3 kids found abandoned in Portland


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(CNN) — Police said Friday that they tracked down the mother of three children — all apparently 3 years old or younger — who were found alone the previous morning in a vacant building in Portland, Oregon.

Police released a brief statement about noon Friday, saying, “The mother of the missing children has been located, and we thank everyone who helped with information. We do not need need any additional tips.”

Authorities did not offer more details, including whether charges will be filed in the case.

About 1 p.m., Portland police indicated on their Twitter page that they’d “removed the photos of the children from our press release” because their identities were now known.

“They have been identified, and the photos are no longer appropriate,” police said.

The investigation began with a 911 call placed about 9:25 a.m. Thursday, about a man who’d heard children’s voices apparently coming from a shed behind his house in East Portland.

Police officers arrived and found the “vacant residence” where the sounds had come from. There they talked to “a number of homeless people on the premises” and discovered the three “olive-skinned” children.

The youngest is described as a 15-pound infant who is between the age of 8 and 15 months. She has short black hair, brown eyes and two lower front teeth showing.

The next oldest child is another girl. Weighing 28 pounds, she has long black hair and brown eyes and is about 2 years old, police estimate.

The third child is a boy, approximately 3 years old. He also weighs 28 pounds and has brown eyes, as well as short black hair.

Homeless people initially told police that a woman, believed to be the children’s mother, had abandoned the children there the night before.

More interviews with homeless people and calls to a tip line yielded some leads in the probe by Friday morning, though at that point police said they were still trying to identify the children, their parents or any other family members.

The three youngsters appeared to have been reasonably well-clothed and fed before they were apparently abandoned, King said.

They were all checked out medically and appear to be healthy, King said. They were placed in the care of the state Department of Human Services, he said.

A woman who lives across the street from where the children were discovered said she saw a couple of people on the property Thursday morning and called the owner to suggest he call police, The Oregonian newspaper in Portland reported.

“Little did I know they had three babies in the backyard,” the newspaper quoted Judy Baxter as saying. “It was real sad when we saw the kids come out.”






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Burn victim graduates with an MBA


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Editor’s note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle — injury, illness or other hardship — they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. This week Manoj Rana talks about the fire that almost cost him his life.

(CNN) — I came to America as a transfer student in the fall of 2004. I did three years of computer engineering in India and then transferred to Purdue University Calumet. On July 2, 2005, just a month before graduation, a guy who lived on the first floor of my apartment building set fire to his place.

He wrapped his baby in a blanket, put the baby in a car seat, put the car seat in the closet and then poured gasoline over the apartment with his baby and wife still in it. He then set the whole place on fire and left.

The fire started at 4:30 a.m. My roommate and I could not jump out with the balcony and windows engulfed in flames. As my roommate fell unconscious in front of me, I started running down the stairs and passed out. A firefighter found my body and pulled me out.

As the paramedics were taking me to the hospital, I heard one say, “This guy is 95% burned; he doesn’t have a chance.” At that moment, I thought about my family and how I came to America to get good education, and now I didn’t have a chance to live. I was soon unconscious and later woke up in the University of Chicago burn unit after four months in an induced coma.

The man’s wife, his baby and my best friend and roommate, Prabhat Singhal, died in the fire.

After seven months in Chicago, I was transferred to Wishard Health Services in Indianapolis for my rehabilitation. I don’t have any family in America so I lived in a nursing home. I stayed there for 2½ years while I went through reconstructive surgeries to regain range of motion in my arms.

For more than five years, I went through an intense therapy program. I wore a face mask for three years and pressure garments on my entire body; I wore dynamic splints on my hands, wrists and elbows to increase range of motion, daily dressing changes to my wounds and performing hourly exercises to restore function in all of my joints.

I wanted to get an MBA so I studied in my extra time. I scheduled my Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, exam and got a six-hour pass from the nursing home to take the test. I scored 700 on my GMAT and got accepted into the Indiana University Kelley School of Business Evening MBA program in Indianapolis. I wanted to go to a part-time program since I didn’t know how much of a course load I would be able to take.

Everyone gets their acceptance letter mailed to his home; I got my letter mailed to the nursing home.

My doctors did everything they could to help me regain range of motion in my arms. Even after 54 surgeries, I am still very limited. I don’t have any finger movement in my left hand and very limited finger movement in my right hand. I type with one finger. I rely on various adaptive equipments to perform my activities of daily living.

This horrific crime not only left me with disabilities but also interfered with my visa. I have not seen most of my family in India since the accident seven years ago, because I am still waiting on a green card. My sister has been denied a visa four times in trying to visit me.

I have been able to come out of this tragedy because of the values that my parents instilled in me and the help from my occupational therapist.

My parents taught me the value of education, hard work and perseverance. They taught me to be content in life no matter what the circumstances. They taught me that “we can always find someone who is in worse condition than we are in. So be thankful for what you have.”

I call my occupational therapist, Shannon Hendricks, my guardian angel. God sent her into my life when I was in the deepest and darkest pit of my life. She took me to church every Sunday while I stayed in the nursing home, which brought some normalcy into my life. Today, I can live independently because of her hard work.

After 3½ years, I graduated with my MBA on May 13. I am now seeking a job in finance.

To give back to the community, I volunteered in the Wishard therapy department between many of my surgeries. I still visit the Wishard burn unit and talk to other burn patients about my experience.

I also lecture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to occupational therapy students about all the adaptive equipment I use to live independently. I have had some wonderful people in my life who have helped me in my journey. I plan to do the same for other people.






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The most bike-friendly state is…


A man rides his bike in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The state ranked as third most bicycle-friendly in the nation.

How did you state measure up? What would you like to see your state do to become more bike-friendly? Tell us in the comments!

(CNN) — For the fifth year straight, Washington ranked as the country’s most bicycle-friendly state, thanks to policies designed to create alternatives to driving, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

The advocacy group’s Bicycle Friendly State Program ranks the states each year under a series of criteria, from laws and regulations that govern bicycling to policies for accommodating cyclists and infrastructure funding.

In each of the top five states — Washington, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado and Oregon — the focus of the respective Departments of Transportation is not only on highways but on accommodating pedestrians, cyclists and transportation on ferries and trains, said Matt Wempe, the league’s state and local advocacy coordinator.

Arkansas, considered one of the least safe places for cyclists based on fatalities, was at the bottom of the list. The league’s top recommendation was to adopt a statewide bicycle plan and to establish an advisory committee to oversee its implementation.

Washington is considered a model for all other states on using federal funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects. It also earned points for adopting a safe passing and vulnerable road user law, which carries enhanced penalties for motorists who severely injure or kill a cyclist or pedestrian, Wempe said. It also creates a minimum 3-foot “safe passing” distance for cyclists by motorists.

Related: Drivers and cyclists square off on sharing the road to work

The state also has a “complete streets” policy, which means new roads must be designed with cyclists and pedestrians in mind, Wempe said.

“Every state says bicycles are treated the same as vehicles, but that needs to be clarified,” he said. “We’re stressing that bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles, but their needs in terms of infrastructure need to be clarified.”

Minnesota, which claimed the No. 2 spot, also has a complete streets policy. The state also earned kudos for its bike-sharing program and plans to expand bike trails along the Mississippi River.

Colorado cracked the top 10 for the first time with qualities that make it a model for other states in terms of traffic laws, Wempe said. It has a safe passing law and a Share the Road Campaign; cyclists are allowed to ride side-by-side. It also has bicycle commuter share of more than 1%, more than double the national average.

“We are encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts,” Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, said in a statement.

“But, as the scores clearly highlight, there’s much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and funding. Overall, we see states — and especially state Departments of Transportation and state legislatures — lagging behind cities and the expectations of local cyclists, despite the many well documented benefits of a more active lifestyle.”






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Investigation continues in Patz case


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(CNN) — A day after Pedro Hernandez was charged in the killing of 6-year-old Etan Patz, prosecutors now face the task of corroborating his confession and piecing together a mystery that’s confounded investigators for more than three decades.

Neighbors say suspect in Patz killing lived a quiet life with his family

Police say the 51-year-old New Jersey resident confessed to strangling Etan and dumping his body in the trash near a Manhattan bodega where he worked as a teenage stock clerk in 1979.

Attorney Harvey Fishbein said Hernandez — who is currently on suicide watch at Bellevue Hospital — has not entered a plea due to a pending psychiatric evaluation.

Inside Edition reveals this photo of Pedro Hernandez, the suspect who reportedly confessed to killing Etan Patz 33 years ago.“Inside Edition” reveals this photo of Pedro Hernandez, the suspect who reportedly confessed to killing Etan Patz 33 years ago.

The 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan helped trigger a national movement focusing on missing children. Here is the New York Police Department's original poster for Etan, who went missing May 25, 1979, a block from his SoHo home. He was walking to the school bus stop by himself for the first time when he disappeared.
The 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan helped trigger a national movement focusing on missing children. Here is the New York Police Department’s original poster for Etan, who went missing May 25, 1979, a block from his SoHo home. He was walking to the school bus stop by himself for the first time when he disappeared.

After more than 30 years, a break in the case appeared to develop in April 2012 when police closed off two blocks in New York's SoHo neighborhood and searched a basement in the area for clues. But the search came up empty.After more than 30 years, a break in the case appeared to develop in April 2012 when police closed off two blocks in New York’s SoHo neighborhood and searched a basement in the area for clues. But the search came up empty.

On April 20, 2012, New York police and FBI agents removed concrete slabs from a basement in search of clues in the 33-year-old disappearance of Etan. The basement is about a half-block from where the boy's family still lives.On April 20, 2012, New York police and FBI agents removed concrete slabs from a basement in search of clues in the 33-year-old disappearance of Etan. The basement is about a half-block from where the boy’s family still lives.

A note from Stan Patz, Etan's father, pleads for privacy from the media during renewed interest in the 33-year-old case in April 2012. The boy's parents have not commented on the new developments in the case.
A note from Stan Patz, Etan’s father, pleads for privacy from the media during renewed interest in the 33-year-old case in April 2012. The boy’s parents have not commented on the new developments in the case.

Etan was officially declared dead in 2001. His disappearance was the first of several high-profile cases that catapulted concern about missing children to the forefront of national consciousness.Etan was officially declared dead in 2001. His disappearance was the first of several high-profile cases that catapulted concern about missing children to the forefront of national consciousness.


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Searching for Etan PatzSearching for Etan Patz


Who is the Etan Patz suspect?


33 years of mystery in Etan Patz case


Front Lines: Etan Patz suspect arrested

Fishbein says his client has a “long psychiatric history” including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and hallucinations.

Former SoHo resident Roberto Monticello, who says he knew Hernandez at the time of Etan’s disappearance, called the former stock clerk a “very strange guy.”

“He was always by himself,” Monticello recalled to CNN affiliate NY1. “(I) never saw him with people.”

Opinion: Missing children, perception vs. reality

His pastor, George Bowen, described Hernandez as a “very quiet, unassuming, almost shy man,” attending church regularly with his wife and daughter, and sitting in the same seat almost every Sunday.

“So every Sunday morning I had a conversation with him,” Bowen told CNN Saturday. “But the conversation was more or less a greeting.”

One of the suspect’s sisters told The New York Times that some family members claimed he had told them about the alleged murder in the early 1980s.

“He confessed that he killed a little boy,” Norma Hernandez told The Times, saying that the suspect had moved to southern New Jersey shortly after Etan disappeared.

But she said that he had never told her directly and never mentioned the boy’s name.

Norma Hernandez, according to the newspaper, said that her family had been torn over whether to inform authorities after the confession, but ultimately did not.

“They did not want to get involved because it was a brother,” she told The Times.

Lisa Cohen, whose 2009 book, “After Etan,” is widely considered the definitive account of the case, said Saturday that she remains skeptical about the man’s confession.

“I had never heard of Pedro Hernandez before this week,” she told CNN.

Patz investigation a 33-year-long roller coaster ride

Etan went missing on May 25, 1979, a block from his home in Manhattan after walking to a school bus alone for the first time.

His disappearance helped spawn a national movement to raise awareness of missing children, including the then-novel approach of putting an image of the child’s face on thousands of milk cartons.

While Hernandez’s alleged motive remained unclear, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly described it as a crime of opportunity and said the suspect was remorseful.

“The detectives thought (the confession) was a feeling of relief on his part,” Kelly said.

Other employees of the store were interviewed after Etan disappeared, but not Hernandez, he added.

“I can’t tell you why,” Kelly said.

Hernandez has no criminal record, he noted.

The police investigation continues, as does the FBI’s, the agency said in a statement Thursday night.

“The FBI’s investigation into the disappearance of Etan Patz remains active and ongoing. We remain determined to solve this case,” FBI Assistant Director Janice K. Fedarcyk said in the statement.

A separate law enforcement source said Thursday that Hernandez’s claims were being treated with “a healthy dose of skepticism.”

The tipster whose information led to Hernandez’s arrest contacted authorities months ago after news coverage of their renewed search. That contact, at least in part, prompted investigators to question Hernandez.

Missing child case ‘awakened America’

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which reopened the case in 2010, declined to comment on the recent development.

Etan was officially declared dead in 2001 as part of a lawsuit filed by his family against Jose Antonio Ramos, a drifter and convicted child molester acquainted with Etan’s babysitter.

A judge found Ramos responsible for the boy’s death and ordered him to pay the family $2 million, money the Patz family has never received.

Although Ramos was considered a key focus of the investigation for years, he has never been charged in the case. He is serving a 20-year prison sentence in Pennsylvania for molesting another boy and is set to be released this year.






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Bidding adieu to Madonna’s home


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(CNN) — Years before Karolyne Smith sold Golden Palace Casino ad space on her forehead for $10,000, and long before an image of the Virgin Mary was toasted into the buttery crust of a grilled cheese sandwich and hocked for $28,000, there was a little family in a little town in Michigan that imprinted their names onto the awkward pages of eBay infamy with another strange sale.

That family is mine.

Just about everyone in my hometown of Rochester Hills knew Madonna had grown up there, but I would guess there weren’t too many who could point out which house had been hers. That is, until we bought it and put it on national TV.

It all started when I returned home from college after my freshman year to find my newfound freedom again weighed down by daily parental oversight. It was that awkward juncture between childhood and adulthood, and one muttered phrase to my dad — “Did you know Madonna’s house is for sale? You should buy it and put it on eBay” — sent us down a path that would become the story of something much bigger than us, even bigger than one of the world’s most famous celebrities.

My older brother Matt almost never tells the story. It was my dad’s money of course, but in his mid-20s, Matt became the face of it all because my dad doesn’t love attention and youth sells. He and my father have decidedly different takes on the whole ordeal. My brother says he’s embarrassed at the outcome and disappointed that in some circles he may always be known for this one stupid thing. My dad chalks it up to a “great learning experience and a lot of fun.”

It was a 30-day auction that just happened to bookend one of the biggest events in U.S. history. At the time, eBay was a relatively new phenomenon, and celebrity worship was at an all-time high. When you watch this video, you may judge us harshly, but I want to share this story because I believe it says a striking amount about one of the starkest cultural shifts our country has ever experienced. It’s perhaps the least important story you’ll ever see on the subject, but I hope you’ll find it interesting, because I had to beg to get my family to tell it again.

Madonna’s 2012 world tour opens May 31 in Israel

Photo in video courtesy Zillow.com






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Spurs quiet excellence bores fans


Tim Duncan, left, and the San Antonio Spurs have quietly beat down their first two playoff opponents, but who cares, right?

(CNN) — LeBron James is cocky. Kobe Bryant is a ball hog. Kevin Garnett is a thug. Dwight Howard got his coach fired. And Metta World Peace? Ugh, Metta World Peace.

These are the constant groans of NBA fans filling message boards and Twitter. We’ll leave it to you to debate their merits in the comments below, but the message is (supposedly) clear: We want better role models, less individualism and players who show respect for the game.

So what about the San Antonio Spurs? They are, for the most part, none of those negative things. They’re the winningest pro franchise in the country over the last 15 years, led by two men, David Robinson and Tim Duncan, who epitomize humility. They play as a team — quiet, dignified. They’ve accrued four rings since 1999, and they’ve done it without a whole lot of chest thumping, hooting and hollering.

This year, only the now-dispatched Chicago Bulls matched their regular season record at 50-16, and the Spurs are heading into Sunday’s Western Conference finals with several days’ rest after sweeping their first two opponents.

So, why don’t we love them? Nay, adore them?

Well, it’s because we’re kind of jerks. No, San Antonio, we’re not talking about you. Clearly, you’re gaga over them. We’re talking about the rest of the country. We’re talking about you, casual sports fan.

San Antonio and Oklahoma City will face off in a best-of-seven series for the Western Conference crown. Games 5-7 will be played only as necessary:

Sunday — Game 1,
San Antonio

Tuesday — Game 2,
San Antonio

Thursday — Game 3,
Oklahoma City

June 2 — Game 4,
Oklahoma City

June 4 — Game 5,
San Antonio

June 6 – Game 6,
Oklahoma City

June 8 — Game 7,
San Antonio


Source: NBA

Where’s the love? Why aren’t you decked out in silver and black?

“Because fans are hypocrites,” Turner Sports reporter and NBA guru David Aldridge stated bluntly. “People say one thing … but they won’t watch guys who do it the right way.”

I’m as guilty as the next fan. I’ve been an Atlanta Hawks fan since I was old enough to make these kinds of decisions, so I viscerally despise the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, yet I’ve watched almost every minute of their playoff games. I even stayed up late to take in the Los Angeles Lakers-Oklahoma City Thunder series.

Yet when the Spurs are on, my attention is far from rapt. I might tidy up the living room during the game or run an errand. If anyone plays me in Scramble With Friends, they’ll get an immediate reply.

“I think we’re all fallible that way,” said Dan Lebowitz, executive director of Northeastern University’s Sport in Society. “We are drawn to celebrity. We are drawn to grandeur in many respects. There’s a push-pull in each of ourselves — the lure of grandeur versus the beauty of hard work.”

It’s not just sports, either, said Lebowitz, whose organization strives to tap sports for positive social change. You see it with movie stars and politics as well.

“We award abhorrent behaviors and don’t spend a lot of time celebrating behavior that ought to be celebrated,” he said. “The way our culture is, we often say we want one thing, but we often bow down to negativity and the celebration of the egregious.”

Type “San Antonio Spurs” or “Tim Duncan” into Google alongside the word “boring,” and you will see how many column inches writers have devoted to the topic. Never mind that the Spurs averaged 103.7 points per game during the season (second in the league) or that they’ve won 18 straight, including their first eight playoff games.

ESPN’S Stuart Scott tweeted this week, “I’m NOT 1 of those ppl who thnk Spurs r boring 2 watch. I LUV the way they play” — thereby affirming the nation’s overriding sentiment on the matter.

Tony Parker has rebounded from a tumultuous 2011 with an MVP-caliber season.

Author Frank Deford wrote a column for NPR this week, mockingly wondering why wildly successful head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t think he’s a genius or why Duncan doesn’t ever try to get Pop fired.

“Tim Duncan is not only not known just as Tim, he is not even known as Duncan. In fact, he is always called ‘Tim Duncan,’ to make sure we remember who he is,” he wrote. “So it’s really not even going to seem like the NBA if Tim Duncan and Pop lead San Antonio back to the championship. Of course, outside of the Greater Alamo area, maybe nobody will even notice.”

Ouch, but true. Spurs games aren’t exactly ratings grabbers.

To be fair, the NBA appears to want to capitalize on this fan ambivalence rather than correct it. Go ahead and peruse the NBA Playoffs commercials on YouTube, and you’ll notice a dearth of Duncan and the squad’s other stars, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — none of whose jerseys makes the list of the league’s 15 best-sellers.

In a 60-second playoff spot that aired last month, featuring one of those hyperkinetic highlight montages, 25 players are featured before you see the first clip of Duncan dunking 35 seconds into the commercial.

By then, James, Bryant, the Jazz’s Devin Harris, the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin and the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry had been featured numerous times. Even the Mavs’ Ian Mahinmi and the Knicks’ Iman Shumpert get face time before you see Duncan.

Who, you ask? Exactly.

During the playoffs, Manu Ginobili has averaged 11.3 points, 4.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds.

Parker and Ginobili get even less love. The Spurs’ point guard, who had one of his best seasons ever and came in fifth in MVP voting, isn’t featured until the 55th second. You won’t see Ginobili until a few seconds before the commercial ends.

“People don’t find Tim Duncan doing the drop step terribly exciting,” Aldridge said of one of the big man’s most potent moves in the paint. “Tim’s just not a guy people get excited about seeing.”

It’s a disappointing thing to hear about a guy who has averaged 20 points and 11 boards for a decade and half, switching from power forward to center with an ease in which the average man might change his underwear.

As a power forward, Aldridge considers Duncan among the top two or three of the last 30 years. As a center, he’s in the top five or six, somewhere behind luminaries Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell, Aldridge said.

Yet the four NBA Finals in which the Spurs snared their championships — 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 — are among the lowest-rated finals in recent history, Aldridge said, and it has a lot to do with Duncan’s low-key nature.

In a recent Sports Illustrated cover story (at least our pals at SI are giving Duncan his props), Chris Ballard reported that the 6-foot-11 star veteran out of Wake Forest was content to stay out of the spotlight. He largely eschews endorsements and long interviews for the most part and is content “100 times out of 100″ to spend his off days with his wife and two kids.

“With the media, I just keep it basic, surface, to the point,” Duncan told the reporter. “You’re here to talk about basketball. I’ll give you what you want, and let’s go home. I don’t really care about anyone getting to know me, or getting into my life or anything else like that.”

While New York and Los Angeles, both of which have two NBA teams, make up the largest markets in the league, San Antonio ranks near the bottom and is one of six markets that can’t boast 1 million TV households, as of March 2011:

New Orleans (636,000)

Memphis (694,000)

Oklahoma City (705,000)

San Antonio (845,000)

Milwaukee (901,000)

Salt Lake City (954,000)

Source: Sports Media Watch

Yet with almost no hype, no trash talking, no taunting opponents, no pompous show of powdering one’s hands, Duncan has led the team to unprecedented success: The Spurs own a .702 winning percentage in Duncan’s 15 years in the league — better than any MLB, NFL, NHL or NBA team in the land, according to SI.

Popovich has always surrounded Duncan with players who suit the star’s personality and playing style, just as he did with David Robinson when the Naval Academy graduate anchored the team.

Pop’s mentality is just as important to the Spurs’ culture as Duncan “quietly leading the team to excellence year in, year out,” Lebowitz said. He knows the game’s challenges and how to get the best out of his squad, and there is a “great human reciprocity between him and his players.”

He teaches his players how best to carry themselves as part of the Spurs’ brand, and the players know how to wear it, even if the jerseys don’t sell so well, Lebowitz said.

“You can’t base success on monetization,” he said.

Establishing the culture has been important to the team’s success, Lebowitz said, pointing to Parker and forward Stephen Jackson as examples.

Parker went through a divorce to actress Eva Longoria last year after facing allegations that he cheated on her with an ex-teammate’s wife. Captain Jack, as he’s known, rejoined the team midseason this year, his sixth team change since he left the Spurs in 2003. A key figure in 2004′s “Malice in the Palace,” Jackson until this year was better known for his big mouth and his penchant for nightclubs.

This season, there has been little mention of Parker’s or Jackson’s pasts, as both have quietly made themselves invaluable to this year’s championship campaign. While Parker has had an MVP-caliber season, Jackson has come off the bench, averaging an awfully helpful nine points, four rebounds and two dishes per game.

“This is a team that has achieved through cooperative culture,” Lebowitz said. “I don’t try to match it up against another ballclub. I just say, ‘There’s a place that’s doing it right.’ “

Stephen Jackson has bucked his old reputation, coming off the bench this year for the Spurs.

Heap all the credit you want on Popovich, the reigning and two-time NBA coach of the year, but Aldridge said the success wouldn’t be possible without Duncan, who “allows Gregg Popovich to coach him.”

Unlike some of the big stars in the league, Duncan allows Pop to “yell at him, curse at him and treat him like a dog,” and Duncan’s teammates have to follow suit, Aldridge said.

“Their whole team is predicated on all these people who can play with Tim and around Tim,” he said. “(Popovich) has said he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his years in the NBA coaching a bunch of jerks.”

It’s a model Lebowitz wishes more teams would follow. Call the Spurs boring all you want, but true basketball fans appreciate the grace and efficiency with which Duncan Co. knock down opponents. What’s more, Lebowitz sees in Duncan — and previously, in Robinson — a quiet champion whom he wouldn’t mind any of his five sons striving to emulate.

And for fans such as Lebowitz, there are some things more important to society than selling jerseys.






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NASCAR driver helps vets’ morale


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(CNN)Brad Keselowski is once again a contender in this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but off the track he is championing a cause dear to his heart.

Keselowski, known for hanging an American flag out his window whenever a victory lap is warranted, started the Checkered Flag Foundation to support anyone who has “sacrificed greatly for America.”

The foundation centers around the Race 2 Recovery program, which serves wounded veterans. Several race weekends a year Keselowski and his foundation, run by former Navy Lt. Andrea Ross, work with local Veterans Affairs hospitals to bring vets and their families to the track for a VIP experience.

Hospital staff recommends the honorees — many amputees or in wheelchairs — as either deserving of special praise or being in need of a morale boost.

“A lot of our honorees haven’t been out of the house in quite some time. So it’s a great way to get them out and get them on their feet,” Keselowski says.

The highlight of the program happens after the race’s final lap. When the grandstands empty out and race crews have headed home, Keselowski gets back behind the wheel for an extra day to give his honorees a once-in-a-lifetime experience — a high-speed joy ride around the track.

“I believe in charity in action. I think it’s very tempting for some people to maybe write a check and walk away feeling like they’ve done their good deed, but at some point somebody actually has to do the good deed,” Keselowski says.

He gets help from his Penske Racing teammate Parker Kligerman. Kligerman drives a second car for honorees’ family members who also might feel the need for speed.

“I hope they take a glimpse of what we do but almost at the same time a glimpse of getting away from some tumultuous experience they’ve had as a veteran of war,” Kligerman says. “And hopefully racing is something that they can become a fan of through this experience and have something to look forward to week in and week out.”

Iraq war veteran Noah Galloway, who wasn’t a NASCAR fan before the Birmingham VA connected him to the Checkered Flag Foundation, says Keselowski’s program means a lot to him.

“I think what the Checkered Flag Foundation is doing is incredible — Brad having this organization, inviting veterans out to experience NASCAR events, but not only that. Here it is, Monday. He won yesterday’s race. He was here this morning with us and driving us around the track,” Galloway says.

“He could want to just as easily either still be partying or be back on the road. But he’s here with us, and I think that is incredible for all of us veterans to have someone show that much appreciation.”

One of the foundation’s original honorees, Dustin Humphreys, says what Keselowski and his team did for him was so inspiring that he now gives back as a volunteer.

“It’s changed my whole outlook on everything now. It’s so easy to get depressed when you come back and you can’t do the stuff you used to,” Humphreys says.

Like many of the men and women the foundation serves, Humphreys and Galloway are around the same age as Keselowski, a fact not lost on the 28-year-old racer. Keselowski says he realizes he could have just as easily been in their place.

The cause became even more personal when he saw an old friend at Walter Reed Army Medical Center during NASCAR’s tour to support the troops. His friend had been injured, and several soldiers in his unit had died in Iraq.

“He just completely lacked any motivation to live,” Keselowski says of his friend with whom he’d lost touch. “That was probably one of the key moments that made me feel like … this was a cause that was worth something, to help guys like him get back going.”

Keselowski adds, “If we can be the difference in one person’s life and prevent them from going through the trials and tribulations that a lot of our veterans have, whether it’s becoming a recluse or worst case, suicide, if we can prevent one of those things from happening, I feel like we’ve been a success, and it’s worth the effort.”






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Minorities are not after ‘payback’


The U.S. population is becoming less white, according to new census data.

Editor’s note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist.

San Diego (CNN) — You’ve probably read those articles about how, in the United States, minorities are becoming the majority. That’s a polite way of describing what is really going on. Namely, that the U.S. population is becoming more Latino and less white. More than any other group, it is Latinos who are driving demographic changes.

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that, of all the babies born in the United States in 2011, more than half were members of minority groups. Latinos, Asians, African-Americans and other minorities accounted for 50.4% of births last year, marking the first time in U.S. history this has happened.

Immigration is a driving force. So is the fact that Latinos have higher birthrates because they tend to be younger and starting families. According to the report, Latinos have a median age of 27; with whites, it’s 42.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.

When I read these kinds of stories, I wince. Some people assume that making lawmakers, media and corporations aware of population trends will persuade them to see the value in diversity and cause them to reach out to nonwhite populations. In my experience, it doesn’t have that effect at all. People tend to do what they want to do the way they’ve always done it.

But what you can set your watch by is the backlash to these stories. It’s rooted in fear, but also in human nature. No one likes being told they’re being displaced or pushed aside, or that they’re not going to be as relevant as time goes on.

So when David Bostis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, tells CNN.com as he did recently: “The Republicans’ problem is that their voters are white, aging and dying off” and that “there will come a time when (Republicans) suffer catastrophic losses with the realization of the population changes,” it is bound to set off shock waves. And it did.

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh saw the CNN story as a threat, and he went ballistic.

“It is clear that this, and other similar stories like this, are meant to serve as a warning to Republicans and conservatives,” Limbaugh told his audience of millions.

“And the warning is: You are on the wrong side of history. And you are on the wrong side of demographics. You better do what the coming majority wants right now, or you’re gonna suffer the consequences. There is an implied threat in this story. You’re getting older. You’re white and you’re dying off. Pretty soon you’re gonna find out what it’s been like to not be you.”

“That’s the implication of the story,” Limbaugh insisted. “You’ve been the majority for all these decades, all these generations, but your time is coming when you’re gonna be the minorities and there’s gonna be people with majority power over you. So you better learn right. You better change your ways. You better get with the program so that everybody likes you.”

As is often the case when Limbaugh charges into matters of race and ethnicity, he has it all wrong. These aren’t threats. These are facts. And they’re presented not to pressure people to do “what the coming majority wants right now” as much as to highlight the value of doing the right thing by making our institutions more inclusive.

Stories like this are supposed to enlighten us and give us a heads up about what’s coming around the corner, so we can take advantage of the trend and not be overrun by it. Elected officials, media companies and the business communities can put off thinking about the future, but they can’t escape it.

Meanwhile, what people like Limbaugh seem to be trying to escape is a reckoning for what happened in the past. As he sees it, all this talk about changing demographics is tied to a larger criticism of the United States as having at times fallen short of its own principles of liberty, fairness and equality.

“Part of it is payback because this evil white majority has arranged things so they get all the spoils,” he said. “And then whatever they don’t want is what gets handed down. Those days are about over, and the big change is coming.”

What needs to change is this kind of thinking. It’s total nonsense. In nearly 25 years of writing about politics, race and ethnicity, I’ve never heard any member of a minority group talk about how they’re looking forward to “payback” once they’re in the majority. Not one.

What I do hear quite a bit is that people of color believe in the greatness of this country, and they want to help write the next chapter in ways that benefit them and their families. They want a seat at the table, not because they feel entitled but because they feel they have something unique and valuable to offer. And they don’t want to get even; they just want to get ahead.

What’s wrong with that? Nothing.

In fact, it’s in keeping with some of this country’s greatest traditions. Have no fear. The face of America is changing. But it’s heart and soul never will.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette Jr.






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Police find mother of children left in shed


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(CNN) — Police said Friday that they tracked down the mother of three children — all apparently 3 years old or younger — who were found alone the previous morning in a vacant building in Portland, Oregon.

Police released a brief statement about noon Friday, saying, “The mother of the missing children has been located, and we thank everyone who helped with information. We do not need need any additional tips.”

Authorities did not offer more details, including whether charges will be filed in the case.

About 1 p.m., Portland police indicated on their Twitter page that they’d “removed the photos of the children from our press release” because their identities were now known.

“They have been identified, and the photos are no longer appropriate,” police said.

The investigation began with a 911 call placed about 9:25 a.m. Thursday, about a man who’d heard children’s voices apparently coming from a shed behind his house in East Portland.

Police officers arrived and found the “vacant residence” where the sounds had come from. There they talked to “a number of homeless people on the premises” and discovered the three “olive-skinned” children.

The youngest is described as a 15-pound infant who is between the age of 8 and 15 months. She has short black hair, brown eyes and two lower front teeth showing.

The next oldest child is another girl. Weighing 28 pounds, she has long black hair and brown eyes and is about 2 years old, police estimate.

The third child is a boy, approximately 3 years old. He also weighs 28 pounds and has brown eyes, as well as short black hair.

Homeless people initially told police that a woman, believed to be the children’s mother, had abandoned the children there the night before.

More interviews with homeless people and calls to a tip line yielded some leads in the probe by Friday morning, though at that point police said they were still trying to identify the children, their parents or any other family members.

The three youngsters appeared to have been reasonably well-clothed and fed before they were apparently abandoned, King said.

They were all checked out medically and appear to be healthy, King said. They were placed in the care of the state Department of Human Services, he said.

A woman who lives across the street from where the children were discovered said she saw a couple of people on the property Thursday morning and called the owner to suggest he call police, The Oregonian newspaper in Portland reported.

“Little did I know they had three babies in the backyard,” the newspaper quoted Judy Baxter as saying. “It was real sad when we saw the kids come out.”






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‘Facebook parenting’ & privacy


Facebook's 900 million members include many parents eager to share photos and updates on their children.

Editor’s note: Aisha Sultan is a parenting columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and recent Knight Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. Follow her on Twitter: @AishaS. Jon Miller is director of the Longitudinal Study of American Youth in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

(CNN) — Today’s 30-somethings are the first generation whose children are coming of age alongside the social Web.

Technology is making an indelible imprint on modern parenting, and there is a sense that our data, our personal information, are no longer within our control. But new research findings indicate that openness and information sharing are a way of life for many adults, and personal privacy is readily compromised, along with personal information about one’s children.

In an attempt to understand how much privacy matters in this digital age, we questioned 4,000 young adults as part of the Longitudinal Study of American Youth, the largest and longest-running nationwide survey of its kind.

Aisha Sultan

The same participants have been surveyed every year since 1987, when they were public middle or high school students across the country. The sample is now 37 to 40 years old.

Jon Miller

Nearly a quarter of these Generation X young adults expressed a high level of concern about online privacy, while 40% reported a low level of concern. But the behaviors were more telling: Nearly 70% said they have shared their own photos online and post about nine personal pictures each year.

Girl grew from online punishment, mom says

More than half (55%) said they have shared information or posted pictures from a vacation. Also, nearly two-thirds of parents (66%) reported posting pictures of their children online, and slightly more than half (56%) shared news of a child’s accomplishment.

Well-intentioned parents with great instincts have a desire to share and connect about their children, which often helps foster and maintain social ties to relatives and friends. Our extended families live in different states, and we enjoy being able to keep up with siblings, nieces and nephews. But there is a cost to connection, and many are unclear about what is lost and what is at stake.

Opinion: Is the Internet hurting children?


Privacy concerns as Facebook goes public


Student fighting Facebook over privacy

By and large, the short-term implications of less-guarded personal privacy may be limited in scope, such as being vulnerable to burglary if vacation plans are publicly announced or victim to possible identity theft. There are also amplified consequences to using poor judgment when posting online, such as getting fired or sustaining damage to one’s reputation.

But, there are also the decisions made about us that happen in the shadows, the calculations of who merits credit or constitutes an insurance risk, which are harder to track and weigh.

Opinion: Despite Facebook, privacy is far from dead

On the most basic level, we want to be able to tell our story about our lives. But, in the case of our children, a permanent and public story has already been recorded about them before they have a chance to decide whether they want to participate or even whether the narrative is true to their own vision of self.

In our survey, the greatest reported levels of concern about online privacy relate to online credit card use (67% said they were very or somewhat concerned) and online banking services (61%), followed by concerns about social networks (57%). Concerns about social networks were greater than those about online medical records, search engines, instant messaging and texting. How this concern translates into behavior is less clear.

The message from parents, as witnessed from behavior, is clear. Children grow up learning that posting pictures of one’s self and sharing personal information is typical. We’ve created a sense of normality about a world where what’s private is public. The sense of being entitled to privacy has been devalued.

And our children will never have known a world without this sort of exposure. What does a worldview lacking an expectation of privacy mean for the rest of society?

The founders of our Constitution could not have imagined a democracy in which our physical movements are tracked by cell phones, our personal correspondence is scanned for key words by corporations and we willingly surrender our reading lists and fleeting private thoughts.

It’s an arrangement we’ve made not just for ourselves but for our children, as well.

When many parents are confronted about what it means to raise children in an era of greatly diminished privacy, the most common responses are: I really have nothing to hide, and who would be interested in my life, anyway?

How to connect with your kids online (without shaming them)

But these rationalizations miss the point, because privacy is one of those nebulous rights that don’t matter until it matters. Who worries about Miranda rights until an arrest?

We are living in an era in which every keystroke online, from the information you search for to videos you watch to things you consider buying, is collected, stored, archived, aggregated and potentially shared or sold. And regardless of the false sense of security offered by the key on the upper right corner of your keyboard, there is no delete key for the Internet. Once it’s out there, it’s probably out there forever.

There is a spectrum, of course, of parental behavior toward their children’s private lives, from those who sequester and smother their children in a misguided attempt to protect them to those who exploit and commercialize on the largest stages available.

But never before have parents had the ability to publish the details of their children’s lives in such a widespread manner.

A potentially embarrassing anecdote won’t faze a toddler, but how does the unilateral flow of information affect a tween or teenager?

Recently, a new set of proposed changes to Facebook’s privacy policy was revealed. They include giving users more access to the data collected about them and attempts to explain how the company tracks them. But the changes would also allow Facebook to keep certain information longer along with possibly targeting users with ads across the web, not just on the Facebook site. So, the valuable marketing information gleaned from pictures, posts and “likes” is not contained just to Facebook but used throughout the Web.

More than 900 million of us (and counting) willingly participate in this exchange of information for convenience and connection. But we implicate more than ourselves in the transaction.

We have a right for our data to not rise up and destroy us. We have a right to create our own narrative about our lives. We have a right to control how much we want the world to know about us.

These are fundamental to our personal autonomy.

Our children deserve the same protections.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.






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