January 3, 2009

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January 30, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Chicago Tribune:

Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Sweeping aside six years of scandal and crippling political infighting with a historic impeachment vote, the state Senate on Thursday ousted one governor for abusing his power and anointed another who built his political career around having no power at all.

Senators voted 59-0 to remove Rod Blagojevich, who walked out of the silent chamber after delivering an impassioned plea for mercy. Within hours they applauded his former running mate and lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn, who was sworn in as the state’s 41st governor vowing a new course for Illinois.

“The ordeal is over,” said Quinn, long viewed as an unwelcomed outsider by the state’s political establishment. “In this moment, our hearts are hurt. And it’s very important to know that we have a duty, a mission to restore the faith of the people of Illinois in the integrity of their government.”

He replaced a defiant Blagojevich, 52, the first Democratic governor in a quarter century and the first governor in Illinois history to be impeached. After racing back to his Chicago home before the vote could deprive him of a ride home on the state plane, Blagojevich once again said he was the victim of a rush to judgment.

January 28, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

John Updike, Pa. son, literary giant, dies at 76


John Updike, 76, the bookish, prolific, Berks County-born novelist, poet and critic whose extraordinary and exquisite six-decade body of work made him Pennsylvania’s greatest contributor to contemporary American and world literature, died yesterday of lung cancer.

He died in a hospice outside Boston. He had lived for many years in Beverly Farms, Mass.

Like Joyce Carol Oates, Mr. Updike enjoyed a reputation for prolific creativity across almost every genre known to literature. Like an American Flaubert, he astonished the literary world with the pointillist precision of his sentences, the pleasing, surprising lilts and twists of his lyrical diction.

January 27, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Raleigh News & Observer:

Employers slash deep and fast
‘Severe measures’ taken as economy deteriorates

By JACK HEALY (The New York Times)

Employers have tried to nip and tuck their labor costs by reducing overtime, shortening the workweek and freezing wages, but now, they are reaching for the saw.

On Monday alone, companies across the employment spectrum announced at least 62,000 job cuts around the world, including 47,000 in the United States, a stark sign that the economy continues to deteriorate.

Monday’s toll included 5,000 new cuts at Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining machinery; 8,000 jobs at the wireless provider Sprint Nextel; 7,000 workers at Home Depot, and 8,000 from drugmaker Pfizer.

January 26, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Tinley Park, Illinois newspaper, the Southtown Star:

Impeachment trial to proceed without Blagojevich
Governor heads to New York for interviews

(The Associated Press)

SPRINGFIELD — If there’s such a thing as a “normal” impeachment trial, the one that starts today in Illinois doesn’t qualify.

The defendant, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, won’t participate. He’ll be talking to Whoopi Goldberg and Larry King instead of facing the state Senate. And while the Democrat acknowledges his conviction is certain, he refuses to resign.

Blagojevich complains the trial rules are unfair, but he and his lawyers didn’t try to influence the rules as they were written or challenge them afterward.

After weeks of near-silence, Blagojevich has begun an energetic public relations campaign, comparing himself to the hero of a Frank Capra movie and a cowboy being lynched for a crime he didn’t commit.

He told NBC’s “Today” that when he was arrested on federal corruption charges, he took solace from thinking of other jailed leaders – Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. He also said his 5-year-old daughter, Annie, has asked whether he’ll still be governor on her birthday in April.

January 18, 2009: An excerpt from a story in Newsday:

Bird strike appears cause of US Airways flight 1549 Hudson River landing


Despite ice that slowed recovery, salvage crews late last night managed to hoist onto a barge the US Airways jetliner that splashed down in the Hudson River.

The bottom half of the jetliner looked battle-scarred as it inched up from the water, suspended by five large slings, The Associated Press reported. The metal on the bottom of the plane appeared shredded and torn, sheared off in some places, the AP said.

The right engine looked as though the outside had been peeled off, and the right wing appears charred. Chunks dropped in the water before it was placed on the barge.

January 16, 2009: An excerpt from a story in Newsday:

Passengers felt jerk, heard explosion

This story was reported by Marc Beja and Daniel Edward Rosen, and staff writers Mitchell Freedman, Eden Laikin, Melanie Lefkowitz, Kathy Kerr and Rocco Parascandola, and written by Beth Holland.

From the bitter cold and ice enveloping New York City, they were headed south on US Airways Flight 1549, south to Charlotte, N.C. Some were making the two-hour flight on business, some for the pleasure of a golf trip where the day’s high would not be 15 degrees. One 85-year-old woman was flying the 660 miles for her great-grandson’s birthday.

A number of the passengers weren’t supposed to be on Flight 1549 at all. Their earlier flights had been canceled because of the weather.

So these 155 souls – passengers, pilots and flight crew – took off from LaGuardia Airport at 3:24 p.m. In the next six minutes, Flight 1549 crash-landed into the Hudson.

January 16, 2009: An excerpt from a column in the New York Daily News:

Now let’s honor pilot who saved Flight 1549: Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger


Just when we really needed a miracle, we got one.

“Miracle on the Hudson,” Gov. Paterson rightly called it.

Paterson was standing with the mayor and the police commissioner and the fire commissioner and other faces that have become too familiar to us in moments of tragedy.

They must have all been stricken with the same dread when word came that a passenger plane had gone down in the icy Hudson River on a day of killing cold.

The dread was shared by all the cops and firefighters and paramedics who raced to the scene, emergency lights garish in the frigid air.

And the rest of us could only pray and say, please, not another horror.

Oh no, we said.

Not in that icy, icy water on this cold, cold day.

Only after we learned that all aboard had escaped serious injury did we feel how much we needed this bit of luck when so much seems to be going wrong.

January 15, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the San Jose Mercury News:

Apple’s Steve Jobs takes medical leave of absence


In an e-mail to employees that roiled Apple’s stock and raised questions about the company’s future, CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday announced he was taking a nearly six-month medical leave because his health problems are “more complex” than he originally believed.

The message — coming a little more than a week after Jobs sent a note saying his condition would not keep him from daily duties — reignited speculation that the man who has been the public face of Apple may not be able to resume that role.

Jobs, who battled pancreatic cancer four years ago, said on the day Macworld opened last week that he was suffering from a hormone imbalance that caused him to lose weight and appear gaunt. In his latest letter, he added no new details.

Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will take over the company’s day-to-day operations until his return at the end of June, Jobs said. Jobs will remain chief executive and continue to provide strategic guidance, he said.

His e-mail only deepened the mystery about Silicon Valley’s most iconic tech executive. It also added fuel to the debate about whether Apple has been frank with investors about the health of its visionary leader.

January 14, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

Region bracing for deep freeze


From the look and feel of things, it’s going to be a long, cold winter.

More snow is in the forecast today with an arctic plunge expected to follow tonight. About an inch more of snow is expected today on top of 2 to 4 inches Northeastern Wisconsin saw Monday night.

The temperature could hit 5 today with winds between 14 and 17 mph, causing wind chill values between minus 15 and minus 20. Arctic air from Canada is the culprit for the latest bout of frigid air, according to the National Weather Service in Ashwaubenon.

January 13, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Indianapolis Star:

Farewell, Tony
Colts coach retires after successful run


On the final day, the humble man was humbled. He started. He stopped. He blinked. He sighed.

He grinned.

“My wife, Lauren, she told me to bring some Kleenex,” Tony Dungy managed. “I thought I’d make it a little further than the first sentence.”

What Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay called “an incredible journey” ended Monday evening at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center when Dungy announced his retirement after seven seasons as Colts head coach.

Dungy walks away at the top of his game. He walks away at age 53, with the best record in Colts history. He walks away from the team and the game he loves, from a $5 million salary and a club that will go into the 2009 season among the favorites for Super Bowl XLIV.

He followed his heart.

“I’m thankful to the Lord for the career that I’ve had,” he said. “My wife and I talked, and we just felt that this was the right time. You don’t always get to go out on top.”

Dungy was accompanied by his wife of 27 years, Lauren, and their elder daughter, Tiara, who with the rest of the family moved back to Tampa, Fla., a year ago. Tony spoke of being home more, of working with families and youth, but he said he doesn’t yet know where the next chapter will take him.

January 12, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the U.S. military newspaper, the Stars and Stripes:

Inauguration practice makes perfect


WASHINGTON — Army Staff Sgt. Derrick Brooks was sworn in Sunday as the 44th president of the United States.

OK, maybe he was only a stand-in for President-elect Barack Obama. And maybe Sunday�s event was only the military�s practice run for next week�s actual inauguration. And so what if his entire acceptance speech was “My fellow Americans, God bless America.”

For Brooks, it was a chance to be a small part of history.

“It was a beautiful site, looking out from the Capitol,” he told reporters after his fake oath of office was finished. “I�m just proud I got a chance to do this.”

On Sunday, members of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee ran through every song, step and salute expected from the military during next week�s presidential ceremony.

Maj. Andra Higgs, spokesman for the inaugural committee, said the goal was to make sure all of the military units involved knew all the ins and outs of what could be the most-watched inauguration in history.

January 9, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Gainesville Sun:



MIAMI — A season that began with promise and was highlighted midway through by a promise, ended with the Gators atop college football’s version of the promised land.

Florida defeated Oklahoma, 24-14, on Thursday night to become the first school to win two BCS national titles in the span of three seasons. In the process, Urban Meyer became the first coach to lead a program to two BCS championships.

And afterward, he wasn’t shy about making a proclamation.

“This is one of the best teams in college football history,” Meyer said.

In front of 78,468, the highest-attended football game ever at Dolphin Stadium (which for one night looked and sounded like The Swamp South), the game’s offensive most outstanding player, quarterback TimTebow, led Florida (13-1) with 340 all-purpose yards.

And as he was in the Gators’ SEC Championship Game victory against Alabama, Tebow was at his best late versus the Sooners (12-2). In the fourth quarter he ran for 34 of his 109 yards and passed for 76 of his 231 yards.

Following the game, he harkened back to the promise he made to the Gator Nation following UF’s 31-30 loss to Mississippi on Sept. 27.

“I promised the guys that I would go out and play with all my heart,” Tebow said. “I was so motivated. Oklahoma’s a great team and they came out and played hard. I’m so proud of my teammates right now.

“I can’t put it into words … it was just an incredible night.”

January 8, 2009: An excerpt from a story in the New York Post:



With the economy in the sewer, the country at war and the Middle East aflame, President-elect Obama met yesterday with the only men on earth who understand what he’s in for, at a historic White House lunch with the four living presidents.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, the soon-to-be 44th president said it was an honor to discuss the world’s problems with men who have wrestled with them.

“This is an extraordinary gathering,” Obama said as he stood with his predecessors in the Oval Office.

“All the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office.

“And for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary, and I am grateful to all of them.”

January 7, 2009: An excerpt from a story in The Washington Post:

Senators Turn Burris Away at Capitol


Blocked from claiming a Senate seat, a man who once said his success in politics was the result of “divine intervention” stood outside the Capitol yesterday and declared: “Members of the media, my name is Roland Burris, the junior senator from the state of Illinois.”

The 71-year-old former state attorney general had pressed his case over the objections of Senate Democrats and the man he would replace, President-elect Barack Obama, but instead found himself holding a news conference on the lawn outside the Capitol just minutes before new senators were sworn in. The man who has already had his own mausoleum constructed in Illinois showed no signs of backing down.

“He thinks he’s got a shot, and he’s an ambitious guy with a large ego,” said Don Rose, a political consultant in Chicago who has known Burris since the 1960s. “I’m not sure that separates him from anybody in the Senate….He’s paid a lot of dues, and he may feel he’s paid his dues.”

Burris’s single-minded push may yet succeed. Senate Democrats, once sharply opposed to allowing Burris to be seated because he was appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), are now considering allowing him to serve as a way to end a confrontation that could drag on for weeks and distract from what they hope will be an end to a decade of gridlock on Capitol Hill.

January 6, 2009
The Oslo, Norway newspaper, Aftenposten, reports on Israel’s Gaza campaign against Hamas. For updates on the story visit the Middle East crisis page on the BBC News Web site.


January 4, 2009: An excerpt from a story in Newsday:

Israel opens ground attack into Gaza Strip

Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM – Israeli troops and tanks invaded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip late Saturday after eight days of punishing airstrikes failed to halt the militant Palestinian group’s rocket fire into Israel.

Gunbattles could be heard from Gaza City as artillery rounds lit the night sky. Columns of tanks and infantry, backed by helicopter gunships, pushed nearly half a mile into the territory from three directions.

Israeli officials said they did not intend to occupy Gaza but did expect a lengthy battle. “This will not be easy and it will not be short,” said Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister.

Hamas issued a defiant statement saying Gaza would “become a graveyard” for Israeli soldiers.

The ground offensive was aimed primarily at Hamas rocket-launching facilities, Israeli officials said. Some of those sites are in open fields but many are hidden across Gaza in densely populated areas and are difficult to pinpoint from the air.

January 4, 2009
(Tel-Aviv, Israel)


January 4, 2009
(Beirut, Lebanon)


December 29, 2008
Yedioth Ahronoth
(Tel-Aviv, Israel)


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