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Archive for November, 2011

Democratic Rep. Barney Frank announces retirement

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., walks down the steps of Newton City Hall in Newton, Mass., Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, after announcing he will not seek reelection in 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., walks down the steps of Newton City Hall in Newton, Mass., Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, after announcing he will not seek reelection in 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is surrounded by members of the media after announcing he will not seek reelection in 2012, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Newton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. responds to a reporter’s question after announcing he will not seek reelection in 2012, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Newton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Ron. Barney Frank, D-Mass. announces he will not seek reelection in 2012, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Newton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. announces he will not seek reelection in 2012, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Newton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

(AP) ? Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts announced his retirement Monday effective at the end of next year, closing out a congressional career of more than three decades capped by passage of legislation imposing new regulations on Wall Street.

Frank, 71 and a lifelong liberal, won a House seat in 1980 and was one of the first lawmakers to announce that he is gay.

At a news conference, Frank said he had originally intended to seek one more term but changed his mind in part because the state’s new redistricting map will move 325,000 new constituents into his district.

He said he intends to remain active in public policy issues, including defending the so-called Dodd-Frank bill that he co-authored in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008.

“I think I will find my motives less impugned and I will be able to talk more about the merits,” he said.

In a written statement, President Barack Obama paid tribute to Frank’s “passion and quick wit.” He praised the Massachusetts lawmaker’s efforts to expand affordable housing, defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens and work to enact the “most sweeping financial reform in history.”

Sixteen other Democrats have announced plans not to seek new House terms in 2012, compared with six Republicans.

As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank was instrumental in passage of the Dodd-Frank bill, which contained the stiffest restrictions on banks and Wall Street since the Great Depression. The measure clamped down on lending practices and expanded consumer protections to prevent a repeat of the 2008 meltdown that knocked the economy to its knees.

Some Republicans have vowed to seek its repeal, although they are unlikely to succeed.

Over the years, Frank consistently came down on the liberal side of public issues, opposing the war in Iraq and bills to cover its expenses.

At his news conference, he acknowledged one error, his vote against President George H.W. Bush’s request for support for a military campaign to force Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s withdrawal from oil-rich Kuwait.

The mission “worked well,” Frank said in retrospect, saying he would have voted in favor had he known.

More than two decades ago, Frank was reprimanded by the House for using his congressional status on behalf of a male prostitute whom he had employed as a personal aide, including seeking dismissal of 33 parking tickets.

“I should have known better. I do now, but it’s a little too late,” Frank said at the time.

Democrats rebuffed Republican calls for Frank’s expulsion, and instead, the Massachusetts Democrat resumed a career that far outlasted many of those who had sought his ouster.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2011-11-28-Frank%20Retiring/id-234fb509ed174d468c9a83dd7b972a20

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Toyota taking orders in Japan for Prius Plug-in (AP)

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

TOKYO ? Toyota began taking orders Tuesday for the plug-in version of its hit Prius hybrid, announcing efficient mileage and a relatively affordable starting price of 3.2 million yen ($41,000), which comes down with green vehicle subsidies.

Toyota is targeting Prius Plug-in sales of 35,000 to 40,000 a year in Japan, and 60,000 globally. The car is set for delivery in Japan in January. With subsidies the cost comes down to 2.75 million yen ($35,200). It starts at $32,000 in the U.S. and 37,000 euros in Europe, according to Toyota.

Japan’s top automaker says the plug-in, which it calls the Prius PHV, is for those who want something more innovative than a regular gasoline-electric hybrid, but are worried about running out of power on the road, as can happen with pure electric vehicles.

When a plug-in runs out of power to keep the electric vehicle going, it becomes a hybrid.

“The plug-in is the premier next-generation ecological car that will follow the hybrid,” said Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada, the Toyota Motor Corp. engineer known as the “father of the Prius.”

The Prius Plug-in has an estimated electric vehicle cruise range per charge of 26.4 kilometers (16 miles), according to Toyota.

Its mileage is estimated at 61 kilometers per liter for Japanese test conditions, which converts to a whopping 143 miles per gallon. Such numbers vary depending on road conditions. Toyota is promising 87 mpg for the U.S. Prius Plug-in, which will be delivered starting in March. Orders are already being taken online in the U.S.

Green cars such as the Prius Plug-in are expected to take centerstage at the Tokyo Motor Show, which opens to the public this weekend.

Japanese consumers have taken to the Prius, despite a languishing auto market overall, thanks to government-backed subsidies. Nations around the world are offering similar perks, boosting its chance for success.

The Prius Plug-in, which seats five people, comes with a new lithium-ion battery that can be charged from a household outlet, much like an electric car. It also recharges itself while driving like a gasoline-electric hybrid. The battery is more powerful and compact so the back trunk fits three golf bags.

Uchiyamada told reporters that the plug-in was the best solution for green cars as most Japanese don’t drive more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) a day and Toyota studies showed that most people don’t want to use EVs for drives longer than 100 kilometers (60 miles).

How the plug-in fares in coming months will help show whether Toyota can keep riding on its success of the Prius as a global leader in green technology. Toyota said it had collected data from 600 people around the world who had leased the plug-in on a trial basis.

Toyota has sold more than 3.4 million hybrids worldwide so far, including models other than the Prius.

Selling in big numbers is important because it helps cut costs and allows the automaker to offer products at affordable prices.

Honda Motor Co., which has also been aggressive with hybrid technology, has sold 770,000 hybrids worldwide.

Nissan Motor Co., which hasn’t released a global hybrid sales number, is banking more on pure electric, selling 17,500 Leaf cars around the world so far.

In Japan, Toyota will work on services with its housing unit to support plug-in owners’ charging stations, it said.

___

Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at http://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/tech/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111129/ap_on_bi_ge/as_japan_toyota

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Video: Euro Zone Finance Ministers Meet Today

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

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Source: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/cnbc/45474228/

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$5000 grant supports Meals on Wheels for pets ? Maine News …

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

WINSLOW, Maine ? Carlene Shank already had a dog and a cat when her friend passed away recently and left her another dog to care for.

Making sure her friend?s dog was taken care of was an easy decision for Shank, even though she was unsure whether she would be able to afford the food. Then she noticed a flier at the Spectrum Generations Center in Waterville advertising something called AniMeals, a sort of Meals on Wheels for pets.

?It makes a big difference once you?re retired and on a fixed income,? said Shank. ?I?ve got one dog who eats you out of house and home, so [AniMeals is] a big help.?

According to Lynda Johnson, who has run AniMeals out of the Spectrum Generations Cohen Center in Hallowell for the past 8 years, there are a total of about 90 pets being served in the Hallowell and Waterville areas. The food is distributed by an already existing network of Meals on Wheels drivers who deliver sustenance to some 400 senior citizens and others who are confined to their homes by circumstance.

Earlier this month, the AniMeals program received a major boost in the form of a $5,000 grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust, which through its Seasons of Suppers program has a long history of funding for pets and humans across the country. The trust has awarded more than $350,000 in grant money to support pet food programs. The recent grant in Maine was split evenly between the 8-year-old program in Hallowell and a similar program in the Waterville area that is just a few months old but already flooded with pets to feed.

?Our clients love the AniMeals program because it helps them with their budgets,? said Johnson. ?All of this money from the Banfield Charitable Trust is going right to food, and maybe a container or two to keep it in.?

Users of the program receive about two pounds of dry dog or cat food per week, depending on the number of pets they have. The program has occasionally served other pets, such as birds, but that is rare, said Johnson. Just like Meals on Wheels, Johnson said she knows AniMeals is a resounding success because of the ease with which she collects donations. There is also no waiting list for either program, which is a point of pride for the program.

?We?re having good luck, which is a good thing because it does cost a lot of money,? said Johnson. Among the businesses who have supported the program are Pet Life, Pine Tree Veterinarians, Tractor Supply and the Riverview Psychiatric Center. Johnson said she buys pet food from a variety of local retailers, many of whom usually pitch in a little extra.

The rationale behind the program is making sure people who don?t have a lot don?t have to let go of their pets for lack of money.

?If you?re on Meals on Wheels, you?re already in a scary place anyway,? said Johnson. ?Anyone who?s on that program qualifies for AniMeals. I don?t look at how much money they make.?

Johnson said the AniMeals program in the Hallowell area was among the first of its kind in Maine, though it has been spreading.

According to Shank, the pet food distributed by the program is of just as high quality as the people food distributed by Meals on Wheels.

?Whatever kind of food they?re buying, the animals love it,? she said. ?We?re all happy here.?

To inquire about AniMeals or Meals on Wheels, or to make a donation to either program, call 800-639-1553.

Source: http://bangordailynews.com/2011/11/28/news/southern-coast/5000-grant-supports-meals-on-wheels-for-pets/

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Usher?s Ex Wife Tameka Is Suing For Sole Custody

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

Usher’s ex-wife Tameka Raymond has filed suit against the singer in a bid to receive full custody of their two kids and recoup $34,000 in child support. The Yeah! hitmaker filed for divorce from Tameka in June, 2009, and together they share joint physical custody of their two boys, Usher Raymond V, four, and Naviyd [...]

Source: http://www.celebritymound.com/ushers-ex-wife-tameka-is-suing-for-sole-custody/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ushers-ex-wife-tameka-is-suing-for-sole-custody

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Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

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Ill. to let civil-union couples file tax returns (Providence Journal)

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

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Ex-fiance focus of ‘People’s Court’ missing case (omg!)

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) ? Orlando’s police chief says a former fianc? is the primary focus of the investigation into a woman who went missing after appearing on “The People’s Court” with the suspect to resolve a dispute over a $5,000 engagement ring.

Thirty-three-year-old Michelle Parker of Orlando was last seen Nov. 17. It was the day the previously taped episode aired of the case between her and 40-year-old Dale Smith. The abandoned SUV of the mother of three was found the next day.

Chief Paul Rooney said at a news conference Monday that Smith of Orlando is the probe’s focus and there are no other suspects.

He says Smith has refused to take a lie-detector test. The Orlando Sentinel reports that court papers show the couple has a history of violence.

Attempts to find a telephone listing for Smith were unsuccessful.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/entertainment/*http%3A//us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/external/omg_rss/rss_omg_en/news_ex_fiance_focus_peoples_court_missing_case011928193/43739850/*http%3A//omg.yahoo.com/news/ex-fiance-focus-peoples-court-missing-case-011928193.html

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Study: Fewer children in US lack health insurance (AP)

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

MIAMI ? Even with more children living in poverty because of the rough economy, the number of children without health insurance in the U.S. has dropped by 1 million in the past three years, according to a report released Tuesday by Georgetown University.

Many states have expanded eligibility for, and simplified access to, the children’s Medicaid program. This has helped shrink the number of uninsured children from 6.9 million in 2008 to 5.9 million in 2010. Experts say the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care overhaul that requires states to maintain income eligibility levels and discourages other barriers to coverage, has played a key role in the improvement.

Overall, 34 states had a significant decrease in the rate of uninsured children.

Florida made the most progress, dropping from 667,758 to 506,934 during that time period, although the state still has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the nation.

Minnesota, Kansas and Wisconsin saw an increase in the number of uninsured children.

Nevada has the highest rate of uninsured children while Massachusetts has the lowest, according to the report.

The findings are based on an analysis of new health insurance data from the Census Bureau. It was done by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families.

The news comes as the number of uninsured adults has risen in the past few years.

High unemployment rates and the increasing cost of private insurance are driving more families to the federal-state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs, also known as CHIP. Both programs provide health insurance for children, but come from different funding streams and allow states more flexibility in how they run their programs.

President Barack Obama signed an extension of CHIP and provided $87 billion to help states pay for Medicaid in the 2009 economic stimulus, and experts say a bipartisan national commitment aimed at covering children has given states new tools and incentives to follow through. For example, some states once required face-to-face interviews; now many states have online applications.

The Affordable Care Act should also help preserve these gains going forward, said Joan Alker, co-executive director of the Georgetown University research center.

“We will move to a culture of coverage. The presumption is everyone has insurance,” she said. “Families will feel there’s an option out there for them.”

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of the historic health care overhaul next year.

Florida led the nation in reducing the number of uninsured children, in part because the state’s Medicaid rolls swelled as the economy soured. But legislation passed in 2009 has also simplified the process and reduced penalties for those who don’t pay premiums.

South Carolina is trying to make it easier for low-income children who already qualify for health care coverage to enroll in Medicaid. The state’s Medicaid director is requesting an additional $35 million from the state for next year’s budget. Nearly $30 million of that would pay to add an estimated 70,000 children to Medicaid rolls by streamlining the application process.

While Tuesday’s report is promising, experts worry that increased enrollment may be difficult to sustain as state lawmakers slash budgets, especially for big-ticket expenses such as health care.

“These gains are fragile and could quickly be reversed if state or federal support erodes,” Alker said.

More than 128,000 children are on the waiting list in Arizona after officials froze their KidsCare program enrollment in 2010 to help balance the state budget. The program now has approximately 15,000 children ? down from 45,820. The state recently submitted a two-year plan for federal approval that would allow enrollment of 19,000 children now on a waiting list.

Still, Arizona was able to drop from 258,339 uninsured children in 2008 to 207,967 in 2010, according to the report.

Wisconsin state officials are looking to move 215,000 Medicaid-eligible children into a stripped-down version of the program with reduced benefits.

Texas also decreased the number of uninsured children, but some health advocates fear major state cuts to address that state’s massive budget crisis. In 2003, when the state was facing a smaller shortfall, more than 200,000 children were kicked off of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Minnesota saw the largest increase in uninsured children, jumping from 72,493 in 2008 to 84,165 in 2010, according to the report.

For years, Minnesota has operated under a federal waiver that differed from other states. The waiver said that children eligible for the state’s insurance program were not also eligible for the federal program, meaning the state lost out on enhanced matching funds. In the past several years, the state has made cuts. For example, the program used to allow children born on Medicaid to remain on the program until age 2 regardless of circumstances. Now a child can remain until age 1, Berglin said.

The state has attempted improvements such as creating gap coverage between Medicaid and Minnesota care, but the federal government didn’t sign off, she said.

“Doing the things that other states have done is more costly for Minnesota,” said former Minnesota Sen. Linda Berglin, a longtime champion of health care services. “It makes me sad. Obviously I believe having all children insured is a goal we should be striving for. If we are going to implement federal reform that will take care of a lot of the problem.”

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/business/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111129/ap_on_re_us/us_uninsured_children

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In Craigslist case, mentor’s motives questioned (AP)

Posted by aifkod on November 30, 2011

CLEVELAND ? By one account, Richard Beasley was a devoted mentor to a 16-year-old high school junior, taking him to church almost weekly, going fishing, playing video games and involving him in volunteer work.

The teenager’s mother paints another picture of Beasley, 52 ? that of a man who threatened her son and who once said that he knew where the teen lived and that “I know where your mother lives.”

Whatever the nature of the relationship, it apparently ended this month after the teen was charged with attempted murder in a scheme that police say lured applicants for a phony Craigslist job posting into deadly robberies.

Police believe two deaths are connected to the scam but haven’t said whether another body found Friday is linked. A fourth man who said he answered the same ad survived a shooting, while a fifth man says he interviewed with Beasley for the fake job as a farm hand but decided not to take it.

“Richard was always a very giving person,” Beasley’s mother, Carol Beasley, has said. “He reached out and helped a lot of people.”

Beasley, a self-described minister, has been jailed on unrelated prostitution charges. Messages were left with his attorney seeking comment. The AP generally does not identify juvenile suspects and is not naming the teenager or his mother.

Beasley has a criminal record dating to the 1980s. He was convicted in Texas of burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 1985, sentenced to a 40-year prison sentence and placed on parole for 34 years in 1989. Previous charges in Ohio include aggravated menacing, tampering with evidence, possession of criminal tools and illegal cultivation of marijuana, court records show.

Following Beasley’s return to Akron in 2003, he ran a halfway house, helped deliver food to the poor and vouched for fellow offenders, telling judges they had changed their ways, the Akron Beacon Journal reported over the weekend.

Police say the halfway house was a front for prostitution, the newspaper reported, and Beasley was awaiting trial on prostitution and drug charges when authorities took him into custody this month.

The teen appears to be placing blame on Beasley, his attorney told the newspaper.

Beasley’s mother has said that her son had taken the boy to The Chapel, an Akron megachurch, since he was 7 or 8 years old, according to WEWS-TV of Cleveland, and that they did volunteer work together, such as delivering food to the needy.

“The most I can say is, this is just a big shock to us,” Carol Beasley has said. “I pray it’s some other person and not him.”

A church spokeswoman said Beasley had no involvement with youth activities at the church and that while his mother had long attended services, Beasley showed up only sporadically.

Beasley was not sanctioned through The Chapel, Tammy Kennedy, the executive assistant to the senior and executive pastors of The Chapel in Akron, Ohio, told ABC News.

The events leading to the arrest of Beasley and the teen began Nov. 6, when a South Carolina man who answered the ad was shot in Noble County before escaping, hiding in the woods for hours and then hiking to a farmhouse in the dark, police say. The body of Norfolk, Va., resident David Pauley, 51, was found the following week.

Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, was found buried Friday near an Akron-area shopping mall. He had been shot in the head. A third body was found Friday not far from where Pauley’s was buried in a hand-dug grave.

The boy, a junior at Stow Munroe City Schools about 40 miles southeast of Cleveland, was questioned by the FBI at school on Nov. 16, then arrested at home later that day, school spokeswoman Jacquie Mazziotta said Monday.

He has been warned he will face trial as an adult and could face more than 40 years in prison, his mother told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday from her home in the Akron area. A judge planned a hearing in Noble County on Tuesday.

“My son is not a monster,” his mother said. She stopped short of saying he provided the tip that led to the discovery of the Akron-area body but said he “has told everything he knows.”

“He’s a scared little boy,” she said.

The farm advertised on Craigslist does not exist; the remote Noble County area where two bodies were found 90 miles south of Akron is property owned by a coal company and often leased to hunters.

The men who interviewed for the Craigslist ad came from around the country but shared much in common. They were middle-aged or just beyond, between 47 and 58 years old.

They were unattached, either single or divorced. They needed work badly enough that they were willing to travel hundreds of miles on the barest of details about the job. Above all, they seemed the type of men whose disappearances might go unnoticed for a while.

Ron Sanson, of Stow, said he responded to the ad and met Beasley at a shopping mall food court outside Akron on Oct. 10. Beasley told him he was looking for an older, single or divorced person to watch over a 688-acre farm in southeast Ohio ? the kind of man, Sanson says, whose disappearance might not be quickly noticed.

“How many other people have filled out an application, met with the guy and, you know, and no one knows they’re gone right now?” Sanson has said.

The teenager’s mother said she has been inundated with calls from those who know their son, saying he wasn’t capable of violence. She urged prayers for victims’ families and for her son’s exoneration.

“Pray for the families and pray that America and everybody else finds the real monster that robbed these families of their men,” she said.

___

Welsh-Huggins reported from Columbus. Associated Press writers Kantele Franko and Andy Brownfield contributed to this report.

Welsh-Huggins can be reached at http://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/us/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111128/ap_on_re_us/us_craigslist_jobseekers_killed

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