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Michigan man killed by grizzly in Yellowstone

By MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park rangers are trying to capture a grizzly they say killed a hiker from Michigan last week, the second fatal bear attack this summer at the famed park, authorities said Monday.
The body of John Wallace, 59, was discovered Friday along a trail near an area of the park known for its high population of bears. An autopsy concluded he died from injuries in a bear attack.
"We know of no witnesses" to the attack, park superintendent Dan Wenk said. "We think we provide visitors with pretty good knowledge and techniques to keep them safe in the backcountry. Unfortunately, in this case it didn't happen that way."
Rangers set traps and plan to kill the animal if they can establish through DNA analysis that it was the one that attacked Wallace, Wenk said.
Wenk said park officials do not believe the bear was involved in the other mauling this summer several miles away from where Wallace's body was discovered. In July, a female bear with cubs killed a hiker from California. Officials did not kill the sow grizzly because they concluded it was defending its cubs.
In the latest case, there were no sign of cubs in the area where Wallace was killed.
Wallace, of Chassell, Mich., was apparently traveling alone and had pitched a tent in a developed campground sometime Wednesday, park officials said.
Authorities said Wallace likely was killed Wednesday or Thursday during a hiked along the Mary Mountain Trail. He was about five miles from the nearest trailhead and authorities said he was not carrying bear spray — mace-like canisters of pepper spray that can be used to defend against bear attacks.
Investigators found a snack bar in his closed backpack, but authorities said it did not appear the grizzly tried to get at the food.
Rangers also found grizzly tracks and scat, or bear droppings, near Wallace's body. The body was discovered in an area of the park that rangers close from March to June because it is considered "high-density" grizzly country.
In the case of Wallace's death, Wenk said there was too little information to know if it was a defensive attack or not. As a result he said the bear would be killed if it can be positively identified as the culprit.
"We're going to err on the safe side of caution since we'll never really know the circumstances in this case," he said.
Two trails and a section of the Hayden Valley west of Yellowstone's Grand Loop Road have been closed to hikers. Park officials asked hikers elsewhere in the park to stay on the trails, to hike in groups of three or more and carry bear spray.
Wallace's death was the fourth in the greater Yellowstone area since June 2010.
Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said there are "a lot of bears" in the area where Wallace was killed. He said only a portion of the animals have had prior DNA testing.
Yellowstone and surrounding areas are home at least 600 grizzlies. Once rare to behold, grizzlies have become an almost routine cause of curious tourists lining up at Yellowstone's roadsides at the height of summer season.
In June 2010, a grizzly just released after being trapped and tranquilized for study killed an Illinois man hiking outside Yellowstone's east gate. Last July, a grizzly killed a Michigan man and injured two others in a nighttime campground rampage near Cooke City, Mont., northeast of the park.
Despite the killings, Wenk said dangerous encounters remain rare between grizzlies and the more than 3 million people who visit the park each year. The July killing was the first inside the park first since 1986.
"We've averaged one encounter that has caused injuries a year for the past 25 years," Wenk said. "The record speaks for itself."

Nathan Osmond release's new single, "The Tailgate Song"

August 26, 2011 - Nashville, TN - Question: What do Tailgating and Country music have in common? Answer: Nathan Osmond. Already hitting number one this year on the Independent Country charts and number eight on the major Country charts with his single "SWEET," Pretty World Records is proud to release what they feel is another solid Country hit, "The Tailgate Song." 

This toe-tapping, true to Country roots, sports-nut anthem was written by Grammy award winning songwriters, Gary Baker ("I Swear", "I'm Already There"), Frank Myers ("I Swear", "My Front Porch Looking In") and Matt Johnson. It tells the story of Billy, a straight-laced accountant who seems to be living a double life. He has his daily, boring routine at the office, but come Saturdays around September, "he's not the guy you remember." He seems to be the biggest super fan of all! Osmond will be shooting the music video on September 3rd in Carthage, TN, just outside Nashville with director Matt Houser who is credited for helping to shoot Rascal Flatts & Natash Bettingfield's latest video, "Easy." When asked about the video Osmond said, "I am thrilled to have Dad's Old Fashioned Root Beer as the official sponsor of the video and am looking forward to working with the city of Carthage, TN." The video will feature cheerleaders, rednecks, hottie referees, marching bands, football players, face-painted-super-fans and Billy the straight-laced accountant who is the life of the tailgate party. 

Osmond recorded the song at the infamous NoiseBlock Music Group studios in Florence, AL. Gary Baker, who also produced the song, brought in Nashville's top musicians to play on Osmond's track. The song is hitting radio stations around the globe and is available to radio stations for download at: www.AirPlayaccess.com.  For more information, go to www.NathanOsmond.com or contact Nathan Osmond's manager, LeeAnn Lallone (L&L Management) in Nashville, TN. (615) 310-0718 or leelallone@comcast.net and Tom Roach (812)827-4003 toroach@insightbb.co

For more information visit:

Gibson Guitar raided by feds!

The Commercial Appeal/Zuma Press

Agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pore through the workshop at the Gibson Guitar factory on Wednesday morning.

Federal agents swooped in on Gibson Guitar Wednesday, raiding factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The Feds are keeping mum, but in a statement yesterday Gibson's chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company's manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company. "The wood the government seized Wednesday is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier," he said, suggesting the Feds are using the aggressive enforcement of overly broad laws to make the company cry uncle.

It isn't the first time that agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service have come knocking at the storied maker of such iconic instruments as the Les Paul electric guitar, the J-160E acoustic-electric John Lennon played, and essential jazz-boxes such as Charlie Christian's ES-150. In 2009 the Feds seized several guitars and pallets of wood from a Gibson factory, and both sides have been wrangling over the goods in a case with the delightful name "United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms."

The question in the first raid seemed to be whether Gibson had been buying illegally harvested hardwoods from protected forests, such as the Madagascar ebony that makes for such lovely fretboards. And if Gibson did knowingly import illegally harvested ebony from Madagascar, that wouldn't be a negligible offense. Peter Lowry, ebony and rosewood expert at the Missouri Botanical Garden, calls the Madagascar wood trade the "equivalent of Africa's blood diamonds." But with the new raid, the government seems to be questioning whether some wood sourced from India met every regulatory jot and tittle.

It isn't just Gibson that is sweating. Musicians who play vintage guitars and other instruments made of environmentally protected materials are worried the authorities may be coming for them next.

If you are the lucky owner of a 1920s Martin guitar, it may well be made, in part, of Brazilian rosewood. Cross an international border with an instrument made of that now-restricted wood, and you better have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent—not to mention face fines and prosecution.

John Thomas, a law professor at Quinnipiac University and a blues and ragtime guitarist, says "there's a lot of anxiety, and it's well justified." Once upon a time, he would have taken one of his vintage guitars on his travels. Now, "I don't go out of the country with a wooden guitar."

The tangled intersection of international laws is enforced through a thicket of paperwork. Recent revisions to 1900's Lacey Act require that anyone crossing the U.S. border declare every bit of flora or fauna being brought into the country. One is under "strict liability" to fill out the paperwork—and without any mistakes.

It's not enough to know that the body of your old guitar is made of spruce and maple: What's the bridge made of? If it's ebony, do you have the paperwork to show when and where that wood was harvested and when and where it was made into a bridge? Is the nut holding the strings at the guitar's headstock bone, or could it be ivory? "Even if you have no knowledge—despite Herculean efforts to obtain it—that some piece of your guitar, no matter how small, was obtained illegally, you lose your guitar forever," Prof. Thomas has written. "Oh, and you'll be fined $250 for that false (or missing) information in your Lacey Act Import Declaration."

Consider the recent experience of Pascal Vieillard, whose Atlanta-area company, A-440 Pianos, imported several antique Bösendorfers. Mr. Vieillard asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to fill out the correct paperwork—which simply encouraged them to alert U.S. Customs to give his shipment added scrutiny.

There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys. But Mr. Vieillard didn't have his paperwork straight when two-dozen federal agents came calling.

Facing criminal charges that might have put him in prison for years, Mr. Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act, and was handed a $17,500 fine and three years probation.

Given the risks, why don't musicians just settle for the safety of carbon fiber? Some do—when concert pianist Jeffrey Sharkey moved to England two decades ago, he had Steinway replace the ivories on his piano with plastic.

Still, musicians cling to the old materials. Last year, Dick Boak, director of artist relations for C.F. Martin & Co., complained to Mother Nature News about the difficulty of getting elite guitarists to switch to instruments made from sustainable materials. "Surprisingly, musicians, who represent some of the most savvy, ecologically minded people around, are resistant to anything about changing the tone of their guitars," he said.

You could mark that up to hypocrisy—artsy do-gooders only too eager to tell others what kind of light bulbs they have to buy won't make sacrifices when it comes to their own passions. Then again, maybe it isn't hypocrisy to recognize that art makes claims significant enough to compete with environmentalists' agendas.

Space hotel that's out of this world

Russian aerospace engineers join race to provide wealthy thrill-seekers with the ultimate holiday destinatio.

Hotel in space planned by Orbital Technologies
Up to seven space enthusiasts at a time would be housed in the Hotel in the Heavens, which is planned by Russian company Orbital Technologies

Russian engineers have announced the ultimate get-away-from-it-all holiday, revealing plans to put a hotel into orbit 200 miles above Earth by 2016. The four-room Hotel in the Heavens would house up to seven guests who would be able to cavort in zero-gravity while watching as our planet turns.

The out-of-this-world experience will not come cheaply, however. Space tourists will have to pay £500,000 to travel on a Soyuz rocket to get to the hotel before stumping up a further £100,000 for a five-day stay.

"The hotel will be aimed at wealthy individuals and people working for private companies who want to do research in space," said Sergei Kostenko, chief executive of Orbital Technologies, which will construct the orbiting guest house. "A hotel should be comfortable, and this one will be."

The news that Russia plans to launch a hotel into outer space is the latest example in a series of extreme holidaymaking projects. As the world accumulates more and more billionaires, entrepreneurs are seeking newer and more demanding ways to provide them with the ultimate in hi-tech thrills. Apart from space hotels, which have also been touted recently by US and European aerospace companies, proposals to fly thrill-seekers on rocket flights to the edge of space are now being finalised by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic as well as by US companies such as Space Adventures, Armadillo Aerospace and XCOR Aerospace.

In addition, billionaires may soon be able to buy their own artificial countries – built in international waters on oil rig-type platforms – where they can indulge in their dictatorial fantasies. Or they could buy high-performance submarines that will allow them to dive and explore the deepest parts of oceans. Being rich has never offered so many opportunities for adventure – and excess.

In the case of the space hotels, hedonism will be limited, however. Orbital Technologies have made it clear that guests will be restricted to consuming iced tea and fruit juices for their liquid intake. Alcohol will be banned. In addition, waste water will be recycled while air will be filtered to remove odour and bacteria and then returned to cabins.

Tourists, accompanied by experienced crew, will also have to dine on food prepared on Earth and reheated in microwave ovens, while showers will be carefully sealed affairs to prevent water escaping as globules that otherwise would float around the hotel's interior.

It is scarcely five-star luxury. On the other hand, there will be many compensations. Views of the Earth from the space hotel's special observation windows should be breathtaking as the craft whizzes round our planet every 90 minutes – providing guests with 16 sunsets and 16 sunrises a day. Visitors will also be able to choose to have their beds vertically or horizontally inclined to their line of flight. Indeed, the prospect of weightlessness offers all sorts of zero-gravity activities that can only be dreamt of on Earth.

By contrast, the pleasures offered for those who go on suborbital flights offered by Virgin Galactic will be over far more quickly. Launched on craft pioneered by aviation designer Burt Rutan, these craft will allow passengers to slip the surly bonds of the gravitational field for only a few minutes before their rocket-powered craft descends back to Earth. On the other hand, the company's plans are far more advanced than those put forward by most other space tourism entrepreneurs. Branson says Virgin Galactic's first flights should begin next year. Tickets will cost a mere $200,000, with celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Tom Hanks and Stephen Hawking signing up for early flights.

If that doesn't appeal, Peter Thiel – who co-founded PayPal and who was one of Facebook's earliest backers – has revealed that he wants to create communities that would be run according to extreme laissez-faire ideals. According to Details magazine, he wants to build artificial islands – based on oil-rig designs – that would be a "kind of floating Petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage and few restrictions on weapons." A billionaire's dream venture, in other words.

And then there is the prospect of taking to the ocean depths in a range of new submersibles that will use ultra-strong materials to withstand the incredible pressures found at the deepest parts of the oceans. Again these are aimed for sale to the planet's richest inhabitants.

"Ninety per cent of the sea bed has still to be explored," said Patrick Lahey, president of Triton Submarines of Vero Beach, Florida, one of the leading companies involved in building such submersibles. "There is a host of wonders down there. You could cruise down to the wrecks of the Titanic or the Bismarck. You will be able to access any place in the ocean and watch all those wonderful sea creatures."



Ready by: 2016

Cost: £600,000 for five day trip

Star attraction: View of Earth from orbit


Ready by: 2012

Cost: £150,000 a flight

Star attraction: 10 minutes of zero gravity


Ready by: 2012

Cost: £2m per craft

Star attraction: Last unexplored places


Ready by: Pilot project should begin 2012

Cost: Several million pounds

Star attraction: Your own little kingdom

Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, 35, and his beloved and loyal dog Hawkeye

Aug. 25, 2011

They say that a dog is a man's best friend, and for Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, 35, and his beloved and loyal dog Hawkeye, not even death could break this powerful bond.

At Tumilson's funeral in Rockford on Aug. 19, his beloved canine lay at the foot of the casket throughout the ceremony. Tumilson's cousin Lisa Pembleton took the heart-wrenching photo of the devoted dog, known to Tumilson's family and friends as his "son."

"I took this picture and that was my view throughout the entire funeral. I couldn't NOT take a picture," Pembleton said. "It took several attempts since every time I wasn't crying and could focus on taking it, there was a SEAL at the microphone and I didn't want to take a picture with them for security and respect reasons. Our family is devastated to say the least."

Petty Officer Tumilson, from Rockford, Iowa, was one of 22 Navy SEALS who died when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by Afghan insurgents, claiming the lives of 30 Americans.
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More than 50 SEALs were in attendance at the funeral. Though the funeral was taped, most of it was only audio so as not to disclose the identity of the SEALs.

"From a young age, J.T. wanted nothing more than to be a SEAL," said an attendee, possibly a SEAL, in a speech at the funeral. "I didn't realize the depth of his desire until I stepped into his bedroom at his parent's house for the first time. His room was a shrine … pictures, paintings, books and videos all related to being a Navy SEAL."

Tumilson joined the Navy in 1995 and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Defense Meritorious Service Medal, in addition to numerous medals he won throughout his service. He is survived by a large family, including his parents, two sisters and many extended relatives.

"Even though you were the baby of the family, I want you to know how much I looked up to you," said one of his sisters, speaking through tears at the funeral. "You always showed so much strength, courage, determination and selfless love."

In a statement, Tumilson's family said that he "died living his dream as a Navy SEAL."

"Jon was a Navy SEAL and he was proud to die this way—for his country and for the people he loved so much," his family wrote. "We respect the nature of their jobs and the need to protect these men and women so they can continue to serve our nation; therefore, we will not provide details of Jon's military service."

Hawkeye is being cared for by a friend of Tumilson's.

Tumilson's family has started a memorial fund and contributions can be made to Frogman 238 Memorial Fund, First Security Bank and Trust, 201 West Main Ave., Rockford, IA 50468.

Irene: Surfs up!

Surfs up, Irene is right at your door. Florida lucked out and won't see landfall, looks like the eye is going to pass offshore. But the waves, wind and rip currents should be brutal.

Unemployed? Go to North Dakota

Unemployment is a national problem in the U.S., but you wouldn't know that if you travel through North Dakota.
The state's unemployment rate hovers around 3 percent, and "Help Wanted" signs litter the landscape of cities such as Williston in the same way "For Sale" signs populate the streets of Las Vegas.
"It's a zoo," said Terry Ayers, who drove into town from Spokane, Wash., slept in his truck, and found a job within hours of arrival, tripling his salary. "It's crazy what's going on out here."
The reason?
Billions of dollars are coming into the state and thousands of people are following—all because millions of barrels of oil are flowing out.

CSI: NY will Flashback to 9/11

Matt Webb Mitovich

The CSI: NY Season 8 premiere, as previously reported, will mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks by in large part flashing back to that tragic day, showing viewers how Mac, his ill-fated wife, Claire (played by Eureka‘s Jamie Ray Newman), and others were individually impacted.

TVLine has acquired a first look photo — featuring Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Flack (Eddie Cahill) — from the emotional episode, the idea for which was in large part shepherded by series lead Gary Sinise.

Matt’s Inside Line: Learn More About the CSI: NY Season 8 Premiere

As executive producer Zack Reiter explains, “Gary Sinise came to me and the other writers wanting to do something that revolved around 9/11 — specifically featuring the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, a project that Gary had an enormous involvement in.”

Conceived as a memorial to the 416 first responders who died in New York City on 9/11, “Apparently they were about halfway through building it when they ran out of money,” Reiter relates, “and Gary and his Lt. Dan Band were instrumental in helping to raise funds to complete the project.”

Already poised to mark the 10-year anniversary of the terror attacks, and nudged by Sinise with the idea for a specific touchstone, “It all seemed to come together in that moment,” says Reiter.

Washington Monument: 4-inch crack from Tuesday's earthquake

Cracking was found in the stones at the top of the Washington Monument Tuesday evening, the National Park Service reported.

The crack was located in one of the triangular faces at the top of the monument.  It runs at an angle, and measures approximately 4-feet long and an inch wide, NPS spokesperson Bill Line said.

The cracking in the Monument was discovered during a secondary inspection, conducted by a helicopter crew Tuesday evening. Engineers on Wednesday morning were working to determine the severity of the damage.

"An outside engineering team will take whatever amount of time they need," Line said. "They are going to do a structural analysis of the crack."

Although the grounds near the Monument reopened on Tuesday, the interior is closed to visitor until further notice.  Authorities put up a fence creating a 150-foot perimeter at the Monument's base.

NPS is confident the Monument will reopen, but it is too early to give an estimate, Line said. He emphasized customer safety.

The National Park Service also temporarily closed the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and the Old Post Office Tower as a precaution following Tuesday’s earthquake.  The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials reopened at about 7:20 p.m.  The Old Post Office Tower opened at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The NPS on Tuesday strongly rejected a rumor circulating online that the earthquake had caused the Washington Monument to lean.

"Absolutely incorrect," U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser said of media reports.  "It stands tall and proud."

The NPS said said a preliminary inspection of the Washington Monument had found it to be structurally sound.

The monuments and memorials on the National Mall were evacuated following the earthquake before 2 p.m. Tuesday. No injuries to any visitors were reported.

Irene in Bahamas and headed to northeast U.S.

Dale Eck, Director of the Global Forecast Center,
The Weather Channel
Aug 24,  2011 4:54 pm ET


- Irene will have significant effects to the Bahamas, eastern North Carolina, and up through the northeast U.S.

- Irene is currently a major category 3 hurricane with winds of 120 mph moving through the Southeast Bahamas.

- Irene is centered about 215 miles southeast of Nassau and moving NW at 12 mph.

- A hurricane warning is in effect for the Bahamas

- A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

- Irene will now move northwestward through the Bahamas through Thursday.

- Rainfall of 6 to 15 inches is expected throughout the Bahamas.

- A dangerous storm surge could raise water levels by 5 to 8 feet in the southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands and 7 to 11 feet in the central and northwest Bahamas as Irene moves through.

- After departing the Northwest Bahamas Thursday night Irene should parallel the Florida and Georgia coasts Friday and pass off the South Carolina coast Saturday.

- Even though Irene is expected to miss Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to the east, it is a larger-than-average hurricane, so coastal residents will still see some impacts, including gusty winds, showers, dangerous surf and strong rip currents.

- Irene is expected to be a major hurricane have significant impacts to eastern North Carolina Later Friday night and Saturday

- Continuing up the East Coast, Irene is then expected to bring extreme impacts to the eastern portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with damaging winds, power outages, flooding rains and coastal surge Saturday into Monday.

Seventh Fatality Expected After Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse

Written by Craig Shelburne

Editor's note: The Marion County coroner's office in Indianapolis said Meagan Toothman, 24, of Cincinnati was on life support Monday morning (Aug. 22) and is scheduled to undergo surgery later in the day to fulfill her wish as an organ donor. A spokesperson for the Indiana State Police told The Associated Press that Toothman died late Sunday of injuries sustained at the Indiana State Fair.

The death toll from a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair on Aug. 13 is expected to climb to seven. Meagan Toothman, a 24-year-old cheerleading coach at a Cincinnati high school was placed on life support late Sunday (Aug. 21).

"Late last night it became apparent that our Meagan was no longer with us," her family said in a message on caringbridge.com, where updates were posted about her condition. "The decision was made to allow to her to be at peace. This afternoon she is scheduled for a surgery that will provide gifts of sight, health, and life to dozens who are in need."

The accident occurred at Sugarland's concert when a strong wind gust hit the stage at the outdoor grandstand and toppled a canopy, scaffolding and other equipment into the crowd just moments before Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush of Sugarland and their band were scheduled to go onstage.

Those who died at the scene were identified as Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Ind.; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Christina Santiago, 29, Chicago. Nathan Byrd, 51, of Indianapolis, who was part of the local stage crew working at the concert, died the following morning at a local hospital. A sixth person, college student Jennifer Haskell, died Friday (Aug. 19) from severe head injuries.

As previously reported, Nettles and Bush have announced plans to hold a memorial service for the victims at a later date. They resumed their Incredible Machine tour on Thursday night (Aug. 18) in Albuquerque, N.M., although the stage collapse in Indiana destroyed their touring equipment.

FCC Drops 'Fairness Doctrine'

The Fairness Doctrine and 83 other "outdated and obsolete media-related rules" were tossed Monday into the regulatory dust bin of the Federal Communications Commission, in a move that the agency said helps it achieve the FCC's "reform agenda."

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that the decision to eliminate the Fairness Doctrine was part of a larger mandate proposed by the Obama administration to ease regulatory burdens by getting rid of duplicative or outdated measures. Genachowski informed Congress in June of the pending action.

"The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction. As I have said, striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead," Genachowski said in a statement on the FCC website.

"The Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago. I am pleased we are removing these and other obsolete rules from our books," he added.

The Fairness Doctrine has been in place since 1949, and required licensed broadcasters to share airwaves equally for competing political points of view. At the time of its creation, only 2,881 radio stations existed, compared with roughly 14,000 today. 

The FCC said Monday it has not enforced the doctrine for 20 years, and is reflective of rules outdated by technology and greater competition.

Its demise is welcome among Republicans who have argued that the media unfairly lean toward Democratic and liberal perspectives. However, earlier in President Obama's administration, several Democratic lawmakers had discussed bringing it back into force, noting the popularity of conservative talk radio, which they argue falls into the public airwaves.

One commissioner warned as recently as this month that "localism," a proposal that gives the federal government the ability to make sure broadcasters serve their communities, could be used to wedge in principles of the fairness doctrine even without the regulation on the books.

Though it announced its plans on Monday, the commission must release the full text of the order before the action is considered official.

Hurricane Irene: Bahamas, U.S. Threat

Hurricane Irene became the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season early Monday morning as it moved offshore of Puerto Rico.

Irene produced widespread tree and power line damage across Puerto Rico. View Photos

As you can see on the projected path map below, Hurricane Irene is now forecast to become stronger over the next 5 days since its center is moving over less land in the Caribbean, tracking towards the East Coast of the U.S. Thursday into the weekend.

 TWC's Exclusive Threat Level for Hurricane Irene

Find out the potential impacts from Hurricane Irene in the Caribbean, Bahamas and the U.S. on The Weather Channel's exclusive threat level graphics below.

    We have increased the threat level in portions of the central and northern Bahamas to extreme. Hurricane Irene will track from the southern Bahamas to the northern Bahamas Tuesday through early Friday morning. This is a potentially very dangerous situation and preparations should be rushed to completion.

Coastal portions of the Southeast U.S. remain in a high threat (red shading). This threat level will likely change as forecast confidence increases both in the track and intensity.
The greatest probability of a U.S. landfall is in the Carolinas during the Friday night through Saturday time frame, possibly as a major hurricane.
Keep in mind, the average forecast track errors 4-5 days out are between 200 and 250 miles! NHC intensity forecasts even in the 1-2 day range are regularly off by one Saffir-Simpson category!
The second threat level graphic below shows that we expect Hurricane Irene to continue northward either along or inland over the Northeast U.S.
The threat level in Northeast U.S. is low to medium for now and will likely change depending on the exact track and intensity of Irene.
Timing for any potential Northeast U.S. impacts would be this weekend into perhaps Monday of next week.
As always, stay tuned to The Weather Channel and weather.com for the latest updates on this situation. Tune in at :50 after each hour for a full look at the tropics.

Twins Slugger Jim Thome Hits 600th Home Run

by The Associated Press
Jim Thome #25 of the Minnesota Twins hits his second home run of the game in the seventh inning and his 600th career home run making him only the eighth player in Major League Baseball history to achieve that milestone during a MLB game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on August 15, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.

The 40-year-old Thome hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning for No. 599, then added a three-run shot in the seventh. The milestone came on a 2-1 pitch from Daniel Schlereth.

Both homers were hit to the opposite field. When No. 600 cleared the fence in left, Thome raised his right fist as he went around first base, and the crowd in Detroit came to its feet to applaud him.

Thome became the second-fastest hitter to reach the milestone, hitting his 600th homer in at-bat No. 8,137. Babe Ruth needed only 6,921 at-bats.

His 65 home runs against Detroit are his most against any team.

The Tigers posted a congratulatory message on the scoreboard after Thome's homer, and the Twins came out to greet him at home plate.

Fighting injuries during a frustrating season in Minnesota, Thome hasn't received nearly the amount of national publicity that his predecessors who reached the milestone did. Even Derek Jeter's accomplishment of 3,000 hits earlier this season dwarfed the attention Thome has been getting for a chase that's far more rare.

Only seven hitters have hit more home runs than the bulky Thome: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa. Rodriguez joined the 600-homer club last August.

It was perhaps fitting that Thome reached No. 600 in a matchup of AL Central rivals. He hit 334 home runs with Cleveland and 134 with the Chicago White Sox.

Thome is the oldest person to hit his 600th homer. Sosa previously held that mark at 38 years, 220 days. He reached the milestone in 2007.

Since signing with the Twins before last season, Thome has been a popular figure at Target Field — both in the clubhouse and for the paying customers in the seats. He hit 25 home runs last season in just 276 at-bats, many of them moon shots that sailed high into the Minneapolis air and caused players, coaches, fans and everyone else to shake their head in amusement and astonishment.

This season has been more of a struggle. He's been bothered by injuries to his toe, oblique and quadriceps. His milestone homer was only his 11th of the year in his 185th at-bat. But when healthy, he's still as capable as anyone of putting a powerful swing on the ball.

Rodriguez needed two weeks to hit No. 600 after reaching 599 last year. Thome waited one inning.

After a lineout and a single in his first two at-bats, Thome lifted a drive to left-center off Rick Porcello in the sixth, breaking a 3-all tie. That homer went an estimated 412 feet. His 600th was shorter. For a moment, it appeared Detroit left fielder Delmon Young might have a chance to make a play on the ball, but Young — who was traded from the Twins to the Tigers earlier in the day — could only watch as his former teammate's hit sailed into the Detroit bullpen.

Before Monday's game, Thome hadn't homered since Aug. 4. Thome has hit at least 20 homers in 17 of his last 18 seasons — the only exception was 2005 when he hit seven in only 59 games for the Philadelphia Phillies.

He revived his career with the White Sox after that, homering 42 times in 2006.

Gorbachev criticizes Putin's Russia as backsliding on democracy

By Fred Weir, Correspondent / Moscow
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who originally set Russia on its long and troubled march to democracy, says that under Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's leadership the country is once again in peril of sliding back into authoritarianism.

Mr. Gorbachev made his remarks as Russia approaches the anniversary of a coup designed to overturn his democratic reforms and restore Communist Party rule through force.

The so-called Emergency Committee seized power in Moscow 20 years ago this Friday in a bid to reverse the free elections, media openness, and government decentralization introduced to the Soviet Union by Gorbachev's reforms.

In an interview with the prominent German news magazine Der Spiegel, Mr. Gorbachev appeared to blame Mr. Putin – who is widely believed to be angling for a third presidential term next year – for rolling back some of those reforms two decades later.

RELATED Why nearly 60 percent of Russians 'deeply regret' the USSR's demise

"Putin wants to stay in power, but not to resolve at long last our most pressing problems, such as education, public health, and poverty," said Gorbachev. "United Russia [the party led by Putin] wants to maintain the status quo, there is no progress. They are pulling us back into the past, while the country urgently needs modernization.

"People are not consulted, and parties are mere puppets of the regime," he added.
1991 August Coup

In a turbulent 60-hour standoff the August Coup of 1991 was defeated by pro-democracy crowds in Moscow who faced down tanks, as well as by officials across the vast country who abandoned the sinking Soviet bureaucracy and pledged their loyalty to the newly elected Russian administration of anticommunist President Boris Yeltsin.

When the dust settled, much of Gorbachev's vision had been affirmed by events, but the huge multinational state he led, the USSR, as well as his own career, were on a fast track to oblivion.

Gorbachev resigned on Christmas Day 1991, and the red hammer-and-sickle Soviet flag was pulled down from the Kremlin for the last time.

Though Gorbachev originally welcomed Putin, he has grown increasingly critical over the past year.
'A man of principle'

Earlier this year he warned that Russia faces an "Arab Spring" type revolt if democratic reforms are not enacted, and he warned Putin not to seek a fresh term as president in elections slated for next March.

It's probably no coincidence that Gorbachev chose what is for him a very painful anniversary to launch his latest sally against Putin.

"Gorbachev is the man who started the democratic reforms. What he's saying about Putin isn't the position of some analyst but the standpoint of a man who has run this huge country and has a unique perspective," says Nikolai Petrov, an expert with the Carnegie Center in Moscow.

Though Gorbachev might have maintained power by using the military and secret police to crack down on his opponents, he never did that as Soviet leader.

Ironically, he ended up being placed under house arrest during the 1991 August Coup by a group of military and KGB hard-liners who were boiling with frustration over his refusal to use blunt force to preserve Communist Party rule.

"Gorbachev has demonstrated that he's a man of principle, and his behavior has not been a violation of those principles," says Mr. Petrov. "This makes him very different from the vast majority of Russian politicians, and worth listening to today."

The past two decades have been a rollercoaster ride for most Russians, who witnessed the implosion of superpower state they'd grown up in, followed by years of economic hardship, social fragmentation, and wild democratic experimentation that sometimes bordered on anarchy.

When Putin came to power in 2000 he moved to stabilize the economy, rebuild top-down state power, curb elections, rein in civil society and muzzle the media.

The Putin era has brought stability and relative prosperity, but has hollowed-out the democratic processes that Gorbachev championed.

"We have only gone half-way," Gorbachev complained.

"Russian democracy will advance – albeit with pain and much difficulty – and there will be no more dictatorship," although a return to authoritarianism remains possible, he added.

Auckland: Polar Blast hits region

The bitterly cold blast that has hit New Zealand this week should ease off over the coming days, but heavy snow is still expected overnight in many areas, including Wellington and Christchurch.

Snow returned to the nation's capital this afternoon, with a late afternoon surge seeing the the temperature plunge to just above freezing with a wind chill of -5, according to weatherwatch.co.nz

The polar surge in the capital forced police to close roads, including the Rimutaka Hill Road, Wainuiomata Hill Road, Paekakariki Hill Road, and State Highway 58 between State Highway 2 to Moonshine Road and Blue Mountains Road in Upper Hutt.

Police said driving conditions were treacherous and people should only travel if it was essential.

Extreme caution was needed on all roads in and around the Hutt Valley.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan said the snow will spread across the lower North Island tonight, although some main centres to the north west of the city may avoid the worst snowfalls.

"Snow is expected to be heavy around Wellington, Upper Hutt and Wairarapa tonight with a moderate risk of snow flakes returning to low levels of the lower North Island like Wanganui and Taranaki".

Heavy snow in Wellington is expected to come and go all night with snow easing tomorrow morning.

While Gisborne took the national high with 13 degrees today, snow is forecast to move into the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne regions, to 100 or 200 metres.

Mr Duncan said that the city and region had so far missed the worst of the weather but the southerly will fire up the east coast of the North Island across Hawkes Bay and Gisborne tomorrow.

Christchurch and other coastal parts of Canterbury are also expected to see more snow tonight.

Weather analyst Richard Green said snow showers may return to the city tonight, but should ease in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Snow isn't expected to be as heavy as it was yesterday with passing snow flurries, but he said there was still a strong chance there would be some falls.

"The freezing level has lifted just enough so that Christchurch, Timaru and Ashburton are all on the borderline of snow. It's an extremely fine line between sleet, rain and snow for those centres tonight but we don't expect the falls to be long lasting and heavy as they were last night".

A few brief snow flurries are possible further south in Dunedin, but conditions there should be easing, while Auckland's chance of seeing more snow is quickly fading.

Graupel and sleet fell in some areas this afternoon, while snow was confirmed on the tops of the Waitakere Ranges.

Light rain showers are expected to move in to the city again tonight as a very small low tracks by but snow is not predicted in the CBD.

Farmers and their stock coping in snow

The polar blast is making life difficult for farmers but they are coping, despite some having to work their stock in thick snow for the first time, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesman David Rose says.

"It's very unusual for a storm to affect absolutely the whole country. In some areas, particularly in the lower North Island, farmers wouldn't have had to deal with a weather event like this before,'' he said.

In some regions, particularly Canterbury and Wairarapa, farmers would be hoping the snow cleared before it turned to ice, which would make it impossible for stock to graze.

"They'll be hoping for a bit of sun or even, dare I say it, a bit of rain, which actually gets rid of snow quite quickly,'' he said.

"The worst thing that could happen is if it freezes. If that happens it will take a lot of warming up before it melts. If we get a lot of overcast days and it stays ice they'll have to feed their stock completely on supplement, and that's a huge job.''

Lambing had started in some areas so there would have been some stock losses.

It was fortunate the storm didn't hit later in the season, which could have had devastating consequences, Mr Rose said.

With calving also beginning to get underway, dairy farmers were putting their cows behind shelters and doing what they could to protect them from the elements.

"Lambs and calves are incredibly robust. Even if it's cold for us humans, it takes just a few days of settled weather for them to find their feet.''

Better weather expected

The bitterly cold polar blast that blanketed much of the South Island in snow and brought record low temperatures to Auckland is set to ease over the next few days, forecasters say.

Met service said threats of intense snow will lower as a ridge approaches from the Tasman Sea and moves onto southern New Zealand tomorrow.

Snow showers were still likely in higher areas between Gisborne and Canterbury but were not expected to reach warning levels by Friday, it said.

What's the current weather forecast? Click here for the latest.

A weather historian says the polar blast has been a 'once in a life time' event.

Erick Brenstrom told Newstalk ZB the recent snow falls are similar to the massive storm of 1939, but temperatures were "a wee bit colder and the sheer quantity of snow was a lot worse" in the 1930's event.

"In Auckland, for example, in 1939 you had 5cm of snow lying on top of Mt Eden, as well as snow falling in the suburb like Ponsonby, Remuera. And it also snowed at the lighthouse at the very top end of the North Island. It snowed in Dargaville, Ruapekapeka up in Northland. There was also three hours of snow Gisborne City - so there were snowball fights there. In Banks Peninsula and Otago we had snow drifts of 10 metres."

"That one was worse than the one we're having now.

Lucky tourists

Two American tourists have had a lucky escape out of a snow-covered Whirinaki Forest Park in the central North Island.

The pair had spent a night in the Central Whirinaki Hut but efforts to get to another hut were hampered by the cold conditions.

Two off-duty police officers heading out for an overnight hunting trip located the pair and were able to call for assistance.

Detective Sergeant John Wilson says without local knowledge it would have been almost impossible to successfully negotiate the maze of roads.

He says another night in such conditions may have had serious consequences.

Closed for business

Both Lincoln and Canterbury University were closed today.

Airports in Queenstown, Dunedin and Christchurch were closed this morning, but all have since reopened, albeit with some delays.

Wellington Airport was operating, but its website homepage crashed earlier this morning under an onrush of travellers and the airport advised them to contact their carrier.

MetService head forecaster Peter Kreft told NZPA yesterday the polar blast was "of the order of a 50 year'' event and warned it could last for several more days.

Some NZ Bus services were cancelled in the capital this morning.

The New Zealand Blood Service is calling on people in Nelson and North Island to come in and donate this week if they are eligible, to make up for collections lost after disruptions yesterday.

The Christchurch and Dunedin Donor Centres were closed yesterday and Westport and Mosgiel mobile collections were cancelled as a result of bad weather.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority closed access to the city's quake-damaged red zone and would reassess the situation this morning.

Power outages

Heavy snow cut power to 1000 houses amid bitterly cold conditions in rural Canterbury, Orion confirmed.

Areas including Rakaia, Westmelton, Leeston and Greendale were hit by the outages last night.

Orion General Manager Commercial Rob Jamieson said trees and branches falling on overhead lines were the main cause of cuts.

Crews had been assessing the damage since dawn this morning, he said.

About 750 homes in south Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu and Wairarapa also spent the night without power after high winds and snow caused trees and branches to tear down overhead lines.

And around 450 homes in Upper Hutt were without power this morning.

Unusual weather for Auckland

Climate scientist Georgina Griffiths of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said yesterday was the coldest day ever recorded in Auckland. The temperature got up to only 8.2C - compared with the previous lowest high of 8.7C, on July 4, 1996.

The last time snow settled on the ground in the city was 1939. It fell to ground level at the airport in 1976.

The snow caused waves of excitement in Auckland. Kevin Prohl saw a snow flurry as he was driving around Western Springs and described it as a fairy tale. "Looking at oncoming drivers and seeing their smiles as we were fascinated by this unusual occurrence - it was truly delightful to see, yet all too short."

Richard Brown, 53, has lived in Auckland his entire life and had never seen snow in the city. "It was snow, I'm sure it was."

There was even debate among weather experts as to what was actually falling.

MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said most Aucklanders had witnessed "graupel" - effectively hail with a soft centre.

While many Aucklanders were delighted with the light flurry of snow - the result of weather MetService described as close to a one-in-50-year-event - the high winds created havoc. Four people were injured when a tree toppled on to a house in Pakuranga.

Not so fun for some

The cold snap also wreaked havoc further south including the quake-devastated eastern suburbs of Christchurch. Power was cut to hundreds of homes, mail postponed, schools were shut for the day and heavy snow made it too dangerous to drive on.

In the Wellington region, five main roads were closed and 24 crashes were reported yesterday.

"We've been getting calls from people getting stuck on the road, or cars sliding down the driveway and getting stuck in the gutter. We've got quite a lot going on," Inspector Ken Climo of the police said.

Prime Minister John Key commented on "the very uncharacteristic weather" during his post-Cabinet press conference.

Describing the capital as a "winter wonderland", Mr Key said it was the first time he could recall seeing snow fall in downtown Wellington.

"My wife tells me there is snow around our house [in Parnell, Auckland]. It's very unusual, and the main message to New Zealanders is just to be cautious and a little bit careful - make sure they keep an eye out for their family and friends, and if they are aware of their neighbours living alone, it might be a good idea just to check up on them and make sure everything is OK."


Indiana State Fair: First hand account!

by Cheryl Reed, Indianapolis.
When you're in a situation where people die or are hurt and you are not in danger yourself, pretty much anything you have to say is meaningless. But here I am, still reeling from watching that stage rigging collapse at the Sugarland concert. And I can't seem to stop thinking about it.

Going to the show was my birthday splurge. Jeff spent a lot of time and a fair amount of money getting seats that would make it great: not in the Sugar pit because I wanted to wear big-girl-shoes and wouldn't want to stand that long in them; not in chairs on the ground because I'm too short to see over anyone standing in front but not so far away so we couldn't see anything. Being old, short and lazy were good things last night.

We were in Section 5 -- nearly dead center and just 18 rows up. We were actually 17 rows up but another couple was in our seats, so we agreed to take theirs, one row up. Then, the couple next to us at the last minute, found a way to go lower so we actually had four seats on the bleacher with a railing in front of us. Room to kick off my shoes and dance around if I wanted. There was a fence between the grandstand and the track, with the stage beyond that.

We were close enough to see everything but the detail work on Sara Barellis' dress (opening act) but far enough, as it turned out, to be out of danger. We were also out of reach to get through to help after the steel fell.

Jeff noted the lightning off in the western distance before I did. I was hoping the weather predictions were wrong and refused to acknowledge it at first. I love Jennifer Nettle's crazy big voice, and I wanted to witness Jeff coming into the fold. Kristian Bush is an amazing guy and it's always a happy surprise to hear his voice because he's great, too, and I think people sometimes forget that.

The stage was huge. I counted at least six semi-tractor trailers that were parked behind the set up along with buses and other big vehicles. Just the carriers took up huge room. We talked about how elaborate it was and how much work it would be to set it all up.

Anyway, we were waiting, me less patiently than Jeff, for the band to take the stage. Jeff was watching the weather. I was watching the Indiana State Police guys who seemed to be on patrol. I idly wondered if they were looking for some criminal because they seemed on edge and watching for something. But I knew I had no outstanding warrants, was pretty sure Jeff didn't, and I was focused on the band.

There was an announcement that bad weather seemed to be coming and they were hoping the crowds would wait out the rain in buildings nearby should it come down. People all around us in the grandstands were filing out to try to stay dry. No one down on the track seemed to care. I think those of us who stayed were all just hoping so much to hear the band that we ignored our good sense.

The nice man left the stage. The lightning got closer. The sky darkened to a color that was deeper than indigo but not quite purple. There was a slight breeze, which was nice after the heat. And then, all of a sudden, it wasn't.

We watched as what we thought was a wall of rain come whooshing at us. But it was dirt from the track, not rain that was blowing at us with the force of a freight train.

We saw the rigging tilt to the east. I remember grabbing Jeff's shirt and saying, "Jeff, I think that's going to fall. Those people there." And then, as if we were stuck in a silent, slow-motion movie, the rigging creaked and kept tilting until it all crashed onto the ground.

Jeff grabbed me, told me to get my shoes. He dragged me down the bleachers, skipping the walkway 28 seats to our left. It wasn't chaotic as much as shocked in our area. No one shoved or screamed or was crazy. We all made room for those in wheelchairs, and everyone exited in the ways we'd come in. As we came to the stairs down -- away from the track, I looked over for a way to go left and get down to help hold up the rigging as I could see folks on the ground were doing.

But there was no way to get to the track. In my head, I knew we'd be in the way and that a barefoot, short girl wouldn't be much help even if we could have gotten down there. But I wanted to.

Instead, thanks to my taller, stronger, smarter husband, we got out of the way and didn't add to the confusion. As we ran for our car, parked on the infield behind the staging area, the wind kept blowing. I think I have State Fair dirt embedded in my scalp. It was like being in a sandstorm in the Gobi.

We live only a few miles from the fair and I've been in and out of that thing for years. But I don't think I could have gotten us out of there. The phone lines were jammed. The one thought that did get through was that Alison was at the Ogdens and she might see news coverage. We were headed there when Jeff's phone went through.

If Ali has a bad dream, it's usually about Jeff or me dying. She worries about it a lot. We talked with her on the phone, she said she wasn't worried anymore but had wanted to hear our voices. After we talked, she was OK and wanted to keep with her sleepover, so we went home.

It was hard to settle down. Liquor helped a bit. But as the news coverage of the collapse rolled out, our fears were confirmed, and it just got more and more sad.

My heart goes out to the families of those who lost loved ones, and to the Sugarland family, too. I was at the gym this morning, cycling away and listening to the Incredible Machine album. I heard Jennifer Nettles sing, "Stand up, stand up you boys and girls. Stand up and use your voice." and I had to fight back tears. It was so awful.

I just kept pedaling and telling myself "There's no crying at the gym. There's no crying at the gym." But it's so sad. So awful.

Thank you for all the check-in phone calls and posts and texts and tweets. We are so thankful to have been out of the line of danger. But so terribly sad for those who weren't.

Oh. Deep breath. Keep Indianapolis in your hearts, everyone.

Thanks Cheryl Reed for sharing your first hand account of this tragic story!

Indiana State Fair: Wind gust topples stage Saturday night, killing five and injuring dozens

Indiana State Police released a timeline of events connected to the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair, which killed five people and injured -- in some cases, very seriously -- 45 more.
The chronology of events is being reconstructed as part of an exhaustive investigation of the catastrophe, which took place prior to a scheduled concert by the country band Sugarland. Participating in the investgiation are the Indiana Attorney General's Office, the Marion County Coroner's Office, the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office and the Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration, according to a report by Channel 6 News in Indianapolis.
The timeline, which begins at 5:30 p.m Saturday evening, outlines communication between fair officials and the National Weather Service. It demonstrates that while fair officials were conscientious in preparing for severe weather, the storm which contributed to the stage collapse was no surprise.  Still, the stage collapse is believed to have been largely a result of a dramatic gust of wind that was a relative anomaly.
"It really wasn't the issue of the weather as it was with the high gust of wind," Indiana State Police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten said in a local news conference Sunday morning. "What's remarkable about this is virtually throughout the rest of the fairgrounds, the midway particularly, there was no damage to structures, which is leading us to believe that this was an isolated, significant wind gust."
According to the timeline, the NSW told fair officials at 7 p.m. that a thunderstorm with heavy rain, lightning, strong winds and large hail was expected to hit the fairground area between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The same or similar warning was re-issued at 8 p.m.
At 8:30, police were brought to the grandstand, ready to assist security with a possible evacuation. At 8:45, an emcee took to the stage, warning the audience of impending severe weather and instructing them "how and where to seek shelter."
The stage collapsed four minutes later, at 8:45.
The five killed include Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina Bigjohny, 23, of Fort Wayne; Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago; and Nathan Byrd, 51, of Indianapolis. Byrd, who was a spotlight operator, died on Sunday morning, while the other four were pronounced dead shortly after the collapse.
So far, 45 others have been reported to have injuries. Burstein said that some injuries are so severe that be believes the death toll could rise.
[Source: 6News Indianapolis]

Gov Rick Perry enters race.

 Texas Governor Rick Perry joined the 2012 Republican race for president Saturday, lambasting Barack Obama's handling of the economy and declaring "it is time to get America working again."

"America isn't broken; Washington, D.C., is broken," Perry, a staunch conservative beloved by the tea party movement, told an audience of supporters in South Carolina.
"A renewed nation needs a new president."
Perry criticized Obama for "apologizing for America" on foreign policy and said he would do better at creating jobs than the president, whose administration is struggling to revive the U.S. economy in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
Emphasizing "hard work and personal responsiblity," Perry outlined his guiding principles of government, which includes keeping taxes low, balancing a budget through spending cuts and minimizing government involvement.
"In [former British Prime Minister's] Margaret Thatcher's words: we will not stand for a state that takes too much from us to do too much for us," said the politician, who added that the U.S. was experiencing an "economic disaster" with more than nine per cent unemployed and thousands who have simply given up looking for a job.

Give Obama 'pink slip,' tea party favourite urges

Perry, who has spent three terms as governor of Texas, also highlighted his state's success, saying that more than 40 per cent of the new jobs created in the country since 2009 have come from Texas.
"It's time to give the pink slip to the current residents of the White House," he declared in his 30-minute speech.
Perry was an early backer of the tea party movement and enjoys the support of social conservatives because of his opposition to abortion and gay rights. He is also an evangelical Christian who organized a well-attended prayer rally in Houston last week
Some Republicans worry that Perry's hard-core conservatism and Texas style may not play well in a 50-state contest, particularly so soon after another Texas governor, George W. Bush, served in the White House. Bush had record low approval ratings when he left office in 2009
The governor's announcement came only a few hours before the release of results from the straw poll in Iowa, the nation's first caucus state. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and U.S. representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota are expected to top that poll.
Perry, 61, is expected to visit New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state, later Saturday before stepping onto Iowa soil Sunday.
The leading Republican candidate so far has been Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor making his second run for the nomination. But no one in the field has managed to raise the kind of enthusiasm among conservatives that seems to surround Perry.
Among the others in the race are former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and businessman Herman Cain.

The Band Perry is mining gold!

Story and photo's by Ray Tharaldson, WRLTHD
The Band Perry started their fair season at the Goshen County Fair. Sister and brothers trio Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry took the crowd captive with their first hit, "Hip to my Heart" and never let go.

This relatively young group has roots that run deep in country music with a helping of rock & roll for flavor. They have their parents to thank for a perfect marriage of country and rock & roll.

"Daddy rocked us to sleep with Rolling Stones and Mama woke us up with Loretta Lynn, so we get it honest," Kimberly shares with the crowd.

By all accounts its a formula that works. Earlier this year fans voted The Band Perry "Top New Group" at the Academy of Country Music awards and their single "You Lie" has become Certified Gold.

The trio enjoys tremendous cross over appeal with pop stations. As you look out over the crowd you'll notice fans of all age groups, the perfect storm for promoters and record companies.

The Band Perry broke out their newest song, "All Your Life," set to hit the airwaves soon.

"Give your sweetheart a sweaty hug, they'll thank you," Kimberly says as they launch into the ballad.

Commemorating their first fair of the season the group played "Last Song." It had only been played live one other time.

“I hope we can get from the top to the bottom without too many missed chords,” Kimberly joked.

The Tennessee natives perform what they call “American” music - the crossroads of rock and country music. Proving the point, “Independence” featured their fiddle player and included an interlude of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin.” A roll coaster of music styles followed.

Kimberly's moving rendition of "Amazing Grace" turned the packed grandstands into a sing along. The trio then broke into a medley of American songs. “American Pie,” “Jack & Diane” and “Bobby McGee” had the audience singing and tapping their toes. “Fat Bottomed Girls” let Neil take the microphone.

Their latest hit single, "You Lie," has now earned Gold certification from the RIAA for sales exceeding 500,000. "You Lie" was written by Aaron, Brian and Clara Henningsen and recently rose to #2 on both the Billboard Country Albums Chart and the USA Today/Country Aircheck powered by Mediabase Chart.

"‘You Lie' is full of spitfire and it's our high-five to everyone who's been the victim of a cheatin' heart," explained The Band Perry. "Only in Country music could a song about feeling fed-up be so much fun to sing. When we perform this one, we get a big ‘amen!' back and we thank everyone who has joined in."

"Plain and simple…this song has more hooks than a tackle box!" said Jimmy Harnen, Republic Nashville President.

The Band Perry is on course to be Platinum by year's end. We think they will get there. They deserve it.

Meanwhile, The Band Perry remain on tour with Tim McGraw.

Charlie (Harper) Sheen funeral?

The shrouded-in-secrecy ninth-season premiere of CBS' comedy Two and a Half Men, will feature the debut of new star Ashton Kutcher and which I now hear will be a two-parter. I have been able to confirm that Charlie Sheen's character Charlie Harper is indeed dead and the season premiere will feature his funeral. Charlie's girlfriends will come back for the occasion, and his house indeed will be put on the market. The episode will feature potential buyers coming to see the house (as I reported earlier, the list is expected to include real-life celebrities and stars from Men co-creator Chuck Lorre's other series), with Ashton Kutcher among them. However, I hear he will not be the rightful owner of Charlie Harper's digs by the end of the premiere episode, with the storyline expected to be extended into Episode 2. As part of CBS and Men producer Warner Bros. TV's efforts to keep details of the premiere under wraps, I hear the cast has been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, something potential audience members for the Friday taping will be required to do too.

Speculation over the plot of the rebooted Two and a Half Men is expected to go into overdrive next week when production on the upcoming ninth season begins. Co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre has been mum on the setup for Two and a Half Men 2.0 and the way new star Ashton Kutcher will be introduced to the series. In keeping with the secrecy, I hear the cast members of the show were supposed to get their scripts for the season opener on Friday night, only two days before the Monday table read. As for what is in the script, the few in the know are keeping details close to the vest, but I hear that the Malibu beachfront house where Charlie Sheen's character Charlie Harper lived with his brother (Jon Cryer) and nephew (Angus T. Jones) is put up for sale. Word is that a number of real-life Hollywood celebrities, including stars from other current and/or previous Lorre series, may tour the house, possibly joined by Kutcher. (It is unclear whether he will play a character or himself.) As for Charlie Harper, there has been speculation that Lorre won't be able to resists killing off the character after being verbally savaged (and sued) by the actor who played him. The signs point in that direction -- the Season 9 premiere is expected to feature all or most of Harper's numerous ex-girlfriends. In terms of production next week, I hear that attendance at the table read will be kept to a bare minimum, but the Friday taping will be done in front of a live audience, not on a closed set. Still, I hear that some key scenes may be filmed separately with no audience and that producers will try to prevent leaks as much as they can, including banning press from the taping. But keeping details under wraps will be virtually impossible in the era of texting and Twitter.