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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Eagles Make Difficult Cuts As Roster Takes Shape

Eagles Make Difficult Cuts As Roster Takes Shape
(credit: Elsa/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — So much for Dennis Dixon having a leg up because he knows Chip Kelly’s offense.

Dixon was one of 12 players cut by the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday as they moved closer to the 53-player roster limit. He had a standout career at Oregon when Kelly was the Ducks’ offensive coordinator there, and signed with the Eagles in February, not long after Kelly took the job. But Dixon’s true shot at earning a spot as the No. 3 quarterback behind Michael Vick and Nick Foles was all but lost once the Eagles drafted USC’s Matt Barkley in the fourth round in April.

For full story go to:

Woman Jumps From Second Floor Window Of Burning Home In Point Breeze

Woman Jumps From Second Floor Window Of Burning Home In Point Breeze
(Credit: Thinkstock) 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Rescue crews were called to the scene of a fire in Center City on Saturday where a woman apparently jumped from a window to save herself.

The blaze broke out shortly before noon at a home in the 1700 block of South 22nd Street in the city’s Point Breeze neighborhood.
Officials say firefighters arrived to heavy flames coming from the second floor of the home. That’s where, according to neighbors, an unidentified woman in her 30′s, jumped from a window to escape the fire.

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Neighbors Hope Last Year’s Problems Don’t Repeat At Made In America

Neighbors Hope Last Year’s Problems Don’t Repeat At Made In America

Last year's Made in America Day 1 (Credit: Melony Roy)
Last year’s Made in America Day 1
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Made In America Concert is underway on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Last year, residents close to the concert complained about the noise, the traffic and the people, and this year neighbors hope those won’t be as big of a concern this time around.

Many folks felt last year the music was just too loud, but now opinions are mixed on decibels coming from the Art Museum.

For full story go to:

India convicts youngest Delhi gang rape defendant

India convicts youngest Delhi gang rape defendant 

AP Photo
Delhi police officers escort a juvenile accused of rape, outside the Juvenile justice board in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. An Indian juvenile court on Saturday handed down the first conviction in the fatal gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, convicting the teenager of rape and murder and sentencing him to three years in a reform home, lawyers said.
NEW DELHI (AP) -- An Indian juvenile court on Saturday handed down the first conviction in the fatal gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, convicting a teenager of rape and murder and sentencing him to three years in a reform home, lawyers said.

The victim's parents denounced the sentence, which was the maximum the defendant faced. The family had long insisted the teen, who was 17 at the time of the December attack and is now 18, be tried as an adult - and thus face the death penalty - insisting he was the most brutal of the woman's attackers.

"He should be hanged irrespective of whether he is a juvenile or not. He should be punished for what he did to my daughter," the victim's mother, Asha Devi, told reporters after the verdict was announced.

Indian law forbids the publication of the teen's name because he was sentenced in a juvenile court.

The attack, which left the 23-year-old victim with such extensive internal injuries that she died two weeks later, sparked protests across the country and led to reforms of India's antiquated sexual violence laws. The government, facing immense public pressure, had promised swift justice in the case.

The convicted teen was one of six people accused of tricking the woman and her male companion into boarding an off-duty bus Dec. 16 after they had seen an afternoon showing of "Life of Pi" at an upscale shopping mall. Police say the men raped the woman and used a metal bar to inflict massive internal injuries to her. They also beat her companion. The victims were dumped naked on the roadside, and the woman later died from her injuries in a Singapore hospital.

The victim's father said the family was deeply disappointed with the sentence.

"This is completely unacceptable to us," Badrinath Singh said. "We are not satisfied with this outcome. He is virtually being set free. This is very wrong."

"No family should have a daughter if this is the fate that lies ahead for women. In this country, it is crime to be born a girl," he said.

Indian law forbids the publication of the names of rape victims, even if they die.

S.K. Singh, a lawyer for the victim's family, said they would challenge the juvenile court's verdict in a higher court.

"We will also seek a review of the man's age by a medical panel, since we believe he was not a juvenile when the incident took place," he said.

In India, especially in rural areas, many people do not have their births properly registered, and school certificates are used as proof of age.

Singh and the defendant's lawyer, Rajesh Tewari, both confirmed the conviction and sentence.

Reporters were not allowed inside the courtroom. Scores of television crews lined up on the road outside the court building beginning early Saturday, waiting for the verdict.

Four of the other defendants are being tried in a special fast-track court in New Delhi and face the death penalty. The sixth accused was found dead in his jail cell in March. The court is expected to hand down the rest of the verdicts in September.

The convicted defendant was tried as a minor on charges including murder and rape. The time he has spent in a juvenile home since he was arrested in December will count toward his sentence, Tewari said.

The attack set off furious protests across India about the treatment of women in the country and led to an overhaul of sexual assault laws.

A government panel set to suggest reforms to sexual assault laws rejected calls to lower the age at which people can be tried as adults from 18 to 16.

In July, India's top court also refused to reduce the age of a juvenile from 18 to 16 years. However, it later agreed to hear a new petition seeking to take the "mental and intellectual maturity" of the defendant into account, and not just age.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Central Park Zoo’s Polar Bear, Gus, Dies

Central Park Zoo’s Polar Bear, Gus, Dies

(credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Central Park Zoo has lost a popular polar bear.

The Wildlife Conservation Society says veterinarians euthanized Gus on Tuesday. He had a large, inoperable tumor.

Gus was 27. The median life expectancy for male polar bears in zoos is less than 21.

Officials estimate more than 20 million zoo-goers visited Gus. They say he drew attention to the effects of climate change on bears in the wild.

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Final Preparations Underway For Weekend ‘Made in America’ Music Fest

Final Preparations Underway For Weekend ‘Made in America’ Music Fest
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Crews were working hard today along the Ben Franklin Parkway to make sure everything is ready for tomorrow’s start of the “Made In America” festival.

The sound of screw guns and fork lifts filled the air, workers focused on the task at hand.
There are four performance areas, and this morning the main stage looked just about ready.

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Teen guilty of murdering Georgia baby in stroller

Teen guilty of murdering Georgia baby in stroller 

AP Photo
FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 file photo, De'Marquise Elkins appears in court during his trial in Marietta, Ga. Closing arguments began Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, in Elkins' trial. He is accused of fatally shooting a baby in a stroller in coastal Georgia.
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) -- An 18-year-old man was convicted of murder in the shooting of a baby who was riding in a stroller alongside his mom in a town in coastal Georgia despite the defense's attempt to cast guilt upon several others, including the child's parents.

Jurors deliberated about two hours before finding De'Marquise Elkins guilty of 11 counts, including two counts of felony murder and one count of malice murder in the March 21 killing of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago in Brunswick. The man's mother, Karimah Elkins, was on trial alongside him and was found guilty of tampering with evidence but acquitted of lying to police.

De'Marquise Elkins faces life in prison when he is sentenced at a later date. At the time of the shooting he was 17, too young to face the death penalty under Georgia law.

His lead defense attorney, public defender Kevin Gough, vowed to appeal the verdict. A judge denied his request for the teen to be out on bond during the appeal.

"Marky Elkins and his family are confident that he will receive another trial in which he will be able to present fully his defense," Gough said. "Mr. Elkins will eventually be exonerated."

Karimah Elkins' attorney, Wrix McIlvaine, said he would talk to his client and that they would likely appeal.
Sherry West testified that she was walking home from the post office with her son the morning of the killing. 
A gunman demanding her purse, shot her in the leg and shot her baby in the face after she told him she had no money, she said.

Prosecutors, who declined comment after the verdict, said during two-week trial that De'Marquise Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, are the ones who stopped West. Prosecutors say the older teen pointed a small .22-caliber revolver at West and demanded money. When West refused several times to turn over the money, Elkins fired a warning shot, shot the woman in the leg and the baby between the eyes, prosecutors said.

The killing in the port city of Brunswick drew national attention, and the trial was moved to the Atlanta suburb of Marietta owing to extensive publicity locally.

Prosecutors have said information from Elkins' mother and sister led investigators to a pond where they found the revolver. Elkins' sister also was charged with evidence tampering.

Lang, who was a key prosecution witness in Elkins' trial, is set to go to trial at a later date.

West told The Associated Press that she didn't want to say too much following the verdict because there are still other trials pending in the case and she will be a witness and she will testify at Elkins' sentencing.

"I knew why I was there and I knew that I didn't have my baby anymore," she said. "In the beginning I was in shock. Now things are kind of really setting in. But I'm hanging in there."

West spent hours on the stand during the trial and was grilled by the defense on her personal and medical history.

"I was a little nervous up on the stand and just being asked so many personal questions by the defense attorney," she said in a telephone interview. "It was embarrassing."

The defense tried throughout the trial to prove that the investigation was flawed and that police refused to consider other leads or investigate further once they had Elkins in custody the day after the killing.

"They finished their case in 25 hours. Everything else they did after that they just sugarcoated," Lockwood said.

The prosecution's witnesses - many with criminal histories and some drug users - lied repeatedly and changed their stories throughout the investigation, Lockwood said. The defense also said several law enforcement agents backtracked in their testimony to make sure what they were saying fit the state's version of the story.

West made different identifications of the suspect and behaved strangely after the shooting, occasionally joking and laughing while being questioned by police and making other bizarre statements, Lockwood said. The baby's father, Louis Santiago, was in the vicinity when the shooting happened and showed no warmth toward the child's mother afterward, Lockwood said.

Lang testified that Elkins is the one who asked West for money and fired the shots, but admitted lying repeatedly, Lockwood said. And Lang's cousin, Joe Lang, was in the area on the day of the shooting and fits the description of the shooter.

But police never really investigated the baby's parents or the Lang cousins, Lockwood said.

The defense had strongly suggested in pretrial motions that the baby's parents were the killers. Gough made several suggestions to the same effect during the trial. But much of his questioning that seemed to be heading in that direction - including attempts to bring up details about the backgrounds of both of the baby's parents - was blocked by the judge after the prosecution objected.

Prosecutors said the defense presented a lot of theories and speculation but that the evidence and facts in the case proved Elkins' guilt.

Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson showed jurors a string of still images pulled from video cameras around Brunswick during her closing argument. They all showed Elkins in specific locations at specific times the day of the shooting.

Johnson also reminded jurors of the testimony of two young women - one who said Elkins walked her to school at 8:45 the day of the shooting and another who said she spent the night before with Elkins and ate with him later that morning, which was backed up by video stills of them at a convenience store.

The only person whose story didn't match the evidence in the case was Elkins, Johnson said.

Johnson also rejected the accusation that police stopped investigating once they arrested Elkins, noting that they pulled video from various cameras around town and went diving in a pond to recover the gun the following week.

Johnson also slammed the defense for picking on West and her behavior following the shooting: "Does anyone know what the protocol is for how you're supposed to act when you've just watched your child get shot in the face?"

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Eagles Wrap Up Preseason Against Jets

Eagles Wrap Up Preseason Against Jets

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It will be the final chance for a lot of players to impress the Eagles coaching staff on Thursday night as they play their final preseason game of the summer on the road against the New York Jets.

Most of the starters won’t play in this one. The only place you may see some is in the secondary. Nick Foles will get the start at quarterback. But this game is all about the battle for roster spots, as players at the bottom of the roster work to get a job.

For full story go to:

Despite Protests, Nutter Administration Set To Renew Info-Sharing with ICE

Despite Protests, Nutter Administration Set To Renew Info-Sharing with ICE

(Children protest ICE access to Philadelphia Police crime data.  Credit: Mark Abrams) 
Children protest ICE access to Philadelphia Police 
crime data.
   PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A small group of demonstrators rallied outside Philadelphia City Hall today, urging officials to end access by federal immigration agents to a police department database.

Less than a dozen youngsters carrying signs and led in chants by rally organizers delivered a message to Mayor Nutter’s office:  don’t renew a city agreement that gives US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents access to a database containing information on arrests and court proceedings.

For full story go to:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sarah Murnaghan Leaves CHOP; Returns To Her Newtown Square Home

Sarah Murnaghan Leaves CHOP; Returns To Her Newtown Square Home

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. (CBS) — The 11-year-old Newtown Square girl who made national headlines when her parents sued to get her on the adult lung transplant list is finally home after long hospital stay.

For full story go to:

Boyfriend Charged In Murder-Kidnap Of Upper Darby Infant

Boyfriend Charged In Murder-Kidnap Of Upper Darby Infant

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — A man accused of kidnapping an infant from Upper Darby is now charged with the baby’s murder.

Upper Darby police superintendent Michael Chitwood made the announcement this morning that 30-year-old Ummad Rushdi has been charged with first-, second-, and third-degree murder in the death of seven-month-old Hamza Ali.  Rushdi is also charged with kidnapping and with disposing of a body.

The infant was last seen alive August 3rd at his mother’s home on Chestnut Street in Upper Darby, then reported missing on August 6th after the mother became increasingly doubtful about Rushdi’s assurances that he was caring for the baby (see related stories).   Rushdi was arrested in York, Pa. on August 7th.

For full story go to:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Child Found Inside Parked Car In Northeast Philadelphia

Child Found Inside Parked Car In Northeast Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Police are on the scene in Northeast Philadelphia after a child was found locked inside a car for at least 45 minutes.

The child was discovered around 5:45 p.m. on Monday in the parking lot of a Michael’s at 9739 Roosevelt Boulevard.

At this time, police do not know where the child’s parents are.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hundreds Of Cyclists Take To The Streets For Annual Philly Naked Bike Ride

Hundreds Of Cyclists Take To The Streets For Annual Philly Naked Bike Ride

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hundreds of cyclists took to the streets of Philadelphia for the 5th annual Philly Naked Bike Ride.

The 10 mile ride started off at Penn Treaty Park and went throughout the city.
Some of the riders chose to wear decorative outfits and some opted for their birthday suits.

Charmaine and her husband were headed out for a day of fishing and she says before she even cast her line, she already caught more than she was expecting.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kids Play Firefighter For The Day At Please Touch Museum

Kids Play Firefighter For The Day At Please Touch Museum
Jacob, 5, wasn't allowed to drive the truck so he settled on working the hose. (Credit: Mike Dougherty)
Jacob, 5, wasn’t allowed to drive the truck so he settled
on working the hose.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – “Safety” was the word of the day at the Please Touch Museum Saturday as children got the chance to meet Philadelphia police and firefighters.

Tiny jaws dropped as the bright red truck from Engine 16 pulled into the parking lot. Five-year-old Jacob was wearing a smile a mile wide.

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NJ Ups Efforts To Keep Weapons Away From Mentally Ill People

NJ Ups Efforts To Keep Weapons Away From Mentally Ill People

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about efforts to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. New Jersey has taken a major step on that front.
The challenge has always been how to keep track of them to stop them from purchasing a weapon in the first place. New Jersey has now entered into a national program.

Judge Glenn Grant (Credit: NJ Administrative Office of the Courts)
Judge Glenn Grant

The Civil Commitment Automated Tracking System now has details on cases dating back almost 40 years.
“There’s over 400 thousand records that are now available for these federal licensee agencies to investigate,” says Judge Glenn Grant, who is acting administrator for New Jersey’s courts. “And we’ve had approximately 200 individuals that have been denied weapons as a result of discovering a mental health prohibitor.”

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Is MLK dream reality? In changed city, yes and no

Is MLK dream reality? In changed city, yes and no 

AP Photo
A young protester confronted by a police officer and a snarling police dog is depicted in a sculpture in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Ala. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, there may be no better place than Birmingham to measure the progress that followed the civil rights leader's historic call for racial and economic equality

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- When he boarded a Greyhound bus on his way to Princeton University, Glennon Threatt promised himself he'd never come back here. As a young black man, he saw no chance to fulfill his dreams in a city burdened by the ghosts of its segregated past.

Helen Shores Lee left Birmingham years earlier, making the same pledge not to return. A daughter of a prominent civil rights lawyer, she wanted to escape a city tarnished by Jim Crow laws - the "white" and "colored" fountains, the segregated bus seating, the daily indignities she rebelled against as a child.

Both changed their minds. They returned from their self-imposed exile and built successful careers - he as an assistant federal public defender, she as a judge - in a Birmingham transformed by a revolution a half century ago.

This week, as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, there may be no better place than Birmingham to measure the progress that followed the civil rights leader's historic call for racial and economic equality.

This city, after all, is hallowed ground in civil rights history. It was here where children marching for equal rights were jailed, where protesters were attacked by snarling police dogs and battered by high-pressure fire hoses. And it was here where four little girls in their Sunday finest were killed when dynamite planted by Ku Klux Klan members ripped through their church in an unspeakable act of evil.

That was the Birmingham of the past. The city that King condemned for its "ugly record of brutality." The city where he wrote his impassioned "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," declaring the "moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." The city where the movement came together, found its voice and set the stage for landmark civil rights legislation.

The Birmingham of the present is a far different place. The airport is named after a fearless civil rights champion, the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. The city's website features a `Fifty Years Forward' campaign, forthrightly displaying photos of shameful events in 1963. There are black judges and professors in places where segregation once reigned. And black mayors have occupied City Hall since 1979, in part because many white residents migrated to the suburbs, a familiar pattern in urban America.

So has King's dream of equality been realized here and has Birmingham moved beyond its troubled past?

For many, the answer is yes, the city has changed in ways that once seemed unthinkable - and yet, there's also a sense Birmingham still has a long way to go.

The legal and social barriers that barred black people from schools and jobs fell long ago, but economic disparity persists.

Blacks and whites work together and dine side by side in restaurants during the day, but usually don't mingle after 5 p.m.

Racial slurs are rare, but suspicions and tensions remain.

"I don't think any of us would deny that there have been significant changes in Birmingham," Shores Lee says. King would be proud, she adds, but "he would say there's a lot more work to be done. I think he would tell us our task is not finished."
"I have a dream that one day down in Alabama. ... little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers ..." - King, Aug. 28, 1963.
Amid the flowers and soothing fountain in Kelly Ingram Park, there are stark reminders of the ugly clashes. It was in this area, now known as the Civil Rights District, where the scenes of police brutality were captured in photos and TV footage that helped galvanize public opinion around the nation on behalf of demonstrators.

Today, the park has statues commemorating King and other leaders. There's a sculpture of a young protester, his arms stretched back, as a policeman grabs him with one hand and holds a lunging German shepherd in the other. (An Associated Press photographer had captured a similar image.) There are other sculptures of water cannons, more dogs, and a boy and a girl standing impassively with the words "I Ain't Afraid of your Jail" at the base.

To those who grew up here, these works are not just artistic renderings but reminders of the bravery of friends and neighbors.

"It's kind of like being in the movie `The Sixth Sense' - everywhere you go you see ghosts," Threatt says of the statues. "It's probably like a person who served in World War II going back to Normandy. It's a place where something very, very real, very poignant happened to people that you knew."

Threatt was just 7 when King announced his vision of a color-blind society before hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the Washington Mall. Not long afterward, Threatt was one of three black gifted students enrolled in a white elementary school. He was spat on, beat up, called the N-word.

The experience is etched in his memory. Now 57, Threatt occasionally runs into a 6th grade classmate - a bank vice president - who had been among his tormenters. They always have a pleasant chat. But he never forgets.

"I like him," he says. "I don't think he's a racist. He was a kid caught up in a social situation like I was. .... You've got to get over that in order to survive in the South. ... Otherwise you just wallow in self-pity and hatred and you don't move forward."

Threatt graduated from Princeton, then Howard University Law School, worked in Denver and Washington, D.C., but returned to Birmingham in 1997. Both he and the city had changed, he says, with Birmingham becoming more progressive. He joined an established law firm - something that would have been unimaginable 50 years earlier.

Threatt had been inspired, in part, to be a lawyer by Arthur Shores, a Sunday school teacher at his church and a pioneering civil rights attorney who fought to desegregate the University of Alabama. Shores' home was bombed twice in 1963, two weeks apart. His neighborhood was nicknamed "Dynamite Hill" for the series of bombings intended to intimidate blacks.

Shores' daughter, Helen, grew up resisting the segregation laws, once drinking from a "white" fountain - a defiant act that resulted in a whipping when she got home. At 12, she aimed a Colt .45 at some white men driving by her family's house, spewing racial obscenities. Her father, she says, slapped her arm, the bullet discharged into the air and he quickly grabbed the gun.

She left Birmingham for 13 years, returned in 1971, later switched careers and in 2003 became a judge, only to confront lingering remnants of racism.

In her early years on the bench, she recalls, a few lawyers pointedly refused to stand as is custom when a judge enters a courtroom. And, she says, she occasionally sees lawyers who are disrespectful of their minority clients.

"Racism is still very much alive and well in the South," Shores Lee says. "The actions of men here can be legislated but not their minds and their hearts in terms of how they think and feel about blacks and Hispanics."

The judge says the same goals her father fought for remain at the center of court battles today. She points to the Supreme Court's decision in June to throw out the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act that had provided federal oversight of elections in several Southern states. It was based on a challenge by Shelby County in suburban Birmingham.

The judge also says when she gives speeches about voting rights, she sometimes cites her father. "How far have we come if he talked about this 60 plus years ago and I'm still talking about it today?" she asks.

Donna Lidge didn't speak for decades about her painful past. Every morning, she'd board a school bus, pass an elderly white woman standing on a corner, cursing and making an obscene gesture. Inside the predominantly white school, she and her younger sister were ostracized. "We despised that school," she says.

Lidge said her mother would console them, saying: "'I want you to get an education. That's how you will fight back.'"

She now tells her daughter, Ashley, a teacher, about those days. "I talk to her about respect. I say no matter who it is, respect others."

Fifty years ago, the struggle to end racism had white supporters. It still does.

James Rotch, a white lawyer, began addressing the issue in 1998 when he launched the Birmingham Pledge - a program to eliminate racism and prejudice.

The "pledge" has evolved into a foundation with conferences and a special week of events held around the September anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four girls in 1963. The program's educational materials are used in every state and 21 countries.

The pledge itself - a mission statement - has popped up in places ranging from a public bulletin board outside the Taj Mahal in India to a job training center in Connecticut.

Rotch says the intent is to inspire beyond the city. "We knew that Birmingham was known all over the world and not necessarily in a particularly good way," he says. "We thought we could show ... that by Birmingham getting its act in order with regard to race, people might say, `If they can do it given their history, surely we can.'"

Not everyone shares his interest in emphasizing race.

"There are a lot of very good, very well-intentioned people who say, `Look if we stop talking about all this, it'll all go away.' I don't believe that," he says. "...If we pretend it's not there, then we'll never solve it."

In the last 15 years, Rotch says the two races have become more comfortable with one another. And for those 30 and younger, "they really don't understand why anyone would be prejudiced," he says. "They intermingle easily and they just don't see what the big deal is."

Still, there are limits to the socializing.

King's dream is "real during the day" in workplaces and restaurants, says Jim Reed, a white bookstore owner. "When people aren't thinking about it, it's coming true," he says. Once home, however, they aren't inclined to broaden their circles.

"People don't know how to jump that divide," even though some would like to, he says. "I see it as taking a long time to get there. Generations have to change."
".... the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. ... the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land." - King.
Victor Beard juggles two jobs as a cook and earns slightly more than minimum wage in each. Despite 70-hour weeks, he barely scrapes by.

For Beard - who was born the same year King gave his speech - economic equality for black people is still elusive.

"It's like after Dr. King died, they threw us a bone and we had to take whatever scraps were left on it," says Beard, who co-chairs a city homeless coalition that meets at the Church of the Reconciler. "A lot of us did that. But some of us here still believe it can be better."

The Rev. Matt Lacey, senior pastor at the church, sees people struggle every day. "If you're born poor in the city, it's tough to get on your feet and harder for blacks than whites."

About 95 percent of his church's homeless ministry is black. "I just don't see that as coincidental," says Lacey, who is white.

Nearly three-quarters of the city's residents are black, and they're disproportionately represented among the poor. In a period covering the Great Recession - 2007-2011 - nearly 31 percent of the black population in Birmingham lived in poverty, almost twice as high as the number of white residents, according to federal figures.

Even so, black entrepreneurs have made enormous gains over the decades. But they still face disadvantages starting businesses because they have less personal wealth, less access to capital and fewer social networks, says Bob Dickerson, director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center.

King, he says, would understand these obstacles. "I don't know that he thought 50 years would be enough time even in a perfect society to take a race of folks who had been slaves and had nothing and grow to have an economic base that would be equal," Dickerson adds.

In the political arena, black people also have made huge strides but haven't been able to convert ballot box muscle to economic power, says George Bowman, a Jefferson County commissioner with a special memory of King's speech - he was a 15-year-old South Carolina kid in the crowd that day.

"We've learned how to get the vote out and we've found a way to elect our candidates to office but we do not have the wealth," he says.

There are instances where both races "are trying their best to work together to effect some change to show the world that the Birmingham of 2013 is not the Birmingham of 1963," Bowman says. Still, "there's still a vast gap between the haves and the have-nots" with black residents far more likely to be poor, and wealth amassed by a handful of people, most of them white.

"That," he said, "is why it hasn't changed."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." - King.
From the altar at the More Than Conquerors Faith Church, Pastor Steve Green preaches to a congregation that couldn't have existed in King's day.

There are graduates of once-segregated universities. A generation of kids comfortable with mixed-race relationships. And political activists who worked to get out the vote for the nation's first black president.

Yet there is one constant: Green's congregation is about 90 percent black, a reminder of King's frequently-quoted declaration that 11 a.m. on Sunday is "the most segregated hour of Christian America."

King, the pastor says, would turn to the Bible to explain that 50 years isn't all that long to transform an entire society.

"Being a preacher, I think he would use as the basis the scriptural principle of seedtime and harvest. I think a lot of the seeds have been planted," he says. "They're getting nurtured a little at a time. But I don't think it's harvest time yet."

One member of Green's congregation, Chastity McDavid, reflects the dramatic change.

Growing up poor in Florida, she says, "I expected prejudice and racism and if it didn't happen, I was pleasantly surprised."

Now she holds a doctoral degree and is a minority health disparity researcher at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

When visiting community centers, sometimes addressing elderly, largely white audiences, McDavid says she's approached those events, alert for signs of prejudice. "I'd go with an open mind and open heart but be prepared for whatever," she says. What she's generally found, she says, are people who've been "accepting, even welcoming."

From childhood on, McDavid, now 35, always participated in celebrations for King's birthday, often at school where someone would usually recite the dream speech.

"He was the greatest example of how one person could make a difference," she says. "It wasn't so much the speech itself. ... It was what the speech ignited in the people who heard it. I felt I could be anything I want because of Dr. King. Had his dream not been shared, I don't think I would be where I am today."
"Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" - King.
One recent summer night, Steve Sills, a member of Green's church, took his two daughters to a rally to motivate young people about the value of respect.

The setting was Kelly Ingram Park, ground zero for the turbulence 50 years ago.

Sill's older daughter, Makiyah, 12, had studied King in school but she didn't understand the sculptures of vicious dogs and water hoses.

As they drove home, Sills, a computer teacher at a middle school, explained the racial hostilities of that era. 

He noticed a tear forming in his daughter's eye.

"She couldn't relate," he says. "Her best friends are white. She couldn't imagine it being that way."

Makiyah, he says, then wondered about the need to erect monuments of a painful chapter of America's past.

"Why would they have this as a reminder?" she asked. "It's sad."

"Yes, baby, those were terrible days," he replied, "but through the years we've put those things behind us. ... 

This is a part of history. It's good to revisit these times to show how far we've come."

Churches changing bylaws after gay marriage ruling

Churches changing bylaws after gay marriage ruling 

AP Photo
City Church of Tallahassee Pastor Dean Inserra stands inside his church in Tallahassee, Fla. on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Inserra's church is researching how they will address the changing attitudes to gay marriage in the courts as well as among the public. "We have some gay couples that attend our church. What happens when they ask us to do their wedding?" Inserra said. "What happens when we say no? Is it going to be treated like a civil rights thing?"

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Worried they could be sued by gay couples, some churches are changing their bylaws to reflect their view that the Bible allows only marriage between one man and one woman.

Although there have been lawsuits against wedding industry businesses that refuse to serve gay couples, attorneys promoting the bylaw changes say they don't know of any lawsuits against churches.
Critics say the changes are unnecessary, but some churches fear that it's only a matter of time before one of them is sued.

"I thought marriage was always between one man and one woman, but the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision said no," said Gregory S. Erwin, an attorney for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, an association of Southern Baptist churches and one several groups advising churches to change their bylaws. "I think it's better to be prepared because the law is changing. America is changing."

In a June decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman for purposes of federal law. A second decision was more technical but essentially ushered in legal gay marriage in California.

Kevin Snider is an attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute, a nonprofit legal defense group that specializes in conservative Christian issues. His organization released a model marriage policy a few years ago in response to a statewide gay marriage fight in California. Snider said some religious leaders have been threatened with lawsuits for declining to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Dean Inserra, head pastor of the 1,000-member City Church Tallahassee, based in Florida, said he does not want to be alarmist, but his church is looking into how best to address the issue.

Inserra said he already has had to say no to gay friends who wanted him to perform a wedding ceremony.

"We have some gay couples that attend our church. What happens when they ask us to do their wedding?" Inserra said. "What happens when we say no? Is it going to be treated like a civil rights thing?"

Critics, including some gay Christian leaders, argue that the changes amount to a solution looking for a problem.

"They seem to be under the impression that there is this huge movement with the goal of forcing them to perform ceremonies that violate their freedom of religion," said Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit that provides support for gay Christians and their friends and families and encourages churches to be more welcoming.

"If anyone tried to force a church to perform a ceremony against their will, I would be the first person to stand up in that church's defense."

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia now recognize gay marriage.

Some Christian denominations, such as the United Church of Christ, accept gay marriage. The Episcopal Church recently approved a blessing for same-sex couples, but each bishop must decide whether to allow the ceremony in his or her local diocese.

The majority of Christian denominations, however, view homosexual relationships as sinful. In more hierarchical denominations, like the Roman Catholic Church or the United Methodist Church, individual churches are bound by the policies of the larger denomination. But nondenominational churches and those loosely affiliated with more established groups often individually decide how to address social issues such as gay marriage.

Eric Rassbach is an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest legal group that defends the free expression rights of all faiths. He said it is unlikely the government would try to force a pastor to perform a same-sex marriage, but churches that rent out their facilities to the general public could face problems if they refuse to rent to gay couples.

Although his organization has not advocated it, he said it could strengthen a church's legal position to adopt a statement explaining its beliefs about marriage.

"A number of groups don't have a written doctrine," Rassbach said. "Say a group like the Primitive Baptists - they don't want a written-down credo, but the courts like written-down things."

Rassbach said it was important for churches to get their beliefs in writing before a dispute arises, otherwise it can look to a court as if something was done after the fact as an attempt to cover up hostility to gays.

Airline Baptist Church Senior Pastor Chad Mills said members of the public use their facilities in Bossier City, La., for many activities, including Zumba classes. In the past, anyone who could pay the fee was allowed to reserve the space. But recently, the church changed its rental policy to allow wedding-related events only for male-female couples.

Some denominations are less concerned about the Supreme Court rulings. The Assemblies of God, the group of churches comprising the world's largest Pentecostal denomination, sought legal advice after the rulings. An attorney for the group distributed a memo to ministers saying there was no reason to change their bylaws.

However, the memo also said that "doing so is not inappropriate, and may be warranted based on future rulings by the Supreme Court and other state and federal courts."

The bylaw changes are coming at a time when many churches are wrestling with gay marriage in general and are working hard to be more welcoming to gays and lesbians.

"It's probably one of the most difficult issues our churches are facing right now," said Doug Anderson, a national coordinator with the evangelical Vineyard Church. "It's almost an impossible situation to reconcile what's going on in our culture, and our whole theology of welcoming and loving people, versus what it says in the Bible."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Damaris Johnson Could Be The Philadelphia Eagles’ Secret Weapon

Damaris Johnson Could Be The Philadelphia Eagles’ Secret Weapon
PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 09:   Damaris Johnson #13 of the Philadelphia Eagles tries to break tackle of  Drew Butler #9  and Baron Batch #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 9, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Name: Damaris Johnson – WR – #13
Height: 5′ 8″
Weight: 170 lbs.
Age: 23
Hometown: Norco, Louisiana
College: Tulsa
Experience: 1 year

Chip Kelly’s new offensive style in Philadelphia tends to rely on tall wide receivers. The Eagles have already been hit hard with a pair of season ending ACL injuries to speedy receiver Jeremy Maclin and physical receiver Arrelious Benn before the first preseason game. Second year receiver Damaris Johnson is now in a position to thrive in Kelly’s new game plan.

Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Johnson has been working hard to earn his place on the roster under new coach Chip Kelly. He may have already been a player worth keeping around on the roster anyway, but with the losses of Maclin and Benn, it appears more likely he will be able to win a roster spot at the end of training camp.

For full story go to:

Beau Biden Returns To Delaware With Father

Beau Biden Returns To Delaware With Father
DOVER, Del. (CBS/AP) — Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden was back home Thursday with his father, Vice President Joe Biden, after undergoing a medical procedure at a Houston cancer center.

Beau Biden, the vice president and other family members arrived in a small motorcade to Joe Biden’s house about 3:50 p.m. Thursday. The cars did not stop; the windows on one, an SUV, were tinted and rolled up.

“On our way home! Can’t wait to get back. Thank you, Houston,” the younger Biden said Thursday in a
Twitter post that included a photo of him with his wife and parents.

For full story go to:

Russia defends anti-gay law in letter to IOC

Russia defends anti-gay law in letter to IOC

AP Photo
Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva, the gold medalist in the women's pole vault, gestures during a press conference at the World Athletics Championships in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013.

LONDON (AP) -- The Russian government assured the IOC on Thursday it will not discriminate against homosexuals during the Sochi Olympics, while defending the law against gay "propaganda" that has provoked an international backlash.

The IOC received a letter from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak giving reassurances the host country will comply fully with the Olympic Charter's provision against discrimination of any kind.

"The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety," Kozak said.

However, Kozak did not back down on the issue of the new law, which penalizes anyone who distributes information aimed at persuading minors that "nontraditional" relationships are normal or attractive.

The law applies equally to everyone and "cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation," Kozak said.

The letter still leaves open the question of what would happen to Olympic athletes or fans if they make statements or gestures that could be considered propaganda.

The law has provoked harsh international criticism ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi. Some activists have called for a boycott of the games, though President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have ruled that out.

Kozak's letter came after IOC President Jacques Rogge asked the Russians for further clarifications on the law and how it could impact on the Sochi Games.

"We have today received strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation," Rogge said in a statement.

The letter was addressed to Jean Claude-Killy, the French IOC member who heads the coordination commission for the Sochi Games.

It's still not clear if an athlete or spectator could be prosecuted for wearing a badge or rainbow pin or waving a small flag in solidarity with gay rights. Political gestures of any kind are also prohibited by the IOC.

The issue attracted attention at the world athletics championships in Moscow last week when Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her fingernails in the colors of the rainbow to support gay rights.

The gesture prompted Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva to complain that Green Tregaro was disrespecting Russia.

In his letter, Kozak said the legislation does not impose any restrictions on sexual orientation, and stressed the Russian constitution prohibits discrimination against anyone based on sex, race or religion.

The law on gay propaganda, he said, centers on the "restriction of information that promotes non-traditional sexual relationships among children."

"These legislations apply equally to all persons, irrespective of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, and cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation," he said.

The letter added: "These requirements do not attract any limitations for participants and spectators of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on their legal right of residence in the territory of the Russian Federation or participation in any events stipulated in the Games program that are contradictory to the Olympic Charter or universally recognized standards of international law on human rights."

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993 and Russian officials have been at pains to emphasize that the law does not penalize gay orientation or activity.

However, the law reflects widespread animosity toward homosexuals in Russian society and its vagueness troubles many. It appears possible that anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of propagandizing.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

419 Mail Scam

419 Scams (Foreign Money Offers)

Often sent from con artists claiming to be foreign diplomats, business executives or even troubled widows, these scams, which are named after a section of Nigerian criminal law, use emailed promises of riches to lure victims into paying fake bank fees, bribes, taxes, etc. Once a victim replies to the initial email, victims receive heartfelt correspondence from the con artist that often come along with official looking documents. All this "corroborating evidence" creates a sense of legitimacy that helps to ensnare the victim.

Scammers Getting Better at Hacking Your Smartphone

As smartphone viruses creep closer to U.S. shores, malicious programmers behind them have become more ingenious, according to a report issued Tuesday by computer security firm McAfee. Predictably, it’s all about the money — that is, hackers are learning how to turn your smartphone into cash for them.

One year ago, state-of-the-art smartphone viruses tricked the gadgets into dialing pricey international phone numbers or sending premium texts routed through accounts controlled by hackers, not unlike old-fashioned 1-900 toll call scams. But a new crop of sophisticated mobile phone viruses are worming their way into consumers’ handset software and enabling criminals to send themselves cash directly without a phone ever leaving your pocket.

“The type of threat is really evolving,” said Adam Wosotowsky, a threat researcher for McAfee Labs who helped prepare the McAfee Threats Report. For example, a new crop of mobile viruses intercept two-factor authentication codes sent as text messages by banks, cracking a system that has long been considered safe. Some phone viruses are smart enough to collect passwords and launch mobile bank apps, the report says.

Researchers are also discovering much more sophisticated infection ploys from mobile virus writers, said Wosotowsky. Rather than shoe-horning malicious code into existing apps, some are even writing mobile malware from scratch. In one instance, McAfee found an online dating app that was completely fake, and designed only to infect a users’ phone.

“Even if the apps don’t really work, most users don’t bother uninstalling apps after they go on a download binge, so it works (for the virus writer),” he said.

‘This Is a Robbery!’

The McAfee report also found an explosion of “ransomware” viruses, both on PCs and mobile phones. With ransomware, a computer criminal infects a users’ gadget and makes it lock up, then demands the user pay $50 or $100 for software that allegedly cleans the infection. Often, users who pay up find their machines are still infected. McAfee said it found 320,000 different ransomware programs last quarter, double the amount from last year. That must mean ransomware is working for criminals; warnings issued by Scotland Yard, the FBI and other international agencies also show the extent of the ransomware problem.

The Android platform remains the most attractive target for mobile phone hackers, Wosotowsky said. The firm uncovered more than 17,000 Android viruses in the second quarter of this year, and expects 2013 to bring twice as many such viruses as 2012.

Google’s Android platform is more “open,” than Apple’s iPhone — Android users can download and install new apps from anywhere, while iPhone users must use Apple’s App Store — making Android a better platform for hackers. The target is bigger, too. Worldwide, Android’s new shipment market share is now 80 percent, compared to iPhone’s 13 percent, according to IDC.

Non-English speaking Android users, particularly in Asia, are the easiest targets for mobile virus writers, because they are much more likely to use third-party app sites instead of Google’s Play store. But American users shouldn’t take much comfort in that. Virus writers have upped their game in delivery mechanisms designed to hit Americans. Earlier this year, a mobile virus named NotCompatible attacked 10,000 U.S. phones daily, according to security firm Lookout. Its trick: Using clever spam that appeared to come from a friend to fool recipients into clicking on a link and agreeing to download a malicious app.

In most attacks, hackers download a legitimate phone app, edit it to include a dangerous payload, and then upload it to an app store. What appears to be an innocent game for kids can be turned into a Trojan horse that intercepts every phone keystroke, and can now even initiate banking transfers without user intervention.

Such attacks can be lucrative. A malicious program named Eurograbber is blamed for stealing $47 million from 30,000 bank accounts this way, according to a report by security firm F-Secure.

And even if smartphone users avoid clicking on booby-trapped spam e-mails and downloading apps from rogue locations, they’re not entirely in the clear. Another disturbing trend: so-called cross-platform hacking, in which computer criminals infect a user’s PC with a virus, then use that PC to leap onto a victim’s smartphone the next time it’s attached via USB cable. Because the phone has a trust relationship with the PC, it allows installation of the bogus app.

“Keep in mind your online identity involves all your machines,” Wosotowsky said. “When you connect them together, they can infect each other. … We’re going to start seeing cross-over there.”

You can spot a possible hack by monitoring your credit regularly. You can pay for a monitoring service, or you can use the free Credit Report Card to watch your credit.

Red Tape Wrestling Tips
Stick with app stores you know. Google’s Play store and Apple’s App Store aren’t fool-proof, but they are close. Don’t be tempted to try apps you find other places online, even if the invitation comes from a friend. Having your phone hacked can be a lot more devastating than having your PC hacked; it’s not worth tempting fate.Don’t allow an app you download to trigger a download of another app that’s outside the standard app stores. Even if you trust the first app, such escalation is a new trick from virus writers, Wosotowsky said.If you are infected by ransomware, don’t pay! That probably won’t fix your computer. Go to another computer and find fix-it tools from reputable antivirus firms. (Don’t fall for “fixes” posted by other hackers.)
“Every aspect of our day to day life is online now, with mobile phones,” Wosotowsky said. “We are going to see lot more of malware targeted in that direction.”

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