May 23rd, 2009

Former South Korean President Dies In Apparent Suicide

Roh Moo-hyun, Former South Korean President, Kills Himself

In this picture taken Thursday, April 3, 2009, former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun apologizes to the nation before leaving to the Supreme Prosecutor's Office in Seoul for questioning over allegations of bribery, in front of his house in Bongha, South Korea. A news report says that former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun appears to have died after a fall while mountain climbing. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Lee Sang-hack)

SEOUL, South Korea — Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, embroiled in a broadening corruption scandal, died Saturday after jumping from a mountain cliff behind his rural southern home. He left behind a suicide note, his lawyer said.

Roh, 62, had been hiking in the village of Bongha Saturday morning when he threw himself off the mountainside, lawyer Moon Jae-in told reporters.

He was rushed to Busan National University Hospital in the nearby port city of Busan around 8:15 a.m. (2315 GMT) and died around 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT) from head injuries, hospital officials said.

The former president left a "brief" suicide note for his family, Moon told reporters at a news conference at the hospital.

MBC television reported that Roh said in the note that things have been "difficult" and he felt he had made "too many people suffer." The note also said Roh wanted his body cremated, according to the report. It did not say how it obtained the note.

Investigators have not seen the suicide note, a Busan police official said. He did not give his name, citing department policy.

President Lee Myung-bak said Saturday that the news was "truly hard to believe" and called Roh's death "sad and tragic," presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said.

Roh, a former human rights lawyer, served as president from 2003 to 2008 campaigning as a "clean" politician in a country with a long history of corruption.

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Credit: Huffington Post
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Fort Worth soldier's, um, boxers make him famous

Boxers or briefs?

A lot of guys consider that a personal question, but the secret has been revealed for a 19-year-old Fort Worth soldier, thanks to The New York Times, the Internet and, well, the Taliban.

Army Spec. Zachary Boyd, a 2007 graduate of Keller Central High School, was in his sleeping quarters this week when the Taliban attacked in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Boyd rushed to a defensive position clad in his helmet, vest and boxers -- the pink ones decorated with the "I Love NY" slogan.

As luck would have it, an Associated Press photographer was working at Firebase Restrepo in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, where Boyd is stationed.

His boxers ended up in newspapers nationwide -- including Tuesday's Star-Telegram -- and on the front page of the Times.

His mother was surprised to see that her son was in the Times, but she was not surprised that he was wearing unusual skivvies.

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Murasaki Shikibu

Steele: Obama ‘Was Not Vetted Because The Press Fell In Love With The Black Man Running For The Offi

Steele: Obama ‘Was Not Vetted Because The Press Fell In Love With The Black Man Running For The Office’

Apparently unable to learn from egregious mistakes from the recent past, RNC Chairman Michael Steele once again took to the radio airwaves today as a guest host for Bill Bennett. Earlier this week, Steele declared “an end to the era of Republicans looking backward.” This morning, however, Steele revisited the 2008 election to insist that President Obama had never been “vetted” because the press “fell in love with the black man”:

STEELE: The problem that we have with this president is that we don’t know [Obama]. He was not vetted, folks. … He was not vetted, because the press fell in love with the black man running for the office. “Oh gee, wouldn’t it be neat to do that? Gee, wouldn’t it make all of our liberal guilt just go away? We can continue to ride around in our limousines and feel so lucky to live in an America with a black president.” Okay that’s wonderful, great scenario, nice backdrop. But what does he stand for? What does he believe? … So we don’t know. We just don’t know.

Steele lamented the “missed opportunity” in “dissecting” Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s influence on Obama, and “the lessons [Obama] learned at his [Wright's] knee.” Listen to it:

That Steele would suggest Obama won the presidency because of his race is striking considering that Steele himself has had to face — and bat down — similar allegations. In 2006, when Steele ran for lieutenant governor in Maryland, a Baltimore Sun editorial said that he brought “little to the team but the color of his skin.” Steele slammed the implication as “pure ignorance”:

QUESTION: “Mr. Ehrlich’s running mate, state GOP chairman Michael Steele, brings little to the team but the color of his skin.” Baltimore Sun. … What was your reaction when you read that?

STEELE: Ignorant. It was just pure ignorance. It’s something I had to put up with countless times. … But it was, again, showing a high level of ignorance — ignorance and racism. And call it for what it is. The Baltimore Sun is the Baltimore Sun. I don’t deal with the newspaper. I have nothing to say to the editorial board or –- I barely speak to its reporters, because this is a newspaper that, in my view, has some issues it needs to work out with respect to race.

Earlier this month, also while hosting Bill Bennett’s show, Steele agreed with a caller who declared that Obama “is the Magic Negro.” “Yeah,” Steele replied, laughing. “You read that too, huh?”


I almost feel like I'm beating this macro to death when it comes to Steele, but YE GODS.

Poor Americans more generous than rich, relative to income - even in hard times

Posted on Tue, May. 19, 2009

America's poor are its most generous givers

Frank Greve | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — When Jody Richards saw a homeless man begging outside a downtown McDonald's recently, he bought the man a cheeseburger. There's nothing unusual about that, except that Richards is homeless, too, and the 99-cent cheeseburger was an outsized chunk of the $9.50 he'd earned that day from panhandling.

The generosity of poor people isn't so much rare as rarely noticed, however. In fact, America's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.

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' jules


An Idea in Every Pot

Can Marco Rubio's ideas—he has 100 of them!—help revive the Republican Party?

In the country of no ideas, the 100-idea'd man is king. At least that's the hope of Marco Rubio, the 38-year-old former speaker of the House in Florida who is now gunning for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Mel Martinez. The 2010 primary between Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist is being hyped as a showdown between the moderate wing of the Republican Party—Crist supported Obama's stimulus package—and its conservative base.

But the election is also a referendum on the notion that Republicans need "new ideas." After Democrats gleefully branded Republicans "the party of no new ideas," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor launched a listening tour in April to drum up "fresh ideas" from regular people across America. Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney joined his call for original thinking. And RNC Chairman Michael Steele promised Tuesday that "the Republican Party is again going to emerge as the party of new ideas."

Rubio couldn't have teed it up better himself. In 2006, Rubio wrote and published a book called 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future. It was the product of a yearlong campaign to get Floridians to submit their own ideas for government (and, of course, to elect Rubio). There were three criteria: The ideas had to be relevant to daily life, they had to focus on the future, and they could not "unnecessarily expand government." The 1,500 submissions were whittled down to 100 concrete proposals, and the book became a template for his two-year tenure as speaker.

So here's the question: With the Republican Party racking its brain for new ideas, could any of Rubio's 100 proposals be the key to its resurgence?

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danes and boxes

German president wins re-election

German President Horst Koehler has been re-elected for a second five-year term.

Correspondents say Mr Koehler's re-election is a symbolic victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of national elections in September. Federal and state parliamentarians re-elected Mr Koehler over a strong challenge from Gesine Schwan of the centre-left Social Democrats.

The post of president is largely ceremonial but carries considerable moral authority.
Mr Koehler, 66, is a former head of the International Monetary Fund and a member of the chancellor's Christian Democratic Union.

Parliament President Norbert Lammert said Mr Koehler won 613 votes from the special parliamentary assembly in the Reichstag to achieve a slim majority. The 1,224-member assembly comprises lower-house politicians and delegates nominated by Germany's 16 state legislatures. The closest challenger was Gesine Schwan of the center-left Social Democrats, who won 503 votes.


That's actually a much closer result than I expected. Even more so since the leftist party's candidate also received 91 votes.
And we almost would have had two women in charge. That would have also been cool. :(

"The Saddest Acre"

Flowers arrived at Capt. Marissa Alexander's office at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on June 3, 2005.

Arlington's Section 60 is the final resting place for many casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Her husband, Staff Sgt. Leroy Alexander, was half a world away fighting with the Special Forces in Afghanistan, but he had found a way to send a floral arrangement to his wife, who was five months pregnant with twins.

"He called me and asked me what building I worked in. He said he had to update some records," Alexander said. The flowers lifted her spirits.

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I really liked this bit even though it's so depressing: Visitors of all faiths have picked up the ancient Jewish tradition of leaving a small stone on the headstones to show that a visitor had been to the grave.

There's a video at the source as well.



Charles Bolden, Obama's NASA Chief Pick

HOUSTON — The nation's turbulent space program will be run by one of its own, a calming well-liked former space shuttle commander.

President Barack Obama on Saturday chose retired astronaut Gen. Charles Bolden to lead NASA. He also named former NASA associate administrator Lori Garver as the agency's No. 2. If confirmed, Bolden, who has flown in space four times and was an assistant deputy administrator at one point, would be the agency's first black administrator.

Bolden would also be only the second astronaut to run NASA in its 50-year history. Adm. Richard Truly was the first. In 2002, then-President George W. Bush unsuccessfully tried to appoint Bolden as the space agency's deputy administrator. The Pentagon said it needed to keep Bolden, who was a Marine general at the time and a pilot who flew more than 100 sorties in Vietnam.

"Charlie knows NASA and the people know Charlie; there's a level of comfort," especially given the uncertainty the space agency faces, said retired astronaut Steve Hawley, who flew twice in space with Bolden.

Bolden likely will bring "more balance" to NASA, increasing spending on aeronautics and environment missions, working more with other nations in space, and emphasizing education, which the president often talks about when it comes to space, said former Johnson Space Center Director George Abbey, a longtime friend.

"He's a real leader," Abbey said Saturday. "NASA has been looking for a leader like this that they could have confidence in."


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On the Net

Bolden's NASA biography:


Around the Web:

Astronaut Bio: Charles F. Bolden, Jr.

Charles F. Bolden, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Astronaut Charles Bolden to be nominated to lead NASA - Los ...

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A Prom Divided

About now, high-school seniors everywhere slip into a glorious sort of limbo. Waiting out the final weeks of the school year, they begin rightfully to revel in the shared thrill of moving on. It is no different in south-central Georgia’s Montgomery County, made up of a few small towns set between fields of wire grass and sweet onion. The music is turned up. Homework languishes. The future looms large. But for the 54 students in the class of 2009 at Montgomery County High School, so, too, does the past. On May 1 — a balmy Friday evening — the white students held their senior prom. And the following night — a balmy Saturday — the black students had theirs.

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