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31/03/08 - 04/04/08 U.S. Edition

Obama Linked to Rezko, Scooby-Doo, Bacon
By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 1:02:00 AM

Filed under: Democrats, Barack Obama, 2008 President, Scandal, Investigations There are apparently two Antoin "Tony" Rezko trials going on, each in a different universe. In this universe, the latest development in the trial seems to be a setback for the government's case, as its star witness took some pretty big hits on the stand: After seven days of testifying about his crooked deals with the accused Antoin "Tony" Rezko, chief prosecution witness Stuart Levine was hit with a slashing cross examination. Defense attorney Joseph Duffy went after Levine's memory and credibility, first getting Levine to talk more about his drug habit and binges at the now infamous Purple Hotel. Levine admitted he indulged in what Duffy called "a smorgasbord" of illegal drugs at the hotel for 15 years. The Purple Hotel? Is that some kind of bipartisan Best Western? More on that later. In another universe, the one where Mr. Spock has a beard and Mr. Sulu is a serious badass, Barack Obama is linked to every unsavory character this side of Bela Oxmyx. That universe is the Whitewaterinspired, tenuous connection warehousing, anonymous world of RezkoWatch. I spoke earlier this week about the insidious nature of internet smear jobs, and with that in mind, we'll pop into both continui after the jump. Several of my most loyal readers have frequently asked why I haven't covered the Rezko trial more. Setting aside the fact that I was the first PM writer to reference the case, the reason I haven't written more about it is that there's nothing more to

write. Everything there is to know was in that first article I linked to. I did criticize Barack for downplaying the closeness of his relationship to Rezko, but that's standard politics. He admits to an illadvised land deal. Look, we live in a political world that requires financial patronage. The mere fact that someone raises money for you doesn't kake you responsible for everything that person says or does. I have a very close relationship with a key Clinton fundraiser. Does that mean Hillary is criticizing her own strategists? I make the same defense of Hillary regarding Norman Hsu. Still, out of a sense of fairness and openmindedness, I figured I would check it out.

Maybe the mainstream media is getting this wrong. What we have here is a case of guilt by association, and a whole lot of weak conflation, the kind that made millionaires of hack writers of 90's Clinton hit-jobs. The only reason I linked to RezkoWatch is so I could give you an example of one of their "scandalous discoveries:" Christi Parsons and James Kimberly wrote October 11, 2004, in the Chicago Tribune "Several of the governor's appointees to the pension boards have strong ties to labor unions that have been significant political supporters of [Illinois Governor Rod] Blagojevich. ... Edward M. Smith, the Illinois State Board of Investment

chairman, is the international vice president and regional manager of the Laborers International Union of North America, which gave $133,500 to the governor." The name of Edward M. Smith, an Illinois member at large superdelegate who is supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)'s 2008 presidential campaign, has "come up twice" in the federal fraud trial of Antoin "Tony Rezko," Obama's political patron, Abdon Pallasch and Chris Fusco reported April 3, 2008, in the Chicago Sun-Times. In a secretly recorded May 18, 2004, conversation, Rezko says he sought Smith's help regarding one member of a state board. Also, star prosecution witness

Stuart Levine testified this week that Rezko could influence a state pension board when Smith was its chairman. Smith has not been charged with any wrongdoing. So, if Rezko says on a wiretap, "Jesus, my head hurts," does that implicate our Lord and Saviour in this sinister cabal? People, this is not journalism. Not that journalism is always such great shakes, but there are certain things you can rely on from a responsible news source. Back to the world of clean-shaven Spock. I want to leave you with a bit of the star witness' cross-examination, which is easily as amusing as RezkoWatch, and has as little to do with Barack Obama. As for the ties alluded to in my headline, I will leave it to you, dear readers, to unravel that mystery. Duffy to Levine: "If I call you a liar, is that correct?" Levine: "Yes, sir." Duffy: "I would be correct if I called you a thief?" Levine: "Yes, sir." Duffy: "Can you argue with me, you are a con man, are you not?" Levine: "Yes, sir." Duffy: "But you wouldn't try to con this jury would you, Mr. Levine?" Levine: "No, sir, I would not." Before the day ended, Levine had admitted to looting the estate of a relative who had mentored the young Levine. He admitted it was a rip-off worth millions. "There's no question that he's dirty, he's filthy, but the issue is, does that mean he can't be telling the truth?" Miller said. "That's why the government is putting all these other witnesses on the stand, in order to corroborate what the dirty witness is saying." Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments


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Obama Girl's Hometown Hostile Territory?
By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:12:00 AM

Filed under: Democrats, Barack Obama, 2008 President, Race"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter" Winston Churchill McClatchy Newspapers' Margaret Talev reports that Hazleton, Pa, hometown of Amber Lee Ettinger (better known as sexy, super-unofficial campaign surrogate Obama Girl), is not necessarily the friendliest place for their Favorite Daughter's favorite crush: This is Clinton country, however. It's close to Scranton, home to Hillary Clinton's father, grandparents and great-grandparents, and it's full of white ethnic working-class voters, who've sustained her campaign so far, especially in the Rust Belt. Who doesn't love an Obama Girl story? Fluffy, light-hearted, maybe a little mockflirtatious. When she didn't make it out to the polls for New Jersey's Primary, I offered to drive her to the polls in November. A-hahaha. . Or maybe a little double-reverse satire, like picking out the discrepancy between the Primary story, where she's registered in NJ, and this one, where she's registered in Pa. When reached for comment, Obama Girl declined to comment on what her "situation" is. Ha, ha, ha. Of Obama, (retired local machinist Ronald) Duser said: "I'm not crazy about voting for a colored guy, but that's not why I don't support Obama. I'm not prejudiced. I just like Hillary." (Cue sound of needle scratching across record) What the...(Jean Fetterman, a foster grandparent) scoffs at the idea of voting for Obama: "I don't want to be a Muslim!" She looks dubious when told Obama is Christian. "Then why did he go see what's-his-name over in Iraq, that Lama?" The McClatchy article is full of great quotes like that. Of light-hearted interest is

the fact that Amber's Mom, Roseann, doesn't support either candidate, and her Dad, Terry, is a registered Republican who differs with John McCain on immigration. Of greater interest, to me, is the fact that anyone reading this article might get the impression that Pennsylvania is populated by xenophobic, latently racist Clintonites. Maybe it is, but Amber seems to have broken that mold. The article is filled with bumpkinny little touches, like the locals driving past an Obama campaign office just to see if it's real, and references to places like Jimmy's Quick Lunch. The residents are concerned about an influx of undocumented workers, and the writer refers to immigrants

changing "the character of the city" and a wave of "immigrant-related crime." Are these based on hard data or the anecdotes of the town's residents? It's hard to say, but it seems like the latter. The tug of this portrait is strong on me, as these touchstones all resonate for me. McClatchy also has a great reputation for solid reporting. I recently wrote a story about my rude awakening to the flawed attitudes of many white Democrats, so the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans there came as no surprise. So, maybe I'm the problem. Am I a selfhating honkie? Ironically, it was Barack Obama's speech,"A More Perfect Union", that helped me to finally square my own

attitudes with those of so many white folks that I have met, and been related to, over the years....a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time. The Mayor of Hazleton, Lou Barletta, has challenged all 3 candidates to come to Hazleton to discuss immigration, with no takers yet. I have emailed each of the campaigns, and am awaiting a response. It would go along way to reaching these voters if one of these candidates reached out to them. I also contacted Barely Political, who produces the Obama Girl videos, to see if Amber wanted to comment for this story. She wasn't available for comment, but if and when she is, I will update this story. They did send along their new video. I don't know about you, but I could use a laugh. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

'Ask Me' New Clinton Ad
By Greg McNeilly (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 12:54:00 AM

Microprojection: Coming Along
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 3/31/2008 11:56:58 AM

Microprojection -- tiny laser projectors that can show video from a cell phone on a wall -- seem to be coming along. The New York Times today updates a story I did for

Portfolio last summer. And it's just in time for Sony Films' new movie channel for cell phones... Related Links

In Case You Were Wondering... 'NY Times': Now With Cliffs Notes Sulzberger Ends Battle With Half a Nod

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Ads, 2008 President Hillary Clinton's campaign has released a new :60 second ad airing in North Carolina, titled "Ask Me." The ad's script reads: Hillary Clinton: "Hi, if you are looking for a typical political commercial, switch the channel. This isn't a typical election, and these are not typical times. The economy is reeling and as I talk with people across North Carolina,I hear about the crushing cost of healthcare from Winston-Salem to Fayetteville. I hear stories about families going into debt to send their children to college. Military families from Fort Bragg tell me their deep concerns about how we're treating our veterans. Teachers and parents tell me that No Child Left Behind just isn't working. And everywhere, North Carolinians tell me the middle class is just getting slammed. I want to hear from you. Because this election isn't about me, it is about you. So let's have a conversation. Just go to, and then I'll be getting back to you here on TV to answer your questions and offer some solutions. Thanks. It's nice talking with you. I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve this message." The Web site, the ad sends viewers too is here. This ad is a bit of a departure from what the Clinton campaign has aired in this 2008 cycle but seems to be an attempt to do on a macro-scale her 2000 U.S. Senate campaign's "listening tour" that successfully introduced her to upstate New York. This is a smart spot; but late in the game. North Carolina's primary is May 6, they have 186 Democrat delegates. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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The Hundred Years Roar
By Caleb Howe (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 5:50:00 AM

Filed under: Democrats, John McCain The McCain campaign has been ratcheting up the response to repeated Democrat claims that the senator advocated a hundred years of war in Iraq, particularly comments by Senator Obama. Senior Advisor Steve Schmidt delicately described Obama's contentions variously as "detached from reality," "old-style Chicago politics," the "politics of distortion," "nonsense talk," and "absolutely dishonest." The Fact Checker at the Washington post agrees with Schmidt. "McCain has never talked about wanting a 100-year war in Iraq. ... [T]hey have twisted his words, by claiming that he 'wants' to fight a 100-year war." McCain's exact words, responding to a question about staying in Iraq for 50 years:"Make it a hundred. We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. It's fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintained a presence in a very volatile part of the world." Senator Obama has tried to mellow his word choice in recent days, so let's revisit some of his earlier remarks on the topic:"We are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another hundred years." "(McCain) says that he is willing to send our troops into another hundred years of war in Iraq." The McCain campaign should keep attacking this point, not least because Senator Obama keeps bringing it back up, even as recently as this week on"Hardball with Chris Matthews"."John McCain got upset today apparently because I had

repeated exactly what he said, which is that we might be there [Iraq] for 100 years if he had his way." We might be there for 100 years? I guess repeatedly misrepresenting what Senator McCain said became boring enough that Senator Obama has switched to misrepresenting his own words for variety. Of course, Senator Obama hasn't been alone. Senator Clinton only two weeks ago claimed, "He's willing to keep this war going for 100 years," and Howard Dean stated "McCain's strategy is a war without end. ... Elect John McCain and get 100 years in Iraq." Tying this around McCain's neck for the next, well, 100 years, is clearly the gameplan. Democrat strategist David Shrum brought it home with, "It's his Rev. Wright. It's his Tuzla." That's a pretty good reason for the McCain camp to stay on top of this. Not

merely to correct the record, but to make it perfectly clear to voters that this is what Democrats consider equivalent to Hillary Clinton telling war stories and Barack Obama getting his warm and fuzzies from anti-Semitic, anti-American propagandists for twenty years. That's a distinction worth highlighting. John McCain said that an American presence in Iraq comparable to our presence in Japan would be just fine with him, and he hopes it will be just fine with you. The noise from the left is that he wants a hundred years of war. If Tuzla is the new "flat lie," then 100 years is more aptly the Democrat's Tuzla than McCain's. Too bad they've already got one. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Firing Offense for Mark Penn?
By David Knowles (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 2:01:00 AM

Nextel getting a WiFi iDEN BlackBerry this year
By Paul Miller (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 5:57:00 AM

After some serious neglect, Sprint is finally giving the Nextel iDEN network some new devices, not the least of which is

a WiFi BlackBerry, says Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. The phone will hit the network "later this year," and will be accompanied by phones from Sanyo, Samsung, Motorola and LG that will rock the Sprint CDMA, but will use Nextel capabilities for

push-to-talk. That old 7100i (pictured) doesn't stand a chance. [Via Boy Genius] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Democrats, Featured Stories Poor Mark Penn. The Chief Political Strategist that everybody loves to hate is at it again. Only this time, he may just have gone too far. You see, this week he was moonlighting for his lobbying gig, and attended a conference promoting a free-trade agreement with Colombia that Hillary Clinton officially opposes. From the Wall Street Journal: Attendance by this adviser, Mark Penn, was confirmed by two Columbian officials. He wasn't there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm. The firm has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal, among other things, according to filings with the Justice Department. Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Mr.

Penn's campaign-consulting firm, received more than $10 million in payments from the Clinton campaign as of the end of February, according to election filings. Mr. Penn declined to comment. Howard Wolfson, communications director for Sen. Clinton's campaign said in an email that "Mark was not there on behalf of the campaign" and referred further questions to Burson-Marsteller. "Sen. Clinton's opposition to the trade deal with Columbia is clear," Mr. Wolfson added. So, this begs the question. Since Clinton knows that Penn is actively promoting a trade deal that she opposes, will she see fit to rid herself of Penn once and for all? Penn, who, according to BursonMarsteller's website is known as "Master of the Message," has seen his share of bad publicity in this campaign. Perhaps a new nickname, if not a new job title altogether, is in order. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments


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Forty Years Later: Losing Ground
By Faye Anderson (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:02:00 AM

Filed under: Race Today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King's last campaign was in support of the sanitation workers of Memphis in their fight for a decent wage, safe working conditions, and dignity and respect. As we commemorate Dr. King's life and legacy, we are mindful that the next phase of the civil rights movement was the struggle for economic justice. The employment report by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that while much progress has been made, 40 years later, there remains a racial disparity in economic opportunity. The overall unemployment rate is 5.1

percent. For blacks, the unemployment rate is twice that of whites, 9.0 percent compared to 4.5 percent. Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, told me: Equal employment opportunity and equal earnings are still a dream deferred. The economic justice campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King was planning just before he died is a campaign we need to wage today. We have to do something about jobs. We have lost nearly a quarter of a million jobs in one quarter. We face the very same challenges that gnawed at, irritated and weighed down the conscience of Dr. King. Morial said it is time for Congress to pass a jobs stimulus package. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Ted Turner Overheats
By Justin Paulette (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 1:30:00 AM

Why Do Americans Protect the World?
By Justin Paulette (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 3:13:00 AM

Filed under: Bush Administration, Terror During my years in Europe, the most disappointing sentiment which I have encountered has been the refusal of Europeans to believe that Americans take any actions for altruistic reasons. Of course, the U.S. often acts in its own best-interest. From foreign trade agreements to the Global War on Terror, Americans are not unaware of the benefits of wealth and security we hope to receive.

However, Americans are neither shocked by, nor adverse to, appeals to sacrifice our wealth and security for the good of others. The State Department, particularly through USAID, provides billions of dollars in aid to developing countries around the world. Further, nearly every conflict in history to which the U.S. military has responded has been for the liberation of foreign people around the world. This week, President Bush was in Bucharest, Romania for a NATO Summit at which allied countries embraced a U.S. missile shield for Europe. The costly U.S. missile defense system will be installed in

Poland and the Czech Republic, so as to offer protection to both Western and Eastern European nations. It is a testament to the benevolence of U.S. foreign policy that we are sometimes criticized for tying aid to national strategic advantage. We do not use our power to enslave and abuse the world - we are only subject to periodic claims that our selfless sacrifices are sometimes not sufficiently selfless for our perennial critics. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: Environment, Humor God help poor Ted. America's political landscape would be so much blander were it not for the reliable lunacy of men such as CNN-creator Ted Turner. Turner's latest descent into madness relates specifically to global warming - and the resulting collapse of civilization, extinction of most humans and famineinduced cannibalism we may expect within the next 30-40 years. So much for long-term investment bonds. Fortunately, Turner provides the solution to this Armageddon scenario: Less

people. Since humans are the problem ("Too many people are using too much stuff"), "everybody in the world's got to pledge to themselves that one or two children is it." China would be proud. Turner also opined about "the war we can't win" in Iraq, asserting that "we're being beaten by insurgents" whom Turner prefers to call "patriots." While it would be folly to exploit the ravings of one man to an entire social movement, I must wonder how many within the environmental camp would wish to distance themselves from Turner's remarks. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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Hillary on Leno
By David Knowles (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 1:37:00 AM

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Democrats, Breaking News Here's a political Rorschach test if ever there was one. Hillary Clinton goes on "The Tonight Show," and, without any prompting from her host launches a pre-emptive joke about her trip to Bosnia. Watch: The scrutiny of Cinton's repeated mischaracterization of her Tusla trip

erupted as an issue last week. Clearly, the campaign felt that damage control was still necessary. So how do you think the joke fared? View Poll Two divergent views (pre-Leno) on the Bosnia affair come to us A) Christopher Hitchens, and B) Clinton campaign advisers Lissa Muscatine and Melanne Verveer. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Bite of the Apple
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 12:30:00 PM

A Note on Your Comments
By David Knowles (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 2:27:00 AM

Filed under: Featured Stories Of late, the comment section of this blog has become overburdened with spam. Its most irritating form is the long cut-andpasted comment which a user feels compelled to post upon each and every thread on our site, without regard to the topic being discussed. While we are fiercely protective of preserving an atmosphere where opinions across the social and political spectrum can be expressed, we've received numerous complaints from readers who find themselves endlessly scrolling through the same old manifestos posted again and again at the end of every story.

As a result, we've decided to start deleting them. Of course, there are certainly times when it's appropriate to reprint articles, include links or passages to your posts. Links to other articles are always fine. Again, what we're really trying to discourage is the cut-and-paste mentality that does not engage the specific topic being discussed. All of the authors here respect your personal input. There is a terrific amount of smarts, humor, generosity and charm to be found in the comment section, and it makes this blog a vibrant place to visit. To that end, please avoid slapping the same comment on multiple posts. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

In a direct assault on Apple's iTunes music store, MySpace today launched a new digital-music joint venture with three of the four major record companies that will allow users to stream songs from the labels' catalogs for free. The deal marks a truce between the major labels and the giant socialnetworking site, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., as well as showcases the music industry's apparently newfound willingness to explore emerging business models. With the imprimatur of Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group, which will own minority stakes in the venture, MySpace's new service poses a direct threat to Apple's iTunes music store. MySpace has more than 100 million unique monthly visitors worldwide, many of them in the music industry's demographic sweet spot: teenagers. Having a distribution channel as vast as MySpace gives the labels a major leg up in negotiating with Apple in the future and makes it more likely that Steve Jobs & Co. will have to accept some of their demands, including variable pricing, which has long been a sore point. "CD sales have been going down for several years, and those revenues need to be replaced," MySpace C.E.O. Chris DeWolfe said in an interview with "We went to the music companies and said, 'Here's what we want to provide. Let's collaboratively build a

business model that works for you guys and that works for us.'" MySpace and the labels agreed on a model that will offer users free, adsupported streaming music from the labels' catalogs, as well as MP3 downloads for purchase. Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group will have a joint stake along with News Corp. in the venture, to be called MySpace Music. DeWolfe said that MySpace Music differs from iTunes because users "can listen to any song in the catalog for free on MySpace" on a streaming basis, supported by advertising. Users can also pay to download DRMfree tracks, but the company is still working out the cost per track. DeWolfe said that MySpace is considering variable pricing, as well as charging users a flat monthly fee in exchange for an all-youcan-eat monthly download option, "but it's not in the product pipeline right now." The service will be rolled out during the next several months, first in the U.S., then globally. As part of the deal, Universal Music Group—the largest record company in the world—has agreed to settle its 2006 lawsuit against MySpace, which accused the company of infringing upon the label's copyrights. DeWolfe declined to comment on the specifics of the settlement, but Silicon Alley Insider reported that Universal will receive a "huge" cash payment in return for settling the lawsuit, "perhaps in the $100 million range." DeWolfe said that the service will also

offer music-related items for sale, including concert tickets, ringtones, and Tshirts, creating what he called a "360degree revenue stream and experience for the user." "In the past, the music industry has done a great job of finding new artists and turning them into big brands, but they've only really capitalized on CD sales," DeWolfe said. "What we're doing is monetizing that brand in five or six different ways." Although EMI has yet to sign on to the plan, DeWolfe said, "We hope to have everyone on board." After years of taking a litigious approach to the growth of online music distribution, including filing thousands of lawsuits against individuals and companies, the recording giants are starting a radical and likely painful transformation. Ideas once considered anathema to the industry are now on the table, including Warner Music's nascent, but instantly controversial, plan to bundle a monthly fee into internet-access charges, creating a pool of money to be distributed to artists and rights’ holders. The Times of London reported this week that Warner is in talks with the major internet service providers in Britain to develop such a model. Related Links Splitting the Apple Online Apple No Longer Calls the Tune Apple Smackdown: Content vs. Hardware


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Ninety-six Hours That Changed the World
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 7:30:00 AM

Apple to New York City: Bite Me
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 7:00:00 AM

WASHINGTON—Jamie Dimon got right to the heart of Congress's concern yesterday when he told a Senate Banking Committee hearing that his bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, "did not cherry pick the assets in the collateral pool." He fielded—as did others testifying in the banking committee's crowded, but cold and cavernous hearing room—repeated questions from senators trying to delve into the details of the collateral the federal government received for helping the emergency takeover of Bear Stearns - and just how that was valued. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of defensive statements by both bankers and federal regulators who insisted they were bailing out the American economy, not just one financial institution. But no specific details—let alone an actual price tag—of just what the federal government got for sticking its neck out were disclosed during the five plus hours of testimony. Dimon, who noted that J.P. Morgan was taking on $300 billion of Bear Stearns debt, testified that the "process of designating what collateral would be pledged was overseen by the New York Fed's adviser, BlackRock, a recognized expert in the field." He warned, however, that "no one can predict how that portfolio will ultimately

perform—and, of course, it could actually increase in value—if the portfolio declines in value, the first $1 billion of that loss will be borne solely by J.P. Morgan." Under questioning, Dimon said there was a confidentiality agreement with the Federal Reserve preventing him from disclosing any more, but noted that the collateral was "investment grade." When Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, tried to zero in further on the contents of the government's newly acquired portfolio, Dimon said that the collateral was not the risky mortgagebacked securities and hedge fund assets, and that it was Bear Stearns' valuation —backed by BlackRock— that established its value. "Why did Bear fall on a series of rumors if it was not a question of valuation at the end of the day?" Menendez said. Earlier, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, insisted that American taxpayers' risk was "not remotely close" to the $29 billion ($30 billion minus the $1 billion J.P. Morgan took on), and most, if not all, of it would be recouped when the investments were sold - which can happen over a period of 10 years. Dimon and Bear's chief executive, Alan Schwartz, gave their testimony after waiting out four hours of senatorial grilling of Bernanke and others. A full complement of Senate banking committee members were on hand to hear the first extended

explanation of how Bear went from a top Wall Street investment firm to nearcollapse in a matter of a few days. Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, described the round-the-clock negotiations to save Bear Stearns from what those testifying frequently called a "run on the bank." A chastened Schwartz insisted that Bear had strong liquidity that met required guidelines, but said it was felled by an avalanche of unsubstantiated rumors that thoroughly undermined market confidence. Senators pressed Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to say whether investigators were looking into whether the rumors were from sellers shorting the stock. Bear stock plummeted from about $60 to $5 within a few days in mid-March—and the amount of trading soared. Cox said he was constrained from disclosing investigations and potential litigation, but but about the third time he was asked, he hinted that the enforcement division was busy looking into exactly what took place in the lead-up to the Bear Stearns mess. Related Links Steady as It Goes Policy on the Fly Chart of the Day: Fed Lending

Foundation on Housing Bill
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 5:30:00 AM

A compromise bill on housing goes to the floor of the Senate today. The Foreclosure Prevention Act includes, as expected, $10 billion in tax-exempt bonds to be made available for local housing agencies to help refinance subprime mortgages and $100 million (down from $200 million) to expand counseling for homeowners. The bill would raise the size of loans backed by the Federal Housing

Administration to $550,000 but would not give the F.H.A. the ability to insure as much as $400 billion in mortgages. It will also provide a new standard property-tax deduction of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals. The compromise was hammered out with remarkable speed given that Republicans and Democrats seemed miles apart on the issue, amid much public bickering, just a few weeks ago. But political pressure to be seen as doing something to help homeowners is growing, especially after the federal government organized a rescue

of Bear Stearns. But reports that "housing advocates are feeling steamrolled" because the Senate bill does not include a Democratic proposal to give bankruptcycourt judges the power to modify mortgages. Related Links Bush Offers Homeowners Help Ninety-six Hours That Changed the World Could Bear Stearns Have Filed for Chapter 11 After All?

The Big Apple has a new logo, and Apple says: Drop dead. At issue is the emblem for New York City's GreeNYC campaign, which has started to appear around the city on bus shelters, hybrid gasoline-electric taxicabs and even Whole Foods shopping bags. The GreeNYC logo shows a stylized apple with a stalk and a leaf. It bears a resemblance to Apple's famous logo -- a resemblance Apple says infringes on its trademark. The city has applied for a trademark on the logo, but Apple has filed a formal opposition(.pdf) obtained by The Cupertino, California, company calls for the trademark to be denied, claiming the city's logo will confuse people and "seriously injure the reputation which [Apple] has established for its goods and services." New York says: Getdafugoutaheya. "The city believes that Apple's claims have no merit and that no consumer is likely to be confused," says Gerald Singleton, the intellectual-property lawyer representing the Big Apple. "This wellknown city is using its new design in a variety of contexts that have absolutely nothing to do with Apple Inc." Apple, of course, is no stranger to trademark disputes, but has typically been on the receiving end of infringement claims. Apple Corps, holder of the Beatles' business interests, battled the company for years over its trademark. That legal spat was finally resolved last year, with Apple walking away with the entire brand and an apparent agreement to license certain trademarks back to Apple Corps. Cisco Systems also filed suit over Apple's use of the iPhone trademark last year, and both companies finally agreed to share the iPhone name. "When you talk about trademark infringement, the key issue is likelihood of confusion," says Beth Goldman, an attorney at Heller Ehrman and head of the

firm's San Francisco trademark group. Trademark protection extends to sight, sound and meaning, Goldman says, and if a company can prove there's confusion over such matters, it may very well have a case. In the case of very famous marks or logos, there's also the issue of dilution, she says, when someone else uses it in a manner that blurs or tarnishes the trademark. Dilution is harder to prove with a logo, Goldman says, as it's not usually descriptive of a product. Nevertheless, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will consider such arguments. NYC & Company, the nonprofit responsible for the city's official tourism website, applied for a trademark on the new logo on May 14, 2007. The company and its lawyers have filed a counterclaim asking that Apple's infringement complaint be dismissed(.pdf). Apple did not immediately respond to's requests for comment. The GreeNYC campaign is intended to promote "environmentally friendly policies and practices" and "economically sustainable growth." The next step in the Apple-New York City trademark scuffle, according to trademark lawyers, will be to commission a series of independent surveys -- what are known as mall-stop surveys -- to gauge people's reaction to the new logo, in order to see whether Apple's complaint holds any merit. "The ultimate arbiter is the consumer," Goldman says. Singleton says the dispute will play out over the next six to nine months, before a final decision is made by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the patent office. Related Links Mossberg Creates $600 million in Wealth for Apple Shareholders Hoping Apple Allows iPhone Wifi Without Cellular Service F.C.C Enters Cell Phone Fray

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UBS Feels the Heat
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:30:00 AM

Return to Citi
disappointed investors. The Financial Times' Lex column says that Arnold's experience at UBS and his reputation "raises Olivant's campaign above the usual humdrum activism. Not only will the board have to take Mr. Arnold seriously, exasperated shareholders will have somebody to rally around." Patrick Hosking of the Times of London agrees that Arnold will have to be taken seriously by UBS. Noting that the full details of Arnold's ouster in 2001 have not come out, he says that "Luqman Arnold will emphatically not want his assault on UBS to be seen as revenge. But there is something more than just coincidental about his appearance on the UBS shareholder register just as his nemesis, the outgoing UBS chairman, Marcel Ospel, clears his desk." UBS acknowledged today that it had received the letter and would respond at a later time. Shares of UBS rose more than 3 percent in trading in Switzerland.

Hell hath no fury like a top executive scorned. Luqman Arnold, who was ousted as president of UBS in 2001, is putting new pressure on the Swiss banking giant, which has repeatedly stumbled during the credit crunch. Arnold's London-based investment firm, Olivant, has built up a 0.7 percent stake in the bank and is urging UBS to split off its investment banking unit and remove its recently appointed chairman. Arnold sent a letter on Thursday to Sergio Marchionne, UBS' vice chairman as well as the chief executive of Fiat, urging the board to consider a shake-up. Two days earlier, UBS announced a$19 billion write-down on U.S. real estate and "related structured credit positions." With that write-down, the bank has marked down some $37 billion worth of assets since just October.

As a result, UBS' longtime chairman, Marcel Ospel, is being forced out, to be replaced by Peter Kurer, once the bank's general counsel. But Arnold says that Kurer's appointment "perpetuates UBS' ineffective corporate governance and insular culture." Arnold is also questioning the structure of UBS, echoing criticism of another huge bank, Citigroup, from investors and former executives who have argued that the "financial services supermarket" model does not work. "We are not convinced that the 'one bank' integrated business model that has served UBS well in the past will survive the damage inflicted by the proprietary trading losses and write-downs," Arnold wrote. In an interview with CNBC today, Arnold clarified that he was not necessarily calling for the bank to be broken up but that it could improve through a restructuring. The move by Olivant will step up the pressure already on UBS from

( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 9:00:00 AM

Jobs Crunched
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 6:00:00 AM

How do you like the recession so far? American employers cut 80,000 jobs in March, the steepest decline since March 2003, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. The job loss was greater than expected, and the cuts in February and January proved to be deeper as well. During the last three months, 232,000 jobs have been shed from the nation's payrolls. The unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent, the highest since September 2005, from 4.8 percent in February. Manufacturing erased 48,000 jobs; construction lost 51,000. The service sector, which has buoyed the economy in recent months, showed additional signs of weakening. Service jobs overall grew by 13,000, but 35,000 professional and business service jobs, like those on Wall Street, were lost.

The health-care, food services, and mining sectors added jobs. Average hourly earnings rose by 5 cents, or 0.3 percent, in the month. While the March number was larger than expected, the weakness in the job market is no surprise. The slump in housing prices; the tightness in the credit markets; and high energy costs have dampened consumers' willingness to spend. And businesses are retrenching. A number of economists have said that labor data and retail sales reports have indicated that a recession has already started. In testimony before the Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, acknowledged what no other government official has so far been willing to, saying that"a recession is possible." Barry Ritholtz notes on the Big Picture blog the argument that because the last recession, in 2001, produced monthly job

losses of 200,000 or more, then we are clearly not in a recession now. But Ritholtz points out that job creation was much weaker in the 2003 to 2008 cycle than it was during the late 1990s. So, he says, "It's no surprise that very weak job creation would not generate the same sort of recessionary layoffs we saw after a much bigger jobs boom." And the job market appears to be weakening further. In a report that is more current than the March employment data, the number of Americans filing initial claims for state unemployment benefits shot up by 38,000 last week, to 407,000, the highest level since September 2005. Federal Reserve policymakers are expected to cut interest rates again when they meet later this month. Related Links Door Wide Open for Rate Cuts It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World The Fed Turns Up the Tap

There have been few deals in corporate America that have been debated as intensely as the one that formed Citigroup, in 1998. A mistake from day one? Or is it a sleeping giant whose potential has yet to be awoken? John Reed of Citicorp, who forged the merger with Sandy Weill of Travelers, describes the deal as "a mistake" in an extraordinary interview with Francesco Guerrera of the Financial Times. Also on The Bloated Legacy What Sandy wrought. Who’s to Blame? When former C.E.O.’s snipe at each other, you know things can’t be good."The stockholders have not benefited, the employees certainly have not benefited, and I don't think the customers have benefited, because our franchises are weaker than they have been," Reed says. Weill tells the paper that he disputes the notion that the merger was a mistake. But he is critical of Citi's management in recent years—an interesting comment given that his hand-picked successor, Chuck Prince, was running the bank and dealing at first

with problems left behind by Weill. The finger-pointing at management reminds DealBreaker of "those horrendous conversations kids have in college about whether communism could ever work if only it had the right leaders." Felix Salmon says, "Given that they were the people charged with managing a financial behemoth the likes of which this country had never seen, one wonders how much either of them blame themselves." Eric Dash in the New York Times on Thursday reported that "even within Citigroup, many have rejected Mr. Weill's grand vision of a globe-spanning financial supermarket, an agglomeration of investment and commercial banking, insurance and fund management that could prosper in both good times and bad." Even the famous red-umbrella logo has been abandoned, he notes. Shares of Citigroup are trading today above $23—nearly $10 less than they were in April 1998. Related Links Why is The Weill Family Foundation Injecting Capital into Citigroup? A Legend's Bloated Legacy A Legend's Bloated Legacy

Lights Out
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 11:00:00 AM

A federal appeals court has thrown out a huge class-action lawsuit against cigarette makers, saying that the class was not properly certified. A 2004 lawsuit was brought on behalf of tens of millions of smokers, accusing the tobacco companies of duping them into believing that cigarettes sold as "light" were less harmful than other cigarettes. A judge in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn certified the class of smokers in 2006. Plaintiff lawyers have been seeking $280 billion in damages, which, if racketeering claims are granted, could be tripled to $800 billion. But a three-judge panel of the United

States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the class certification, saying that plaintiffs must bring lawsuits individually. "Because individual issues outweigh issues susceptible to common proof, the class is not maintainable" under federal rules, the judges ruled. "We are certainly pleased with the court's ruling and agree with its reasoning," said Martin Holton III, general counsel for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco. "Numerous courts across the country have held that claims such as these simply cannot be tried as class actions." Related Links Waiter, There's a Beer in my Wineglass Nacchio Not Out of the Woods Yet Little House on the Red Prairie


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Chasing Value: HarleyDavidson born to be wild but not HOG wild
By Sheldon Liber (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:14:00 AM

Cranky Hedge Funds
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:30:00 AM

Filed under: International markets, Management, Harley-Davidson (HOG), Chasing Value, Stocks to Buy When last I looked at HarleyDavidson(NYSE: HOG) in 2007 the stock was trading a lot higher. I argued at the time that there was value in this quality company and investors should take a look. Others liked the company, but wisely said there was plenty of time to wait because profits would be coming down with the slowing economy. Some commented that HOG was overpriced in the high $40's even though it had come down from it's 52-week high of $66 per share. It was trading at a sizable 26% discount when I posted Chasing Value: Harley-Davidson (HOG) profits down 15% -- beats Wall St. last November at $48.95. Having closed yesterday at $39.39 it is now down over 40%. Many of the brightest minds in my circles feel the economy will not pick up significantly for another 18 months and that we will have fits and starts in between then and now. There does not appear to be any urgency to acquiring stocks that will be dependent on economic recovery to turn for the better. However, HOG might be one to dollar cost average into over time if you believe it will not turn into General Motors or fade like Levi Strauss. It is currently paying over a 3% dividend yield and unlike other companies Harley has been raising it recently, not lowering it.

The P/E ratio of 10 which is projected to hold going forward, the ROE over 36 which is substantial and the ROIC over 20 are more than respectable. I have not heard even a whisper doubting its superior quality of management and they seem to have put any labor issues to rest as well. I thought there was value in HOG a few months ago so I have to believe the story is even better today with international markets growing and all types of motor cycles being considered for those trying to stretch their gas dollars. Sheldon Liber is the CEO of a small private investment company and the principal for design and research at an architecture & planning firm. He writes the columns Chasing Value and Serious Money. Disclosure: I own shares of HOG. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Hedge funds are often depicted as sharks or vultures, so one might assume that the turmoil in the markets and the economic slowdown would present a feast of opportunities to these predators. Well, up to a point. Even the vultures say the worst is not over, reports Louise Story in the New York Times. ''There aren't many great bargains around,'' David Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management, told the Times. And one near-carcass, Delphi, the autoparts maker, is apparently no longer a bargain. Appaloosa today filed a notice that it will pull out of a $2.55 billion investment plan intended to help Delphi emerge from bankruptcy protection. Delphi, the hedge fund says in a letter attached to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, failed to meet the conditions of the investment agreement. Appaloosa has requested its $82.5 million termination fee. The move will delay Delphi's exit from bankruptcy, which it entered in October

2005. Harbinger Capital Partners, Pardus Capital Management, Merrill Lynch, UBS, and Goldman Sachs are also part of the investment group, which has been critical of the growing role being played by former parent General Motors in the Delphi bankruptcy. Another deal that is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of some hedge funds is the endangered buyout of Clear Channel Communications. Zachery Kouwe of the New York Post reports that some of Clear Channel's major shareholders, including hedge fund Highfields Capital Management, are threatening to pull their trading business from Citigroup and Deutsche Bank if they do not proceed with their financing of the buyout. "Some estimate that Highfields paid as much as $12 million in fees to Citi last year for its prime brokerage services," he says. Related Links The Death of the Hedge Fund Alpha? Hotchkiss Your Money Goodbye, Groton Hedge Funds Get a Pass

Roy Williams, Kansas and UNC on Outside the Lines
By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/3/2008 10:34:29 AM

You bet Outside the Lines would have a feature on OleRoy playing against his former team in the Final Four. You bet! Here is a grey box preview at ESPN. Today's show will air at 330pm eastern on ESPN and ESPN-HD. Check it out! But also of interest is that now Bill Self has his own past to face, so he no longer has the distractions advantage. Bill Self is now faced with the Oklahoma State job opening, so that will take away his advantage of Roy having to deal with playing his old favorite Rock Chalk JayHawk Kay Yoo. Expect a lot more Final Four coverage on TV on Friday as CSTV will cover the practices, and ESPN will move its cast of characters (literally) to San Antonio. For more TV stuff, be sure to check our March Madness TV schedule.
( News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 5:00:00 AM

Amid all the hooplah over MySpace's new digital-music joint venture with three major record companies, there is one loud sour note: MySpace's parent, Fox Interactive Media, is likely to miss its fiscal-year revenue target, according to several reports today. TechCrunch first reported the shortfall Thursday night. Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox's parent, News Corp., said during an earnings conference call last year that he would be surprised if Fox Interactive Media revenues did not surpass $1 billion. Apparently as a result, the division is reorganizing, which will mean the

departure of its chief revenue officer, Michael Barret. It is unclear whether the shortfall is a sign of trouble at MySpace or a reflection of a weakening advertising market in general. Adding to the uncertainty is confusion over how hard a target it was. As Staci Kramer notes on "It's not clear that it was an actual internal target or the bluest-sky possibility, raising expectations and pressure." Michael Arrington on TechCrunch says that revenue for the fiscal year that ends in June is likely to come in at around $900 million, with the division—which, in addition to MySpace, has Photobucket, Fox Sports,, and other properties—coming close to breaking

even. Peter Kafka on Silicon Alley Insider says"the miss could be even bigger" but that Fox Interactive executives say that they have a comfortable earning margin. Arrington contends that the miss could have a big corporate impact, noting that "all employee stock options are tied to profits," including those for the chief executive of MySpace, Chris DeWolfe, and MySpace co-founder, Tom Anderson. Related Links MySpace and Friends Need to Make Money. And Fast. Michael Arrington MySpace Is This, And Your Space is That

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Rite Aid's comps are no panacea for stock price
By Steven Mallas (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:23:00 AM

Filed under: Walgreen Co (WAG), CVS Corp (CVS), Rite Aid Corp (RAD) Rite Aid(NYSE: RAD), I should disclose, is one of my least favorite companies and stocks. Nevertheless, I don't mind checking in on it from time to time when there is news about it. Yesterday, the pharmacy released sales data for the month of March (the data excludes the Brooks Eckerd acquisition). Did they change my outlook on Rite Aid at all? No, although I should say that this wouldn't be necessarily expected; a month of same-store sales data isn't the killer app of an overall investment thesis for a retail idea. Still, shareholders follow comps religiously, and I have to say that Rite Aid's number was nothing to write home about. A 2.6% gain in sales at stores open more than a year is weak.

Walgreen(NYSE: WAG) said earlier in the week that its comparable-store revenues grew by a much better 4.4%. Walgreen was able to take advantage of the Easter shopping excitement in a much better fashion than Rite Aid. It all comes down to brand and execution; Walgreen, as well as CVS Caremark(NYSE: CVS), are more valuable in terms of both those attributes. I may not have been bowled over by Walgreen's recent earnings release, but I can tell you that Rite Aid's share price is downright frightening and telling -- it's telling people to stay away, or at least understand that it may be essentially like buying a lottery ticket (it closed at $2.89 yesterday). Rite Aid's same-store sales were weak, and so is its investment potential. Disclosure: I don't own shares in any of the companies mentioned here; positions can change at any time. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Tessera Technologies (TSRA): Share price forming bullish 'flag'
By Larry Schutts (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:42:00 AM

Manhattan real estate hits a record high
By Zac Bissonnette (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 6:36:00 AM

Filed under: Analyst upgrades and downgrades, Good news, Intel (INTC), Motorola (MOT), Sony Corp ADR (SNE), QUALCOMM Inc (QCOM), Texas Instruments (TXN), Technical Analysis, Stocks to Buy Tessera Technologies(NASDAQ: TSRA) is a leading provider of miniaturization technologies for the electronics industry. The firm develops and licenses a range of advanced chip packaging, interconnect, and optics solutions for the consumer, computing, communications, medical and defense electronics markets. There was good news for Tessera investors late last month, when the U.S. International Trade Commission overturned a stay on a company patent infringement case against

Motorola(NYSE: MOT), Qualcomm(NYSE: QCOM) and others. Tessera collects royalties on its chip packaging technologies from such companies as Intel(NASDAQ: INTC) and Sony(NYSE: SNE), but the defendants in this case have refused to pay the same. The case may now proceed, but an out-of-court settlement is possible. Tessera came to such an agreement in 2002, for example, with current customer Texas Instruments(NYSE: TXN). TSRA shares fell sharply in late February, when the stay was originally announced. Once it was lifted, Davenport upgraded the stock to "strong buy" status and declared a $35 price target. Continue reading Tessera Technologies (TSRA): Share price forming bullish 'flag' Permalink| Email this| Comments

Are hedge/investment funds 'artificially' boosting oil/gasoline prices?
By Joseph Lazzaro (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 6:12:00 AM

OTL: Bob McKillop guest and the new Indiana Hoosiers coach
By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/2/2008 5:56:04 PM

Filed under: International markets, Other issues, Commodities, Oil One of the most intriguing questions amid the stock market's recent slump and the three-yearplus bull run in commodities, especially oil, concerns whether or not investment funds and hedge funds have artificially boosted commodity prices. One camp argues that hedge/investment funds now have the capacity to "distort" prices beyond what a sector's fundamentals suggest the price should be. Another camp argues that the valuation of "distort" is subjective, and in any case the market will quickly self-correct for the error, when the bubble or trough, ends.

When making arguments before Congress and other groups, the price distortion camp can point to two recent data points to make their case. First: the $23 per barrel rise in the price of oil to $111.80 from about $87 from midFebruary 2008 to mid-March 2008.

Second: the 14 cent jump in wholesale unleaded gasoline to $2.77 per gallon on April 2, 2008. Inventory data Concerning oil, there has been no fundamental change in global oil supply or demand in the past quarter. If anything, demand growth moderated in the period. Further, oil inventories in the world's largest consuming nation, the United States, rose during the period. Still, oil prices rocketed 26% during the period to record highs. Continue reading Are hedge/investment funds 'artificially' boosting oil/gasoline prices? Permalink| Email this| Comments

Today's Outside the Lines, at 330pm Eastern (1230pm pacific) on ESPN, will feature the new head coaching situation at Indiana, which seems to be annual spring rite these days. Tom Crean is of course the new hire. Also a guest in the segment is Davidson's Elite 8 head coach Bob McKillop. Details here. Bob Ley presents! More details on Outside the Lines at the OTL page on which is not exactly the world wide leader on the net. And if you want to enjoy the Davidson March Madness world via blogging, be sure to check the Davidson Basketball blog.

Filed under: Housing A lot of Americans are watching their homes decline in value, and many families are finding themselves upside down on their mortgages -- owing more than the home is worth. But don't worry: if you were wealthy enough to afford New York City's skyhigh real estate in the first place, you're doing quite well. New York apartments hit record highs in the first quarter -- an average of between $1.63 million and $1.72 million, depending on which data source you believe. That's a year-over-year price increase of more than 19%. Manhattan real estate rose 13% to between $855,000 and $945,276, depending on which source you believe. But some experts say that that number is inflated by a disproportionate number of high-end properties and that prices on lower-end units are flat to negative. In a related story, Italian businessman Luigi Zunino is looking to sell a Park Avenue apartment he hasn't yet closed on for $100 million. According to the Wall Street Journal(subscription required), the 1907 Plaza Hotel where the unit is located is also home to Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne and developer Harry Macklowe -both of whom are suffering (or rather their investors are suffering) in the wake of the falling housing market. But as long as executives who destroy value still reap large paydays, high end real estate will probably continue to do fine. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments


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AAR March Report: Freight movement by railroads slows
By Gary E. Sattler (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 6:48:00 AM

Google (GOOG) rises after speaking out about wireless auction
By Brent Archer (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:36:00 AM

Filed under: Press releases, Industry, Economic data, Commodities On April 3, the American Association of Railroads released its monthly freight movement report for March 2008. The numbers again reflect weak consumer spending, with no relief in sight for the wilted home building industry. Carload volume, which does not include semi trailers or shipping containers, dropped 0.1% compared with March 2007 figures. Intermodal traffic volume consisting of shipping containers and truck trailers loaded on flat cars dropped 5.6% compared with one year ago. Spurred by the weaker dollar, carload commodities for export are maintaining respectable volume, with carloads of grain increasing 13.9% and carloads of coal increasing 5.9%. However, the AAR press release indicates that of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 12 saw carload declines in March. Carloads of motor vehicles and equipment declined considerably, with a 19.4% drop in loading compared to 2007.

Infrastructure and construction staples of crushed stone, sand and gravel showed a carload decline of 13.4% compared with a year ago. Lumber and wood products loadings remain in decline. AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray gives perspective to the numbers by stating simply: " Recent disappointing economic news helps explain why rail traffic is not more robust." Continue reading AAR March Report: Freight movement by railroads slows Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Major movement, Good news, Google (GOOG), Options, Technical Analysis, Technology Google Inc.(NASDAQ: GOOG) shares are trading higher after the company said in a blog post last night that it bid in the recent government spectrum auction in an effort to open up the airwaves to outside Internet devices. The company also said it planned on bidding in the next wireless spectrum auction in an effort to improve its own wireless business. GOOG is currently developing a mobile phone software platform, and hopes to "make the wireless world look much more like the open platform of the Internet," according to a company statement. If you think that the stock won't fall by too much in the coming months, then now could be a good time to look at a bullish hedged trade on GOOG.

After hitting a one-year high of $747.24 in November, the stock hit a one-year low of $412.11 in March. GOOG opened this morning at $457.01. So far today the stock has hit a low of $456.20 and a high of $471.99. As of 12:45, GOOG is trading at $470.01, up $14.89 (3.2%). The chart for GOOG looks bearish but improving slightly, while S&P gives the stock a neutral 3 STARS (out of 5) hold rating. Continue reading Google (GOOG) rises after speaking out about wireless auction Permalink| Email this| Comments

Mosaic (MOS) third -quarter profit jumps on higher prices
By Eliza Popescu (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:33:00 AM

Immucor (BLUD): Shares define bullish 'flag' pattern
By Larry Schutts (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:00:00 AM

New HarperCollins unit looks to crackdown on retailer returns
By Zac Bissonnette (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 6:24:00 AM

Filed under: Books HarperCollins Publishers is establishing a new unit-- it doesn't have a name just yet -- to be run by Hyperion founder Robert S. Miller. There's a twist: this imprint is looking to substitute profit-sharing with authors for advances and, even more interestingly, eliminate the practice of extending unlimited rights of return to retailers. It remains to be seen whether they'll get anywhere with that but if the publishing

industry tightens up its liberal return policies, booksellers like Borders(NYSE: BGP), which is already in the outhouse, could find themselves in a world of hurt. They'd have to take a hard look at their inventories and might have to stock less variety -- which would make them less competitive with online booksellers and big-box retailers. Still, I doubt that this will catch on. With booksellers struggling, publishers aren't really in a position to extract more blood. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Earnings reports, Technical Analysis, Stocks to Buy Immucor(NASDAQ: BLUD) provides automated systems used by hospitals, clinical laboratories and blood banks to detect and identify certain properties of the cell and serum components of human blood prior to transfusion. Products are primarily used to type blood and detect foreign antibodies. Immucor sells its systems and reagent tests directly in North

America, Western Europe and Japan. The company made news earlier in the week, when it reported Q3 EPS of 27 cents and revenues of $67.3 million. Analysts had been looking for 22 cents and $62.9 million. Management also guided FY08 EPS to at least 96 cents (92 cent consensus) and FY08 revenues to at least $257 million ($255.89M consensus). Continue reading Immucor (BLUD): Shares define bullish 'flag' pattern Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Earnings reports, Good news, Consumer experience, Agriculture After seed company Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) announced on Wednesday its second-quarter profit more than doubled on higher corn seed and herbicide sales, it was its main competitor Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS)'s turn to step up to the plate and impress Wall Street. The world's largest maker of phosphates managed to exceed estimates, posting a growth of more than 12-fold for its fiscal third-quarter profit. Mosaic reported that its quarterly profit surged to $520.8 million as the fertilizer maker recorded strong demand brought on by higher crop prices. The company posted earnings of $1.17 a share, topping analysts' estimates for a quarterly profit of 95 cents a share. Continue reading Mosaic (MOS) thirdquarter profit jumps on higher prices Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Crapgadget: creepy angel phone, egg MP3 player, First BlackBerry contract sold in Russia sucker web cam, more
By Nilay Patel (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:36:00 AM

Filed under: Misc. Gadgets It's taken a few months for our post-CES Crapgadget hangover to fade, but we're back, and we're falling off the wagon with gusto -- or at least fear, because this evil angel-baby phone is creeping us out. Check 'em all out in the links below, but don't linger too long before casting your vote for the crappiest -- this stuff's been known to take an eye out. View Poll Read- USB card reader with clock and

thermometer: Nothing hides a card reader like a crappy digital clock! Read- Crystal ball USB hub: How are you supposed to see into the future when

Nemo's in the way? Read- Marble egg MP3 player: 1000 songs, awkwardly bulging from your pocket. Read- Mini sucker web cam: Nothing ever happens in that part of the screen anyway. Read- Angel baby phone: Someone sat down and decided this was worth making. That might be scarier. Read- Vacuum cleaner mouse: Cleanest mousepads in town, guv'nor! Permalink| Email this| Comments

By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:35:00 AM

Supercharger solar panel promises to give Freeloader a boost
By Donald Melanson (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:57:00 AM

Filed under: Cellphones Well, what do you know? We heard that RIM was gearing up to ship BlackBerry handsets to Russia in 2008, and lo and behold, the addiction is indeed sliding over to the world's largest country. British American Tobacco became the first client of BlackBerry service in the nation, and it's being provided by the beautifully-named Vimpelcom. As expected, Vimpelcom's customers will be handed the same 8700g model that was introduced to Chinese users when RIM broke into that territory last July. As it stands, the aforesaid operator is already in talks with some 40 more potential corporate clients, and rival Mobile TeleSystems is also getting set to unleash BB service with 30 corporate

clients. Kudos, Russia -- prepare for splintered relationships, 24 hour work days and a feeling of anxiety you can't even fathom when service collapses for even a moment. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Misc. Gadgets Solar Technology's Freeloader solar charger was already a pretty attractive option as it was, but the company's now looking to give the portable charger a bit of a boost, with its new Supercharger panel promising to cut the charging time in half. As you can see above, that's possible in part thanks to its larger size, but it's apparently also aided by some more powerful than usual

photovoltaic cells (rated at 1.5 watts). All that should translate to a four hour charging time for the Freeloader, which

can be done in any weather conditions thanks to the panel's weather-proofing (although some weather conditions will obviously be more effective than others). If that sounds like what you've been looking for, you can grab the Supercharger now for £20 (about $40), or grab it as part of a new Globe Trotter bundle (including a Freeloader, a Supercharger, and a carrying case) for £50, or just under $100. [Via SmartPlanet] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Mischievous teen arrested for turning camera into taser
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 3:33:00 AM

Inventor proclaims laziness, shows off self-making bed
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 5:26:00 AM

Filed under: Household It's one thing to exemplify laziness; it's another to buck the habit just long enough to invent something to keep you idler, longer. Enter Enrico Berruti, an everyday fellow who has created something that almost anyone with a bed could see as useful. His Selfy bed, quite simply, uses a variety of moving parts, bars and linens to make itself at the

push of a button. To be fair, Mr. Berruti was thinking of disabled individuals who would have a difficult time making their

own traditional bed when conjuring this thing up, but he didn't hesitate to mention his own indolence as motivation. Hopefully there's some kind of safety feature to prevent users from accidentally activating the thing while they're still snoozing -- can't imagine that being any fun. [Via Physorg, image courtesy of AFP / Getty Images] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Digital Cameras Regardless of what the UN/ Taser thinks, the fuzz around Clinton, Connecticut aren't too fond of taser-like weapons being in the hands of teenagers. Case in point: a 14year old with a certain knack for wandering around the intarwebz and filling his brain with all sorts of hacktastic methodologies managed to stumble upon directions (what, these?) for transforming a vanilla disposable camera into something "capable of zapping people with an electrical charge." School Resource Officer Kyle Strunjo even said that the improvised weapon was "potentially capable of a 600volt shock," though it wasn't actually used

on anyone before it got swiped by the boys in blue. Chin up kid, you've got a future waiting for you yet. [Image courtesy of DIYLive, thanks Ninad] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments


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MSV shows off L-Series satellite phone prototype
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:00:00 AM

Filed under: Cellphones On a typical day, anything shown off at CTIA with a "coming in 2010" sticker would cause some serious unrest, but given that we've already found that LTE is eons(or so it feels) away, we're just taking things in stride. The MSV prototype shown above will purportedly become a proud member of the L-Series, and its satellite / cellular hybrid system will enable it to play nice on traditional cell bands as well as snag sat coverage anywhere in North America. Apparently the firm is planning on shooting up a pair of birds in 2009 as well as landing a deal with an undisclosed US carrier, and the 0.6-inch thick unit

itself should feature a 480 x 320 multitouch screen, WiFi and an integrated camera. No word on a price just yet, but feel free to check back in a few years. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Choi Jung Hyun assembles non-venomous viper with recycled keyboards
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:04:00 AM

Amazon Kindle is a boon to e-book market, all $0.12 of it
By Paul Miller (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 3:02:00 AM

Filed under: Misc. Gadgets Yeah, this one's been slithering around the alleyways of the web for a tick, but it's just too hard to ignore a vicious looking viper created entirely from unwanted keyboards(okay, so glue and a faux tongue were involved, too). Still, the best part isn't the unquestionably amazing use of the dreaded Caps Lock key, it's the crowd of mice this thing is getting ready to feast on. Better check yo'self before you wreck yo'self, kids. [Via MAKE] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Handhelds The AP has a story out on the Amazon Kindle's impact on the teensy tiny e-book market. It hasn't been insubstantial, with some reporting double digit increases in ebook sales since the Kindle's release, and it hasn't hurt the competition either -- Sony numbers were apparently doubled or tripled from what they were before the Kindle arrived. Opinions are still torn as to

whether the Kindle is really the right device for the job, but the press buzz around the device has certainly impacted the struggling e-book market, which is hovering around $33 million of the $35 billion publishing business. Some analysts are fairly certain e-books will remain a small niche, similar to audiobooks, but we think everybody's missing the big picture here: direct-to-brain downloads. Get on it, people. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Hauppauge HD-PVR shows itself, pre-order said to be coming soon
By Donald Melanson (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 6:28:00 AM

Filed under: HDTV, Home Entertainment We'd already heard it was delayed, but that apparently hasn't stopped some pics of Hauppauge's much-anticipated HD-PVR from landing in the hands of a moderator of the SageTV forums, who has kindly posted them for all to see. As you can see, however, it isn't exactly much to look at, but the promised real-time H.264

compression of 1080i video from a component video source should be more enough to make up for any design quibbles. What's more, if that same SageTV moderator is to be believed, Hauppauge should be starting to take preorders for the device relatively soon, possibly as early as today (it's still expected to set you back about $250). [Via TV Squad] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Fox Interactive Media To Miss Revenue Targets; Chief Revenue Officer Out Amid Reorganization
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 7:21:39 PM

Amidst all the excitement over the MySpace Music announcement today is another story about the fate of parent company Fox Interactive Media. FIM, the division of News Corp. that controls MySpace, IGN, Scout Media, Photobucket, Fox Sports, and other properties, is in trouble. The company, under President Peter Levinsohn, will miss their revenue target of $1 billion for the current fiscal year ending June 30, multiple sources say. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of News Corp., first gave revenue guidance for their subsidiary FIM in June 2007(further information here): “…we are forecasting that MySpace alone will generate in excess of $800 million in revenue in fiscal ‘08. Overall, FIM in fiscal ‘07 generated revenues of $550 million and a profit of $10 million, even after absorbing $80 million in retention and amortization costs. We would be surprised if FIM revenues this fiscal year do not exceed $1 billion with margins well above 20%.” Actual revenue is estimated to come in at around $900 million (2007 revenues were $550 million). And the $200 + million in expected operating margins is also likely an illusion. The division as a whole, with more than 2,500 employees, will be much closer to break even. The impact could be far reaching for the organization. All employee stock options are tied to profits. This includes MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe and Co-founder Tom Anderson, whose compensation is heavily weighted towards the plan. If there are no profits, there are no payouts. Some insiders say the projections were

impossible to meet. Nevertheless, News Corp. has a fall guy: Chief Revenue Officer Michael Barrett, who was hired from Time Warner in 2006, has been either terminated or was offered an inferior position and resigned. Barrett was rumored to have had a very strained relationship with DeWolfe. Jeff Berman, currently MySpace EVP of Marketing and Content and a former public affairs executive, was named head of MySpace sales and marketing. Barrett is at least the seventh senior executive to leave FIM in recent history. Former COO Mark Jung (now CEO of Vudu), Chief Strategy Officer Jim Heckman (now CSO at Zazzle), CEO Ross Levinsohn (now a Managing Partner at Velocity Interactive), SVP Heather Harde (now CEO of TechCrunch), EVP Sales John Trimble (now EVP, Sales at Glam), and EVP Corporate Development Mitchell Chun (now at Zazzle with Heckman). In addition, FIM is moving some assets from MySpace and other properties into two new groups: Platform: The group will control software and services to be sold internally and to third parties. Monetization: To be led by Adam Bain (EVP of Technology and Production). The 250 person group has already moved out of FIM headquarters in Beverly Hills to a former Yahoo building in Santa Monica. The group, which is largely built on the 2007 SDC acquisition, will sell ads into FIM properties (after Google and each entity’s direct sales group) and will also sell advertising for third parties, including MySpace platform widget providers and other web services. The entity is reportedly also close to making another acquisition in the advertising space and may take the acquired company’s name as their brand.

Revenue from this group is rumored to be about $150 million in the current fiscal year. The main FIM properties, MySpace, IGN, Scout Media and Photobucket, will remain under their current heads, and will all have direct sales groups to sell primary advertising space. Also,, currently under FIM, may move to Fox. FIM declined to comment on this story. Update: This email was sent to all FIM employees at around 9 pm PST: All, Since its inception nearly three years ago, FIM and its properties have experienced phenomenal growth and success as a result of your collective efforts. You have worked diligently to create the largest, most innovative content communities in the world, and, as a company, we are now prepared to take the next step in our evolution. That next step involves two things: 1) leveraging our industry-leading advertising technologies to create an entirely new business for the company and 2) more closely aligning our products and revenue. We will achieve this alignment through a restructure of our sales and advertising groups that will begin to take effect in the coming weeks. FIM Audience Network First, we have created a new business unit called the FIM Audience Network.

Despite the press in our industry about the challenges of monetizing social media, we have built amazing Hyper Targeting and Optimization technologies that dramatically improve our ability to provide better advertising solutions to our clients. Given these strengths, Adam Bain – who has been so instrumental in developing this capability – has been promoted to President of the new unit. Adam’s team will be comprised of FIM’s ad technology, ad operations and performance sales groups. Their charter will be to optimize monetization across FIM’s content network and those of other third-party publishers. The merging of these groups into a single business unit will provide our family of brands and new third-party clients with the ability to extend their reach and enhance their advertising effectiveness across a vast online audience. Integrated Sales In addition to the creation of the FIM Audience Network, we will be integrating our branded sales teams (including client solutions, sales development, and traffic generation) into the operating businesses that they support. This change recognizes that our individual business units have evolved to a point where it is clear they are best served by dedicated professionals who live and breathe those products alone. For example, at MySpace we have launched our developer platform, unveiled incredible new features and functionality and, just today, announced our landmark joint venture with leaders in the music industry to form MySpace Music. In order to maximize the benefits of these events it is essential for our product and sales team to work hand in hand. By integrating the sales teams in this way, each operating unit will be

empowered to assume responsibility for its revenue, growth and profitability. Further, each operating group will be afforded greater flexibility to implement processes and programs that meet the unique needs of their respective markets. Since the sales teams will now be integrated with their respective brands, we will no longer have a separate FIM Revenue Group. In the two years that he’s been here, Michael Barrett has built a phenomenal sales team and driven tremendous results – helping to exceed our News Corp estimates and achieve profitability as a division. His efforts have primed FIM to take this important step in the next phase of our growth, and I want to thank him for his contributions. Michael will remain with the company for the next two months to guide the transition before moving on to pursue new endeavors. Members of affected groups will be transitioning in the next few weeks and will hear more details from their respective leaders. Closing This reorganization is a milestone for FIM that will create many exciting changes and opportunities for each of you, as well as for our company going forward. I am confident that we are moving in the right direction to secure our long-term success, and I am certain that we have the right leadership team in place to take us there. I’m very proud of all of you, and I thank you for your ongoing commitment to the organization. Thank you. Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

A Big Thank You for Music Industry Chaos
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 10:37:42 AM

Years from now, people will look back at this era as one of fantastic experimentation in music industry models. There surely

hasn't been anything like this since the earliest days of rock and roll and car radios. Just look at the news in the past 24 hours. There's MySpace cutting a huge deal with three record labels to turn MySpace Music into a place to see videos and buy

songs, ringtones, concert tickets and merchandise. There's the Rolling Stones creating a YouTube channel. There's iTunes passing Wal-Mart in music sales. Not to mention this week's news of

Radiohead offering remixes, and 50 Cent creating his own social network. VC Fred Wilson blogs today about the emergence of streaming music as a huge opportunity for the industry. Related Links Bite of the Apple

Killing the Studios! Not in Tune with iTunes


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BuzzShed Rides The Fail Train
By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 11:07:18 PM

Despite local reviews claiming “NZ Firm Leads Online Video Advertising Revolution,” BuzzShed has slashed payments after discovering failed models don’t get any better with age. The revolutionary model: pay users to watch advertising. We’ve seen the model many times before. Web 1.0 delivered services like AllAdvantage and a sea of clones. More recently BrightSpot.TV launched then failed, despite some serious backing and a world of great intentions. Agloco never got off the ground. Wellington, New Zealand based BuzzShed though is trying very hard to spin their trip onboard the fail train. Here’s some highlights from the press release they sent us today (with explanation). They receive top marks for 1st class spin: BuzzShed is pioneering a new way to deliver online video, with the implementation of supply and demand pricing into its permission marketing based video distribution system. Today, BuzzShed announced the changes for both

BuzzShed subscribers and advertisers, making an exciting new tool more accessible to small and medium sized businesses using online video as a promotion channel. Translated: we couldn’t find enough advertisers so we’re cutting advertising rates As a consequence of recent BuzzShed subscriber growth outstripping the growth in new advertiser accounts, BuzzShed has experienced an oversupply of new members. Accordingly, existing BuzzShed advertisers are taking advantage of the new market based pricing to promote videos to large audiences at low cost – as little as $0.05 per view. Translated: we couldn’t find enough advertisers so we’re cutting advertising rates BuzzShed CEO Hayden Saunders anticipates prices to rise as advertisers catch on to the new pricing model and frequently targeted subscribers increase their minimum reward amount.

Translated: we’re cutting the cost of advertising now because we think it will magically go up in the future by offering it for less now….ok, sorry, even I can’t make sense of that logic. Mostly from North America, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, subscribers use BuzzShed to engage with advertisers exploring alternatives to mass media promotion. Significantly, this is not a video host that competes with video giants like YouTube; the company simply distributes links to videos already online. Translation: we add some YouTube videos to the site to make it look better (the site also comes with “revolutionary” Digg style voting…it looks like a Pligg install) While other companies offer various aspects of its service - BuzzShed’s advantage is its combined offering of permission marketing and direct marketing, and its unique pricing model. yeah, ok…… The bonus takeaway: BuzzHead also comes with a classic pyramid referral scheme as well. Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

BitWine Detaches Itself from Skype, Pursues Partnership Strategy
By Mark Hendrickson (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 12:21:26 PM

Red Envelope Saga All But Over
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 11:16:08 PM

Bad news for San Francisco based ecommerce site Red Envelope, an “upmarket online retailer with the primary goal of making gift giving easy and fun”: it’s about done. The company’s market cap is just$2.95 million even though it has cash on hand of nearly $12.3 million. The stock is trading at $0.23/share - it was as high as $8.42 in the last year. Red Envelope was founded in 1997 and went public in 2003. But a steady stream of losses has taken it’s toll. CFO William Gochnauer resigned earlier this month, and board member John Pound resigned on March 30. In a SEC filing on March 31, the company announced their credit line with Wells Fargo was terminated, the final straw. They also said they would be unable to continue operations and were talking to

buyers. On March 25, 2008, the Company received a letter from Wells Fargo Retail Finance, LLC (”Wells Fargo”) regarding the Company’s Loan and Security Agreement, dated June 26, 2006 (the “Loan Agreement”), between Wells Fargo and the Company. The letter advised the Company that for various reasons Wells Fargo would no longer provide the Company with the ability to draw on the credit line. As a result, the Company has insufficient funds to continue operations as a going concern. The Company is currently engaged in discussions with two potential acquirers for the purchase of substantially all of the Company’s assets. However, there is no guarantee that the Company will be able to

complete an acquisition in a timely manner, or at all. If the Company does not complete the transaction it may be forced to cease operations. In addition, a potential transaction may involve unexpected costs, liabilities or delays. The Company may be adversely affected by the announcement of the proposed transaction and the related process of soliciting alternative transactions, or by the uncertainty relating to the potential transaction or the possibility of another transaction involving the Company. Everything up to this point is fact - what comes next is rumor: We’ve heard the company is basically laying off all of the staff and shutting down in the next few days. We have an email in to the company for comment. Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

BitWine started off in late 2006 as a place where people could find experts to answer their questions over Skype for a consulting fee. The company has since realized that not everyone in its target market, the United States, has installed Skype or even owns a microphone. So it has taken steps to liberate itself from Skype while still providing the Skype plugin as an option. Users can now engage experts through a browser-based instant messaging application built from the ground up by BitWine. This app not only makes it easier for consulting dialogs to start; it also keeps track of the time that has passed in a given session. Experts can charge their clients either by the minute or a simple flat fee. Clients pay by PayPal and the money gets sent to experts as soon as the sessions end. BitWine has also integrated Jajah so that experts can answer questions over the phone if that makes more sense than instant messaging. Sessions generally start over IM but as soon as the decision is made to switch over to a phone call, the client enters their phone number into a special prompt and Jajah connects the two

parties by phone without sharing anyone’s phone number. The same meter can be used to track how much time has passed during a phone conversation. At any point, the expert can pause the session if someone needs to step out for a second. And clients have the option to put an upper limit on how much they get charged. Apart from these new technological developments, BitWine has also been developing partnerships with other websites that want to use its service as a co -branded solution. One of the company’s biggest partners is, a German IT administrator community. With BitWine integration, community members can now share their IT expertise and get paid for it. Commissions are split between the experts, BitWine, and the partner site. CrunchBase Information BitWine Jajah Skype Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

Zillow's Mortgage Marketplace
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 4/2/2008 9:02:33 PM

Last week, I wrote about a meeting with Zillow CEO Rich Barton, and mentioned in passing that Zillow was close to launching a mortgage marketplace on the site. Well, the feature gets launched today. As Barton showed me, the site will allow homeowners to put up an anonymous request for a bid on giving them a mortgage. Lenders who register with Zillow(for $25) can then bid -- and the homeowner decides who to contact for

follow-up. Lenders will get rated by users, helping to weed out the not-so-good operators. "It's like TripAdvisor for lenders," said Barton -- who, by the way, founded Expedia when he was inside Microsoft in the 1990s. Barton sounds pretty certain that Zillow can have a positive impact on the mortgage industry -- much needed in the wake of the sub-prime mess. "We are going to shine bright sunshine on the mortgage marketplace," he told me. Related Links Zillow's Business During a Real Estate Meltdown

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Google Reveals Spectrum Rumor: Federated Media Intel Pushing $300 Laptops Auction Strategy Takes $50 Million On A to US Market $200 Million Valuation
By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:54:17 AM

During the recent wireless spectrum auctions that just brought the FCC $19.6 billion in license fees, there was a lot of speculation about what drove each of the different corporate bidders. But the bidders themselves were barred from speaking publicly about their auction strategies. Now that Verizon has been declared the biggest overall winner, and the auction is over, the participants are free to speak. Google was potentially the big spoiler in the auction, but as it explains, the main motivation behind its participation was simply to ensure that some of the open rules it had lobbied for would be enforced on whoever won. From the Google Public Policy Blog: Google’s top priority heading into the auction was to make sure that bidding on the so-called “C Block” reached the $4.6 billion reserve price that would trigger the important “open applications” and “open handsets” license conditions. We were also prepared to gain the nationwide C Block licenses at a price somewhat higher than the reserve price; in fact, for many days during the early course of the auction, we were the high bidder. But it was clear, then and now, that Verizon Wireless ultimately was motivated to bid higher (and had far

By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 5:53:00 PM

By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 4/2/2008 7:59:11 PM

more financial incentive to gain the licenses). In fact, Google raised its own bid in ten rounds without any counter bids, which implies that Verizon was doing everything it could to make sure that the open device and open application rules were not triggered. Ultimately, that strategy was not successful, and it must now abide by the open rules. It remains to be seen whether Verizon will abide only to the letter of the rules or to their spirit. (Photo by Steve Jurvetson) Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Federated Media(FM) has rumored to have raised $50 million from Oak Hill Capital Partners on a $200 million valuation, according to VentureBeat. Total funding for Federated Media to-date would be $57.4 million. So what would Federated Media do with $50 million: Invest in sites. From a March interview: Battelle: Well, I can’t say specifically what we might do with any money that we might raise, should we do a fund-raising round. But I think there are an awful lot of opportunities in this emerging field and it’s just good to have access to capital to execute any reasonable ideas that we might have. It’s a very quickly changing market and it needs financing. I mean individual sites need financing and we want to be a good partner for all of our sites. Here’s what Michael said at the time: Here’s what I think he really means: They’ll either buy sites outright, or guarantee revenue, or guarantee revenue in exchange for equity. A publisher wouldn’t

consider Federated Media an attractive investor versus venture capitalists simply because it would mean tying their revenue to them over the long term. VentureBeat talks about expanding the business and Facebook apps, but does FM really need more money to build out its core business? There’s every chance FM will be going down the Glam path in owning or part owning some sites and acting as the ad broker for others. disclosure: FM sells ads for TechCrunch CrunchBase Information Federated Media Glam Media Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Live From the Next Web (2008): Day 2
By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:40:35 AM

On Day Two of the Next Web conference, we are once again streaming it live from Amsterdam (click more). Kicking things off is Robert Scoble, who is talking about the new digital divide: People with friends and people without friends. The old digital divide (rich versus poor) still exists. But the new digital divide is a consequence of how social software works. You have a better experience on Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, Upcoming or even Google Reader the more friends

that you have. But if you don’t have any friends, the experience really sucks. The speaker lineup today includes: Robert Scoble, Werner Vogels(Amazon CTO), Jessica Mah (17-year-old blogger/entrepreneur), Chris Saad (, startup demos, and comedy troop Boom Chicago. Update 5: and we’re done. That Wikipedia movie was awesome. Update 4: The winners of the Next Web European web awards are here. Update 3: Watch the world Premier of documentary movie: The World According to Wikipedia.

Click more below. Update 2: Boom Chicago performed. Then Amazon CTO Werner Vogels ( live

blog). StumbleUpon founder Garret Camp talked about the future of discovery and search. Startup demos one and two. Boom Chicago. Chris Saad and Khris Loux (data portability). Update 1: Mike Butcher of TechCrunch UK & Ireland is live blogging the startup pitches. (Photo by Anne Helmond). (more…) Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

Intel tonight (Wednesday) is making a huge announcement in Shanghai about its Atom microprocessor, which will power a new generation of small, cheap Internet devices. Some of the most-anticipated will be built around what Intel calls the reference design for the Classmate laptop. Intel designed and built the Classmate to sell into developing nations, essentially competing with Nicholas Negroponte's OLPC laptops. But Intel won't make or sell Classmates for mass market consumption because that would put Intel into direct competition with its customers. Intel is working with three overseas computer makers -- none of them known names in the U.S. -- which will eventually sell Classmate-like laptops in the US., say Lila Ibrahim, who runs Intel's emerging market computer group. I talked with Ibrahim before the Shanghai unveiling, and she said the new models -- based on Intel's new Atom chip -- should cost in the $300 to $350 range. The Atom is expected to be a huge push for Intel. The company is hoping it will drive everything like iPhone-type pocket devices to ultra-small laptops. Watch for a lot more news around this. I'm writing just after the initial announcement is out. Related Links Counting the Chips at Intel The Classmate: Intel's Risky Business Intel's Otellini at CES


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Blinkx Internet TV Launching
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 4/1/2008 9:05:21 PM

Seesmic Acquires Popular Twitter AIR Client Twhirl
By Mark Hendrickson (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 6:49:16 PM

Texting Addiction: An Actual Sickness?
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 4/1/2008 8:25:16 AM

Blinkx CEO Suranga Chandratillake has been telling me for months about the preparations for BBTV -- Blinkx Internet TV effort. Finally, it's launching today (Wednesday). Like Joost, Blinkx's BBTV will run on a peer-to-peer network, and like Joost, that means BBTV will be burdened with having to ask its users to download a special player. (It's a hurdle that has cost Joost momentum.) The upside is that the video can be a higher quality at lower cost than other streaming video technologies. Chandratillake promises that BBTV will be different. "We will lean on the power of the Web itself," he says. For instance, when watching a show, you will be able to click and see the transcript scroll down as the show progresses. If you see a word in, say, a news report that you want to research, click on the word and the player will open a browser window and show you a search on that word. During a movie,

click on an actor and get IMDb information about his or her background. At launch, BBTV won't have much -about 40 independent movies. Chandratillake says the site will soon add a lot of niche-oriented content. Like? "Sports not everyone is interested in," he says -such as, maybe, table tennis or cricket. BBTV might have a yoga channel, and will go after "expatriot content" -- so expat's can watch shows from their home nations. Hard to know how BBTV will fare. Internet TV is becoming a crowded space, with new sites launching constantly. In the end, great content is the draw. At this point, BBTV doesn't have it, but Blinkx and Chandratillake have the connections and clout to get it. We'll keep an eye out.

San Francisco video/chat startup Seesmic has acquired Twhirl, a popular application created by German developer Marco Kaiser that allows users to access the Twitter service directly from their desktop, and also cross post to other services like Pownce and Jaiku. The acquisition price is not being disclosed. Twhirl is considered among the better third party Twitter applications. ReadWriteWeb, for example, just yesterday identified it as the third most used method for posting to the Twittersphere, behind the web and instant messaging, and just in front of Twitterific. It has been downloaded 100,000 or so times. Seesmic says they will continue development of the application and eventually integrate their own service into Twhirl, making it the official Seemsic desktop client. It’s important to note that Michael Arrington is a minor investor in Seesmic and so we won’t add a lot of commentary on the transaction. Look for a company announcement soon.

Update: Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur announces his reasons for the acquisition on his blog, along with the following video: CrunchBase Information Twhirl seesmic Twitter Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

No Open Mandate for Cell Networks - Yet
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 4/1/2008 11:30:59 AM

Perhaps you remember my son from a previous post-- the 14-year-old who ran up a $657 texting bill. That would be 12,000 texts in a month. Well, perhaps he's one of millions of people with Excessive Texting Disorder, or whatever it might be called. An editorial in the March American Journal of Psychiatry puts texting in the category of "compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder." Think you might have it? The journal says these are the symptoms: 1) excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives. 2) withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer (or cell phone) is inaccessible. 3) tolerance, including the need for better equipment, more software, or more hours of use. 4) negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue. You just know this will soon be followed by the establishment of a Texting Crisis Center.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, in a speech at the CTIA convention in Las Vegas, told the wireless industry he's going to a Skype petition that asks the government to force all wireless networks to be completely open. Of course, if Martin had told that audience he supported Skype's idea, he'd have found himself running for the exit. Martin essentially said: give it time.

Verizon and AT&T said they'll open their networks. Give them time to either prove they'll do it or prove they can't be trusted. If it's the former, why impose more regulation? Sounds, actually, like a perfectly reasonable position. As much as the tech industry hates closed wireless networks, it hates government intervention even more. What does Skype want? It's waving around what has become a favorite banner among the tech crowd: the 1968 Carterphone decision. It forced AT&T to

let any device by any manufacturer connect to its wired network, and it's a big reason wired networks are so open today. Skype and a lot of others would dearly love to see the wireless nets work the same way. In fact, so would Martin. He's just not willing to force it unless the cell carriers leave him no choice. Related Links Hello, Ma Google Skype Still Out; eBay Down $1 billion It's A Wifi

JamBase: Helpful, But Still Not Solving the Local Music Problem
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 3/31/2008 12:30:58 PM

After I wrote about Songkick attempting to bring an iLike-style recommendation engine to live music events, I got an email from the folks at JamBase. Their PR person wrote to say that JamBase is "a site already doing what SongKick is attempting." So I checked it out and...not quite. JamBase seems to be a pretty comprehensive listing of live music in most cities, which in itself is a good and helpful thing. And there is a community of

sorts where people post on a bulletin board. But you can't really call it a recommendation engine. There still seems to be an opportunity here. What I want is a site that works something like iLike or Pandora for live, local music. It would learn the kinds of artists I enjoy, and then tell me that I'd probably like some band I never heard of that's playing at a tiny club across town. Or, in reverse, if I typed in the name of a band playing locally, the engine would tell me the probability that I'd enjoy the concert. Songkick and JamBase might be heading that way, but they're not there yet.

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Radiohead, iTunes, Remixing -- Eh, Notsohot
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 4/2/2008 7:10:59 AM

Fix8 Takes $2 Million Series A
By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 5:03:36 PM

While Radiohead is helping usher in an era of on-line experimentation that will redefine the way music connects with fans, the band's latest gambit doesn't seem all that interesting for most consumers. Radiohead and Apple will allow fans to download separate tracks of the band's song "Nude" and remix the tracks using Apple's GarageBand recording software. Of course, a niche will always enjoy messing around with the songs, and it can be fascinating to pull a song apart and clearly hear what each band member contributed. But for most people, this kind of thing gets old fast. More than three years ago, Intel and a start-up called UmixIt teamed with Aerosmith to offer fans a way to remix Aerosmith songs. They started with a song called"You Gotta Move." The whole thing never went very far. I played with it and thought it was interesting to do -- once. But it's kind of like the director's commentary on a DVD -- an interesting

Sherman Oaks based online video animation company Fix8 has taken $2 million Series A from SK Telecom. Fix8 offers a service that brings computer generated animation to the webcam. Fix8’s H.E.A.R.T. (Human Expression Analysis and Rendering Technology) digitizes human expressions, gestures, and movements via webcam, enabling users to create, interact, and share their creations across the web, TV, and mobile phones. As part of the deal SK Telecom (Korea’s leading telco) awarded Fix8 a contract “to lead the development of SKT’s 3D avatar

Andre Allen singing the Memphis Blues
By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/3/2008 1:19:22 PM

animation technology to enhance mobile and online communications.” The new funding comes on top of $3 million Fix8 raised in October 2007 from Vickers Financial Group. See our May 2007 review here for more. (via PE Hub) CrunchBase Information Fix8 Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

feature for a dedicated fan, but most people would rather just sit back and enjoy the art of a professional. Related Links Splitting the Apple Online Apple Smackdown: Content vs. Hardware Radiohead Roundup

WeColumn Launches A Blogging Widget
By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 11:19:56 AM

Sorry, But Bluetooth Headsets ALWAYS Look Geeky
By Kevin Maney ( Tech Observer)
Submitted at 4/2/2008 6:53:26 AM

During the taping of Diggnation at the Next Web conference today in Amsterdam, Tobias van Telligen, an enterprising CEO of a Dutch startup bum rushed the stage and got in a plug for the Website he just launched today: WeColumn. He also bought 75 beers for the audience. That 150 Euros ($235) was marketing dollars well spent. Afterwards, also came and told me about his new Website. WeColumn falls in between a regular

blog and a micro-blog. You write a paragraph or two about a specific topic that you think others may be interested in and then other blogs or sites can embed the text as a widget on their own sites. For instance, Telligen’s own WeColumn(in Dutch) is about surf conditions in the North Sea. Other Dutch surf sites, such as the Holland Surfing Association re-skins the text and puts it up on their site. Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Memphis was one of the teams without Final Four distractions. The keyword was. Andre Allen, backup point guard and potential defender of Darren Collison was left behind in Memphis and was suspended for the Final Four for violation of team rules. Details at the Sports Network, and the AOL Fanhouse. While the exact reasons is not yet known (links above say "drug related"), we would like to point out that Andre Allen will be graduating from Memphis this year, so under the new NCAA rule he would become a "free agent" for his fifth year of eligibility. The Final Four suspension could mean that Andre Allen could bolt out of Memphis regardless and be a starting (and star) point guard at a midmajor school. And there are plenty of coaches that would trade baggage for talent :) As you probably know, Roy Williams has the Kansas "thorn" in his side, and Bill Self has the Oklahoma State "thorn". Now UCLA is the only team without a distracting circus show ;-)

It's fairly hilarious that makers of Bluetooth headsets -- those hands-free earpieces that make you look like Captain Kirk's aide-de-camp -- are now trying to market the things as fashion statements. I just got a pitch for the new Plantronics Discovery 925 headset, which the company claims "firmly plants the flag as a true fashion accessory-- it's truly a head turner! In an increasingly style-conscious world, you will stay ahead of the fashion curve with the elegant jewelry-inspired design." Yeah, well, perhaps someday society will think that electronics devices attached to your head make you look hot. That day is not here.

Early entries in the 2008 NBA Draft
By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/4/2008 10:37:05 AM

Related Links Survey Confirms iPhone Users are HardCore Internet Junkies What's Ford Sync -- and Can It Sell Cars? Code Black: Portable Email Network Crashes Again

It is unfortunately this time of the season for college basketball fans where some of the best underclassmen are leaving college basketball for greener pastures (for the most part). How many of this year's superfreshmen will we say goodbye to? We'll find out by the end of June :) Here are some of the players who have announced so far, this will be updated in the next few days!

Player School Class Agent? Brook Lopez Stanford Sophomore? Robin Lopez Stanford Sophomore? Not Cedric Simmons (JJ Hickson) NC State freshman? Derrick Caracter Louisville Sophomoric Gone regardless? Not Jimi Hendrix (Richard) Alabama Junior No Agent(as of 3/31) JaVale McGee Nevada Sophomore Hired Agent Lester Hudson TennesseeMartini junior No agent(4/1, Fox Sports) Ryan Anderson Cal Berkeley sophomore No agent(4/3) Eric Gordon Indiana Sampsons freshman Declaring(1070 the

fan) They said they are returning(but wait for the Draft Deadline before you start a parade in their name) • Devon Jefferson (USC) (March) • Stephen Curry (Davidson) (March 31st) • more coming up Draft Stories Writers discuss the NBA draft in the Bleacher Repor(t) .



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Quick Hitters: Eric Gordon declares for Move over Bold and Beautiful, it's Lute and Kevin! the NBA Draft (and new LMU coach)
By ncaahoops By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/4/2008 11:10:39 AM

We have a few quick updates! A number of sources are reporting that Eric Gordon is declaring for the NBA Draft! His name has been added to our list of 2008 NBA Draft early entries. New news! The Associated Press (AP) has named their player of the year and coach of the year winners. The coach of the year is daddy's son, Keno Davis of Drake, son of Dr Tom Davis of Iowa, Drake and Stanford fame. Player of the game??? *** suspense *** suspense *** The AP did the right thing and gave the best college basketball player the award, Tyler Hansbrough! While Michael Beasley is the best RAW talent and best NBA prospect among college basketball player, he is not the overall best college basketball player. That is Tyler Crazysbro. Meanwhile the ticker at the bottom of ESPN2 is quoting Andy Katz reporting

that LMU (Loyola Marymount) of the WCC (West Coast Conference) will be hiring Bill Bayno as its next head basketball coach. Bayno, not to be confused with Bill Beano, is currently an assistant in the NBA for the Portland JailBlazers. In case you missed it, TCU has picked up a new head coach in Kent State's Jim Christian. Win a NCAA tournament game as a mid-major? You are in good luck! You get a new job, bigger salary, more benefits, and more goodies! Also discussed at the TCU Daily Skiff. So who replaced Jim Christian at Kent State? Me! Okay, not me, but Geno Ford. Geno was an assistant under Jim Christian at Kent State, so the dominos stop falling with the Golden Flashes. Poll-less poll of the day: Who is better? Maya Moore or Candance Parker? We blog, you decide! And a philosophical question posed by the crew of Cold Pizza (First Take) of ESPN2 today:"Would you

prefer your team to go one-and-done in the NCAA tourney, or win the NIT?". If you are looking for "Hawk Attacks Girl" discussions here, look elsewhere. This is not an Animal Planet blog, or a Softball blog :) Be sure to check our March Madness TV listings, now expanding into April! At the rate we are going, the NCAA tourney will end in May by 2020 :) And if you are a big fan of college sports, and offiical NCAA DVDs, hide your credit card! Amazon has 1400 NCAA -produced game DVDs, covering a variety of sports. A good chunk of those DVDs are college basketball, and they cover NCAA basketball tournaments, past, present and future. Well, you can't buy the future ones now, and you can buy the present ones later in the summer, but you can buy the past ones, including the 2007 NCAA tourney, right now!

Submitted at 4/1/2008 9:19:34 PM

As the world turns in Arizona! Who is the coach? They probably flipped flopped at least a dozen times at the University of Cactus during the 2007-2008 season. Now the latest newsflash states that Kevin O'Neill is indeed out as an assistant, as the softer side of the hard-headed "enforcer" was apparently not soft enough to make things work? :) And don't look now, but the Marquette job is open again ;-) The latest Kevin O'Neill and Lute Olson saga update at Sports Illustrated, an AP Story. This is a really juicy story as it

includes a recap of the 45-minute televised press conference headlines by The Silver Fox. One of the biggest issues of course was the style of play, Kevin O'Neill changed the Arizona run and gun style of play that players signed up to play into a Ben Howland Lite slugfest, and perhaps if Lute did not return this year, there may have been a caravan of players leaving town? Man, has coaching men's basketball turned into a soap-opera or what??? Update! Great line by Tom Brennan on ESPN2' Gameday: "This was Lute's second messy divorce this year". Oh my!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today on Outside the Lines: Memphis and Geno vs Pat!
By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/4/2008 10:24:57 AM

Tom Crean taking over Indiana? What about Marquette?
By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/2/2008 10:27:44 AM

A number of places are saying that Tom Crean is close to taking over the Hoosiers! Also at AOL Fanhouse. Is this for real or an April fool's day joke? A joke was for sure the lame duck Dan Dakich "firing" two of his players on his way out, booting Jamarcus Ellis and Armon Bassett off the team. What are they smoking/eating/drinking in Bloomington? For upcoming reactions from the Marquette world, be sure to check the Cracked Sidewalks blog. This would be an interesting development as another Jud Heathcote tree guy would be replacing Kelvin Sampson, also a Heathcote guy. Meet the new

Godfather of college hoops! Also under his wing are Gonzaga, and of course Michigan State, and by association, Tulsa, and such :) If that is indeed the case, the Marquette opening would be an intriguing situation, as a Big East job. Who would Marquette go after? Would they stay in the Heathcote tree and go after CBI Play-off coach Doug Wojick of Tulsa? The story is all over the net, including the Herald Times, ESPN, and TSN. Oh my! Crazy coaching carousel, where are you taking us next??? Update! Andy Katz is reporting on the ESPN2 Gameday that the Wright State coach was the next option after Tom Crean at Indiana. Katz also points out that there is no natural

successor to Tom Crean, as former pupil Darren Horn has just taken over South Carolina, to replace the retiring Dave Odom and hoping to become the next Andy Kennedy success story. Update II CSTV's Insider Brian Curtis was quoted as reporting to CSTV's College Sports Tonight that Tom Crean will be getting a 10-year deal with an average of $2.5 million per year. Can I get the Indiana job and get fired the next day? The buyout alone would make me an instant millionaire :) And then a multi-million dollar book deal to write about "My glorious day at IU" ;-)

Today's Outside the Lines (3pm eastern, ESPN) is a college basketball extravaganza, with the first segment, the Memphis Rub, talking how the Memphis Tigers are the Outsiders in this year's final four, filled with Elite names like UNC, Kansas, and UCLA. A preview of this in the ESPN grey box. No, I did not make up that name, ESPN did ;-) Meanwhile the centerpiece takes another look at the Pat vs Geno saga, in the

segment IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES. Here is a video preview of this segment. And can somebody please tell us the real reason why UConn and Tennessee won't play anymore? If they won't, I'll start coming up with wild and shocking reasons as to why :) But play against each other they cannot avoid, if they both the Final Four game, they win! (Does it sound like a bad attempt at Yoda?) Remember, today's, Friday April 4, 2008, OTL edition is at 3pm eastern (12pm pacific) on ESPN.

Move over Traitor-Rick, here comes Traitor-Mike!
By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/4/2008 11:00:26 AM

That's right! First Rick Pitino did the unthinkable, and went from Kentucky to hated in-state rivar Louisville after a not-so -successful stint in the NBA, and was affectionately named Traitor-Rick by the Kentucky fans. Now Mike Montgomery does exactly the same thing, following Pitino's footsteps, going from Stanford to California-

Berkeley after a failed stint in the NBA (Golden State Warriors). It looks like Mikie does not want to leave NoCal, and will take any job in NoCal. So as of this moment, Mike Montgomery is officially known as Traitor-Mike - at least to Stanford fans. More on the news at the Daily Cal, the student newspaper of the Telegraph university.

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The ultimate Duke Hater gift: the 1990 NCAA Final DVD!
By ncaahoops
Submitted at 4/3/2008 2:59:31 PM

Idol Polls: The Top 9
By Jason Hughes (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 3:06:00 AM

Yes, Duke Hater fans, we have what is possibly the ultimate Duke Hater Gift ever! The official DVD of the 1990 NCAA Final where the UNLV Running Rebels steamroll and blow out the Dirty Dookies by 30 (thirfty) points. Watch the smugfest melt from the plastic face of Coach Ratface K! Enjoy the blowout and the run and gun style of play of the Rebs! Go Shark the Tark! Okay, Tark the Shark :) The price is $24.99 and eligible for free super saver shipping if your order is $25 or more. To jump over $25, you can just buy an mp3 song for 89c cents, or find another low price trinket to put you over the hump. The DVD is produced by Thought Equity and NCAA OnDemand.

NCAA On Demand has started releasing lots and lots of basketball games on DVD, so you can relive your favorite basketball moments in the best quality possible. Sure you can watch the old grainy VHS tapes,

but if you are going to be watching on your new big screen TV, it's not gonna be pretty :) There are currently over 1400 DVD titles produced by NCAA On Demand, covering various NCAA sports from different eras. A nice site that keeps track of the Final Four teams in summary format is Be sure to check the team stats of the 1990 UNLV Rebels team, the one in the aforementioned DVD. You can also get other DVDs from the 1990 NCAA tourney. Check the link on the previous paragraph! Wikipedia has assembled a summary page of the 1990 NCAA tournament! Dookie tears not included, but they may be available on eBay ;-)

Ten super sitcom sidekicks
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:04:00 AM

Filed under: American Idol, Contestants, Predictions and Trends, News and Gossip Welcome back to our weekly American Idol polls round-up. Each week we look at various online polls that were conducted from the end of last week's results up to the performance show Tuesday. And then a few that were conducted after the performance show, but before the results were revealed. This way we can analyze how the week's performances affected a contestant's overall popularity, and how well the internet can predict eliminations. We'll also see how each contestant fared week to week in each poll, moving up or down. And we can see how amazingly wrong some of these polls can be. After all, none of them predicted little Ramiele going home, and most of them had Syesha at the bottom, who didn't even land in the bottom three. What this means is that we need to spend

less time voting online and more time dialing our phones. We have millions of thirteen-year old girls to compete with and I have carpal tunnel. I need your help! %Gallery-18627% Continue reading Idol Polls: The Top 9 Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: TV Squad Lists, Reality-Free AOL Television has compiled a list of the 50 Best TV Comedies -- Ever, this week revealing numbers 50-41. Inspired by what they did, I've decided to list my favorite sitcom sidekicks, those funny foils that oftentimes make the star shine even brighter than you might have thought. Coming up with just a ten-pack hasn't been so easy. Many times, I'd look at a show and think, "No, it's more of an ensemble. There isn't one sidekick." Falling into that category were B.J. and Trapper John on M*A*S*H. Neither were Hawkeye's sidekick, really (any more than Radar was). Same thing with Friends-- they were all each other's sidekicks. Also, on The Odd Couple, Oscar and Felix were equal; neither was a sidekick. Ditto Two and a Half Men and Laverne & Shirley. Also, because it's my list, I decided not to include married couples -- sorry Rob and Laura, Ricky and Lucy, Archie and Edith.

America's Best Dance Crew second season auditions VIDEO
By Jason Hughes (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:38:00 AM

Whew, after all that, here, in alphabetical order, are the ten I love -- within my own parameters! Feel free to comment with your choices, if your favorite isn't on my list. %Gallery-19748% Continue reading Ten super sitcom sidekicks Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Other Reality Shows, American Idol, Pickups and Renewals, Judges, Casting When American Idol's Randy Jackson announced that he was producing a competition for dance crews, instead of solo dancers like So You Think You Can Dance, I thought this was a great idea. On SYTYCD there were always these great street dancers who couldn't handle the discipline of ballroom but where great at what you could do. Well, apparently Randy had the right idea because Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew was a monster hit for MTV this past winter. So it was inevitably renewed, and we've just gotten the list of audition dates and cities. The rules are pretty simple. Be 18

years and up and be part of a crew of 5-7 members. Then be able to get to New York April 18th, Houston April 21st, LA April 29th or Chicago May 3rd. Or, if you kind of suck, plan to go to all four sites. Maybe I should dust off my old dancing shoes and see if I've still got it. For more information check out America's Best Dance Crew's website or Season 2's MySpace page. Continue reading America's Best Dance Crew second season auditions - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

My Name is Earl: I Won't Die With a Little Help Filed my Video, My Name Is Earl, Fromunder: Friends - VIDEO
Episode Reviews, Reality-Free NAME page 20


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Fox renews King of the Hill
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:42:00 AM

Reality Show casting calls
By Paul Goebel (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 1:01:00 AM

Filed under: King of the Hill, Pickups and Renewals, Reality-Free Propane rules! Fox has renewed King of the Hill for a 13th season. The down home hilarity of Hank and Peggy Hill, their son Bobby and dog Lady Bird, will continue for another year, likely remaining in Fox's strong Sunday night animation lineup that includes The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad- although that's only speculation on my part. Creators Mike Judge (the voice of Hank and Boomhauer) and Greg Daniels (The Office) will continue at the helm, and all the usual characters remain. That means more of Kathy Najimy as Peggy, Brittany Murphy as Luanne, Pamela Adlon as

Bobby, Johnny Hardwick as Dale, and Stephen Root as Bill. Continue reading Fox renews King of the Hill Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Other Reality Shows A day hasn't gone by where we haven't received some sort of tip or email asking us, the TV Squad, how to get on [insert reality show here]. Unfortunately no, Simon Cowell does not work for us, and Donald Trump isn't my BFF, so we really can't help all that much. The folks at often send us a list of new and existing reality shows that are looking for new, er, talent, and they've given us permission to make mention of them here. We'll try to make this a regular feature as often as we get a new list. This time we have The Biggest Loser,

America's Best Dance Crew and other new shows. Continue reading Reality Show casting calls Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Is Christine joining Scrubs on ABC?
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 3:24:00 AM

The Daily Show: April 3, 2008 VIDEO
By Annie Wu (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 5:05:00 AM

Eli Stone: Heartbeat
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/3/2008 6:11:00 PM

Filed under: OpEd, The Daily Show, Episode Reviews, Reality-Free"George Walker Bush: Still President": President Bush recently paid a visit to Eastern Europe to try and recruit some new buddies for NATO... and his fight in Afghanistan. Brian Williams' endorsement of the "'Chess' Kiddin'!" set made up for the cheesiness of that mini-commercial. Senior Political Analyst John Oliver stopped by to share how annoyed top NATO brass feel about certain countries refusing to send troops to Iraq. Of course, the best part was Vice Marshal Jock Stirrup's name and the ridiculous list of Britain's fallen soldiers that followed. I

cannot remember the last time I cracked up so badly over a Daily Show segment. Continue reading The Daily Show: April 3, 2008 - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: OpEd, Episode Reviews, Eli Stone, Reality-Free(S01E10) The title of this episode was called "Heartbeat" because Eli's case involved a heart transplant -- two actually -- but "Reflections" might have been more appropo. Eli awakened in Nate's body and continued to find himself reliving his brother's life ten years before. And not on just any day, but the day that their dad died. Overall, this was a particularly interesting episode because it seemed to lay the groundwork for where Eli Stone is going. Since it's likely that the show is going to be renewed -- deservedly so -- the

prospect of Eli getting that surgery which may correct the aneurysm that's causing his visions, may not be happening after all. Continue reading Eli Stone: Heartbeat Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Other Comedy Shows, Pickups and Renewals, Reality-Free In a TV Guide exclusive, Michael Ausiello reports that The New Adventures of Old Christine could be moving to ABC if CBS doesn't give it a third season pick up. The way I see it, this is great news for ABC. They seem to do great at one-hour dramedies -- Ugly Betty, Pushing Daisies, Desperate Housewives-- but just swing and miss when developing good sitcoms. Only Samantha Who has been a winner this year; its most recent effort, Miss/Guided, has left me cold. Continue reading Is Christine joining Scrubs on ABC? Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Subtle Subtitles
By Keith McDuffee (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 3:38:00 AM

NAME page 19 continued from
( S03E14) "I bet you wish you had more than one God now, eh?" - Ravi Kapoor as Earl's doctor Boy, that Jeff Zucker is one hell of an actor, isn't he? Generally, I love it when a high-paid executive is willing to make fun of himself for his company. Case in point; when Les Moonves talks to Dave Letterman on the phone I think it's hilarious. The key, however is that the executive in question has to be able to effectively deliver a joke. I think My Name is Earl missed an opportunity for some real nice comedy. Too bad Jerry Seinfeld didn't have another movie to promote. Continue reading My Name is Earl: I Won't Die With a Little Help From my Friends - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Subtle Subtitles, RealityFree Welcome to Subtle Subtitles. For those of you who are uninitiated to the purpose of this feature, we're asking you to come up with your funniest quote or description for what's going on in the

screen grab we choose for the week. Winners are announced in the following Friday's contest. Last contest's winner: Rob This week, a scene from the season premiere of Hell's Kitchen... Continue reading Subtle Subtitles Permalink| Email this| | Comments

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Number 5 is Alive -Again!
By Elisabeth Rappe (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 3:32:00 AM

'Transformers 2' Just Got BIGGER!
By Erik Davis (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 5:32:00 AM

Really Creepy Teaser for 'Blindness' Surfaces
By Eugene Novikov (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 6:02:00 AM

Filed under: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Deals, The Weinstein Co., Newsstand, Remakes and Sequels No! For the love of God, make it stop! According to Variety, Dimension Films is remaking that whimsical 80's classic Short Circuit. S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, the writers behind the original two films, are set to write the remake. The film will reportedly be similar in theme to the original, but will factor in advances in technology. (Really? Last I checked, we didn't have sentient robots who could be your pal!) This has to stop. I'm too young to see my childhood paraded before me like this, a demented nightmare of what once thrilled and delighted me. I loved this movie. It has honestly been a long time since I saw it, so I doubt it has held up -- but I love my memories of it. I also cherish my memory of the sequel. My parents took me to see it, it was a sold out showing. And I think it was only ten or twenty minutes in before I realized how horrible it was. I do believe it was the first time I was exposed to the

realization that sequels were made for money, and were often wretched. Up until then, all the sequels I had ever seen (which probably amounted to Empire Strikes Back) were awesome and worthy continuations of characters I adored. I realize I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill, but this trend has to stop. What's next? The Goonies? Gremlins? The Karate Kid? Big Trouble in Little China? Oh no, I've given them ideas. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Action, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, RumorMonger, Fandom, DIY/Filmmaking, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Remakes and Sequels If you thought the robots in the first (live action) Transformers film were big, then wait until you get a hold of what director Michael Bay is planning for the sequel. This one is still in rumor form right now, and comes to us via IESB-- but apparently (and this might be considered a spoiler warning) Bay has plans to introduce the Constructicons into the mix. In the cartoons they were Decepticons and their names were Scrapper, Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Mixmaster (Mike?), Hook, Long Haul and Michael Bay is F**king Awesome. Since Bonecrusher was used in the first film, that name will most likely change to something like Biggest Sequel of All Time-er ... or something along those lines. The whole thing with these robots were that they could join together to form one massive robot called Devastator (see fan art to the right, courtesy of IESB and Rise Studio). Now, while there's a chance Bay

leaked this info on purpose in order to throw us all off, I could totally see this being the real deal. Why wouldn't he want to go bigger and badder for the sequel? Whatever the case may be, do you Transformers fans like this direction? Continue reading'Transformers 2' Just Got BIGGER! Permalink| Email this| Comments

Denzel Washington is a Secret Agent Man
By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 6:32:00 AM

Filed under: Action, Thrillers, Casting, RumorMonger, Scripts Sure, we're getting more Bourne, according to reports from February, but that doesn't mean we can't get more Robert Ludlum action thrills with a new leading man -- with or without more Jason Bourne. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the next leading Ludlum man will be played by Denzel Washington. There's a package creating buzz in studios that would bring the writer's The Matarese Circle to the big screen, with Washington attached to play Bradley Scofield and Michael Brandt and

Derek Haas, who recently penned 3:10 to Yuma, attached to write the script. As THR describes it, the film focuses on "two secret agents -- an American and a

Russian -- who must work together to fight a mysterious group of killers known as the Matarese. The twist: The agents, Bradley Scofield and Vasili Taleniekov, have been nemeses for years, with each responsible for killing someone close to the other." I like that -- two men who have to come together when they have a really good and solid reason not to -- it's not just professional distaste, a stolen lover, or a battle of egos. Most of the major studios have heard the pitch, but as of yet, none have bitten. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time. How could they say no? Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Thrillers, Trailers and Clips We thought this looked awesome last summer, and now we have some confirmation. MSN has posted a teaser trailer for Blindness, Fernando Meirelles' apocalyptic thriller based on the novel by José Saramago, and it creeps me out. The movie is about a blindness epidemic that sweeps through a city, afflicting everyone except one woman ( Julianne Moore) who is apparently immune. She's then forced to feign blindness (Why? If no one else can see, what's the difference?) to care for her husband ( Mark Ruffalo) as everything around them goes to hell. The tonal shift at the beginning of the teaser is genuinely startling, maybe because the upbeat music doesn't stop playing as you'd expect, or maybe because it deals with something that is one of this cinephile's worst nightmares. I like Meirelles' City of God as much as the next guy, but the real reason I'm excited for this is that the screenplay is written by Don McKellar, whose previous stab at depicting the end of the world, Last Night, is one of my favorite films (with one of the most perfect endings of all time). Blindness is expected to play the Toronto Film Festival this September, with a US release slated for October. Can anyone who's read the book give us some (non-spoiler) hints of what to expect? [hat tip:] Permalink| Email this| Comments



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Bond News! Report from the George Clooney and WGA Have a Falling Out Set of 'Quantum of Solace'
By Kevin Polowy (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:32:00 AM

By Eugene Novikov (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 7:02:00 AM

Check Out the Full Kit Kittredge Trailer!
By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:32:00 AM

Filed under: Action, Sony, Fandom, James Bond We all know 007 hops continents with ease... so where is he finding action these days? Antofagasta, Chile, home to the driest desert in all the world. Moviefone sent a spy down to set of the new Bond flick Quantum of Solace(OK, fine, we were invited by Sony Pictures) to dig up dirt from Daniel Craig and company. You can find a full report from the set of Solace Tuesday on including rumors confirmed and debunked, and a full Q&A with Craig -- but here are a couple nuggets to whet your appetite. --Why Chile? Antofagasta is home to the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which stands as the lair of Bond's latest adversary, Dominic Green ( Diving Bell and the Butterfly star Mathieu Amalric). But even the ESO's funky digs (a domed, modern building which will, thanks to special effects, be blown up in the finished film) take second billing to the gritty landscape. "I think

what attracted us is the beautiful landscape, which contrasts with all the other landscapes in the film," producer Michael G. Wilson told our reporter. "It reflects Bond's inner feelings." Continue reading Bond News! Report from the Set of 'Quantum of Solace' Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Celebrities and Controversy, Scripts, George Clooney No sooner do I write an adulatory post about George Clooney than I come upon this story about the trouble he's been having with the Writers' Guild of America over credit for the Leatherheads screenplay. He's so upset at the way he's been treated that he's gone "financial core" at the Guild, which is an irreversible decision making him a limited, non-voting, dues-paying member. He says he would have quit altogether, but that would have basically prevented him from working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. According to Clooney, the original Leatherheads script by Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly had been bouncing around for almost two decades before he took it, rewrote it as a screwball comedy, and got the project greenlit. He believes that he wrote all but two scenes of the resulting film. But when the credit squabble went to arbitration before the WGA last fall, the guild determined that Clooney didn't

deserve screen credit for his work. That was the end of the line for him (he declined to appeal), though he kept the matter quiet at the time because of the ongoing writers strike. Continue reading George Clooney and WGA Have a Falling Out Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Fandom, Family Films, Trailers and Clips Take note, studio marketers -- there are movies out there that can show a lot, and explain a lot without spoiling the whole movie. Back in November, I posted about the first Kit Kittredge: An American Girl trailer. It was cute, but it didn't really say much. This time around, it describes all the players, giving enough cuteness for those that love cute kids and family films, and enough about the adults to pique some more mature tastes. (It's not perfectly spoiler-free however. There's a certain brief clip that I would bet comes at the end of the film, but this is family fare for tykes, so it's not really a surprise to see it, and I can forgive it.) *Correction: The trailer is exclusive to KOL, and was leaked to YouTube, so the

Stars in Rewind: For Love of the Real Fletch
By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 8:02:00 AM

EXCLUSIVE: 'Religulous' Poster Premiere!
By Erik Davis (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 5:02:00 AM

Filed under: Comedy, Remakes and Sequels, Trailers and Clips, Stars in Rewind For a while there, it looked like we would soon be seeing a new Fletch on the big screen, whether we liked the idea or not. However, soon enough, it looked like an all-out mess, with names popping up and disappearing over and over again, from Kevin Smith to John Krasinski. Back in June of last year, word had it that the role would be taken over by Joshua Jackson. Surprise, surprise, the project has

changed hands yet again, and Pacey is out, according to an interview with MTV. "In the way that rights are assigned in this business, when it didn't happen last summer, I think the rights went back to a different person," he said. "So the guy that offered me the job, I don't think owns it anymore, which is unfortunate." Now, well, it could stay in development hell, or one day shock us all by finally coming together. But who needs a new Fletch when you can have a nice dose of Chevy Chase? However... View Poll Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Documentary, Lionsgate Films, Fandom, Movie Marketing, Images, Posters Cinematical has just received this exclusive poster for Religulous(click on the image to enlarge), directed by the very funny Larry Charles( Borat, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) and starring that oh-socontroversial comedian Bill Maher(who currently hosts the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher). From what we know,

Religulous is a documentary about world religion, with Maher and Charles traveling the world to interview people from different countries and get their opinions

on religion. Knowing Maher and his beliefs, it's pretty much guaranteed that all hell will eventually break loose. I think it's pretty fair to say there will be a certain amount of people who don't agree with what Maher has to say about religion. Personally, I think he's a pretty funny guy and I dig the fact that Lionsgate would get behind a film like this. Lionsgate: The Distributor with Balls! Religulous arrives in theaters on June 20. Permalink| Email this| Comments

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post has been changed to embed the KOL trailer. Continue reading Check Out the Full Kit Kittredge Trailer! Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Nicole Kidman and Judi Dench Join 'Nine'
By Elisabeth Rappe (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/4/2008 4:02:00 AM

Filed under: Music & Musicals, Casting, Newsstand, Nicole Kidman They're still in talks, but everyone is reporting the deal as done, so I will too. Nicole Kidman and Judi Dench are joining Nine, Rob Marshall's film adaptation of the 1982 Broadway musical. The Hollywood Reporter says they'll be joining the already impressive cast of Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Sophia Loren. Bardem will be playing the lead, a film director juggling the demands of several women in his life. The musical is an adaptation of Federico Fellini's autobiographical 8 1/2. Shooting was supposed to have begun in March, but due to the recent loss of Anthony Minghella, it has now been delayed to September. As

Kidman is due to become a mother this summer, it would give her a nice maternity break. Continue reading Nicole Kidman and Judi Dench Join 'Nine' Permalink| Email this| Comments