NBC News has confirmed that one woman received a settlement from the National Restaurant Association after complaining about inappropriate sexual conduct by Herman Cain.
NBC News is not disclosing the name of the woman nor characterizing who she is.
Cain denied the allegations, saying on FOX this morning he was "falsely accused." "I have never sexually harassed anyone, anyone," he said, "and absolutely, these are false accusations."
Despite being the chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association, he said he was unaware of any settlement with the accusers, though he didn't deny it.
"If the restaurant association did a settlement, I wasn't even aware of it," he claimed, "and I hope it wasn't for much. If there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other officers at the restaurant association."
I was too busy raising my two daughters, aged thirteen and eight, to pay much attention to Amber Cole, but the truth is that Amber Cole is my daughter and the daughter of so many of us.Unlike Jimi Izrael's recent suggestion, I have not seen the so-called Amber Cole video. That so many have—and in the process downloaded and trafficked in illegal child pornography—speaks volumes about how we, as a society, think about Black girls. For that reason alone, Amber Cole is my daughter.I suspect that for far too many, who have voiced displeasure and alarm about Amber Cole, and or the parenting skills of the adults responsible for her, it is less about real concern for Cole and more likely about the collective shame that she evokes. Unfortunately it is such shame, and the politics of respectability that go hand-in-hand with Black collective shame, that often keeps us from having honest discussions about sex and sexuality in our communities—often to the detriment of our children.Ironically, this shame is seemingly always directed towards the women and girls in our communities and rarely extended to the men and boys who are complicit in sex acts. It goes without saying, that in the case of Amber Cole, such complicity is indeed criminal; under the law, a 14-year-old cannot consent to sex acts. Too often our conversations with our boys is not to discourage underage sex acts—indeed such acts viewed as a rite of passage for boys—but rather, to caution them about impregnating a partner, whether she consents or not. Few have mentioned rape in response to this case, the reality of the act over-shadowed by the resentment and ire that Amber Cole has drawn from many.As such there are some who will claim that Amber Cole's behavior is the product of slack parenting, single-parent households and the continued erosion of values within Black families. Still others, part-time psycho-analysts, will suggest that Amber Cole's behavior is a cry out for the kind of attention that only a (presumably missing) father can provide or, as Jimi Izrael argues, the actions of a girl whose mother was too busy being everything but a mother. It all sounds correct in a society that cares little about Black girls and even less about what motivates them to do the things that they do. No one is questioning the parenting skills of the parents of the boys in the video.
(AP) People grabbed their children when Bryon Widner swaggered into a store, lowered their voices when he entered a restaurant, sidled away when he strode up to a bar.
He reveled in it — the fear he inspired, the power. It made him feel like Superman.
He had symbols of racist violence carved into his face and the letters HATE stamped across the knuckles of his right hand — the hand that knocked out countless victims, sometimes leaving their teeth embedded in his skin. "Blood & Honour" was tattooed across his neck, "Thug Reich" across his belly, swastikas adorned his shaved scalp. On his forehead, a thick, black, upward-pointing arrow symbolized his willingness to die for his race.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Bryon Widner was a skinhead thug until he found love, and turned away from racism and violence. But how could he build a new life with a face stained by racist tattoos? First of two parts.
For 16 years, Widner was a glowering, strutting, menacing vessel of hate — an "enforcer" for some of America's most notorious and violent racist skinhead groups.
Hellbent on destruction, he was living to die, though even during the bloodiest beat-downs he knew he was unlikely to lose his life as a warrior in the glorious race war promoted by the white power movement.
"It was more likely to be a bullet through the head," he says, grimly.
By the time he was 30, Widner had spent a total of four years in jail, accused of murder and other charges, though he was never convicted of a major crime. Victim intimidation, he says, took care of that.
And then he met Julie Larsen.
Like Widner, Larsen's arms and legs were covered with neo-Nazi symbols — iron crosses, a Totenkopf skull, axes crossed into a swastika, the Nazi salute "sieg heil." She posted regularly on the Internet forum, Stormfront. Its motto: "White Pride, World Wide."
And she was active in The National Alliance, a once-powerful white supremacist organization founded by William Pierce, whose writings called for the extermination of Jews and the violent overthrow of the Federal government — and had inspired the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building that left 168 people dead.
But by her 30s, the single mother of four was questioning her racist beliefs. She grew tired of telling her children they couldn't watch certain Walt Disney movies because Hollywood was controlled by Jews, or listen to rap music, or eat Chinese or Mexican food. After struggling to put an abusive marriage to a skinhead behind her, she yearned for something simpler.
"I just wanted a normal family life," she said.
And to his great surprise, Widner discovered that was what he wanted, too.
But leaving a life of hate would not be easy when it was all that he had known. And when his past was tattooed all over his face.
They first met in May 2005 at Nordic Fest, an annual Memorial Day weekend extravaganza hosted by the Imperial Klans of America in Dawson Springs, Ky.
It was hardly a romantic setting. Speakers from hardcore skinhead and white power organizations like The American Front, Blood & Honour USA/Combat 18 and The Creativity Movement ranted about racial justice and race war. White power bands thundered fierce anti-Semitic and racist lyrics.
Widner, a mean and scrappy brawler with a penchant for slicing victims' faces with a straight edge razor ("I wanted to leave a gash that would make them remember me for the rest of their lives") was living in Sidney, Ohio. He worked construction and other jobs, but mostly he acted as both recruiter and enforcer for the Vinlanders Social Club, which had quickly carved out a reputation as the most thuggish and violent skinhead organization in the country. Blacks, Hispanics, Jews — the Vinelanders savaged them all.
Their credo was a racist form of Odinism, a Viking religion named after the Norse god Odin which preaches that the path to heaven (Valhalla) is to die fighting for your race.
"We sent out a clear message," Widner says. "Cross a Vinlander and we WILL kill you."
Larsen, meanwhile, was living in Ironwood, Mich., working in a bank and raising her kids. Introduced to the white power movement by her late ex-husband, she began actively working for the National Alliance, distributing fliers about racial purity, organizing fundraisers for imprisoned white supremacist leaders and their families. Her home was also a base for the Pioneer Little Europe movement, an effort to create white communities purged of ethnic or Jewish influences.
At Nordic Fest, Larsen's 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, clamored to have her photograph taken with the guy with the wildly tattooed face. Larsen thought Widner was cute. Widner thought Larsen, with her smiling green eyes and mane of raven hair, was "one cool chick."
Over the next seven months they poured out their souls in endless, late-night phone conversations that often lasted until dawn. They talked of their dreams for the future — and their doubts about the past. They marveled at how much they had in common.
Raised in broken homes — their parents divorced when they were young — both had become teen runaways, cutting school, acting out. In Albuquerque, Widner discovered that shaving his head, wearing combat boots, and randomly beating people earned him a respect he'd never had before. Larsen, who grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., started having babies in her teens and then bounced through different jobs and states and men. Alienated, restless, angry and self-destructive, they were the perfect recruits for the white power world.
It is a world populated by hundreds of different groups, including several thousand skinheads in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization that tracks hate groups. The numbers are fluid: Skinhead gangs are notoriously short-lived, as members feud over leadership, create splinter groups, or join other gangs. Only a few — such as the Hammerskins — have managed to survive for a significant length of time.
The groups have no particular unifying code or coherent philosophy other than violence, says SPLC chief investigator Joseph Roy. There are racist skinheads with ties to outlaw motorcycle gangs. Some are explicitly revolutionary. Others belong to white supremacist groups with connections to the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. Still others claim to be anti-racist.
"These groups are violent, and they are dangerous," says Roy. "And when people get involved it is rare and difficult for them to get out."
The SPLC reports a growing interest in hate groups, fueled by recent events including the election of Barack Obama, the economic crisis, and the heated debate about illegal immigration. The Internet and social networking sites have also become powerful recruitment tools.
"The movement had answers for everything," Julie says. "And the answers usually revolved around the special status of the white race and the fact that most of existing problems, in society, in the economy, in the world, were created by Jews or blacks or immigrants."
But the movement provided something more — a tribal sense of belonging, a unity, brotherhood and purpose that neither Larsen nor Widner had ever experienced. Years later they would call it a cult. At the time it felt like family.
One night six months after they met, Widner staggered home from a bar brawl, picked up the phone and stammered out a proposal. He was so drunk he had to double check the next day to make sure she had said yes. It was just before Christmas 2005.
Friends told her she was crazy. But Larsen didn't hesitate. She packed up her kids and drove 12 hours to meet him.
They were married in Ironwood by a justice of the peace on Jan. 13, 2006. Their witnesses were Larsen's children and a couple of Vinlanders.
Two months later, she was pregnant.
"I am very glad that my mother found the perfect guy ever," wrote Julie's eldest daughter, Mercedez, on the inside of a book of tattoos she gave Widner as a Christmas present. "You are the greatest father any kid could ask for. Love always."
Fatherhood transformed Widner, though initially the responsibilities terrified him. For although he was utterly in love with Julie, he had a whole new family to get to know: Mercedez, then 14, Destiny, 8, and little Isabella. (Julie's eldest son wanted nothing to do with the world of skinheads or white power, though he eventually grew to respect his stepfather.)
Widner found that he loved the simple, daily routines — driving the kids to school, helping with homework, sitting around the dinner table.
"It was like overnight he went from being a drunk, a skinhead and a fighter, to being this kind, nurturing father and husband," Julie says. "He was amazing."
Widner was still drinking heavily, but he began cutting back and eventually stopped completely. He was still spending time with Vinlanders, but things were changing — in his mind and his heart.
Julie was changing as well. She had been deeply disturbed by a scene she had witnessed at the Nordic fest — tents where she says men lined up for sex with underage girls. She thought of her own daughters. She thought of the 14-word mantra of white nationalists: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children."
"These guys weren't honoring Aryan women or protecting white children," she says in disgust. "They were just thugs exploiting young girls."
She began questioning the violence of the movement, the abuse of some of her women friends who were married to skinheads and white nationalists, the arbitrary rules. Suddenly, it all began to feel oppressive and wrong.
At the time, the National Alliance was disintegrating after the death of its leader, Pierce. When Julie decided to leave, it was relatively easy. She simply stopped participating.
Things were far more complicated for Widner. Nicknamed "Babs" because of how he babbled incessantly when he was drunk, Widner was a "made" man in the Outlaw Hammerskins (a precursor to the Vinlanders), initiated in an elaborate ritual in which he placed his left hand on the gang's insignia or "patch" and his right hand on a pistol. He had "earned" the SS lightning bolts tattooed on his right forearm by beating some poor victim senseless. He was a founding member of the Vinlanders. He had stood in a circle with his "warrior" brothers in Odinist rituals and swigged mead from a sacred horn.
"I had lived with them, bled with them, sat in jail with them," he says. "That was the only way of life I knew. My crew WAS my family."
For Widner to leave would be heresy. He would be branded a "race traitor" and become a hunted man.
Vinlanders had given their blessing for him to move to Michigan in order to start a new chapter. Now they were pressuring him to be more active, to travel more, recruit more, attend leadership meetings. Julie was begging him to stay home.
It all came to a head in the summer of 2007, during a Vinlander day trip to Lake Superior. At the end of the day, the women and children returned home while the men stayed and drank.
Julie got a call: Widner had collapsed. She raced to the hospital.
Outside, she was met by Eric "The Butcher" Fairburn, a ferocious skinhead with "MURDER" tattooed across his neck. "This is Vinlander business," he said.
"No, it's not," she said, angrily pushing past him. "It's husband-and-wife business."
Larsen told Widner she didn't want his Vinlander friends in the house anymore. Vinlanders warned him to get his wife under control.
Widner, who had suffered a panic attack, didn't know where to turn. "I just felt like I was being attacked at every angle," he said. "I was done."
Filled with self-loathing, he locked himself in the bathroom and swallowed a bottle of pills.
The photo on the computer screen is striking — a cherubic sleeping newborn nestled next to the hate-tattooed face of his adoring father.
Cradling Tyrson, born in November 2006, Widner had never been so sure. He would shield his son from a life of violence and hate. He would give him a safe home, a happy childhood, a devoted dad.
And yet, the joy of Tyrson's birth could not mask his daily struggles. People wouldn't look at him in the eye, wouldn't serve him in restaurants, wouldn't give him a job. He had survived the pills; Julie had rushed him to the hospital. But he was deeply depressed.
For the first time, Widner began to see himself as others did: a social freak, an outcast from the society he now so desperately longed to be part of. Potential employers cringed when they met him. When he picked the kids up from school, parents and teachers looked at him in horror. Once, as he cradled a fussing Tyrson while waiting for Julie in a doctor's office, a woman, a stranger, blurted, "No wonder the baby is crying. He's probably scared of your face."
"I was a circus freak," Widner says. "And the worst part was that I had brought it all on myself."
He hated his face and all it represented. He wanted to scream at the world that he was a good father and husband, that he had changed. He wanted to beg people to look beyond the markings on his skin, to give him a second chance.
Sensing his withdrawal, his former crew members began turning against him. They spread vicious postings on the Internet, calling Widner weak, accusing the couple of being race traitors and sexual deviants.
"It was sickening," he says. But it also erased any lingering loyalties he had for his crew or his past.
In late 2007, Widner said, Brien James, self-appointed leader of the Vinlanders, called with an ultimatum: your club or your family.
"It's my family, man," Widner said.
"Then you better turn in your patch," James said.
Widner hung up and did what would once have been unthinkable. He mailed back his patch — a laurel wreath atop a red, white and blue shield that he had designed with James. He threw all his other skinhead trappings into a bonfire. Watching it burn, he felt a surge of relief.
Finally, he thought, I'm free.
But Widner still faced the seemingly insurmountable dilemma of trying to fit into society. How could he ever be a proper father, husband and provider, when he looked like a walking billboard of hate?
The answer was painfully clear. He had to find some way to wipe the tattoos from his face.
October 29, 2011 01:21 PM EDT
Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Fox is bringing back its groundbreaking 1990s sketch comedy series In Living Color with the series’ creator and star, Keenen Ivory Wayans, on board as host and executive producer. Fox has ordered two In Living Color half-hour specials to air as part of the network’s 25th anniversary celebration in midseason with a series option behind them, meaning that in success, the reboot will join Fox’s schedule as a regular series next season. I hear it was Wayans’ idea to revive the popular sketch comedy series with a new cast. The new In Living Color will be produced by his production company Ivory Way Prods. in association with 20th Century Fox TV’s Fox 21
The state of Georgia wants three federal judges in Washington to declare a portion of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.
Georgia filed suit earlier this month asking that the court approve Republican-backed plans to redraw the state's legislative and congressional districts. But in that filing, the state asks that if the court rejects its redistricting plans, that it also rule the law that requires that approval to be unconstitutional.
Georgia is one of nine states that must get any change in election law, including district maps, pre-approved by either the Justice Department or the federal court in Washington. That preclearance is required by Section V of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1964 law passed in the wake of Jim Crow and voting laws aimed at limiting the ability of African-Americans to vote.
"The state of Georgia and its voters are being subjected to the continued extraordinary intrusion into its constitutional sovereignty through Section 5 and its outdated preclearance formula based upon discriminatory conditions that existed more than 47 years ago but have long since been remedied," the state says in its filing.
Attorney General Sam Olens said the state's argument against the Voting Rights Act is simple: "we're no longer in 1964, there's no longer poll taxes, there's no longer cases where less than 50 percent of the minority population is voting." Of Georgia's 5.7 million registered voters about one-third are minorities.
Each one displays a student holding up a picture of a stereotypical Halloween costume based on his or her race — including a terrorist, a geisha and a sombrero-clad Hispanic man on a donkey.Sarah Williams, a senior studying political science and president of Students Teaching About Racism in Society, first displayed the posters on her Tumblr blog last week.STARS has been at OU for 25 years. The organization seeks to spark discussion about racism and discrimination among students by creating campaigns every quarter.The poster campaign began as one of STARS' quarterly events, Williams said. The organization did not expect it to attract so much attention.
Each time, the attacker revealed a personal knowledge of the victim, although cops aren't saying exactly what he knew or said. The women were reportedly home alone in all four incidents.
Police recently released video stills of a man thought to be connected to the second attack, which occurred in April in Plano.
The footage shows a black man in his late 30s to mid 40s approaching six-feet tall in height. He is between 250 and 300 pounds and has a thin, well-trimmed beard and short, possibly receding hair, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
One serial rapist is expected to be behind all the attacks.
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A sex tape recorded on Baltimore City school property has spread all over the Internet. The father of the 14-year-old girl involved was so upset he contacted WJZ.
Baltimore City police are investigating a video that’s gone viral. It involves a 14-year-old girl whose father says she had no idea it was all over the Internet.
A sexually explicit act on Baltimore City school property involving students as young as 14 is now all over the Internet.
“She was forced to do this. She was bullied, harassed into doing this,” said her father, who was not identified.
The father of the girl involved said his daughter didn’t know she was being taped. Now he wants to know why Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allowed it to remain posted for four days.
“They did nothing to protect my daughter and I’m furious. I mean, any parent would be,” he said.
The girl’s father hopes someone pays for this.
“The one that videotaped it, I hope he’s incarcerated. I’m hoping he gets some serious time out of this,” he said.
The teenage girl has transferred out of that school.
Baltimore City police are working with school officials in the ongoing investigation.
ATLANTA (AP) - A North Carolina businessman involved in an investment program at an Atlanta-area megachurch where former members claim they lost their retirement savings says he's taking action to "make things right."
A group of church members is suing New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and its pastor, Bishop Eddie Long, saying they conspired with businessman Ephren Taylor Jr. to defraud the members through "wealth-building" seminars and sermons in 2009.
"In my case and that of my former company, some of the negative effects of a situation with very complex economics impacted businesses, individuals and families despite our best intentions," Taylor said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Attorneys for the church members say in a DeKalb County lawsuit that Taylor urged them to liquidate their retirement accounts, and as a result some lost their life savings.
The U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service are also investigating issues surrounding the seminars, which were hosted at the Lithonia-based church which claims 25,000 members, federal officials said.
"Don't assume that I am just another greedy businessman," Taylor said in the statement. "I am taking action to make things right."
Taylor is also named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed this month in U.S. District Court in North Carolina.
In that case, lawyers say Taylor made a series of investment presentations for the "Prosperity Fund" at churches in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
In the summer of 2008, he spoke at the Democratic National Convention to a youth leaders' summit on his "socially conscious" corporate investment strategy, according to the federal lawsuit.
"Taylor was fortunate to be riding the wave of popularity of young, black, successful men created by then U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama," the lawsuit states.
New Birth spokesman Art Franklin previously declined to comment on the church's role in the investments.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
Proponents of reforming the voting process seem blind to the fact that all of these seemingly neutral reforms hit poor and minority voters out of all proportion. (The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that while about 12 percent of Americans don’t have a government-issued photo ID, the figure for African-Americans is closer to 25 percent, and in some Southern states perhaps higher.) The reason minorities are so much harder hit by these seemingly benign laws has its roots in the tragic legacy of race in this country. They still work because that old black man, born into Jim Crow in 1940, may have had no birth certificate because he was not born in a hospital because of poverty or discrimination. Names may have been misspelled on African-American birth certificates because illiterate midwives sometimes gave erroneous names.
It’s true that the most egregious methods of minority vote suppression from the 19th century—the poll tax, the literacy test, the white primary—have disappeared. And we know (and can take some solace in the knowledge) that the worst of these indignities have not been recycled in the 21st century, in part because of the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But a look at the history of voting rights in this country shows that the current state efforts to suppress minority voting—from erecting barriers to registration and early voting to voter ID laws—look an awful lot like methods pioneered by the white supremacists from another era that achieved the similar results.
(TheGrio) - Mary Riley knows what some people have to say when they see her and her boys. But, the 68-year-old Georgia resident says simply: "I pay no mind to that."
The stares, the occasional negative comments and the questions are a fact of life, she acknowledges, for as long as she raises them.
Riley, 68, is black and her three sons -- Austin, Dustyn and Justyn -- are white.
Transracial adoptions have taken place for the past 20 years and have increased significantly since 1994 with the Multiethnic Placement Act, which made it illegal to discriminate in adoption because of race.
Most transracial adoptions involve white parents adopting black children and the controversy surrounding that isn't new. However, despite this influx of transracial adoptions, the number of black families adopting outside of their race is almost unheard of -- in some opinions, rightfully so.
The issue is thorny for different reasons. Chief among them is the argument that with a disproportionate number of black children available for adoption, there is no reason for a black person to adopt a child outside of his or her race.
Gloria King, executive director of Black Adoption Placement and Resource Center in Oakland, Ca., explains that black children enter the foster care system at the same rate as white children, but they do not exit at the same rate.
In 2010, black children left the system at a rate of 24 percent and white children left at a rate of 43 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.
King says it's been difficult for black children to get adopted due to particular circumstances, age and, sometimes, myths -- such as black children are supposedly more troubled or harder to raise.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An argument between a cashier and two irate customers at a Manhattan McDonald’s turned violent, leaving both customers injured and all three facing charges.
The entire incident, which was captured on video, happened Thursday morning at a McDonald’s on West Fourth Street in Greenwich Village, CBS 2’s Chris Wragge reports.
It appeared to have started when two female customers argued and yelled obscenities at the cashier when he questioned a $50 bill they gave him.
One of the female customers then slapped the cashier. A woman is then seen jumping over the counter while the other woman goes behind the register.
That’s when the cashier can be seen on the video disappearing into the back of the fast-food restaurant. He comes back with a metal rod and begins hitting the women.
Other customers watched n horror as McDonald’s workers tried unsuccessfully to stop the violence.
One female customer had a fractured skull that required surgery and a broken arm. The other has a deep laceration.
Rayon McIntosh, 31, was arrested and charged with two counts of felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
McIntosh served more than a decade in prison after shooting and killing a high school classmate in 2000. He was being held on $40,000 bail.
The female customers were charged with menacing, disorderly conduct and trespassing.
The owner of that McDonald’s said in a statement that she was “disturbed” by what happened and said the cashier is no longer employed there.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all American troops would be withdrawn from the country by year's end.
Obama's statement put an end to months of wrangling over whether the U.S. would maintain a force in Iraq beyond 2011. He never mentioned the tense and ultimately fruitless negotiations with Iraq over whether to keep several thousand U.S. forces in Iraq as a training force and a hedge against meddling from Iran or other outside forces.
Instead, Obama spoke of a promise kept, a new day for a self-reliant Iraq and a focus on building up the economy at home.
"I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," Obama said. "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over."
Obama spoke after a private video conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and he offered assurances that the two leaders agreed on the decision.
The U.S. military presence in Iraq stands at just under 40,000. All U.S. troops are to exit the country in accordance with a deal struck between the countries in 2008 when George W. Bush was president.
Obama, an opponent of the war from the start, took office and accelerated the end of the conflict. In August 2010, he declared the U.S. combat mission over.
"Over the next two months our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home," Obama said. "The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops."
More than 4,400 American military members have been killed since the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq in March 2003.
The Associated Press first reported last week that the United States would not keep troops in Iraq past the year-end withdrawal deadline, except for some soldiers attached to the U.S. Embassy.
In recent months, Washington had been discussing with Iraqi leaders the possibility of several thousand American troops remaining to continue training Iraqi security forces.
Throughout the discussions, Iraqi leaders refused to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, and the Americans refused to stay without that guarantee.
Moreover, Iraq's leadership has been split on whether it wanted American forces to stay.
When the 2008 agreement requiring all U.S. forces to leave Iraq was passed, many U.S. officials assumed it would inevitably be renegotiated so that Americans could stay longer.
The U.S. said repeatedly this year it would entertain an offer from the Iraqis to have a small force stay behind, and the Iraqis said they would like American military help. But as the year wore on and the number of American troops that Washington was suggesting could stay behind dropped, it became increasingly clear that a U.S. troop presence was not a sure thing.
The issue of legal protection for the Americans was the deal-breaker.
Pulling troops out by the end of this year allows both al-Maliki and Obama to claim victory.
Obama kept a campaign promise to end the war, and al-Maliki will have ended the American presence and restored Iraqi sovereignty.
The president used the war statement to once again turn attention back to the economy, the domestic concern that is expected to determine whether he wins re-election next year.
"After a decade of war the nation that we need to build and the nation that we will build is our own, an America that sees its economic strength restored just as we've restored our leadership around the globe."
The project, called WireDoo, has been two years in the making, said Hammer (real name Stanley Burrell) Wednesday at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco.
At the conference, he said what will make his search tool better than Google (or, too legit to quit, if you will) will be its "deep search" ability.
WireDoo, which Hammer said he has a team developing, is still in pre-beta. Its website is currently letting people sign up to test the search engine when a beta release is ready.
For several months, radio host Tom Joyner has pleaded with his 8 million listeners to get in line behind the first black president.
“Stick together, black people,” says Joyner, whose R&B morning show reaches one in four African American adults.
“Let’s not even deal with the facts right now. Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride — and loyalty,” Joyner wrote on his BlackAmericaWeb.com blog. “We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man.”
But the focus on sticking together has prompted criticism from some who call it an overly simplistic view that shuts off dialogue about Obama’s achievements and his failures.
“It truncates vibrant conversation in the black community,” said Eddie Glaude Jr., a professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University. “What I hear them saying is, ‘Black folk need to get in lock step because we don’t want Republicans to take the White House.’ There is a kind of disciplining of the black polity that doesn’t lend itself to a vibrant and detailed consideration about political issues.”
The message is that criticism of Obama should be treated like a family argument — not to be made public — said Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University.
Sharpton said he learned an important lesson about supporting black politicians in the early 1990s, when David Dinkins, who was New York’s first black mayor, was running for reelection. Sharpton criticized Dinkins’s “deliberative” style and thought his policies were not progressive enough. Dinkins was hurt by the diminished enthusiasm and turnout among black voters.
“We beat up on him. He went down and we ended up with eight years of Rudy Giuliani,” said Sharpton, who has been among Obama’s most aggressive supporters. “I said I’ll never make that mistake again.”