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terça-feira, 25 de setembro de 2012

Einstein's Brain On An iPad? Surprisingly, There's Now An App For That

Einstein Brain Ipad
CHICAGO (AP) — While Albert Einstein's genius isn't included, an exclusive iPad application launched Tuesday promises to make detailed images of his brain more accessible to scientists than ever before.
The application will allow researchers and novices to peer into the eccentric Nobel winner's brain as if they were looking through a microscope. A medical museum under development in Chicago obtained funding to scan and digitize nearly 350 fragile and priceless slides made from slices of Einstein's brain after his death in 1955.
"I can't wait to find out what they'll discover," said Steve Landers, a consultant for the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago who designed the app. "I'd like to think Einstein would have been excited."
After Einstein died, a pathologist named Thomas Harvey performed an autopsy, removing his brain in hopes that future researchers could discover the secrets behind his genius.
Harvey gave samples to researchers and collaborated on a 1999 study published in the Lancet. That study showed a region of Einstein's brain — the parietal lobe — was 15 percent wider than normal. The parietal lobe is important to the understanding of math, language and spatial relationships.
The new iPad app may allow researchers to dig even deeper by looking for brain regions where the neurons are more densely connected than normal, said Dr. Phillip Epstein, a Chicago-area neuroscientist and consultant for the museum.
But because the tissue was preserved before modern imaging technology, it may be difficult for scientists to figure out exactly where in Einstein's brain each slide originated. Although the new app organizes the slides into general brain regions, it doesn't map them with precision to an anatomical model.

"They didn't have MRI. We don't have a three-dimensional model of the brain of Einstein, so we don't know where the samples were taken from," said researcher Jacopo Annese of the Brain Observatory at the University of California, San Diego. What's more, the slides on the app represent only a fraction of the entire brain, Annese said.
Annese has preserved and digitized another famous brain, that of Henry Molaison, who died in 2008 after living for decades with profound amnesia. Known as "H.M." in scientific studies, Molaison participated during his life in research that revealed new insights on learning and memory.
A searchable website with images of more than 2,400 slides of Molaison's entire brain will be available to the public in December, Annese said.
"There will be another Einstein and we'll do it like H.M.," Annese predicted. For now, he said, it's exciting that the Einstein brain tissue has been preserved digitally before the slides deteriorate or become damaged.
Some may question whether Einstein would have wanted images of his remains sold to non-scientists for $9.99.
"There's been a lot of debate over what Einstein's intentions were," museum board member Jim Paglia said. "We know he didn't want a circus made of his remains. But he understood the value to research and science to study his brain, and we think we've addressed that in a respectful manner."
Paglia said the app could "inspire a whole new generation of neuroscientists."
Proceeds from sales will go to the U.S. Department of Defense's National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland, and to the Chicago satellite museum, which is set to open in 2015 with interactive exhibits and the museum's digital collections.

THEHUFFINGTONPOST


FBI Investigates Shooting Of Double-Amputee Brian Claunch By Houston Police Officer Matthew Marin



Shooting Double Amputee
John Garcia stands in front of his home Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Houston, where police say an officer shot and killed a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair inside the group home.
HOUSTON — A caretaker at a group home for the mentally ill called police in the middle of the night because a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair was angry and wouldn't calm down.
What happened next is the subject of an investigation that now involves the FBI. One of the two Houston police officers who entered the home fatally shot the double-amputee in the head, saying he was cornered by the wheelchair and thought his partner was being threatened by what turned out to be a ballpoint pen.
Houston's police chief responded Monday to escalating criticism about the weekend shooting by cautioning against a rush to judgment. Community and civil rights groups say the incident is another example of problems that the Houston Police Department has with using excessive force.
"It is my desire to have everyone reserve judgment until all the facts and evidence in this investigation have been gathered," Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland said.
Officer Matthew Marin shot 45-year-old Brian Claunch early Saturday after responding to a call that the man, who reportedly lost two limbs in a train accident, was causing a disturbance. Police say Claunch cornered and threatened to kill Marin, who reportedly told investigators he didn't know the object in Claunch's hand was a pen.
John Garcia, who owns the group home, told reporters over the weekend that Claunch liked to draw.
McClelland said Monday he would enlist the FBI's help in the investigation and reassured the public his officers are trained to deal with people with mental problems.
Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said she didn't know if the department requesting FBI assistance in officer-involved shootings was rare but said "it's the step we're taking at this point."
But the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice, a group that includes 16 local and national civil rights organizations, suggested Claunch's death was part of a bigger problem at the Houston Police Department.

"The deeper problem is a failure to discipline for excessive force, especially in the area of shootings," said Randall Kallinen, a member of the group and a local civil rights attorney. "They are concerned only about liability."
Kallinen said he would like the shooting to spark a change in the department regarding discipline and training of officers.
Marin, a five-year veteran of the department, has been placed on three-day administrative leave. That is standard department procedure for all officer-involved shootings, and Silva said no unusual measures were being taken that would prevent Marin from returning to duty this week.
It's the second time Marin has killed a suspect while on duty. In 2009, investigators said Marin came upon a man stabbing his neighbor to death at an apartment complex and fired when the suspect refused to drop the knife, according to the Houston Chronicle.
In 2008, Marin was one of three Houston police officers who were accused of assaulting the father of Green Bay Packers player Donald Driver. They were later cleared and filed a defamation lawsuit that was later dropped.
The Healing Hands group facility, located in a somewhat rundown brick home, was quiet Monday.
Garcia could not be found at the facility on Monday and a woman at a separate address under his name said he was not there and asked a reporter to leave the property.
Estella Olguin, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Guardianship Program, said Claunch had been a ward of the county since 2003 and had lived at the home since March.
Garcia said Claunch had lost his right leg to just above the knee and his entire right arm when he was hit by a train, according to the Houston Chronicle. He said Claunch was schizophrenic.
Marin and a partner arrived at the Healing Hands around 2:30 a.m. responding to a disturbance call made a caretaker at the home. Police have not elaborated on the nature of the disturbance and authorities Monday had not yet made the 911 call public.
Once inside the home, according to a department statement Monday, the two policemen found Claunch agitated and threatening to kill the officers and other residents. While yelling at the officers, Claunch "waved a shiny object in his hand in their direction," according to the statement.
Police say Claunch refused an officer's direction to drop what turned out to be a ballpoint pen.
"As the suspect backed one of the officers into a corner, he attempted to stab the officer with the object," the statement said. "Officer Marin, fearing for his partner's life, and his own safety, discharged his duty weapon one time, striking the suspect."
Relatives of Claunch could not be found Monday. Public records show Claunch had brushes with the law multiple times over the last 20 years, including a 2006 arrest for trespassing at a shelter. His record also includes drug convictions.

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quinta-feira, 20 de setembro de 2012

Scott Brown-Elizabeth Warren Debate: Candidates Clash In First Massachusetts Senate Debate



Scott Brown Elizabeth Warren Debate
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren at Thursday's debate.
The matchup between Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren has been discussed for more than a year, and the first exchange in their debate Thursday focused on the issue of Warren's claimed Native American heritage.
"Professor Warren claimed that she's a Native American and a person of color, and she's not," Brown said. "But the fact is she checked a box."
Warren responded, "I think that Senator Brown is a nice guy, and this race is about the issues." She defended her decision to check a box on employment applications at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania as coming from knowledge from her Oklahoman family. She added that those who hired her said she never gained a benefit from it. "I never asked anyone about any documentation," she said.
"You're an excellent woman too," Brown responded, then implored her to "release the personnel records."
"This is about family. I can't -- and won't -- change who I am," shot back Warren.
The sharp exchange, minor in comparison to the economic crisis and ongoing war in Afghanistan, set the tone for the debate, with both candidates disagreeing substantively over the issues in a state where the political debate runs from left to slightly right-of-center. Jon Keller, a longtime local political commentator, moderated the debate in a Boston television studio with aplomb, and generally stayed out and let the candidates spar.
The next fight came over tax cuts, and the difference was clear. Brown painted Warren as a tax-and-spend liberal, while Warren cited Brown's votes against Democratic jobs bills in the Senate.

"When I talk about how people who are really struggling, I don't know how Senator Brown can vote against them. but Senator Brown is lining up with the Republicans to vote no," said Warren.
"The criticism you're hearing is that I don't want to raise taxes -- guilty as charged," Brown said. "I don't want to raise taxes." He then said, "The only person who's hurting the middle class and raising taxes is you!"
Warren said that Brown would hold "98 percent of families hostage" if the Senate did not vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all earners. "We can't do that to hard-working, middle-class families," she said.
Brown's famous truck made an appearance in a clash over oil subsidies. "I'm no friend of big oil, I'm a friend of the motorist," Brown said. "It cost about 70 dollars to fill up the truck the other day." He charged that Warren was "obsessed" with raising taxes.
"I'm concerned with how the senator has voted," Warren said. "He's voted to allow billions of your tax dollars to go to the oil industry. This is a real difference between the senator and me. This is about whose side you are on."
The two candidates, who describe themselves "pro-choice" like most Massachusetts voters, also sparred over women's rights. Warren cited Brown's votes against an equal pay for equal work bill and his vote for the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to make a moral or religious exemption over insurance coverage for contraception.
"You should stop scaring women, Professor," Brown retorted. "I've been fighting for women since I've been 6 years old," shot back Brown. "I want people to have contraceptive care." He then said he had "the same position" as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose seat he succeeded, in supporting a conscience exemption in health care. (Kennedy's son, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I., called Brown'sciting of Kennedy "misleading" and told him to stop doing it.)
"I don't think that's what Senator Kennedy fought for and i think it's inappropriate to characterize Senator Kennedy in that way," Warren said.
In a debate over foreign policy, both candidates praised President Barack Obama, and Warren made the distinction that she supports his re-election while Brown does not.
"Obama's drawing a harder line and that's a good thing," said Brown on Iran.
Warren agreed. "I think with Iran, it's very clear, we cannot have a nuclear Iran," she said. "President Obama's done a really great job." She pivoted, "I'm still working to have President Obama be the commander in chief, not Mitt Romney."
Brown quietly support's Romney, who is unpopular in Massachusetts after his one-term governorship and will likely lose his state by double digits. He did not mention him in the debate.
"I agree with you again, I think Secretary Clinton's doing a great job," said Brown, before adding a slight criticism of Obama to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Toward the end of the one-hour debate, Warren tied another Republican senator to Brown, saying that Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who denies global warming, could be the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee if Brown's victory leads Republicans to win control of the Senate.
"You're not running against Jim Inhofe, You're running against me," shot back Brown, who touts his independence from national Republicans.
Warren stayed with the attack. "This really may be the race for control of the United States Senate, not just about Senator Brown's vote -- it's about all the Republicans."
Brown cast himself as "the second-most bipartisan senator" and called Warren the "founder of the radical Occupy protest movement." "Can you imagine 100 Professor Warrens down there placing blame and raising taxes?" he asked.
She responded, "I think it's clear, this race is about who's side you stand on."

THEHUFFINGTONPOST

quarta-feira, 19 de setembro de 2012

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Gay Marriage Likely To Go Before Supreme Court Within The Next Year



Ruth Bader Ginsburg Gay Marriage
BOULDER, Colo. -- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Wednesday that she believes the Defense of Marriage Act will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court within the next year.
Ginsburg spoke at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She was asked a student-submitted question about the equal-protection clause and whether the nation's high court would consider it applying to sexual orientation.
Ginsburg said with a smile that she couldn't answer the question. She said she could not talk about matters that would come to the court, and that the Defense of Marriage Act would probably be up soon.
"I think it's most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term," she said.
The 1996 law has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in New York and is awaiting arguments before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Those oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 27.
The law was passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton after the Hawaii Supreme Court issued a ruling in 1993 making it appear Hawaii might legalize gay marriage.
Since then, many states have banned gay marriage, while eight states have approved it, led by Massachusetts in 2004 and continuing with Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland and Washington state. Maryland and Washington's laws aren't yet in effect and might be subject to referendums.
In February 2011, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
Ginsburg's remarks came at a conference sponsored by the University of Colorado law school. Ginsburg talked mostly about entering the legal profession when there were few female lawyers and even fewer judges.

The students roared with laughter when Ginsburg told of scrambling even to find a women's restroom in law school at Columbia University in the 1950s.
"We never complained, that's just the way it was," she said to laughter from the students.
___
Associated Press Writer Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.




THEHUFFINGTONPOST

Mitt Romney: 'My Campaign Is About The 100 Percent'




Mitt Romney 100 Percent
Mitt Romney said at a Univision forum in Miami that his campaign is about 100 percent of America.
WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday attempted to explain his controversial "47 percent" comments, saying he may campaign toward specific groups, but would focus as president on the entire nation.
"My campaign is about the 100 percent of America, and I'm concerned about them," he told Univision anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas at Univision's "Meet the Candidate" forum, co-hosted by Facebook at the University of Miami.
"I know I'm not going to get 100 percent of the vote, and my campaign will focus on those people we can think we can bring in to support me," he continued. "But this is a campaign about helping people that need help."
Romney has been fighting since Monday to tamp down outrage over his secretly videotaped remarks at a private fundraiser on the 47 percent of Americans whom he claimed will vote for President Barack Obama because they feel they are "entitled to health care, to food, to housing."
The forum was a consolation after the Spanish-language network lost its fight to host a presidential debate. It was also Romney's second speech this week directed at Latinos, a group he hopes to win over, so far with little progress.
Although not a debate, the Univision candidate forums set up Romney for a comparison with President Barack Obama, who will speak to Univision on Thursday in a similar format. The two will have different audiences, however, because both campaigns pushed to stack their crowds with supporters. The audience Wednesday cheered and clapped at Romney's applause lines.
Still, he faced tough interviewers in Ramos and Salinas, both of whom were especially persistent in questioning Romney on his immigration policies.

The crowd booed when Ramos asked Romney about his comments on self-deportation. "I have some friends, apparently," Romney joked. (Watch the video below.)
Romney tried to paint a rosy picture of his plan for immigration, which he has previously said includes vetoing the proposed Dream Act -- popular among Latino voters -- and solving the problem of undocumented immigrants by encouraging them to "self-deport." That approach, often called "attrition through enforcement," would essentially make life so difficult that they would choose to leave.
Romney's view has been criticized as both inhumane and unrealistic, given the huge number of undocumented immigrants -- who he called illegal immigrants -- and the strong ties many have here.
During Wednesday's forum, he backed away from the self-deportation strategy as an immigration solution.
"I'm not in favor of a mass-deportation effort, rounding up 12 million people and taking them out of the country," he said. "I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home and that's what I mean by 'self-deportation.'"
Romney has been evasive on how he would deal with undocumented immigrants currently living in the country. Obama has said he would support giving some immigrants legal status if they meet certain requirements, including paying a fine. Romney has refused to say whether he would end Obama's new deferred action policy that removes the deportation risk faced by some undocumented young people who would be helped by the Dream Act.
Romney was repeatedly pressed to say whether he would end the policy, but only said he doesn't need to answer because he would fix the issue through legislation. That was no comfort to many immigration advocates, who know the difficulties of passing immigration legislation in Congress.
"Are you going to deport them or not? Yes or no?" Salinas asked Romney, as translated to English by Univision.
"We're not going to round up people around the country and deport them, that's not -- I said during my primary campaign, time and again, we're not going to round up 12 million people ... and have them deported. Our system isn't to deport people."
Salinas pressed on. "That's your answer, that you're going to allow them to stay?" she asked.
"I'm not going to be rounding people up and deporting them out of the country, we're going to put in place a permanent solution," Romney replied.
Romney addressed the economy and education, laying out what amounted to a stump speech on both issues and their importance to Latinos. He also handled the topic of health care smoothly. He laughed off controversy over his Massachusetts health care law's similarity to Obamacare.
Ramos later asked Romney to think personally about his views on same-sex marriage and how he would respond if his child or grandchild wanted to enter a same-sex marriage. Romney joked that he would be surprised if one of his sons did -- they're all married already -- but that he would "of course want them to be happy" if a grandchild came out as gay. Nevertheless, he said he still opposes marriage between two men or two women.
Romney's joking comment on the secret videotape that he'd win the president easier if he were Latino was unchallenged at the forum. He made a similar quip to Ramos during an interview in January, noting his father was born in Mexico. The line was met with laughs then, but has been attacked this week as offensive.
Not so much back at Univision. "Are you sure you're not a Hispanic?" Ramos said, as translated by Univision.
"I think for political purposes that might have helped me," Romney said, laughing.

THEHUFFINGTONPOST

domingo, 16 de setembro de 2012

HMV responds to Chris Brown controversy: "Someone went into one of our stores and put the stickers on"



Chris Brown Tattoo
Chris Brown came under fire this week for a new neck tattoo that appears to show the battered face of a woman. Brown and his tattoo artist insist that the tat is a depiction of a Mexican sugar skull.
But unlike the usual cautionary labels that come with albums that have explicit themes or language, this warning underscores the singer's violent past.
"WARNING: Do not buy this album! This man beats women," the stickers read.
On Thursday, Twitter user@piercepenniless posted a photograph of Brown's album "Fortune" adorned with the domestic violence warning stickers:
Excellent stickers on Chris Brown CDs in HMV (via FB) -  on Twitpic(Credit: Twitpic/@piercepenniless)
The photo was reportedly snapped in an HMV store in London.
According to Gigwise, the labels are believed to be "the work of anti-domestic violence campaigners."
According to Gennaro Castaldo, the head of press & PR for HMV, the labels were quickly removed from the merchandise.
"Someone went into one of our stores and put the stickers on," Castaldo told The Huffington Post in a statement. "We spotted and removed them quickly but before we could do so the person circulated a photo to media."
This is not the first time that Brown (and his new album) has come under fire.
In July, music critics lambasted Brown for his history of violence after "Fortune"'s release, with music journalist Chloe Papas calling it a "repugnant record that we can only hope will be [the singer's] last."
In her review, dubbed by some as "best album review you will ever read," Papas argued that it would be categorically unreasonable for someone to buy Brown's album:
Regardless of whether Chris Brown has any musical talent (he doesn't) or whether this album is any good (it isn't), the man recently brutally assaulted a woman, and is still regularly invited back to award shows and worshipped by 'Breezy' fans worldwide. Which is, frankly, disgusting. And for those of you out there saying you need to separate the music and the man: screw you, don't encourage his actions. Final words: don't buy this album.
The 23-year-old R&B singer infamously assaulted ex-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. He has also more recently made headlines for his involvement in other violent incidents.
Brown found himself embroiled in another controversy this week when he revealed a new tattoo on his neck that appears to show a woman's beaten, bruised face. Both Brown and his tattoo artist have insisted, however, that the new ink isnot a depiction of Rihanna's battered face, as some have said, but rather a that of aMexican sugar skull.
With all this negative backlash in the air, Brown is reportedly attempting to clean up his image. According to MTV, the singer visited domestic abuse victims at a charity festival in Los Angeles this week.
"It's in my heart to show my fans, my friends and family and the families at Jenesse [a domestic violence intervention program in L.A.] who stood by me they were right to give me another chance. I'm working hard to make them proud," he said.
According to the Washington Post, Brown's "Fortune" "debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 135,000 first week sales." However, as of Thursday, the newspaper reported that the album "has only sold 284,000 copies" since it was released in July.
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quinta-feira, 13 de setembro de 2012

Private Student Loan Report Amended, Majority Of Students Didn't Exhaust Federal Aid: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Cfpb Private Student Loan Report
In this Jan. 4, 2012 photo, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is photographed by the media in Cleveland. Cordray is the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Cordray’s combative tumble onto the national stage as President Barack Obama’s new consumer watchdog has been anything but typical for the studious, mild-mannered public servant who has occasionally been spotted padding around his office in sock feet. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

A majority of college students who took out private loans to attend school didn't use the low-cost federal aid options that were available to them.
That's according to the amendments issued in August by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to its July report on private student loans, which was conducted along with the U.S. Department of Education. The Bureau initially noted 40 percent of people who took out private student loans also used federal Stafford loans but not at levels that would exhaust their borrowing potential. Now, the agencies amends that number to 54.5 percent while noting many eligible students didn't take out any Stafford loans at all before signing for a private loan.
Private student loans represent $150 billion of the student loan market or about one-eighth of overall student debt. Federal student aid options often have dramatically lower interest rates with more flexible repayment options.
The July report noted similarities between the growth of private student loans and the subprime housing market bubble which helped lead to the Great Recession.
"As the industry rapidly grew, the quality of the loans declined," Richard P. Hackett, an assistant director at the CFPB, said at the time. "[There are] big parallels to the housing market."
The CFPB and Ed Dept. added in a summary about their new amendments:
The Report found that the mean borrower would have paid a lower interest rate on a Federal Stafford Loan than a private student loan throughout the period of study, and that Federal Student Loans offer substantially more repayment and modification options than PSLs. Thus, the issue of whether borrowers pursue their Federal options is critical in understanding the overall student loan market. Further analysis might provide more insight on the underlying drivers for not applying for or not exhausting Federal Stafford Loan eligibility. Private student loan borrowers who took out $0 in Stafford Loans were a substantial portion of those who did not exhaust their eligibility. The updates reflect this segment of the borrower population.
According to the July report, students at for-profit colleges were four times more likely to take out private loans than students at traditional public and non-profit private colleges and universities. The Education Department found students at for-profit colleges are more than twice as likely to default on their loans when compared to peers at public and private nonprofit colleges.

Graduates are increasingly defaulting on their student loans, as the New York Times noted this week:
Last year, a study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy found that for every borrower who defaulted, at least two more borrowers were delinquent in their payments. And in March, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, using a survey of credit reports, concluded that more than one in four borrowers of student loans, both federal and private loans, were behind on their payments.
The Times also sourced a recent survey of education officials which found the total amount of defaulted loans, $76 billion, is greater than the yearly tuition bill for all students at public two- and four-year colleges and universities.
The report suggested Congress revisit a 2005 law which makes it practically impossible to discharge private student loans in bankruptcy.




Mitt Romney Intelligence Briefings: Candidate To Get Info From Obama Administration After Clearance



Mitt Romney Intelligence Briefings
BOSTON — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is expected to begin receiving regular intelligence briefings from the Obama administration in the coming days.
Senior aides report that the Romney campaign is nearing the conclusion of a required security clearance process. The former Massachusetts governor did not have to request the briefings. They are customary for major-party candidates after their nominating conventions.
With limited intelligence information, Romney struggled this week to respond in real time to a violent clash in Libya that left four Americans dead, including an ambassador. Before the deaths were confirmed, Romney mischaracterized the incident in his initial statement and accused President Barack Obama of a "disgraceful" handling of violence.
Romney has been relying on his foreign policy advisers and published news reports to inform his positions on world affairs.
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terça-feira, 11 de setembro de 2012

Zadroga Act Opponents, Including Paul Ryan, Observe September 11 Anniversary




September 11
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), center, joined by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON -- The nation's leading Republicans marked the 11th anniversary of 9/11 with the words "never forget" on their lips -- most of those using the occasion to promote legislation -- but nearly all of them opposed the bill passed two years ago to help the first responders who suffered health problems in the wake of the attacks.
Prominent among them was vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who voted twice against the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and opposed the final passage of the bill.
"Eleven years ago today, from Capitol Hill, I could see the smoke rising from the fires burning in the Pentagon. Like all Americans, I will never forget the moment that our homeland came under attack," Ryan said in a statement. "For me, this is a day to remember those who perished on that day of terror, including the first responders."
A spokesman for Ryan, Brendan Buck, insisted that Ryan supports 9/11 responders and pointed to the congressman's votes soon after the attacks in favor of aid for those suffering. He explained Ryan's Dec. 2010 comments on the House floor in opposition to the Zadroga bill by noting that Ryan said he didn't like the bill because he thought it was flawed, was "rushed" onto the floor by Democrats, and created a new mandatory spending program.
Ryan also voted against previous versions of the measure, in September and June of 2010, and the version that ultimately passed the House did so without Ryan's vote. It passed the Senate unanimously after Republicans there extracted numerous concessions, including cutting the fund from $7.4 billion to $4.3 billion and making that money available for only six years.
Buck declined to say whether Ryan would support extending further aid to first responders with cancer and failing lungs when the money runs out in 2016, the last year of a potential Romney-Ryan administration.
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, provided no specifics on what measures a President Romney would back, but suggested he would stand by responders and that he endorsed more aid from Washington.

"Gov. Romney supports government assistance to the victims of terrorism," Saul said.
In observing Tuesday's anniversary, Ryan joined numerous other colleagues who joined him in opposing the Zadroga Act. Many House Republicans mourned for the victims of 9/11 even as they linked the day to efforts to pass new legislation.
"We honor those who fell 11 years ago today. We honor those who fought to try to save some of those who died," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday at the Republicans' weekly press conference. "The best thing that we can do as a people to honor those individuals is to make sure that it never happens again, and we have looming massive defense cuts that this House has acted to substitute."
Cantor was echoed by House Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who suggested that Americans come together in the spirit of 9/11 to head off the looming defense cuts that will take effect due to the sequestration agreement Congress passed last year.
Cantor, McCarthy and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who also spoke, all voted against the 9/11 bill or skipped final passage.

Scott Van Duzer, Obama Hugger And Pizza Business Owner, On Media Whirlwind Tour

Obama Hug
Just a few days ago, Big Apple Pizza owner Scott Van Duzer was known around Fort Pierce, Fla., mostly for his pizza and his work raising awareness for blood donations. But since bear-hugging President Obama on Sunday, Van Duzer has become a national lightning rod for small business politics, the object of a Yelp tug-of-war ... and a sudden media darling.
On Monday, Van Duzer appeared on "The Situation Room," explaining to Wolf Blitzer the hug was spontaneous, not staged, as some have alleged. "I guess I got caught up in the moment," Van Duzer said. "I had a brief moment when I knew he was coming. He opened up the door and he was like, 'Where's Scott at?' ... I was just so excited, I just gave him a big hug and picked him up. It was crazy."
Though Van Duzer was taking a chance that Secret Service agents would rush to pry the president from his impressive arms, the entrepreneur made it clear to Blitzer that he did not consider security a deterrent to hugging. "We didn't plan it, we didn't have no communication with the Secret Service about it or anything like that. It was just a genuine moment ... it was an incredible experience."
Van Duzer indicated that his ebullience was not an action, but a reaction, saying Obama's "enthusiasm was contagious."
The video of the hug has since become contagious, sparking bipartisan debates over the Republican business owner's literal and figurative embracing of Obama. AYelp frenzy ensued, in which many objected with one star reviews of Van Duzer's politics before positive reviewers pushed his rating back up to five stars. His response to the feud: "Whether you're Republican or Democrat, he's our president. It was just a tremendous honor. It's really bizarre -- we were watching the convention last week and now here he is."
Also on Monday, Van Duzer was flown to New York City for a scheduled Tuesday appearance on Anderson Cooper's new daytime talk show "Anderson Live."
Van Duzer said that "Inside Edition" and "Good Morning America" reached out to him as well. And though he acknowledged to The Palm Beach Post that his 15 minutes of fame may soon be up, Van Duzer may be able to sneak in one more noteworthy hug before the attention subsides. When he meets Cooper, his reported favorite, the inevitable will likely occur.
"He's threatening to give me a bear hug," Cooper said Monday on "Anderson 360."



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