Category: Breaking News Written by Jenée Desmond-Harris , The Root
Medgar Evers' widow to deliver inauguration prayer: President Obama has chosen Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation at his public swearing-in later this month, the Washington Post reports. This will be the first time a woman, and a layperson rather than a clergy member, has been chosen to perform the invocation. In other inauguration news, the committee planning the event announced today that the Rev. Louie Giglio has been selected to deliver the benediction at the inaugural swearing-in ceremony. "Vice President Biden and I are honored that Myrlie Evers-Williams and Rev. Louie Giglio will participate in the Inaugural ceremony," Obama said. "Their voices have inspired many people across this great nation within the faith community and beyond. Their careers reflect the ideals that the vice president and I continue to pursue for all Americans: justice, equality and opportunity."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:33
Category: Breaking News Written by Matt Smith, CNN
(CNN) -- The past year saw a mild winter give way to a balmier-than-normal spring, followed by a sweltering summer and high temperatures that lingered into the fall, all punctuated by extreme drought and intense storms.
Now 2012 is officially in the books as the hottest year on record for the continental United States and the second-worst for "extreme" weather such as hurricanes, droughts or floods, the U.S. government announced Tuesday.
The year's average temperature of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit across the Lower 48 was more than 3.2 degrees warmer than the average for the 20th century, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That topped the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree.
Every state in the contiguous United States saw above-average temperatures in 2012, with 19 of them setting annual records of their own, NOAA said. Meanwhile, the country faced 11 weather disasters that topped $1 billion in losses each, including a lingering drought that covered 61% of the country at one point.
That drought shriveled crops across the American farm belt, leading to an expected rise in food prices in 2013, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. It also turned forests of the mountain West into stands of tinder that exploded into catastrophic wildfires over the summer, scorching millions of acres and destroying hundreds of homes.
And then there was Superstorm Sandy, a late October post-tropical cyclone that killed more than 110 people in the United States and nearly 70 more in the Caribbean and Canada. Damage estimates from the storm run around $80 billion in New York and New Jersey alone.
The report is likely to fuel new concerns over a warming climate. Seven of the 10 hottest years in U.S. records, which date back to 1895, and four of the hottest five have now occurred since 1990, according to NOAA figures.
The year also saw Arctic sea ice hit a record low in more than 30 years of satellite observations and studies that found the world's major ice sheets have been shrinking at an increasing rate.
Scientists are quick to point out that no single storm can be blamed on climate change, but say a warming world raises the odds of extreme weather.
"I think unfortunately, 2012 really may well be the new normal," said Daniel Lashof, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group. "It's the kind of year we expect, given the global warming trend is ongoing."
The science of global warming is politically controversial but generally accepted as fact by most researchers, who point to heat-trapping carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels as the major cause.
Lashof's group is trying to press the Obama administration to tighten limits on carbon emissions, but he said those steps "are not going to reduce the threat of extreme weather overnight."
"We need to take greater preparations, anticipating the kind of storms and droughts that we saw are going to continue to be more frequent as we go forward," he said.
Though parts of the country such as the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Coast had wetter-than-average years, average precipitation was nearly 2.6 inches below normal -- the 15th driest since records started being kept in the 1890s, according to NOAA.
The two remaining U.S. states, remote Alaska and Hawaii, saw a mixed picture in 2012.
Alaska was slightly cooler and wetter than normal, while nearly two-thirds of Hawaii's island chain faced moderate to exceptional drought conditions by December, NOAA said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:31
Category: Breaking News Written by Ashley Woods, The Huffington
What will Detroit look like tomorrow? In 10 years? Or even 50?
After more than two years of mapping, scheming, surveying and re-imagining, not to mention 30,000 conversations with residents, the Detroit Works Project Long Term Planning will unveil a city-wide framework for change and development on Wednesday morning.
This book-long body of work, and the very different city that its recommendations could shape, even comes with its own new name: Detroit Future City.
Imagine a Detroit where empty warehouses become "Live-Make" districts; hackerspace neighborhoods zoned for artisans and creatives to live in the same spaces where they create. Or a neighborhood where vacant land has been cultivated into a protected woodlands area favored by hikers. Think of a Motor City where homeowners took light rail trains or high-speed buses to work every day.
Organizers, led by NYC-based project manager Toni Griffin, are careful not to call Detroit Future City a "master plan" -- Detroit already has one of those -- but a collective resource for businesses, philanthropists, community groups and city agencies alike to consult about services and resources. It plots a rough course to re-envision and transform Detroit over the next 50 years. Local voices involved included Professor Dan Pitera of University of Detroit-Mercy, Melissa Dittmer of RogueHAA and Dan Kinkead, an architect with Hamilton Anderson Associates.
It also walks a careful path around one controversial idea proposed by Mayor Dave Bing and others in 2010. At the time, the city's mayor called for downsizing Detroit into seven to nine different population centers. As much as 45 square miles of the city, or one third of Detroit's total land, would be basically shut down, with city services cut off for any residents who remained. Planners have seemingly chosen efficiency over prodding an eminent domain fight not seen in Detroit since Poletown. The team's strategists presented ideas to continue offering city services to smaller groups of residents. They also made clear that growing newly-defined neighborhoods and residential zones were long-term, organic efforts.
"It's about creating a place for all Detroiters," said Patera at a briefing for media held on Tuesday. "It understands the assets we have, and understands the past, to create an innovative future."
While Future City does sketch out parts of the city that could eventually be rezoned as "innovation ecological" areas or carbon forests, with an emphasis on creating regionally competitive neighborhoods, there seems to be no motivation to create nine identical Midtowns throughout Detroit. The plan calls for strengthening traditional residential tracts in some sections of the city, particularly Detroit's Northwest Side. Future City also imagines "green neighborhoods" of multi-family apartment properties with more parks and open space, and calls for local arts to be integrated into Detroit's comprehensive master plan. New ponds, dubbed "blue infrastructure," could collect rainwater and runoff, giving the city's overtaxed sewage system a break.
The Future City plan is more than just a thesis on land use. The economic growth section of the framework suggests strategies that leaders hope will create equitable business development in the city and support minority business owners. Creating opportunities for work inside the city limits for residents, as well as reliable transit options for those without cars, was one major tenet. Economic sector leaders say that local business-to-business sales and services could create as many as 10,0000 new jobs, while continuing efforts to attract education, medical, tech and manufacturing jobs within the city limits. About half the city's employment is currently located on 15 percent of the city's land, Griffin said. Bolstering these "natural economic corridors" would help create urban density, make it easier to target transportation spending to high-traffic areas and raise the overall value of land in the city. Neighborhoods like Corktown, McNichols, Southwest Detroit and Midtown were among those districts cited for their economic potential.
"There are places that are probably more ripe for investment and development and we need to focus in on those and get business and business activity growing there," Griffin said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
All told, the plan is highly detailed, organized around the six sectors of economic growth, land use, city systems, neighborhood revitalization, physical assets and civic engagement. Planners say the ideas could be accommodated even if the city loses another sixth of its population, though population stabilization is their first major goal. Milestones for progress are charted for the next five years, at 2020, 2030 and an ultimately transformed Detroit that's visualized in the year 2050.
That Detroit isn't right-sized, just readjusted. Within those city limits lies room enough for organic farms and high-tech firms alike, brand-new developments and historic single-family homes and the infrastructure to support a 21st century city. As the city navigates through persistent budget shortfalls and an uncertain financial future, that future Detroit seemed a long ways away.
But organizers said they are confident that change will begin as early as Wednesday's press conference, where the project's complete framework will be unveiled to the public. They're hoping that major stakeholders like public officials, nonprofit leaders, corporations and universities will all adapt the framework as they plot their future plans for growth and investment.
And, if nothing else, they were absolutely certain that, as civic discourse continues to allow Detroiters a say in ensuring the future of their city, this framework will bend and adapt to reflect those voices.
"We hope there are better solutions out there," Griffin said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:09
Category: Breaking News Written by Karu F. Daniels , Thedailybeast
Academy Award-winner Quentin Tarantino is laughing all the way to the bank this week. The controversial film auteur and his longtime studio chief-partner Harvey Weinstein took a gamble on transforming the atrocities of American slavery into comedic, action-packed entertainment. And the new movie, Django Unchained, which opened Christmas day, bested the glitzy Les Miserables at the box office with numbers indicating that the flick could do as well as, or maybe even better than Tarantino’s top-grossers Inglourious Basterds ($120 million) and Pulp Fiction ($107 million).
And to build on the Django momentum, there’s an entire product line to compliment the Jamie Foxx-fronted spaghetti western/slave revolt/action drama/fantasy tale.
Last fall, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc. (NECA), in tandem with the Weinstein Company, announced a full line of consumer products based on characters from the movie. First up are pose-able eight-inch action figures with tailored clothing, weaponry, and accessories in the likeness of characters played by Foxx, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Remar and Christoph Waltz. The dolls are currently on sale via Amazon.com.
A press release announcing the deal stated that the line was similar to the retro toy lines that helped define the licensed action-figure market in the 1970s and that the collection will include a full apparel and accessories line. At the time of the announcement, NECA president Joel Weinshanker said the company was “very excited to bring the stellar cast of Django to life and honored to be working with another Tarantino masterpiece.”
Action figures for Tarantino films Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 may have been better suited for such commercial pursuits. But for some projects, anything goes.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 09:48
Category: Breaking News Written by Zack Burgess, Chronicle Senior Writer
DETROIT — Suppose you had spent the best years of your life trusting someone. Suppose you gave them insight into your inner sanctum; your thoughts, your faults and your crimes, only to have them tell the world. Well on Monday, that’s just what happened as longtime confidant to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick testified against him at his corruption trial.
Derrick Miller, who was Detroit’s chief administrative officer, has known Kilpatrick since the ninth grade and was one of his key advisors during his meteoric rise to political power.
Miller acknowledged that checks from a nonprofit community fund paid for political consulting, a vacation and golf clubs. Keep in mind, Miller was among the original five defendants in the corruption case until he pleaded guilty in 2011 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
During his testimony, prosecutors displayed checks on a screen. Allegedly the checks were for illegal spending, funneled from Kilpatrick's Civic Fund, which had been promoted as a nonprofit fund to help the community. There were checks for golf clubs, yoga, an $8,600 stay at a resort and political polling. Most of the checks had been signed by Miller.
Miller went on to further indict Kilpatrick when he said he lied at a 2001 debate that Civic Fund money wasn't used by the campaign. When a local TV station learned about Kilpatrick’s trip to a resort in Carlsbad, Calif., he told his aides that he was there to raise money for the fund. According to Miller, that wasn't true.
"He basically had to come up with some kind of response," Miller testified.
Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and good friend Bobby Ferguson are charged with running a criminal enterprise by rigging contracts and taking payoffs over many years. Miller's testimony is important because he was involved in many of the unethical activities, according to the government.
Miller was the first member of the Kilpatrick Enterprise – as dubbed by the government in its 2010 indictment – to cut a deal in the case. Miller pleaded guilty to bribery and tax charges. He also admitted that he shook down contractors at Kilpatrick's direction, delivered cash bribes to the Mayor and took bribes himself. Per court documents, Miller once delivered a $10,000 cash bribe to Kilpatrick in a restaurant bathroom.
Miller has also supported one of the government's main trial themes: that Kilpatrick navigated work to Ferguson.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 09:23
Category: Breaking News Written by Zack Burgess
After 113 days, the NHL lockout has come to an end. Which means Detroit is officially “Hockey Town” again!
There has been missed money for guys like Jonathan Ericsson, who was supposed to earn $3.25 million this season while playing on a Detroit Red Wings’ blueline. And let’s not forget the business community who profits immensely from Hockey season in Detroit.
“I’m really bored,” Ericsson said to the Bleacher Report back in December 2012. “It gets old. You don’t even know why you’re on the ice, why you’re waking up. Am I doing this for a reason? The motivation goes up and down.”
Well now all of that practice will not have been for naught…as the NHL Players Association and the league reached a tentative settlement early Sunday after a marathon overnight bargaining session. The 10-year deal paves the way for an abbreviated 2012-13 season. The tentative collective bargaining agreement still has to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors and the players association.
With the 10 year agreement, the owners have an opportunity to opt-out after eight years, which ensures a long period of peace. The NHL has endured three lockouts in the past 20 years.
The salary cap for next season – the first full season under the new CBA – will be closer to the $64.3 million it was in 2011-12 than the $60 million the league had wanted. And player contracts – a sticking point for both sides – was settled at seven-year maximum deals, and eight years for players who re-signed with their own teams. Salary variance cannot vary more than 35%. Presently, the Wings' payroll stands at $61.4 million, which gives them an enormous amount of flexibility.
In the meantime, a handful of Detroit Red Wings have been going about business as usual. They took it upon themselves to have self-run practices at Troy Sports Center, during the 113-day NHL lockout. The Joe Louis Arena, meanwhile, has been rented out by Ford in advance of the North American International Auto Show. It is expected to be available before Jan. 17.
After three months of waiting and wondering, players will finally get started on a much anticipated season. Dates for training camp and the start of a 48-to-50-game schedule won't be released by the NHL until later this week.
“When you’re in it every day you sometimes start taking things for granted and then when it’s taken away from you, you really appreciate it,” Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said to the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “I’m so excited to get back.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 09:22
Category: Breaking News Written by CNN Political Unit
(CNN) - Who says politics and diplomacy aren't contact sports? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to work Monday and was gifted the proper equipment for her final plays on the job.
Her Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides and staff at the weekly meeting of approximately 75 department managers presented her "a football helmet with a State Department seal, lots of good padding," State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Reporters were not in the room, but the presentation was described by Nuland at a press briefing Monday afternoon, and the department distributed photos of her opening the gifts.
Clinton had been on team State Department's "injued" list after a bout with the flu, which led to a fall, concussion, and the discovery of a blood clot in her head, according to her office.
She was also given a "football jersey that said Clinton on the back and on the front it says '#112,' which symbolizes the number of countries she visited as secretary of state," Nuland said.
"She loved it," Nuland added. "She thought it was cool. But then being Hillary Clinton she wanted to get right to business."
On Friday, department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described Clinton's condition after her release as "upbeat" and "raring to go."
Clinton will leave her post as secretary of state once her replacement for the post is confirmed by the Senate. President Obama announced his nomination of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for the post late last year.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 09:11
Category: Breaking News Written by Cindy Perman , CNBC.com
When was the last time you heard someone say: "I am soooo stressed out right now?"
Three minutes ago, right?
Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of workers are stressed out by at least one thing at work, according to a recent work-stress survey by Harris Interactive for Everest College.
Of course, not all job stress was created equal. CareerCast is out with its list of the Most Stressful Jobs for 2013 … and the Least Stressful Jobs.
What makes a job stressful?
CareerCast used 11 criteria, including physical danger, having your life at risk, having responsibility for other people's lives or livelihoods at risk and how much you work in the public eye or have someone breathing down your neck. Other considerations include the unemployment rate and job growth in a particular career, all things that could seriously add stress.
"There are different types of stress. It can be physical danger. Actually being in harm's way," said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com. "There can also be stress that's deadlines, competitiveness and being in the public eye," he said.
However, just like with CareerCast's "Worst Jobs" list – the people on the "Most Stressful" list don't necessarily hate their jobs. In fact, some downright love them.
"One man's stress is another man's job. Some are adrenaline junkies. Some thrive off stress," Lee said. "A firefighter may really enjoy running into burning building to save somebody."
Here are the top five:
1. Enlisted military personnel
Median salary: $45,528
"This should come as no surprise that enlisted military personnel is the No. 1 most stressful job," Lee said. "These are the folks on the front lines. Whether they're in a battle environment or here helping out after Hurricane Sandy – military personnel are always at risk," Lee said.
There's the physical risk and physical stress, plus long hours and being away from home.
"There's really no other position in which the stress can be higher as the responsibility of being a soldier," Lee said.
2. Military general
Median salary: $196,300
Military generals have all the stresses of their men and women on the ground and in harm's way, but they have the added stress of having other people's lives (their troops) in their hands as well.
"Sending troops into battle – you have to live with it if it costs lives," Lee said. "Nothing else that can measure up to that."
Median salary: $42,250
There's no question that running into a burning building is stressful, and yet these men and women choose to do it whenever is necessary – be it 3 in the morning or Christmas Day.
What's worse is that research shows quick bursts of stress between lulls is more stressful than a steady stream of stress.
"If you're the firefighter hanging around watching television and -- boom! You're on, literally in minutes in full gear running into hazardous waste situation, that's worse than if you're steadily enduring stress. It's up and down and up and and down," Lee said.
4. Commercial airline pilot
Median Salary: $92,060
The little boy or little girl in you just tends to think of being a pilot as cool (and it is) but it's also pretty stressful.
First, you have the usual stresses such as bad weather, delays (i.e., angry passengers) and long stretches away from home. But on top of that, you are responsible for the lives of everyone on that plane – even when they're being grouchy.
Plus, the job outlook for pilots has been tough lately, so there are even fewer jobs to go around.
And once again, this is a job light on the "thank yous." Of course, we all remember that time we complained about a delayed flight but quick, answer the question: When was the last time you thanked your pilot for getting you there safely?
5. PR executive
Median Salary: $57,550
A lot of people might not think of PR as a stressful job, but, in fact, it's very stressful.
"Their job is completely in the public eye, trying to manage awareness and branding for various products and services. It doesn't matter if you're in charge of toothpaste or a small nonprofit, you're still under stress to make sure the word gets out in a positive way."
On the flip side, the minute something bad happens – you're the first one they call. It could be 10 a.m. on a Saturday night or Christmas Day. If it's bad, it's your problem.
Not to mention, it's a fairly thankless job. Clients may thank you for getting them on the front page of The New York Times (if it's good news), but before you can tie your running shoes on for a victory lap, they want to know: "What about The Wall Street Journal?" And you're definitely not going to get any "thank yous" from journalists: They're more likely to hang up on you or be surly than take your call.
That's very typical of most of the jobs on the "Most Stressful" list, Lee said – you tend to not get a lot of thank yous.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 January 2013 09:29
Category: Breaking News Written by Laura Heller, dealnews
While we like to focus on saving money and falling prices, it's also important to recognize when certain items are becoming more expensive. And unfortunately, consumers can expect select smartphones and otehr electronics, cars and food to cost more in the coming year.
Thanks to mature technologies, a lack of innovation, higher prices for precious metals, added features and a drought, 2013 looks like it will be just a little more costly.
Here are 12 areas where prices will rise in the new year:
Gas prices may be falling, but cars that run on it are getting more expensive. Earlier this year, the Obama administration issued new standards that require automakers to improve fuel efficiency, and the cost of upgraded engines alone is driving up prices. Toyota hiked prices on its midsize Camry by roughly $175, and among best-selling luxury vehicles, the 2013 Lexus CT 200h will be almost $3,000 more than the 2012 model.
Meat, poultry and dairy prices are all expected to rise, thanks to last summer's drought. Feed corn and grass were hurt the most, and the impact from their scarcity will soon be felt at the grocery store. Price increases will hit right along with the new year.
Since drought conditions forced ranchers and farmers to reduce the size of herds and flocks to combat higher feed costs, the price of beef and chicken is also slated to rise. The cost of dairy products, too, will be affected, as fewer and leaner cows produce less milk. Overall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects food prices to rise 3.5% to 4% in 2013.
Cereal and bakery product prices will rise too, as a result of the 2012 drought and lower wheat yields. Prices in this category began creeping up in October, and the USDA's Economic Research Service forecasts cereal and bakery product prices to rise 2.5% to 3.5% next year.
Health insurance premiums
Obamacare notwithstanding, employee health care premiums are expected to rise an average of 6% in 2013, according to Aon Hewitt, a human resource consulting firm. That amount will vary by state and type of plan, but overall, employers will face higher premiums, and the increased costs will be passed along in part to employees.
High-end TVs and home theater systems
While there will always be budget home entertainment options, folks who want the latest and greatest in this department will face some shockingly high price tags in 2013. According to Jeff Joseph, a spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association, ultra-HD TVs -- which include an extremely high pixel density -- will sell for $20,000 to $25,000.
High-end audio manufacturers too aren't holding back, as they incorporate premium features like Apple Airplay and standard DLNA that let users control the entire system wirelessly. These features can drive up the cost of AV equipment in an instant.
As tablets continue to gain momentum in the consumer electronics realm, computers are returning to their original function as work-related machines -- albeit more powerful and expensive ones. According to Stephen Baker, the vice president of industry analysis at the NPD Group, Apple's new notebooks with retina displays are among the highest-priced models out there, and Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 8, is driving the adoption of premium touchscreen PCs. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)
Even geeks and gamers could see higher prices, as Intel plans to release processors that are soldered onto motherboards in 2013, rendering them un-upgradeable. This would make DIY upgrades to a desktop machine impossible, forcing the computer-savvy to opt for custom configurations from the manufacturer, which is, as a general rule, more expensive then getting a deal on the boxed CPU and upgrading it on your own.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 January 2013 09:10
Category: Breaking News Written by Hillary Crosley , The Root
Though the fiscal cliff has been averted, Democrats and Republicans are preparing for the next possible budgetary impasse: raising America's borrowing limit, reports the New York Times.
Democrats have warned Republican leaders not to use the debt authorization for political leverage. In his weekly address, President Obama again said he would not trade spending cuts for an increase in the debt limit.
"One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they've already racked up," he said. "If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic."
Mr. Obama also repeated his new demand that future spending cuts be met with commensurate tax increases. "Spending cuts must be balanced with more reforms to our tax code," he said. "The wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations shouldn't be able to take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren't available to most Americans."
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Last Updated on Monday, 07 January 2013 09:03
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