higher than they were a year ago, though they remain below the more than 5.5 million that economists says is consistent with a healthy market.

The Realtors' group said Superstorm Sandy delayed some purchases of previously occupied homes in the Northeast. Sales fell 1.7 percent there, the only region to show a drop. Those purchases will likely be completed in coming months, the group said.

A key factor fueling the gains is a gradually improving economy, which has increased the number of people looking for homes. At the same time, fewer homes are available for sale. The low supply is helping push up prices.

Only 2.14 million homes were available for sale at the end of October, the lowest supply in 10 years. It would take just 5.4 months to exhaust that supply at the current sales pace. That's the lowest sales-to-inventory ratio since 2006.

"We built too many homes during the good years, and we have finally gotten rid of that excess," said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight.

In addition, mortgage rates have hit all-time lows. And rents are rising, making the purchase of a single-family home or condominium more attractive.

The rise in people seeking to buy should support more construction over the next year or two, economists say. More Americans are looking set up their own households after living with relatives or friends in the recession and its aftermath.

In a healthy economy, the number of new households typically reaches 1.2 million a year. It averaged only 570,000 a year from 2007 through 2011, according to Census data compiled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. It reached 635,000 last year. The Census expects about 1 million new households this year.

In September, builders broke ground on new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000. That was the fastest pace in more than four years. Yet it still trailed the rate of household formation. The trend suggests that home construction will have to keep rising.

Low inventory "is a sign that housing markets are tightening, and that builders will continue ramping up on new construction to fill demand," Newport said.

For all the improvement in the housing industry, sales and prices remain below normal levels. In part, that's because many potential buyers can't meet stricter lending standards or make the larger down payments that banks have required since the housing bust.

That can be a particular obstacle for first-time buyers. They accounted for 31 percent of home sales in October. That was down slightly from September and below the 40 percent common in a healthy market.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that banks' overly tight lending standards might be limiting home sales and holding back the economic recovery.

Still, the steady improvement in housing is benefiting the economy. Each new home built creates about three jobs for a full year and yields $90,000 in taxes, according to the homebuilders' group.

More building also creates demand for steel, glass and other materials. People who buy new homes usually buy more furniture, carpets and appliances. That typically generates more manufacturing and retail jobs.

More home construction generates more demand for pick-up trucks, as builders and contractors add trucks to handle more work. Chrysler said last week that it was adding 1,000 workers to a factory that makes Dodge Ram trucks. Ford and General Motors have also said demand for trucks is rising.

All told, Alan Levenson, chief economist at T. Rowe Price, estimates that the housing recovery could add 25,000 jobs a month next year.

Home improvement chains are benefiting. In addition to Lowe's higher earnings, Home Depot Inc. last week reported slightly higher third-quarter net income. And Home Depot raised its full-year forecast.

The clearest sign of a better housing market may be the increase in prices. A measure of U.S. prices jumped 5 percent in September compared with a year ago, according to private data provider CoreLogic. That was the largest year-over-year increase since July 2006. Other gauges have also shown solid gains in home prices over the past year.

Higher home prices can also make homeowners feel wealthier and more likely to spend more. And consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Redskins Run Over Eagles

Redskins Run Over Eagles












 Washington, DC (CBS) — The Eagles thought that they were traveling to Washington on Sunday for an NFC East game with the Redskins. It really was a trip to a parallel universe, involving two teams that mirrored each other from their records to the downward spiral both teams seem to be taking.

The gaping difference, however, is the Redskins are moving forward with a franchise quarterback and toward a bright future, while the Eagles are mired in freefall losing at a record clip.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Philadelphia Police: Missing 10-Year-Old Girl Found Unharmed

Philadelphia Police: Missing 10-Year-Old Girl Found Unharmed











  


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Police say a missing 10-year-old girl who was unlawfully taken from her custodial guardian by her birth mother was found unharmed on Sunday.

10-year-old Kimiyah Scott was reported missing on Saturday after the girl’s mother, 27-year-old Moriah Ford, allegedly took the child from a home in the 2500 block of West Gordon Street late Friday evening.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Friday, November 16, 2012

Philadelphia Inaugurates New One-Stop Center For Veterans’ Services


Philadelphia Inaugurates New One-Stop Center For Veterans’ Services
 
(Government officials cut the ribbon to open the new Veterans Advisory Center at Philadelphia City Hall.  Credit: Cherri Gregg)
(Government officials cut the ribbon to open the
new Veterans Advisory Center at Philadelphia City Hall.


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The City of Philadelphia held a ribbon-cutting today for a new office that will serve as a one-stop shop for local veterans, part of both a city and statewide effort to improve the quality of life for area veterans.

The Veterans Advisory Commission office is located in Room 127 on the first floor of City Hall, just off Market Street East (near Macy’s).  It’s handicap accessible, and will provide the city’s more than 70,000 veterans easy access to services.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/




Texas parade honoring war heroes ends in tragedy

Texas parade honoring war heroes ends in tragedy 

AP Photo
This combination of undated family photos provided by the Show of Support, Hunt for Heroes committee show, from left: Sgt. Maj. Gary Stouffer, 37; Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Boivin, 47; Army Sgt. Joshua Michael, 34, and Sgt. Maj. William Lubbers, 43, four veterans killed when a parade float they were riding on was struck by a freight train at a crossing Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Midland, Texas.

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) -- Cheered on by a flag-waving crowd, a parade float filled with wounded veterans and their spouses was inching across a railroad track when the crossing gates began to lower and a freight train that seemed to come out of nowhere was suddenly bearing down on them, its horn blaring.

Some of those seated on the float jumped off in wide-eyed terror just moments before the train - traveling at more than 60 mph - crashed into the flatbed truck with a low whoosh and a thunderous crack.

Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan - including an Army sergeant who apparently sacrificed his life to save his wife - were killed Thursday afternoon and 16 people were injured in a scene of both tragedy and heroism.

For some of the veterans who managed to jump clear of the wreck, training and battlefield instinct instantly kicked in, and they rushed to help the injured, applying tourniquets and putting pressure on wounds.

"They are trained for tragedy," said Pam Shoemaker of Monroe, La., who was with her husband, a special operations veteran, on a float ahead of the one that was hit.

A day after the crash, federal investigators were trying to determine how fast the train was going and whether the two-float parade had been given enough warning to clear the tracks.

And locals were struggling to cope with a tragedy at the start of what was supposed to be a three-day weekend of banquets, deer hunting and shopping in appreciation of the veterans' sacrifice.

"It's just a very tragic and sad thing," said Michael McKinney of Show of Support, the local charity that organizes the annual event and invited the two dozen veterans. "It's difficult when you're trying to do something really good and something tragic occurs."

National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind, standing near the intersection in downtown Midland where the crash took place, offered hope Friday that video would provide a fuller picture of what happened. Cameras were on both the lead car of the Union Pacific train and a sheriff's vehicle that was trailing the flatbed truck, Rosekind said.

The train was moving at 62 mph at the time of the crash, short of the 70 mph speed limit, Rosekind said. The speed limit was raised from 40 mph in 2006 to meet a growing demand for freight and to improve efficiency for passenger trains, Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said.

NTSB investigators have not determined if the gate and other protective measures were updated when the speed limit was raised, Rosekind said. The agency plans to test signals for abnormalities Saturday.

Killed were Marine Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gary Stouffer, 37; Army Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Boivin, 47; Army Sgt. Joshua Michael, 34; and Army Sgt. Maj. William Lubbers, 43. One veteran and three spouses remained hospitalized Friday, with one spouse in critical condition.

At the time of the crash, the veterans were on their way to a banquet in their honor.

Shoemaker said the flatbed truck she was riding on had just crossed the tracks and was moving slowly when she heard a train coming and looked back to see the lowered crossing gates bouncing up and down on the people seated on the float behind her.

Witnesses described people screaming as the warning bells at the crossing went off and the train blasted its horn.

Daniel Quinonez, who was waiting in his vehicle as the parade went by, said the float on the tracks could not go anywhere because of the one right in front of it.

"It was a horrible accident to watch happen right in front of me," he said. "I just saw the people on the semi-truck's trailer panic, and many started to jump off the trailer. But it was too late for many of them."

Another witness, Joe Cobarobio, said only a few seconds elapsed between the time the crossing gates came down and the train slammed into the flatbed truck with a "giant cracking sound."

Michael, one of the soldiers killed, pushed his wife off the float when he saw the train coming, his wife told Cory Rogers, a friend of the couple.

"His first instinct was to get her out of harm's way," said Rogers, who was not at the parade. "That's the kind of man he was, and I feel like it was his training as a paramedic and then as a soldier, choosing to put someone's life before your own."

Federal Railroad Administration records reviewed by The Associated Press show there were 10 collisions at the crossing between 1979 and 1997. But no accidents had happened in the past 15 years, the NTSB's Rosekind said.

Six drivers were injured in those accidents. The trains involved were moving slowly at the time, between 15 and 25 mph.

A key question for investigators is whether, after the speed limit was raised, the timing of the crossing gates was changed to give cars and trucks enough time to clear the tracks, Robert Chipkevich, who headed NTSB's rail investigations unit until retiring in 2010, said in an interview.

Investigators will also look at whether traffic lights in town prevented the flatbed truck in front from moving ahead, he said.

Sudip Bose, who was a front-line physician in Iraq, said the aftermath reminded him of a combat triage situation. Veterans instantly tended to the injured, and bystanders helped, too. Shoemaker's husband, Tommy, resuscitated one person and applied a tourniquet to a bleeding woman.

"Instincts kicked in," said Bose, who served in Fallujah and Baghdad and was volunteering at the parade.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey win MVP awards

Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey win MVP awards 


AP Photo
FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2012, file photo, Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera celebrates after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of Game 4 of the American League championship series against the New York Yankees in Detroit. Cabrera and Mike Trout are the top contenders for the American League Most Valuable Player award, to be announced Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Detroit's Miguel Cabrera won the American League's Most Valuable Player award on Thursday after becoming baseball's first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, and San Francisco's Buster Posey was voted the National League honor.

Cabrera received 22 of 28 first-place votes and 362 points from the AL panel of Baseball Writers' Association of America to easily beat out Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who had six firsts and 281 points. Trout was voted AL Rookie of the Year earlier in the week.

Posey recovered from a devastating leg injury that cut short his 2011 season, became the first catcher in 70 years to win the NL batting title and helped San Francisco win its second World Series title in three seasons. He got 27 of 32 firsts and 422 points from the NL panel, outdistancing 2011 winner Ryan Braun of Milwaukee, who was second with 285 points.

Cabrera hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs to become the first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. The last four Triple Crown winners have been voted MVP, including Mickey Mantle in 1956 and Frank Robinson in 1966.

Cabrera also led the league with a .606 slugging percentage for the AL champion Tigers. He became the second straight Detroit player voted MVP, following Justin Verlander in 2011, and was the first Venezuelan to earn the honor.

Before the season, he switched from first base to third to make way for Prince Fielder, signing as a free agent.

The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, Posey set career highs with a .336 average, 24 homers and 103 RBIs for the World Series champion Giants. His 2011 season was cut short by a collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins on May 25 that resulted in a fractured bone in Posey's lower left leg and three torn ankle ligaments.
Posey, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, won the NL batting title after teammate Melky Cabrera requested a rules change that disqualified him. Cabrera, who hit .346, missed the final 45 games of the regular-season while serving a suspension for a positive testosterone test and would have won the batting crown if the rule hadn't been changed.

Ernie Lombardi had been the previous catcher to capture the NL batting championship, in 1942.

Catchers have won the NL MVP just eight times, with Posey joining Gabby Hartnett (1935), Lombardi (1938), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953, 1955) and Johnny Bench (1970, 1972). The other winning catchers were Lombardi in 1938 and Gabby Hartnett in 1935.

Posey is the first Giants player to win since Barry Bonds was voted his record seventh MVP award in 2004.
Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen (245) was third, followed by St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina (241).

NOTES: In his first season with the Angels, Albert Pujols didn't finish among the top 10 for the first time in his career. While with St. Louis, he won three times, was second four times and also finished third, fourth, fifth and ninth.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vick Has A ‘Pretty Significant’ Concussion, Foles Likely To Start

Vick Has A ‘Pretty Significant’ Concussion, Foles Likely To Start















PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid says Michael Vick suffered a “pretty significant’ concussion and told the quarterback to stay home Monday and rest.

Reid says he could not immediately rule out Vick for Sunday’s game at Washington. Reid, though, made it sound likely that rookie Nick Foles will get the start.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Korean War Vet Discusses Importance Of Veterans Day


Korean War Vet Discusses Importance Of Veterans Day

Korean War Veterans Jim Harkins (left) and Paul Kowalewski (right) outside the Korean War Memorial (Credit: Molly Daly)
Korean War Veterans Jim Harkins (left) and Paul Kowalewski (right)
outside the Korean War Memorial (Credit: Molly Daly)


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A ceremony honoring the Delaware Valley’s veterans was held at the Korean War Memorial at Front and Spruce Streets Monday.

Paul Kowalewski, who served in the Korean War, which has become known as America’s forgotten war, spoke with KYW Newsradio about why it’s important to honor the nation’s veterans.

“They’ve done such a magnificent job, regardless of when or where they were at. We’ve certainly kept the country free. In fact, we’ve kept the world free, just about,” he said.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Many on NY's Long Island still dark after Sandy

Many on NY's Long Island still dark after Sandy 

AP Photo
A crew with Salt River Project of Arizona (SRP) works on replacing a pole on a sand and debris-covered street in the Belle Harbor neighborhood of the borough of Queens, New York, Monday, Nov.12, 2012, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. SRP is one of several out of the region utility companies aiding local utilities.
  
HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) -- Two weeks after Superstorm Sandy, while most utilities have restored electricity to nearly all their customers, there was one glaring exception Monday: a Long Island power company with more outages - almost 60,000 Monday - than all the others combined.

As people on Long Island fumed over the cold and the darkness and complained that they couldn't get answers from the company, the Long Island Power Authority said in its defense that the storm was worse than anyone could have imagined and that it didn't just damage outdoor electrical lines; it caused flooding that touched home and business breaker boxes.

LIPA also acknowledged that an outdated computer system for keeping customers notified has added to people's frustration.

But some say the government-run utility should have seen it coming. It was recently criticized in a withering state report for lax preparation ahead of last year's Hurricane Irene and for the 25-year-old computer system used to pinpoint outages and update customers.

"It's antiquated. I think they're negligent," said Phil Glickman, a retired Wall Street executive from South Bellmore who waited 11 days to get electricity back.

LIPA has restored power to nearly 1.1 million homes and offices all together. About 46,000 still waiting for the lights to come back on are along Long Island's south shore and Rockaway Peninsula and had water damage to electrical panels and wiring, so their service can't be restored without an inspection and possibly repairs. The utility said it expects to restore service to the last 11,000 customers outside flooded areas by late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

At its peak, the storm knocked out power to 8.5 million customers in 10 states, with New York and New Jersey bearing the brunt. Those outages have been nearly erased, though Consolidated Edison, the chief utility in New York City, has cited problems similar to LIPA's, saying about 16,300 customers in flooded areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island can't get service until their internal electrical equipment is repaired, tested and certified.

LIPA customer Priscilla Niemiera, whose finished basement in Seaford flooded, said her house needs to be inspected and she can't get any answers. Every time she calls the utility, she said, she gets hung up on.

"I think LIPA should be broken up into small companies and it shouldn't be a monopoly anymore because this is every single time we have a disaster. And then they raise the rates. We're paying very high rates. We're paying high taxes, high electric. Everything," she said.

LIPA, whose board is chosen by the governor and lawmakers, contracts with National Grid for service and maintenance. Last year, its board chose a new contractor, New Jersey's Public Service Enterprise Group, which will take over in 2014. Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized the storm response of all New York utilities in the region, saying their management had failed consumers.

Asked Monday about LIPA board vacancies he hasn't filled and whether he takes responsibility for what's happening there, Cuomo called the authority a holding company that became "an intergovernmental political organization." He said National Grid was the actual Long Island power provider, one of the monopolistic state-regulated utilities. "They're going to be held accountable," he said, citing lack of communication and preparation and even proposing they consider rebates instead of rate hikes.

A state report criticized LIPA in June for poor customer communications after Irene last year and for 
insufficient tree trimming. The Department of Public Service noted major problems in telling customers estimated power-restoration times, faulting its computer system, which a consultant had found deficient back in 2006.

LIPA acknowledged that customers aren't getting the information they need, partly because of the system, which it is updating. Authority officials said the new system will be operating next year.

"It is a huge computer system. After Irene we immediately accelerated that process, and even at that it is still an 18-month to two-year process," LIPA's chief operating officer, Michael Hervey, said Monday. "We would have liked to have had it up and running for now, but it's just such a large magnitude computer system that it takes that long."

Hervey said the company will be working with remaining customers over the next several weeks as they get their homes repaired. "They can't be safely re-energized from an electrical standpoint," he said. "We are ready to service those areas, but they are not ready to take it right now."

John Bruckner, president of National Grid Long Island transmission and distribution, said he had about 15,000 people working on restoration, including 6,400 linemen from all over the U.S. and Canada.

Matthew Cordaro, co-chairman of the Suffolk Legislature's LIPA Oversight Committee and a former utility executive, said Con Ed and Public Service Electric & Gas New Jersey did a good job responding to the storm, and LIPA didn't.

While a storm of that magnitude would challenge any electricity provider, he said LIPA is probably one of the most poorly run utilities and has a "crazy" public-private organizational structure that's fraught with problems and raises questions of accountability.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sixers Win 3rd Straight; Beat Raptors 93-83

Sixers Win 3rd Straight; Beat Raptors 93-83

(Credit: Ron Turenne/Getty Images)

TORONTO (AP) — Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and Nick Young scored 16 points apiece and the Philadelphia 76ers beat Toronto 93-83 on Saturday night, their fifth victory in six meetings with the Raptors.

Spencer Hawes had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Dorell Wright added 15 points and Philadelphia won its third straight, with all three victories on the road. It’s the first time the 76ers have done that since February 2003.

The Sixers, who won 106-100 at Boston on Friday night, knocked off another Atlantic Division opponent thanks to a huge second quarter that saw them turn a six-point deficit into a 19-point lead.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/


Bond soars with record $87.8M 'Skyfall' debut

Bond soars with record $87.8M 'Skyfall' debut 

AP Photo
This film image released by Columbia Pictures shows Daniel Craig as James Bond in the action adventure film, "Skyfall."


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- James Bond's "Skyfall" has extended its worldwide box-office rule to North America, hauling in a franchise-record $87.8 million in its first weekend at U.S. theaters.

Adding in $2.2 million from Thursday night previews at IMAX and other large-format theaters, "Skyfall" has taken in $90 million domestically, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That lifts the worldwide total for "Skyfall" to $518.6 million since it began rolling out overseas in late October. Internationally, the 23rd Bond flick added $89 million this weekend to raise its overseas revenue to $428.6 million.

The third installment starring Daniel Craig as British super-spy Bond, "Skyfall" outdid the $67.5 million U.S. debut of 2008's "Quantum of Solace," the franchise's previous best opening. "Skyfall" more than doubled the $40.8 million debut of Craig's first Bond film, 2006's "Casino Royale."

"Skyfall" already has passed the $407.7 million overseas total for "Quantum of Solace" and by Monday, it will top the $432.2 million international haul for "Casino Royale."

The Craig era has reinvigorated one of Hollywood's most-enduring franchises, whose first big-screen Bond adventure, "Dr. No," debuted 50 years ago.

"It's quite a testament to Bond, considering it's the 50th anniversary. What a great anniversary present," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony, which produces the Bond films along with MGM.

"Skyfall" was the weekend's only new wide release, but Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" had a huge start in a handful of theaters. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, "Lincoln" took in $900,000 in 11 theaters for a whopping average of $81,818 a cinema. By comparison, "Skyfall" averaged $25,050 in 3,505 theaters.

"Lincoln" centers on the months leading up to the president's assassination in April 1865, as he maneuvers to pass the 13th amendment abolishing slavery and end the Civil War. Distributor Disney will expand "Lincoln" into nationwide release of about 1,600 theaters Friday and may widen the film further over Thanksgiving week.

The film has strong Academy Awards prospects for two-time directing winner Spielberg, two-time acting recipient Day-Lewis and the rest of the cast, which includes Oscar winners Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

"The performances are some of the greatest of recent time," said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. "I don't know if you're ever going to think about it again without seeing our actor as Lincoln. Daniel is extraordinary in the role."

"Skyfall" took over the top spot at the weekend box office from Disney's animated comedy "Wreck-It Ralph," which fell to No. 2 with $33.1 million, raising its domestic total to $93.7 million.

While "Skyfall" marked a new high for Bond's opening-weekend revenue, the film has a long way to go to match the biggest audiences 007 has ever drawn. Adjusted for inflation, Sean Connery's 1965 Bond adventure "Thunderball" would have taken in an estimated $508 million domestically in today's dollars, with its 1964 predecessor "Goldfinger" not far behind at $444 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

The Bond films over the last two decades have come in around the $200 million range domestically in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Still, Craig's Bond is setting a new critical standard for the franchise. While "Quantum of Solace" had a so-so critical reception, "Skyfall" and "Casino Royale" are among the best-reviewed Bond films, with critics and fans enjoying the darker edge Craig has imprinted on 007.

"'Skyfall' is to the Bond franchise what `The Dark Knight' was to the Batman franchise," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "By taking it to a whole other level, this is a different kind of Bond that can be taken really seriously."

Directed by Sam Mendes, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker behind "American Beauty" and Craig's director on "Road to Perdition," "Skyfall" continues the current franchise's exploration into the emotional traumas that have shaped Bond's cool, aloof manner.

The film reveals secrets out of the past of Bond's boss, British spymaster M (Judi Dench), and pits 007 against a brilliant but unstable former agent (Javier Bardem) who's out for revenge.

Hollywood remains on a brisk pace this fall as the busy holiday season approaches. Overall domestic revenues totaled $172 million, up 26 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Immortals" led with $32.2 million.

For the year, domestic revenues are at $9.1 billion, up 4.3 percent from 2011's, according to Hollywood.com.

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

1. "Skyfall," $87.8 million.
2. "Wreck-It Ralph," $33.1 million.
3. "Flight," $15.1 million.
4. "Argo," $6.7 million.
5. "Taken 2," $4 million.
6. "Here Comes the Boom," $2.6 million
7. "Cloud Atlas," $2.53 million.
8. "Pitch Perfect," $2.5 million.
9. "The Man with the Iron Fists," $2.49 million.
10. "Hotel Transylvania," $2.4 million.
---
Estimated weekend ticket sales at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:
1. "Skyfall," $89 million.
2. "Argo," $12 million.
3. "Wreck-It Ralph," $11.2 million.
4. "Hotel Transylvania," $11.1 million.
5. "A Werewolf Boy," $10.5 million.
6. "Cloud Atlas," $8.7 million.
7. "Paranormal Activity 4," $6 million.
8 (tie). "Asterlix and Obelix: God Save Britannia," $4.4 million.
8 (tie). "Confession of Murder," $4.4 million.
10. "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," $4.1 million.

Sandy's wrath stirs painful Katrina memories

Sandy's wrath stirs painful Katrina memories 

AP Photo
Donations are stored and distributed in the Saint Francis de Sales school gymnasium in the Rockaways, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in the Queens borough of New York. Despite power returning to many neighborhoods in the metropolitan area after Superstorm Sandy crashed into the Eastern Seaboard, many residents of the Rockaways continue to live without power and heat due to damage caused by Sandy.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The chaos wrought by Superstorm Sandy, the homes tossed from foundations and landmarks buried beneath seawater, delivered a gut-wrenching dose of deja vu for survivors of Hurricane Katrina like Joe and Gloria Robert.

Their own home flooded beneath 7 feet of salty water when the levees broke after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005, and they know all too well what their countrymen to the north will face: years of debris removal, cleanup, rebuilding, haggling with insurance companies, paying mortgages on homes left unlivable. And they knew they had to help.

"When you watch things like this, you relive all the memories, all the heartache," said Joe Robert, his voice cracking with emotion. He said the images of Sandy victims rummaging through what could be salvaged of their toppled and flood-ravaged homes were painful reminders of his own loss. "I don't have any pictures of my daughter when she was little."

Seven years after Katrina destroyed neighborhoods, killed more than 1,800 people and caused some $108 billion in damage, many of the people caught in its crosshairs are reaching into their wallets and cupboards to try to bring relief to the Atlantic Coast.

Church groups, nonprofits, City Hall and individuals in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast have begun sending care packages, donating money and staging volunteers for the clean-up and recovery efforts.

Robert is working with the Episcopal organization that helped him rebuild his home, St. Paul's Homecoming Center, which was established after Katrina to help residents as they returned to the city to rebuild. The center has expanded its mission to include victims of not just Hurricane Isaac, which struck Louisiana in August, but also East Coast victims of Sandy.

The group has launched an "Adopt-a-Family" program where donations can be made to families in either region to help them as the holiday season approaches. The organization is also coordinating volunteer efforts along the East Coast. They are collecting donations and helping to ferry volunteers from the Gulf Coast to devastated neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey.

"I hurt for them because they don't know what they're in for with recovery," said Connie Uddo, executive director of the Homecoming Center whose New Orleans home flooded in 2005. "The event is one thing, but the recovery is another. It's long, and it's hard."

In New Orleans, the recovery is far from over more than seven years later. Many homes still bear the water lines and spray-painted marks left by rescuers searching for survivors. Some residents have run out of money, given up after years of battling contractor fraud and insurance companies.

Even if the recovery goes smoother on the Atlantic Coast than it did in New Orleans, it will take years.

"First you have to get over the emotional loss," Robert said. "If I could give any advice, it's not to be anxious. Looking back, the mistakes we made were because we rushed some things because we were anxious and emotional and trying to get back in our home quicker."

Robert said he rushed to hire a contractor because he was in a hurry to rebuild, but he ultimately lost time and money when the contractor didn't see the project through to completion.

Taking a lead in organizing relief efforts for victims of Sandy are New Orleans musicians, many of whom have ties to the entertainment industry in New York. It's a place that many travel to for gigs, and they feel an affinity for the city that never sleeps.

A "NOLA Pay It Forward" benefit concert of New Orleans musicians is being organized by Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Proceeds from the Nov. 20 event will go to nonprofits supporting Sandy relief efforts.

Ivan Neville and others donated proceeds from a recent New York concert to benefit Sandy victims while big band singer Johnny Angel - a Staten Island native who has lived in New Orleans since the 1990s - is taking a U-Haul truck of donated bleach, mops, rakes, buckets and cleaning supplies from New Orleans to New York.

"Before we can rebuild, we have to clean up," said Jeannie Tralongo, who lives in the hard-hit New York borough of Staten Island and is working with Angel to help coordinate the delivery. `We're overwhelmed."
Tralongo said she's one of the lucky ones. Her Staten Island home was spared of the tidal surge and flooding that decimated the homes of nearby friends and neighbors.

"I'm trying to do what I can, but there's still no power. People are cold and in the dark," she said.

Tralongo said shelters have been set up and she's working with hurricane response teams in the neighborhood to organize volunteers for the grueling clean-up of streets and property littered with sand and debris.

Neville, the son of Aaron Neville - one of the four Neville Brothers - said he remembers musicians from across the country coming together for the "Big Apple to the Big Easy" benefit concert after Katrina headlined by Jimmy Buffett, Elton John and others. His own family home in eastern New Orleans flooded in 2005.

Neville's band Dumpstaphunk played one of its signature songs, "Put it in Da Dumpsta," for a crowd - some of whom had been without electricity since Sandy struck just before Halloween - gathered at the Highline Ballroom in New York earlier this month.

"That song, it's all about taking the bad things that have happened, taking all that negativity, and just throwing it in the Dumpster," he said. "It's about letting go, even if just for a little while."

That show and four others will benefit City Harvest, a New York-based group serving hot meals in Sandy-afflicted neighborhoods.

Uddo said she empathizes with residents of the Jersey Shore, Staten Island and dozens of other hard-hit communities. Roughly 80 percent of New Orleans flooded in Katrina, and some communities along southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Coast were washed away. New Orleans was abandoned for weeks, homes made uninhabitable by either power outages or the structural damage done.

"I know they're overwhelmed, and I know they're exhausted and have no sense of normalcy," Uddo said. "There's a feeling of being scattered and shattered, and all you want is to feel normal again."

After Katrina, thousands of volunteers flocked from points north to help people along the Gulf Coast. And it's those memories that are driving people in Louisiana "to pay it forward, to return the favor," Uddo said.

Uddo said she remembered a church group visiting her neighborhood as she was gutting her home after 
Katrina, and the group gave her a $100 gift card.

"I just broke down and cried," she said. "You have no idea how the smallest things people do for you mean so much when you're under that kind of stress."



Saturday, November 10, 2012

27 Cases Of Fungal Meningitis Now Reported In New Jersey

27 Cases Of Fungal Meningitis Now Reported In New Jersey














TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey health officials say 27 cases of fungal meningitis have now been reported in the state.

The cases, two confirmed and 25 considered probable, are linked to a recalled, potentially tainted steroid produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.

Nationally, more than 400 cases have been reported in 19 states, including 32 deaths.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Camden Records 58th Murder, Ties With 1995 Record

Camden Records 58th Murder, Ties With 1995 Record














CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s most dangerous city has tied its record for the most murders in one year.

Camden recorded its 58th slaying on Friday, when 45-year-old Gregory Holder of Cherry Hill died from injuries suffered in a Nov. 2 beating. Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk says two men attacked Holder in the area of Broadway and Berkley streets after they argued with him over an apparent drug transaction.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Friday, November 9, 2012

Turner, Holiday Lead 76ers Over Celtics, 106-100

Turner, Holiday Lead 76ers Over Celtics, 106-100












BOSTON (AP) — Evan Turner scored 25 points, Jrue Holiday added 21 and the Philadelphia 76ers held off several fourth-quarter rallies to beat the Boston Celtics 106-100 on Friday night.

The Celtics cut the lead to four twice in the final period, 83-79 and 102-98, but couldn’t get any closer and fell to 2-3 with their only victories coming over winless Washington. The 76ers won their second game in three nights to improve to 3-2.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

25 Cases Of Fungal Meningitis Now Reported In New Jersey

25 Cases Of Fungal Meningitis Now Reported In New Jersey

(File photo)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey health officials 25 cases of fungal meningitis have now been reported in the state.

The case — two confirmed cases and 23 considered probable — are linked to a recalled, potentially tainted steroid produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.

Nationally, more than 400 cases have been reported in 19 states, including 31 deaths.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Pot votes in 2 states challenge US drug war

Pot votes in 2 states challenge US drug war 

AP Photo
Brian Vicente co-director of the Yes on 64 campaign waits to start a news conference about the legalization of marijuana at Civic Center Park in Denver on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 on Tuesday legalizing marijuana in Colorado for recreational use.

DENVER (AP) -- First came marijuana as medicine. Now comes legal pot for the people.
Those who have argued for decades that legalizing and taxing weed would be better than a costly, failed U.S. drug war have their chance to prove it, as Colorado and Washington became the first states to allow pot for recreational use.

While the measures earned support from broad swaths of the electorate in both states Tuesday, they are likely to face resistance from federal drug warriors. As of Wednesday, authorities did not say whether they would challenge the new laws.

Pot advocates say a fight is exactly what they want.

"I think we are at a tipping point on marijuana policy," said Brian Vicente, co-author of Colorado's marijuana measure. "We are going to see whether marijuana prohibition survives, or whether we should try a new and more sensible approach."

Soon after the measures passed, cheering people poured out of bars in Denver, the tangy scent of pot filling the air, and others in Seattle lit up in celebration.

Authorities in Colorado, however, urged caution. "Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly," said Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed the measure.

As the initial celebration dies down and the process to implement the laws progresses over the next year, other states and countries will be watching to see if the measures can both help reduce money going to drug cartels and raise it for governments.

Governments in Latin America where drugs are produced for the U.S. market were largely quiet about the measures, but the main adviser to Mexico's president-elect said the new laws will force the U.S. and his country to reassess how they fight cross-border pot smuggling.

Analysts said that there would likely be an impact on cartels in Mexico that send pot to the U.S., but differed on how soon and how much.

Both measures call for the drug to be heavily taxed, with the profits headed to state coffers. Colorado would devote the potential tax revenue first to school construction, while Washington's sends pot taxes to an array of health programs.

Estimates vary widely on how much they would raise. Colorado officials anticipate somewhere between $5 million and $22 million a year. Washington analysts estimated legal pot could produce nearly $2 billion over five years.

Both state estimates came with big caveats: The current illegal marijuana market is hard to gauge and any revenue would be contingent upon federal authorities allowing commercial pot sales in the first place, something that is very much still in question.

Both measures remove criminal penalties for adults over 21 possessing small amounts of the drug - the boldest rejection of pot prohibition laws passed across the country in the 1930s.

Pot has come a long way since. In the 1960s, it was a counterculture fixture. In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs. Twenty-five years later, California approved medical marijuana. Now, 17 states and Washington, D.C., allow it.

Meanwhile, many more cities either took pot possession crimes off the books or directed officers to make marijuana arrests a low priority.

On Tuesday night, broad sections of the electorate in Colorado and Washington backed the measures, some because they thought the drug war had failed and others because they viewed potential revenue as a boon for their states in lean times. A similar measure in Oregon failed.

"People think little old ladies with glaucoma should be able to use marijuana. This is different. This is a step further than anything we have seen to date," said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver law professor who has studied the history of pot prohibition.

The Justice Department says it is evaluating the measures. When California was considering legalization in 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder said it would be a "significant impediment" to joint federal and local efforts to combat drug traffickers.

Federal agents have cracked down on medical pot dispensaries in states where it is legal, including California and Washington. Individual pot users may not be immediately impacted, as authorities have long focused on dismantling trafficking operations.

Peter Bensinger, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration from 1976 to 1981, and other former DEA heads urged Holder to make more noise this year about the pot votes. Colorado was a critical state for President Barack Obama's re-election.

Now, he said, "I can't see the Justice Department doing anything other than enforce the law. There's no other out."

Brian Smith of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which will implement the new law, said officials are waiting anxiously to find out what federal law enforcement authorities plan to do. "They have been silent," Smith said.

Both states will have about a year to come up with rules for their legal pot systems.

In Mexico, which produces much of the pot that gets into the U.S. and where cartels and the government are embroiled in a yearslong deadly battle, the man in charge of Enrique Pena Nieto's presidential transition said the administration opposed legalization.

"These important modifications change somewhat the rules of the games in the relationship with the United States," Luis Videgaray told Radio Formula.

A former high-ranking official in the country's internal intelligence service who has studied the potential effects of legalization said he was optimistic that the measures would damage the cartels, possibly cutting profits from $6 billion to $4.6 billion.

Alejandro Hope, now an analyst at the think tank Mexican Competitiveness Institute, said among the complicating factors could be whether a strong U.S. crackdown on legal pot could negate all but the smallest effects on the cartels.

In Seattle, John Davis, a medical marijuana provider, called passage of the state's measure "a significant movement in the right direction." But he said he expected some confrontation with federal authorities.

"This law does not prevent conflicts," he said, adding that its passage "will highlight the necessity to find some kind of resolution between state and federal laws."


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