October 24, 2012

People surveyed in 21 countries overwhelmingly favor President Obama over Mitt Romney. What's behind that landslide?

President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in an incredibly tight race at home, but overseas, the vote isn't even close. A BBC World Service opinion poll found that residents of 21 foreign countries overwhelmingly support Obama, with an average of 50 percent hoping that he wins a second term and only 9 percent favoring Romney. France is Obama's biggest booster — 72 percent of respondents support him. The only country where Romney enjoyed greater support than Obama? Pakistan. So why are foreigners in the bag for Obama? Here, three theories:

1. Obama's foreign policy works
Overseas, the president has an undeniably strong record, says Jeffrey Simpson at Canada's Globe and Mail. Obama has shown he's capable of "mixing muscularity with restraint," extricating the U.S. from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, avoiding direct intervention in Syria, and resisting "the push to recklessly attack Iran" — all while relentlessly going after terrorists and playing a limited but key role in forcing regime change in Libya. Meanwhile, the world sees Romney displaying "the hubris of the powerful and the ignorance of the uninformed," thumping his chest and scaring folks overseas.

2. The world is associating Romney with Bush
In many ways, this isn't really a reflection on Romney, says Max Fisher at The Washington Post. In Pakistan, for example, people aren't embracing Romney so much as protesting Obama's drone program in areas near the Afghan border. And more broadly, Romney's overseas poll numbers "are consistent with [Sen. John] McCain's in 2008, suggesting the possibility that many foreign publics associate Republicans with George W. Bush, whose administration was deeply unpopular abroad."

3. Soaking the rich is popular overseas
The fact that France is more pro-Obama than anyone else says it all, says Matthew Balan at News Busters. France is a leftist nanny state, and Socialist President Francois Hollande is trying to slap a 75 percent marginal income tax on people earning more than 1 million euros a year, a move the Heritage Foundation's Nile Gardiner called "economic suicide." Such proposals "line up nicely with the president's platform." No wonder he polls so well there.

August 21, 2012
Michael Jordan probably doesn't have to sweat losing $1.5 million in a gym investment -- which is good for him because it could happen soon, reports say.

A Jordan-backed Chicago workout emporium that attracted superstars such as Kobe Bryant and Donovan McNabb is close to foreclosing. A bankruptcy bid by Tim Grover, the owner of Attack Athletics Gym in Chicago, was rejected by a judge last month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. That means the mortgage holder is free to pursue foreclosure.

A pending appeal by Grover's company, Attack Properties, could take a month or so, wrote the Chicago Tribune.

Another former NBA player, Michael Finley, is also listed as a creditor, the paper said, after he guaranteed a $2 million loan.

The 65,000-square-foot gym, formerly known as Hoops, had four basketball courts and a 10,000-square-foot weight room, according to ESPN. Grover developed relationships with Jordan and other jocks such as Dwayne Wade and Tracy McGrady to build his business.

The entrepreneur, who was Jordan's personal trainer at the star's peak, was credited with attempting to revitalize Chicago's West Side and having a positive influence on hundreds of athletes, Yahoo wrote. But business apparently hasn't been good -- either in the gym or in legal procedure. Outlets say Attack Properties LLC never submitted the required monthly operating reports to seek bankruptcy and faces liens totaling $12 million.

"The record shows no plausible route out of this predicament,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Benjamin Goldgar, reported the Sun-Times.

November 23, 2012

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's president is making one last attempt to get the "United States" out of Mexico — at least as far as the country's name is concerned.

The name "United Mexican States," or "Estados Unidos Mexicanos," was adopted in 1824 after independence from Spain in imitation of Mexico's democratic northern neighbor, but it is rarely used except on official documents, money and other government material.

Still, President Felipe Calderon called a news conference Thursday to announce that he wants to make the name simply "Mexico." His country doesn't need to copy anyone, he said.

Calderon first proposed the name change as a congressman in 2003 but the bill did not make it to a vote. The new constitutional reform he proposed would have to be approved by both houses of Congress and a majority of Mexico's 31 state legislatures.

However, Calderon leaves office on Dec. 1, raising the question of whether his proposal is a largely symbolic gesture. His proposal was widely mocked on Twitter as a ridiculous parting shot from a lame-duck president.

A mariachi plays his trumpet during a mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City November 22, 2012. Hundreds of mariachis took part in the annual pilgrimage to celebrate Saint Cecilia's day, the patron saint of musicians.

Calderon said that while the name change "doesn't have the urgency of other reforms," it should be seen as a relevant issue. "Mexico doesn't need a name that emulates another country and that no one uses on a daily basis," he said.

The United States looms larger than perhaps any other country in the Mexican cultural imagination: Mexicans follow U.S. sports teams, watch U.S. television shows and buy U.S.-made products. For many, however, there is also resentment of a larger and more powerful northern neighbor that's often seen as ignoring or looking down its nose at Mexico.

Calderon has tried to keep Mexico's international image, and its vital tourism industry, from being tarred by the waves of violence set off by his six-year, militarized offensive against drug cartels. At least 47,500 people have died in cartel-related violence during his term in office, although the number is believed to be far higher, since his administration stopped releasing an official count last year.

A poll released this week by the Vianovo consulting firm said that half of all Americans view Mexico unfavorably and more than 70 percent believe it's unsafe to travel south of the border. The poll of 1,000 adults had a margin of error of four percentage points.

"It's time for Mexicans to return to the beauty and simplicity of the name of our country, Mexico," Calderon said. "A name that we chant, that we sing, that makes us happy, that we identify with, that fills us with pride."

December 20, 2012

Country crooner Tate Stevens, from judge L.A. Reid's Over 25s group, has won "The X Factor" Season 2.
The dad of two beat out Carly Rose Sonenclar, from Britney Spears' Teens team, who took second.

The group put together on the show - Fifth Harmony - and who were mentored by Simon Cowell, came in third.
Tate appeared emotional as his name was announced, his voice cracking as he shared his reaction with the crowd.

"First and foremost, I've gotta thank the man upstairs for taking care of me. My family, all the country music fans, God bless you," he said. "And thank you so very much for the all the votes. This is the best day of my life."

L.A. famously got upset when he found out he got the Over 25s group earlier on in the season, but he not only won with Tate, but the 37-year-old no doubt makes his upcoming departure from the show (L.A. previously revealed to Access Hollywood's Shaun Robinson, he would not return for Season 3) that much sweeter.

Speaking on stage, L.A. said Tate was a true champion.

"Congratulations to you. You deserve this. I'm proud to work with you. I think you represent the 'X Factor' really, really well so on behalf of myself Simon and all of the judges, congratulations," he said.

September 25, 2012
Rihanna tweets support before Brown's probation hearing: 'I'm praying for you and wishing u the best today!!'

Chris Brown hit a road block in his probation Monday (September 24), thanks to recently surfaced evidence of a failed drug test, but a judge decided to give him a break.

According to TMZ, Brown tested positive for marijuana back in June when he was fulfilling his court-ordered community service in Virginia as part of the sentence he received in June 2009 after pleading guilty to one count of felony assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna. Judge Patricia Schnegg said she never ordered Brown to undergo mandatory drug testing as part of his probation, so she ruled that she would not revoke his probation and let him off with a stern warning.

Judge Schnegg also ordered the case be relocated to California, where Brown lives, and that he must meet with his probation officer within 72 hours to sort out a discrepancy in community-service hours.

Brown received countless messages of support from his dedicated fans via Twitter, and for added good measure, his ex Rihanna tweeted her support of him going into the court hearing.

"Praying for you baby, my best wishes are with you today! Remember that whatever God does in our lives, it is WELL DONE!!! #1Love." Rihanna later tweeted directly at Brown, which he then re-tweeted and responded with his own thanks for her support.

"I'm praying for you and wishing u the best today!" Rihanna wrote to Brown.

"Thank u so much," he wrote back.

January 14, 2013

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A Maine lobsterman and his son pleaded not guilty on Monday to illegally possessing more than 400 protected egg-bearing female lobsters and face a possible $190,000 fine, authorities said.

Marine patrol officers discovered the lobsters, marked with a v-shaped notch in their tails or mutilated to remove the notch, during an inspection last year of a boat owned by Ricky Curtis, the state Department of Marine Resources said in a statement.

Maine requires lobstermen to notch the tails of egg-bearing female lobsters before returning them to the ocean as a conservation measure. The lobsters may then reproduce several more times.

"We consider this a very serious crime," Colonel Joseph Fessenden, Marine Patrol chief, said in the statement.

"The illegal taking of any lobsters negatively affects the resource and is a direct theft from those lobstermen who abide by the laws every day that they fish," Fessenden said.

Ricky Curtis, 48, and his son Todd Curtis, 29, entered a not guilty plea through the mail at Knox County District Court in Rockland, Maine, a court clerk said.

They face a fine of more than $190,000 if they are convicted of the crime, the statement from wildlife authorities said.

Their attorney, Philip Cohen, declined to comment on the charges.

By Daniel Lovering | Reuters

Mathis Tate
April 18, 2013

How do I get more people to visit my website? That is the number one question I get from my clients. So, I decided to put together a top 10 list that will work for both businesses and non-profit organizations.

1. Make sure your website has your keywords in the META TAGS. This is probably the most important strategy to increase traffic to your site. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use "spiders" to crawl your website looking for clues as to what your site is all about. These meta tags make their search easier. In return, they give your website a higher ranking. Here is a suggested list of "Tag Locations" you should consider:
- Add your keyword or phrase in your web title
- Add your keywords in the first paragraph of your body text.
- Add your keywords in the ALT attribute of image tags.
- Make your website search engine friendly.
- Use your keywordsin hyperlinks

2. Add your listing on the internet. There are free listings for you to add your business information to such as Google Places for Business, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local Listing Center. Make sure they can find you.

3. Submit your site to Free Directories. There are business and non-profit directories on the internet that are focused on particular industries such as fashion or education. Even if you have to pay a small fee to be a part of these directories, it will give you and your business more exposure.

4. Write Articles About Your Business. You can increase your traffic to your website when you write articles in your area of expertise and submit them to editors as free content for their websites. This is an effective “viral” approach that can lead hundreds of potential customers to your site over time.

5. Create a Blog. If you have excellent content, people will more than likely link to it, increasing your site's search page ranking. Consistency and quality of the content are key.

6. Join a Social Media Community. Some of the best online social media sites for businesses include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Also, search for social networking communities that your market is concentrated in. For example, my major client base is African-American businesses. I joined Black Business Women Online, Blacks Network, and iZania.

7. Join Online Forums and Groups. The Internet offers thousands of discussion lists, online forums, and groups consisting of people with specialized interests. You can join these sites and promote your business through interaction. Just search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo to find appropriate groups, blogs or other forums.

8. Include Your Website's Address on Stationery, Cards, and Literature. Make sure that all business cards, stationery, brochures, and literature contain your company’s website. To go even a step further, place your business name and website on a t-shirt and wear it while you are out running errands.

9. Use the “Signature” function in your Email Program. Most email programs allow you to create a “signature” at the bottom of your composed email. This signature should consist of: Company name, address, phone number, website, email address, and a one-phrase description of your unique business offering. Look for examples on email messages sent to you.

10. Email A Monthly Newsletter. While it requires a commitment of creativity and time, creating a monthly email publication is one of the most important promotion techniques. It could be a newsletter, list of tips, industry updates, or new product information — whatever you believe your customers will appreciate. This is a great way to keep in touch with your current clients and prospects. I am starting my monthly newsletter (Small Business & Online Marketing Tips) this May! If you are interested in receiving a copy, you can sign-up at my website at

These are certainly not all of the ways to promote your site, but these tips will get you started. To effectively market your site, you need to spend time adapting these strategies to your own market and capacity. Right now, why not take the time to go over this checklist with someone who shares your business interest? Use this checklist to take your business or organization to the next level!

November 7, 2012

Obama's lease renewed despite tough economic times

WASHINGTON (AP) — His lease renewed in trying economic times, President Barack Obama claimed a second term from an incredibly divided electorate and immediately braced for daunting challenges and progress that comes only in fits and starts.

"We have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come," Obama said.

The same voters who gave Obama another four years also elected a divided Congress, re-upping the dynamic that has made it so hard for the president to advance his agenda. Democrats retained control of the Senate; Republicans renewed their majority in the House.

It was a sweet victory for Obama, but nothing like the jubilant celebration of four years earlier, when his hope-and-change election as the nation's first black president captivated the world. This time, Obama ground out his win with a stay-the-course pitch that essentially boiled down to a plea for more time to make things right and a hope that Congress will be more accommodating than in the past.

The vanquished Republican, Mitt Romney, tried to set a more conciliatory tone on the way off the stage.
"At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering," Romney said after a campaign filled with it. "Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work."

House Speaker John Boehner spoke of a dual mandate, saying, "If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had a more harsh assessment.

"The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president's first term," McConnell said. "They have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together" with a balanced Congress.
Obama claimed a commanding electoral mandate — at least 303 electoral votes to 206 for Romney — and had a near-sweep of the nine most hotly contested battleground states.

But the close breakdown in the popular vote showed Americans' differences over how best to meet the nation's challenges. With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, the popular vote went 50 percent for Obama to 48.4 percent for Romney, the businessman-turned-politician who had argued that Obama had failed to turn around the economy and said it was time for a new approach keyed to lower taxes and a less intrusive government.

Obama's re-election assured certainty on some fronts: His signature health-care overhaul will endure, as will the Wall Street reforms enacted after the economic meltdown. The drawdown of troops in Afghanistan will continue apace. And with an aging Supreme Court, the president is likely to have at least one more nomination to the high court.

The challenges immediately ahead for the 44th president are all too familiar: an economy still baby-stepping its way toward full health, 23 million Americans still out of work or in search of better jobs, civil war in Syria, an ominous standoff over Iran's nuclear program, and more.

Sharp differences with Republicans in Congress on taxes, spending, deficit reduction, immigration and more await.
And even before Obama gets to his second inaugural on Jan. 20, he must grapple with the threatened "fiscal cliff" — a combination of automatic tax increases and steep across-the-board spending cuts that are set to take effect in January if Washington doesn't quickly come up with a workaround budget deal. Economists have warned the economy could tip back into recession absent a deal.

Despite long lines at polls in many places, turnout overall looked to be down from four years ago as the president pieced together a winning coalition of women, young people, minorities and lower-income voters that reflected the country's changing demographics. Obama's superior ground organization in the battleground states was key to his success.

The president's victory speech — he'd written a concession, too, just in case — reflected the realities of the rough road ahead.

"By itself the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock, or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward," Obama said.

"But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over, and whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you have made me a better president."

The president said he hoped to meet with Romney and discuss how they can work together. They may have battled fiercely, he said, "but it's only because we love this country deeply."

Romney's short concession — with misplaced confidence, he'd only prepared an acceptance speech — was a gracious end note after a grueling campaign.

He wished the president's family well and told subdued supporters in Boston, "I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader and so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation."

Obama's re-election was a remarkable achievement given that Americans are anything but enthusiastic about the state they're in: Only about 4 in 10 voters thought the economy is getting better, just one quarter thought they're better off financially than four years ago and a little more than half think the country is on the wrong track, exit polls showed.

But even now, four years after George W. Bush left office, voters were more likely to blame Bush than Obama for the fix they're in.

It wasn't just the president and Congress who were on the ballot. Voters around the country considered ballot measures on a number of divisive social issues, with Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote while Washington state and Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana.

From the beginning, Obama had an easier path than Romney to the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The most expensive campaign in history was narrowly targeted at people in nine battleground states that held the key to victory, and the two sides drenched voters there with more than a million ads, the overwhelming share of them negative.

Obama claimed at least seven of the battleground states, most notably Ohio, the Ground Zero of campaign 2012. He also got Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin, and he was ahead in Florida. Romney got North Carolina.

Overall, Obama won 25 states and the District of Columbia and was leading in too-close-to-call Florida. Romney won 24 states.

It was a more measured victory than four years ago, when Obama claimed 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173, winning with 53 percent of the popular vote.

Obama was judged by 53 percent of voters to be more in touch with people like them. More good news for him: Six in 10 voters said that taxes should be increased. And nearly half of voters said taxes should be increased on income over $250,000, as Obama has called for.

Obama's list of promises to keep includes many holdovers he was unable to deliver on in his first term: rolling back tax cuts for upper-income people, immigration reform, reducing federal deficits, and more.

A second term is sure to produce turnover in his Cabinet: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has made it clear he wants to leave at the end of Obama's first term but is expected to remain in the post until a successor is confirmed. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's rival for the presidency four years ago, is ready to leave too.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta isn't expected to stay on.

To the end, the presidential race was a nail-biter. About 1 in 10 voters said they'd only settled on their presidential choice within the last few days or even on Election Day, and they were closely divided between Obama and Romney. Nearly 1 percent of voters went for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who was on the ballot in 48 states.

In an election offering sharply different views on the role of government, voters ultimately narrowly tilted toward Obama's approach.

"We have seen growth in the economy," said 25-year-old Matt Wieczorek, a registered Republican from Cincinnati who backed the president. "Maybe not as fast as we want it to be, but Obama has made a difference and I don't want to see that growth come to an end."

Notwithstanding his victory, Obama will lead a nation with plenty of people who were ready for a change.

July 10, 2012
After more than 25 years in stand-up comedy, Steve Harvey will take his final bow after his last stand-up performance scheduled for August.

The comedian, best-selling author, radio and TV host said his final stand-up performance will be bittersweet, but necessary to advance his career.

“I’ve learned in life that oftentimes to the next level, you have [to] shed something. Usually, when you’re going to a much higher level, the thing that you shed is going to have to be something that you care very deeply about. The thing that I have to let go of at this point in my life is standup,” he told The Augusta Chronicle in March.

Steve’s final farewell will air live from Las Vegas on Pay-Per-View August 2nd at 11 p.m. EST as part of the 10th Ford Hoodie Awards, which celebrates the nation’s best neighborhood leaders, educators, churches, and local businesses for their service and dedication to their communities.

The four-day, star-studded event will kick off at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and will include events such as the State Farm All White Freedom Friday Party, and Ford VIP After-Party, The Hoodie Awards Interactive Expo, The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation Charity Golf Tournament, and a live broadcast of The Steve Harvey Morning Show prior to the 2012 Ford Hoodie Awards show on August 4.

“Celebrating this 10th anniversary is very special,” Steve said in a statement. “The Hoodie Awards is an awards show for everyday men and women, honoring them as the real stars of their neighborhoods for their beliefs, courage, and commitment pursing their dream and serving their fellow neighbors and youth. I look forward to hosting an unforgettable weekend and seeing who will take home the Hoodie Awards this year!”

September 14, 2012
By now, most everyone knows "Cloud Atlas" is a mind-bending, epic tale spanning centuries -- within which individual characters are reborn. Many of the leading actors in the film portray several different people in different eras, with different hair color, and sometimes appearing as a different race, even gender.

Halle Berry, who is biracial, and Chinese actress Xun Zhou do some race-bending in the film. Both of them portray white women at two different points in the epically long 2-hour, 44-minute cinematic journey, made by the creators of "The Matrix" and "Run Lola run" (the Wakowski siblings, and Tom Tykwer, respectively). Incidentally, South Korean actress Doona Bae -- who is getting a lot of buzz for her performance in "Atlas" -- also transforms into a white woman at a certain point.

Berry plays a litany of characters in the film, but the white woman she portrays is Jocasta Ayrs, a not-so-true, rather kinky wife of a composer (Jim Broadbent).

And Berry takes it even a step further: She plays an old Korean male doctor at one point in the film.