Celeb chef Paula Deen admits using ‘N’ word

— Celebrity chef Paula Deen denies she’s ever told racial jokes, but she did acknowledge using the “N” word, according to her deposition in a lawsuit.

A former manager at Deen’s restaurants in Savannah, Georgia, is suing her and her brother for sexual and racial harassment.

LIsa T. Jackson’s lawsuit alleges that Deen and Bubba Hier committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination and racism that resulted in the end of her five-year employment at Deen’s Lady & Sons and Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House eateries in Savannah.

Deen’s lawyer called the allegations false.

“Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable,” her lawyer, Bill Franklin said. “She is looking forward to her day in court.”

Deen was questioned by Jackson’s lawyers in May and the deposition was just filed with the court.

Jackson lawyer: “Miss Deen, have you told racial jokes?”

Deen: “No, not racial.”

Jackson lawyer: “Have you ever used the ‘N’ word yourself?”

Deen: “Yes, of course.”

Deen testified that she probably used the racial slur when talking to her husband about “when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.”

“I didn’t feel real favorable towards him,” she said, referring to the robber.

Jackson lawyer: “Have you used it since then?”

Deen: “I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.”

Deen said should couldn’t remember other contexts in which she used the slur, but “maybe in repeating something that was said to me.”

“But that’s just not a word that we use as time has gone on,” she said. “Things have changed since the ’60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior.”

CNN’s Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.


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Serena Williams clarifies Steubenville rape comments

— Tennis ace Serena Williams clarified Wednesday the controversial comments she made in a magazine article about the victim’s role in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case that garnered national headlines earlier this year.

In March, two high school football players were convicted of raping a drunk teen at a party and posting pictures of the incident online.

In an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Williams talks about the convicted rapists after a news report about the case appeared on a nearby TV screen during the interview. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people,” she told Rolling Stone.

Of the victim, Williams also says in the interview: “She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

The comments, posted on Rolling Stone’s website Tuesday, immediately caused a firestorm on social media, particularly on Twitter where users castigated the tennis star.

On Wednesday, Williams released a statement on her website clarifying her remarks.

“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved — that of the rape victim and of the accused,” she wrote.

“I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written — what I supposedly said — is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame,” Williams added.

Stephen Rodrick, who wrote the Rolling Stone article, stands by his reporting, telling the Poynter Institute: “The interview is on tape. Other than that, I’ll let the story speak for itself.”


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

After five infants die in recliner, maker settles with feds

— The deaths of five infants and dozens of injuries or falls have led federal regulators to stop the sales of a popular baby recliner. On Friday, it was announced that the company had agreed to the government’s terms to end further legal proceedings.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it had received numerous reports since 2009 involving the Nap Nanny and Nap Nanny Chill products, including the five deaths.

Four infants died in Nap Nanny Generation Two recliners and a fifth death involved in the Chill model, the commission said. There were 92 reports of infants hanging off or falling over the side of the products, including some babies who were restrained in the products’ harness, the commission said in a statement.

Parents who continue to use the products are putting their infants at significant risk of injury and death, the commission said.

The products included a design defect, and instructions and warnings were inadequate, the commission said.

The recliners’ maker, Baby Matters LLC, agreed to settle the case more than six months after the government initially demanded a recall, the commission said.

Baby Matters is no longer in business, but its owner and founder, Leslie Gudel, continues to object to the recall.

Improper use of the recliners — such as in a crib, where children could suffocate on a crib bumper or in a blanket — “does not mean our product caused the child’s death or is hazardous,” Gudel said a statement on the now-shuttered company’s website Friday.

As part of the settlement, the company agreed to keep the website NapNanny.com online for five years, warning parents about the recliners.

In July 2010, Baby Matters and the commission issued a joint recall for the company’s Nap Nanny Generation One recliner.

There was one death and 22 reports of infants hanging or falling over the side of the Nap Nanny regardless of whether parents used the harness as instructed, the commission said.

Despite design improvements, warnings and instructions added to the company’s Generation Two model and Nap Nanny Chill recliner, there have been four more fatalities, the commission said.

The Nap Nanny recliner was designed for sleeping, resting and playing, and included a shaped foam base with an inclined indentation for the baby to sit, and a fitted fabric cover with a three-point harness.

Five thousand Nap Nanny Generation One and 50,000 Generation Two models were sold from 2009 to early 2012. One hundred thousand Chill models were sold since January 2011, according to the commission. All were priced at about $130.

Four major retailers — Amazon.com, Buy Buy Baby, Diapers.com and Toys R Us/Babies R Us — voluntarily recalled the products.

Center for Rural Affairs calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The Center for Rural Affairs Board of Directors over the weekend of June 8, 2013, unanimously called for comprehensive federal legislation to fix America’s broken immigration system. With the United States Senate poised to take up immigration, board members felt it was important to emphasize that reforming our broken immigration system is especially important to rural America.

The Center’s Board called for:

  • An opportunity for undocumented immigrants who fulfill the requirements for obtaining citizenship to remain in the US as citizens.
  • A more robust process for legal immigration that shortens the timeline and waiting list for legal immigration and creates clear avenues for future immigrants.
  • Practical and appropriate limits as determined by an independent commission on the number of manually skilled workers allowed to immigrate legally each year.
  • More effective enforcement of existing wage and labor laws and of the prohibition on hiring undocumented immigrants and falsely classifying them as independent contractors.
  • The United States admits only 10,000 manually skilled workers on work visas each year, about one for every 100 immigrants who enter without a visa and find work. The door to legal, documented immigration used by earlier generations is today largely closed for all but the wealthy and well educated.

The Center for Rural Affairs recognizes the need to fully engage immigrants in rural communities and American democracy through support for minority business development, voter registration, leadership development and other means. These are the

approaches that bring people together and build community.

The Center’s full statement on immigration can be found here: http://www.cfra.org/node/4634

The Center for Rural Affairs was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities, and we work to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. John Crabtree can be reached by email at: johnc@cfra.org.

Morehouse professor says we are losing a generation

Dr. Henri Treadwell highlights the impact of incarceration in her new book “Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White: How Everyday Leaders Can Build Healthier Opportunities for African American Boys and Men.”

As we celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, June 16, 2013, one author seeks to remind us that far too many African American children will not be spending this special day with their dads due to incarceration.

Dr. Henrie Treadwell, research professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine, points out that among African American children, one in nine (11.4 percent), have a parent in jail, with more fathers than mothers incarcerated.

“For children of incarcerated parents, studies have shown that they are seven times more likely to go to prison themselves,” said Dr. Treadwell. “And this Father’s Day is just another stark reminder of the uphill battle that they face, especially for young African American boys. We are losing a generation.”

Dr. Treadwell has dedicated her life’s work to improving access to primary health care, prevention and other needed services to all people. She focuses on what she calls her “missing men”— the African American boys and men whose health and well being she feels are seriously threatened by virtually all social and policy systems.

This topic is the focus of her new book, “Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White: How Everyday Leaders Can Build Healthier Opportunities for African American Boys and Men.”

According to Dr. Treadwell, she decided to write the book to help bring the many issues surrounding the imprisonment of African American males to the forefront.

“The plight of the African American male is something we all must pay attention to,” said Dr. Treadwell. “We have a mass epidemic of incarceration. So many men and boys are going to prison. The dropout rate of African American children is linked to their fathers being in prison. It has been estimated that one out of every two children of incarcerated men drop out of school.”

She added, “Many of the people who are incarcerated have mental problems, need counseling, or have some substance abuse problem that isn’t being treated. They have no hope and they are not getting the treatment they need once they are released. Others can’t find jobs or anything meaningful to do once they are released.”

Dr. Treadwell holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of South Carolina where she enrolled as the first African American after a civil rights lawsuit, and was the first African American woman to ever graduate from the university. She holds a master’s degree in biology from Boston University, a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Atlanta University, and completed postdoctoral work at the Harvard University School of Public Health.

“I am interested in building on the services incarcerated men need so they can get help when they come home,” she said. “I am most concerned with keeping them out of jail and also with keeping our young boys out of juvenile detention, which is the first step towards prison.”

According to Treadwell, her new book has been an eye-opener for many of its readers. “People are very concerned and are learning things they did not know,” she said. “People don’t realize how deep the issue of incarceration is. It also leads to stress, poor health, anger issues, substance abuse, etc.”

She added, “Many African American women will not marry, because these men move from the community into the prisons and don’t come back. That’s a huge blow. I am also concerned with the number of black women who are struggling to raise their sons.”

Dr. Treadwell said she would like to see a national campaign launched around the issue of providing better supportive services for men once they are released; more successful African Americans reaching back to help their communities; and improvements in meeting areas within prisons for incarcerated men to spend time with their children.

“The prison industry is huge,” she said. “It’s a multibillion dollar industry, and people do benefit. Food, linen and other services must be paid for, and generate enormous profits. However, our children, family, and men are losing. Many of the children miss their fathers and these kids feel they are being punished, although they didn’t do anything wrong.”

She added, “This Father’s Day, I would like for us to also think about all of the men who are behind bars, the children they leave behind, and the mothers who are struggling to raise them.”

Dr. Treadwell’s book “Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White: How Everyday Leaders Can Build Healthier Opportunities for African American Boys and Men” is available at Amazon.com and retails for $35 to $45.

Zimmerman’s murder trial starts Monday with jury selection

— Despite the intense scrutiny and heated emotions surrounding his client’s case, George Zimmerman’s defense attorney says he has no immediate plans to ask for a change of venue or to put his client on the stand.

Zimmerman’s murder trial will begin with jury selection Monday in Seminole County, Florida — the same county where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot last year.

Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, said requesting a change of venue is only relevant if lawyers can’t pick a suitable jury.

“If we can pick a jury in Seminole County, this is where the incident occurred and this is where the case should be decided,” O’Mara told HLN’s Jean Casarez.

O’Mara also said there are no immediate plans for Zimmerman to testify.

“The defense doesn’t have to present any evidence, any piece of paper, any witness including the defendant. It is all up to whether or not the State can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “In this case, they have to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. So if they get past all of that, such that we decide to put some witnesses on, we’ll decide whether or not George should take the stand.”

He noted that Zimmerman has already given several voluntary statements to police, “so all of that information is already out there.”

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is charged with second-degree murder for shooting Martin on February 26, 2012. He said he shot the teenager in self-defense.

On Saturday, voice recognition experts testified it’s impossible to positively identify whose screams are heard in the background of the 911 calls made the night Martin was shot.

The full interview with Casarez will air on HLN’s “Morning Express” on Monday.

CNN’s Colette Bennett contributed to this report.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Supporting Coal Exports Brings Jobs to America

If we sell more products to our trading partners than we buy from them, we will create jobs and add value to our economy.

But during World Trade Month, our negative balance of trade is a stark reminder of a soft spot we face on the road to economic recovery.

If the President succeeds, one industry that will help him close our trade deficit may surprise those who think only of consumer electronics or autos. It’s a U.S. industry that enjoys a positive trade balance right now, and one that can help close that trade gap even faster given the right conditions.

That industry is coal. In fact, the $14 billion of coal shipped globally last year comprises the only net positive addition to our nation’s balance of trade from the energy sector. Last year, the 126 million tons of U.S. coal exports supported 168,430 jobs at mines, railroads, ports and many other businesses located in dozens of states.

The fact is, the U.S. coal industry has doubled coal exports since 2008 and has already made a significant contribution to the president’s National Export Initiative.

According to a new study by Ernst & Young, coal exports create high-wage jobs that on average pay more than $96,000 a year, almost 50 percent more than the all-industry wage. At a time when our economy struggles to generate high-wage employment, exporting coal is obviously one solution. These jobs aren’t confined to coal mines but extend throughout the supply chain, from the rail and port terminals downstream to retail and wholesale businesses.

If coal’s star turn in the balance of trade drama surprises anyone, it’s likely because they are unaware that coal is booming everywhere else in the world. In fact, thanks to powerful demand from rapidly developing countries such as China and India, coal is the fastest growing fuel worldwide for the past decade and is widely expected to surpass oil as the world’s number one energy source by 2017. Some 1,200 new coal plants, are slated to be built— three-quarters of them in China and India— where importing coal is a top priority for steelmaking and for generating affordable electricity to keep pace with rapid urbanization.

For the United States with more than a quarter of the World’s coal reserves— more than any other country— this spells opportunity. For every million tons of coal we export that helps developing countries we create 1,320 jobs here at home. That’s the kind of win-win trade relation the president wants more of.

But the U.S. needs more port capacity to help the president with his goal. An expansion of the nation’s coal export infrastructure at ports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes, would help the United States potentially double its exports once again.

As long as we lack that expanded port capacity, other big coal producers like Australia and Indonesia will be happy to provide the coal if we don’t and keep the jobs and the export revenue that could be reducing our trade deficit.

A February 2013 report by the Bipartisan Policy Center recommended against restricting coal exports, for the simple reason that our balance of payments will suffer if those exports are curbed.

And the Center is correct. If we are serious about creating high-wage jobs and competing head-to-head with the rest of the world, U.S. coal exports offer an example of how to achieve both objectives. America has coal— the energy source that the rest of the world wants. Providing it to them will ensure our own economic wellbeing.

Hal Quinn is president and CEO of the National Mining Association— the voice of the American mining industry in Washington, D.C. Membership includes more than 325 corporations involved in all aspects of coal and solid minerals production.