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Hometown: VA
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Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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African-American reporter didn't just break stories, but barriers

Saturday is one of the year's big nights on the Washington social calendar: the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

And this year, the correspondents' association is celebrating 100 years of covering America's presidents.

The memory of one reporter is being honored, celebrated for the pioneering work this African-American did in the face of bigotry.

He was diminutive and polite but alarmed white correspondents who covered the president in the 1940s.

Newspaper reporter Harry McAlpin had asked for a membership to the White House Correspondents' Association.

The board said no.

So, in 1944, at the height of World War II, the National Negro Publishers Association urged President Franklin Roosevelt to overrule the board and grant McAlpin a credential.

The president did.

Before McAlpin's first Oval Office news conference, though, the association again tried to stop him, warning the room would be so crowded with him in it, he might cause a riot.

McAlpin calmly replied, "That would be a hell of a news story, and I want to be there for that."

When McAlpin shook Roosevelt's hand after being the first African-American reporter to attend a presidential news conference, the president said, "I'm glad to see you, McAlpin, and very happy to have you here."


An African-American studies professor’s bleak postwar Germany

When he began the research for his new book about Germany in the years directly after World War II, Harvard professor Werner Sollors says he intended to focus on the lighter aspects of Germans’ encounter with Americans in the 1940s and ’50s: genial GIs, children lining up for candy and gum, the “fraternizing” between American men and German women. Born in 1943, Sollors spent his formative childhood years in a village near Frankfurt. His childhood fascination with things American led, indirectly, to his earning a PhD in American studies (in Berlin), writing a dissertation on the poet Amiri Baraka, and eventually moving across the Atlantic to teach in the United States.

But as he worked on the project, he soon realized that was not the kind of book he had on his hands. The diaries, novels, reportage, photographs, and films he was examining were permeated with darkness. Germans at the time didn’t want to look back at the war, not only because of the overwhelming defeat—which involved the leveling of cities and the widespread rape of German women by Soviet troops—but because of the monstrousness of the crimes committed by the Nazi regime. Yet they saw nothing to look forward to either, given the destruction of the institutions necessary for a functioning state and economy. The story of that time, he found, was the story of a people stuck in a kind of bleak limbo.

While the World War II literature is vast and Germany’s post-war democratization and economic “miracle” well-known, the period immediately after the war remains underexplored, Sollors argues in “The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s.” Yet that period also sowed the seeds for Europe’s rebirth as a remarkably peaceful and productive part of the world in the second half of the 20th century.

The book also stakes out new territory for Sollors, who is the longest-tenured member of Harvard’s African and African American studies department—at a low point in its institutional history he was the lone member—and also an English professor. Though deeply informed by his family history, the book is far more scholarly than it is a memoir; in the book, his personal reminiscences occur only within brackets.

Ideas spoke with Sollors by phone from his home in Cambridge. The interview has been edited and condensed.


Murder in Juarez

David Farrington, a U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) service agent, has been vexed by a troubling question for the past several years. He has reason to suspect a colleague deliberately failed to warn an American working at a U.S. consulate in Mexico that she was targeted for assassination by a drug cartel.

Farrington, a former marine and 10-year veteran of the State Department’s security service, was the first agent to get to the scene of the March 13, 2010, Juarez murders—another car carrying a consulate employee was attacked as well—and caught the case, as they say in police lingo. But his revulsion quickly turned to consternation, and then obsession, when he began asking questions about the whereabouts of the consulate’s chief security officer that day. Eventually, he was taken off the case, according to State Department emails obtained by Newsweek, relieved of his badge and gun, and ordered to undergo a psychological fitness review. But he hasn’t given up.

Leslie Enriquez and her husband were gunned down as they drove away from a birthday party in the drug-and-violence-wracked border city of Juarez four years ago last month. Nearly simultaneously, another car leaving the party was sprayed with bullets, killing the husband of a Mexican employee of the U.S. consulate. A senior Mexican police official said later that a drug cartel enforcer who confessed to the murders claimed Enriquez was targeted because she was helping a rival gang with U.S. visas—an allegation denied by U.S. officials.

“I don’t have any reason to believe that they did believe that they did anything bad,” Farrington said of Enriquez and the other victims in a brief interview with Newsweek. “They were good people.” But he soon learned that the top regional security officer (RSO) in Juarez, Gregory V. Houston, had been asking around the consulate for the names of locally hired employees like Enriquez and one of the other victims that day. Farrington wondered why. He became even more suspicious when he learned that Houston got into serious trouble during a previous posting at the American Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.


Bruins fans doing what they do best:

Boston Bruins fans blew up Twitter Thursday night following the team’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

P.K. Subban ended up scoring the winning goal in the fifth minute of the second overtime.

Fans showing disappointment would have been completely understandable. But many of them took it to a whole other level, seeming following in the footsteps of Donald Sterling.

Because of our corporate policies, we can’t put this type of profane language on our website, so here’s a summary of just some of the tweets we found:


Montana top court overturns teacher's one-month rape sentence

(Reuters) - The Montana Supreme Court overturned on Wednesday a one-month prison sentence given to a former teacher for the rape of a 14-year-old student, a penalty that sparked outrage and drew criticism from women's groups as too lenient.

Montana district Judge G. Todd Baugh drew fierce public criticism last year when he sentenced the teacher, Stacey Rambold, to just a month in prison for the 2007 sexual assault of his student, Cherice Moralez, who later killed herself.

Baugh fueled the public outrage by saying during Rambold's sentencing hearing that the teenager seemed older than her years and was "probably as much in control of the situation" as the Billings high school teacher.

On Wednesday, the high court ordered the case assigned to a different judge for re-sentencing as it ruled the sentence - technically 15 years in prison with all but 31 days suspended and credit for one day served - was too lenient.

"The district court lacked authority to suspend all but 31 days of Rambold's sentence, and its judgment is therefore reversed," Justice Michael Wheat said in the opinion, joined by five other justices.


Nigeria's kidnapped girls sold into marriage for $12

Scores of young girls and women kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are being forced to marry their Boko Haram abductors, a local human rights group has reported.

Halite Aliyu, of the Borno-Yobe People’s Forum, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that more than 200 girls who were kidnapped two weeks ago had been sold to the fighters for $12.

Aliyu said the information given about the mass weddings was coming from villagers in the Sambisa Forest, on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon where Boko Haram was known to have a number of hideouts.

"The latest reports are that they have been taken across the borders, some to Cameroon and Chad,'' Aliyu said.

It was not possible to verify the reports.

Community elder Pogu Bitrus of Chibok town, from where the girls were abducted, told the BBC's Hausa service that some of the kidnapped girls "have been married off to insurgents".


Germany blocks Edward Snowden from testifying in person in NSA inquiry

The German government has blocked Edward Snowden from giving personal evidence in front of a parliamentary inquiry into NSA surveillance, it has emerged hours before Angela Merkel travels to Washington for a meeting with Barack Obama.

In a letter to members of a parliamentary committee obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung, government officials say a personal invitation for the US whistleblower would "run counter to the political interests of the Federal Republic", and "put a grave and permanent strain" on US-German relations.

Opposition party members in the committee from the Left and Green party had for weeks insisted that the former NSA employee was a key witness and therefore would need to appear in person, not least because of concerns that Russia otherwise could influence his testimony.

However, the ruling Christian Democratic and Social Democratic parties, said that a written questionnaire would suffice. The disagreement led to the resignation of the CDU head of the committee this month.

Last June the German foreign ministry rejected Snowden's application for asylum because it was not submitted in person on German soil. If Snowden had been invited as a witness, he could have met these requirements.


Of course, the truth of the matter is Snowden has nothing of substance to add to the inquiry anyway, since he has a policy about not discussing anything which hasn't already been in the newspapers and even then; he was a very small cog in the grand scheme of things...Naturally, Germany saves face by hinting that the U.S. is twisting their arm, and no one is the wiser...

Mayor Rob Ford 'ready to take a break'

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford says he’s “ready to take a break” from the mayoral election campaign to “go get help.”

The decision to immediately step away from the campaign — while staying on the ballot — came after the Toronto Sun exclusively obtained a new raunchy audio recording of Ford ranting and swearing in an Etobicoke bar.

The Globe and Mail also published a report that a new video surfaced of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking what has been described as crack-cocaine early Saturday morning.

Ford told the Sun columnist Joe Warmington that he realizes “it’s time” and that he “wants” to “deal with his issues.” He said he is being urged to not leave the mayoral race by people around him.

The audio recording, covertly taped by a patron of Sullie Gorman’s Monday night, captures the mayor being unruly as he’s ordering booze at the Royal York Rd. bar, complaining about his wife Renata and making lewd comments about mayoral contender Karen Stintz.

“I’d like to f-----g jam her (Stintz), but she doesn’t want ... I can’t talk like this...I’m so sorry,” Ford is heard saying on the recording. “I forgot there’s a woman in the house.”


Snowden Retained Expert in Espionage Act Defense

WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who provided journalists a trove of classified documents, retained a well-known Washington defense lawyer last summer in hopes of reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors that would allow him to return to the United States and spare him significant prison time.

The lawyer, according to people familiar with the investigation, is Plato Cacheris, who has represented defendants in some of the highest-profile cases involving Espionage Act charges, including the convicted spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen and the convicted leaker Lawrence Franklin. But nearly a year after Mr. Cacheris became involved, no agreement appears imminent, and government officials said the negotiations remained at an early stage.

Mr. Snowden, who now lives in Moscow, where he received temporary asylum, was charged last year with multiple violations of the Espionage Act. He faces up to 30 years in prison, and prosecutors could easily add more counts...

...“Snowden is interested in returning home,” said Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who also represents Mr. Snowden. “He is and always has been on America’s side. He would cooperate in extraordinary ways in the right circumstances. But he does not believe that the ‘felon’ label is the right word for someone whose act of conscience has revitalized democratic oversight of the intelligence community and is leading to historic reforms.”


plea deal in the works?

The War on Truth in Ukraine

WASHINGTON — For a moment last week, war seemed imminent. A day after Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, warned Ukraine’s leaders against using force in the crisis there, the Ukrainian military attacked a checkpoint outside the separatist-held town of Slovyansk. Russian forces across the border responded with maneuvers labeled “exercises,” coupled with statements from the Kremlin that amounted to “you were warned.” Russian television made Slovyansk look like Guernica; Ukrainian news media reported that separatist militants were using kindergartners as human shields.

As each side revved up its propaganda, the world got another taste of the confusion, uncertainty and distortion of information that have brought this conflict to the brink. An absence of legitimate authority in eastern Ukraine has left an absence of transparent, agreed-upon facts — a breeding ground for suspicion and manipulative diplomatic games on the margins of the truth that may yet carry the region to war.

Consider the armed “green men” who seize towns and whose photos circulated in the media this month. Do they work for the Russians? The United States has said Russian culpability is beyond “a shadow of a doubt.” The Russians have issued categorical denials. The Ukrainian government’s photo evidence of involvement of Russian special forces has been undermined by apparent errors of location and misidentification, but not before the images were submitted to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, endorsed by the United States State Department and headlined in American news media.

Doubt’s shadow has not left Ukraine. Instead, the failure to agree on facts — to share a basic reality — has become the norm. Who distributed leaflets ordering Jews to register with authorities? Was it the anti-Semitic new “government” of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic, as the Ukrainian government claims, or was it a provocation designed to discredit the pro-Russian separatists? And who killed three men at a checkpoint in Slovyansk last week, Russian military intelligence or Ukrainian nationalists?

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