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August 12, 2012

Romney taps U.S. congressman Paul Ryan as presidential running mate

Romney taps U.S. congressman Paul Ryan as presidential running mate

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Yesterday, in front of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia, presumptive Republican presidential nominee, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney selected Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.

Paul Ryan prepares to deliver his acceptance speech after Mitt Romney’s introduction.
Image: Tony Atler.

After an introduction from Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, who himself had been considered a potential running mate, Romney officially made the announcement. He referred to Ryan as “an intellectual leader of the Republican Party” and initially labeled Ryan as the “next president of the United States” before correcting himself after Ryan reached the podium.

Ryan, 42, has represented Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district since 1999 and serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee. Last year, he authored the budget proposal, The Path to Prosperity, which promotes reductions in federal spending of $6.2 trillion from the Obama plan through a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a reformation of Medicare, and capping of federal discretionary spending.

During his acceptance speech, Ryan said that his “record of getting things done in Congress will be a very helpful complement to Governor Romney’s executive and private sector success outside of Washington.” He added that the campaign “won’t duck the tough issues—we will lead” and went after the record of President Barack Obama, arguing that his policies “didn’t make things better.”

On the announcement, senior Obama staffers explained that Ryan’s selection “makes clear that Romney would be a rubber stamp for the congressional GOP” and that the choice provides the Obama campaign with “clear advantages”.

According to Reuters, Romney made the decision on August 1 after returning from his international trip. Four days later, Ryan was secretly flown to Brookline, Massachusetts to meet Romney at the home of Beth Myers, who was running the vice presidential search. Ryan was supposed to be announced on Friday in New Hampshire, but he had to return to Wisconsin to attend a memorial for victims of the 2012 Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting.

Thereafter, the campaign decided to make the announcement in Virginia, and so Ryan was once again secretly flown, this time to Elizabeth City, North Carolina near Norfolk, where he met with Romney and prepared his acceptance speech.

NBC News first announced the decision, and the Romney campaign announced the news to supporters through a phone application at seven a.m., a couple of hours before the official announcement.



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June 20, 2011

Clarence Clemons, Springsteen’s E Street Band sax player, dies at 69

Clarence Clemons, Springsteen’s E Street Band sax player, dies at 69

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011
Image: Flominator.

Clarence Clemons, soulful saxophonist most famed for his forty years as a sideman in Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band, died Saturday at a Palm Beach, Florida hospital. The cause of death was complications from a stroke he had suffered a week ago at his Singer Island home. He was 69.

Called the “Big Man” because of his 6-foot 5-inch frame, Clemons joined Springteen’s New Jersey band in 1972. For all but two years, he was the only black in the largely white, working class group, and became a key influence in Springsteen’s music as well as a trusted companion. He was a jovial on-stage presence and musically added to the band’s electric guitar sound and strong rhythms. According to the New York Times, he added “muscular, melodic saxophone hooks that echoed doo-wop, soul and early rock ’n’ roll“. His rollicking saxophone solos were a signature sound for the E Street Band on songs such as Jungleland, and Born To Run.

He also released several solo albums and played with other bands and artists. He was featured on Aretha Franklin‘s Freeway of Love and duetted with Jackson Browne on You’re a Friend of Mine. Most recently, he played on Lady Gaga‘s latest album, Born This Way. Additionally, he occasionally acted, appearing in such movies as Martin Scorsese‘s New York, New York and various TV shows including Diff’rent Strokes. He famously jammed with President Bill Clinton at his first inaugural ball in 1993.

Cquote1.svg [Clarence] was my great friend, my partner and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band. Cquote2.svg

—Bruce Springsteen

Clemons was born in Norfolk, Virginia on Jan. 11, 1942 and grew up in a religious environment, immersed in gospel music. He was drawn to rock ’n’ roll and received an alto sax as a Christmas gift when he was nine, but soon fell under the influence of King Curtis (who played on the 1958 hit Yakety Yak with the Coasters) and moved to the tenor sax. He said in an interview: “I got into the soul music, but I wanted to rock. I was a rocker. I was a born rock ‘n’ roll sax player.”

Clemons playing in the E Street Band
Image: Manuel Martinez Perez.

Clemons was also a talented athlete and received a college scholarship for football and music, but he injured his knee in a car accident, ending any chances for a professional football career.

Springsteen said in a statement: “Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.”



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August 9, 2010

US Defense Secretary announces cuts in Pentagon programs

US Defense Secretary announces cuts in Pentagon programs

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Monday, August 9, 2010

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Image: Monica King, United States Army.

Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense of the United States, has announced wide-ranging cuts in United States Military programs. In a press conference at 3pm EDT today, Gates said that, effective immediately, a number of top-line programs would be ending.

Ten per cent of the military intelligence budget is one of the lead items to be cut, said Gates, noting the huge increase in military intelligence money since 9/11. Meanwhile, “we’re looking at cutting a third of the budget for services and support contracting over the next three years”, Gates noted, saying that military contracting had proved inefficient compared to in-sourcing. Gates also proposed elimination of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, saying that while the command’s function was important, it did not require a four-star general and 2,800 staff to operate.

The proposed cuts would particularly impact the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia, whose northern counties employ large numbers of defense contractors and Department of Defense employees. Gates said, though, that some of the money saved from program cuts might go to increased shipbuilding, noting “we probably need more money for shipbuilding”, and that an expanded shipbuilding program would create jobs at shipyards in Norfolk, Virginia, with Virginia potentially gaining more jobs than it lost.

Gates did not announce new cuts in military hardware programs, but stated “any bill that takes the alternate engine to C-17s to the president, I am confident will be vetoed”, referring to a proposed $485 million program for the aircraft.

“This agenda is not about cutting the department’s budget. It is about reforming and reshaping priorities” said Gates, who cast the cuts as efficiency savings. “I am determined to change the way this department has done business for a long time.” He also said the cuts were pre-emptive, to stave off deeper cuts mandated by Congress: “My fear is that in tough times, people will see the defense budget as a place to solve the nation’s economic problems.”

Today’s announcement, according to Gates, is part of a larger program of defense spending cuts. “This effort will not end this fall or with the FY 12 budget submission”.



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September 12, 2009

Businessman and founder of The Weather Channel Frank Batten dies at 82

Businessman and founder of The Weather Channel Frank Batten dies at 82

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

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Frank Batten, the businessman who founded The Weather Channel, has died at the age of 82. Batten died on September 10 after a long illness in Norfolk. He is survived by his wife Jane and two daughters. Batten started as a reporter and publisher and later ran a communications empire which included several newspapers and cable television.

The nephew of Samuel L. Slover, he assumed leadership of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star in 1954. He opened up his own communications empire Landmark Communications and added The Greensboro Daily News and The Roanoke Times in 1965 and 1969. In 1964 Batten launched TeleCable and expanded cable into 15 States. He was the chairman of the Associated Press from 1982 to 1987.

On May 2, 1982, Batten launched The Weather Channel. Batten began to work on the idea after Good Morning America forecaster John Coleman suggested it. The channel broadcasts weather forecasts and weather related news 24 hours a day. Landmark sold the channel to NBC for $3.5 billion.

Batten was ranked 190th on the 2008 400 Richest Americans list with an estimated fortune of $2.3 billion. He graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences of the University of Virginia in 1950 and was a significant donor to that institution.



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September 15, 2007

Explosion, fire on guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf injures five

Explosion, fire on guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf injures five

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

The USS Leyte Gulf

Five civilian contractors have been injured after an explosion and fire onboard the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf at 9:25 a.m. today.

A large explosion erupted from the ship’s berthing area where welding work was being conducted during a stop in Norfolk, Virginia. A fire broke out two decks below main deck, but was quickly extinguished. The injured were taken to Norfolk General Hospital for treatment to injuries not believed to be life-threatening, according to John Kowalczyk, a spokesman for BAE Systems Ship Repair, who were conducting the work.

He added that the fire appeared to be an isolated incident. The ship has been laid up for repairs and modernizing since May.



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August 19, 2006

Ford announces deep production cuts in response to growing losses

Ford announces deep production cuts in response to growing losses

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Ford Motor Company logo

Ford has announced sweeping cuts of 21% (168,000 units) in its US and Canadian production, resulting in the partial closure of ten of its plants during the fourth quarter. The measure comes on top of existing turnaround plans announced in January, in which 25,000 to 30,000 positions should be cut and 14 plants closed by 2012.

Ford is the world’s third-largest automaker and the U.S.’s second-largest. However it has in recent years been struggling with poor profitability and shrinking market shares. In 2005 it lost $1.6 billion and recently the company reported a second quarter loss of $254 million and a 34% year-year decline in sales for the month of July.

George Pipas, director of sales analysis at Ford, points to rising gas prices having negative impact on the sale of the companies SUV lines as well as its sales leader, the F-series pickup truck as being the direct cause of the latest initiative.

So far the following plants are thought to be affected:

  • St. Thomas Assembly of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Wixom Assembly Plant of Wixom, Michigan, Michigan
  • Louisville Assembly of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Michigan Truck Plant of Wayne, Michigan
  • St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Kansas City Assembly of Kansas City, Missouri
  • Norfolk Assembly of Norfolk, Virginia
  • River Rouge Plant of Dearborn, Michigan

Ford’s stock fell 17 cents (2.1%) to $8 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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