Friday, March 16, 2012

Oval Office Chat Session: Obama and Karzai

Obama Congratulated Afghan President on Birth of Daughter and Addressed Concerns

President Obama called President Karzai early this morning to offer his best wishes and congratulations to President Karzai and his wife on the birth of their daughter. The two leaders took the opportunity to reaffirm our shared commitment to the Lisbon framework, in which Afghan forces would complete the process of transition and have full responsibility for security across the country by the end of 2014. 

The two leaders also affirmed that they share the goal of building capable Afghan security forces and strengthening Afghan sovereignty so that Afghans are increasingly in charge of their own security, with the lead for combat operations shifting to Afghan forces, with U.S. forces in support, in 2013. 

To that end, the two leaders also discussed President Karzai's recent reiteration of his longstanding concerns regarding night raids and house searches and recommitted to conclude ongoing negotiations on a Memorandum of Understanding to resolve those concerns. 

They also agreed to further discuss concerns voiced by President Karzai about the presence of foreign troops in Afghan villages.  

President Obama reiterated that he looks forward to welcoming President Karzai to the NATO Summit in Chicago in May, where they, along with our NATO Allies and ISAF partners, will together define the next phase of transition. 

The President and President Karzai agreed to stay in close touch. 

North American Leader's Summit on April 2

Statement by Press Secretary Jay Carney

On April 2, 2012, President Obama will host Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) in Washington, DC.  

This meeting will build on wide-ranging and ongoing cooperation among the United States, Canada, and Mexico with a particular focus on economic growth and competitiveness, citizen security, energy, and climate change.  

The leaders will also discuss North America’s role in the Americas in anticipation of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia later in April, as well as other global economic, political, and security issues. 

The last North American Leaders’ Summit was hosted by President Calderon in Guadalajara in August 2009.  

The previously scheduled NALS, to have been hosted by President Obama in November 2011, was postponed following the tragic death of Mexican Secretary of Government Francisco Blake Mora.

Congressman Gary Ackerman to Retire

Statement by the President 

For over thirty years, Gary Ackerman has represented the people of Queens and Long Island, first as a New York State Senator, and then as a Member of Congress. Gary’s bipartisan efforts helped our nation confront significant challenges at home and abroad. He was a leader in the fight to pass Wall Street Reform and helped strengthen the bonds between the United States and our allies, particularly Israel. Always a champion of his fellow New Yorkers, Gary was also successful in enacting a bill to create the “Heroes” postage stamp, which benefitted the families of rescue workers killed or permanently disabled while responding to the 9/11 attacks. Gary’s unique enthusiasm will be greatly missed in the halls of Congress, but I am confident he will continue to serve the people of New York for years to come. Michelle and I wish him and his family well in the future. 

Photo source: U.S. House of Representatives
Author: U.S. House of Representatives
Permission: Public Domain

Prime Minister of Ireland to Visit White House

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny

President Obama will welcome Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny of Ireland to the White House on Tuesday, March 20. The United States and Ireland share strong bilateral relations, deep cultural ties, and a commitment to positive change in the world.   

The President looks forward to commemorating his fourth St. Patrick’s Day in the White House with the Taoiseach and Mrs. Kenny, and to reciprocating the warm hospitality the Irish people extended to the President and Mrs. Obama during their visit to the Emerald Isle in May 2011.  

On Tuesday, the President and the Vice President will meet with the Taoiseach and will attend a St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the U.S. Capitol. In the morning, the Vice President will host the Prime Minister at a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Naval Observatory. 

In the evening, the President and the First Lady will host a St. Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.

Also on the 20th, the President and the Vice President will greet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland at the White House and discuss their progress toward meeting their shared commitments to a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Northern Ireland. 
Author: IgnisFatuus

Take Two: Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr.

Addabbo Appointed to Serve on NYS Legislative Conference Committee on Education

Queens, NY - Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. (D-Queens) has been appointed to serve as the representative of the Senate Democratic Conference for the New York State Legislative Conference Committee on Education – the bipartisan Senate and Assembly panel responsible for negotiating a final 2012-2013 budget agreement on funding for New York’s schools and other educational issues. 

Already a member of the State Senate Standing Committee on Education, Addabbo said, “I am honored to serve as a member of this additional committee, and I look forward to working with my colleagues from both houses and from both sides of the aisle to negotiate a fair, responsible education package for the State Budget that will provide all of our schoolchildren with the opportunity to succeed academically.” 

The Legislative Conference Committee on Education will review the Senate and Assembly budget resolutions recently passed by the two houses, and come to a final agreement on the Legislature’s vision for education. 

The agreement reached by the Conference Committee will be included in the final budget document scheduled to be approved by the Senate and Assembly by the April 1st deadline. From there, the Legislature’s State Budget plan goes to Governor Cuomo for his consideration. 

The Legislative Conference Committee on Education held its first meeting in Albany on March 14 and Addabbo notes, “I think we are making good progress on negotiating an education package that will assist our schoolchildren while recognizing the need to spend our education dollars fairly, wisely and with accountability. We are well on our way to enacting a responsible, responsive, on-time State Budget.”

Among the educational issues Addabbo cited at the committee meeting that he wanted to work on during budget negotiations, are the State’s obligation to fairly compensate New York City schools as part of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court decision and an increase in library funding, which was agreed to by both the Senate and Assembly budget proposals. 

Other topics the senator said he wanted to highlight were funding for Non-Public School Aid, improved bus transportation for students and the monies for the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities.

A major issue is overall funding for local schools. While there is approximately a 4% increase in state spending for education in the budget, funds are distributed by the local municipalities.

While the governor’s proposal could result in less localized funds, both the Senate and Assembly have proposed to redirect the budget funds toward more direct school aid for local schools.

“In making decisions about the education of our children, we are almost literally holding their future and the future of our city and state in our hands. I take my responsibility on this committee very seriously,” Addabbo concluded.

Addabbo: 'What Happened to $2.3 Billion in State Aid for Education Awarded by the Court?"

Senator Addabbo is reminding state lawmakers during budget negotiations of a court decision that called for the restoration of monies to New York City public schools that were wrongfully underfunded by the state. 

In 2001, an almost decade-old lawsuit by the New York City-based Campaign for Fiscal Equity, led to the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division’s ruling that limiting resources to public schools violated a student’s constitutional right to a “sound, basic education”.

The ruling led to a $2.3 billion increase in cumulative state aid to local public schools through 2007 that has since been ignored, and furthermore damaged, by $2.7 billion in subsequent budget cuts.
“Governor Pataki was supposed to have set aside the larger share of $2.3 billion increase in state aid for downstate education as a result of the Court’s 2001 ruling. Where is it and how do we get it?” asks Addabbo.

According to this excerpt from a January 21, 2009 article in The Village Voice, “The Campaign for fiscal Equity Lawsuit Was the Best Hope for City Schools. It Failed.”:
Following the court ruling, newly elected Governor Eliot Spitzer proposed boosting state education funds to the city by $5.4 billion by the year 2011, factoring in the kind of programmatic specificity the lawsuit’s filers had suggested. School districts would have to sign “Contracts for Excellence,” vowing to use the windfall to improve one of five educational areas:  teacher quality, length of school days, smaller class sizes, restructured middle and high schools, and full-day pre-K and kindergarten. Under Spitzer’s plan, spending increases would be slowly phased in over five years, but only $228 million out of the $700 million in extra funding the first year would be subject to Contract for Excellence restrictions. The rest trickled out through various loopholes--$60 million for charter schools, $38 million for “experimental” programs—and into other pots of money the school system was free to spend however it wanted.

There were numerous complaints of insufficient oversight over how the money was actually being spent. Rather than pouring the dollars into consolidated citywide programs targeted at improving teacher quality or lengthening the school day, the city left it up to principals to decide how to spend their tiny portion of the funds. The result was no comprehensive strategy for using the funds, and a paper trail that is, at best, patchwork and, at worst, unreliable: principals only had to report their intentions, not how the money was ultimately spent.
So where is the money? From discussions with government colleagues and staff, Addabbo believes that due to the state’s poor fiscal condition over the past three years, lack of available dollars caused the state to become unable to keep up with its educational funding obligation set by the State Supreme Court.
The Senator is hopeful that by raising the issue during the current budget negotiations, when the state is in an improved economic situation, it can resume to honor the Court’s decision and its payment toward New York City’s schoolchildren.

Concludes Addabbo, “With the issue of New York City’s student-to-teacher ratio, rising costs and the city threatening to close dozens of schools, New York’s public school system could really use this money--now more than ever. More than a billion dollars in recovered funds would go a long way toward helping students and teachers have positive outcomes in their classrooms."

Cuomo Signs Law to Enact Major Pension Reform

State and Local Governments, Including New York City, to Save More Than $80 Billion over 30 Years  

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today, joined by Mayor Bloomberg and elected officials from across New York State, signed into law sweeping pension reform legislation that will save state and local governments, including New York City, more than $80 billion over the next 30 years. 

"For years rising pension costs have spelled disaster for local governments across the state. That finally changed this week, as we came together to put in place a bold pension reform plan that will save taxpayers more than $80 billion over the next three decades," Governor Cuomo said.

"By putting the interests of the people of New York State first, we overcame the obstacles that for so long have stood in the way of real reform and delivered one of the most critical, widespread fiscal reforms the state has seen in years. I thank Majority Leader Skelos, Speaker Silver, members of the legislature, elected officials across the state, and particularly Mayor Bloomberg for all the hard work that went into putting in place this important new pension reform."

The state's rapidly growing pensions costs are one of the most expensive mandates for local governments. In 2002 pension payment from local governments were $1.4 billion and have grown to $12.2 billion in 2012, an increase of over 650%.

The pension reform plan passed by the Senate and Assembly recognizes the unsustainability of the current system and takes unprecedented steps to control growth, saving state and local governments, including New York City, more than $80 billion over the next 30 years.

"Skyrocketing pensions costs have limited the ability of cities and counties to make investments vital to our future. So mounting pension costs have represented a double tax: first paid by today's residents, and a second tax on our future. One of the harder things to do in politics is to pass laws or take on projects where the heavy political lifting happens up front and the major benefits do not appear for years down the road,” said New York City Michael Bloomberg.

“But that is exactly what happened here because the Governor was willing to take on the challenge and lead. Our coalition of mayors and country executives from across the state supported him throughout and we are grateful members of the legislature took action so we can invest in the future of our cities and counties, and in the future of our citizens."

Senate Finance Committee Chair John A. DeFrancisco, noted "The pension reform spearheaded by Governor Cuomo is a real, substantive change from the status quo which will help to provide fiscal stability for taxpayers and local governments while putting New York on a path for a stronger, more sustainable future. I praise the Governor for his leadership and for bringing together the stakeholders and both parties to make this happen for the people of this state."

"I am a staunch supporter of unions, I am a beneficiary of the labor movement. This was the most difficult vote I have had to take in the 24 years that I have served the people. However, if we did not do pension reform, all of the hard working people of the state of New York – through tax increases, fees etc. – would suffer irreparable financial damage," said Assembly Deputy Speaker Earlene M. Hooper.

The new law puts in place a new Tier VI pension plan for workers hired after April 1, 2012. Existing employees and retirees retain all benefits. The new law includes:

New Employee Contribution Rates: The new tier increases employee contribution rates in a progressive fashion to ensure lower paid state and local workers are not seriously affected. Employee contribution rates vary depending on salary:

o $0 - $45,000: 3%
o $45,000 - $55,000: 3.5%
o $55,000 - $75,000: 4.5%
o $75,000 - $100,000: 5.75%
o $100,000+: 6%

These rates remain substantially lower than the large majority of similar state systems around the country. 

Increase of the Retirement Age: The pension reform law includes an increase in the retirement age from 62 to 63 and includes provisions allowing early retirement with penalties. For each year of retirement prior to 63, employee pension allowances will be permanently reduced by 6.5%.

Readjustment of Pension Multiplier: Under Tier VI, the new pension multiplier will be 1.75% for the first 20 years of service, and 2% starting in the 21st year. For an employee who works 30 years, their pension will be 55% of final average salary under Tier VI, instead of 60% under Tier V. This readjustment brings New York more in line with most other states and will save billions of dollars for taxpayers and local governments.

Vesting: Under Tier VI, employees will vest after 10 years of service.

Protect Local Governments From State Pension Sweeteners: The new law requires the state to pre-fund any pension enhancers, ensuring that these costs are no longer passed to local governments.

Adjustments to Final Average Salary Calculation to Help Reducing Pension Padding: The law changes the time period for final average salary calculation from 3 years to 5 years. To limit how much overtime can be used to determine an employee's pension, pensionable overtime for civilian and non-uniformed employees will be capped at $15,000 plus inflation, and for uniformed employees outside of New York City capped at 15% of base pay.

Tier VI puts in place new anti-spiking measures which cap growth in salary used to determine pension allowances at 10% for all employees statewide. These reforms will take major steps toward addressing instances of abuse and pension padding. Tier VI also eliminates lump sum payments of unused sick and vacation time from the calculation of final average salary.

Voluntary and Portable Defined Contribution Option: The new law includes an optional defined contribution plan for new non-union employees with salaries $75,000 and above. In the modern economy, employees often change jobs multiple times and need pension portability.

Many states, the federal government, and most private employers provide some form of defined contribution plans to their employees. The state will make an 8% contribution to employee contribution accounts.

Currently, SUNY and CUNY offer such an option through TIAA-CREF that has been successful and popular. This is a voluntary option for those employees who prefer the portability and vesting feature not available with defined benefit options, and will help attract top talent to state government.

Adjustments to SUNY/CUNY TIAA-CREF Plan: Under Tier VI, SUNY and CUNY employees who elect the TIAA-CREF plan will receive an employer contribution of 8% of salary for the first 7 years of service and 10% thereafter.

Limiting Number of Sick and Leave Days that Can Pad Pensions: Tier VI reduces by half- from 200 to 100- the number of sick and leave days that can be used for retirement service credit.

Salary Reform: Previous tiers allowed salaries from an unlimited amount of employers for calculating retirement benefits. Tier VI allows only two salaries for the calculation.

Limiting Pension Benefit of High Paid Employees: For new higher paid employees, the amount earned above the Governor's salary (currently $179,000) will not be eligible for pension calculation under Tier VI.

West Wing Week: 3/16/12

President Obama Speaks to Campus Champions of Change

President Obama stops by a White House Champions of Change event honoring five young leaders for outstanding leadership on their college campuses, chosen by the public for their projects that embody the President’s goal to win the future.

White House Briefs

Newsy Now: Breaking News Headlines

Turkish chopper crashes near Kabul; tornadoes in Michigan; N. Korea to launch satellite; Archbishop of Canterbury steps down; iPad 3 goes on sale. 

By Steven Sparkman and Harumendhah Helmy
Anchor: Allie Spillyards
Link courtesy of

PayPal Launches Credit Card Reader

Online finance giant PayPal unveils a triangle-shaped gadget designed to make it easy for businesses to accept credit card payments. 

By Tatiana Darie
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Chinese Political Gathering Shows Gap Between Rich and Poor

In China’s annual congress meeting, wealthy delegates sport luxury brands. 

By Regina Wang
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Taliban Pulls Out of Proposed U.S. Talks

With tensions high following the killing of 16 civilians in Afghanistan, the Taliban has pulled out of planned talks with the U.S. 

By Kevin Donnellan
Anchor: Emily Spain
Link courtesy of

Afghan Leaders Call for Soldier’s Trial in Afghanistan

The U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians has been moved out of the country. The move upset Afghans, who want a trial on their soil. 

By Alyssa Cartee
Anchor: Lauren Gores
Link courtesy of

Charismatic Chinese Politician Purged After Scandal

China's Communist Party excommunicated up-and-coming politician Bo Xilai ahead of the nation's leadership change in the fall. 

By Zach Toombs
Anchor: Lauren Gores
Link courtesy of

Thursday, March 15, 2012

'The United States is Committed to Eradicating Trafficking in Persons'

Statement by the President on the Meeting of the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

Nearly one hundred and fifty years ago, in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to the enduring cause of freedom.  Then as now, we remain steadfast in our resolve to see that all men, women, and children have the opportunity to realize this greatest of gifts.  Yet millions around the world—including here in the United States—toil under the boot of modern slavery.  Mothers and fathers are forced to work in fields and factories against their will or in service to debts that can never be repaid.  Sons and daughters are sold for sex, abducted as child soldiers, or coerced into involuntary labor.  In dark corners of our world, and hidden in plain sight in our own communities, human beings are exploited for financial gain and subjected to unspeakable cruelty.  

Slavery remains the affront to human dignity and stain on our collective conscience that it has always been.   That is why members of my cabinet and senior advisors gathered at the White House today, at a meeting chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to lay out their plans for meeting this challenge. The United States is committed to eradicating trafficking in persons, and we will draw on tools ranging from law enforcement and victim service provision, to public awareness building and diplomatic pressure.  Because we know that government efforts are not enough, we are also increasing our partnerships with a broad coalition of local communities, faith-based and non-governmental organizations, schools, and businesses.

To bring all these elements together, and to be sure we are maximizing our efforts, today I am directing my cabinet to find ways to strengthen our current work, and to expand on partnerships with civil society and the private sector, so that we can bring more resources to bear in fighting this horrific injustice.  In the coming weeks the White House will build on this gathering on behalf of human dignity.  I am confident that we will one day end the scourge of modern slavery, because I believe in those committed to this issue: young people, people of faith and station, Americans who refuse to accept this injustice and will not rest until it is vanquished. Today, I reaffirm that the United States stands with them, and that together we will realize the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our country’s ideal of freedom. 

Cuomo Discusses Passage of Historic Legislation

Voter ID: The American Anti-Democracy Movement's Weapon of Choice

A Special Guest Commentary by Activist and Writer Kevin Powell

"Voter ID: The American Anti-Democracy Movement's Weapon of Choice"
by Kevin Powell

Anti-democracy forces in the US are relentless.

Each time our nation takes a step forward, sure enough, a collective of well-financed anti-democracy naysayers comes along to shoot holes in the social and political progress of this country. Never mind that voting is a fundamental right guaranteed by the US constitution. Never mind that people have been killed, through decades and centuries, so that ordinary working Americans, including blacks and other people of color, women, and 18 year-olds could have this basic human and civil right. Never mind that the 15th amendment to the constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were added as extra layers of protection to insure democracy for all.

Anti-democracy forces could care less. For they are thumbing their noses at this history, at human and civil rights, and instead, are promoting for all they're worth the "voter ID law" movement, which has been in play the past few years but is now amplified in 2012 because of the presidential election. This means there are now eight American states with voter photo ID laws. These laws vary from state to state in terms of what is "identification". Some require an ID card with an expiration date. Others mandate that an ID be only state-issued and for the state where that person is voting. Still others demand a full name and address on the ID card, while others specifically prohibit even valid college IDs as proof of identity.

Given these new sets of rules, and the very real possibility that more of America's 50 states will adopt similar measures, despite the movement's legal setback in Wisconsin this week, it is little wonder that the Brennan Center for Justice recently reported that as many as 5 million eligible voters could have difficulty casting ballots, come Tuesday 6 November, election day in America, including an estimated 800,000 in Texas alone.

And the most vulnerable to voter ID laws? Poor people of all races, and people of color, who've historically had to do battle with laws preventing them from voting, as well as senior citizens and college students. Then, there are groups like newly-married couples, or newly-divorced ones, the transgendered community, Native Americans, American citizens with immigrant family members, and those who may have recently lost their homes due to the foreclosure crisis.

What this translates into are additional costs per voter to secure new IDs, or birth or marriage certificates, or transportation fees to get to hours-long lines, and away from work and other gainful activity. Many will simply shrug their shoulders and not bother to vote. And this, I feel, is the ultimate goal of the voter ID movement.

This is why Rose Sanders says there is one American "law" that has never been repealed: the law of circumvention. Mrs. Sanders should know. Not only is she a long-time resident of Selma, Alabama (a city partially responsible for that Voting Rights Act of 1965), but she is also the founder of the National Voting Rights Museum and co-creator of the 21st Century Young Leadership Movement camp, which educates youth about, among many things, the history of voting in America. She is a daughter of the American South, having lived in North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. Before settling in Selma, with her husband Hank, also a civil rights veteran and community leader, Rose Sanders lived in a neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama named "Dynamite Hill", because African Americans' homes were often bombed as a terror tactic to keep them from voting.

Ironically, I first met Rose Sanders in the mid-1980s when I was among a group of college students who had journeyed to Alabama to re-register voters knocked from voter rolls by Reagan-era policies – not unlike the ID practice today. Sanders is clear that the more things change, the more they stay the same:

"Every means that was used to circumvent the 15th amendment has re-surfaced with new names. Voter ID is the new poll tax. Efforts to stop immigrants or relatives of immigrants from voting are no different than the fugitive slave laws and grandfather clauses that were once used."

This is why Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, America's oldest civil rights organization, has traveled this week to Geneva to speak before a United Nations panel in Switzerland. Generally the UN's human rights council hears cases from such troubled areas as the Middle East and Africa. But this is not the first time Americans have done this. The irony that this is happening with an African American president sitting in the White House is not lost.

This is also why organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), must be exposed. Since its founding in the early 1980s, Alec has very quietly played a major role in American legislation, including dramatic changes to voter laws. Much of Alec's base is Republican or conservative, and mostly white, and much of its funding comes from corporations, corporate trade groups and corporation foundations. Alec has, in turn, pushed bills it wants to see in place, state by state. Little wonder that when we hear the clarion cry "We want our country back", it is really coded language to say, "We want an America where not everyone has access to the ballot, or the American dream. Just as was the case in the years before the civil rights movement."

This is why it is such a huge mistake for any leader to refer to what is happening as "voter suppression". We need to continually call it what it is: anti-democracy. Because only anti-democracy forces would go to such lengths to make voting that difficult for that many, especially when the Department of Justice has stated, very clearly, that voter fraud is not rampant in our society. And we need to challenge it from every angle, including voter registration and education drives.

For this is much bigger than one presidential election. This is about the future of our democracy.

Detailed information on Kevin Powell is available here:

Meeks Responds to Bank Stress Tests

"I Have Supported the Stress Testing of Banks..."

WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement on the Federal Reserve’s recent stress tests:

“Yesterday, the Federal Reserve conducted stress tests to measure the financial health of 19 major financial institutions. I have supported the stress testing of banks, and for their results to be made public, since I introduced an amendment mandating semiannual tests with Congressman Dennis Moore (D-KS) in 2009. 

Periodic stress tests, combined with the requirement that firms develop detailed 'living wills' on how to wind down their firms in the event of a crisis, empower investors in the equity and debt markets by providing vital transparency and information to the public, and are a fundamental part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.

“As Congressman Moore and I argued in 2010, had ‘our stress test language [been] in law a decade ago, both regulators and the marketplace would have seen how overleveraged and fundamentally risky a firm like Lehman Brothers had become and would have taken preemptive actions that could have prevented its dramatic collapse, which, in turn, ignited a financial panic.’

“The Fed’s recent stress tests, the third round that has been conducted since 2009, scrutinized capital levels under certain stringent scenarios to ensure the institutions would not curb lending in the event of an economic downturn. The results, which included failing a major institution, show clearly that the Federal Reserve will not rubber stamp the exams.   These results also prove the value of the Dodd- Frank law in assuring the safety and solvency of America’s banking system and financial industry.  

The financial industry and banks are vital for America’s prosperity, and I am proud to have been an ardent supporter of the efforts to keep them secure and strong.”

Obama's Face on American Flag Angers Veterans

An American flag featuring President Obama's face is taken down outside a local Florida Democratic Party headquarters after protests. 

By Erin Dismeier
Anchor:Lauren Zima
Link courtesy of  

Blago Reports for Prison

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich reports for prison Thursday, but he's not going quietly. 

By David Earl
Anchor: Christina Hartman
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Florida State Attorney Gets Involved in Teen Shooting Case

17-year-Old Trayvon Martin was shot by local neighborhood watch captain. Now state attorney is trying to determine whether to charge the captain. 

By Breana Jones and Gary Grisby
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Cameron, Obama Affirm Afghan Pullout Plan

Cameron is in the U.S. for talks with President Obama about several pressing international issues, and for a basketball game. 

By Celia Murray and Christina Hartman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of