Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gunman Massacres 20 Children at School in Connecticut; 28 Dead, Including Killer who also shot his own mother!

Shannon Hicks/Newtown Bee, via Associated Press
A 20-year-old man wearing combat gear and armed with semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle killed 26 people — 20 of them children — in an attack in an elementary school in central Connecticut on Friday. Witnesses and officials described a horrific scene as the gunman, with brutal efficiency, chose his victims in two classrooms while other students dove under desks and hid in closets.
(Photo Jessica Hill AP)

Hundreds of terrified parents arrived as their sobbing children were led out of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in a wooded corner of Newtown, Conn. By then, all of the victims had been shot and most were dead, and the gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, had committed suicide. The children killed were said to be 5 to 10 years old.
A 28th person, found dead in a house in the town, was also believed to have been shot by Mr. Lanza. That victim, one law enforcement official said, was Mr. Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, who worked at the school. She apparently owned the guns he used.
The principal had buzzed Mr. Lanza in because she recognized him as the son of a colleague. Moments later, she was shot dead when she went to investigate the sound of gunshots. The school psychologist was also among those who died.
The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, in which a gunman killed 32 people and then himself.
Families gather after hearing the news

Law enforcement officials said Mr. Lanza had grown up in Newtown, and he was remembered by high school classmates as smart, introverted and nervous. They said he had gone out of his way not to attract attention when he was younger.
The gunman was chillingly accurate. A spokesman for the State Police said he left only one wounded survivor at the school. All the others hit by the barrage of bullets from the guns Mr. Lanza carried — the rifle was similar to a weapon used widely by troops in Afghanistan and Iraq — died, suggesting that they were shot at point-blank range. One law enforcement official said the shootings occurred in two classrooms in a section of the single-story Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Families were shocked when picking up their children

Some who were there said the shooting occurred during morning announcements, and the initial shots could be heard over the school’s public address system. The bodies of those killed were still in the school as of 10 p.m. Friday.
The New York City medical examiner’s office sent a “portable morgue” to Newtown to help with the aftermath of the shootings, a spokeswoman, Ellen Borakove, confirmed late Friday.
Law enforcement officials offered no hint of what had motivated Mr. Lanza. It was also unclear, one investigator said, why Mr. Lanza — after shooting his mother to death inside her home — drove her car to the school and slaughtered the children. “I don’t think anyone knows the answers to those questions at this point,” the official said. As for a possible motive, he added, “we don’t know much for sure.”
F.B.I. agents interviewed his brother, Ryan Lanza, in Hoboken, N.J. His father, Peter Lanza, who was divorced from Nancy Lanza, was also questioned, one official said.

“The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” a visibly distraught President Obama said in remarks televised nationally.

Reporting on the Connecticut shootings was contributed by Al Baker, Charles V. Bagli, Susan Beachy, Jack Begg, David W. Chen, Alison Leigh Cowan, Robert Davey, Matt Flegenheimer, Joseph Goldstein, Emmarie Huetteman, Kristin Hussey, Thomas Kaplan,  Elizabeth Maker, Patrick McGeehan, Sheelagh McNeill, Michael Moss, Richard Pérez-Peña, Jennifer Preston, William K. Rashbaum, Motoko Rich, Ray Rivera, Liz Robbins, Emily S. Rueb, Eric Schmitt, Michael Schwirtz, Kirk Semple, Wendy Ruderman, Jonathan Weisman, Vivian Yee and Kate Zernike.


This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation, and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.

We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would -- as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.

The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.

As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as President to help.

Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need -- to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours.

May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

The President also issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the tragedy, ordering U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on December 18.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012



Jenni Rivera, the flamboyant, outspoken, big-voiced singer who was the top-selling regional Mexican female star of her generation, was confirmed dead after the small private plane in which she was traveling crashed in Mexico. Rivera was 43 years old.

Fully comfortable in English and Spanish, Rivera was at the height of her career and stood out not only as one of the very few Latin women consistently on the charts, but also as the only Latina singer poised to make major inroads in U.S. network television. That Rivera was able to do so coming not from a pop background -- like most crossovers have -- but singing traditional Mexican music, was a testament to her tremendous appeal as a performer and as a personality.

A force to be reckoned within multiple media platforms, she had two albums -- "Joyas Prestadas: Pop" and "Joyas Prestadas: Banda" -- currently coexisting on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart; her own reality show, "I Love Jenni," on bilingual cable network mun2; she had recently inked a deal to star in a comedy on ABC to be simply titled "Jenni"; she hosted a syndicated weekly radio program and had launched both clothing and cosmetics lines; she was a coach on "The Voice Mexico," and had had a role in her first feature film, "Philly Brown." 

Rivera also launched her own foundation to help victims of domestic abuse.
Signed to Fonovisa/UMLE, Rivera had sold 1.2 million albums in the U.S. alone, and placed eight albums on the top 10 of Billboard's Regional Mexican Albums chart, including four No.1s and seven Top 10s on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart and one No. 1, as well as 10 singles on the Top 10 of the regional Mexican Airplay chart, including one No. 1.

More importantly perhaps, Rivera personified a bilingual, bicultural, empowered Latina and spoke directly to that audience every chance she got. "La J1, La Diva de la Banda (The Banda Diva), La Gran Señora (The Great Lady), singer/songwriter, mother, grandmother, businesswoman and producer," read her Twitter description, all roles Rivera was immensely proud of and touted with consistency.

Rivera spoke with sometimes startling bluntness about her life and her troubles-- including becoming pregnant at 15, marrying an abusive husband, and her most recent divorce -- and the more she spoke, the closer she seemed to get to a growing fan base; at the time of her death she had nearly 1.7 million followers on Twitter, a medium she was particularly fond of and used to communicate directly with fans.

"I have been through a lot, but I'm not a victim," Rivera told Billboard in a 2010 interview. "If I felt like a victim, I wouldn't be able to succeed and be where I'm at right now. I have a warrior spirit." Rivera was candid in assessing her appeal and her success, which she believed had to do with the honesty of her songs -- which often mirrored her own life -- and her very attitude and looks.

Her fans, she said, "want to see what I'm singing about. They want to know very important details in my life. They're into my stories, and they believe that what I'm singing sounds true to them. They know I'm just like them. They know I'm real. I'm not some untouchable artist. I'm just a woman that sings. And they like to see someone like them succeed and make it."

Recently signed to an agency deal by CAA and managed by Pete Salgado, Rivera was just beginning to realize the realm of possibilities available to her as an artist that could straddle different marketplaces.

"There are so many things that I can do that are offered to me now," she said during an interview at the Billboard Latin Music Conference last April. "I'm very happy for the success that I've had, but I guess I've worked so hard at it. I'm living my expectations."

"Jenni has always been a persevering artist and a businesswoman with clear goals," said Victor González, president of UMLE. "Once she understood her talent could generate unique success, she always had the vision to extend into other areas of entertainment and even into other industries. That capacity has differentiated her from many other artists."

Born and raised in Long Beach, Ca., Rivera was introduced to Mexican music by her father, Pedro Rivera, who owned and ran indie label Cintas Acuario. Rivera and her siblings, who include banda star Lupillo Rivera and singer Juan Rivera, grew up imbued in Mexican music, helping their father sell and promote his music in the surrounding areas.

"Mexican music runs through my veins," Rivera told Billboard in an interview this year. "I loved it. Growing up, my father didn't allow us to listen to English music at home. That's all I heard. I had no choice [...] We had our own music stands in the local swap meets. We sold cassette tapes at the time, and that's how we made a living. We stepped it up a bit when my father opened his own record store and eventually started his own record label."

Rivera would eventually venture into music as a career when she was a divorced mother of three. She initially recorded corridos and met strong resistance at radio -- at the time, women in regional Mexican music sang romantic music and rancheras -- and her brand of regional Mexican was initially shunned until local station KBUE finally gave her a shot. Signed to Sony -- then home to her successful brother Lupillo -- Rivera switched to Fonovisa in 1999, and gave them the album "Que Me Entierren con La Banda," which included the hit "Las Malandrinas." It was the beginning of her success.

"Malandrinas" means "bad girls," but not bad in a negative way," Rivera told Billboard last year. "I wrote it in homage to my female fans. The type of girls that go clubbing, drink tequila and stand up for themselves. The song blew up. People became interested. That's when Jenni Rivera the artist was actually born. What better way to attract attention than to females? I am a female. I know all about us. There are more females in the world than men. I always thought that was the market to go after. Those are the buyers and the people who understand me. That's why I continue to write songs like that."

Rivera would continue to evolve musically, recording her first ranchera album, "La Gran Señora," in 2009, and last year releasing dual pop and banda albums, a breakthrough that led her to win Artist of the Year and Female and Banda Album of the Year at Billboard's Mexican Music Awards in October.

She was also a woman of many firsts: The first female banda artist to sell out the Gibson Amphitheater (2006), the first Latin artist to sell out the Nokia Theatre (2009) and the first female regional Mexican artist to headline the Staples Center (2011).

More impressively, Rivera was the only female Latin recording artist in the market to host her own reality show and, most recently, to have signed a mainstream television deal. What could have happened with a Rivera-led sitcom will never be known, but surely it pointed to endless possibilities for artists who would come in her wake.

Rivera is survived by her five children, Jacky, Chiquis, Michael, Johnny Ángel and Jenicka, by her parents and by her siblings Pedro, Gustavo, Lupillo, Juan and Rosie.

Remembering WHITNEY HOUSTON 9 years after her death

By Tony Franco Whitney Elizabeth Houston  (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer, actress, producer, and model. Ho...