Springsteen honored by Ellis Island Foundation

NEW YORK – Everyone knows he was born in the U.S.A., but it was Bruce Springsteen’s European immigrant roots – and his family’s 110-year American dream – that were celebrated on Thursday.

Accompanied by his proud mother and aunts, the rocker from New Jersey received an Ellis Island Family Heritage Award.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Inc. presents the award to immigrants or their descendants “who have made a major contribution to the American experience.” Also honored were investment banker Peter G. Peterson; Avon Chairman and CEO Andrea Jung, and NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo.

“You can’t really know who you are and where you’re going unless you know where you came from,” Springsteen said.

Springsteen’s maternal great-grandmother, Raffaela Zerilli, arrived at Ellis Island from Vico Equense, Italy, on Oct. 3, 1900, with five kids in tow.

“I docked at Ellis Island in a city of light and spires,” their famous descendant later wrote in his song “American Land,” a story not unlike their own.

They joined her husband, Raffaele, in Manhattan’s West Village.

One of those kids, Antonio, grew up and married Adela Sorrentino. Their youngest daughter, Adele, went on to marry Irish-American Douglas Springsteen. They raised three kids in New Jersey. One of them was a son named Bruce.

When Bruce was 16, his mom borrowed money to buy him a guitar – and the rest is history.

Blago wants Obama to testify at his trial

CHICAGO – Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked a federal judge Thursday to issue a subpoena for President Obama to testify as a witness at his corruption trial.

Blagojevich said in court papers filed by defense attorney Sam Adam that Obama would be able to resolve questions surrounding the government’s allegation that the former governor sought to sell or trade the seat left vacant following the president’s November 2008 election.

“President Barack Obama has direct knowledge of the Senate seat allegation,” Blagojevich’s 11-page motion filed with U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said.

There was no allegation in the court papers of any wrongdoing on Obama’s part.

It would be extraordinary if a sitting president were subpoenaed to take the witness stand in a Chicago political corruption trial or any criminal trial.

Zagel has not indicated how he might respond to the unusual request.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, Randall Samborn, had no comment. Messages seeking comment were left at the offices of Adam and two other defense attorneys, Samuel E. Adam and Sheldon Sorosky.

Actress urges action to protect oceans

WASHINGTON – Proponents of climate change legislation usually invoke the need to reduce global warming, but actress Sigourney Weaver is coming to the defense of something that’s often out of sight — oceans.

“One secret the oceans have kept very well is their sensitivity to carbon dioxide pollution,” Weaver said at a Senate hearing Thursday, as she urged lawmakers to pass climate legislation that would limit carbon emissions.

She made her pitch on the same day that a report from the National Research Council found that ocean chemistry is changing faster than it has in hundreds of thousands of years because of the carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere. The resulting increased acidity of the oceans poses a serious threat to shellfish and other marine life.

Ocean acidification has been dubbed global warning’s “evil twin.”

“My hope, one shared by millions of Americans, is that you, our legislators, will put aside your differences and enact climate and energy legislation that will move America to a clean energy economy,” Weaver said.

She also urged other steps such as protecting marine and coastal habitats and reducing pollution.