Daily Archives: December 7, 2011

BREAKING: Jerry Sandusky Arrested Again on New Charges

Ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been arrested again on new child sex charges. The move raises the total number of alleged victims to ten people.

The new charges include four counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and two counts of unlawful contact with a minor.

When earlier allegations arose, the longtime defensive coördinator maintained his innocence and said he only “horsed around” with disadvantaged boys in his care. He had been free on $100,000 bail. The grand jury report made public last month detailed forty charges against Sandusky in a child sex abuse scandal involving at least eight alleged victims and spanning fifteen years.

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BREAKING: Rod Blagojevich Sentenced to Fourteen Years

Rod Blagojevich is Definitely DelusionalFormer Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to fourteen years in federal prison today for corruption convictions.

Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, was accused of trying to profit as he considered whom to appoint to succeed Barack Obama when the President vacated his Senate seat.

Mr. Blagojevich was convicted of corruption in June after a jury returned seventeen guilty verdicts against him.

During his sentencing hearing, Mr. Blagojevich apologized to his state, his family and the judge, saying he is “unbelievably sorry.”

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Senate Republicans Break Agreement Not to Filibuster Judicial Nominees

President Obama nominated Ms. Halligan for one of three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Mr. Obama expressed accused Republicans of undermining the judicial confirmation process for partisan purposes.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, led the Republican Party’s opposition to the nomination, saying Ms. Halligan’s record demonstrated that she viewed the court as a means of advancing a social agenda instead of as a forum for deciding legal questions.  During her confirmation hearing, Ms. Halligan distanced herself from positions she had taken for clients. Republicans, however, questioned whether she had been candid and portrayed her as an extremist.

Senate Democrats criticized the filibuster against Ms. Halligan. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, described her as a mainstream and well-qualified legal thinker who was being attacked by “concocted controversies and a blatant misreading” of her record.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York warned that the Republican action could undo a bipartisan agreement that has guided the way the Senate has handled appeals court nominations since 2005. The agreement, created by seven Democrats and seven Republicans known as the Gang of 14, was reached after Democrats employed the tactic to prevent up-or-down votes on several of President George W. Bush’s nominees.

Republicans at the time argued that it was unconstitutional to filibuster judicial nominees. The Republican leader, Senator Bill Frist, threatened to ban filibusters.

The crisis was averted after seven Democrats agreed not to block certain appeals court nominees. In exchange, seven Republicans promised not to change Senate rules.

Of the seven Republican senators who were part of the Gang of 14, four — John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine — are still serving. All voted against allowing a vote on Ms. Halligan.

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Federal Aviation Administrator Resigns after DUI Arrest

FAA Administrator Babbitt Speaks at Conference...

Image by nasa hq photo via Flickr

Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt resigned Tuesday, three days after he was arrested on a drunken driving charge near his suburban Washington home.

In a brief statement released to the press, Mr. Babbitt said he submitted his resignation to his boss, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and that Sec. LaHood accepted it.

Mr. Babbitt, a former pilot, said serving as FAA administrator had been “the highlight of my professional career,” adding, “but I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my colleagues at the FAA.”

Secretary LaHood told reporters he was “disappointed” he learned about Mr. Babbitt’s arrest after the Fairfax City, Virginia, police department released a press release about it.

His statement made no mention of his arrest, although it was clearly the event that precipitated his action.

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Philanthropic School Denies 13-Year-Old Honor Student for Having HIV

Milton Hershey Statue

Image by kingeroos via Flickr

The Milton Hershey School promises to “nurture and educate children in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives.”

It’s an admirable goal, so it’s surprising that the school recently rejected a thirteen-year-old young man, publicly citing his HIV-positive status as the reason for his rejection. In a written statement, the school attempted to justify its action, saying “In order to protect our children in this unique environment, we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others.”

People living with HIV do not pose a health threat to those around them. I don’t know what kind of health and sex education they teach at the Milton Hershey School, but it might be time for the administrators and admissions staff to retake the class.

The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania joined this young man and his family as they fight for his right to education unhindered by ignorance and fear.

Just one week after World AIDS Day, this story of discrimination serves as a reminder that people living with HIV and AIDS still face stigma every day across the U.S. and around the world.

If you would like to sign a petition urging the school to reconsider its decision, please click here. Thanks for all that you do!

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Unemployment Rate at Lowest Point Since March 2009

In the midst of the European debt crisis, instability in the oil-rich Middle East and concerns about a Chinese economic slowdown, the American unemployment rate dropped last month to 8.6%, its lowest level in two and a half years.

The nation’s employers added 120,000 jobs in November, and job growth for the previous two months was better than expected. The numbers look like good news for President Obama as he heads into the 2012 Presidential election.

Even so, economists worry that a default of Greece or Italy could plunge Europe into a depression, which could send a shock wave across the ocean to throw the American economy off course. This year, higher oil prices, the Japanese earthquake, and the stalemate over the United States debt ceiling managed to drain the energy from the recovery.

November’s drop in unemployment was a welcome relief, given that the jobless rate held at 9% for most of 2011. It is at the lowest level since March 2009.

The share of workers who were unemployed fell in November partly because some people found jobs and partly because some discouraged workers quit looking for work.

A separate survey of employers, which economists pay more attention to than the unemployment rate, found that companies added 120,000 jobs last month.

Companies have taken on more temporary workers. Help-wanted advertising, retail sales, and auto sales have risen; jobless claims have fallen; and businesses seem to be getting loans more easily. Most encouraging was a recent survey of small businesses that found hiring intentions to be at their highest level since September 2008.

On the issue of government action to stimulate the economy, there has been some movement in Washington toward extending the payroll tax cut, which will expire at the end of this month. Economists have said that allowing the tax cut — which lets more than 160 million mostly middle-class Americans keep two percentage points more of their paychecks — to expire could be a drag on job creation and output growth.

An extension would probably lead to 600,000 to one million more jobs. The other stimulus program scheduled to expire by 2012 is the extension of unemployment insurance benefits, allowing some jobless workers to continue collecting for as long as ninety-nine weeks. Millions of people have exhausted their benefits. Failing to renew the extensions will cause five million more people to lose benefits next year.

Unemployment benefits have one of the most stimulative effects on the economy, because recipients are likely to spend all the money they receive quickly and pump more spending through the economy.

Via The New York Times.

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On This Day…

Aerial photograph of the Pearl Harbor Naval Ba...

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In 1941, Japanese warplanes attacked the home base of the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, drawing the United States into World War II. More than 2,300 Americans were killed.

 

 

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Jerry Sandusky Sits Down with The New York Times

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sat down with The New York Times in his first extended interview since his indictment on sexual abuse charges. The interview lasted nearly four hours over two days. Mr. Sandusky agreed to the interview because he said prosecutors distorted his decades of work with children had been distorted by prosecutors.

In it, Mr. Sandusky said Coach Joe Paterno never spoke to him about any suspected misconduct. Mr. Sandusky also said the charity he worked for never restricted his access to children until he was the subject of a criminal investigation in 2008.

The failure by Mr. Paterno to act aggressively after being told in 2002 that Mr. Sandusky molested a ten-year-old boy in the showers of the university’s football building played a role in Mr. Paterno’s firing last month after sixty-two years at Penn State. Mr. Sandusky said that Mr. Paterno did not confront him over the accusation, despite the fact that Mr. Sandusky had been one of his assistant coaches for three decades and was a regular presence at the football team’s complex for years after the 2002 episode.

Mr. Sandusky insisted he never sexually abused a child, but he confirmed events that prosecutors cited in charging him with forty counts of molesting young boys, all of whom came to know Mr. Sandusky through the charity he founded, the Second Mile.

Mr. Sandusky said he gave money to the disadvantaged boys at his charity, opened bank accounts for them, and gave them gifts that had been donated to the charity.

Prosecutors have said Mr. Sandusky used such gifts as a way to build a sense of trust and loyalty among boys he then repeatedly abused.

Mr. Sandusky described what he admitted was a family and work life that could often be chaotic, one that lacked some classic boundaries between adults and children, and thus one that was open to interpretation.

He said his household in State College, Pennsylvania, came to be a kind of second home for dozens of children from the charity, a place where games were played, wrestling matches staged, sleepovers arranged, and from where trips to out-of-town sporting events were launched. Asked why he interacted with children who were not his own without the typical safeguards other adults might apply (showering with them, sleeping alone with them in hotel rooms) he said that he saw those children as his own.

He characterized his close experiences with children he took under his wing as “precious times,” and said that the physical aspect of the relationships “just happened that way.”

To read the article from which this excerpt was taken (with editing for content and space), please click over to The New York Times.

 

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