Archive: November, 2009
What We've Found: What motivated Ft. Hood killer, PM Brown censures Karzai, Philly's Madoff in court, Spanish captives, SEPTA strike ending soon? and Zelaya withdraws from power-sharing deal
Julia Harte with your morning fix.
Nidal Malik Hasan, the Muslim, U.S.-born major who killed at least 13 people in an attack on the army base at Ft. Hood, Texas, yesterday, had been the target of ethnic harassment and due to deploy soon to Afghanistan, which he called his "worst nightmare."
Partly in response to the recent deaths of five British soldiers, who were killed by an Afghan police officer they were mentoring, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave a speech informing the Afghan government that Britain would begin to withdraw support for the anti-Taliban fight if the country's pervasive corruption was not more effectively dealt with.
Robert Sturman, a financial adviser who preyed on retired school teachers in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs with quasi-Ponzi schemes that netted him about $4.6 million, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court yesterday.
Spanish fishermen whose ship was seized by Somali pirates one month ago were urging their families to pressure the Spanish government to return two pirates captured the day after the hijacking, saying that their holders refuse to negotiate until those two men are returned.
Governor Rendell and U.S. representative Bob Brady reported that the striking Philadelphia Transit Workers Union is considering a revised contract offer from SEPTA, provoking speculation that the end of the strike may be imminent.
Ousted President Manuel Zelaya withdrew from a power-sharing deal that the United States had drawn up between Zelaya and interim leader Roberto Micheletti, saying the deal would be illegitimate unless Congress first voted to restore Zelaya to power.
|Councilman Frank Rizzo|
Today, at-large Councilman Frank Rizzo introduced a resolution calling for the city to restore mechanical leaf collection, a service which Mayor Nutter cut last November, during the fiscal budget crisis.
The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Anna Verna, Jannie Blackwell, Curtis Jones, Joan Krajewski, Donna Reed Miller, Marian Tasco and Brian OâNeill.
It passed 14-2, with Councilmembers DiCicco and Green dissenting and Councilman Greenlee absent. (*corrected from an earlier draft, which gave the vote incorrectly as 15-2).
The Mayor's office has said that it opposes re-instituting the service, choosing to spend the money elsewhere: "We're asking citizens to work with us on this issue so we can meet our spending priorities such as police, fire, and libraries," said spokeswoman Maura Kennedy yesterday.
Rizzo, however, saw it a different way:
"There are certain things that the city has an obligation to do," he told the Inquirer.
"There are certain things you canât put a price tag on," he told the Daily News.
Actually, putting a price tag on the service is pretty easy: it cost the city $400,000 annually.
And, it turns out, only about 10% of the city was ever getting the service. And, it turns out, that 10% includes the richest neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
Streets Department maps obtained by the CP show that only tiny pockets of the city were receiving mechanical leaf collection services in the first place.
I apologize for the poor image quality, and we're working on getting better maps. A Streets spokesperson confirmed that the different shadings (solid vs. striped) simply refer to different scheduled weeks of collection.
|Shaded portions (only) received mechanical leaf collection in 2008|
Among the pockets of Philly that did get the service, Chestnut Hill and West Mt. Airy seem to dominate in the northwest. Elsewhere: Somerton, Bustleton, and a few other pockets of the northeast; the small gentrified triangle of West Philly that extends west from the University bounded by Chestnut, Baltimore, and 52nd Street; and the swath of Overbrook that hugs City Ave; and a teeny, tiny little pocket of South Philly.
The rest of West Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, the River Districts, and South Philadelphia -- had to rake their leaves themselves.
Asked why these areas - and not others - received service, Streets spokeswoman June Canton pointed out that they have more leaves. And we don't doubt she's right: but they're also wealthier â a lot wealthier, in some cases â than the rest of the city.
There may be "certain things the city has an obligation to do," as Councilman Rizzo put it: but is this really one of them?
The SEPTA strike is a great inconvenience to the general population. I am sure that the Septa board Members and the Union Leadership are not similarly inconvenienced by the lack of public transportation. Just look at the army of SUVs around the Bellevue during the talks.
I would like to suggest another approach to the union action. Instead of walking off the job, why not continue to operate the system as usual only REFUSE TO COLLECT FARES.
This would have a two-fold impact; 1. Put a halt to the revenue stream while 2. Retaining the popular support of the people whose livelihoods depend on reliable public transportation.
Each time SEPTA has gone on strike, they have actually lost ridership.
Why not take an action that helps the people as well as yourselves, guys? Would that not be enlightened self interest?
|Viking, $27.95, Nov. 3
From Audacity's jacket blurb:
This is the ultimate insider story of what many consider the most brilliant campaign ever run, by the man who helped design it and made it happen. Plouffe takes readers from the campaign's tenative first moments the hard decisions on whether and how to run to the powerful election day vindication of Obama's wins over John McCain in battlegrounds such as Virginia and Florida. Moving through a cross-country backdrop of hotel rooms, debate halls, rallies and airplanes, we follow candidate Obama and his team every step of the way, listening in on never-before-revealed discussions about bold decisions and directions, and how the campaign was reported.
Middle-of-the-book pictures of Barack on a plane, Barack on a podium, Barack on the phone might not be sexy, but the story's certainly got some meat to it. To win a copy, answer me this:
On Tuesday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart came up with what fake name for Plouffe's book?
E-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win.
What We've Found: Sex-discrimination settlement, Semenya's gender verified, Colbert sponsors speedskaters, third Iraqi oil deal struck, UN workers leave Afghanistan and Northeast High enforces dress code... by isolating rule-breakers in auditorium
Julia Harte with your morning fix.
Four female employees of the Pennsylvania-based Danella Construction Corp. won a $200,000 settlement from the company after alleging that the corporation did not provide workers with on-site portable toilets, forcing them to wear adult diapers to work or drive to find a restroom.
The president of the South African athletic governing body was suspended for lying to cover up the fact that Caster Semenya, the South African sprinter who set a record at the 800-meter event of the 2009 Olympics, had been tested to verify her gender.
To raise awareness and money for the underfunded U.S. Speedskating Team, which just lost its biggest sponsor, Stephen Colbert offered to become the team's new primary sponsor and has already posted a fundraising link for the team on his Web site.
The Iraqi oil ministry struck its third major deal with a consortium of oil companies including Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell. If approved by the cabinet, Exxon and Royal will begin production soon in the Qurna oil field, where oil will be extracted starting at a rate of 280,000 barrels per day.
Following last week's deadly Taliban attack against United Nations workers, the UN pulled some 600 personnel from Afghanistan: a discouraging sign for the national forces still trying to defeat the militant group.
Northeast High School in Philadelphia took several students out of class yesterday and confined them in the school auditorium for failing to follow the school's dress code, on the first day the school had enforced the nine-year-old policy. Some students were sent to the auditorium simply for wearing brown shoes instead of black ones.
For this week's cover story, I listed what I consider the Top 10 Spectrum Sports Moments. Disagreements are welcome but first let's look at the footage:
1. The Flyers Win Their First Stanley Cup 5/19/1974
You can watch the entire game here. I recommend you at least check out the last few minutes, when the fans storm the ice and the Flyers basically have to fight them off to protect the Cup. Dave Schultz, especially, takes things too far.
2. Flyers vs. Russian Red Army 1/11/1976
Yep, that's Gene Hart and Marv Albert with the call.
3. The Sixers Win It All, 5/26/1983
See Also: "Fo Fi Fo" by Pieces of a Dream
4. Christian Laettner Takes "The Shot," 3/28/1992
See Also: Chris Farley's Laettner impression
5. Flyers vs. Oilers, Stanley Cup Finals, Game Six, 5/28/1987
6. Wilt Chamberlain's Double-Triple-Double, 2/2/1968
Footage not found. Instead, please enjoy this tribute to Wilt's entire career, to the tune of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You" (of course).
7. Hextall Scores, 12/8/1987
See Also: Hexy scores again.
8. The Streak, 10/16/1979-1/6/1980
Footage not found. The Flyers went 35 games without a loss that season but there doesn't seem to be a video celebrating that online. So enjoy this Zapruderish footage of a bench-clearing brawl footage from the same era.
9. Daryll Dawkins Brings Down The Rim, 12/30/1979
Video includes lots of interviews with Dr. J, Shaq and more, and footage of Chocolate Thunder's road game rainmaker from three weeks earlier.
10. Phantoms win the Calder Cup, 6/10/1998
Footage not found. So watch this video of former Phantoms captain/current Flyers coach fight with Dan Smith of the Hershey Bears. Gene Hart and Steve Coates call the shots.
Earlier today, "It's Our Money" reported that Willie Brown, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 234 â the guys on strike â had told reporters that Mayor Nutter was "cut off" from future negotiations:
Nutter "has brought nothingâ to the table, Brown said, adding, "I will not meet himâ because of the attacks the mayor has leveled at the union.
About half an hour ago, Office of the Mayor Press Secretary Doug Oliver emailed me the following statement, reprinted here in its entirety:
The Mayor was only involved because he was asked to participate in the discussions. To the extent that his participation is helpful, he's willing to participate. If his participation is problematic, he's willing to stay out of the discussions. It's always been the Mayor's position that his number one obligation is to the 1.5 million people who are trying to manage their way through this TWU strike.
There should be no reason why the negotiations can't move forward. But with a deal like the one that was offered (11% wage increases over five years and no increase in contributions to healthcare) during a time when so many people are taking pay decreases and even losing their jobs, one can't help but wonder why a deal wasn't struck already. Again, if the absence of the Mayor is the only thing needed to strike a deal, the Mayor is more than happy to allow the negotiations to continue without his involvement.
It's Our Money â now edited by former CP news editor Doron Taussig â has been blogging the strike like crazy.
A few hilights:
* Ben Waxman proposes that the transportation workers' give up their right to stirke in exchange for "binding arbitration," â in other words, if an agreement can't be reached, a decision is simply made by an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators.
* Anthony Campisi compares the last SEPTA strike to this one.
* Doron Taussig picks a few of the best how-I-got-to-work stories submitted to the blog.
And much more â so check 'em out.
Ring of Honor must be doing something right, though the evidence comes almost strictly in bad news for the Philly-based wrestling promotion. Within the past year and a half, which saw the company make the move to weekly TV on HDNet, ROH alumni CM Punk and Samoa Joe have both held world championships in the WWE and TNA. And between their last TV tapings in September and this weekendâs, theyâve had to bid farewell to two more of their top stars, as "American Dragonâ Bryan Danielson headed for Vince McMahonâs greener pastures and Nigel McGuinness has been reborn as Desmond Wolfe in TNA (where heâll now have to contend with the wonât-go-away Hulk Hogan). So look for the yearâs last batch of TV tapings six hour-long episodes over two nights to look towards the future and the next round of rising stars.
Thu. & Fri., Nov. 5-6, $10-$30, The Arena, 7 Ritner St., 215-781-2500, rohwrestling.com.
What We've Found: Court-ordered humiliation, SCOTUS considers prosecutor-lawsuits, immigrants get settlement, extraordinary rendition appealed, protests in Iran and fire adds to SEPTA strike chaos
Julia Harte with your morning fix.
The Bedford County courthouse granted probation to two women convicted of theft, on the condition that they sit outside the courthouse for four-and-a-half hours yesterday, holding signs that read: "I stole from a 9-year-old on her birthday! Don't steal or this could happen to you!"
The U.S. Supreme Court was preparing to hear a case over whether prosecutors may be sued for framing defendants before trial proceedings have begun.
The U.S. government has agreed to pay $1.26 million to five immigrant men who were rounded up, kept in conditions they allege to be inhumane and deported following the 9-11 attacks.
An opinion is expected soon in the first court case appealing the practice of "extraordinary rendition" -- in which terrorism suspects are seized in one country but questioned in another. The case concerns a Muslim cleric whom 26 Americans are charged with abducting from the streets of Milan six years ago.
Anti-government protesters in Iran, who were demonstrating against government-sanctioned rallies to commemorate the takeover of the U.S. Embassy that resulted in the hostage crisis 30 years ago, were brutally beaten and sprayed with tear gas by state police.
A fire tore through the first car of an R-5 train already crowded by passengers displaced from their regular routes by the ongoing SEPTA strike. No passengers were reported injured.
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