Thursday, November 10, 2011

Riots At Penn State, Rhino Extinct, Murdock Grilled, Dems Make Secret Offer, Super Committee Dems Reject GOP Proposal, Ramos Kidnapped, Alaskan Epic Storm

Riots Erupt at Penn State After Legendary Coach Paterno Fired

Published November 10, 2011 |

Violence erupted on the campus of Penn State Wednesday night after the school's board of trustees ousted its legendary football coach and university president in the wake of a widening child sex abuse scandal.
Riot police were deployed in State College, Pa., late Wednesday as thousands of Penn State supporters vented their anger at the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier over the school's handling of child sex abuse allegations against a former coaching assistant. 

At around 12:20 a.m. local time Thursday, the university issued an official police dispersal order through Facebook, warning students to vacate downtown State College immediately. It came after several violent scenes in which protesters flipped over a media van and destroyed other property.

About 2,000 people gathered at Old Main and moved to an area called Beaver Canyon, a street ringed by student apartments that were used in past riots to pelt police, Fox affiliate WTXF-TV reported.

The disorder escalated after the school's board of trustees held an emergency meeting Wednesday night and later announced that they had dismissed Paterno, the longest-tenured coach in major-college football, and Graham Spanier, the school's president for the past 16 years. 

Both were ousted by a board of trustees fed up with the damage being done to the university's reputation by a child sex-abuse scandal involving Paterno's one-time heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky. 

Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period through a charity he founded for at-risk youth.

Western Black Rhino Declared Extinct
The Western Black Rhino of Africa was declared officially extinct Thursday by a leading conservation group.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature said that two other subspecies of rhinoceros were close to meeting the same fate. 

The Northern White Rhino of central Africa is now "possibly extinct" in the wild and the Javan Rhino "probably extinct" in Vietnam, after poachers killed the last animal there in 2010.
Image: A Northern White Rhino seen at the Czech Zoo Kralove Dvur. The species is now considered "possibly extinct" in the wild.
Ami Vitale  /  for
A Northern White Rhino seen at the Czech Zoo Kralove Dvur. The species is now considered "possibly extinct" in the wild. 
A small but declining population survives on the Indonesian island of Java.

IUCN said Thursday that a quarter of all mammals are at risk of extinction, according to its updated Red List of endangered species.

Phone-hacking scandal: James Murdoch insists he didn't mislead British lawmakers

Senior News Corp. executive blames colleagues for not telling him more about potential evidence of widespread wrongdoing at UK tabloid 

Image: News International Executive Chairman James Murdoch gives evidence to the Commons Culture Committee
PA via EPA
News International Executive Chairman James Murdoch gives evidence to a British parliament committee inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal at the company's defunct News of the World tabloid.

Senior News Corp. executive James Murdoch insisted Thursday he told the truth when he said he knew nothing of the widespread culture of phone hacking at its British newspaper division. 

The News International chairman was being quizzed for a second time in Britain's parliament on Thursday over the scandal that has shaken his father Rupert's media empire.

Murdoch, 38, repeated his earlier assertion that he wasn't told of widespread wrongdoing at the News of the World tabloid when he took over at News International in 2008.

He also blamed other senior News Corp executives for not telling him more about potential evidence of widespread phone-hacking at the title, which was forced to close in July amid public outrage over the practice.

'Clean things up' Murdoch, who is fighting to keep his place in his father Rupert's media empire, said he was ill-informed by then-editor Colin Myler and should have been told more when he approved a large payoff to a hacking victim.

"This was the job of the new editor who had come in... to clean things up, to make me aware of those things," said Murdoch, appearing confident under tough interrogation by lawmakers.

News Corp. long maintained that the hacking was the work of a lone, "rogue" reporter and a private detective who both went to jail for the offence in 2007. Murdoch approved the payoff to hacking victim and soccer boss Gordon Taylor in 2008.

Although James Murdoch has long insisted he knew nothing of the culture of criminality whose exposure has been called "Britain's Watergate," mounting evidence suggests otherwise.

Dems make secret offer to cut deficit by $2 trillion

Democrats generally downbeat, but one describes a GOP offer as 'a breakthrough' 


Democrats on Congress' supercommittee secretly presented Republicans with a revised deficit-cutting proposal earlier this week that calls for a blend of $1 trillion in spending cuts and $1 trillion in higher tax revenue over the next decade, officials in both parties said Wednesday night, adding that compromise talks remain alive though troubled. 

The previously undisclosed offer scaled back an earlier Democratic demand for $1.3 trillion in higher taxes, a concession to Republicans.

At the same time it jettisoned a plan to slow the growth in future cost-of-living increases in Social Security benefits, a provision liberal Democrats oppose.

The one-page proposal was handed to Republicans at a meeting Monday night attended by some but not all members of the supercommittee.

At the same session, GOP lawmakers in attendance advanced a revised proposal of their own that signaled for the first time they would be willing to accept higher revenues as part of a plan to cut deficits over the next decade.

Given the unusual secrecy of the meeting and the committee's Nov. 23 deadline to produce at least $1.2 trillion in savings, it appeared that the pace of activity on the panel was accelerating.

Enormous differences Less clear was whether there was still time to bridge enormous differences on priorities, or whether each side was laying the groundwork for trying to blame the other in case gridlock triumphs.

Super Committee Democrats Reject GOP Tax Proposal

With just two weeks left to craft a deficit reduction package, members of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction remain far from a deal, this according to both Democratic and Republican aides close to the negotiations.

Two days after Republicans on the so-called super committee, led by Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, offered a $1.5 trillion package that included, for the first time, new tax revenue to the tune of about $300 billion, Democrats are rejecting the offer.

"We have a big gap with respect to where we are on revenue," panel Democrat John Kerry told a handful of reporters Wednesday morning. "The Toomey approach will not work. We've told them that very directly. We have to find a different way to come at it."

The senior Massachusetts senator met behind closed doors in his third floor Capitol office Tuesday night with a key bipartisan core group from the committee, including Toomey, Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Dave Camp, R-Mich., Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

"This is not complicated. They've got to put real revenue on the table that helps us get the job done," Kerry said, adding that he is "still hopeful" a deal can be reached by November 23.

In reality, that deadline will hit even sooner, though. The budget crunchers at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) must get a complete product soon, in order to have time to analyze and score a bill for floor consideration. Super committee aides say CBO must then publish that score by November 21.

Rank and file Republican members, as well as anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, have balked at the GOP offer of new tax revenue, indicating rough sledding ahead, even if the super committee can craft a final product that would garner the approval of a majority of its members.

Toomey and his GOP colleagues on the panel put about $600 billion in total revenue on the table, including auctioning broadcast spectrum space, the sale of excess federal land, Medicare premium increases for wealthier seniors, and modifying tax write-offs for mortgage interest and charitable giving. Some of that total figure, according to one senior GOP aide, was to come from "growth" as a result of predicted improvements in the economy. In exchange, Republicans sought to lower Bush-era tax rates, in particular the top rate from 35% to 28%, as well as, making all of the current marginal income tax rates permanent.

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Washington Nationals Catcher Ramos Reportedly Kidnapped in Venezuela

Published November 09, 2011

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped near his hometown of Valencia, northern Venezuela, his winter league team the Aragua Tigers announced Wednesday.

According to multiple reports from local outlets, four gunmen approached Ramos outside his mother's home in Santa Ines, about 16 miles south of Valencia, and took him away.

"It's true, Wilson Ramos was kidnapped," Tigers spokeswoman Katherine Vilera said in a statement, adding that Venezuela's judicial police, the CICPC, was investigating, The Washington Post reported.

She said the only other detail she had was that the four men took Ramos away in a four-by-four vehicle.

Ramos' family were yet to establish contact with the kidnappers as of late Wednesday, and the Nationals were yet to confirm the incident had taken place.

Ramos, 24, had just completed his rookie season with the Nationals, hitting .267 with 15 home runs. He had planned to play about 10 games with the Tigers over the winter, starting Thursday.

"I don't know what's going to happen now," said Enrique Brito, a longtime official in the Venezuelan winter league who is close with Ramos' family, according to The Post.

"It's going to be bad for the culture, for the league, for everything. Wilson is one of the best players that we had. It's bad. It's real bad, for all Venezuelan people and fans. We are all shocked."

Storm of 'Epic Magnitude' Hits Alaska

Published November 10, 2011
| Associated Press
Packing hurricane-force winds, an Alaskan storm of "epic proportions" slammed into coastal communities, sending some residents fleeing to higher ground as it tore roofs from homes and knocked out power.

The strongest storm to hit the state in four decades sent water levels rising late Wednesday night in Nome, with flooding reported in low-lying areas, the National Weather Service said.

"It's barely beginning to wind down along the coast," Stephen Kearney, a meteorologist for the Weather Service in Fairbanks, said late Wednesday night.
The last time the communities saw something similar was in November 1974, when a storm created a sea surge that measured more than 13 feet. The surge pushed beach driftwood above the level of the previous storm of its type in 1913.


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