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Archive for April, 2009

BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Souter To Retire

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

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NPR: NPR has learned that Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the court’s current term. The court has completed hearing oral arguments for the year and will be issuing rulings and opinions until the end of June. Souter is expected to remain on the bench until a successor has been chosen and confirmed, which may or may not be accomplished before the court reconvenes in October. At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court, but he has made clear to friends for some time now that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and return to his native New Hampshire. MORE

PHAWKER: Justice Souter’s replacement? Bill Clinton. Duh. Dude needs a job. Idle hands are the Devil’s playthings, especially with that one.

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HEADS UP: You Have Just One Hour Left To Talk On Your Cellphone While Mowing Down Pedestrians

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

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INQUIRER: At 4 p.m. today Mayor Nutter is slated to sign a bill that would ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, as well as bicylcling or skating. First-time offenders would get hit up with a $150 fine, with a $300 fine for second offenses. The law will go into effect immediately, but the city will delay enforcement while it launches an information campaign of unspecified duration, a spokeswoman said. Citing a Harvard University study, the National Safety Council estimates that drivers using cell phones are about four times more likely to get into a wreck. Five states, including New Jersey, have outright bans. MORE

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THE KILLS: U R A Fever

Thursday, April 30th, 2009
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At the TLA Friday. Sweet.

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PAPERBOY: Slow-Jamming The Alt-Weeklies

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

paperboyartthumbnail.jpgBY DAVE ALLEN Like time, news waits for no man. Keeping up with the funny papers has always been an all-day job, even in the pre-Internets era. These days, however, it’s a two-man job. That’s right, these days you need someone to do your reading for you, or risk falling hopelessly behind and, as a result, increasing your chances of dying lonely and somewhat bitter. That’s why every week, PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you. We pore over those time-consuming cover stories and give you the takeaway, suss out the cover art, warn you off the ink-wasters and steer you towards the gooey center. Why? Because we love you!

ON THE COVER

CP: This week, money talks, with a rundown of the jobs, salaries and stories of the city’s municipal workers. Why plunge into something like you might see in Parade magazine (where it’s called something like What Do People Make?, with the paltry earnings of a few average schmoes side by side with moneybags like Oprah and Reese Witherspoon)? Doron Taussig says at the outset that “public opinion about city workers ranges from ‘selfless public servants’ to ‘lazy good-for-nothings,’ but a lot of those opinions, it seems to us, aren’t based on much.” Plus, contract negotiations are coming and some of the highlighted people and their departments may face cuts or go on strike. For former addict-turned-Department of Behavior Health aide Richard Drain (yearly salary: $26,792), that might be too much to bear.

He finally went into the shelter system, started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and was accepted cp_2009_04_30.jpginto a clerical workshop at Horizon House. Eleven years ago, he came to DBH, where he does typing, filing, keeps the printer and fax machine stocked with paper, etc., and takes pictures for an in-house department newsletter.

He’s also a “certified peer specialist” and a facilitator for the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, which means part of his time with DBH is spent visiting facilities, doing outreach, talking to addicts and recovering addicts to persuade them that “recovery is possible.” Some people, he knows, aren’t ready for the message. But he talks to them anyway. “You have to plant the seed,” he says. And he’s had some gratifying success. He’s seen guys he went to jail with — hard-core users — come around.

Drain owns a home in Southwest Philly, and lives there with his wife, and sometimes his 12-year-old son. The boy recently began exhibiting some of the behaviors Drain did at the same age — thumbing his nose at authority, etc. “Which is not good,” Drain says. His other children, though, the ones he sent away in their youth, are doing well — all are college graduates. He loves his job, and doesn’t do it for the money — he’d never consider leaving, he says — though he sometimes gets frustrated with his pay. A lot of his outreach is done after-hours. “When everyone else went home and got comfortable,” he says, “we’re just getting back to work.”

Drain is by far the lowest-salaried worker featured, and Taussig says that the people who came forward for the piece tended to be upper-level employees with managing positions and higher salary, like Lauren Medley.

Lauren Medley is more or less a lifer in the health care industry. She began training at her vocational high school in the Northeast, served as medical supply in the Army during Desert Storm (she was stationed in Germany), and then worked for the city as a lab tech for several years. She found the work boring, though, so she went to nursing school part-time at Holy Family University. It took seven years. She left the city briefly, but came back for the predictable hours and the pension benefits.

Today she works as a nurse supervisor at Health Center 2 in South Philly. Her job involves triage — taking vital signs, height and weight measurements and complaints — as well as administering medication, injections, and drawing blood. There’s also teaching. Many health center patients have high blood pressure or diabetes, and so nurses provide instruction about diet habits.

Overall, it’s an interesting sampling of bite-size stories, but it made me wonder why CP couldn’t put the clampdown on a few more entry-level workers.

PW: A rainbow-hued edition of the Queer Issue. There’s no single cover story, but instead a series of thoughtful short features. Tara Murtha profiles Dan Anders, an uncommon candidate for the Court of Common Pleas. Steven Wells looks at the bisexual‘s place in society and in the GLBT movement and, in the piece that’s generating some controversy, Joel Mathis’ take on the North Philly-filmed, YouTube-based Scorpion Show. It starts out simply enough, capturing the show’s vibe and the two co-hosts’ high-energy banter. But at about the midway point, Mathis takes on the elephant in the room:

pg_1.jpgSoon, though, viewers began to ask: Are Skorpion and Makael gay?

Simmons and Mclendon say they hate the question—but it’s unavoidable when episodes of the show have addressed topics such as: Does having sex once with a man make you gay? Is a man gay if he likes his ass played with during sex? And why do gay relationships so often end badly?

Off camera, Simmons has been out of the closet for eight years; Mclendon says he won’t discuss his private life. On camera, the two have responded to the questions with a popular short video asserting their straightness in a hilarious display of head-wagging, finger-snapping and Beyoncé-loving faux machismo.

“Do we look gay?” Mclendon asks, and then in unison the pair snap. “Helloooooo?”

“No, we’re not gay. We like cootchie,” Mclendon confides, leeringly, to the camera.

Commenters – 102 of them, so far – have taken exception to Mathis’ approach and his emphasis on Skorpion and Makael’s sexuality. It makes me wonder: Were viewers really speculating about this, or did the article just need a gay-friendly hook to land a spot in the Queer Issue? Simmons’ desire to become “a black Perez Hilton” may invite questioning, but it might not play all that well in Simmons’ neighborhood. PW seems to have kicked open a hornet’s nest — and landed a spot in a Skorpion Show video.

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: High-pressure applications… to high school? Beats dropping out. Midnight movies return: Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria! Time stops in South Philly. Thumbs up to “non-mainstream beauty,” thumbs down to Grease-quoting headlines.

PW: Philly: enlightened, Harrisburg: not so much. August: A few months early, but right on time. Old-school, subversive cinema: take that, anti-gay censors! “…playing trombone for the Jonas Brothers TV show theme song”: Dude is living out my dream.

WINNER: Nice breadth of coverage, amusing headlines, a Steven Wells piece I actually really like… apart from the noise over the Skorpion show, everything’s coming up PW!

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LIVE AND LET DIE: Chrysler Goes Bankrupt

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

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WASHINGTON POST: Chrysler, one of the three pillars of the American auto industry, will file for bankruptcy after last-minute negotiations between the government and the automaker’s creditors broke down last night. U.S. officials had offered Chrysler’s secured lenders $2.25 billion in cash if they would agree to writedown the $6.9 billion in secured debt that the company owed. But a small group of hedge funds refused the 11th-hour deal, forcing an imminent bankruptcy. An administration official this morning expressed disappointment, saying the holdouts had failed to “do the right thing,” but that “their failure to act in either their own economic interest or the national interest does not diminish the accomplishments made by Chrysler, Fiat and its stakeholders, nor will it impede the new opportunity Chrysler now has to restructure and emerge stronger going forward.” […] As talks broke down late last night, it became near certain that the Obama administration would send Chrysler into bankruptcy under a plan that would replace chief executive Robert L. Nardelli and pump billions of dollars more into the effort, all in hopes that the company could emerge from court proceedings as a re-energized competitor in the global economy. MORE

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GADJET: More Twitter Quitters Than Repeat Tweeters

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

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ASSOCIATED PRESS: Twitter quitters outnumber the flock of habitual tweeters on the rapidly growing online communications service, a new study suggests. Most people aren’t joining the Web site’s jumble of conversations for very long. More than 60 percent of Twitter’s U.S. users don’t return a month later, based on an analysis of traffic trends unveiled this week by the research firm Nielsen Online. The lackluster retention rate of 40 percent suggests many people don’t see the point in spending time on Twitter, which allows anyone to write about what they’re doing or what’s on their mind in messages, or “tweets,” limited to 140 characters. While some of the chirping is entertaining, thought-provoking or just downright helpful, much of the chatter can be quite banal as people update when they are eating, drinking, puking and even defecating. Despite the defectors, Twitter is amassing an impressive audience. In March, the San Francisco-based service attracted a U.S. audience of 13.9 million, an increase of more than 25-fold from roughly 500,000 users at the same 2008 juncture, Nielsen said. MORE

RELATED: Sarah Palin Now Saying Dumb Shit On Twitter, Too palintongue.thumbnail.png

RELATED: Meet Jeff Tweeney

PREVIOUSLY: One Million Twits Can’t Be Wrong

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AT WAR WITH THE DIPSHITS: Flaming Lips’ ‘Realize’ Voted Official Okie State Rock Song Despite Red Scare

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

flips3640_1.jpgGUARDIAN: The Flaming Lips’ 2002 song, Do You Realise?, will be named the “official state rock’n’roll song of Oklahoma”. And Wayne Coyne wants everyone to know that the band are not communists. “Some minority of religious wackos are trying to make it seem like [we have a communist] agenda, which we don’t,” Coyne told Rolling Stone. His comments came after two whirlwind months, when “Do You Realise?” was chosen as the state’s official rock song, rejected due to the band’s “communism”, then finally reinstated by governor Brad Henry. The saga began in early March, when 20,000 internet voters chose from between “Do You Realise?”, from 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, and rivals tracks by All-American Rejects, Leon Russell and the Call. After Do You Realise? was chosen as the winner, Coyne commented, “People [said], ‘I didn’t think Oklahoma was that cool of a place!’‚ And I thought that was a pretty cool thing.” The online vote was ratified by the Oklahoma senate and Flaming Lips seemed set to enter the Sooner State’s history books. Until, that is … the T-shirt. Flaming Lips bassist Michael Ivins happens to own a red T-shirt with a hammer and sickle, symbols of communism. And he happened to wear this shirt on a visit to the state capital last month. And some members of Oklahoma’s house of representatives happened to notice. Livid, these anti-communist politicians rejected the song. “It’s really just a few religious wackos that think they can tell everybody what to do,” Coyne told Billboard. “It’s not even Democrats v Republicans. It’s just a couple of these small-minded guys who are the most popular in their church and their little towns. In some ways it’s so absurd, it can only make us look good and them look stupid.” “Honestly, it’s just a dumb shirt,” he continued. “We’re not communists.” Thankfully, Oklahoma governor Brad Henry seems to agree. Henry announced that he is vetoing the decision and will sign an executive order naming “Do You Realise?” as the state’s official rock song. MORE

THE FLAMING LIPS: Do You Realize?

Do You Realize Typography Experimentation from craigmclark on Vimeo.

WORTH REPEATING: Cosmic Americana

lips_mystics_cover.jpgTHE FLAMING LIPS
At War With The Mystics
(Warner Bros.)

Having become sentient in the mid-70s, somewhere in the middle of that that vast mountainous Pennsyltuckian backwoods between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, I had a front row seat to one of the places where the 60’s went to die: the hinterlands. While more cosmopolitan zip codes were sampling disco, cocaine, Members Only jackets and punk, all I could see growing up was ex-greaser shitkickers in dirty bellbottoms, Greg Brady haircuts, faded Dark Side of The Moon T-shirts with knocked-up girlfriends in peasant dresses billowing with pre-natal pulchritude, blasting Zep, Floyd and Yes in souped-up Camaros as they raced off to yet another keggar in the woods. I have it on good authority that the Flaming Lips grew up under similar circumstances in Oklahoma city. And much of their early career sounds like a band failing wonderfully to recreate their older brother’s classic rock album collection — without the pedigree, chops, major label magnanimity or luck of being at the right place at the right time that helped make so much of that music unforgettable. By the early 90s, they had discovered syrupy melody and radio-ready precision only complimented their appetite for noise and whimsy. By the late 90s, they had fully copped to their love of gatefold prog-rock, which was only then recovering a measure of respectability after years of punk’s libelous whispering campaign. By the 21st Century, the Lips had fully embraced electronica, J-pop and pumping house music, and ingeniously grafted the best elements of those musics onto their own tangerine dreams. They drove in this direction pretty much until the wheels came off  with a series of increasingly pointless re-mix EPs that finally wrung all the seemingly bottomless flava out of 2002’s uniformly excellent Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. The new At War With The Mystics — how’s that for a zeitgeist-capturing title? — finds the Lips re-calibrating the ratios of clicks/buzzes/BPMs to classic hesher-rock, striking a balance that older rockist fans will find more pleasing all the while retaining the gravity-defying superpowers that point-and-click production techniques afford mere mortal guitar-bands. As such, At War With The Mystics should please all facets of the Lips surging constituency: the ex-ravers that have seen the light; indie-rockers in search of father figures; aging acid casualties still trying to go furthur; and the people that choose music for commercials. I’ll spare you the requisite adjective orgies about specific songs — the whole album is currently streaming over at flaminglips.com — but barring the occasional lapse into previously-chewed scenery, and the inclusion of the weak-ass “Mr. Ambulance Driver”, this is yet another reason to believe that the Flaming Lips’ psychedelic hot air balloon is still the most reliable transport to book when you wanna go somewhere over the rainbow. – JONATHAN VALANIA

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CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: Pew Polls Says Majority Of Philadelphians Actually Want Casinos

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

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PHILLY CLOUT: A poll by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that city residents support bringing casinos to Philadelphia by a margin of 53 percent to 41 percent.  In addition, 60 percent support the current proposal to locate one of the two casinos planned for the city on the Delaware riverfront while 35 percent oppose that.  The plan to place the second casino on East Market Street was not so popular, with just 39 percent of the respondents in favor while 57 percent are against it. MORE

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EARLY WORD: The British Invasion (Of South Philly)

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

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[Click flyer to activate Internets]

Reportedly, Shep Fairey will be striking a blow for us Yanks with an 8 X 8 wheatpaste installation outside the T&P. Not sure exactly what that means, but you can check it out for yourself and let us know.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Born Again In The USA

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

bruce_springsteen.jpgDAN DELUCA: Bruce Springsteen may well have miscalculated earlier this year when he released Working On A Dream, one of the most hopeful and downright happy sounding albums of his career just as a cratering economy was rendering the songs of struggle and strife that are his stock in trade more resonant than they have sounded in years. But like a canny coach able to make necessary adjustments at halftime, Springsteen has headed out on the road – where he and the E Street Band arrived in South Philadelphia on Tuesday for the first of back to back shows at the Spectrum – with an altered game plan that wisely plays to his strengths. […] Early on, the Boss laid out the business plan for what turned out to be a smartly conceived, sharply executed and cathartic-as-ever 2 hour and 45 minute show. Later on, he praised the “democraticness” of the intimate-by-arena-standards venue, which is slated for demolition at the end of this year, as being “ideal for rock shows” and said “it’s a treat to be in this lovely old building before it comes down. So we salute the Spectrum.” MORE

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OBAMA NATION: 100 Days Of Change

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

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President Barack Obama marks his hundredth day in office on Wednesday, but it’s hardly the only digit that matters to the new administration.Here are some highlights of Obama’s first 100 days, by the numbers:

$3.6 trillion — Total spending in Obama’s proposed federal budget for 2010.

$1.75 trillion — Total projected deficit in Obama’s proposed federal budget for 2010.obama_shep_print_final2.thumbnail.jpg

$787 billion — Cost of tax cuts and new spending in economic stimulus package approved by Congress.

$558.4 billion — Increase in the public debt, from Jan. 20 through April 24.

$235 billion — Tax dollars spent to bail out failing financial institutions, Jan. 20-April 20.

2.055 million — Number of jobs lost, January-March.

908,666 — Housing foreclosures, Jan. 20-April 24.

8016.95 — Dow Jones Industrial Average close on April 27.

7949.09 — Dow Jones Industrial Average close on Obama’s Inauguration Day.obama_shep_print_final2.thumbnail.jpg

106 — U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan since Jan. 20.

49 — U.S. military deaths in Iraq since Jan. 20.

27 — Bank failures.

15 — Bills signed into law.

11 — States visited.

9 — Foreign countries visited.

4 — Visits to Camp David.

3 — Commerce secretaries nominated.obama_shep_print_final2.thumbnail.jpg

2 — Formal news conferences.

2 — Republicans in the Cabinet

1 — Visits to Hyde Park home in Chicago

1 — Commerce secretaries confirmed by the Senate.

1 — Number of college basketball teams picked by Obama that made it to the Final Four. [via ASSOCIATED PRESS]

ASSOCIATED PRESS: President Barack Obama kicks off his 100th day in office with a new Democratic ally at his side. Sen. Arlen Specter will discuss his new Democratic allegiance during an address with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday morning. MORE

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Mr. Obama talks the language of pragmatism, but his program has revealed a man of obama_shep_print_final2.thumbnail.jpgthe left. He clearly views the financial crisis and the liberal majorities in Congress as a rare chance to advance the power of the state in American life. The only two comparable moments in the last century were 1965, which gave us the Great Society, and 1933, which bequeathed the New Deal. Mr. Obama’s goals are at least as ambitious, resuming the march toward the European welfare state that was stopped by what Democrats like to call the Reagan detour.

His main method here is to make the federal government the guarantor of middle-class security. He wants to make a college education a new entitlement, regardless of the cost. He wants state-financed health-care available to all, even if it means jamming a $1 trillion bill through the Senate with 51 votes. And he wants a cap-and-trade tax that would punish the main current sources of U.S. energy and hand Washington a vast new source of revenue. Oh, and by the way, he also wants to fix the financial system, run the auto industry, and build a nationwide, high-speed rail network. And on the seventh day, he rested. MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES: After 100 days, it seems that President Obama is that rare creature, a responsible obama_shep_print_final2.thumbnail.jpggambler. Bill Clinton took large risks personally but not as a policymaker. George W. Bush took lots of risks, but they were reckless and irresponsible ones. Obama is unlike either of his predecessors. Inheriting a dramatically reduced stack of chips, he finds himself with little choice but to bet heavily again and again — but he is doing so with the odds rather than against them, taking sensible, calculated risks that may well pay off. […] So what has he done? So far, interestingly, Obama appears to be combining the best of both of his predecessors while avoiding the worst. Forced to gamble for high stakes, like Bush, he has made his bets based on solid policy wonkery, like Clinton. MORE

POLITICO: Before President Franklin D. Roosevelt came along, few people particularly cared what a president did with his first 100 days in office. In peacetime, American presidents might be more ambitious or more staid, but the obama_shep_print_final2.thumbnail.jpgexpectation that the future of the American economy, say, depended on the new president’s immediate attention would have struck most people as crazy. Presidents simply didn’t have that kind of power. FDR changed all that. He injected a sense of urgency into the executive in his first 100 days on the job. He forced the country’s troubled banks to go on holiday, put Prohibition on the fast track to extinction and forced through Congress and then signed … government austerity measures. Our still-new president gives every indication that he has studied FDR’s success and wishes to leave a similar mark on the country. There are many larger similarities, but it’s the smaller ones that indicate Obama really means it. MORE

POLITICO: They might be less dizzying than the first 100, but President Barack Obama’s second 100 days in office could prove just as vital to his legacy. By Day 200 – August 7 — the president will know if hopeful spring signs obama_shep_print_final2.thumbnail.jpgpresaged an economic recovery, whether he’s on course to pass comprehensive health care and energy legislation, if his initial foray into Middle East peacemaking brings any results, and if he’s succeeded in getting banks and automakers off life-support. The White House is carefully preparing for all these issues, but they got a reminder this week that the best laid plans are often upended by unpredictable events. The decision by Sen. Arlen Specter to switch from Republican to Democrat could play a pivotal role in at least two big-ticket issues on Capitol Hill – and that’s only the first of what may be other X-factors in the weeks ahead. Here’s a look at 10 key decisions Obama faces in the next 100 days. MORE

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GENERATION OF SWINE: Flu Epidemic’s Global Creep

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

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[Photos via SACRAMENTO BEE]

university-of-delaware.thumbnail.jpgUPDATE:  Delaware health officials say four students at the University of Delaware have influenza that meets the probable definitions for swine flu. Jay Lynch, communications director for the Delaware Department of Public Health, said Tuesday night that cultures from the four students were sent to the Centers for the Disease Control. The students had flu tests Monday at the campus health center, and preliminary results showed they met the conditions for swine flu. Lynch says none of the students had traveled to Mexico, although one had recently been to New Jersey, where there is an outbreak. The students at recovering at their homes; none has been hospitalized. UD classes will continue, although a Web site notice says some large campus activities may be rescheduled. MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES: As isolated outbreaks of swine flu continue to be confirmed around the world, with new cases reported today in Canada, Israel, France, New Zealand, Costa Rica and South Korea, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency and the White House asked Congress for an additional $1.5 billion to fight the outbreak. […] The total number of cases in the United States has now reached 67 and worldwide has climbed to more than 100, not counting the still-unknown number of cases in Mexico. At least some of the new cases, moreover, appear to have risen from human-to-human transmission outside Mexico. Such community transmission is one of the early earmarks of a pandemic, and if it continues to be observed, experts predicted, the World Health Organization is likely to raise its alert to Level 5, from the currently elevated Level 4. Such an increase might involve more travel restrictions and stronger efforts to control the spread of the virus. MORE

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GUARDIAN: The World Health Organisation today called on all governments to prepare for a swine flu pandemic and warned that if the ­disease took hold across the globe it could prove a disaster for the world’s ­poorest countries. The call came as New York’s health commissioner said “many hundreds” of children were reported to have fallen sick with suspected swine flu. The possible infection of large numbers of children in the city could be evidence of human-to-human transmission of the disease outside the source of the ­epidemic, Mexico. A group of children from a New York school who visited the country recently may have spread the illness to other children since their return. Tonight Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, declared a state of emergency following the confirmation of 13 cases of the illness. It emerged tonight that the authorities in Los Angeles County were investigating the deaths of two men to establish whether they were as a result of swine flu. If confirmed they would be the first fatalities outside Mexico. after reports of a possible swine flu death. A further increase in the pandemic threat level appeared to be the likely response to the numbers of confirmed infections rising on three ­continents. The Mexican authorities said today that three more people died of swine flu on Monday, bringing the toll to 152. MORE

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CBS NEWS: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has sent a memo to some health care providers noting procedures to be followed if the swine flu outbreak eventually makes quarantines necessary. DHS Assistant Secretary Bridger McGaw circulated the swine flu memo, which was obtained by CBSNews.com, on Monday night. It says: “The Department of Justice has established legal federal authorities pertaining to the implementation of a quarantine and enforcement. Under approval from HHS, the Surgeon General has the authority to issue quarantines.” McGaw appears to have been referring to the section of federal law that allows the Surgeon General to detain and quarantine Americans “reasonably believed to be infected” with a communicable disease. A Centers for Disease Control official said on Tuesday that swine flu deaths in the U.S. are likely. MORE

SACRAMENTO BEE: Amazing Photos

PREVIOUSLY: This Is SO Not Good

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Sen. Arlen Specter To Switch Parties; Could Give Democrats Filibuster-Proof Congressional Majority

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

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WASHINGTON POST: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter [pictured above, with Cookie Monster] will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning. Specter’s decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next senator from Minnesota. (Former senator Norm Coleman is appealing Franken’s victory in the state Supreme Court.) “I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary,” said Specter in a statement. “I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.” He added: “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.” President Obama was informed of Specter’s decision at around 10:25 a.m., according to White House officials, and reached out to the senator minutes later to tell him “you have my full support,” and we are “thrilled to have you.” MORE

spectercheney_1_1.jpgREUTERS: As far as the Republican base was concerned, his biggest Achilles’ heel was his support for Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill. That bill passed the U.S. Congress in February with support from only three Republicans — Specter and Maine senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. […] The new chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, has his work cut out for him. He has his share of critics. Steele said after Specter, Collins and Snowe voted for the stimulus plan that perhaps the Republican Party should not provide funds to help them win their re-election bids. “Oh, yes, I’m always open to everything, baby, absolutely,” Steele told the Fox News Channel in February. Republican strategist Scott Reed said: “I always thought Specter would consider switching to become an independent to get re-elected, and it’s too bad that Michael Steele pushed him into the Democrat Party.” MORE

WIKIPEDIA: After graduating from Yale Law School, Specter opened a law practice (Specter & Katz) with Marvin arlenspecterphilly.jpegKatz (now Federal District Court Judge in Philadelphia, became an assistant district attorney under District Attorney James Crumlish, and was a Democrat. At the recommendation of Representative Gerald R. Ford, he worked for the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As an assistant counsel for the commission, he authored or co-authored[8] the controversial “single bullet theory,” which suggested the wounds to President Kennedy and non-fatal wounds to Texas Governor John Connally were caused by the same bullet. This was a crucial assertion for the Warren Commission, since if the two had been wounded by separate bullets, that would have demonstrated the presence of a second assassin and therefore a conspiracy.[9] In 1965, Specter ran for District Attorney, on the Republican ticket as a registered Democrat. He handily beat incumbent Jim Crumlish, and subsequently changed his registration to Republican. Although a death penalty supporter, as prosecutor he questioned the fairness of the Pennsylvania death penalty statute in 1972.[10] In 1967, he was the Republican Party standard bearer together with City Controller candidate, Tom Gola, in the mayoral campaign against the Democrat incumbent James H. J. Tate. One of their slogans was, “We need THESE guys to watch THOSE guys.”[11] He served two terms as District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia. In 1976, Specter ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and was defeated by John Heinz. In 1978, he was defeated in the primary for Governor of Pennsylvania by Dick Thornburgh.[12] After several years of private practice with the prestigious Philadelphia law firm Dechert, Price & Rhoads, Specter ran for the Senate in 1980, this time, successfully. He assumed office in January, 1981. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: RUMORED: Arlen Specter To Become A Democrat?

LYNDON B. JOHNSON: Never Believed The Warren Commission Report

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