Sunday, April 8, 2012

North Korea shows off its launch pad and satellite

The U.S. isn't nervous about the satellite North Korea will launch, but the rocket that will launch it. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

updated 4/8/2012 7:18:56 PM ET
North Korean space officials have moved all three stages of a long-range rocket into position for a controversial launch, vowing Sunday to push ahead with their plan in defiance of international warnings against violating a ban on missile activity.
International news agencies, including The Associated Press and NBC News, were allowed a firsthand look at preparations under way at the coastal Sohae Satellite Station in northwestern North Korea.
North Korea announced plans last month to launch an observation satellite using a three-stage rocket during mid-April celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. The U.S., Japan, Britain and other nations have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, warning that firing the long-range rocket would violate U.N. resolutions and North Korea's promise to refrain from engaging in nuclear and missile activity.
North Korea maintains that the launch is a scientific achievement intended to improve the nation's faltering economy by providing detailed surveys of the countryside.
"Our country has the right and also the obligation to develop satellites and launching vehicles," Jang Myong Jin, general manager of the launch facility, said during a tour, citing the U.N. space treaty. "No matter what others say, we are doing this for peaceful purposes."

North Korea will launch what is being described as a small observation satellite within days. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

Potential military threat 

Experts say the Unha-3 rocket, slated for liftoff between April 12 and 16, could also test long-range missile technology that might be used to strike the U.S. and other targets.
North Korea has tested two atomic devices, but is not believed to have mastered the technology needed to mount a warhead on a long-range missile.
On Sunday, reporters were taken by train past desolate fields and sleepy farming hamlets to North Korea's new launch pad in Tongchang-ri in North Phyongan province, about 35 miles (50 kilometers) south of the border town of Sinuiju along North Korea's west coast.

Image: Soldier at launch pad
Bobby Yip  /  Reuters
A soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 ("Milky Way 3") rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, northwest of Pyongyang, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities on Sunday.

All three stages of the 91-ton rocket, emblazoned with the North Korean flag and "Unha-3," were in position at the towering launch pad, and fueling will begin soon, Jang said. He said preparations were well on track for liftoff and that international space, aviation and maritime authorities had been advised of the plan. Jang did not, however, provide exact details on the timing of the fueling or the mounting of the satellite.
Engineers gave reporters a peek at the 220-pound (100-kilogram) Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite due to be mounted on the rocket, as well as a tour of the command center.
About two weeks before North Korea unveiled its rocket plan, Washington announced an agreement with the North to provide it with much-needed food aid in exchange for a freeze on nuclear activity, including a moratorium on long-range missile tests. Plans to send food aid, as well as a recently revived project to conduct joint searches for the remains of U.S. military personnel killed during the Korean War, have now been suspended.
Jang denied the launch was a cover for a missile test, saying the relatively diminutive rocket and fixed Sohae station would be "useless" for sending a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. If the rocket were to be used as a military ICBM, it would have to be in a hardened silo, not an above-ground launch pad, he said.
"During the recent senior-level North Korea-U.S. talks, our side made clear there's only a moratorium on long-range missile launches, not on satellite launches," he said. "The U.S. was well aware of this."
Japan and South Korea, meanwhile, said they are prepared to shoot down any parts of the rocket that threaten to fall in their territory — a move North Korea's Foreign Ministry warned would be considered a declaration of war.

Image: Satellite
David Guttenfelder  /  AP
A North Korean soldier tries to keep order as journalists gather around the satellite that North Korean officials say will be launched with the country's Unha-3 rocket, slated for liftoff between April 12-16, as it shown to the media on Sunday at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri.

The launch is scheduled to take place three years after North Korea's last announced attempt to send a satellite into space, a liftoff condemned by the U.N. Security Council. North Korea walked away from nuclear disarmament negotiations in protest, and conducted an atomic test weeks later that drew tightened U.N. sanctions.
It is meant to show that North Korea has become a powerful, prosperous nation, celebrate the centenary of founder Kim Il Sung's birth, and usher in a new era under his grandson, Kim Jong Un, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University.
"North Korea needs to show some tangible achievements to its people to solidify Kim Jong Un's leadership," he said. "North Korea intends to provide its people with a sense of pride."

Power transfer 

Kim Jong Un took power following the December death of his father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il, and is expected to assume more top posts during high-profile political and parliamentary meetings later this week — a step analysts say will formally complete the country's second hereditary power transfer.
The satellite is designed to send back images and information that will be used for weather forecasts as well as surveys of North Korea's natural resources, Jang said. He said a western launch was chosen to avoid showering neighboring nations with debris.
He said two previous satellites also named Kwangmyongsong, or Bright Shining Star, were experimental, but the third will be operational.
However, Brian Weeden, a technical adviser at Secure World Foundation who is a former Air Force officer at the U.S. Space Command, questioned whether North Korea truly has the technology to successfully send a satellite into orbit.
"The end goal is to test and develop their ballistic missile program and show their people and the world that they are strong," Weeden said from Washington.
After the visit to the launch pad, NBC News space analyst James Oberg gave his assessment of the mission's rocket configuration. "The rocket they're using for this launch has not technically been weaponized," he said.
More about the North Korean rocket program:
 More space news from

Autopsy scheduled for painter Thomas Kinkade

LOS ANGELES | Sun Apr 8, 2012 9:34pm EDT
(Reuters) - A California coroner is due to conduct an autopsy of Thomas Kinkade on Monday, three days after the famed American painter died unexpectedly, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday.
Kinkade, whose luminescent, homespun scenes captivated millions even as critics scoffed, died alone at his home in Los Gatos in northern California of apparently natural causes, according to family spokesman David Satterfield. Kinkade was 54.
The Santa Clara County coroner will perform the autopsy. Officials have offered no further details on the case.
Kinkade claimed to be America's most collected living artist, his prints hanging in the homes of an estimated 10 million Americans. He was a Christian who often depicted scenes from the Bible, and his work expressed a wholesome idealism.
But a darker side to the artist surfaced in reports over the weekend by the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News, which cited problems with alcohol, including a 2010 DUI arrest, and fraud accusations by two gallery owners that ultimately cost Kinkade's company $860,000 in damages.
(Editing by Paul Simao)

'60 Minutes' veteran Mike Wallace dies

 Mike Wallace, who started his career during World War II, was known for his unrelenting interview style. NBC's Lester Holt reports.

Harry Smith remembers Mike Wallace

Mike Wallace 60 minutes correspondent, dies at 93


By staff and news services

Mike Wallace, the grand inquisitor of CBS's "60 Minutes" news show who once declared there was "no such thing as an indiscreet question," has died at the age of 93, the network said on Sunday.

Wallace died on Saturday evening with his family by his side at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Conn., where he spent the past few years, CBS said in a statement and on its Sunday morning news broadcast.

"His extraordinary contribution as a broadcaster is immeasurable and he has been a force within the television industry throughout its existence. His loss will be felt by all of us at CBS," Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, said in the statement.

Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who contributed to "60 Minutes," said in a statement, "Mike Wallace was from the beginning and for many years, the heart and soul of '60 Minutes.' In that role he helped change American television news. Among the ways that this change was for the better: TV news became more investigative, more aggressive and relevant. Mike was sharp and quick of mind, a fierce competitor and a master interviewer."

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan knew Wallace for three-quarters of a century. " "My heart is broken today over the death of my dear friend Mike Wallace," Reagan said in a statement. "My parents introduced me to Mike more than 75 years ago and we've been fast friends ever since. ... Mike was an old school journalist and one of the most astute people I've ever met. The news business will be a different place now, and our lives will be forever changed for having known him."

 A special "60 Minutes" program dedicated to Wallace will be aired April 15.

"It was 65 years from Mike's first appearance on camera -- a World War II film for the Navy -- to his last television appearance, a '60 Minutes' interview with Roger Clemens, the baseball star trying to fight off accusations of steroid use," colleague Morley Safer wrote in a tribute on

"It's strange," Safer said, "but for such a tough guy, Mike's all-time favorite interview was the one with another legend, pianist Vladimir Horowitz. The two of them, forces of nature both: Sly, manic, egos rampant. For Mike -- a red, white and blue kind of guy -- Horowitz played 'The Stars and Stripes Forever.'

"It almost brought tears to the toughest guy on television," Safer added.

Just about anyone who made news during the past six decades -- in the United States, but often abroad too -- had to submit to a grilling by Wallace.

In almost 40 years on "60 Minutes," the ground-breaking investigative journalism program, he worked on some 800 reports, won 21 Emmys and developed a relentless on-air style that was often more interrogation than interview.

Wallace also drew criticism for his go-for-the-throat style and the theatrics that sometimes accompanied it. He also became caught up in a $120 million libel suit that resulted in no judgment against him or CBS but triggered a case of depression that led him to attempt suicide.

Wallace interviewed every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy - with the exception of George W. Bush -- and dozens of other world leaders like Yasser Arafat, Ayatollah Khomeini and Deng Xiaoping.

Other interview subjects included everyone from Malcolm X to Janis Joplin, Martin Luther King Jr., Johnny Carson, Vladimir Horowitz and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

When Wallace prefaced a question with "Forgive me for asking ..." or responded to a dubious answer with "Oh, come on," "60 Minutes" viewers knew he was about to get tough. His sometimes-abrasive manner resulted in the nickname "Mike Malice," and some viewers will always remember him as the man who made diva Barbra Streisand cry on camera.

In a 2006 retrospective of his "60 Minutes" career, Wallace summed up his interviewing technique as: "Let's ask the questions that might be on the minds of the people looking in ... 'If I were there in that chair where Wallace is, here's what I would want to know.'"

Remembering Mike Wallace's dark secret -- depression

Evan Agostini / AP
Mike Wallace in 2008.

I met Mike Wallace on a waning summer afternoon less than a decade ago. He was golden brown, stripped to the waist and came crashing through the back door of Art Buchwald's porch on Martha's Vineyard.
"Hi, I'm Mike!" he said, extending a hand, his white teeth flashing.
The man was a legend, and I shrunk back instinctively. But instead he proceeded to grill me about who I was, why and where I was a journalist, my next career plans and did they make any sense.
I was smitten. For as long as I could remember, Mike Wallace and "60 Minutes" managed to do what seemed otherwise impossible: great journalism on television.

Wallace always seemed fearless, and in fact on that day -- vibrant and powerful late in his 80s - he seemed timeless too.
Wallace was one of Buchwald's closest friends. They would spend summers on the Vineyard together (that day Wallace had just come up from exercising on the beach, visiting Art who was recovering from a stroke).
And Art was a friend of mine, a late-breaking relationship during which we talked for hours. One of the things we talked about was Art's recurring bouts with depression. It was the thing that he shared with two of his closest friends: William Styron, the novelist, and Mike Wallace.
The three of them would discreetly appear together at support groups, calling themselves "The Blues Brothers," Buchwald told me.
I could understand Buchwald and Styron as suffering from depression: a humorist (a common affliction among them) and a novelist who wrote about the illness in "Darkness Visible."
But Wallace was a surprise. Because he was familiar to us all as the aggressive journalist who asked the fearless questions of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Malcolm X, his struggles with depression seemed hard to fathom.
But it was the case. In 1996, Wallace went public with his illness, and asked the Senate's Special Committee on Aging for more federal funds for depression research.
He told the committee that he had felt "lower, lower, lower than a snake's belly," and had tried to commit suicide. (The depression apparently first appeared after being sued for libel by Gen. William C. Westmoreland, who sought $120 million for a 1982 "CBS Reports" documentary, "The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception.")
I don't know if Wallace succeeded in winning funds for research. But he overcame his depression and went on to continue one of the most storied careers in American journalism.
He is missed, and a man worthy of our great admiration. RIP, Mike Wallace.

The man who made Streisand cry: 5 classic moments

'Painter of Light' artist Thomas Kinkade dies at age 54

Popular painter Thomas Kinkade died from natural causes Friday in his California home, his family said. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.

One of the most popular artists in America, "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade, died Friday at his home in Los Gatos, Calif., his family said.
He was 54, and his family issued a statement that his death appeared to be from natural causes.
"Thom provided a wonderful life for his family,'' his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. "We are shocked and saddened by his death.''

His paintings are hanging in an estimated one out of every 20 homes in the United States, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of mass-produced works of art while it has become fashionable for art critics to dismiss his pieces.
Kinkade lived with his wife and was the father of four girls, reported.
"Thomas Kinkade, the celebrated 'Painter of Light' is one of the most widely collected and beloved artists of our day," Kinkade's website states. "Each year millions of people are drawn to the luminous light and tranquil mood of Kinkade's paintings and include his creations in their lives through prints, books, and other fine collectibles."
The University of California Berkeley graduate had a strong faith in God, which served as the foundation for his artwork.
"I try to create paintings that are a window for the imagination," Kinkade said on his website. "If people look at my work and are reminded of the way things once were or perhaps the way they could be, then I've done my job."
Kinkade's Media Arts Group took in $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country 10 years ago, before going private in the middle of last decade, the Mercury News reported. Paintings are priced hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000.
His website also offers prints, mugs, nightlights and other home-decor items adorned with his paintings, which feature bridges, churches, cottages, Disney scenes, gazebos estates and the outdoors.
On Friday, the Mercury News reported that Kinkade's family was traveling to Australia and unavailable for further comment.

Bennett Raglin / WireImage
Artist Thomas Kinkade paints the 2007 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Nov. 30, 2007, in New York City.

In 2010, his production arm, Pacific Metro of Morgan Hill, Calif., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a day after a $1 million payment was due to former Kinkade gallery owners who won a judgment after claiming Kinkade used his Christian faith as a tool to fraudulently induce them to invest in his galleries, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. From 1997 through May 2005, as galleries failed, Kinkade reaped more than $50 million from his prints and licensed product lines, according to testimony in the case cited by the Times.
In 2006, the Times reported that former Kinkade dealers told the newspaper that the FBI was looking into allegations that Kinkade and his top executives fraudulently induced investors to open galleries and then ruined them financially. The company, in a Sept. 1, 2006, statement called the allegations a "smear campaign."

AARP: Michigan too quick to put elderly in nursing homes

4:16 PM, April 5, 2012

Detroit Free Press Medical Writer

When it comes to long-term care, Michigan is too quick to place its elderly in nursing homes, according to a new report by the AARP Michigan.
In fact, 35 states spend fewer Medicaid dollars — the bulk of the funding for long-term care — on nursing homes, instead finding ways to help seniors age in place, said Lisa Dedden Cooper, author of the report. Those services include aides or nurses that visit seniors in their homes, for example.
Surveys are clear that seniors want to remain in their homes as long as possible, and by one estimate cited in the report, community-based services, on average, can save $57,338 per participant per year, Dedden Cooper said.
“We know what people want, and we know what costs less ... what Michigan is doing is neither of these things,” she said.
As the state ages and lawmakers continue to struggle with the budget, AARP wants to move the discussion of long-term care toward alternatives to nursing home.
The report is partly a response to a 2011 paper that suggested that some seniors might be better served in nursing homes. That 2011 report was funded by the Health Care Association of Michigan, which represents Michigan’s nursing homes.
Drawing from data in federally-mandated surveys of nursing home residents, authors said that many participants in home- or community-based care were more often hospitalized than those in nursing homes and they often reported being socially isolated. Plus, home- or community-based care might be seem less expensive than a skilled nursing facility, but participants may rely on other publicly funded services, according to the report.

Michigan House Republicans want immediate effect powers back

10:02 AM, April 5, 2012

Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau

LANSING – Republicans in the state House have asked the state Court of Appeals to strike down an injunction issued earlier this week that impaired their authority to give immediate effect to legislation and nullified immediate effect for several recently approved statutes, including one that blocked the unionization of university graduate assistants.
The appeal, filed late Wednesday, asks the court to lift the injunction by Monday, a day before a unionization request by some University of Michigan graduate assistants may be taken up by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady III issued the injunction at the behest of House Democrats, who are in the minority in the House and claim their constitutional right to cast roll call votes on immediate effect has been routinely denied by majority Republicans.
In the appeal filed by Attorney General Bill Schuette, Republicans argue that Canady’s order was an impermissible judicial intrusion on legislative authority. The Constitution, long-standing tradition and prior court rulings give the House nearly unfettered discretion to operate by their own rules, according to documents filed with the appeals court.
In a statement released this morning, a spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said: “Last week's ruling in Ingham County Circuit Court was an overreach of judicial authority into the day-to-day operations of a co-equal and independent branch of government, which is why we have sought to have it overturned."
“The Speaker believes the attorney general has made a compelling argument to help us right the wrong imposed on the Michigan Legislature and the constituents we represent,” spokesman Ari Adler said.
Over the years, as majority control shifted back and forth, both political parties in the state House have ordered immediate effect for legislation without recording a roll call vote. Because immediate effect requires a two-thirds vote majority the practice has often frustrated efforts by the minority party to slow down legislation they oppose.
But the issue has become intensely acrimonious over the last year as Democrats have tried, largely without success, to derail measures they regard as anti-union.

Santorum's surprising ride

Jae C. Hong / AP
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum sits in a booth at Bob's Diner in Carnegie, Pa.
His mathematical chances of winning the GOP nomination are slim. He came up short in the crucial races of Michigan and Ohio. And he just lost the GOP primary contests in DC, Maryland, and Wisconsin.
But Rick Santorum -- despite starting out this presidential season as an afterthought -- has already accomplished a few important feats that shouldn't be overlooked as attention begins turning to the general election. First, with limited campaign funds and almost no real infrastructure, he ultimately emerged as Mitt Romney's chief rival.
In fact, Santorum's actually won more states so far than Mike Huckabee did in 2008, 11-8. And he's won as many contests as Romney did four years ago.
Second, even if he doesn't win another primary race, Santorum could be a significant player in the 2016 or 2020 presidential contests, although he would face plenty of serious competition (from the likes of Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell, etc.).
And third, and perhaps most importantly, Santorum has repaired some of the political damage he sustained in 2006, when he lost his Senate re-election bid in Pennsylvania by a whopping 18 percentage points, 59%-41%.
"It's hard to argue Sen. Santorum hasn't significantly raised his profile nationally among Republican voters, donors and members of the media due to his primary campaign performance," GOP strategist Danny Diaz tells First Read.
Of course, it's exactly that repaired political image, Republican political observers say, that could be at stake in the April 24 primary in his home state of Pennsylvania. A win there could justify him staying in the presidential contest -- and could serve as a springboard to the May primary races.
But a loss in his home state could be embarrassing. A recent Quinnipiac University poll, conducted before Tuesday's primaries, showed Santorum leading Romney by only six points in the state, 41%-35%.
As GOP political consultant Mike Murphy, who once worked for Romney, tweeted, "Will [Santorum] figure out this week that his potential '16 hand is now stronger than his '12 hand and fold? Or stay in and ruin his long game?"
And if he decides to stay in the race, how he campaigns could be just as important to his reputation, Republicans argue.
"The story until now is a pretty compelling one about a leader who rose from also-ran status to one-time front-runner. If he gets out now, or stays in but runs a positive-only campaign, that narrative will remain largely intact," says GOP political adviser Todd Harris.
"But if he continues with a quixotic slash-and-burn campaign against the man everyone knows is going to be our nominee, he risks being remembered not as a come-from-behind leader, but as a petulant politician who put selfish self-interest ahead of defeating President Obama."

Romney, GOP must remember lessons from Palin veepstakes

Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Arizona Sen. John McCain and his vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wave at a campaign rally at Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania on October 28, 2008.

The Republican Party’s 2008 experiment with Sarah Palin looms over Mitt Romney as he begins pivoting to the general election and looks to select a running mate. His choice of a vice presidential candidate likely won’t be made known for months, but the preliminary deliberations over who might round out the GOP ticket this fall are likely to have already begun.
And it’s impossible to separate that process from John McCain’s selection of Palin, then the governor of Alaska, as his running mate. Palin achieved her initial purpose of exciting conservative voters, but her selection eventually created as many problems as it solved. She excited the conservative base and shook up the race, but also turned off independents and raised questions about whether she was equipped to serve at that level of office.
Recommended: First Thoughts: A tale of two different strategies
That experience led former White House chief of staff John E. Sununu – a former governor of New Hampshire who’s become one of Romney’s top surrogates – to warn Monday in the Boston Globe: “In the end, there is only one imperative: don’t blow it.”
The Romney campaign insists that it continues to focus on winning the necessary number of delegates to secure the nomination, and not the machinations behind the general election.
But the Romney campaign is likely to have already assembled a private list of about 20 to 30 names that will be winnowed down to the eventual short list of candidates, said Ted Frank, a lawyer by trade who was part of McCain’s vetting team in 2008.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center on September 3, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Selecting a vice president traditionally hinges on some combination of three criteria: whether the running mate could serve as vice president, a comfort level between the nominee and their No. 2, and whether the pick serves politically. How campaigns balance those criteria differ from cycle-to-cycle, but Romney’s most pressing political considerations include expanding the electoral map and closing the gap with conservatives – with whom he’s struggled during the primary.
“I think Team Romney will be torn by going with a conventional pick, most likely [Ohio Sen. Rob] Portman, or an outside-the-box pick with a Hispanic,” said Mark McKinnon, a political adviser to President George W. Bush.
The need to win back Latino voters, who have favored President Barack Obama over Romney in recent polls, has fueled speculation about whether the Republican might tap Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, as his vice presidential pick.
“They clearly don't want the pick to appear political, at the same time their hole is so deep with Hispanics it's hard to imagine how Republicans can win without significantly addressing the problem,” McKinnon said. “And a Hispanic VP would be best way to fix it – maybe the only way.”
But Rubio and many of the other names popularly included on reporters’ short lists of vice presidential candidates – like Palin before them – either have been on the job for just a few years, or lack the experience of having previously gone through the vetting process and campaigning on the national level.
“I think the problem with being thrust into the limelight is going to be true of any candidate who hasn't been through a national campaign,” said Frank. “Just optically, they're going to want to avoid certain comparisons [with Palin], because it will distract from the message.”
That makes for a difficult choice in the Romney camp. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have each endured the scrutiny of the presidential primary, but their relationship with Romney has been nothing if not acrimonious. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has acted as a Romney surrogate since ending his own bid for the GOP nomination last August, but he’s regarded as a relatively bland (if safe) pick.
Palin herself urged Romney to go for an outside-the-box pick during a Tuesday interview on NBC’s TODAY.
“I would say it doesn't matter if that person has national-level experience or not. They're going to get clobbered by the lamestream media who don't like the conservative message,” she said. “What I would advise Mitt Romney or whomever the nominee would be is, is don't necessarily play it safe and do just what the GOP establishment expects them to do.”

              Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin talks to TODAY's Matt Lauer about the economy, the 2012 election and her advice for the GOP presidential hopefuls. 

 That type of choice would risk a re-hash of the 2008 experience, which saw the vice presidential pick struggle in getting up-to-speed on issues, and sometimes departing from the presidential candidate’s script. A way to defuse that might be to roll out a running mate well before the August Republican National Convention in order to allow media scrutiny of the pick, and put any negative coverage behind the campaign.
Frank argued that Romney’s selection will ultimately come down to the candidate himself, in terms of what qualities he values in a running mate and the risks he’s willing to incur in making his choice.
“It all comes back to the selection process. It's really going to vary from campaign to campaign, in terms of what gets someone stricken from the list,” he said. “Everyone has costs and benefits. You're looking at everything they've done, their resume, their list of accomplishments and controversies.”

Sen. Grassley calls the president 'stupid'

Iowa's senior senator and prolific Tweeter, Republican Chuck Grassley, sent a harshly worded message Saturday that intentionally slighted the president.
Aides say Grassley personally Tweeted: "Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law."
While Grassley's Twitter account had been previously hacked, this time the use of the word "stupid" was his own. Aides say, "The Tweet is Sen. Grassley's. He is saying that it doesn't speak well of any constitutional law professor to not understand Marbury v Madison. The people understand the independence of the judiciary. So he thinks most Americans are smarter on the Constitution."
In a second Tweet, Grassley wrote,"Possibility of peace and freedom for Syria gets more remote as PresO plays along w the farce of Kofi Annans negotiatios (sic) there Barack wakeup."

Is Texas looking to change its delegate rules to help Santorum?

According to a spokesman at the Texas Republican Party, a member of the Texas GOP’s executive committee drafted an email to call an emergency meeting to revisit its delegate-allocation rules.
And make no mistake: This effort is coming from Santorum world.
Santorum, in fact, commented on this subject yesterday while campaigning in Pennsylvania.
“After Pennsylvania, the calendar in May looks very, very interesting -- a lot of strong conservative states who are looking for the opportunity to tighten this race back up. There's talk now of maybe making the state of Texas, 154 [sic] delegates, a winner-take-all state. We would like that. That would be a good thing.”
And today on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Santorum spokeswoman Alice Stewart added, “Keep an eye on Texas, that’s going to be critical in terms of how the votes play out there, whether it’s winner-take-all or proportional. Texas will be critical in the primary election and everyone needs to pay attention to that."
Right now, Texas is set to award its 155 delegates -- on May 29 -- proportionally. But making it winner-take-all could help Santorum narrow Romney’s delegate lead, if Santorum remains in the race (and more importantly, if he remains competitive).
Per the Texas GOP’s bylaws, you need 15 members of the executive committee to call such an emergency meeting.
And it takes a two-thirds vote at that meeting to propose a rule change -- that would later be sent to the Republican National Committee.
But a Republican official says the RNC is "unlikely" to grant Texas a waiver to change its rules.
"If they succeed in changing the rules in Texas, then they have to come to [the RNC] for a waiver, and it is unlikely to happen."

Santorum's daughter defies odds with Trisomy 18


Rick Santorum's daughter Bella was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal disorder.
At age 3, Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella, who has been hospitalized for the second time during his presidential campaign, has outlived the majority of children born with Trisomy 18, a relatively common chromosomal defect that occurs in one out of every 3,000 to 5,000 live births and is three times more common in girls than boys.

Children with Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, have three copies of chromosome 18, instead of the normal two, in their cells. Many pregnancies with affected fetuses miscarry, and half of all affected babies who are carried to term will be stillborn, according to the Trisomy 18 Foundation. Most cases aren’t inherited but occur as a random error in cell division during the formation of eggs and sperm, according to the National Library of Medicine.
About 5 percent to 10 percent of children with Trisomy 18 survive the first year of life, and they often have severe intellectual disability, according to the library, part of the National Institutes of Health.

“They usually die from inability to breathe,” says Dr. Larry Fenton, director of pediatric palliative care at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. “The mechanism of the brain telling the lungs to expand frequently is defective.”

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NBC's Domenico Montanaro reports on Rick Santorum's daughter being taken to the hospital and the state of his presidential campaign.

Still, “while the developmental disability in children with Trisomy 18 … is significant, it is important to recognize that children do advance to some degree in their milestones,” Dr. John Carey, a pediatric geneticist at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, writes on the Trisomy 18 Foundation’s website. “They can interact with their families, smile and acquire some skills, such as rolling over, self-feeding, etc., if they survive infancy.”

The reason for Bella's current hospitalization hasn't been released.
"Rick and his wife Karen have taken their daughter Bella to the hospital. The family requests prayers and privacy as Bella works her way to recovery," Santorum Communications Director Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

In January, she was rushed to a hospital in Virginia when she developed double pneumonia.

The Santorums have medical equipment in their Virginia home and and a nurse on call that can tend to Bella. Because of these accommodations, Bella only needs to be taken to the hospital when her condition is very serious, a person familiar with the situation told NBC News.

This is the second time during the campaign that his 3-year-old with Trisomy 18 has needed to be taken to a hospital. Santorum canceled events in late January after Bella was rushed to a Virginia hospital when she developed pneumonia in both lungs.

The Santorums prefer to take Bella to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, but the severity of the January incident caused the family to rush to a hospital closer to their Virginia home.
It is unclear at this time which hospital she has been admitted to.

A small number of children with Trisomy 18, usually girls, live into their 20s and 30s, according to the foundation. However, the organization says, they have “significant developmental delays that do not allow them to live independently without assisted caregiving.”

Those who do survive beyond their first year usually can’t talk or walk and need some sort of a feeding tube in order to get nourishment, Fenton says. Although they are able to breathe, they’re likely to die eventually of pneumonia or other infections, he says. Largely it’s because they spend a lot of time in bed. "They don’t do the kinds of things that help clear the lungs, so they are much more vulnerable to infections.”

Recently, Fenton says, he met a 30-year-old woman with Trisomy 18, the oldest person he’d ever met with the disorder. “I would have to say she was profoundly disabled on the one hand and beautiful on the other. She was impeccably dressed. She had makeup on. She clearly knew her mom and dad and could reach out to them.”
Santorum's ailing daughter taken to the hospital

Earnings season begins with ominous signs for stocks

NEW YORK -- Since October, estimates for first-quarter earnings growth have tumbled while the S&P 500 has surged. With the earnings season starting next week, the outlook is not as sunny as in previous quarters.
Investors will assess whether slower growth is priced into the U.S. stock market, or if the S&P 500's retreat from Monday's four-year high is the start of a larger decline -- if results disappoint.
After the S&P 500's rise of about 30 percent since October, there is concern that buying interest is not strong enough to drive further gains, particularly after soft March U.S. employment figures were released on Friday.
"It seems like we're hitting resistance," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank in Chicago. "I think the market will grind higher, but it will be at a much slower pace. Earnings and jobs aren't helping."
Friday's nonfarm payrolls report was a disappointment, with just 120,000 jobs added in March, short of expectations for a gain of 203,000 jobs. Stock futures fell 1 percent in a shortened session, with the cash market closed entirely.
Fund managers will look for earnings to offer insight into how companies are faring amid mixed economic indicators and a resurgence of concerns about Europe. Strong results could extend the multi-month rally while weak ones could provide a catalyst for further declines.
"If management commentary indicates that business is holding up despite the apparent slowing of European economies, that would be very encouraging for stocks," said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston, who helps oversee about $260 billion.
"On the other hand, if orders are dropping or consumer spending doesn't appear sustainable, that could lead to some downward pricing action and earnings revisions."

A time for caution

The latest trends haven't been encouraging. Analysts have trimmed estimates, management teams have grown more cautious, and overall growth rates have fallen sharply.
S&P 500 companies' earnings are seen rising 3.2 percent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, compared with growth of 9.2 percent in the fourth quarter and a jump of almost 19 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the year-ago period.
Analysts have been cutting estimates steadily in the last few months, but the ratio of cuts to increases leveled off in March, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch wrote in a recent note. That indicates "analysts are still cutting estimates, but at a decreasing rate."
Bank of America-Merrill Lynch also pointed out that corporate management teams were becoming more cautious relative to expectations as well. Overall, data from StarMine, a unit of Thomson Reuters, shows most sectors with declining estimates, particularly materials and telecom stocks.
"We feel it is too early to switch to a positive short-term signal, given worrisome trends in guidance and sales revisions," Bank of America-Merrill Lynch wrote to clients.
SanDisk Corp warned on Tuesday that weak demand would hurt its revenue and margins, an outlook that sparked a steep dive in the flash-memory maker's stock and hurt chip makers.
On the positive side, Bed Bath & Beyond posted better-than-expected results late Wednesday, driving its stock to an all-time high on Thursday.
Alcoa Inc will mark the start of the earnings season with results after the closing bell on Tuesday. Google Inc , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co are all slated to report later in the week.
Over the last several weeks, growth estimates have dropped markedly even as economic data has generally shown improved U.S. demand and the equity market has rallied.
On the first of October, first-quarter earnings were seen growing more than 10 percent. While estimates have dropped by more than two-thirds since then, the S&P 500 has climbed 27 percent, raising the question of whether the slowing growth has been priced into the market.
Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup, wrote that the season "may generate the next obstacle for investors," saying they had become "too accustomed" to upside surprises.

Lowering the bar

The second quarter got off to a weak start. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ended the quarter's first week with a loss of 0.7 percent -- its worst weekly performance since December. That was in sharp contrast to the rally on Monday -- the quarter's first trading day -- when the S&P 500 ended at 1,418.90, its highest close since mid-May 2008.
At Thursday's close, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 1.2 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.4 percent.
It is possible that analysts have become too pessimistic.
Warnings have dominated the pre-earnings season. Of the 121 pre-announcements, 68 percent are negative ones, compared with 58 percent in the first quarter a year ago.
"The reduced expectations leave more room for upside surprises," said Michael Mullaney, a portfolio manager who helps manage $9.5 billion at Fiduciary Trust Co in Boston.
However, there is still concern that the recent burst of economic growth will prove transitory -- and that demand will sag after a warmer-than-usual winter in the United States.
"Earnings are expected to be weak this quarter, and if you strip out Apple Inc , the picture is even worse. That could be a big headwind, especially at a time when the macro environment is less than friendly."

CNBC's Sue Herera looks ahead to what are likely to be next week's top business and financial stories.

'We're all nervous': Tulsa, Okla., on edge as cops hunt gunman who shot 5

A series of shootings on Saturday have authorities searching for suspects in Tulsa, Oklahoma. NBC's John Yang reports.
TULSA, Okla. -- Residents of Tulsa's predominantly black north side said Saturday they're afraid a shooter is still roaming their neighborhoods looking for victims after five people were shot — and three killed — a day earlier.
"We're all nervous," said Renaldo Works, 52, who was getting his hair cut at the crowded Charlie's Angels Forever Hair Style Shop. "I've got a 15-year-old, and I'm not going to let him out late. People are scared. We need facts.
"You don't want to be a prisoner in your own home."

2 arrested in connection with Tulsa shootings

Police are still waiting for the results of forensic tests, but investigators think the shootings are linked because they happened around the same time within a 3-mile span, and all five victims were out walking when they were shot.
Though all five of the victims were black, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan told Reuters it was too early to know whether the shootings were racially motivated.
"The whole race issue, the hate crime issue, there's a very logical theory that would say that's what it could be, but I'm a police officer, I've got to go by the evidence," Jordan said, adding that no racial slurs had been used by the gunman.
"It's just not time for us to say that," Jordan said. "Right now I'm worried about more of my citizens being murdered."

Task force hunts killer after Tulsa shooting spree

However, KRMG reported that the FBI announced that the shootings would be investigated under federal hate crime legislation.
One of the victims told police that the shooter was a white man driving a white pickup truck who stopped to ask for directions before opening fire. Officer Jason Willingham said Saturday that the pickup was spotted in the area of three of the shootings.
More than two dozen officers are investigating the case, along with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies, Willingham said. Citing Jordan, KRMG reported that the the task force had been dubbed "Operation Random Shooter."
As investigators searched for the killer, the tension and fear among some of the city's black residents was palpable.
"It's got everybody on edge," said Louis Johnson, 24. "Everybody is saying the same thing — it's a white guy in a white pickup or a Tahoe."

'Pretty shocking'

Barber Charles Jones, 40, said the north side has had its share of crime trouble, but residents have never faced a series of random killings like these.
"It's pretty shocking," Jones said. "We've never had any serial-type stuff."
At a neighborhood park a couple blocks from two of the shootings, parents kept close watch over their kids during an Easter egg hunt.
"The first I heard of it, it sounded like some type of gangland thing," said 47-year-old parent Wayne Bell, who was hiding plastic eggs in the grass. "Everybody's asking why. Everybody has to just stick together. It's more of a keep close to the nest thing right now."
The Rev. Warren Blakney Sr., president of the Tulsa NAACP, said "avid distrust" between the black community and the police department had raised concerns that the shootings wouldn't be fully investigated, and he contacted police to emphasize the need for them to work together to avoid vigilantism.
"We have to handle this because there are a number of African-American males who are not going to allow this to happen in their neighborhood," he said. "We're trying to quell the feeling of 'let's get someone' and we will make as certain as we can that this isn't pushed under the rug."

Corruption allegations

Tulsa's police department has been tainted by accusations of corruption. Three ex-police officers and a former federal agent were sentenced to prison in December after a two-year investigation involving allegations of falsified search warrants, nonexistent informants, perjury and stolen drugs and money. Two other ex-officers were acquitted of stealing money during an FBI sting but fired after an internal affairs investigation.
More than a half-dozen lawsuits have been filed by people who claim they were wrongfully locked up by police, and nearly 40 people had their convictions overturned or prison sentences commuted as a result of the corruption probe. Prosecutors have suggested the five police officers who were charged were part of a broader plot in which corrupt officers stole money and drugs, conducted illegal searches and fabricated evidence without fear of getting caught.
Four of Friday's shooting victims were found in yards, and the fifth in a street. Police identified those killed as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31. Fields was found wounded about 1 a.m. Friday, Clark was found in a street about an hour later, and Allen was discovered in the yard of a funeral home about 8:30 a.m., though investigators believe he was shot much earlier.
Minutes after Fields was found, police found two men with gunshot wounds in another yard two blocks away. They were taken to hospitals in critical condition but were expected to survive, police said. Willingham said one of those men described the shooter as being white.
"The police chief has assured me they are doing all they can," Blakney said. "We don't want anybody else hurt, white or black."
Authorities asked people to come forward with any information on the shootings.
"All citizens of Tulsa understand the significance of this event," Mayor Dewey Bartlett added.
The Associated Press, Reuters and staff contributed to this report.

Police: Tulsa shootings possibly connected to murder of suspect's father

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan and task force commander Major Walter Evans discuss the arrest of two suspects in shootings that left three dead and two wounded.

Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET: TULSA, Okla. -- After a two-day manhunt, police arrested two men early Sunday in connection with a Good Friday shooting spree in Tulsa's predominantly black north side that left three people dead and two others wounded.
Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were held on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill. Police identified both suspects as white males, although earlier court records identified a Jacob Carl England, born on the same date, as American Indian.
Police are examining whether the shootings might be a hate crime, as England, 19, had posted racially charged comments on his Facebook page about the two-year anniversary of his father's death, the Tulsa World reported.
England wrote: “Today is two years that my dad has been gone shot by a f------ n----- it's hard not to go off between that and sheran I'm gone in the head.”
Sheran Hart Wilde, his girlfriend, died earlier this year.
Watts, his roommate, commented beneath his post: “I kno i miss them 2. My last meomeries were great ones of them. Its nt goodbye its c u later.”
On his Facebook page, Watts describes himself as single, interested in women and a "very proud daddy." Court records show that he was charged in 2009 for aggravated assault and battery, but those charges were dismissed nearly three years later. In 2006, he pled guilty to domestic violence, a misdemeanor offense, and paid a $649.90 court fine.
England's father, Carl England, 47, was shot and killed during an argument at an apartment complex two years ago; his death led to charges against a 38-year-old black man, reported. The man, Pernell Jefferson, was charged with pointing a gun and is scheduled to be released in 2014, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Task force commander Maj. Walter Evans said at a press conference Sunday that the two men were taken into custody just north of the city at 1:47 a.m. He credited the 40 or so tips to the Crime Stoppers hotline that started pouring in Saturday after the police asked members of the community for help cracking the case.
When asked by a reporter whether England's father's death had played a role in the shootings, Evans said he couldn't be sure, "but there is a connection."
The shootings happened around 1 a.m. Friday within a three miles of each other. All five victims were out walking when they were shot. Police have said they don't believe victims knew each other.
More than two dozen officers were called in to investigate the case, along with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies.
Tipsters told police to look for a white man driving a white Chevrolet pickup with a loud exhaust, which had been spotted near three of the shootings. Tulsa City Councilman Jack Henderson told Reuters that witnesses saw one of the shooters drive through the neighborhood and stop pedestrians for directions. As they walked away, he shot at them.
Other tipsters contacted Crime Stoppers to inform police that England had the truck, and that he planned to burn it. Deputies found a burned truck around 6 p.m. on Saturday and traced it to England.
The dead were identified as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31, according to Reuters. The two wounded men, who were not identified, were expected to survive.
'We're all nervous': Tulsa, Okla., on edge after shooting spree
Though all of the victims were black, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan told Reuters on Saturday it was too early to know whether the shootings were racially motivated.
However, KRMG TV reported Saturday that the FBI had announced that the shootings would be investigated under federal hate crime legislation.
NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Facts Behind the Government’s New ‘Hospitality’ Guidelines for Immigrant Detainees

Undocumented Mexican immigrants wait to be deported from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) center on April 28, 2010, in Phoenix. (John Moore/Getty Images)
The government recently unveiled a new set of rules outlining better care for immigrants and asylum seekers detained while waiting for their deportation hearings.
The guidelines, issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service (ICE), have been assailed by congressional Republicans, who say they amount to coddling illegal immigrants.
The controversy heated up last week in a hearing called "Holiday on ICE," held by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who has referred to the new rules as "a hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants." He pointed in particular to a new federal facility in Texas that the administration has held up as an example of a less penal approach to non-criminal immigration detainees. The guards there don't wear uniforms, and the facility has, as Smith pointed out, a soccer field, volleyball court and cable TV. The $32 million center was built by a private contractor, and ICE claims it will cost less per day to house detainees there than in other facilities.
Smith, as well as the head of the union representing ICE agents, says the new guidelines are too loose on security, and that the government's focus should be on deporting undocumented immigrants faster. Meanwhile, immigrant rights advocates say detainees who aren't criminal offenders shouldn't be treated as such.
So, what are the new guidelines, and what prompted the changes to ICE's policy?
The government detains about 400,000 illegal immigrants each year. On a given day, roughly 32,000 people are held, about half of them in jails rather than immigrant detention facilities. (PBS' "Frontline" provides a useful history of changes to U.S. detention policy and an interactive map of ICE detention centers.)
The rules, which are gradually taking effect, are meant to address areas of detention that have long been problematic.
Access to medical care: More than 100 immigrants in detention have died since 2003, many from lack of access to medical care or proper medication. The New York Times reported in 2010 that immigration officials covered up many deaths and that few safeguards for transparency were in place. The new guidelines promise better regular medical care, including mental health and separate standards for women's health.
Protection against sexual abuse: The American Civil Liberties Union found 185 reported incidents of sexual abuse between 2007 and 2010. Immigration detention centers are not covered by legislation aimed at reducing prison rape, and the new guidelines are supposed to improve supervision of detainees as well as the process for reporting sexual abuse.
Access to family and legal help: Because detainees are spread across hundreds of facilities, often in isolated areas, and frequently transferred, it was difficult for family members or lawyers to remain in close contact with them. A Human Rights Watch reportfound that 46 percent of detainees were moved at least twice, and 3,600 detainees were transferred 10 times or more. The new guidelines improve access to bilingual interpreters, and call for better communication with families and legal counsels about transfers. (ICE also issued a directive this year to minimize transfers.) Facilities are "encouraged to provide opportunities for both contact and non-contact visitation."
Advocates have pointed out that many aspects of new guidelines and the new Texas facility, such as increased freedom of movement and contact visitation, bring the ICE guidelines in line with the standards at many federal correctional facilities, especially low-security ones.
The government plans to build more facilities like the one in Texas, though most detainees will still find themselves housed in less plush environs. Only about 14 percentare expected to be held in new facilities like the one in Texas.
The administration has continued a policy begun under President George W. Bush in which asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants are detained until their court dates. Arrests and deportations have risen steadily since Obama took office.
The administration is billing the rules and new construction as part of a shift in focus away from non-criminal immigrants to catching and deporting criminal immigrants.


2011 Operations Manual ICE Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS)

In keeping with its commitment to reform the immigration detention system, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has revised its detention standards. These new standards, known as Performance-Based National Detention Standards 2011 (PBNDS 2011), represent an important step in detention reform.
PBNDS 2011 reflects ICE's ongoing effort to tailor the conditions of immigration detention to its unique purpose while maintaining a safe and secure detention environment for staff and detainees. In developing the revised standards, ICE incorporated the input of many agency employees and stakeholders, including the perspectives of nongovernmental organizations and ICE field offices. PBNDS 2011 is crafted to improve medical and mental health services, increase access to legal services and religious opportunities, improve communication with detainees with limited English proficiency, improve the process for reporting and responding to complaints, and increase recreation and visitation.