BY CONNIE CASS
Plenty of people have tuned out after all the political jabber and website woes. But now is the time to tune back in, before it's too late.
The big deadline is coming March 31.
By that day, for the first time, nearly everyone in the United States is required to be signed up for health insurance or risk paying a fine.
Here's what you need to know about this month's open enrollment countdown:
ALREADY COVERED? NO WORRIES
Most people don't need to do anything. Even before the health care law passed in 2010, more than 8 out of 10 U.S. residents had coverage, usually through their workplace plans or the government's Medicare or Medicaid programs. Some have private policies that meet the law's requirements.
If you're already covered that way, you meet the law's requirements.
Since October, about 4 million people have signed up for private plans through the new state and federal marketplaces, the Obama administration says, although it's not clear how many were already insured elsewhere. In addition, many poor adults now have Medicaid coverage for the first time through expansions of the program in about half the states.
President Barack Obama is urging people who have coverage to help any uninsured friends and relatives get signed up.
NEED COVERAGE? IT'S CRUNCH TIME
Chances are you'll hear more reminders about health care this month. The push is on to reach millions of uninsured people.
The administration, insurers, medical associations and nonprofit groups are teaming up with volunteers to get the word out and guide people through the sometimes-rocky enrollment process. They plan special events at colleges, libraries, churches and work sites.
Singing cats, dogs, parrots - even a goldfish - are promoting the message in TV and online spots from the Ad Council.
A big hurdle for the effort: As recently as last month, three-fourths of the uninsured didn't know there was a March 31 deadline, according to polling conducted for the Kaiser Family Foundation. Most said they didn't know much about the law and had an unfavorable opinion of it.
Plus, many worry they won't be able to afford the new plans.
The enrollment campaign is emphasizing that subsidies are available on a sliding scale to help low-income and middle-class households pay for their insurance.
How to enroll? Start at HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596. Residents of states running their own marketplaces will be directed there; people in other states go through the federal exchange.
After March 31, many people won't be able to get subsidized coverage this year, even if they become seriously ill.
The next open enrollment period is set to begin Nov. 15, for coverage in 2015.
There are exceptions. The big one is the Medicaid program for the poor. People who meet the requirements can sign up anytime, with no deadline.
Also, people remain eligible for Medicare whenever they turn 65.
If you are insured now and lose your coverage during the year, by getting laid off from your job, for example, you can use an exchange to find a new policy then. People can sign up outside the open enrollment period in special situations such as having a baby or moving to another state.
You can choose to buy insurance outside the marketplaces and still benefit from consumer protections in the law.
People who do that wouldn't normally be eligible for premium subsidies. But the Obama administration says exceptions will be made for people whose attempts to buy marketplace insurance on time were stymied by continuing problems with some enrollment websites.
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WON'T GET COVERED
Some 12 million people could gain health coverage this year because of the law, if congressional auditors' predictions don't prove overly optimistic.
Even so, tens of millions still would go without.
That's partly because of immigrants in the country illegally; they aren't eligible for marketplace policies.
Some of the uninsured will not find out about the program in time, will find it confusing or too costly, or will just procrastinate too long. Some feel confident of their health and prefer to risk going uninsured instead of paying premiums. Others are philosophically opposed to participating.
Figuring out just how many of the uninsured got coverage this year won't be easy because the numbers are fuzzy.
The administration's enrollment count includes people who already were insured and used the exchanges to find a better deal, or switched from private insurance to Medicaid, or already qualified for Medicaid before the changes.
Some who sign up will end up uninsured anyway, if they fail to pay their premiums.
The budget experts predict enrollment will grow in future years and by 2017 some 92 percent of legal residents too young for Medicare will have insurance.
But even then, about 30 million people in the United States would go uncovered.
SOME ARE LEFT OUT
A gap in the law means some low-income workers can't get help.
The insurance marketplaces weren't designed to serve people whose low incomes qualify them for expanded Medicaid instead. But some states have declined to expand their Medicaid programs. That means that in those states, many poor people will get left out.
People who fall into the gap won't be penalized for failing to get covered.
Some others are exempt from the insurance mandate, too: American Indians, those with religious objections, prisoners, immigrants in the country illegally, and people considered too poor to buy coverage even with financial assistance.
THE IRS IS WATCHING YOU
The law says people who aren't covered in 2014 are liable for a fine. That amounts to $95 per uninsured person or approximately 1 percent of income, whichever is higher. The penalty goes up in later years.
A year from now, the Internal Revenue Service will be asking taxpayers filing their forms for proof of insurance coverage. Insurance companies are supposed to provide that documentation to their customers.
If you owe a penalty for being uninsured, the IRS can withhold it from your refund.
The agency can't put people in jail or garnishee wages to get the money. But it can withhold the penalty from a future year's tax refund.
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BY MARTHA MENDOZA
AP NATIONAL WRITER
"My life's mission has been leveling the playing field and closing gaps in opportunity and success," Jealous, 41, told The Associated Press before Tuesday's announcement. "I'm excited about trying a different approach."
The Northern California native and self-confessed computer geek will be joining entrepreneurs Mitchell Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein at their venture capital investment firm that backs information technology startups committed to making a positive social impact.
Fred Turner, who studies culture and technology as an associate professor at Stanford University, said it's "fascinating that a person of his caliber and experience would move into this space."
Turner said there's a deep question going on in the U.S. about how to accomplish positive social change.
"In the Silicon Valley they approach it entrepreneurially, in Washington they approach it politically," Turner said. "These are two very different modes."
Jealous said he and his family will remain in Silver Spring, Md., but he'll commute to the West Coast about once a month.
Jealous, who was widely credited with improving the NAACP's finances, donor base and outreach, said he will never completely drop out of politics.
"It's in my DNA," he said.
He declined to specify his new salary but said it was about the same as it was at the NAACP - $285,000 in 2011, according to tax forms.
When he announced his departure from the organization in September 2013, Jealous said he planned to pursue university teaching and spend time with his young family. But Jealous says the opportunity to work with Kapor Capital was just too tempting, putting him on the cutting edge of helping people who are slipping further behind as the national economy grows.
The divide is greater in the Silicon Valley than the rest of the country. Blacks and Latinos, already earning about half as much as whites and Asians, saw per capita income drop 5 percent for blacks in the past two years, and 2 percent for Latinos, according to an annual Silicon Valley Index.
The disparity is clear when it comes to jobs as well. Just 4 percent of the nation's 1.1 million software developers are black, and 5 percent are Latino, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"The Silicon Valley holds itself up as a meritocracy, but it's actually embarrassingly un-diverse," said Freada Kapor Klein. "We expect Ben is going to help us change that."
Kapor Capital's portfolio currently has 46 percent of its investments in firms with founders who are women and people of color from an underrepresented background.
Mitch Kapor said Jealous' ability and understanding about how to make a social impact will be a huge asset to the firm's investment goals.
Kapor said he looks for companies that are "closing gaps of access and opportunity for underserved communities or involve a disruptive democratization of a sector."
These include Pigeon.ly, a startup that offers low-cost phone and photo sharing for prisoners and their families outside, and Regalii, an international remittance platform that helps immigrants send money to their families in Latin America.
Silicon Valley Community Foundation President Emmett Carson said the region attracts great talent, and Jealous "will blend human rights and entrepreneurship in an effective way."
Jealous grew up in Pacific Grove, about 100 miles from the Silicon Valley, during the pivotal years when personal computing was just starting to gain traction. He was captivated and chose a long commute, on foot and by bus, to attend a magnet school for computer science.
For his new job, Jealous said he's going to be getting a crash course in technology, investing and even software coding.
"I'm going to have a computer coding tutor for the first time since I was in fifth grade," he said.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former District of Columbia mayor and current councilman Marion Barry has been released from a center where he spent 16 days trying to regain his mobility.
Barry has had two lengthy hospitalizations this year, fighting infections and other complications from diabetes. After his second hospital stay, he was admitted into the Medstar National Rehabilitation Network.
Barry told reporters upon his release Wednesday that his health problems weren't as serious as some made them out. He has pledged to finish his term but hasn't set a date for his return to work.
He turns 78 on Thursday.
Barry represents Ward 8, the city's poorest ward, on the D.C. Council. He was elected to a third consecutive term in 2012.
In addition to diabetes, he has survived prostate cancer and kidney failure that required a transplant five years ago.
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- A Ugandan newspaper published a list Tuesday of what it called the country's "200 top" homosexuals, outing some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay one day after the president enacted a harsh anti-gay law.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday's signing of the bill by President Yoweri Museveni marked "a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights" and warned that Washington could cut aid to the government of the East African nation.
"Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values," Kerry said in a statement.
The Red Pepper tabloid published the names - and some pictures - of alleged homosexuals in a front-page story under the headline: "EXPOSED!"
The list included prominent Ugandan gay activists such as Pepe Julian Onziema, who has repeatedly warned that Uganda's new anti-gay law could spark violence against homosexuals. A popular Ugandan hip-hop star and a Catholic priest are also on the list.
Few Ugandans identify themselves publicly as gay, and the tabloid's publication of alleged homosexuals recalled a similar list published in 2011 by a now-defunct tabloid that called for the execution of gays. A Ugandan judge later condemned the outing of homosexuals in a country where gays face severe discrimination, saying it amounted to an invasion of privacy. A prominent Ugandan gay activist, David Kato, was killed after that list came out, and activists said at the time that they believed he was targeted because of his work promoting gay rights in Uganda.
"The media witch hunt is back," tweeted Jacqueline Kasha, a well-known Ugandan lesbian activist who is among those listed in the Red Pepper story.
Uganda's new-anti-gay law punishes gay sex with up to life in jail. The bill originally proposed the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults and acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV. First-time offenders also face life in jail, contrary to an earlier version of the bill that mentioned a 14-year jail term.
The new law also creates the offenses of "conspiracy to commit homosexuality" as well as "aiding and abetting homosexuality," both of which are punishable with a seven-year jail term. Those convicted of "promoting homosexuality" face similar punishment.
In signing the bill, Museveni said the measure is needed because the West is promoting homosexuality in Africa, rejecting international criticism of the law as interference in Uganda's internal affairs. Museveni accused "arrogant and careless Western groups" of trying to recruit Ugandan children into homosexuality, but he did not name these purported groups.
Ugandan police spokesman Patrick Onyango said on Tuesday that no homosexuals have been arrested since Museveni signed the bill but that at least two had been taken into custody since lawmakers passed the bill last December.
Onziema, the gay activist, said he had counted up to six arrests and said that more than a dozen Ugandan homosexuals had fled the country since December over safety concerns.
Homosexuality has long been criminalized in Uganda under a colonial-era law that outlawed sex acts "against the order of nature."
Some Ugandan lawyers and activists have said they will challenge the law in court as unconstitutional and impossible to implement.
Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan lawyer who runs a rights watchdog group called Chapter Four, predicted Tuesday that the new law would make life worse for Ugandan gays.
"The enactment of the anti-homosexuality bill has only emboldened the ... population in their rejection of anybody perceived to be gay or even friendly to gays," he said. "These things are going to continue. They are going to get more frequent."
The Ugandan law - which came just over a month after Nigeria passed a similar measure against gays - has been condemned around the world, although it is widely popular among Ugandans.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that the law would institutionalize discrimination and could encourage harassment and violence against gays.
TALLAHASSEE (AP) — Bernard Jackson was hardly the only student at Florida A&M who had to miss his school's football season opener last fall — and the celebrated return of the Marching 100 — because of work.
What separates Jackson from his classmates is his job. He couldn't be at Bragg Stadium last September because he was in Minneapolis with his boss, the acclaimed musician Prince, helping him prepare for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night TV show.
"I think it was Minneapolis," Jackson, a 22-year-old senior at FAMU, said. "We might have been in L.A."
Welcome to life in the fast lane for a saxophone prodigy.
Bernard Kenneth — his friends call him BK — Jackson would have graduated by now except that he has been forced to reduce his class load to accommodate his ever-blossoming music career. He is on track to get a degree in music industry this summer, about the same time his solo record, "Life of the Party," a compilation of all original compositions, is due to be released.
Jackson, who stands all of 5-feet-5 and is blessed with an easy, warm smile, auditioned to be in Prince's five-member saxophone section in August 2012.
He was hired immediately, and his school schedule has never been the same. You might have seen him on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in Prince's band.
"It's hard to keep track sometimes. Prince's people call and say this is where I need to be," Jackson said. "I just get on the plane."
Jackson is far less impressed than others about the company he's keeping during his final year in college. The Tampa native fell in love with the saxophone — he is equally at ease with every variety of the instrument, from baritone to alto sax — in his early teens. He has opened for Tony Bennett at a Clearwater jazz festival. When he was in high school he was in demand at night clubs throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Enter Regina Underwood, Jackson's mother and "momager." Underwood laid down the law. College is not optional. Club gigs in high school happen only when all homework is accounted for, and not every club passed her inspection.
"Bernard has been performing at festivals since he was 15. I wanted to protect him," she said. "There were a couple of nightclubs that I thought were inappropriate at age 15. I wanted to continue to protect him until he was 21, or of age.
"I don't know when I realized how good he is. I think everybody else was telling me; because I was his mom, I loved what he was doing," she added. "I just wanted him to be the best he could be. I have done my best to make sure he has a good head on his shoulders."
Jackson had just turned 17 and was about to enter his junior year at Blake Performing Arts High School when a family friend in FAMU's Tampa alumni chapter asked Jackson to come perform at a downtown hotel. The chapter was welcoming the university's new president, James H. Ammons, as he toured the state.
Jackson obliged, with Underwood's blessing. He did what he always does. He blew his horn as heads bobbed, fingers snapped and, in some cases, jaws dropped. Ammons, wide-eyed and amazed, offered Jackson a full scholarship on the spot to come to FAMU.
It took more than a year for the idea to take root. He had planned to stay in Central Florida. He had a fan base, after all. He wasn't sure he wanted to be that far from it."
At the time, Florida A&M wasn't on my radar," he said. "I'm glad I did make this decision. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. The opportunities that I got here are second to none."
At FAMU, Jackson was neither pressured nor expected to take part in the marching band. Not that he doesn't love "the 100" — he simply didn't have the time to devote to it. He developed an interest in student government and became Student Senate president his sophomore year. He got involved in the student radio station and has hosted a jazz program from time to time.
He also has been able to maintain a relationship with one of his mentors, FAMU music professor Robert Griffin. Griffin had taught Jackson in high school and migrated to FAMU's music department one year ahead of Jackson. "BK started recording individually sooner than many of the other students. He's always been a little ahead of the game in that respect," Griffin said. "He learns quickly and he's got a real creative personality."
He's got a lot of heart and is real sincere in what he does. He plays from the heart and you can feel that," Griffin added. "He's always been a forward thinker. He's got a good business sense. BK realizes there's more to being a musician than just playing the notes. You need to be aware of the business side of what you're doing."
Jackson demurs when asked how much he earns playing with Prince. The internationally acclaimed artist who for a time eschewed his single name for a symbol, takes good care of his musicians, Jackson said.
FAMU is only the first step in his higher education journey, if his current plans hold up. He wants to go on to earn a master's in marketing to be followed by law school and a thorough understanding of entertainment law.
Jackson also is a student of his art. He refers to the legions of smooth jazz sax players as graduates of "Grover Washington University." He can describe at length why he prefers the bebop riffs by Dexter Gordon to those of Wayne Shorter. And he loves to quote Cannonball Adderly, a jazz great and FAMU alum who is actually buried in Tallahassee (yes, Jackson knows all of this).
"Someone told Cannonball Adderley, 'I love the way you play that sax!' His answer," Jackson said, "was, 'What sax?'"The moral of that story is the saxophone becomes an extension of your body. It's something you naturally do and you express it through another arm. It becomes an extension and I play what I feel," he added. "It comes straight from the heart."
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Even the scoreboards in high school gyms eventually will have to promote good health.
Moving beyond the lunch line, new rules that will be proposed Tuesday by the White House and the Agriculture Department would limit marketing of unhealthy foods in schools. They would phase out the advertising of sugary drinks and junk foods around campuses during the school day and ensure that other promotions in schools were in line with health standards that already apply to school foods.
That means a scoreboard at a high school football or basketball game eventually wouldn't be allowed to advertise Coca-Cola, for example, but it could advertise Diet Coke or Dasani water, which is also owned by Coca-Cola Co. Same with the front of a vending machine. Cups, posters and menu boards which promote foods that don't meet the standards would also be phased out.
Ninety percent of such marketing in schools is related to beverages, and many soda companies already have started to transition their sales and advertising in schools from sugary sodas and sports drinks to their own healthier products.
The proposed rules are part of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative to combat child obesity, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary this week. Mrs. Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the new rules at a White House event.
"When parents are working hard at home, they need to rest assured that those efforts aren't being undone when kids are out of their control at school," Sam Kass, White House senior nutrition policy adviser, said ahead of the announcement.
The rules also would allow more children access to free lunches and ensure that schools have wellness policies in place.
The proposed rules come on the heels of USDA regulations that are now requiring foods in the school lunch line to be healthier.
Rules set to go into effect next school year will make other foods around school healthier as well, including in vending machines and separate "a la carte" lines in the lunch room. Calorie, fat, sugar and sodium limits will have to be met on almost every food and beverage sold during the school day at 100,000 schools. Concessions sold at afterschool sports games would be exempt.
The healthier food rules have come under fire from conservatives who think the government shouldn't dictate what kids eat - and from some students who don't like the healthier foods.
Aware of the backlash, the USDA is allowing schools to make some of their own decisions on what constitutes marketing and asking for comments on some options. For example, the proposal asks for comments on initiatives like Pizza Hut's "Book It" program, which coordinates with schools to reward kids with pizza for reading.
Rules for other school fundraisers, like bake sales and marketing for those events, would be left up to schools or states.
Off-campus fundraisers, like an event at a local fast-food outlet that benefits a school, still would be permitted. But posters advertising the fast food may not be allowed in school hallways. An email to parents - with or without the advertising - would have to suffice. The idea is to market to the parents, not the kids.
The rule also makes allowances for major infrastructure costs - that scoreboard advertising Coca-Cola, for example, wouldn't have to be immediately torn down. But the school would have to get one with a healthier message the next time it was replaced.
The beverage industry - led by Coca-Cola Co., Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo - is on board with the move. American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan Neely said in a statement that aligning signage with the healthier drinks that will be offered in schools is the "logical next step."
"Mrs. Obama's efforts to continue to strengthen school wellness make sense for the well-being of our schoolchildren," Neely said.
Although Mrs. Obama lobbied Congress to pass the school nutrition bill in 2010, most of her efforts in recent years have been focused on the private sector, building partnerships with food companies and retailers to sell healthier foods.
The child nutrition law also expanded feeding programs for hungry students. The rules being proposed Tuesday would increase that even further by allowing the highest-poverty schools to serve lunch and breakfast to all students for free. According to the USDA and the White House, that initiative would allow 9 million children in 22,000 schools to receive free lunches.
The USDA has already tested the program, which is designed to increase participation for students and reduce paperwork and applications for schools, in 11 states.
In addition, the Obama administration will announce new guidelines for school wellness policies. Schools have been required to have general wellness policies that set their own general standards for foods, physical activity and other wellness activities since 2004. But the new rules would require parents and others in the school community to be involved in those decisions.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Former U.S. Rep. Melvin Jay Reynolds has been arrested in Zimbabwe, said a Zimbabwean immigration official.
The official, Ario Mabika, told The Associated Press Tuesday that Reynolds is being investigated.
The state-controlled newspaper, The Herald, reported that Reynolds was arrested Monday for allegedly possessing pornographic material and violating immigration laws.
Reynolds, an Illinois Democrat, resigned from his congressional seat in 1995 after he was convicted of 12 counts of statutory rape, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography.
The Herald said Reynolds was arrested by police detectives and immigration officials at a Harare hotel.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy, Karen Kelley, said the embassy could not comment as it was a private matter and the embassy did not did not have a privacy waiver.
The newspaper reported that Reynolds had accumulated hotel bills worth $24,500 which he has not yet paid.
JACKSONVILLE (AP) -- The Florida software designer accused of killing a black teenager during an argument over loud music compared himself to a rape victim, telling his fiancée in a recorded jailhouse phone call that the police were trying to blame him for the shooting when he was only defending himself.
In a series of taped phone calls and jailhouse visits released Tuesday by prosecutors, Michael Dunn also expressed surprise at the media attention his November 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a Jacksonville convenience store had drawn and expressed confidence that he would be exonerated once a jury heard all the facts.
Dunn, 47, was convicted Saturday of three counts of attempted second-degree murder for shooting at three of Davis' friends who were all inside an SUV, but the jury hung on a first-degree murder charge for Davis' death. Dunn, who is white, has argued that he fired at Davis after the teen threatened him and raised a shotgun or something that looked like one after he asked the teens to turn down their rap music. No shotgun was found in the SUV.
Dunn is facing 60 years in prison when sentenced and State Attorney Angela Corey says she will retry him on the murder charge, which carries a potential life sentence. A phone message left for Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, was not immediately returned.
In a December 2012 phone call with his fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, Dunn compares himself to a rape victim, saying the detectives wanted to blame him for the shooting, not Davis and his friends. Inmates at the Duval County Jail are warned that all phone conversations and visits will be recorded and can be shared with prosecutors except for those with their attorneys.
"So not to wallow in, you know, despair or anything, but you know I was thinking a lot about this today and I was like I'm, I'm the victim here," Dunn told Rouer. "I was the one that was being preyed upon and I fought back. "
And then, you know, it's not quite the same, but it made me think of like the old TV shows and movies where, like, how police used to think when a chick got raped, `Oh, it's her fault because of the way she was dressed.' Yeah, and I'm like, so it's my fault because I asked them to turn their music down," he said in a laughing voice. "I got attacked and I fought back because I don't want to be a victim and now I'm in trouble. I refuse to be a victim and now I'm incarcerated."
Dunn then told Rouer that he had no motive to shoot Davis other than self-defense. Apparently referencing his engagement to Rouer and his son's wedding, which he had attended right before the shooting, he said his life had been "perfect."
"On TV they always talk about motive. You know you've got to have motive, you've got to show motive. Well, what's my f------ motive?" he asked Rouer.
"I mean as I was trying to tell the police, I wouldn't do this at this point in my life. They're like, what's the matter, what's going on in your life, and I was like, it's perfect. My life is great and I would never do anything like this to jeopardize that."
"The more I think about it, I am just super confident that if they take this to trial it's going to be a short deliberation cause, you know, um, just because. I cannot imagine why those two boys (Davis' friends) are fibbing. So they are."
In another conversation with Rouer, Dunn expressed his frustration, saying, "I'm the victor, but I was the victim, too."
In an earlier conversation with his father, Phillip Dunn, shortly after the shooting, Michael Dunn seems surprised the case had gotten the attention of the Jacksonville and national media.
"Well, it's gone viral," Phillip Dunn said.
"In a good way or a bad way?" Michael Dunn asked.
"A bad way," his father said. "Shoots black kid over loud music."
"I made it very clear to the police," Dunn said.
"Yeah, that it had nothing to do with it. We know what's going on," Phillip Dunn said.
Dunn indicated he understood his situation early.
"I'm hoping to be exonerated; it's either that or life," he said at one point.
"No, I don't think so . I think you're going to come out good," his father said.
"I sure hope so, Pop." "You're a good person. I think pretty much anybody'd have done the same thing," Phillip Dunn said.
Later in the conversation, Phillip Dunn reflected on his son's situation.
"What a shame. Here you had the world by the tail. All your bills were paid; you had 10 grand in the bank. Life was good. Your boy just got married. It's kind of a shame," Phillip Dunn said.
DETROIT (AP) -- Angelo Henderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Detroit journalist, radio talk show host and co-founder of a prominent community patrol group, died Saturday, a medical examiner's spokesman said. He was 51.
Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office spokesman Bill Mullan said Henderson died Saturday in Pontiac of natural causes, but no other details were available.
Henderson was most recently a host on radio station WCHB. He previously worked for The Detroit News and The Wall Street Journal, where he won the Pulitzer in 1999 in the feature writing category for a portrait of a druggist driven to violence by encounters with armed robbers.
A story about the award published at that time by The Associated Press said Henderson sought to understand what happened when pharmacist Dennis Grehl shot and killed an armed robber who tried to hold up his shop. Henderson interviewed Grehl and his drugstore colleagues and spent a year researching the life of the man he killed.
"It happened so quickly, he was just trying to protect himself and his co-worker," Henderson said. "It was nothing about malice or hatred, but afterward realizing what you've done is tough. ... I tried to tell the story of how these two lives collided, and how their lives both changed."
He carried his passion and commitment for the city and its residents through all of his endeavors, including the daily radio show, "Your Voice with Angelo Henderson," said program producer Kamal Smith.
"The title of the show really captured what Angelo was all about: 'Your Voice,'" Smith said. "He tried to give the city a voice to speak on ... and take back what's theirs."
Detroit 300, the crime-fighting organization he helped lead, consisted of residents, civic groups, and businesses. They patrolled neighborhoods and prompted the public to help police with investigations but dissolved in 2012 after a group leader and member were killed. A smaller, spin-off group continues.
Without Henderson, "radio won't be the same in the city of Detroit; journalism won't be the same in city of Detroit; community activism won't be the same in Detroit," said Detroit 300 co-founder Raphael Johnson.
Henderson also was an ordained minister and served as the director of community affairs at Triumph Church, which has multiple Detroit-area locations.
He's survived by his wife, Felecia, assistant managing editor of features and presentation at the Detroit News, and their son, Grant, 19.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, best remembered for his impassioned pleas for help after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, was convicted Wednesday of accepting bribes in exchange for helping businessmen secure millions of dollars in city work, including after the devastating storm.
The federal jury found Nagin guilty of 20 of 21 counts against him, involving a string of crimes before and after the storm. He sat quietly at the defense table after the verdict was read and his wife, Seletha, was being consoled in the front row.
Before the verdict, the 57-year-old Ray Nagin said outside the New Orleans courtroom: "I've been at peace with this for a long time. I'm good."
Sentencing was set for June 11, Nagin's 58th birthday. Nagin left the courthouse more than an hour after the verdict was read, and after U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan ordered that his bond be modified to provide for "additional conditions of electronic monitoring and home confinement."
The Democrat, who left office in 2010 after eight years, was indicted in January 2013 on charges he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes - money, free vacation trips and truckloads of free granite for his family business - from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects.
The charges carry a variety of maximum sentences ranging from three to 20 years, but how long he would serve was unclear and will depend on a pre-sentence investigation and various sentencing guidelines.
The granite and some of the money came from developer Frank Fradella. More came from another contractor, Rodney Williams, for Nagin's help in securing city contracts. Convicted former city vendor Mark St. Pierre, who got a no-bid contract with the city in Nagin's first term, provided trips to Jamaica and Hawaii.
A movie theater owner seeking tax breaks provided a trip to New York, prosecutors said. In a conspiracy count, prosecutors also said Nagin sought and got granite work for his business from a major retailer, identified in court as The Home Depot, while helping the retailer work out details related to the opening of a new store in post-Katrina new Orleans. The company was not accused of any wrongdoing.
Nagin vehemently denied it all during several hours of testimony that spanned two days of trial. But the jury didn't believe him. The only not-guilty verdict came on one count of bribery involving a portion of the money from Williams.
Nagin had testified that key witnesses lied and prosecutors misinterpreted evidence including emails, checks and pages from his appointment calendar linking him to businessmen who said they bribed him.
As Nagin and defense attorney Robert Jenkins left the courthouse Wednesday, walking with a throng of media, photographers and video cameras, Nagin could be heard saying: "I maintain my innocence."
The defense repeatedly said prosecutors overstated Nagin's authority to approve contracts. His lawyer said there is no proof money and material given to the granite business owned by Nagin and his sons, Stone Age LLC, was tied to city business.
The charges against Nagin included one overarching conspiracy count along with six counts of bribery, nine counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy and four counts of filing false tax returns.
Jenkins said Nagin's testimony didn't hurt the case and that an appeal would be filed after sentencing.
The conviction wasn't a surprise to Rainelle Smith, 64, of New Orleans, who said she voted for Nagin.
"I don't believe he served the city as well as he should have," she said. "He was supposed to come in and prevent the corruption the city was known for. We, in my family, thought of him as the `cleanup man.' Instead he gets in office and he soiled it more."
The charges resulted from a City Hall corruption investigation that had resulted in several convictions or guilty pleas by former Nagin associates by the time trial started on Jan. 27.
Fradella and Williams, both awaiting sentencing for their roles in separate bribery schemes alleged in the case, each testified that they bribed Nagin.
Nagin's former technology chief, Greg Meffert, who also is awaiting sentencing after a plea deal, told jurors he helped St. Pierre, bribe Nagin with lavish vacation trips. St. Pierre did not testify. He was convicted in the case in 2011.
BY RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR AND KEVIN VINEYS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most states are still lagging when it comes to sign-ups under President Barack Obama's health care law, but an Associated Press analysis of numbers reported Wednesday finds a dozen high-achievers getting ahead of the game.
Huge disparities are emerging in how well states are living up to federal enrollment targets, and that will help determine if the White House reaches its unofficial goal of having 7 million signed up by the end of March, six weeks away.
Connecticut is the nation's top performer, signing up more than twice the number of residents it had been projected to enroll by the end of January. Massachusetts, which pioneered the approach Obama took in his law, is at the bottom of the list, having met only 5 percent of its target.
Six Republican-led states - Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin - are on pace or better. Residents are signing up despite strong political opposition to the health care law in some of those states.
The administration said Wednesday about 1 million people signed up for private insurance under the health law in January, extending a turnaround from early days when a dysfunctional website frustrated consumers.
January marked the first time since new health insurance markets opened last fall that a national monthly enrollment target was met.
All in all, from Oct. 1 through Feb. 1, nearly 3.3 million people signed up.
"It's very, very encouraging news," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We're seeing a healthy growth in enrollment." Still, the goal of 7 million by the end of March seems like a stretch.
Also, officials are unable to say how many of those who signed up were previously uninsured - the ultimate test of Obama's hard-fought overhaul. And they don't know how many have sealed the deal by paying their premiums.
The numbers showed an uptick in the number of young adults signing up, now 25 percent of the total. Officials expect a last-minute surge of 18- to 34-year-olds before the end of open enrollment on March 31. Their premiums are needed to help with the cost of care for older adults.
Overall, 4 in 5 of those signing up were eligible for financial assistance with their premiums or out-of-pocket expenses.
"Enrollment will continue to increase because it's easier to sign up," said Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Data Access Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota. "What everybody hopes is that we see more young people and families with young children enrolling, to give the insurance pools a healthy mix of younger and older people."
While the national numbers are improving, the latest report raises questions about what's going on in the states. Ultimately Obama's law will play out differently in each state, since insurance premiums are set at the local level.
The AP's analysis compared the latest cumulative sign-up numbers for each state with targets spelled out in a Sept. 5, 2013, memo to Sebelius that the AP obtained months ago.
In the memo, HHS experts projected that 4.4 million people would have signed up by the end of January. But that was before the disastrous launch of the federal enrollment website on Oct 1. Though it has been repaired, the website was out of commission most of its first month. Several states running their own websites are still having technology problems.
Nationally, the nearly 3.3 million enrolled represent 75 percent of the sign-ups that HHS had originally hoped to have by the end of January.
Among the states meeting or exceeding expectations, New York was the biggest. Its 211,290 sign-ups represent more than 1 1/2 times its goal. Other populous states among the top performers included Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina.
California, which leads all the states in enrollment, had met 90 percent of its goal with 728,086 signed up.
Texas, which has the highest proportion of uninsured residents of any state, was subpar. It met 53 percent of its goal.
Blewett said the federal website appears to be outperforming portals run by the states. States where the feds are in charge met 80 percent of their enrollment targets, compared with 70 percent for states running their own insurance markets.
Surprisingly, the worst performers include four jurisdictions where Obama's law has strong support: Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and the District of Columbia. The three states on that list have all had problems with their enrollment websites.
"Maybe it's time for the feds to send some SWAT teams and resources and help turn the corner on technological glitches," said Blewett.
JACKSONVILLE (AP) -- A 47-year-old Florida man reacted viciously to an argument over loud music with teenagers in a store parking lot and fired multiple shots into their vehicle, killing one of them, and then drove away as if nothing happened, a prosecutor said Wednesday during closing arguments at the man's trial.
Defense attorneys argued, however, that the state failed to prove its case or show that Michael Dunn hadn't acted in self-defense.
Jurors began deliberating in the late afternoon on whether Dunn committed first-degree murder when he fatally shot 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012. Dunn, who is pleading not guilty, faces life in prison if convicted of that charge.
They deliberated for three hours Wednesday night before recessing for the night. Before they left, they asked to see a convenience store security video that captured sounds of the gunshots. They said they wanted to watch the video on Thursday.
Besides first-degree murder, jurors could also consider the lesser crimes of second-degree murder or manslaughter, according to the jury instructions. Dunn also is charged with attempted murder for shots fired at Davis' three friends.
In order to conclude that the killing was justifiable, jurors must believe it occurred while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony against Dunn, Circuit Judge Russell Healey told jurors.
Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson told jurors that the evidence clearly shows Davis was unarmed when Dunn fired 10 shots at a Dodge Durango where Davis was sitting. Wolfson said no witnesses saw any of the four teenagers in the vehicle with a weapon and police searches turned up none.
"This defendant was disrespected by a 17-year-old teenager, and he lost it. He wasn't happy with Jordan Davis' attitude. What was his response? `You're not going to talk to me like that,'" Wolfson said. "He took these actions because it was premeditated. It was not self-defense."
Dunn's attorney Cory Strolla told jurors that the state had failed to prove its case or disprove Dunn's assertion he acted in self-defense.
"Not one single witness said this man (Dunn) showed any signs of anger," he said.
Strolla argued that there were no signs Dunn was planning to do anything that night and only asked the teens in the car to turn down the music. Strolla said they initially did, only to turn it back up again.
Strolla said Dunn only fired his gun when he saw Davis wielding a weapon from inside the Durango and felt threatened.
"He's had that gun for 20 years and never pulled it once," Strolla said. "He told you that nobody has ever scared him, no one has ever threatened him like that."
Police didn't find a weapon in the SUV, but Strolla contended that the teens got rid of it during the three minutes they were in an adjacent parking lot after fleeing the gunshots. He said detectives should have immediately gone to the area and searched, but didn't.
In his testimony Tuesday, Dunn told jurors he was in Jacksonville with his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, to attend his son's wedding. Dunn said he and Rouer went to the convenience store for wine and chips. He said he pulled in next to an SUV playing loud music.
"My rear view mirror was shaking. My eardrums were vibrating. It was ridiculously loud," Dunn said.
Dunn said he asked the teens to turn down the music and they turned it off. "I said, `Thank you,'" Dunn said. But soon afterward, Dunn said he heard someone in the SUV shouting expletives and the word "cracker" at him. Dunn is white, and the teens in the SUV were black. Cracker is a derogatory term for white people.
The music was turned back on, and Dunn testified, "I wasn't going to ask for favors anymore."
Dunn said the men in the SUV had "menacing expressions," and he asked the teens whether they were talking about him. He said he wanted to calm down the situation but saw a teen in the backseat reach down for something. Dunn said it looked as if the barrel of a shotgun was sticking out the window.
One of the teens stepped out of the SUV, Dunn said, and he felt "this was a clear and present danger." He reached for his pistol in a glove box.
Dunn, who had a concealed-weapons permit, fired nine shots into the car, according to an affidavit. Authorities say a 10th shot fired by Dunn missed the car. Once his fiancee returned to the car, he drove off out of fear of the SUV returning, he said.
Dunn said he told Rouer on the drive back to the hotel that he had shot in self-defense. But Rouer, called by prosecutors as a rebuttal witness, said Dunn never told her he thought Davis had a gun.
Dunn and Rouer drove back to their hotel and Dunn said he didn't call the police because his focus was on the well-being of Rouer, whom he described as hysterical. The next morning, Dunn said, Rouer insisted she wanted to go home and they drove back to their home in Brevard County, 175 miles away. There, Dunn said he contacted a neighbor who is in law enforcement for advice on how to turn himself in.
In her closing argument, Wolfson said the actions Dunn took after the shooting are those of someone who thought he wouldn't get caught.
"This defendant didn't tell anyone because he thought he had gotten away with murder," the prosecutor said.
TALLAHASSEE -- Today, Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumnus John W. Thompson was appointed the independent chairman of computer software giant Microsoft Corp., replacing company founder Bill Gates.
Thompson, a 1971 graduate of the School of Business and Industry (SBI), first joined Microsoft's board of directors in February 2012, serving as a lead independent director, a role he will continue in tandem with the appointment.
"Florida A&M University celebrates this achievement with John as he continues to excel in the world of business," said FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson. "This is an excellent example of how the education our students receive at FAMU will propel them from the classroom to the boardroom and beyond."
Thompson was inducted into the FAMU SBI Hall of Fame in 2011.
"John's selection as chairman of Microsoft, one of the world's most accomplished software companies, is a testament to the preparation that students receive at FAMU," said Shawnta Friday-Stroud, dean of SBI. "He has been a major supporter of SBI through both his time and resources. We are extremely proud."
In addition to chairman of the Microsoft board, Thompson is the chief executive officer of privately held Virtual Instruments. He is the former chairman and CEO of Symantec where he served for 10 years. Previously, he held a number of leadership positions at IBM, including sales, marketing, software development and general manager of IBM Americas.
"One of my key contributions, I hope, will be to engage with shareholders and keep focus on how together we can bring great innovation to the marketplace and drive strong long term shareholder value," said Thompson in a video statement from Microsoft.
Thompson received his bachelor's degree in business administration from FAMU. He earned a master's degree in management from the Sloan Fellows program of the MIT Sloan School of Management.
According to Microsoft, Gates will assume a new role on the Board as founder and technology advisor. Thompson was named chairman of the Board and Satya Nadella was named chief executive officer, taking over for Steve Ballmer.
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) -- The parents of a south Georgia teenager found dead last year at school inside a rolled-up gym mat have sued the funeral home that handled his body, saying its owner and his employees wrongfully disposed of their son's internal organs and replaced them with wadded newspaper.
Attorneys for the family of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson of Valdosta accuse Harrington Funeral Home of fraud, negligence and intentional mishandling of a corpse in the civil lawsuit filed Jan. 31 in Lowndes County State Court. They are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Johnson was found dead Jan. 11, 2013, inside a rolled up mat in the corner of a gymnasium at his high school. Detectives for the Lowndes County sheriff concluded he died in a freak accident, having gotten stuck upside down in the mat while reaching for a gym shoe. But Johnson's family believes he was slain and had the body exhumed for a second autopsy last summer.
The private pathologist hired by Johnson's parents discovered his internal organs were all missing and the body cavity had been filled with newspaper.
The 22-page lawsuit says the funeral home committed "morally despicable, fraudulent, unlawful and unfair business practices" and even accuses owner Antonio Harrington and his employees of disposing of Johnson's organs "in an effort to interfere with the (parents') investigation" into their son's death.
Roy Copeland, the attorney for Harrington Funeral Home, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Wednesday. Neither did Chevene King, the lawyer for the teenager's parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson.
It's still not clear what happened to Johnson's organs. They were removed during an autopsy by a state medical examiner after his death, but the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has insisted all organs were returned to the body before it was sent to the funeral home. Copeland has previously said the organs were missing when Johnson's body arrived at Harrington Funeral Home. And Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson has said many of the organs were too badly decomposed to be preserved and were discarded immediately after the autopsy.
Johnson's parents previously filed a complaint with the Georgia board that regulates funeral homes, saying Harrington showed disrespect by having newspaper placed inside their son's body. The Georgia Board of Funeral Service concluded Harrington violated no state laws, but also noted using newspaper to fill a body cavity was not considered a "best practice" and other materials are considered "more acceptable than newspaper."
The state medical examiner's autopsy concluded Johnson died from "positional asphyxia," meaning his body was stuck in a position that prevented him from breathing. The private pathologist hired by Johnson's family concluded he died from a blow to the neck near his carotid artery that appeared to be "nonaccidental."
Michael Moore, the U.S. attorney for middle Georgia, launched a review of the case last fall with assistance from the FBI. Their findings are still pending.
ATLANTA (AP) — Martin Luther King Jr.’s children are locked in yet another legal battle, this time over the civil rights icon’s Nobel Peace Prize and his personal Bible.
The complaint against Bernice King was filed Friday in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta by her father’s estate, which is controlled by her brothers, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King. Bernice King said in a statement Tuesday that her brothers want to sell the Bible and medal to a private buyer and that she opposes that.
It is the latest in a string of legal battles between the siblings.
King’s heirs agreed in 1995 to sign over their rights to many items they inherited from their father to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc., the complaint says. Bernice King has repeatedly acknowledged the validity of that agreement, but has refused to turn over her father’s “traveling” Bible and Nobel Peace Prize medal, the complaint says.
Bernice King said in her statement that their father “MUST be turning in his grave” at the idea of selling his Nobel Peace Prize medal and Bible, which she said were among his most prized possessions. President Barack Obama used the Bible for his oath of office during his ceremonial inauguration when he was sworn in for his second term on the King holiday last year.
“While I love my brothers dearly, this latest decision by them is extremely troubling,” she said. “Not only am I appalled and utterly ashamed, I am frankly disappointed that they would even entertain the thought of selling these precious items. It reveals a desperation beyond comprehension.”
The complaint filed by the estate does not mention any intention to sell the items, and the estate’s lawyers did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
The estate is asking that a judge force Bernice King to relinquish the items and to pay the estate’s legal fees in the matter.
The King estate is already embroiled in a separate legal battle with the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, where Bernice King is the CEO. The estate on Aug. 28 – the 50th anniversary the “I Have a Dream” speech – filed a complaint asking a judge to stop the King Center from using Martin Luther King Jr.’s image, likeness and memorabilia. The complaint said materials licensed to the King Center by the estate weren’t being properly cared for.
Legal proceedings in that case are ongoing.
King was assassinated in Memphis in April 1968. His wife, Coretta Scott King, died in 2006 and Yolanda King, the Kings’ eldest child, died in 2007. That left the three remaining siblings as the sole shareholders and directors of their father’s estate, but their relationship deteriorated over legal battles.
Bernice King and Martin Luther King III sued Dexter King in 2008 to force him to open the books of their father’s estate. The lawsuit claimed Dexter King, the estate’s administrator, had refused to provide documents concerning the estate’s operations and that he had shut them out of decisions.
The siblings avoided a public jury trial over their legal feud by agreeing to a settlement in October 2009 and a judge in March 2010 dismissed most of the remaining legal claims in the dispute between them. All three siblings said at the time that they looked forward to mending the rifts and that significant progress had been made with the settlement.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- The descendants of the man dubbed the ``father of the University of Missouri'' are working to atone for their relative's slave-holding past
Clay Mering grew up hearing stories of how his great-grandfather, James Sidney Rollins, promoted and raised money for the state's flagship university, the Columbia Missourian reports. But the former state lawmaker and congressman also was one of Boone County's largest slaveholders, and the Mering children got a different point of view from their father, a professor who taught classes about African-American history.
In early 2007, Mering was reading the news when he spotted two articles about slavery. Al Sharpton had learned that his ancestor was owned by Strom Thurmond's ancestor. And the Virginia legislature was considering apologizing for the state's role in slavery.
``I thought, you know, I'd like to think about some action,'' said Mering, a 58-year-old nursing assistant and former architect from Tucson, Ariz.
He decided the best way to do that was to create the James S. Rollins Slavery Atonement Endowment to draw attention to his ancestor's ownership of slaves. Mering pledged $25,000. His sister, Ellen Mering, gave $5,000, and another sister chipped in a couple thousand.
But the name they chose didn't sit well with the university.
``I think it is highly likely that if we were to include your reason for donating your gift in a press release, the media would focus on the fact that the university's founder at one time owned slaves,'' said MU News Bureau Executive Director Mary Jo Banken in an email to Mering.
In a series of emails and phone calls, Clay and Ellen Mering threatened to withdraw the endowment unless it kept its name. Ultimately the university relented.
Five years after the exchange, Banken said she was just doing her job. ``Our mission, of course, is to promote positive news stories about the university so we get positive coverage,'' she said.
Clay Mering acknowledges that the endowment is not a large one. It raises about $1,500 a year for the Black Studies Department and has funded 24 research projects.
``I don't know if anything I set up could right the wrong, but I guess the idea is to get people talking,'' he said.
Rollins, who also served 16 years as president of the MU Board of Curators, had complex views on slavery. Although 34 slaves toiled on his homestead in Columbia, he once wrote in a letter that he had the ``misfortune'' of being a slave owner. As a politician, he opposed the spread of slavery into new states and didn't hesitate to pick the Union side in the Civil War.
``Slavery cannot be defended either upon moral or religious grounds, or upon principles of natural right or political economy,'' he once wrote.
Rollins initially voted against the 13th Amendment before supporting it at the urging of President Abraham Lincoln.
Taking it all into account, Rollins' great-great-grandchildren have conflicted views of him.
``He was a good man, but he was a slave owner,'' Clay Mering said. ``He was a complicated man.''
Ellen Mering takes pride in his efforts in education, but she feels guilty about his ownership of slaves.
``He had slaves that contributed to the wealth of his generation that filtered down to ours,'' she said. ``It feels mixed to me, complicated and yucky."
AP Chief Medical Writer
Those efforts to fight obesity in schools? Think younger. A new study finds that much of a child's "weight fate" is set by age 5, and that nearly half of kids who became obese by the eighth grade were already overweight when they started kindergarten.
The prevalence of weight problems has long been known - about a third of U.S. kids are overweight or obese. But surprisingly little is known about which kids will develop obesity, and at what age.
Researchers think there may be a window of opportunity to prevent it, and "we keep pushing our critical window earlier and earlier on," said Solveig Cunningham, a scientist at Emory University. "A lot of the risk of obesity seems to be set, to some extent, really early in life."
She led the new study, which was published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine and paid for by the federal government.
It tracked a nationwide sample of more than 7,700 children through grade school. When they started kindergarten, 12 percent were obese and 15 percent were overweight. By eighth grade, 21 percent were obese and 17 percent were overweight.
Besides how common obesity was at various ages, researchers focused on the 6,807 children who were not obese when the study started, at kindergarten entry. Here are some things they found:
WHO BECAME OBESE: Between ages 5 and 14, nearly 12 percent of children developed obesity - 10 percent of girls and nearly 14 percent of boys.
Nearly half of kids who started kindergarten overweight became obese teens. Overweight 5-year-olds were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese (32 percent versus 8 percent).
GRADE LEVELS: Most of the shift occurred in the younger grades. During the kindergarten year, about 5 percent of kids who had not been obese at the start became that way by the end. The greatest increase in the prevalence of obesity was between first and third grades; it changed little from ages 11 to 14.
RACE: From kindergarten through eighth grade, the prevalence of obesity increased by 65 percent among whites, 50 percent among Hispanics, almost 120 percent among blacks and more than 40 percent among others - Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans and mixed-race children.
By eighth grade, 17 percent of black children had become obese, compared to 14 percent of Hispanics and 10 percent of whites and children of other races.
INCOME: Obesity was least common among children from the wealthiest families and most prevalent among kids in the next-to-lowest income category. The highest rate of children developing obesity during the study years was among middle-income families.
BIRTHWEIGHT: At all ages, obesity was more common among children who weighed a lot at birth - roughly 9 pounds or more. About 36 percent of kids who became obese during grade school had been large at birth.
The study's findings do not mean that it's too late for schools to act, but their best tactic may be to focus on kids who are overweight and try to encourage exercise and healthy eating, Cunningham said.
The work also shows the need for parents, doctors, preschools and even day care centers to be involved, said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a University of Colorado pediatrician and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.
Parents who are concerned about a child's weight should talk with their child's doctor, because it may be hard to tell what is normal at various ages and appearances can be misleading. In children, obesity and overweight are defined by how a child ranks on growth charts that compare them to other kids the same age and gender. Kids at or above the 85th percentile are considered overweight, and obese at the 95th percentile or above.
No child should be placed on a diet without a doctor's advice, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. To help keep kids healthy, balance the calories a child gets from food and beverages with how much exercise he or she gets to allow enough for normal growth - some weight gain is normal, the CDC says.
"You can change your fate by things that you do early in life," with more exercise and eating a healthy diet, Daniels said. "Once it occurs, obesity is really hard to treat. So the idea is we should really work hard to prevent it."
(GIN) – At a speaking engagement at Western Michigan University on Dec. 18, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recalled his first trip to Africa with his wife Coretta to attend the independence day celebration of the new nation of Ghana. The couple was invited by the new President, Kwame Nkrumah.
“We were very happy about the fact there were now eight independent countries in Africa,” he said. “But since that night in March, 1957, some twenty-seven new independent nations have come into being in Africa. This reveals to us that the old order of colonialism is passing away, and the new order of freedom and human dignity is coming into being.”
Later, on Dec. 10, 1965 he gave a powerful speech at Hunter College in New York City, where he attacked the Apartheid regime of South Africa, as well as the governments of Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) and the Portuguese control of Mozambique and Angola.
True to form, Dr. King utilized powerful language to make his points, beginning first with a deconstruction of the popular narrative of Africa at the time.
“Africa has been depicted for more than a century as the home of black cannibals and ignorant primitives….Africa does have spectacular savages today, but they are not black. They are the sophisticated white rulers of South Africa... whose conduct and philosophy stamp them unmistakably as modern day barbarians.”
He went on to call for an international boycott of South Africa.
After the independence day ceremonies in Ghana, Dr. King said in a radio interview that: “This event, the birth of this new nation, will give impetus to oppressed peoples all over the world. I think it will have worldwide implications and repercussions--not only for Asia and Africa, but also for America….It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice and that somehow the universe itself is on the side of freedom and justice. So that this gives new hope to me in the struggle for freedom.”
PHOENIX (AP) -- African-American leaders in Arizona fear their political presence is fading. The impending retirement of State Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor could leave Arizona as one of a handful of states with no African Americans in the Legislature. The Arizona Republic reports Landrum Taylor marked the beginning of her final legislative session on Tuesday.
Since 1950, there has been at least one African American in either the state House or the Senate. But while communities plan to celebrate the political legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, political observers are hoping to come up with ways to boost African-American representation in Arizona.
African-Americans trying to build political clout face several challenges, such as a lack of candidates and a small voting population across the state.
Blacks make up less than 5 percent of Arizona's population of 6.6 million. In contrast, the state's Latino population is rising at a rapid pace. According to some experts, the increase in Latino voters can make it difficult for black candidates to get votes in some districts.
George Dean, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Urban League, said it puts blacks ``in a position of not being a part of the policy-making process, at least of having our voice not being heard.''
While Landrum Taylor, who has to vacate her office because of term limits, says she will run for secretary of state. So far, no other black candidates have emerged for any statewide or legislative office.
Landrum Taylor, 47, said she is afraid having few or no African Americans could revive a stigma that shadowed the state in 1987 when the then-governor rescinded the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. She says people in other states haven't forgotten that it took voters in 1992 to restore the state holiday.
Four states currently have no black lawmakers, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank in Washington that focuses primarily on issues affecting African Americans. Like Arizona, those states _ Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont and Utah -- have very small African-American populations.
Landrum Taylor is working on appealing to a broad spectrum of voters for the secretary of state race. She says support from a wide range of voters will be key to getting more African Americans elected to office in Arizona in the future. ``You have to have the broad support,'' she said.
By JAKE PEARSON
NEW YORK (AP) -- Nearly 50 percent of black men and 40 percent of white men are arrested at least once on non-traffic-related crimes by the time they turn 23, according to a new study.
One of the authors of the study published this month in the journal ``Crime & Delinquency'' said the statistics could be useful in shaping policy so that people aren't haunted by arrests when they apply for jobs, schools or public housing.
``Many, many people are involved with the criminal justice system at this level,'' said Shawn Bushway, a University at Albany criminologist. ``And treating them all as if they're hardened criminals is a serious mistake.''
The peer-reviewed estimates didn't rely on arrest records but instead on an annual federal Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of about 7,000 young people who answered questions each year from 1997 to 2008 on a range of issues _ including if they had ever been taken into custody for something other than a traffic offense. Self-reported crimes ranged from underage drinking to violent assaults.
The authors found that by age 18, 30 percent of black men, 26 percent of Hispanic men and 22 percent of white men have been arrested. By 23, those numbers climb to 49 percent for black men, 44 percent for Hispanic men and 38 percent for white men.
Among women, 20 percent of blacks, 18 percent of whites and 16 percent of Hispanics were arrested at least once by age 23.
Further research on the arrests themselves, convictions and recidivism rates are in the works, said the study's co-author, University of South Carolina criminology professor Robert Brame.
``Among criminologists, I don't think they're that surprised or alarmed by the findings,'' Brame said. ``The alarm and concern is among people not as familiar with the patterns.''
The last time a similar estimate was made was in 1967, when researchers using statistics reported to the FBI found that by age 23, 34 percent of all men would have been arrested at least once. Brame and Bushway's estimate for all men is 40 percent.
Overall, the 1967 estimate said 22 percent of all people were arrested at least once for a non-traffic offense by age 23; the new study's overall finding is 30 percent.
Jim Pasco, the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Fraternal Order of Police, wasn't familiar with the study but said officers are focused on stopping crime as it happens _ regardless of race or age.
Kai Smith, 44, who heads a New York City gang diversion group, said he was first arrested at age 12 or 13 for jumping a subway turnstile. He later went on to serve 16 years in state prison for drug possession.
``It's really damaging ... putting handcuffs on a child at 12, 13 or 14 years old,'' he said. ``Even for something like jumping a turnstile, those acts have ripple effects that can be catastrophic.''
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed raising the age when criminal suspects go to adult court from 16 to 18, saying he'll establish a commission to plan it and propose steps to protect the public from ``a small number of young violent offenders.''
Only one other state, North Carolina, treats juveniles this way. Advocates in both states want the age of criminal responsibility raised to 18, with younger teens sent to family court, where they can avoid the dangers of adult jails and prisons and have criminal records sealed.
The Rev. Dr. Robert Waterman, a pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Brooklyn, said the high arrests rates for young black men create a troubling cycle, where criminal records lead to difficulties gaining lawful employment, which then results in criminal behavior and more arrests.
``It really takes a toll on them and their futures,'' he said. ``Even the process of getting carried down to the police station _ it becomes a custom or pattern that becomes part of their lives.''
By JEFFREY COLLINS
SUMTER, South Carolina (AP) -- A 14-year-old black boy executed nearly 70 years ago is finally getting another day in court, and his lawyers plan to argue Tuesday for a new trial, saying his conviction was tainted by the segregationist-era justice system and scant evidence.
George Stinney was found guilty in 1944 of killing two white girls, ages 7 and 11. The trial lasted less than a day in the tiny Southern mill town of Alcolu, separated, as most were in those days, by race.
Nearly all the evidence, including a confession that was central to the case against Stinney, has disappeared, along with the transcript of the trial. Lawyers working on behalf of Stinney's family have gathered new evidence, including sworn statements from his relatives accounting for his whereabouts the day the girls were killed and from a pathologist disputing the autopsy findings.
The novel decision of whether to give someone executed a new trial will be in the hands of Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen. Experts say it is a longshot. South Carolina law has a high bar to grant new trials. Also, the legal system in the state before segregation often found defendants guilty with evidence that would be considered scant today. If Mullen finds in favor of Stinney, it could open the door for hundreds of other appeals.
But the Stinney case is unique. At 14, he's the youngest person executed in the United States in the past 100 years. Even in 1944, there was an outcry over putting someone so young in the electric chair. Newspaper accounts said the straps in the chair didn't fit around his 95-pound (43-kilogram) body and an electrode was too big for his leg.
Stinney's supporters said racism, common in the South at that time, meant deputies did little investigation after they decided Stinney was the prime suspect. They said he was pulled from his parents and interrogated without a lawyer.
School board member George Frierson heard stories about Stinney growing up in the same mill town he did, and he has spent a decade fighting to get him exonerated. He swallowed hard as he said he hardly slept Monday night.
``Somebody that didn't kill someone is finally getting his day in court,'' Frierson said.
In 1944, Stinney was likely the only black in the courtroom. On Tuesday, the prosecutor arguing against him will be Ernest ``Chip'' Finney III, the son of South Carolina's first black chief justice. Finney said last month he won't present any evidence against Stinney at the hearing, but if a new trial is granted, he will ask for time to conduct a new investigation.
What that might find is not known. South Carolina did not have a statewide law enforcement unit to help smaller jurisdictions until 1947. Newspaper stories about Stinney's trial offer little clue whether any evidence was introduced beyond the teen's confession and an autopsy report. Some people around Alcolu said bloody clothes were taken from Stinney's home, but never introduced at trial because of his confession. No record of those clothes exists.
Relatives of one of the girls killed, 11-year-old Betty Binnicker, have recently spoke out as well, saying Stinney was known around town as a bully who threatened to fight or kill people who came too close to the grass where he grazed the family cow.
It isn't known if the judge will rule Tuesday, or take time to come to her decision. Stinney's supporters said if the motion for a new trial fails, they will ask the state to pardon him.
AP National Writer
Five decades and $1 billion after an infamous racial episode made Little Rock, Ark., a national symbol of school segregation, the legal fight to ensure that all of its children receive equal access to education is almost over.
But many challenges still remain, in Little Rock and across the country.
Some of the city's affluent white neighborhoods have better schools. The district's black students on average have lower grades and test scores and more disciplinary problems than white students. And racial divisions linger within the integrated Central High School, where riots erupted in 1957 as Gov. Orval Faubus tried to prevent black students from entering.
A day after a key desegregation lawsuit was settled, such stubborn disparities raised the question: Do all children in Little Rock now receive a high-quality education?
"No," said Joel E. Anderson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who led a task force that produced a 1997 report on the future of the city's public schools.
"The plaintiffs in the lawsuit and school district officials have all made a monumental effort to achieve equal educational access for all children in the district, but there is still a considerable distance to go," Anderson said by email.
He said that the opening statement of the report still stands: If the people fighting for equality in 1957 could look ahead to the current Little Rock School District, "they almost certainly would have said, `No, that is not what we are seeking.'"
Monday's settlement established an end date for $70 million in annual state payments that fund desegregation efforts, including programs that offer poor black students better opportunities and attract affluent white students into the district.
The extra funding has helped make Central High School one of the nation's best public schools. Its advanced classes serve as a major draw for white students who live far from campus and make it the flagship school for the city, if not all of Arkansas.
"We produce more nationally recognized scholars than any part of the state," Superintendent Dexter Suggs said Tuesday.
But at middle schools with a higher percentage of black students, twice as many students score "below basic" on standardized math tests at the end of eighth grade - a pattern that repeats across grades and subjects.
Data from the state Education Department that tracked students between their high school years and their first year of college showed that students from the area's private high schools were better prepared for college and scored higher on the ACT college entrance exam. Using data from 2011, the most recent year available, all but one private school had at least a quarter of its students meet all of the ACT's pre-college benchmarks.
No public school in the county reached that mark - not even Central - and the schools that had the highest percentage of black students fared worst on the test, with less than 6 percent of its graduates ready for college.
"The problem is not solved yet," said John Kirk, chairman of the history department at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who has studied the history of desegregation in the city.
He noted that while the city is roughly 47 percent white and 42 percent black, the school population is two-thirds African-American, which means that many white students are choosing private or charter schools.
"You might say that shows a big imbalance in the schools," Kirk said. "On the other hand, you might say that litigation and federal oversight has helped to keep a third of the white students in the district."
Since the 2011 data on early college performance was collected, Suggs said, the district has changed the administration of the city's worst-performing high schools.
"You will be able to note the difference ... with the understanding that this is a marathon and not a sprint," he said.
The connection between housing patterns and the district's racial makeup is one reason why today's problem is much more complex than simply ending segregation laws that prohibited black and white students from learning together. Those were the laws that Faubus was fighting to uphold when he called out the state National Guard and stood in the Central High School door to prevent the first black students known as the "Little Rock Nine" from enrolling.
The end of such laws means that "the number of segregated public schools in the United States today is zero," said Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity. "There is no public school in which by law only children of a particular race are admitted."
"There are schools that have a de facto racial `imbalance,' but that's very different," he said by email. "Racial imbalance can happen for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to housing patterns that have nothing to do with racial discrimination. That is a distinction with a very big difference."
Others, however, see such imbalances as unacceptable for any reason.
Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at the University of California Los Angeles, said that a pattern of whites moving out of black cities, several Supreme Court decisions and the end of various desegregation efforts have created "resegregation" of schools across the country along racial and poverty lines.
"It's a tragedy for the country," Orfield said.
"We're not doing anything much to actually produce lasting integration of our schools or our neighborhoods," he said. "That needs to be defined as a goal for the country, if we're going to be this profoundly multiracial country and not be profoundly unequal."
Anderson, the university chancellor, said the settlement opens the door to new opportunities.
"Let new indigenous mechanisms and processes emerge," Anderson said. "Let the superintendent, the principals and the teachers do their jobs with a minimum of oversight. Take away the excuses offered by all the micromanagement that has come from all levels - court, state, school board, and district central administration."
"Little Rock's school challenges are not so great," he said, "that the community cannot get its arms around them."
McLEAN, Va. (AP) -- Alexandria, a Northern Virginia city steeped in Civil War history, is considering repeal of an old law requiring certain new streets to be named for Confederate generals.
City Councilman Justin Wilson introduced legislation for Tuesday night's council meeting to do away with a 1963 law requiring that any new ``streets running in a generally north-south direction shall, insofar as possible, bear the names of confederate military leaders.''
Wilson's bill also would eliminate a requirement that new east-west streets be named for persons or places prominent in American history.
Wilson said he wants to remove a series of anachronistic laws, and his proposal also would repeal a ban on ``lewd cohabitation'' and laws regulating a bygone fad of ``rebound tumbling,'' a form of trampolining.
As a practical matter, there is little likelihood that the city will be naming new streets any time soon. The city, inside Washington's Capital Beltway and separated from the nation's capital by the Potomac River, is essentially built out. In fact, the street grid of the city's Old Town section dates to Colonial times.
Wilson said that symbolically, he believes it's a good thing to strip from the code a provision that in some ways glorifies the Confederacy. But he made clear he is not proposing that the city change existing street names, some of which honor Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, whose Dred Scott decision denied citizenship and constitutional protections to blacks before the Civil War.
``I think we struggle in the city with our history,'' Wilson said.
Alexandria was occupied by Union troops for most of the Civil War and, like the rest of Virginia, has a history of slavery and segregation. It is now a liberal bastion in Virginia _ Barack Obama won 71 percent of the vote in 2012.
On historic Duke Street in Old Town, the building that was once home to the nation's largest domestic slave trading company is now home to the Northern Virginia Urban League, which operates the Freedom House Museum there to tell the story of the slave trade.
Cynthia Dinkins, president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League, said she personally supports any legislation that keeps the city from unduly honoring the Confederacy. Still, while she is wary of glorifying the Confederacy, she said care must be taken remember unpleasant parts of American history.
``Some of my challenge in dealing with Freedom House is that people don't want to remember'' that part of our history, she said.
Wilson said he has not heard of any opposition to his bill so far.
Officers with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which has occasionally protested when it sees efforts to scrub recognition of Confederate leaders from the public square, did not return emails and phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.
A public hearing on Wilson's legislation is scheduled for Jan. 25.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The first black Girl Scout troop in the South, which began meeting on the campus of Virginia Union University in 1932, is among five historic sites and people being recognized by the state.
Each will be honored with narrative markers approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The other markers will recognize the first coeducational Presbyterian training school for lay workers, located in Richmond; the First African Baptist Church in Richmond; a pioneering agricultural educator from southwest Virginia; and a popular illustrator and artist from Salem.
They will join more than 2,500 official state markers across the state.
The marker honoring the first black Girl Scout troop states that it served as a model for other Southern localities as the Girl Scouts moved toward integration. The marker is sponsored by the Girls Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The First African Baptist Church in Richmond was purchased and organized by freedmen and slaves in 1841. The marker will rise at the site of the current church building, which was erected in 1876.
The Presbyterian school was established in 1914 as the church's first coeducational lay workers school. Women who were barred from seminary received a theological education at what is now part of the Union Presbyterian Seminary. Female faculty taught classes in social welfare and Christian ethics in Richmond factories and parts of Appalachia.
Born in 1886 in Montgomery County, Walter Joseph Briggs illustrated magazines and novels and was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1963. His work is at the Salem Museum and Roanoke College owns a major collection. The marker will rise in Salem, where Biggs was raised.
Finally, a marker will be erected in Lee County in recognition of William H. Starnes. He established a framework for the practice of scientific farming and traveled extensively to remote farms to give evening lectures.
(GIN) – Governments across Africa are decreeing new punitive laws against gay nationals just as displays of tolerance and acceptance are being seen around the world.
Nigeria, Cameroon and Uganda in the last few months all tightened existing laws that target the homosexual community, their organizations, meeting places, and anyone working within or for gay rights in Africa.
A so-called “Jail the Gays” bill was quietly signed earlier this month by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Dorothy Aken-Ova, head of Nigeria’s International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, said the law “encourages the persecution of gays and will endanger programs fighting HIV-AIDS.”
Same-sex couples face up to 14 years in jail for a gay marriage. Last week, police jailed dozens of gay men in Nigeria’s northern Bauchi state. A list of some 168 suspects is said to be in police hands, obtained through torture of the detainees.
In neighboring Cameroon, gays suffer greater persecution than in any other African country, according to the NY-based Human Rights Watch. In one tragic case, a gay man was left to die after his family yanked him from a hospital where he was receiving treatment, saying he was a curse for them and would be better off dead. Jean-Claude Mbede, who had served jail time for sending a text to a man which read: “I’m very much in love with you,” died last week at the age of 34.
Similarly in Uganda, gays live a precarious life since parliament last month passed a bill that punishes certain acts of homosexuality with life in prison.
"The knock-on effect of passing this bill will reach far beyond gay and lesbian people in Uganda, impeding the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals and community leaders," said the deputy Africa director at Amnesty International.
David Bahati, the Ugandan lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said: "This legislation is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children…”
Other countries with harsh anti-gay laws include Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Gambia, Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia and Zambia.
By contrast, Dr. Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, challenged claims that culture, tradition, and religion justify the marginalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.
"Don't fear," Archbishop Makgoba said in a message to the gay community. "You've been given the task of helping humanity realize that we are called to respect and honor each other. People may say this is un-African, and I'm saying love cuts across culture.”
ATLANTA (AP) -- Fountains froze over, a 200-foot Ferris wheel in Atlanta shut down, and Southerners had to dig out winter coats, hats and gloves they almost never have to use.
The brutal polar air that has made the Midwest shiver over the past few days spread to the East and the Deep South on Tuesday, shattering records that in some cases had stood for more than a century.
The mercury plunged into the single digits and teens from Boston and New York to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and Little Rock - places where many people don't know the first thing about extreme cold.
"I didn't think the South got this cold," said Marty Williams, a homeless man, originally from Chicago, who took shelter at a church in Atlanta, where it hit a record low of 6 degrees. "That was the main reason for me to come down from up North, from the cold, to get away from all that stuff."
The morning weather map for the eastern half of the U.S. looked like an algebra worksheet: lots of small, negative numbers. In fact, the Midwest and the East were colder than much of Antarctica.
The cold turned deadly for some: Authorities reported at least 21 cold-related deaths across the country since Sunday, including seven in Illinois, and six in Indiana. At least five people died after collapsing while shoveling snow, while several victims were identified as homeless people who either refused shelter or didn't make it to a warm haven soon enough to save themselves from the bitter temperatures.
In Missouri on Monday, a 1-year-old boy was killed when the car he was riding in struck a snow plow, and a 20-year-old woman was killed in a separate crash after her car slid on ice and into the path of a tractor-trailer.
In a phenomenon that forecasters said is actually not all that unusual, all 50 states saw freezing temperatures at some point Tuesday. That included Hawaii, where it was 18 degrees atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano.
The big chill started in the Midwest over the weekend, caused by a kink in the "polar vortex," the strong winds that circulate around the North Pole. By Tuesday, the icy air covered about half the country, and records were shattered like icicles up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
It was 1 degree in Reading, Pa., and 2 in Trenton, N.J. New York City plummeted to 4 degrees; the old record for the date was 6, set in 1896.
"It's brutal out here," said Spunkiy Jon, who took a break from her sanitation job in New York to smoke a cigarette in the cab of a garbage truck. "Your fingers freeze off after three minutes, your cheeks feel as if you're going to get windburn, and you work as quick as you can."
Farther south, Birmingham, Ala., dipped to a low of 7, four degrees colder than the old mark, set in 1970. Huntsville, Ala., dropped to 5, Nashville, Tenn., got down to 2, and Little Rock, Ark., fell to 9. Charlotte, N.C., reached 6 degrees, breaking the 12-degree record that had stood since 1884.
The deep freeze dragged on in the Midwest as well, with the thermometer reaching minus 12 overnight in the Chicago area and 14 below in suburban St. Louis. More than 500 Amtrak passengers were stranded overnight on three Chicago-bound trains that were stopped by blowing and drifting snow in Illinois. Food ran low, but the heat stayed on.
The worst should be over in the next day or two, when the polar vortex is expected to straighten itself out. Warmer weather - that is, near or above freezing - is in the forecast for much of the stricken part of the country.
On Tuesday, many schools and day care centers across the eastern half of the U.S. were closed so that youngsters wouldn't be exposed to the dangerous cold. Officials opened shelters for the homeless and anyone else who needed a warm place.
With the bitter cold slowing baggage handling and aircraft refueling, airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights in the U.S., bringing the four-day total to more than 11,000.
In New Orleans, which reported a low of 26 degrees, hardware stores ran out of pipe insulation. A pipe burst in an Atlanta suburb and a main road quickly froze over. In downtown Atlanta, a Ferris wheel near Centennial Olympic Park that opened over the summer to give riders a bird's eye view of the city closed because it was too cold.
Farther south in Pensacola, Fla., a Gulf Coast city better known for its white sand beaches than frost, streets normally filled with joggers, bikers and people walking dogs were deserted early Tuesday. A sign on a bank flashed 19 degrees. Patches of ice sparkled in parking lots where puddles froze overnight.
Monica Anderson and Tommy Howard jumped up and down and blew on their hands while they waited for a bus. Anderson said she couldn't recall it ever being so cold.
"I'm not used to it. It is best just to stay inside until it gets better," said Anderson, who had to get out for a doctor's appointment.
The Lower 48 states, when averaged out, reached a low of 13.8 degrees overnight Monday, according to calculations by Ryan Maue of Weather Bell Analytics. An estimated 190 million people in the U.S. were subjected to the polar vortex's icy blast.
Farmers worried about their crops.
Diane Cordeau of Kai-Kai Farm in Indiantown, Fla., about 90 miles north of Miami, had to pick her squash and tomatoes Monday to beat the freeze but said her leafy vegetables, such as kale, will be sweeter and tastier because of the cold.
"I'm the queen of lettuce around here, so the colder the better," said Cordeau, whose farm serves high-end restaurants that request specific produce or organic vegetables.
PJM Interconnection, which operates the power grid that serves more than 61 million people in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and South, asked users to conserve electricity because of the cold, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
Across the South, the Tennessee Valley Authority said power demand in the morning reached the second-highest winter peak in the history of the Depression-era utility. Temperatures averaged 4 degrees across the utility's seven-state region.
In South Carolina, a large utility used 15-minute rolling blackouts to handle demand, but there were no reports of widespread outages in the South.
Natural gas demand in the U.S. set a record Tuesday, eclipsing the mark set a day earlier, according to Jack Weixel, director of energy analysis at Bentek Energy.
In Chicago, it was too cold even for the polar bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo. While polar bears can handle below-zero cold in the wild, Anana was kept inside Monday because she doesn't have the thick layer of fat that bears typically develop from feeding on seals and whale carcasses.
NEW YORK (AP) — Dr. John W.V. Cordice, a surgeon who was part of the medical team that saved Martin Luther King Jr. from a nearly fatal stab wound in 1958 has died at age 95.
Sunday’s death was announced by the city agency that oversees Harlem Hospital Center, where Cordice was formerly an attending surgeon and chief of thoracic surgery.
“He was a brilliant clinical practitioner, a wise and thoughtful teacher, and a man of deep and abiding kindness and quiet modesty,” city Health and Hospitals Corp. President Alan D. Aviles said Tuesday. “It is entirely consistent with his character that many who knew him may well not have known that he was also a part of history.”
Cordice was off duty when King was taken to the hospital after a mentally disturbed woman stabbed him with a letter-opener as he signed books in Harlem. The 7-inch steel blade was still stuck in the civil rights leader’s chest, millimeters from his aorta, when Cordice arrived from Brooklyn.
The operation was overseen by Dr. Aubre Maynard, the hospital’s chief surgeon, and performed by Cordice and Dr. Emil Naclerio.
King, then 29 and already a name in national politics, was discharged 14 days later. He was assassinated in 1968.
“I think if we had lost King that day, the whole civil rights era would have been different,” Cordice said in a Harlem Hospital promotional video in 2012.
King, in his final public speech, talked about that close brush with mortality, noting that the blade had been so close to his vital organs that if he had sneezed before surgeons had a chance to remove it, he would have died.
“If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters,” he said. “If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel … If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Ala., aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.”
Cordice, a native of Durham, N.C., earned his medical degree at New York University in 1942. He practiced medicine in the city for 40 years. He lived in Harlem and then Queens, where he was also a surgical chief at the Queens Hospital Center.
AP EDUCATION WRITER
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is issuing new recommendations on classroom discipline that seek to end the apparent disparities in how students of different races are punished for violating school rules.
Civil rights advocates have long said that a "school-to-prison" pipeline stems from overly zealous school discipline policies targeting black and Hispanic students that bring them out of school and into the court system.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the problem often stems from well intentioned "zero-tolerance" policies that too often inject the criminal justice system into the resolution of problems. Zero tolerance policies, a tool that became popular in the 1990s, often spell out uniform and swift punishment for offenses such as truancy, smoking or carrying a weapon. Violators can lose classroom time or become saddled with a criminal record.
"Ordinary troublemaking can sometimes provoke responses that are overly severe, including out of school suspensions, expulsions and even referral to law enforcement and then you end up with kids that end up in police precincts instead of the principal's office," Holder said.
In American schools, black students without disabilities were more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended, according to government civil rights data collection from 2011-2012. Although black students made up 15 percent of students in the data collection, they made up more than a third of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once and more than a third of students expelled.
More than half of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black, according to the data.
The recommendations being issued Wednesday encourage schools to ensure that all school personnel are trained in classroom management, conflict resolution and approaches to de-escalate classroom disruptions.
Among the other recommendations:
-Ensure that school personnel understand that they are responsible for administering routine student discipline instead of security or police officers.
-Draw clear distinctions about the responsibilities of school security personnel.
-Provide opportunities for school security officers to develop relationships with students and parents.
The government advises schools to establish procedures on how to distinguish between disciplinary infractions appropriately handled by school officials compared with major threats to school safety. And, it encourages schools to collect and monitor data that security or police officers take to ensure nondiscrimination.
The recommendations are nonbinding, but, in essence, the federal government is telling the school districts around the country that they should adhere to the principles of fairness and equity in student discipline or face strong action if they don't.
Already, in March of last year, the Justice Department spearheaded a settlement with the Meridian, Miss., school district to end discriminatory disciplinary practices. The black students in the district were facing harsher punishment than whites for similar misbehavior.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledged the challenge is finding the balancing act to keep school safe and orderly, but when it comes to routine discipline the "first instinct should not be to call 911 when there's a problem."
Research suggests the racial disparities in how students are disciplined are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color, according to a letter sent to schools with the recommendations by the departments.
"For example, in our investigations, we have found cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students," the letter said. "In short, racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem."
Holder and Duncan were interviewed on Tuesday on the Rev. Al Sharpton's radio show as part of a national effort to draw attention to the issue.
FAIRFIELD, Ohio (AP) -- A southwest Ohio teacher says he is challenging allegations that he told a black student who said he wanted to become president that the nation doesn't need another black president.
Teacher Gil Voigt told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he has requested a hearing to defend himself. The Fairfield freshman school teacher was recently suspended without pay, which a school official said was the first step in the termination process.
Voigt told school officials he was misquoted. School officials said that students say the white teacher told the black student who said he wants to be president that ``we don't need another black president.''
Voigt offered a different version, saying that he had responded to the student: ``I think we can't afford another president like (Barack) Obama, whether he's black or white.'' Voigt explained to school officials in a statement that ``there was no way I was trying to indicate the color of his skin had anything to do with his politics.''
School officials said a hearing will be scheduled before a labor mediation referee. The district's board president, Dan Murray, said last month that Voigt had crossed the line with ``racially insensitive'' comments.
Voigt is a former Cincinnati Public Schools teacher who has worked in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield since 2000. School records show he received a verbal warning in 2008 for an inappropriate racial comment and recently received a written warning for failure to use adopted curriculum.
NEW YORK (AP) — James Avery, the bulky character actor who laid down the law at home and on the job as the Honorable Philip Banks in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," has died.
Avery's publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told The Associated Press that Avery died Tuesday in Glendale, Calif., following complications from open heart surgery. He was 68, Snyder said.
Avery, who stood more than 6 feet tall, played the family patriarch and a wealthy attorney and judge on the popular TV comedy that launched the acting career of Will Smith as Banks' troublemaking nephew.
The sitcom, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996, was set in the Banks' mansion, to which Smith's character was sent from Philadelphia when things got tough in his own neighborhood. Fans came to know the imposing Banks as "Uncle Phil."
Avery liked to say that the way to be an actor was to act, and he had a busy and diverse career before, during and after "Fresh Prince." His TV credits included "Grey's Anatomy," ''NYPD Blue" and "Dallas," and among his many films were "Fletch," ''Nightflyers" and "8 Million Ways to Die." His voice alone brought him many jobs, notably as Shredder in the animated TV series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
According to Snyder, he will be seen in the film "Wish I Was Here," directed by Zach Braff and scheduled to premiere later this month at the Sundance festival.
Avery grew up in Atlantic City, N.J., and served in the Navy in Vietnam in the late 1960s. After returning to the states, he settled in California and studied drama and literature at the University of California at San Diego.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and stepson Kevin Waters.
NEW YORK (AP) — Juanita Moore, a groundbreaking actress and an Academy Award nominee for her role as Lana Turner's black friend in the classic weeper "Imitation of Life," has died.
Actor Kirk Kelleykahn, her grandson, said that Moore collapsed and died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 99, according to Kelleykahn. Accounts of her age have differed over the years.
Moore was only the fifth black performer to be nominated for an Oscar, receiving the nod for the glossy Douglas Sirk film that became a big hit and later gained a cult following. The 1959 tearjerker, based on a Fannie Hurst novel and a remake of a 1934 film, tells the story of a struggling white actress' rise to stardom, her friendship with a black woman and how they team up to raise their daughters as single mothers.
It brought supporting actress nominations for both Moore and Susan Kohner, who played Moore's daughter as a young adult attempting to pass as a white woman. Kohner's own background is Czech and Mexican. By the end, Turner's character is a star and her friend is essentially a servant. The death of Moore's character sets up the sentimental ending.
"The Oscar prestige was fine, but I worked more before I was nominated," Moore told the Los Angeles Times in 1967. "Casting directors think an Oscar nominee is suddenly in another category. They couldn't possibly ask you to do one or two days' work. You wouldn't accept it. And I'm sure I would."
Moore also had an active career in the theater, starting at Los Angeles' Ebony Showcase Theatre in the early 1950s, a leading black-run theater. She also was a member of the celebrated Cambridge Players, with other performers including Esther Rolle and Helen Martin.
Her grandson is currently president and CEO of the Cambridge group.
She appeared on Broadway in 1965 in James Baldwin's play "The Amen Corner" and in London in a production of "Raisin in the Sun."
"The creative arts put a person on another level," she told the Los Angeles Times. "That's why we need to bring our youngsters into the theater."
Her first film appearance was as a nurse in the 1949 film "Pinky." As with other black actresses, many of Moore's early roles were as maids. She told the Times that "real parts, not just in-and-out jobs," were opening up for black performers.
Among Moore's other films were "The Girl Can't Help It," ''The Singing Nun," ''Paternity" and "The Kid." Her TV credits include "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," ''Adam-12," ''Judging Amy" and "ER."
Born in Los Angeles, Moore got her start in show business as a chorus girl at New York's Cotton Club, and then joined the Ebony Theater.
She was the widow of Charles Burris. She is survived by her grandson and two nephews.