Jan 31, 2010







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Pink






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Beyonce






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Lady GaGa






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Jamie Foxx and T-Pain






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Jan 30, 2010

Caressa Cameron singing 'Listen'



Crowning Moment


Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron has won the 2010 Miss America title after strutting in a yellow dress, belting Beyonce's "Listen" from "Dreamgirls" and telling kids they should get outside more often.

Cameron won a $50,000 scholarship and the crown in Las Vegas after a Saturday night pageant that started with 53 contestants.

Cameron, a 22-year-old from Fredericksburg, Va., outlasted her opponents in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions.

Miss California Kristy Cavinder was the first runner-up, winning $25,000.

Cameron is a broadcast journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University, and wants to become an anchor. Miss Louisiana was the thrid runner-up and Miss Kentucky was fourth runner-up. source

Jan 29, 2010



Winning $30 million in the Florida Lottery should have been the best thing that ever happened to Abraham Shakespeare.

But with his newfound wealth came a string of bad choices and hangers-on who constantly hit him up for money. Nine months ago, he vanished. Friends and family hoped he was on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean.

On Friday, detectives confirmed that a body buried under a concrete slab in a rural backyard was his.

The home Shakespeare was found behind belongs to the boyfriend of a woman who befriended him in 2007, the year after he won the lottery. Authorities believe he was murdered and the woman may know something about it, but they do not yet know how he died and have not arrested anyone.

Shakespeare's brother, Robert Brown, said Friday that Shakespeare often wished he had never bought the winning ticket.

"'I'd have been better off broke.' He said that to me all the time," Brown said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's detectives used fingerprints to identify Shakespeare's body, which they found buried 5 feet deep and covered by a 30-by-30 concrete slab in the backyard of a two-story ranch house. There are no neighbors,save for an empty trailer next door and an orange grove across the street.

When Shakespeare won the lottery, he was an assistant truck driver who lived with his mother in a rural county east of Tampa. He was barely literate, had a criminal record and was extremely generous with his newly acquired wealth.

"He really didn't understand it at all," said Samuel Jones, who has known Shakespeare since both were 12. "It was moving so fast. It changed his life in a bad way."

Jones said Friday that Abraham told him in March that he wanted to get out of Lakeland, where he had bought a million-dollar home. After he chose a lump sum payment of nearly $17 million, people gathered outside his mother's home, clamoring for cash.

Jones said Abraham would tell him, "I thought all these people were my friends, but then I realized all they want is just money."


Click here to read the full article.
 
 
 
Etta James' son says the 72-year-old R&B singer is hospitalized in Southern California with a serious infection but he expects her to be released soon.
 
Donto James says his mother has been at Riverside Community Hospital for about a week and is recovering from sepsis caused by a urinary tract infection.

He says James, who lives in Woodcrest, entered a treatment program about a month ago to shake a dependency on painkillers and over-the-counter medicine. She was transferred to another facility and then the hospital when her physical condition worsened. source

0
 
 
Via CNN:
 
 
Officials have agreed to pay $1.5 million to the daughter of a man fatally shot in the back by a transit police officer on New Year's Day 2009 in Oakland, California.

A bystander's cell-phone video of the shooting on a transit platform was widely circulated on the Internet and on news shows.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit train system late Wednesday announced the settlement over the killing of Oscar Grant, 22.

"It's been a little over a year since we experienced the tragic death of Oscar Grant," BART Board President James Fang said. "No matter what anyone's opinion of the case may be, the sad fact remains this incident has left Tatiana without a father. The $1.5 million settlement will provide financial support for her." Grant's daughter, Tatiana, is 5.

The video showed then-Officer Johannes Mehserle, 27, pulling his gun and shooting Grant in the back as another officer kneeled on Grant.

Mehserle might have intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun, according to a court filing by his attorney.

The shooting sparked large protests in Oakland and led to Mehserle's arrest on a murder charge. The case against him is pending.

Initially, attorney John Burris asked for $50 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed on behalf of Grant's daughter. Burris was not immediately available for comment on the settlement.

The transit system's police department has made several changes since the shooting. The department has increased training hours for officers, is requiring them to report all "use-of-force incidents," and is tapping the public's help in searching for a new police chief, the transit system said in a statement.

"This settlement is critical in our efforts to move forward," said Carole Ward Allen, a BART board member. "We're working hard to make the police department the best it can be for our officers, our customers and our community."



St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) yells in frustration ...
 
 
 
Media reports say St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson has been accused of beating a girlfriend who was nine months pregnant with the couple's child at his Las Vegas home last year.

Supriya Harris of Mableton, Ga., filed a complaint with Las Vegas police this week saying the two-time Pro Bowl running back repeatedly pushed her to the ground in March 2009 and bloodied her hip. Copies of the report were posted online by CBS Sports.

Las Vegas police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said authorities have not been in contact with Jackson, nor is an active investigation under way. She said the police report made in LaPlace, La., had not yet been provided to Las Vegas police.

In the report, Harris said Jackson "flung" her against a door until Jackson's nephew interceded. She told police Jackson later urged her to say she was injured during a fall in the shower.

Jackson called the accusations "untrue" and "hurtful" in a statement issued by one of his agents, Tom Savage of U.S. Sports Advisors.

The Rams said the team was aware of the situation. "We are always concerned with issues involving our players," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. source


 
 
The Queen of All Media, Oprah Winfrey, turned 56 today.  Happy Birthday to you (singing in my Stevie Wonder voice)!  I love this lady.
 
 

Wyclef Jean says his former group The Fugees should record a charity single to raise money for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

The group, which featured Wyclef, his Haitian cousin Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill, split up in 1997 but could reform for a one-off release.

He said: "Everyone is doing different relief and when the time is right, the vibe is right, The Fugees should definitely contribute a single to go into Yele Haiti (Wyclef Jean's charity). I think it would raise a lot of money."  source

Dumisani Rebombo
 
Editor's Note:
 
As I read this article I couldn't help but weep.  This article isn't for the faint of heart but I do think it's a necessary read.  It speaks to what it happening to women in other parts of the world and we must take notice.
 

Dumisani Rebombo and his friend raped a young girl in their village in South Africa when they were teenagers.

Years later, he returned to the same village to find the woman he attacked and begged for her forgiveness.

Mr Rebombo, 49, is one of thousands of men in South Africa who admit to having carried out a sexual assault - one in four, according to a recent survey.

He told BBC News why he feels so many young men in his homeland engage in the ill-treatment of women.

Before the incident, I was constantly jeered for not being man enough.

At the time I was not ready to have a girlfriend when all my friends did.

I did not tend the cattle or sheep, nor did I attend the initiation school [where South African teenagers are circumcised in traditional rites of passage].

This fuelled my daily jeers.

A friend and my cousin pressured me to prove that I was man enough, by taking part in the rape of a teenage girl in the village.

This was termed "straightening her up", since she did not want to go out with any of the local boys.

I succumbed to this daily pressure and on the day of the incident, when they saw me trembling with fear, they ordered me to take marijuana and beer to defeat my fears.

I did just that and the two of us [my friend and I] proceeded to rape the girl.

Guilty and scared

Afterwards, I was terrified.

I felt guilty but also scared that the news could reach my mother who had a high standing in the community.

The following day, when we went for our soccer practice, this incident was reported to all the other football players.

On hearing the news, they sang and clapped as if we had done something right.

This helped to stop the jeering somewhat and I was allowed to associate with the other boys.

I still felt guilty, at least partially so, especially when I saw the girl in the village. Sometimes I tried to avoid meeting her.

But slowly, over time, I began to think less and less about the incident.

I left my village in Limpopo Province and went to live in the city and joined a religious group from which I learned a lot about love and respect for all.

Strangely, I did not think much of the incident - I just went on with my life.

I started work with an NGO (non-governmental organisation) where I mostly worked with unemployed mothers.

Every Monday morning, the women reported incidents of abuse in different forms.

As they did this, I could not help it but give way to introspection.

It was as if every time I heard of a negative act by a man, I was forced to go back to my own incident.

I then asked my employers to train us in a methodology which would target boys and men.

They did this and very soon, I felt challenged, self-consciously, to set an example to the men I was teaching.

Seeking forgiveness

I took a decision to go back to find the woman I raped.

I realised that the woman needed justice.

But also, I wanted to ask for forgiveness, now that I understood the effects and consequences for someone who has been raped.

I went to my pastor about this. His response was: "You are saved now, you were once in the mud, but now you know the truth and you are therefore OK."

He also asked me if I was ready to go to jail. He said: "What if the woman went to the authorities?"

My answer was: "If I go to jail, that would be justice for that woman."

I therefore took the journey to the north.

I wanted her to know that I felt bad about what I had done to her, that I was a changed man and I was working with other men to prevent rape.

When we met, she showed a wry smile on her face.

Since we were at a public clinic, she thought I was a doctor or someone from the Ministry of Health.

I related my story to her. She looked at me and revealed that she had since been raped on two other occasions.

She started crying. She told me how she often cringes when her husband touches her.

She told me that her life was never the same emotionally following these incidents.

Worse still, she was not ready to tell her husband of what had happened.

Finally, she said that she forgave me, and thought that I had meant well with all that I had said.

I left that room with a new burden - to do something about rape in my community and my country.

Machismo feelings

If you asked me: "What motivates so many men in South Africa to engage in un-consensual sex?" I would say that it is the machismo feelings and beliefs, coupled with patriarchal processes and tendencies.

I think that we raise boys in the wrong way, but later on in their lives we want to see them as different men who care and love.

My advice to young men who feel under pressure to rape, is to surround yourselves with good friends.

Learn to talk to someone about what is going on inside.

For with this, one can teach the young men to have other means of solving conflict.

And above all, to grow up respecting girls. source

 
 
 
Mrs. Obama is the administration's lead on obesity and she's doing a slow roll out of the details to build up public interest in the formal announcement.
 
Last week, she addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors about "best practices" of some cities to contribute to healthier citizens. She has talked several times about the public-private partnerships she wants to create to enhance opportunities for kids to have a more active lifestyle and better access to alternatives to fast food. Obesity is a particular problem in some minority communities without easy access to supermarkets, much less farmers markets.
 
The peg for Mrs. Obama's speech was the release of a report by the Surgeon General about the increase in childhood obesity. Before her speech, she toured the YMCA playroom, with games that encouraged kids to exercise.
 
Mrs. Obama, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, revealed more of the contours of the anti-obesity drive:
 
1. Combating junk food advertisements aimed at kids. "Every eight minutes you have a junk food ad," Sebelius said. "And now those ads have spread to video games and Web sites."
 
2. Increasing access to healthy foods. Mrs. Obama said parents tell her they want to feed their kids fresh produce but it is difficult "if you don't live anywhere near a place that sells fresh produce."
 
3. Making good food cheaper. "In these tough economic times, buying healthy foods unfortunately feels like a luxury for too many families," Mrs. Obama said.
 
4. Promoting exercise by boosting funding for local schools, parks and playgrounds. "Recess and PE are gone for many kids in communities all across the country. Parks and playgrounds and after school sports are few and far between in too many neighborhoods," Mrs. Obama said.
 
5. Providing healthy options at school lunches. Congress this year is supposed to take up school lunch legislation.
When the program is finally officially announced, Mrs. Obama said it will include the federal government, business, nonprofit organizations and foundations in a series of partnerships.
 
Said Mrs. Obama, "The approach has to be ambitious. It can't just be lockstep. It's got to be something meaningful and powerful." source


Jewel Thief Played by Halle Berry in Movie Is Arrested | Halle Berry
Halle Berry & Doris Payne
 
 
Doris Payne, international jewel thief and namesake of an upcoming Halle Berry film, allegedly has struck again – at age 79.

Payne was arrested Friday for removing the tags from a $1,300 Burberry trench coat at a Costa Mesa, Calif., Saks Fifth Avenue and walking out without paying, according to police.

The subject of the film Who is Doris Payne?, the West Virginia native has a rap sheet at least six feet long, and is known for her lifelong career pilfering diamond rings from jewelry stores from Las Vegas to New York, and Paris to Tokyo.

Payne, who was out on parole at the time of her arrest, is currently in custody without bail for a probation violation. source
 
 
I ain't up on my thievery, but I would think the cut of tags doesn't work anymore but it could just be me.  On a side note: Doesn't Halle Berry look so much better with the shorter hair? 


Jan 28, 2010

 
 
Elizabeth Edwards stood faithfully by her husband even after she learned he had an affair on the campaign trail while she battled cancer. She recently described the "slow process" of trying to rebuild her trust in him.
 
Her struggle to reconcile the marriage appeared near its end with word Wednesday that she and her husband of more than 30 years have separated.

The news came a week after John Edwards admitted fathering a child with his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and as details emerged from a book by a former aide describing the lengths the former presidential candidate took to try hiding his misdeeds from his wife, family and the American public.

Elizabeth Edwards, 60, declined to comment through a friend, Andrea Purse, who confirmed the separation. But Elizabeth's sister told The Associated Press that she remains strong.

"She's doing as well as you could expect," Nancy Anania said. "I'm really proud of her that, somehow, she's got strength that you rarely see in a person."

John Edwards issued a brief statement Wednesday, expressing care for the mother of four of his children.

"It is an extraordinarily sad moment, but I love my children more than anything and still care deeply about Elizabeth," he said.

Purse did not reveal how long the couple has been apart. North Carolina law typically requires couples to be separated for a year before divorcing.

It's another wrenching twist for a couple that had previously weathered the death of a 16-year-old son and Elizabeth's ongoing battle with incurable cancer.

They were law school sweethearts who got married just days after they took the bar exam together in the summer of 1977. Though John Edwards, 56, went on to make millions as a trial lawyer, they had humble beginnings: He had to borrow money from her parents for a one-night honeymoon. She always wore her $11 wedding ring. For years they spent their anniversaries going to Wendy's, just as they did on their first one.

Former aide Andrew Young initially claimed in the weeks leading up to the crucial presidential primaries that he was the father of Hunter's child. Young's upcoming book details how Edwards went to great lengths to hide the affair.

In excerpts from an ABC News interview, Young said Edwards asked him to find a doctor who might fake a paternity test and asked him to steal a diaper from the baby, now almost 2, to determine whether it was really his. He also claims the Edwards sought to politicize Elizabeth's cancer diagnosis.

The statement released on behalf of Elizabeth Edwards said she will not engage in a dialogue on "false charges" in the book.

"Based on the limited portions of the book that have been made available, it is clear it contains many falsehoods and exaggerations," she said. She responded to one point, saying the suggestion that she capitalized on her cancer is "unconscionable, hurtful and patently false."

Elizabeth Edwards has an incurable form of cancer that returned in 2007 as the couple was campaigning for the presidency. She said last week that her health got worse for a period but has been recently improving. She declined at the time to discuss her marital status. source

1127green
 
 
 

A transgender New Yorker has filed a $10 million sex assault suit against an NFL player - and in a separate action is also suing the city, saying she was abused and humiliated by cops.

Angelina Mavilia's legal action against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Eric Green alleges he forcibly sodomized her.

The two met in a Scottsdale, Ariz., casino in early 2009 when Green still played for the Arizona Cardinals, the 38-year-old East Side woman says in papers filed in federal court in Florida, where Green was born and lives.

They went back to his condo, where Green, 27, assaulted her, she charges. He then got "extremely agitated and threatening," according to court documents, and warned: "This never happened. You'd better not tell."

In the local case, Mavilia says she was dehumanized after being arrested for trespassing in a Manhattan housing complex on Oct. 30, 2008.

A female cop twice demanded she take off her bra and panties and then peered at her genitals, according to court papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court.

"It's a girl!" the cop is claimed to have yelled.

At Manhattan Central Booking, a correction officer ordered Mavilia to strip yet again and put her in a cell with a man.

"You're not fooling me; I know you were not born a woman," the officer allegedly mocked. "I can see your plastic surgery."

Mavilia declined to comment on both cases Wednesday night. Green could not be reached.

amd_jasmina_obama
 
 
 

Jasmina Anema, the Manhattan girl whose brave battle against leukemia captivated the city and inspired thousands to become bone marrow donors, has died. She was just six years old.

Jasmina's year-long fight against an especially fatal form of the disease ended at 10:55 p.m. Wednesday night at NYU Langone Medical Center, her mother, Thea Anema, said.

Suffering from a fever and shortness of breath, Jasmina was admitted to the hospital Monday morning.

She was diagnosed with pneumonia in both of her lungs, and her condition deteriorated rapidly.

Before noon on Wednesday, doctors moved Jasmina into the ICU because her breathing had become so labored.

She only got worse.

Jasmina's plight inspired celebrities like Rihanna to make public pleas for potential bone marrow donors to get tested for a possible match...

 

"Jasmina's antibiotics are not working so her lungs are filling up with fluids," a friend wrote on Jasmina's blog in a message posted at 6:43 p.m. "Her situation right now is critical. The doctors are trying to get the situation under control but Thea will have to make a difficult decision if this does not work."

Jasmina passed away just a few hours later.

"Today, January 27th, at 10:55 p.m. Jasmina lost her fight against leukemia," Thea Anema wrote.

Jasmina, a cute-as-a-button kindergartner from Greenwich Village, lived the life of a typical child until Jan. 20 when a doctor informed her she was suffering from NK cell Leukemia.

Alerted by a series of stories in the Daily News, thousands of New Yorkers turned out for bone marrow donor drives.

A slew of celebrities, including singer Rihanna and NBA star Paul Pierce, also urged donors to come forward.

Hope seemed lost until early May, when a near-perfect donor match was finally found.

The resulting transplant was a success, but Jasmina's good fortune did not last.

A biopsy in September revealed that her cancer had returned. By that point, Jasmina was also suffering from graft versus host disease, a common complication in bone-marrow transplants in which the new cells attack the recipient's body.

In her final few months, Jasmina, her heath failing, had the experience of her dreams: She met President Obama in the Oval Office and spent 10 wondrous minutes with him.

That day, Jasmina's poise and courage left her mother stunned.

It was far from the first time.

On that terrible September day when she was told her cancer had returned, Jasmina looked into her mom's bloodshot eyes and tried to console her from her hospital bed.

"Mama, no reason to cry," Jasmina told her. "Just think of something beautiful."



 


Here's the transcript:

I was trying to think about who he was tonight. It's interesting: he is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he's gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and past so much history, in just a year or two. I mean, it's something we don't even think about. I was watching, I said, wait a minute, he's an African American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is president of the United States and we've completely forgotten that tonight -- completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don't think in terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard. A very subtle fact. It's so hard to talk about. Maybe I shouldn't talk about it, but I am. I thought it was profound that way.


Update:
Chris Matthews was just on the Rachel Maddow Show and he clarified his statement from tonight. He basically said that he was impressed by the fact that race was not an issue in the chamber the way it seemed to play a role last year. He went on to say that he believes this President has showed true leadership in ushering us beyond an era of black vs. white.

Jan 27, 2010

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Click here to read the full text of the speech.
A former bench warmer of the NBA, Paul Shirley, is causing quite a stir on the internet with his recent open-letter about the people of Haiti.  Here are some of my favorite parts of the letter:
 
I haven't donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don't give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don't think the guy with the sign that reads "Need You're Help" is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him. If I use history as my guide, I don't think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either.
 
Ooh and this part:
 

My wariness has much to do with the fact that the sympathy deployed to Haiti has been done so unconditionally. Very few have said, written, or even intimated the slightest admonishment of Haiti, the country, for putting itself into a position where so many would be killed by an earthquake.

I can't help but wonder why questions have not been raised in the face of this outpouring of support. Questions like this one:

Shouldn't much of the responsibility for the disaster lie with the victims of that disaster?

 
Oh, but by far this is my favorite:
 

Dear Haitians –

First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.

As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it's possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?

Sincerely,

The Rest of the World

 
 
Basically he says that it is the people of Haiti's fault that they are having to deal with a tragedy of this magnitude.  If they would have only used condoms and not built shanty-like structures then maybe all of this despair could have been avoided.  He also goes on to compare the people of Haiti to the homeless on the street.  Wow!!!!  I always love when people who don't know the backstory of a situation (non-readers) try to give advice as to what one should do about a situation.  It's amazing that people have such a revisionist view of history.  I don't know if Paul Shirley is ignorant to the trials of Haiti because ignorance is bliss or could it be something more sinister to the fact that he just doesn't give a damn and wish to spew his ignorance to the world.  But the sad part about the whole thing is the fact that the majority of the people don't know the history of Haiti and thus go along with this foolishness because they choose not to read.  
 
Initially, I wasn't going to give his viewpoint any creedance by responding to it on this site, but then I realize that he isn't the only person who feels this way when it comes to countries like Haiti and other developing countries throughout the world.  I mean take ignorant a$$ Pat Robertson and the asinine comment he made about Haiti being "cursed" because of a Voodoo ritual.  If he knew anything about Voodoo he would know that there is nothing sinister about the religion; all that sinister propaganda about the religion was stuff trumped up by Hollywood as a means to dismiss something they did not understand as something that must be evil. 
Until we educate ourselves to what is really going on in the world we are always going to be slaves to people like Paul Shirley who think they know what's going on, but don't have a clue.
 
 
R.I.F. = Reading Is Fundamental
 
Learn the truth for yourself!!!!!
Finally, some good news for the college educated single sista that actually wants to get marry (because you know we don't all want to be married).  We, educated sistas might not have a snow ball chance in hell of getting married (based on statistics), but if by some chance a man feels sorry for us and ask for our hand we can take comfort in the fact that our 'Happily Ever After' will last longer than uneducated women.  Take that...LOL!!!
 

A woman with a college education may be less likely to tie the knot than her less-educated counterparts, but once she's married this college grad is more likely to stay that way, according to two economists.

The finding, based on a review of research from 1950 to 2008, also reveals changes over time in who is getting married and having kids and why. Historically, women with more education have been the least likely to marry and have children, but this marriage gap has eroded as marriage and remarriage rates for women with a college degree relative to those with less education have risen.

In fact, college-educated women now marry later, have fewer children, are less likely to view marriage as "financial security," are happier in their marriages and are the least likely to divorce.

Betsey Stevenson and Adam Isen, both of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, prepared this review for the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-profit organization that provides information to the public on American families.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • By age 40, college-educated white women are more likely to be married than other women, many of whom have already divorced.
  • College-educated women who are unmarried at age 40 are twice as likely to marry in the next 10 years as unmarried 40-year-olds with just a high school degree.
  • African-American women who have graduated from college or completed some college are more likely to marry than less-educated groups of black women.
  • At age 40, 86 percent of college-educated white women have married, compared with 90 percent of women with some college, 88 percent of high school graduates, and 81 percent of high school dropouts.
  • In 1950, only 74 percent of white female college graduates had married by age 40, compared with 92 percent of women who had completed some college, 90 percent of high school graduates, and 93 percent of high-school dropouts.

Times are changing

The economists found that marriage rates rose for all women between 1950 and 1960, but leveled off for women without a college degree in the 1960s. Marriage rates of college-educated women continued to rise until 1980, closing much of the educational gap in marriage.

In the 1980s, marriage rates for all women began to fall, though college-educated women are the only group of women whose marriage rates in the 21st century are higher than they were at any point in the 1950s.

For the never-married, educated woman who hopes to marry, but wants to wait for "Mr. Right," you're in luck: The average age of first marriage has been rising.

In the past, a woman who was unmarried at age 35 or 40 was unlikely to ever marry. Today, 15 percent of all women who are unmarried at age 40 will marry in the next 10 years. That number increases to 20 percent for college-educated women. source

 

WASHINGTON – Little girls may learn to fear math from the women who are their earliest teachers. Despite gains in recent years, women still trail men in some areas of math achievement, and the question of why has provoked controversy. Now, a study of first- and second-graders suggests what may be part of the answer: Female elementary school teachers who are concerned about their own math skills could be passing that along to the little girls they teach.

Young students tend to model themselves after adults of the same sex, and having a female teacher who is anxious about math may reinforce the stereotype that boys are better at math than girls, explained Sian L. Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Chicago.

Beilock and colleagues studied 52 boys and 65 girls in classes taught by 17 different teachers. Ninety percent of U.S. elementary school teachers are women, as were all of those in this study.

Student math ability was not related to teacher math anxiety at the start of the school year, the researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But by the end of the year, the more anxious teachers were about their own math skills, the more likely their female students â€" but not the boys â€" were to agree that "boys are good at math and girls are good at reading."

In addition, the girls who answered that way scored lower on math tests than either the classes' boys or the girls who had not developed a belief in the stereotype, the researchers found.

"It's actually surprising in a way, and not. People have had a hunch that teachers could impact the students in this way, but didn't know how it might do so in gender-specific fashion," Beilock said in a telephone interview.

Beilock, who studies how anxieties and stress can affect people's performance, noted that other research has indicated that elementary education majors at the college level have the highest levels of math anxiety of any college major.

"We wanted to see how that impacted their performance," she said.

After seeing the results, the researchers recommended that the math requirements for obtaining an elementary education teaching degree be rethought.

"If the next generation of teachers — especially elementary school teachers — is going to teach their students effectively, more care needs to be taken to develop both strong math skills and positive math attitudes in these educators," the researchers wrote.

Janet S. Hyde, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, called the study a "great paper, very clever research."

"It squares with an impression I've had for a long time," said Hyde, who was not part of the research team.

Hyde was lead author of a 2008 study showing women gaining on men in math skills but still lagging significantly in areas such as physics and engineering.

Girls who grow up believing females lack math skills wind up avoiding harder math classes, Hyde noted.

"It keeps girls and women out of a lot of careers, particularly high-prestige, lucrative careers in science and technology," she said.

Beilock did note that not all of the girls in classrooms with math-anxious teachers fell prey to the stereotype, but "teachers are one source," she said.

Teacher math anxiety was measured on a 25-question test about situations that made them anxious, such as reading a cash register receipt or studying for a math test. A separate test checked the math skills of the teachers, who worked in a large Midwestern urban school district.

Student math skills were tested in the first three months of the school year and again in the last two months of the year.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation. source

The White House previewed several tax cuts and spending programs yesterday that President Barack Obama will discuss in Wednesday's State of the Union address. Many of the proposals aim to help middle class families prepare for retirement. Here are 7 ways your retirement benefits could soon change.

Automatic IRAs. Employers who do not offer a retirement plan may soon be required to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA unless the worker opts out. New tax credits would help pay employer administrative costs and small firms would be exempt from participation. The administration has also recently streamlined the process for companies to automatically enroll their workers in existing 401(k) plans. 

Nationwide 401(k) Match. The Saver's Credit could be expanded to match 50 percent of the first $1,000 of retirement account contributions for families earning up to $65,000 and to provide a partial credit to families earning up to $85,000. This tax credit would also be made refundable for families with no income tax liability.

Outlining 401(k) Fees. The Obama administration supports making 401(k) investment, record-keeping, and other fees more transparent so retirement savers can better choose among investments.
 
More investment advice. Obama plans to encourage retirement plan sponsors to make unbiased investment advice available to workers and provide protections against conflicts of interest when financial advisers recommend specific products.

Advancing annuities. Products that guarantee lifetime income, such as annuities, will soon be promoted by the White House as a way to reduce the risk that retirees will outlive their savings.

A target-date review. The administration plans to review the quality of target-date funds and require more clear disclosures about their risks of losses, fees, and the methodology of their automatic shifts of assets over the course of an individual's lifetime.

Caregiver assistance. The proposed Caregiver Initiative adds $50 million to programs that provide transportation, adult day care, and in-home services such as aides to help seniors bathe and cook. It also would allocate $52.5 million for caregiver support programs that provide temporary respite care and referrals to critical services. The White House says the extra funding will allow nearly 200,000 additional caregivers to be served and 3 million more hours of respite care to be provided. source

A screen grab from a new YouTube video of the inmates of Cebu prison in the Philippines doing dances from Michael Jackson's 'This Is It.'
 
 
Via NYDaily:
 

Those dancing inmates at the maximum security prison in Cebu, the Philippines, are at it again - and this time, they had some professional help.

For anyone just now joining the dancing inmates, they at one point held the record for the largest group ever to perform the moves to Michael Jackson's groundbreaking "Thriller" video. An amateur video of their performance from within the confines of the prison became a YouTube sensation.

The new YouTube video begins with a man identified in a screen caption as "Wardon" Byron Garcia of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center walking with a mike into the now familiar enclosed prison yard, presumably calling everyone attention.

Once the dancing starts though, the first thing that might come to mind is, wow, these guys have gotten really good since their "Thriller" days.

That's because the first dancers we see aren't the inmates at all - they're Jackson choreographer Travis Payne and professional dancers Daniel Celebre and Dres Reid, who paid a visit to the prison to teach the inmates routines from Jackson's posthumous concert movie, "This Is It." Reid was among the dancers who appeared in the film.

The three pros lead a group of the most gifted incarcerated dancers - who are really good - through new choreography for "Bad," before segueing into "They Don't Care About Us."

During that song, they're joined by seemingly hundreds more, and the large group executes simpler moves in unison, with a few leg kicks thrown in for good measure, staying in formation. A camera shooting from above captures the marching-band-like group movements, and by the end of the routine, all the dancers have formed a peace sign, simultaneously pumping one fist in the air.

At one point a group parades a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the proceedings - presumably a reference to a line in Jackson's song that goes "Some things in life they just don't wanna see / But if Martin Luther was livin' / He wouldn't let this be."

But the performance was not in honor of the revered activist's birthday last week. Rather, the release of the YouTube video coincides with DVD release of "This Is It," reports USA Today.

Fritz Friedman of Sony Pictures, which released the concert movie, told the paper, "We thought it would be a great idea to pay homage to MJ on the occasion of the release of 'This Is It' by going to Cebu and having Travis work with the dancers to create this piece which is from the film."

 




People who give to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti can claim those donations this tax season.

Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their 2009 return qualify for the deductions thanks to legislation enacted last week. Only cash contributions made to the charities after Jan. 11 and before March 1 are eligible. This includes contributions made by text message, check, and credit card or debit card, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The contributions must be made specifically for the relief of victims in areas affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
 
Taxpayers have the option of deducting the contributions on their 2009 or 2010 returns. source
Teen Violinist Says Police Beat Him And Tore Off Dreadlock
 
 
The FBI is looking into whether Pittsburgh police officers violated the civil rights of an 18-year-old violist who accused them of brutally beating him as he walked to his grandmother's house after dark.

The FBI launched an initial probe even though it has not yet received a letter from Jordan Miles' attorney formally requesting a criminal investigation into the Jan. 12 confrontation, spokesman Jeff Killeen said Tuesday.

Jordan Miles alleges three undercover officers beat him as he walked from his mother's home to his grandmother's nearby. Pictures taken by his mother show his swollen face covered with red, raw bruises and his right eye swollen shut. A bald spot mars his head where he says his dreadlocks were torn out.

The fact-finding mission is the first level of FBI investigations, Killeen said, and is designed to uncover evidence that civil rights have been violated. If so, the bureau could launch a full-fledged investigation.

Miles' mother, Terez Miles, has said she believes the three white officers targeted her son because he was a young black man walking in a "rough" neighborhood at night. The confrontation occurred around 11 p.m.

Chuck Hanlon, vice president of the city police union, said officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing followed their training and the law.

"A lot of credit has been given to Mr. Miles because he's an honor student ... and that everybody in the media, the public and the politicians should just disregard the accounts of what the three officers wrote in their report," Hanlon said. "And our contention is, is these three officers have been model officers and model citizens and honorable members of our society their whole life. That's why they're police officers."

The officers wrote in their criminal complaint that they believed Miles was armed because they saw something bulky in the pocket of his jacket. They say it turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew, but Miles says he had nothing in his pocket.

The student's attorney, Kerrington Lewis, wrote a letter, obtained by The Associated Press, to FBI agent Michael Rodriguez, the head of the Pittsburgh bureau, requesting "a criminal investigation against the police officers involved." The letter is dated Monday, and Rodriguez has not yet received it, Killeen said.

The city of Pittsburgh is already investigating. The officers have been reassigned and put back in uniform. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has called the confrontation "troubling" and said "it seems as if there was a tremendous amount of force used."

"He had no dope; he had no gun; he had nothing, because he's not a criminal," Lewis said. "The criminals are the people that beat him up. That's the only crime that occurred here."

The family has considered a lawsuit against the police but is currently focused on clearing Miles' name, Lewis said.

Earlier Tuesday, Police Chief Nate Harper called on the community to remain patient and promised the city's investigation would be "thorough, and it will reveal the facts."

Harper's plea came a short time after nearly 100 of Miles' classmates marched from their school, the Creative and Performing Arts High School, to City Hall. They, too, demanded an investigation.

Hanlon said the investigation should be taken out of the court of public opinion and would show the officers did nothing wrong. He was unaware of any previous discipline against the officers, who have been on the force since 2005 and have received awards.

The Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board will also conduct a full investigation, chairwoman Marsha Hinton said Tuesday night at the board's meeting. The board does not have the power to issue sanctions but can make recommendations.

About two dozen people turned out for the meeting, including many of Miles' classmates. source

Jan 26, 2010

A 9-year-old boy was found hanged in the bathroom of a Dallas-area elementary school in an apparent suicide, police said. Counselors were on hand Friday for students and parents.
Authorities in The Colony say the fourth-grader was found by staff at Stewart's Creek Elementary School on Thursday afternoon. Lt. Darren Brockway said that the boy "had reportedly hung himself in a bathroom" and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Autopsy results are pending.

Police in The Colony, about 20 miles north of Dallas, are investigating the circumstances of Montana Lance's death but don't expect any criminal charges. The school district confirmed the basics of the incident but declined to comment further because of privacy concerns.

A team of grief counselors met people at the school Friday. They will be available to students, parents, teachers and staff through next week, said Lewisville Independent School District spokeswoman Karen Permetti.

Some parents were concerned that they did not learn about the incident from the school, but Permetti said the facts were sketchy until about the time school let out Thursday. The school is sending a letter about the incident home with students Friday, Permetti said.

"We do want to stress to our parents to encourage their children to discuss their feelings because children all process their grief differently," Permetti said.

Suicides among young children are extremely rare. There were on average just 10 suicides a year among 10-year-olds between 1999 and 2005, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Early last year in suburban Chicago, a 10-year-old boy hanged himself on a restroom coat hook. In 2008, a 7-year-old boy in Austin died after being hanged by his shirt from a coat hook in a dressing room, though authorities said he might have been playing a game in which students jumped from bench to bench while trying to touch the room's ceiling.

"He was always really nice," said fifth grader Jordan Kreidler, who went to school with Lance.

"He would never ever do that," Keeley Blackwell said to CBS station KTVT-TV, adding that she's walked home with the boy before.

As word spread at Stewarts Creek Elementary School, students who knew Lance were shocked. Police said that the boy was found hanging in a school bathroom by a staff member.

Lance was taken to Baylor Medical Center in Carrollton where he was pronounced dead.

Horizon's senior pastor Brian Bradford was there with the family. "There's nothing you can say or do that can change the situation," he said.

Bradford said that the Lances are active members in the church and the community. "It's a very giving family that has really experienced a tragic loss today," said Bradford.

Many now struggle to understand exactly how this happened. Friends and those who knew the boy said that he was often teased. "He was just bullied too much," Blackwell said. "Some of the things that people would say were harsh."

The school district denies that, and as the school and family cope with this tragedy, the Lances church pastor said the boy's parents did everything right. "The most important thing you can do is exactly what these parents did, take them to church and pray with them and love them," Bradford said, "because you never know when life may change, and change in a drastic way."

KTVT-TV asked a district spokesperson how the boy was left unsupervised long enough for this to happen at school. She declined to answer that question and said that the district will make an official statement on Friday.

A letter will also be sent home with all Stewarts Creek Elementary School students on Friday, notifying parents of the incident. Meanwhile, grief counselors will be made available at the school. source
 
 

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was never consulted about a new movie on her turbulent life and marriage to Nelson Mandela, her lawyers told the film-makers in a letter leaked Tuesday to South African media.

Jennifer Hudson, who scooped a best supporting actress Oscar in 2007 for her performance in the musical "Dreamgirls", said in November that she would be starring in the film that would bring a "powerful part of history" to cinema screens.

Titled "Winnie", the film is directed by South African film-maker Darrell J. Roodt, whose work includes "Cry, The Beloved Country" and "Sarafina."

But a letter from her attorney Bowman Gilfillan said Madikizela-Mandela was "extremely concerned" to hear about the film, saying "she has never been approached for consent or at all," according to The Star newspaper.

"It is difficult to understand how a production bearing the name of an individual who has not been consulted at all could ever be appropriate or tell the full story of that individual's life as media reports suggest this production is intended to," the letter said, according to the paper.

"This is certainly the case here, where our client has not responded to allegations and comment which have been made about her, precisely because she has sought to protect her sphere of personal privacy as best she can in extremely difficult and turbulent times," it added.

Gilfillan's office decline to comment on the report, citing lawyer-client confidentiality.

Madikizela-Mandela campaigned tirelessly for her husband's release during his 27-year imprisonment in the apartheid era.

However her image was tarnished by a series of scandals including her links to the kidnap and murder of a young activist and a 2003 conviction for fraud.

She separated from Nelson Mandela in 1992, two years after his release, but she remains a leading South African figure in own her own right.

The ruling African National Congress placed her fifth on its party list in last year's elections, a sign of prestige that guaranteed her a seat in parliament.

The film had already stoked controversy in South Africa when Hudson was tapped to play the role, sparking outrage among local actors who complained that South African talent had again been overlooked by Hollywood.

The Clint Eastwood film "Invictus", about South Africa's 1995 Rugby World Cup victory, stars Morgan Freeman playing Mandela and has been a hit on local screens. source



Teen Violinist Says Police Beat Him And Tore Off Dreadlock
 
 
Via KDKA:
 
A rally will be held downtown today for a high school student who claims he was the victim of police brutality.

Jordan Miles, 18, is a senior at CAPA and the rally is being planned by his classmates.

A group of students will lead a procession to the City County Building to deliver letters of concern to the mayor's office.

Earlier, Miles said he was walking to his grandmother's house when three plain clothes officers drove up and a confrontation occurred.

In court papers, the officers admitted punching Miles several times with a closed fist and kicking him, after he started fighting with the officers, when they tried to subdue him.

According to the police report, the officers claim Miles was loitering near a home and noticed a heavy object in his pocket. They also said that when they ordered him to stop, he ran.

The police claimed that they thought Miles might have had a gun in his coat pocket, but they said they found out later it was a bottle.

The city's Office of Municipal Investigations is now looking into the allegations.
 
 
 
Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper told KDKA-TV Thursday night that three undercover police officers in Zone 5 have been reassigned, at least for now, after a Homewood teenager claimed the trio beat him up, for no reason.

Harper said the city's Office of Municipal Investigations is now looking into the allegations of CAPA High School Senior Jordan Miles.

The day after Miles turned 18 last week, he was walking from his Tioga Street home to his grandmother's house, when the three plain clothes officers drove up to him.

At that time, a confrontation occurred.

'I couldn't even count how many times I was kicked, choked, and punched [by the three officers]," Miles said.

The teen said he started to run, because he was frightened and he thought the three wanted to abduct him.

He claimed he never saw their police badges, or heard them identify themselves as police.

In court papers, the officers admitted punching Miles several times with a closed fist, and kicking him, after he started fighting with the officers, when they tried to subdue him.

Miles was charged with aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.

A hearing on the charges was scheduled for today, but the case was postponed until next month.

The police claimed that they thought Miles might have a gun in his coat pocket, but they said they found out later it was a bottle of Mountain Dew.

Miles said he never had anything in his pocket the night of the confrontation.

Miles' mother, Terez, told KDKA-TV "When I saw my son's face, the day after the incident, I was hysterical, I couldn't believe what was done to him."


I guess abstinence-only programs aren't working...hmmmm....
 
 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. teen pregnancy rate rose in 2006 for the first time in more than a decade, reversing a long slide, a U.S. think tank reported on Tuesday.

The overall teen pregnancy rate was up 3 percent in 2006, with a 4 percent rise in the rate of births and a 1 percent rise in the rate of abortions, according to the report by the Guttmacher Institute.

The United States has higher rates of teen pregnancy, birth and abortion than in other Western industrialized countries.

There were 71 pregnancies per 1,000 U.S. girls aged 15-19. In 2006, 7 percent of all teenage girls got pregnant, according to the report.

Fewer black teenage girls got pregnant, closing a gap with Hispanic teens. But rates among both groups were still significantly higher than for white teens, the report said, and rates went up for all ethnic groups.

"We're not quite sure yet whether this is just a blip or whether it's the beginning of a longer upward trend," Larry Finer, Guttmacher's director for domestic research, said in a telephone interview.

"It's interesting to note that this flattening out of the rate and the increase in the rate is happening at the same time that we've seen substantial increases in funding for abstinence-only programs," Finer said.

"We do know that when we saw the big decline in the '90s, that a lot of that decline was due to improved contraceptive use among teens."

The abstinence-only programs, backed by many social conservatives who oppose the teaching of contraception methods to teenagers in U.S. schools, received about $1.3 billion in federal funds since the late 1990s.

The Obama administration's 2010 budget eliminated spending for abstinence-only, shifting funds to pregnancy prevention education that include abstinence along with "medically accurate and age-appropriate" information.

New Mexico led the states with the highest teenage pregnancy rate with nine percent, followed by Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Mississippi.

New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Minnesota and North Dakota had the lowest rates of teen pregnancies. source

A woman wears a full-length veil in Lyon, 25 January
 
 

A French parliamentary committee has recommended a partial ban on women wearing Islamic face veils.

The committee's near 200-page report has proposed a ban in hospitals, schools, government offices and on public transport.

It also recommends that anyone showing visible signs of "radical religious practice" should be refused residence cards and citizenship.

The interior ministry says just 1,900 women in France wear the full veils.

In its report, the committee said requiring women to cover their faces was against the French republican principles of secularism and equality.

"The wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable. We must condemn this excess," the report said. The commission called on parliament to adopt a formal resolution stating that the face veil was "contrary to the values of the republic" and proclaiming that "all of France is saying 'no' to the full veil".

Presenting the report to the French National Assembly, speaker Bernard Accoyer said the face veil had too many negative connotations.

It is the symbol of the repression of women, and... of extremist fundamentalism.

"This divisive approach is a denial of the equality between men and women and a rejection of co-existence side-by-side, without which our republic is nothing."

The report is expected to be followed by the drafting of a bill and a parliamentary debate on the issue.

The BBC's Hugh Schofield, in Paris, says the reasoning behind the report is to make it as impractical as possible for women in face veils to go about their daily business.

There is also a fear that an outright ban would not only be difficult to implement but would be distasteful and could make France a target for terrorism, our correspondent says.

France has an estimated five million Muslims - the largest such population in western Europe.

Months of debate

The report follows months of public debate after President Nicolas Sarkozy said all-encompassing veils were "not welcome in France".

However, he did not explicitly call for a ban, saying "no one should feel stigmatised" by any eventual law.

Opinion polls suggest a majority of French people support a full ban.

However, the parliamentary deputies have recommended that - for now - restrictions should be limited.

The committee suggests a ban inside public buildings, with those who defy the ban denied whatever services are on offer there - for example state benefits.

There are several types of headscarves and veils for Muslim women - those that cover the face being the niqab and the burka. In France, the niqab is the version most commonly worn.

The niqab usually leaves the eyes clear. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf and may be worn with a separate eye veil.

The burka covers the entire face and body with just a mesh screen to see through.

The issue has divided France's political parties.

The Socialist opposition has come out officially against a ban, saying it would be difficult to enforce. It says it is opposed to full veils in principle, but some members have expressed fears about any ruling that could stigmatise Muslim women.

Meanwhile, the head of Mr Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party has already presented a bill in parliament supporting a full ban on grounds of security. source