- opened the first free health clinic in the city of New Orleans
- helped MLK Elementary and other schools to re-open
- gutted over 3,000 homes and provided direct services to nearly 200,000 returning residents
Weekly Press/Bullying Prevention News/Philadelphia Front Page News
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Philadelphians & Delcoians Are Thankful For Councilpersons Blackwell and Jones by Van Stone email@example.com (215) 747-8746
Philadelphians & Delcoians Are Thankful For Councilpersons Blackwell and Jones
by Van Stone
Above: Lewis Harris Jr., former staff member of political campaigns that appear to have no experience of presenting Philadelphians and/or Delcoians with options available to help their potential annual savings.
, Southwest Philadelphia, Eastern , and Southeast Delaware County Residents are all dealing with one of the worst economic times in Pennsylvania history during the Thanksgiving season of the year 2008. Both West and Southwest Philly folks are mentally trying to prepare themselves for coping with their Mayor Nutter's crushing budget cuts. Meanwhile, the folks who live just right outside of Philly, taking say, on to Lancaster Ave., Baltimore Pike on to Lancaster Ave, or McDade Blvd on to Main, where Main becomes Lancaster Avenue, that is, are also trying to cope with their city governance financial nightmares.
Residents from these two counties are relatively close associates than all the other Pennsylvania counties. I mean, their kids play together, their parents shop together and their spiritual leader minister together in township and city areas that share borderline territory. Even their State House Lawmakers and county lawmakers share the same laws that control what businesses and courts can and cannot do effecting the community environment in these border line territories. County leaders and State House Lawmakers altogether make money for cities, boroughs, or townships they are suppose to represent. Of course in the end the residents of these areas don't get any of the money. And when their county leaders and State House leaders ignore loosing money altogether this usually means more economic hardships for both county residents. Of course in the end the residents of the cities, boroughs, or townships don¢t get any of the services that they are suppose to get. And so, this should amount to being ever so thankful for the Philadelphia County and Delaware County city council representatives that you might now have.
City Council regardless if it¢s of Philly or Delco have done so much for the welfare and safety of their citizens that if it wasn¢t for them the hardships that people are facing today would be so great that thousands of children would be orphans and crime would be unbearable. And the city would face so much deficits that nearly 90% of its citizens would be imprisoned due to tax evasion. So, you see, when Philadelphians and Delcoians needed someone to bail them out from city government that only thought about how to keep its clout it was certain hard fighting city council persons who did something to stop the unnecessary sufferings. They worked with those who had ideas about how to fix local problems and they raised money for constituents they were suppose to represent.
One such long time city council person that comes to mind is Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. Whatever happens in West Philadelphia for the better does not stay just in Philly. Councilwoman Blackwell has made things so much better in Philly that many of the policies in neighboring Delco are so similar you can hardly tell the difference between the two. No fee for city residents that want to fill out applications for a city job, no raised taxes for city businesses that want to continue business in West Philly and no court that want to jail the homeless because the homeless sleeps in business districts. And then there is one such short time city council person that comes to mind when it comes to attempting to keeping citizens from being victims of arrogant city government. That would be freshly elected Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.
Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. has yet to have the chance to make things so much better in Philly, making certain sections of Delco seem like Philly, because his list of things for reducing a city budget cut crisis was so thorough that they all seemed to be ignored. But Jones style should remind many families of another long time fighter who also keep pushing environmental fairness in the face of Philly county leaders. That person would be Lewis Harris Jr. Harris Jr. knows that county leaders like State Reps. usually blast branches of federal government for city troubles while they are the officials that can do more to help slow up city troubles but don¢t. And so since West Philly voters just re-elected a State Rep Roebuck and newly-elected a State Rep V. Brown this is all the more reason why watchful Delco residents should be thankful for councilpersons Blackwell and Jones. Darryl T. Nuttter Sr. contributed to this article.
Jannie Blackwell. Harris Jr. was the power political agent behind the success of State Rep. Vanessa Brown's campaign early in the Democratic candidate challenge 2008. Resigning from 's campaign for State Rep. before the 2008 general election, Harris Jr. is known for walking away from
Posted by Front Page News at 8:24 PM
It’s Thanksgiving Rep. Vanessa Brown & Others; James Sullivan Joins Boycott by Van Stone firstname.lastname@example.org (215) 747-8746
It’s Thanksgiving Rep. & Others; Joins Boycott
by Van Stone
Philadelphia – It’s official. Now that people of diverse races in both Philadelphia and nearby Delaware counties have celebrated their own President Elect to the we need to take a look at what is happening and has happened in . But first let's make something clear to all the non-voters in Philly and . This is a time when approximately, 61% white folks, 57% Latino folks, and nearly 30% black folks, voters can claim that they are actually co-owners of the in the White House due process. And this is extremely important to them because now they can truthfully understand what it means for anyone to covet what they own in politics. Neighbors, political parties, and even certain religions are jealous of what these voters for President-elect Obama have. So, it just might be a long time coming before voters for Obama would be able to celebrate a day of giving thanks for the Obamas. Sad to say, givers somehow end up stomped on.
However, there are so many people who are the recipients of votes given to them during the past historic United States 2008 Presidential Election that they alone are able to be the local political reenactment of what became Thanksgiving. And we all know what Thanksgiving was originally about. Thanksgiving was about a group of independents giving thanks for getting something for nothing and then planning their way of life as never proposing to give anything in return for the hard efforts of others except for saying thanks. So, again today the people that I am talking about who easily reenact the Thanksgiving takers are our local elected Democratic and Republican politicians, newly and re-elected, who gained Pennsylvania House of Representative Honorable State Rep. seats. Our Legislators. And I am especially speaking about Democratic State Reps. who are Members of the House 2008 serving Philadelphia County (Part). Now that they won, running as a Democrat during the Obama v. McCain presidential election, winning means that nothing is expected of them. And you better believe they know it! Here’s why.
Take newly elected for example. won in a Democratic dominated demographic area. She will be seated to serve a very small but largely diverse populations of about say 30,000. Rep. Brown’s challenger got only 300 or so votes. In a high and emotional voter turn out, but having absolutely nothing to do with her, Rep. Brown got a whopping 97% of the vote. Facts are that Rep. Brown could not possibly have known personally or otherwise, over 25,000 people in her West Philly neighborhood. It’s just not possible for thousands of people to come out and have personally voted for Brown because from what most of her neighbors understand she is not a native Philadelphian. Yes, voting is and can be personal. In other words, the ways to successfully get to know that many people by name, address, and phone number in a particular community is to be either a traveling minister serving in a district, or a person who is attending at least 6 mega churches of 5,000 members each. Or be a close relation of a popular person who is known for giving whatever they have to families during good times and tough times. Other State Reps who received with nothing more expected in return but thanks was Rep Jim Roebuck. Roebuck got triple thousand vote digits and had no challenger at all. Legislator is an occupation. Can voters stop giving to them?
Speaking of giving to someone and expecting something in return: When you give your time to support a boycott of a newspaper that discriminates you should take pointers from someone with experience in these matters. That someone with experience in protesting bias is none other than James Sullivan, West Philly activist since 1958.
James Sullivan has joined Darryl T. Nutter Sr. and my boycott of because he says that the Delco Daily Times has not properly reported on the record inmate count in by the hands of certain Media Courthouse Common Pleas judges. Sullivan says that Delaware County prison totals outspace Bucks County, costing the city of Philadelphia millions a year. Thousands of low-income dads who had custody have been put behind bars by judges who recuse themselves once the victims make complaints. (Darryl T. Nutter Sr. contributed to this article.)
Posted by Front Page News at 8:18 PM
Obama turns to friends, foes for White House posts
|In this file photo of Nov. 13, 2008, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on health care coverage issues. According to a Democratic official, Napolitano will be named as his Secretary of Homeland Securit|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President-elect Barack Obama plans on Monday to announce six experienced hands to fill top administration posts, moving at record speed to name the leadership team that will guide his presidency through a time of war and recession.
His selections include longtime advisers and political foes alike, most notably Democratic primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state and President Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, staying in his current post. The two were among six who Obama planned to announce at a news conference in Chicago, Democratic officials said.
The officials said Obama also planned to name Washington lawyer Eric Holder as attorney general and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary. He also planned to announce two senior foreign policy positions outside the Cabinet: campaign foreign policy adviser Susan Rice as U.N. ambassador and retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones as national security adviser.
The Democratic officials disclosed the plans Sunday on a condition of anonymity because they were not authorized for public release ahead of the news conference. Those names had been discussed before for those jobs, but the officials confirmed that Obama will make them official Monday in his hometown.
Obama also has settled on former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle to be his secretary of Health and Human Services and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to be Commerce secretary, but those announcements are not yet official. Last week, he named key members of his economic team, including Timothy Geithner, president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as Treasury secretary.
The decisions mean Obama has half of his Cabinet assembled less than a month after the election, including the most prominent positions at State, Justice, Treasury and Defense. The team so far shares deep experience and proven ability to get things done, and it shares some characteristics with President Bush's first Cabinet choices.
For secretary of state, both went with big names that campaigned against them in their primary race, with Obama choosing Clinton and Bush going with former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell. At HHS, both chose deeply experienced elected officials - Obama picking Daschle and Bush choosing Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.
They also chose experienced Defense secretaries who had already served in the position - Gates for Obama and Donald Rumsfeld for Bush. And both put well-respected governors as their first picks as Homeland Security secretary - a position Bush created - with Obama picking Napolitano and Bush picking Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
In some cases, Obama is choosing even more experienced hands. Jones and Richardson have more government experience than Bush's first national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and his Commerce secretary, Donald Evans.
Clinton's nomination is the latest chapter in what began as a bitter rivalry for the Democratic presidential nomination. After Obama defeated her, Clinton backed his general election campaign against Republican Sen. John McCain, and she now has agreed to give up her Senate seat to be his top diplomat.
To make it possible for his wife to become secretary of state, party officials said, former President Bill Clinton agreed to:
-Disclose the names of every contributor to his foundation since its inception in 1997 and all contributors going forward.
-Refuse donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative, his annual charitable conference.
-Cease holding CGI meetings overseas.
-Volunteer to step away from day-to-day management of the foundation while his wife is secretary of state.
-Submit his speaking schedule to review by the State Department and White House counsel.
-Submit any new sources of income to a similar ethical review.
"It's a big step," said Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said he plans to vote to confirm Clinton.
Lugar said there would still be "legitimate questions" raised about the former president's extensive international involvement. "I don't know how, given all of our ethics standards now, anyone quite measures up to this who has such cosmic ties, but ... hopefully, this team of rivals will work," Lugar said.
Posted by Front Page News at 8:07 PM
India claims Mumbai gunman tied to Pakistani group
|Residents of Mumbai, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008, hold a candle light ceremony and a protest after attacks on the city killed at least 174 people. The death toll was revised down Sunday from 195 after authorities said some bodies were counted twice, but they said it could rise again as areas of the Taj Mahal were still being searched. Among the dead were 18 foreigners, including six Americans. Nine gunmen were killed.|
MUMBAI, India (AP) -- The only gunman captured after a 60-hour terrorist siege of Mumbai said he belonged to a Pakistani militant group with links to the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, a senior police officer said Sunday.
The gunman was one of 10 who paralyzed the city in an attack that killed at least 174 people and revealed the weakness of India's security apparatus. India's top law enforcement official resigned, bowing to growing criticism that the attackers appeared better trained, better coordinated and better armed than police.
The announcement blaming militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, threatened to escalate tensions between India and Pakistan. However, Indian officials have been cautious about accusing Pakistan's government of complicity.
A U.S. counterterrorism official had said some "signatures of the attack" were consistent with Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammed, another group that has operated in Kashmir. Both are reported to be linked to al-Qaida.
Lashkar, long seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help fight India in disputed Kashmir, was banned in Pakistan in 2002 under pressure from the U.S., a year after Washington and Britain listed it a terrorist group. It is since believed to have emerged under another name, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, though that group has denied links to the Mumbai attack.
Authorities were still removing bodies from the bullet and grenade scarred Taj Mahal hotel, a day after commandos finally ended the violence that began Wednesday night.
As more details of the response to the attack emerged, a picture formed of woefully unprepared security forces. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised to strengthen maritime and air security and look into creating a new federal investigative agency - even as some analysts doubted fundamental change was possible.
"These guys could do it next week again in Mumbai and our responses would be exactly the same," said Ajai Sahni, head of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management who has close ties to India's police and intelligence.
Joint Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said the only known surviving gunman, Ajmal Qasab, told police he was trained at a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Pakistan.
"Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the terrorist acts in the city," he said.
A spokesman for Pakistani President Asif Zardari's spokesman dismissed the claim.
"We have demanded evidence of the complicity of any Pakistani group. No evidence has yet been provided," said spokesman Farhatullah Babar.
In the first wave of the attacks, two young gunmen armed with assault rifles blithely ignored more than 60 police officers patrolling the city's main train station and sprayed bullets into the crowd.
Bapu Thombre, assistant commissioner with the Mumbai railway police, said the police were armed mainly with batons or World War I-era rifles and spread out across the station.
"They are not trained to respond to major attacks," he said.
The gunmen continued their rampage outside the station. They eventually ambushed a police van, killed five officers inside - including the city's counterterrorism chief - and hijacked the vehicle as two wounded officers lay bleeding in the back seat.
"The way Mumbai police handled the situation, they were not combat ready," said Jimmy Katrak, a security consultant. "You don't need the Indian army to neutralize eight to nine people."
Constable Arun Jadhav, one of the wounded policemen, said the men laughed when they noticed the dead officers wore bulletproof vests.
With no SWAT team in this city of 18 million, authorities called in the only unit in the country trained to deal with such crises. But the National Security Guards, which largely devotes its resources to protecting top officials, is based outside of New Delhi and it took the commandos nearly 10 hours to reach the scene.
That gave the gunmen time to consolidate control over two luxury hotels and a Jewish center, said Sahni.
As the siege at dragged on, local police improperly strapped on ill-fitting bulletproof vests. Few had two-way radios to communicate.
Even the commandos lacked the proper equipment, including night vision goggles and thermal sensors that would have allowed them to locate the hostages and gunmen inside the buildings, Sahni said.
Security forces announced they had killed four gunmen and ended the siege at the mammoth Taj Mahal hotel on Thursday night, only to have fighting erupt there again the next day. Only on Saturday morning did they actually kill the last remaining gunmen.
At the Jewish center, commandos rappelled from a helicopter onto the roof and slowly descended the narrow, five-story building in a 10-hour shooting and grenade battle with the two gunmen inside.
From his home in Israel, Assaf Hefetz, a former Israeli police commissioner who created the country's police anti-terror unit three decades ago, watched the slow-motion operation in disbelief.
The commandos should have swarmed the building in a massive, coordinated attack that would have overwhelmed the gunmen and ended the standoff in seconds, he said.
"You have to come from the roof and all the windows and all the doors and create other entrances by demolition charges," he said.
The slow pace of the operations made it appear that the commandos' main goal was to stay safe, Hefetz said.
"You have to take the chance and the danger that your people can be hurt and some of them will be killed, but do it much faster and ensure the operation will be finished (quickly)," Hefetz said.
J. K. Dutt, director-general of the commando unit, defended their tactics.
"We have conducted the operation in the way we are trained and in the way we like to do it," he said.
Singh promised to expand the commando force and set up new bases for it around the country. He called a rare meeting of leaders from the country's main political parties, hours after the resignation of Home Minister Shivraj Patil.
"In the face of this national threat and in the aftermath of this national tragedy, all of us from different political parties must rise above narrow political considerations and stand united," he said.
President George W. Bush told Singh in a telephone call that "out of this tragedy can come an opportunity to hold these extremists accountable and demonstrate the world's shared commitment to combat terrorism," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement.
Among the foreigners killed in the coordinated shooting rampage in India's financial capital were six Americans. The dead also included Germans, Canadians, Israelis and nationals from Britain, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.
Sahni called for an overhaul of the nation's police force - the first line of defense against a future attack - providing better weapons, better equipment and real training.
R.R. Patil, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra state where Mumbai is located, said the government was "taking all action to ensure that this will never take place again."
Posted by Front Page News at 8:02 PM
Saturday, November 29, 2008
'Christmas Story' fans celebrate film's 25th year
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Fans of the holiday classic "A Christmas Story" are celebrating the film's 25th anniversary with a convention and trips to the house where the movie was made.
The 1983 film, an adaptation of Jean Shepard's memoir of a boy in the 1940s, was set in Indiana but largely filmed in Ohio. The movie starred Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, a young boy determined to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.
The film was a modest theatrical success, but critics loved it. It eventually joined "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" as a Christmas cult classic.
"It's a film about being a kid and looking back," said Brian Jones, who owns the house where the movie was shot and the neighboring museum dedicated to the film.
About 4,000 fans are attending the convention at Cleveland's Renaissance Hotel, where they'll meet some of the film's actors, watch three documentaries made about the film and see the original 1938 fire truck from a famous scene in the movie involving a child's tongue stuck to a frozen pole.
"It is unbelievable that a movie has touched the lives of millions of families," said Phil Gillen, son of the late actor Jeff Gillen who played the movie's worn-out Santa Claus. He traveled from Miami with his family to attend the convention.
Avid fans Mark and Becky Tompkins also traveled to the meetup with their children, Madison, 9, and Brandon, 5.
"It's a Christmas movie that you can watch and relate to," Mark Tompkins said. "Everyone, whether they want to admit it or not, really wanted a special gift one holiday."
Posted by Front Page News at 9:06 PM
Early data shows strong Black Friday
CHICAGO (AP) -- The holiday shopping season got off to a surprisingly solid start, according to data released Saturday by a research firm. But the sales boost during the post-Thanksgiving shopathon came at the expense of profits as the nation's retailers had to slash prices to attract the crowds in a season that is expected to be the weakest in decades.
Sales during the day after Thanksgiving rose 3 percent to $10.6 billion, according to preliminary figures released Saturday by ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a Chicago-based research firm that tracks sales at more than 50,000 retail outlets. Last year, shoppers spent about $10.3 billion on the day after Thanksgiving, dubbed Black Friday because it was historically the sales-packed day when retailers would become profitable for the year.
But this year, many observers were expecting consumers to spend more time browsing than buying, amid contractions in consumer spending and growing fears about economic uncertainty and trouble in the global financial markets.
"Under these circumstances, it's truly amazing when you think about all the news that led into the holiday season, it certainly appears that consumers are willing to spend more than most expected," said ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin. "Everybody wants value for their dollar, so we saw a tremendous response to the discounts."
While it isn't a predictor of overall holiday season sales, Black Friday is an important barometer of people's willingness to spend during the holidays. Last year, it was the biggest sales generator of the season while the Thanksgiving shopping weekend of Friday through Sunday accounted for about 10 percent of overall holiday sales.
Still, experts, who predict this year's overall holiday shopping period will be the weakest in decades thanks to an overall contraction in spending, caution that this year's sales growth may be hard to sustain.
Also complicating matters is a shorter buying season - 27 days between Black Friday and Christmas - instead of 32 last year.
Across the country, sales in the South were up 3.4 percent from last year while they climbed 2.6 percent in the Northeast as shoppers began scouring store aisles at midnight hoping to snag the best selection on early morning specials, some as much as 70 percent off. Elsewhere, sales rose 3 percent in the Midwest and 2.7 percent in the West.
Patty Saal, 60, of Mogadore, Ohio, began her Black Friday shopping at 5 a.m. when she and her daughters went to a Sam's Club to purchase iPods.
"We're doing fine," she said.
Fifth-grade teacher Daphna Stepen, 42, spent Black Friday hunting for deals inside Macy's and at the Limited Too clothing store and headed out again Saturday. The Chicago resident said she was surprised by the discounts as well as how many coupons she'd received from stores, which helped her save even more money on already marked-down items.
"You can get almost 40 percent off stuff if you work the coupons," she said.
Separately on Saturday, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. said business was strong in its sites across the country as customers responded to sales. Some of the department store's best sellers were smaller electronic gadgets and practical gifts, such as sweaters, boots, coats and luggage.
But the chain said it wouldn't provide specific sales figures.
"In light of the challenging and volatile economic climate, and shifts in this year's retail calendar, we don't believe that reporting sales data for any one day (or weekend), including Black Friday, would provide a meaningful barometer of our business," the Plano, Texas company said in a statement released Saturday afternoon.
Posted by Front Page News at 5:08 PM
India terror begins with corpses on train platform
|In this Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, file photo, an unidentified guest on a wheel chairis escorted by hotel staff after being rescued from Oberoi Trident Hotel where suspected militants are holed up in Mumbai, India. Teams of gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, hospitals and a crowded train station in coodrdinated attacks across India's financial capital,taking Westerners hostage and leaving parts of the city under siege.|
MUMBAI, India (AP) -- 9:21 p.m. Wednesday, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: Two young men walk casually through Mumbai's main railway station, a worn Victorian hulk bustling with late commuters heading home, scurrying past small food stands and juice bars and vendors selling newspapers. They enter near the taxi stand, where long lines of battered black and yellow cabs wait for fares. One wears khaki cargo pants and a blue T-shirt. A pair of small knapsacks are slung over a shoulder. He looks like a college kid.
They are, says a photographer who follows them on part of their grim journey, "backpackers with assault rifles."
The two - and other death squads working in pairs - are to wreak carnage in landmark after landmark across Mumbai over the next three days, creating panic in this normally unflappable city and killing more than 195 people.
Sebastian D'Souza hears the gunfire at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus from his office across the street at the Mumbai Mirror tabloid.
He follows the sound through the sprawling station, slipping unseen through parked trains. When he first catches sight of the young men, he doesn't realize they are the gunmen. They look so innocent. Then he sees them shooting.
"They were firing from their hips. Very professional. Very cool," says D'Souza, the newspaper's photo editor. For more than 45 minutes he follows as they move from platform to platform shooting and throwing grenades. Often, D'Souza isn't even 30 feet away. The few police at the station are either dead in hiding or had long fled.
There are billboards everywhere, signs of India's economic boom. At one point, he photographs them standing beneath a tea company sign. They appear to be having a calm conversation. "WAKE UP!" the billboard reads.
They were 10 gunmen, well-trained and armed with assault rifles and grenades, officials say. They had scouted their targets ahead of time. The knew the hallways and the basements. They even carried bags of almonds for energy. Police say they were Muslim extremists from Pakistan, and may be tied to India's long-running insurgency in the disputed, largely Muslim, Himalayan region of Kashmir.
They landed in an inflatable rubber boat not long after nightfall on a Mumbai beach, a semi-isolated stretch of sand and stone where fisherman bring in their boats during the daytime. From there, it was less than a 15-minutes walk to their major targets. The group fanned out across the city, hitting 10 spots in two hours. They chose some of the best-known landmarks, many popular with foreigners and the city's elite. Many of the attacks ended in minutes. But at two luxury hotels and a Jewish center they dug in, fending off hundreds of commandos for days.
About 9:30 p.m.
Nariman House, Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement.
A gunshot startles the family of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and others inside the recently renovated five-story Jewish center on a bumpy, unpaved back road off a main street in Mumbai's trendy Colaba neighborhood. The pale yellow building, with its synagogue, kosher dining room and friendly rabbi, was a magnet for Israeli backpackers looking for a place to celebrate holidays while on vacation and an important religious center for Mumbai's small Jewish community.
Someone must be lighting firecrackers, thought Sandra Samuel, a maid at the center.
Then a gunman came up the stairs.
She and another employee duck into a room and hid in terror as explosions and gunshots rattle the building through the night.
"They destroyed everything, the lift, the dining room, everything," she says later.
At about the same time
Leopold Cafe and Bar
The place known as Leo's is one of the city's famous tourist restaurants, a joint crammed with glass-topped tables, old travel posters and lounging backpackers drinking cheap beer.
There are maybe 100 people inside when two gunmen appear in the entrances. One lobs in a grenade. Then they open fire.
"It was total chaos ... People didn't know what was going on. Some hit the floor, some ran out of the side entrance or tried to find a place to hide," says Farzad Jehani, who owns the restaurant with his brother.
The assault lasts, perhaps, two minutes. When it's over, at least four foreigners and three Indians are dead, though the brothers aren't sure because patrons quickly rush the casualties to hospitals in passing cars and taxis.
By then the gunmen have left, jogging through the streets and apparently moving on to one of India's most famous hotels just a few blocks away.
"They weren't aiming at anyone in particular. It was like they wanted to empty their magazines and do as much damage here as possible before heading to the Taj," Jehani says.
Posted by Front Page News at 4:54 PM
Friday, November 28, 2008
McNabb, Westbrook lead Eagles over Cardinals 48-20
|Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook celebrates his third touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008, in Philadelphia.|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Donovan McNabb got pulled for Kevin Kolb again. This time, he earned a seat on the bench with a superb performance instead of a stinker. McNabb threw four touchdown passes, Brian Westbrook tied a team record with four scores and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Arizona Cardinals 48-20 on Thursday night.
"Adversity always happens in our position," McNabb said. "It's how you pull yourself out of it. I knew coming into this game if I just continued to be myself and know what I'm seeing out there and react, good things will happen."
Just four days ago, McNabb was benched for the first time in his career at halftime of a 36-7 loss at Baltimore. The Eagles only trailed 10-7 when coach Andy Reid decided to put Kolb in after McNabb threw five interceptions and lost two fumbles in his previous seven quarters.
But Reid gave McNabb another chance and the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback responded with his best game since Week 1. He completed 27 of 39 passes for 260 yards and a passer rating of 121.7. Kolb ran out the clock while McNabb celebrated the win on the sideline.
"He was very determined, he commanded the offense, he relaxed and played very well," Reid said. "He blocked everything out and went about his business. It's a credit to him and the kind of guy he is."
Westbrook, playing with a sore ankle and knee, had 110 yards rushing and 20 more receiving. He had two TDs on the ground and two receiving. Wideout Irving Fryar was the last Eagles player to score four TDs in 1996.
"We needed this game. It was a little vindication for my offensive line. We did a great job," Westbrook said.
The Eagles (6-5-1) desperately needed to win to maintain their slim playoff hopes.
They'll have a few extra days to prepare for the New York Giants (10-1) on Dec. 7.
The Cardinals (7-5) will clinch their first division title in 33 years if San Francisco loses at Buffalo on Sunday.
"It sure seemed like we came out flat," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I don't know if we were mentally prepared. We played hard, but obviously made too many mistakes. We weren't as crisp as we had been."
Kurt Warner had 235 yards passing, three TDs and three interceptions.
"It's not the game we wanted to play," Warner said. "I came out and forced one early. We just didn't have our game today and it was across the board."
Right from the start, McNabb looked like the guy who led the Eagles to four straight NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. He was 5-for-5 for 38 yards on the opening drive, capping it with a 5-yard TD pass to Westbrook. Whoever was calling the plays - Reid or offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg - finally mixed it up instead of relying heavily on the pass. The running backs carried six times during the 12-play drive.
"Anytime you get a good mix, the defense has to play both," Reid said.
When Kyle Eckel ran for a first down on third-and-1 to keep the drive going, fans gave the Eagles a standing ovation. That's because they had passed unsuccessfully on their four previous third-and-1 attempts over the past two games. Also, Kolb threw an interception on second down from inside the 1 that was returned an NFL-record 108 yards by Ed Reed.
Joselio Hanson, starting for the injured Asante Samuel, set up the next score with his first career interception and a 13-yard return to the Arizona 41. Warner's pass into tight coverage was tipped by Stewart Bradley. Westbrook ran four straight plays, scoring from the 1 to make it 14-0.
Quintin Mikell intercepted Warner on the next series, but the Eagles went three-and-out. They went right down the field on their following possession and Westbrook caught a 2-yard TD pass for a 21-0 lead. Hank Baskett made a diving catch for a 20-yard gain and DeSean Jackson had a 14-yard reception to set up the score.
Warner tossed a 1-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald to cut it to 21-7 late in the second quarter. It was his 20th straight game with a TD pass, breaking Neil Lomax's franchise record.
Westbrook had a 9-yard TD run in the third quarter to put Philadelphia ahead 31-7. McNabb connected with Jackson for 24 yards on third-and-23 one play earlier.
Notes@: Eagles right guard Max Jean-Gilles, starting for the injured Shawn Andrews, will miss the rest of the season after breaking his right ankle. Nick Cole took his spot. ... The Eagles swept the NFC West, a feat they also accomplished in 2002. ... Westbrook passed Timmy Brown for first place on the club's career list with 27 TD catches by a running back. ... Eagles S Brian Dawkins made his 34th interception, tying the team record shared by Eric Allen and Bill Bradley.
Posted by Front Page News at 7:53 PM
Fed's emergency loan program increases activity
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve boosted its lending to commercial banks and investment firms over the past week, indicating that a severe credit crisis was still squeezing the financial system.
The Fed released a report Friday saying commercial banks averaged $93.6 billion in daily borrowing for the week ending Wednesday. That was up from an average of $91.6 billion for the week ending Nov. 19.
The report also said investment firms borrowed an average of $52.4 billion from the Fed's emergency loan program over the week ending Wednesday, up from an average of $50.2 billion the previous week.
The Fed said its net holdings of business loans known as commercial paper over the week ending Wednesday averaged $282.2 billion, an increase of $16.5 billion from the previous week.
Financial firms are borrowing from the Fed because they are having trouble raising money through normal channels as the financial system endures its worst crisis since the Great Depression.
Banks are hoarding cash rather than making loans out of fear that they won't be repaid. The Fed and the Treasury have been flooding the financial system with money in hopes that banks can return lending operations to more normal levels.
The central bank on Oct. 27 began buying commercial paper, the short-term debt that companies use to pay everyday expenses. It was one of a series of moves the Fed has made to try to unfreeze credit markets.
The Fed's goal is to raise demand in this area as a way to boost the availability of commercial paper, which has been seriously constrained since the financial crisis hit with force in September.
The report said insurance giant American International Group's loan from the Fed averaged $79.6 billion for the week ending Wednesday. That was down by $5.6 billion from the average the previous week.
The reduction reflected a modification of the government's support program for AIG earlier this month. Under that change, Treasury stepped in with a $40 billion purchase of stock in AIG, using money from the government's $700 billion financial system rescue package. The increased support from Treasury allowed the Fed to reduce slightly the size of its total loans to AIG.
The Fed unveiled two new programs Tuesday in a further effort to get consumer credit flowing again.
It said it would begin buying mortgage-backed securities from mortgage giants such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And it announced a program to lend to financial firms that buy securities backed by various types of consumer debt, from credit cards to auto and student loans.
Posted by Front Page News at 7:48 PM
US Jewish, meditation groups' members die in India
|In this undated photo provided by Chabad.org, Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, left, and his wife Rivkah Holtzberg, the directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, India,are shown. The Holtzberg's were at one of the sites attacked by suspected militants in Mumbai, Nov. 26, 2008. A cook who pulled Holtzberg's toddler son out of the building told The Associated Press she had seen Holtzberg and his wife lying on the floor, apparently unconscious.|
NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York couple who recognized the threat of terrorism in India but believed their mission of spreading Jewish pride was greater than the potential danger were slain in a series of attacks across Mumbai that have killed at least five Americans.
Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, and his wife, Rivkah, 28, died in the attack on the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement's center in Mumbai, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin said in New York.
The group said three other victims in the building apparently had been visiting there. Shmotkin said the dead included Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual U.S. citizenship; Rabbi Leibish Teitlebaum, an American from Brooklyn; and an Israeli woman whose name was not released. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the body of a fourth victim, an unidentified woman, was also found inside the five-story building.
Some of the victims had been bound.
The Holtzbergs' toddler son, Moshe, was rescued by an employee and taken to his grandparents.
More than 150 people had been killed since gunmen attacked 10 sites across India's financial capital, Mumbai, also known as Bombay, starting Wednesday night, officials said.
Also killed were a man and his teenage daughter from a Virginia community that promotes a form of meditation, a colleague said Friday. Alan Scherr, 58, and daughter Naomi, 13, died in a cafe Wednesday night, said Bobbie Garvey, a spokeswoman for the Synchronicity Foundation.
The U.S. State Department confirmed their deaths.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the deaths of the three victims from New York were "tragic losses" for the city. He said Teitelbaum, a Brooklyn native who moved to Jerusalem several years ago, was a kosher food supervisor.
"Our hearts go out to these families and to the many New Yorkers of all different religions and ethnicities who have been affected by the attacks," he said.
Members of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement gathered at the group's headquarters Friday to pray for the families of the dead.
"Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice," said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.
"As emissaries to Mumbai, Gabi and Rivky gave up the comforts of the West in order to spread Jewish pride in a corner of the world that was a frequent stop for throngs of Israeli tourists," he said.
Shmotkin said at least three of the five victims at the center held U.S. citizenship: Teitlebaum was an American from Brooklyn, while the Israeli-born rabbi, who moved to the U.S. as a child, and Chroman both had dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship. Officials here were not sure whether Rivkah Holtzberg, also born in Israel, had obtained dual citizenship.
Twelve hours after gunmen stormed the center Wednesday, Sandra Samuel, a cook at the center, heard little Moshe's cries outside the room in which she had barricaded herself. She opened the door, grabbed the toddler and ran outside with another center worker. The little boy's pants were soaked with blood, and Samuel said she saw four people lying on the floor as she fled.
Kotlarsky said Holtzberg's last known call was to the Israeli consulate. He said that "the situation is not good" before the phone went dead, according to Kotlarsky.
The Holtzbergs arrived in Mumbai in 2003 to run a synagogue, provide religious instruction and help people dealing with drug addiction and poverty, Kotlarsky said.
Hillary Lewin, a New Yorker met the Holtzbergs last summer at the center in India, said both the rabbi and his wife were aware of possible terrorism, but believed their mission was greater than the potential danger.
Their attitude was "If I don't do it, who's going to do it?", Lewin said.
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky said Moshe will turn 2 on Saturday. "Today, he became an orphan," he said. A second son, who has been ailing, was with relatives in Israel when the attack happened. A third child died earlier this year of a genetic disease, the group said.
The Scherrs were among 25 foundation participants in a spiritual program in Mumbai. Four others on the mission were injured in the cafe attack in the luxury Oberoi hotel, Garvey said, including two women from Tennessee.
"I would call them bright stars," Garvey said of the Scherrs. "Extraordinary, bright, very positive - examples to the world."
Scherr was a former college professor who lived at the Synchronicity sanctuary about 15 miles southwest of Charlottesville. His wife, Kia, and her two sons did not travel with them to India.
According to the foundation's Web site, the community is led by Master Charles, a former leading disciple of Swami Paramahansa Muktananda. He is described as "one of the most popular spiritual teachers from India to build a following the West in the 1970s." He taught a form of yoga.
Garvey identified the Synchronicity injured as Helen Connolly of Toronto, who was grazed by a bullet; Rudrani Devi and Linda Ragsdale, both of Nashville, who both underwent surgery for bullet wounds; and Michael Rudder of Montreal, who remains in intensive care after being shot three times. Other members of the mission narrowly escaped the attack.
Posted by Front Page News at 7:45 PM
Indian forces fight last gunmen in Mumbai hotel
|Members of anti-terrorist squad take position during an engagement with suspected militants outside the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, India, Friday, Nov. 28, 2008. Commandos rappelling from helicopters stormed a besieged Jewish center Friday and scoured two landmark luxury hotels to rush survivors to safety and flush out gunmen, two days after a chain of militant attacks across India's financial center left people dead and the city in panic.|
MUMBAI, India (AP) -- Indian forces fired grenades at the landmark Taj Mahal hotel Friday, the last stand of the suspected Muslim militants, just hours after elite commandos stormed a Jewish outreach center and found six hostages dead.
More than 150 people were killed in the violence that began when gunmen attacked 10 sites across India's financial capital Wednesday night. Fifteen foreigners, including five Americans, were among the dead.
The bodies of New York Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, were found at the Jewish center. Their newly orphaned son, Moshe, who turns 2 on Saturday, was scooped up by an employee Thursday as she fled the building.
Authorities scrambled to identify those responsible for the unprecedented attack, with Indian officials pointing across the border at rival Pakistan, and Pakistani leaders promising to cooperate in the investigation. A team of FBI agents was ordered to fly to India to investigate the attacks.
With the fighting stretching into a third day, commandos killed the last two gunmen inside the luxury Oberoi hotel, where 24 bodies had been found, authorities said. Dozens of people - including a man clutching a baby and about 20 airline crew members - were evacuated from the Oberoi earlier Friday.
"I'm going home. I'm going to see my wife," said Mark Abell, a Briton who had locked himself in his room during the siege.
The Taj Mahal hotel was wracked by hours of intermittent gunfire and explosions throughout the day, even though authorities said they had cleared it of gunmen the night before. At dusk, Indian forces began launching grenades at the building, where authorities believed one or perhaps two militants were holed up in a ballroom.
CNN reported the government had cut off their live transmissions from the scene in Mumbai. Authorities have asked not to show live broadcasts of the battle because they believe the gunmen were monitoring the news. Most channels largely obliged.
The capture of the hotel would mark the end of one of the most brazen terror attacks in India's history.
By Friday evening, at least nine gunmen had been killed and one arrested, said R. Patil, a top official in Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is the capital.
In the most dramatic of the counterstrikes Friday morning, masked Indian commandos rappelled from a helicopter to the rooftop of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish center as snipers laid down cover fire.
For nearly 12 hours, explosions and gunfire erupted from the five-story building as the commandos fought their way downward, while thousands of people gathered behind barricades in the streets to watch.
The assault blew huge holes in the center, and, at one point, Indian forces fired a rocket at the building.
Soon after, elated commandos ran outside with their rifles raised over their heads in a sign of triumph.
But inside the Chabad House was a scene of tragedy.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel's Channel 1 TV that the bodies of three women and three men were found at the center. Some of the victims had been bound, Barak said. "All in all, it was a difficult spectacle," he said.
Local media reports, quoting top military officials, said two gunmen were found dead in the building.
Chabad Lubavitch is an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group that runs outreach centers in far-flung areas of the globe. The center in Mumbai served as a synagogue and cultural center for crowds of Israeli tourists and the small local Jewish community, the group said.
Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for the Chabad Lubavitch movement, said the dead Americans at the Jewish center were Holtzberg; Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual U.S. citizenship; and Leibish Teitlebaum, an American from Brooklyn. Holtzman's wife was an Israeli citizen.
Two other U.S. victims of the attack, from a Virginia community that promotes a form of meditation, were identified Friday as Alan Scherr, 58, and daughter Naomi, 13, of Faber, Va. They were killed in a cafe Wednesday night at the Oberoi, said Bobbie Garvey, a spokeswoman for the Synchronicity Foundation.
The other dead were from Australia, France, Italy, Canada, Japan, Germany, Singapore and a dual British-Cypriot citizen.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the attackers clearly singled out Jewish and Western targets.
"Our world is under attack. It doesn't matter whether it happens in India or somewhere else," she said. "There are Islamic extremists who don't accept our existence or Western values."
The gunmen were well-prepared, apparently scouting some targets ahead of time and carrying large bags of almonds to keep up their energy during a long siege. One backpack they found contained 400 rounds of ammunition.
The gunmen moved skillfully through the blood-slickened corridors of the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, switching off lights to confuse the commandos.
The militants were "very determined," said an unidentified member of India's Marine Commando unit, his face wrapped in a black mask.
Andreina Varagona of Nashville, Tenn., who was shot in the right leg and right arm while dining in the Oberoi hotel, said there was almost no time to escape.
"Within two minutes, they were on us," she said, adding that about a dozen bodies fell to the floor. She dragged herself past the dead and into the restaurant kitchen, where employees were huddled for safety. They picked her up, she said, and carried her out.
Meanwhile, authorities were working to find out who was behind the attacks, claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen.
President George W. Bush said the U.S. was working with India and other nations to uncover who was responsible. An FBI team was heading to India to help with the investigation, U.S. officials said.
"My administration has been working with the Indian government and the international community as Indian authorities work to ensure the safety of those still under threat," Bush said in a statement. "We will continue to cooperate against these extremists who offer nothing but violence and hopelessness. "
India's foreign minister said the blame appeared to point to Pakistan.
"According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks," Pranab Mukherjee told reporters.
Indian home minister Jaiprakash Jaiswal said a captured gunmen had been identified as a Pakistani. Patil, the Maharashtra state official, said: "It is very clear that the terrorists are from Pakistan. We have enough evidence that they are from Pakistan."
Earlier Friday, Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar denied involvement by his country: "I will say in very categoric terms that Pakistan is not involved in these gory incidents."
Hoping to head off a crisis between the two nuclear-armed nations, officials in Islamabad agreed to send its spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, to India to help investigate the attacks.
Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist at the RAND Corp., said the group behind the attack "is probably drawing from, in large numbers, Indian operatives, but it probably enjoys a fairly healthy support of Pakistan."
"The big picture is that there's probably going to be more of this, not less of this, to come," she said.
The gunmen apparently came to Mumbai by boat. Authorities stopped a cargo ship off the west coast of Gujarat that had sailed from Saudi Arabia and handed it over to police for investigation, said navy Capt. Manohar Nambiar.
They also stopped a cargo ship that had arrived from Karachi, Pakistan, but released it when nothing suspicious was found on board.
India has been shaken repeatedly by terror attacks blamed on Muslim militants in recent years, but most were bombings striking crowded places: markets, street corners, parks. Mumbai - one of the most populated cities in the world with some 18 million people - was hit by a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.
Posted by Front Page News at 7:42 PM
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Phila. Police Officers Prepare for Presidential Inauguration
Nearly 300 Philadelphia police officers will get to witness history but they will be more than spectators at January's Presidential inauguration in Washington, DC. The officers gathered Wednesday for an orientation and paperwork.
For full story go to: http://www.kyw1060.com/
Posted by Front Page News at 4:44 PM
89th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Phila.
The streets of Philadelphia were taken over by giant balloons, floats and marching bands on Thursday morning. The 89th annual Thanksgiving Day parade stepped off from 20th and Market Streets at 8:30am.
For full story go to: http://www.kyw1060.com/
Posted by Front Page News at 4:41 PM
Once-beaten Titans dominate winless Lions 47-10
|Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White rushes six-yard for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008, in Detroit.|
DETROIT (AP) -- Chris Johnson was untouched on a short run to the outside and a long gain up the middle.
The two plays were symbolic of the canyon-like gap between the once-beaten Tennessee Titans and the winless Detroit Lions.
Johnson ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter, LenDale White scored twice in the second and Tennessee coasted to a 47-10 win over Detroit on Thursday.
Johnson finished with 125 yards rushing and White added 106 on the ground as Tennessee met its goal of re-establishing the running game.
The Titans (11-1) bounced back from their first defeat of the season, surging to a 28-3 lead in the opening minute of the second, and have their best 12-game record in franchise history.
With a 34-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, Vince Young played for the first time since spraining his left knee in the opener, mentioning suicide to his therapist and losing his job to Kerry Collins.
The Lions (0-12) moved a step closer to becoming the NFL's first 0-16 team, losing by a franchise-worst 37 points and giving up a franchise-record 47 points in their 69th game on Thanksgiving.
Six teams have lost at least their first 12 games since Tampa Bay finished 0-14 in 1976 and the Lions have done it twice. They started 0-12 in 2001 before beating the Minnesota Vikings, who visit Detroit on Dec. 7.
It was a rare nationally televised game for both teams and it didn't take long for the nation to witness why Tennessee is terrific and Detroit is awful.
Wide receiver Shaun McDonald fumbled on Detroit's second play from scrimmage and Tennessee needed just two snaps to take the lead. Collins threw a 28-yard pass to Brandon Jones and Johnson had so much room on a 6-yard run to the left that pulling guard Eugene Amano didn't have anybody to block.
Johnson took a handoff up the middle on the fourth play of Tennessee's next drive, ran through a huge hole and sprinted past helpless safety Dwight Smith to make it 14-3.
Backup defensive tackle Dave Ball got in on the fun by returning an interception 15 yards for a score, capping it by leaping over the goal line and flapping his arms like a turkey.
The Lions continued to hurt themselves on the ensuing possession, getting called for delay of game after calling a timeout and Nick Harris booted a 13-yard punt.
White added TD runs of 6 and 2 yards to make it 35-3 late in the first half.
Collins made a rare mistake, fumbling as he dropped back to pass and Daunte Culpepper found Michael Gaines from the 2 right before halftime for Detroit's only touchdown. Collins was 11-of-18 for 127 yards.
Rob Bironas kicked two field goals in the third quarter and two more in the fourth.
Young set up the fourth field goal, tossing a short pass to fullback Ahmard Hall and watching him outrace defenders as if he was an Olympic sprinter for a 54-yard gain.
Culpepper was 13-of-26 for 134 yards with a TD and an interception.
Drew Henson replaced him late in the fourth quarter, playing for the first time since his appearance with the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving in 2004 and becoming Detroit's fifth quarterback to take a snap during its miserable season.
Posted by Front Page News at 4:38 PM
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