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07/04/08 - 08/04/08

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Petraeus Testimony Preview
By Mark Impomeni (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:00:00 AM

Filed under: Bush Administration, Senate, Featured Stories, Iraq, 2008 President In a reprise of their highly anticipated and wellreceived Congressional testimony of last September, Iraq commander General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will testify before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees today. This will be the second in a series of congressionally mandated updates on progress in Iraq as a result of the troop surge. The conditions on Capitol Hill should be a good deal more welcoming for the two this time, as it is now generally acknowledged that the surge has been successful at reducing the level of violence in Iraq. However, the recent clashes in Basra between Iraqi Army and police units and the Mahdi Army militia of Iranian-sponsored cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will figure prominently into the questioning. Also expected to be on lawmakers' minds is the political progress, or lack of it, that has been made by the government of Prime Minister Nouri alMaliki as a result of the reduction in violence. Presidential politics will add some theater to the day's events, as the two men will face questioning from all three remaining presidential candidates. Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, is

the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. As such, he will get to make the second opening statement. McCain has staked his campaign on the success of the surge, a change in strategy he first proposed, and has been hitting his Democratic rivals for their desire to precipitously withdraw troops from Iraq if elected. Sitting not too far to McCain's right will be Sen. Hillary Clinton, a committee member. When Sen. Clinton last saw Gen. Petraeus, she said that his testimony required the, "willing suspension of disbelief." McCain has called on Clinton to apologize to Petraeus for that insult during these hearings and it will be interesting to note whether he references the incident in his opening remarks. Sen. Barack Obama, the other Democratic presidential candidate, will get a chance to question the two men as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. But because he is a freshman Senator, his turn will not come up until very late in the day unless other Senators agree to forgo their questioning time so that Obama may move up. Democrats have been cautiously downplaying the impact of the testimony, saying that the report from Petraeus and Crocker is likely to be, "too rosy." They will focus on the recent violence in Basra and Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City neighborhood as evidence that the Iraqi government has not been able to take advantage of the reductions in violence to

bring about political reconciliation. In that respect, Ambassador Crocker may see more questioning in this appearance than he did in September, when the impact of the surge on the levels of violence had not been as well established. But the Iraqi government's actions in Basra were taken from a position of strength, not weakness, and actually support the case that the government is far more confident and willing to extend its authority over the entire country than it was even in

September. Petraeus will also be questioned about his plan to call a halt to the gradual drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq this summer. The plan is to pause withdrawals in July at the level of 15 combat brigades, or about 140,000 troops, for a period of assessment. Petraeus says this is necessary to determine whether the Iraqis can hold security improvements on their own. President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have approved the plan, over the objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Central Command Chief Admiral William Fallon. The presidential candidates will add an element of theater to the hearings, but the focus will and should be on the performance of U.S. troops in the surge. Despite the recent violence in Basra and Baghdad, instigated by Iran and timed for just before the hearings in order to make the situation in Iraq appear less hopeful, the surge has been a spectacular success. If this were a different, less partisan time, Gen. Petraeus might be recommended for a fifth star, the highest possible military rank, for his brilliant conception and execution of the plan. But the atmosphere in Washington, although decidedly less hostile than September, is still one of doubt and partisanship. Upcoming elections only heighten that atmosphere. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

David Vitter's Miserable Day
By David Knowles (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 2:52:00 PM

Filed under: Republicans, Scandal, Viral Video Man, oh man, what a day for La. Senator David Vitter. First, he learned that he may have to take the stand in the D.C. madam trial. That means he may have to get specific as to what he described as the "very serious sin" that he admits committing. But really, after Eliot Spitzer, it's going to have to be pretty damn good to cause much of a stir. Then, after delivering a perfunctory remark to reporters today, Vitter got itchy feet, ducked out of a news conference, and... well, see for yourself. When it rains, it pours. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

'NC Ask Me' - New Clinton Spot
By Greg McNeilly (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:40:00 AM

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Ads, 2008 President Hillary Clinton's second TV spot to air in North Carolina, continues the theme of a TV-web based town hall. The

new :30 spot is titled "NC Ask Me." North Carolina holds its primary May 6. Clinton's first NC ad is here. The Web site the ad directs viewers too is a sub-page on the main Clinton Web site. While the ad-Web site concept is decent, the Clinton campaign fell short in

connecting some web-dots to make it more powerful. Think back to the fund raising transparency that Ron Paul's campaign pioneered. They were the first to post a running tally of the amount raised and would show the first name, city and state

of the most recent contributor. In addition to firing up their own troops (because they could actually see progress), it added authenticity to the campaign's effort. Clinton's "Ask Me" site could benefit from a similar application showing the latest question and and the asker's first name and

town. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments



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Clinton Calls on Bush to Skip Olympics
By Mark Impomeni (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 1:30:00 PM

Playing the Gender Card
By Dave (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 11:08:00 PM

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, President Bush, Featured Stories, 2008 President The growing controversy over whether President Bush should attend the Beijing Olympic Games as planned later this summer rose to the level of presidential politics today, as Sen. Hillary Clinton said that the president should skip the opening ceremony. Clinton's comments came as the Olympic torch, on a round-the-world journey, was chased out of London and Paris by protesters angered by China's recent crackdown in Tibet. The torch is scheduled to make its only U.S. stop in San Francisco later this week. Today, protesters scaled suspension cables on the Golden Gate Bridge and unfurled banners reading "Free Tibet" in anticipation of the torch's visit. Clinton said that the Bush Administration was downplaying the importance of human rights in its relations with China and said that a boycott of the games would send the correct message. "The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for presidential leadership." Her rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, expressed concern about China's activities in Tibet, but stopped short of calling on the president to forgo an appearance. "I am hesitant to make the

Olympics a site of political protest because I think it's partly about bringing the world together," he said. Neither candidate ventured an opinion as to how the president should make U.S. displeasure with China evident. Going to the games would at least give President Bush the opportunity to make that case in person. Meanwhile, the mood in Congress seems to be turning against a presidential visit. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called over the weekend for the president to boycott the games; while Republican lawmaker Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) penned an op-ed in the influential conservative newspaper Human Events saying that the trip was a misadventure in legacy building. Perhaps we could appeal to our President's historical sensibilities by reminding the Leader of the Free World that attending this evil regime's games will forever stain his legacy by depicting him as calloused to the subjugation of Tibet and sundry other communist abominations.

Despite the criticism, however, the White House says that it has no plans to cancel the planned trip. Spokesman Tony Fratto said that the White House would make the United States' feelings on human rights abuses in China known during the visit, as it has on other occasions. "We have never been afraid to express those views either directly by the president or the president's senior advisers when they travel to China and publicly." Boycotting the games may seem like a practical way for Western governments to register their unhappiness with China on a range of issues from Darfur, to Tibet, to political prisoners. But China is a centuries -old culture based on honor, which the West is only beginning to understand. China does not respond well to sharp diplomatic exchanges that cause it to "lose face" with the rest of the world. On the contrary, these actions tend to make the regime withdraw and harden its stance, not open up. Given that political reality and the fact that the United States is engaged, for good or ill, with China diplomatically, economically, and culturally, the Administration must hold to a delicate line with China; patiently reminding its rulers of the need for improvements in human rights and democratic governance, while not humiliating Beijing. The president's decision to attend the games, and make his concerns known in person, behind closed doors, seems wisely calculated to keep U.S interests in China in balance. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Republicans, 2008 President Although no one would accuse Hillary Clinton of being shy, I don't think even she would play the Gender card this brazenly. Connie Schultz is a columnist at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the wife of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), also, apparently, a Hillary Clinton fan: Someone tell me, please, how grown men in 2008 can believe it's their right their duty, even - to tell a woman when she should rein in her ambition and go home. Male columnists, male politicians, male talking heads, male "surrogates" - all of them harrumphing that it's time for Hillary Clinton to stop it, just stop it, with all this talk of being president. Believe it or not, it gets worse from there and ends on this lovely high note: "It feels so personal," another friend, Mary, told me. "Whenever I hear men bash Hillary, it feels like they're attacking me." That was a quote of someone other than Connie, but yowza! where do we start? My personal take is, this is great, the Democrats can either tick off the Minority faction, or the feminist faction. Welcome to identity politics Hell! Let me grab some popcorn. Ben Keeler fellow Ohio Blogdom resident: Oh come the hell on. I have seen countless women on TV call for her to dropout. I have read a ton of blogs written by women saying the same thing. Most Democrats wrongly believe that Obama is their best candidate and they want to avoid

any more bruises for him and they want her out. That is all it is about. Not about her being a woman or anything like that. However absurd this piece was, it foreshadows potential division between in the Democrat Party. Some Democrats really actually feel this way - that if they push the woman aside or she doesn't win, they are really going to be pissed off. Blogesque, an Ohio liberal Democrat and proud of it, is blunter and I believe speaking for a lot of Democrats: Oh, and Mrs. Brown? You've got a lot of nerve questioning my right to express an opinion solely on the basis of my Y chromosome. I have every right to say that I believe it's time for Hillary Clinton to fold up her campaign and go home, and shame on you for attributing such an opinion solely to gender bias. In point of fact, I was opposed to her candidacy before it ever got going. Sexist? Not even close. I have long said that I'm fine with the idea of voting for a female President - just not this particular female. Which leads me to believe that the Gender card is not going to work for Hillary, whether she plays it or someone else does on her behalf. Among Mrs. Schultz. greatest hits we also have: " We bruise our daughters when we bash Hillary..." So Connie isn't new to this line of defense. Along the same lines, I was looking for another article titled: "God kills kittens when Hillary loses. Please, think of the kittens!" But apparently she hasn't written that one yet. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Pennsylvania's Critical Race Theory
By Faye Anderson (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 1:38:00 PM

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Primaries, 2008 President, Polls Polls show that Barack Obama is closing the gap in Pennsylvania, a must-win state for Hillary Clinton. If Obama wins Pennsylvania, he will have bridged the"race chasm," which has split the vote

along racial lines. An analysis by David Sirota, editor of In These Times, found: It is in the chasm where Clinton has consistently defeated Obama. These are geographically diverse states from Ohio to Oklahoma to Massachusetts where racial politics is very much a part of the political culture, but where the black vote is too small to offset a white vote racially motivated by the Clinton campaign's coded messages and

tactics. The chasm exists in the cluster of states whose population is above 6 percent and below 17 percent black, and Clinton has won most of them by beating Obama handily among white working-class voters. In sum, Obama has only been able to eke out victories in three states with Race Chasm demographics, where AfricanAmerican populations make up more than 6 percent but less than 17 percent of the total population. And those three states

provided him extra advantages: He won Illinois, his home state; Missouri, an Illinois border state; and Connecticut, a state whose Democratic electorate just two years before supported Ned Lamont's insurgent candidacy against Joe Lieberman, and therefore had uniquely developed infrastructure and political cultures inclined to support an outsider candidacy. Meanwhile, three-quarters of all the states Clinton has won are those

with Race Chasm demographics. The Pennsylvania primary will be the first test of the race chasm since Obama implored Americans to end the "racial stalemate" and "come together and say, 'Not this time.'" Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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'Tell Your Mama, Vote for Obama!'
By David Knowles (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:18:00 AM

Filed under: Democrats, Barack Obama, Featured Stories, 2008 President The New York Times reports on a phenomenon of our current campaign that is sure to give Barack Obama's opponents a case of 3 a.m. angina. Summed up in a bumper-sticker (and what significant social trend cant be?) it might read, " Tell Your Mama, Vote for Obama!" Yes, it seems that legions of kids are spending a whole lot of time working on convincing their parents to vote for a guy whose middle name has a suspicious ring to it. What's worse, if you happen to like one of the other candidates running, is that it seems to be working. In fact, some of the Illinois senator's most well known supporters have cited the role their children have played in the decision to publicly endorse. Caroline Kennedy, Claire McCaskill, Amy Klobuchar, Kathleen Sebelius, Jim Doyle, and Bob Casey each credit his or her offspring for the lobbying efforts they made on behalf of Obama. Yes, for Barack Obama, the Kids are Alright, alright. Analysis from the "Old Grey Lady" herself: While politicians inevitably invoke children and the future, rarely have the political preferences of children themselves carried much weight with their

elders. On the contrary: when baby boomer parents were the age their children are now, the ideological and social gap between generations was more pronounced. Parents were, by definition, authoritarian. Their children were, by definition, anti-. So who has finally seen the light in this age-old struggle for respect? The older or the younger generation? Does the new level of influence signal a breakdown of familial order that will upend our most

fundamental societal norms: Parents dictate, kids rebel. Consider the specifics of Bob Casey's decision endorse Obama: Mr. Casey decided to back Mr. Obama because of his "ability to bring disparate groups together and transcend some of these racial and other kinds of divides," the person close to him said. "Also, his kids were on his case, his four daughters. Not that they dictate to him, but he was paying attention. He was wondering, why are these kids, who aren't very political, so

interested? He does have the ability to light up a younger generation." Four daughters. Crikey! I feel a touch of angina coming on myself. Well, maybe for some of the politicians who have publicly supported Oama, listening to your kids is just a pragmatic matter. If your voting-age offspring--disgruntled by the fact that you didn't "Go for O"--turned against you in the next election, that's a potential eightvote swing. Of course, if you are not an Obama convert, chances are you're pulling out what remains of your thinning hair right about now. Or perhaps you're murmuring to yourself, "And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids." Bad jokes, I know. Of course there are plenty of youngsters who support Clinton and McCain, too. And, furthermore, is all that youth support really something to brag about? That your kid who has never held a serious job in his whole life, and who thinks that college tuition grows on trees, and who just got busted for hosting a keg party in his 6'X8' dorm room, and who lost his third cell phone this month, and still doesn't know the God damn difference between affect and effect even though he's supposed to be an English major, and... well, I'm just saying. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

LaBarge (LB): Shares define bullish 'flag'
By Larry Schutts (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:50:00 AM

Filed under: Good news, Schlumberger Limited (SLB), Lockheed Martin (LMT), Technical Analysis, Stocks to Buy, Northrop Grumman (NOC) LaBarge(AMEX: LB) designs, engineers and manufactures electronic, electromechanical and interconnect systems for the broad industrial market. The firm's printed circuit boards, cables and electronic assemblies are used primarily in military communication systems, commercial aircraft, satellites and oil drilling equipment. Customers include Lockheed Martin(NYSE: LMT), Northrop Grumman(NYSE: NOC) and Schlumberger(NYSE: SLB). The company pleased investors last month, when it guided fiscal Q3 EPS to 23 -24 cents and Q3 revenues to $70-$72 million. The Street had been expecting 21 cents and $65.47 million. Management also predicted that Q4 results will be at least as strong as those achieved in Q3. Continue reading LaBarge (LB): Shares define bullish 'flag' Permalink| Email this| Comments

Hey, It's Obama's White Grandmother!
By David Knowles (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:25:00 AM

Filed under: Barack Obama, Ads, 2008 President In a new ad now airing in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama's white grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, makes a cameo. This might surprise some people who felt that Obama "threw his

grandmother under the bus" in his speech about race in America because he aired an anecdote about Dunham being afraid when passing groups of black men on the sidewalk. Apparently, Dunham did not share the "under the bus" interpretation offered by our nation's pundits. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Aden sisters: 'Don't be shaken out of gold'
By Steven Halpern (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:37:00 AM

Filed under: International markets, Newsletters, Yamana Gold (AUY), Goldcorp Inc (GG), Pan Amer Silver (PAAS), Commodities, Stocks to Buy When gold recently moved above $1,000 the Aden Forecast presciently noted that the metals were overbought and forecast a "well deserved breather" for the precious metals. Now, with the setback in metals prices, Mary Anne and Pamela Aden explain, "We can't stress enough that you should stay

invested in the major uptrend, which still has years to run. Don't get left behind or shaken out." Here is their outlook on metals and some favorite mining stocks. "Are commodities the new bubble? Have they replaced the real estate bubble, which replaced the tech stock bubble, as investors move from one bubble to another? It sure looks like it. "But the big difference is that this metals and commodities bubble has a lot further to go. Why? Basically, the perfect storm has been gathering and it's going to fuel a mega rise that will likely last for years to

come. "Most important is China and other growing nations, which are keeping demand and prices super strong. China's growth has been astounding at over 9% each year for more than 25 years. During that time, China has lifted 300 million people out of poverty and it's quadrupled the average income. Continue reading Aden sisters: 'Don't be shaken out of gold' Permalink| Email this| Comments


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Lee Plays the 'Massuh Card' on Clintons
By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:00:00 AM

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Endorsements, Democrats, Barack Obama, Media Ben Smith at Politico pulls some Spike Lee quotes, out of context, from a New York Magazine interview commemorating the 20th anniversary of Lee's influential joint, " Do the Right Thing." What do you think of Obama? I'm riding my man Obama. I think he's a visionary. Actually, Barack told me the first date he took Michelle to was Do the Right Thing. I said, "Thank God I made it. Otherwise you would have taken her to Soul Man. Michelle would have been like, 'What's wrong with this brother?' " Does this mean you're down on the Clintons? The Clintons, man, they would lie on a stack of Bibles. Snipers? That's not misspeaking; that's some pure bulls***. I voted for Clinton twice, but that's over with. These old black politicians say, "Ooh, Massuh Clinton was good to us, massuh hired a lot of us, massuh was good!" Hoo! Charlie Rangel, David Dinkins-they have to understand this is a new day. People ain't feelin' that stuff. It's like a tide, and the people who get in the way are just gonna get swept out into the ocean. Smith has no duty to provide any context, but I wish he had provided at least some commentary. These comments are sure to get some play in the mainstream political news media, with everyone and their mother expected to disown Spike Lee. I encourage you to read the rest of the interview, although none of it really deadens the impact of the quotes. After the jump, why this could be made into a big deal for Obama, and why it isn't.

Analyst upgrades: AXP, MET, BK, NYX, PSUN and NVS
By Eric Buscemi (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:58:00 AM

The last thing Spike Lee wants is me, or anyone else, running around trying to explain what he says. Spike is blunt when he wants to be, and for a purpose. However, I would simply like to point out that the "Massuh" quote is not intended as a swipe at the Clintons, an important distinction. Lee's comment is directed at black people and politicians who he feels are afraid to challenge the status quo, for fear of losing what Lee considers meager gains. Whether Rangel or Dinkins deserves the barb is a separate issue. I've said before that many prominent black people who continue to support Hillary Clinton, such as Bob Johnson, came of age at a time when black defiance was a truly perilous

enterprise, and compromise was of far more value in gaining influence, influence from which Lee now benefits. The flip side to that is that a more hardline movement might have taken longer to have gained traction, but also might have resulted in much greater gains and a more level playing field. Either way, I expect Barack Obama to be asked about the comments, and the anecdote about taking Michelle to see the film. My advice, as I'm sure Spike's would be, is to throw Lee under the bus. It's a nuance thing, Barack. They wouldn't understand. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: Analyst reports, Analyst upgrades and downgrades, American Express (AXP), Novartis AG ADS (NVS), Bank of New York (BK), NYSE Euronext (NYX) MOST NOTEWORTHY: The Brokers and Asset Managers sector, Pacific Sunwear and Metabasis Therapeutics were today's noteworthy upgrades: • Goldman upgraded the Brokers and Asset Management sector to Attractive from Neutral as they believe an inflection point has been reached for stocks with minimal credit exposure, or where exposure is marked to market. Goldman expects the problem to shift to regional banks and specialty finance from brokers. As such, Goldman upgraded American Express (NYSE: AXP ), Metlife (NYSE: MET ), Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK ), Franklin Resources (NYSE: BEN

), Janus Capital (NYSE: JNS ) and NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX ) to Buy from Neutral. • Wachovia upgraded Pacific Sunwear (NASDAQ: PSUN ) to Outperform from Market Perform based on valuation, merchandising improvements, operating efficiencies, favorable product mix, and reductions in underperforming categories. • Rodman & Renshaw raised Metabasis (NASDAQ: MBRX ) to Outperform from Market Perform on valuation given the potential for MB07803. OTHER UPGRADES: • HSBC raised Novartis (NYSE: NVS ) to Neutral from Underweight. • UBS (NYSE: UBS ) was upgraded at Morgan Stanley to Equal Weight from Underweight. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Dell CEO expects a profitable 2008
By Eliza Popescu (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:11:00 AM

Filed under: Forecasts, Good news, Consumer experience, Competitive strategy, Dell (DELL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) After announcing last week that it

plans to save $3 billion over the next three years by slashing production costs in all areas, Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL)'s Chief Executive Michael Dell announced today that he expects a profitable 2008 year for the company. Dell's goal to improve profits for the year will be a result of its strategy

to move its resources to growing emerging market countries. Dell also restated the company's target to buy back $1 billion of its own shares during this quarter. The move follows another repurchase of $4 billion in the fourth quarter. Over the long term, Dell

aims an earnings per share growth each year and is confident it has "the right plans in place" to get it, Dell said. Michael Dell predicted that 2008 would be a prosperous year as sales numbers are already looking great. For example, in Israel, the company last year saw an

increase of 67% for its sold products, and it has been seeing even faster growth during the first three months of this year. Continue reading Dell CEO expects a profitable 2008 Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

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100 Years Roar II: A New Kind Of Misquote
By Caleb Howe (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:55:00 AM

Filed under: Barack Obama, John McCain, Iraq, 2008 President Last week I wrote about the flap over Senator McCain's now infamous "100 years" answer to a question about staying in Iraq for fifty years. Although a number of Democrats have cited the comment, I pointed out that Senator Obama in particular had repeatedly made the false assertion that Senator McCain had advocated for 100 years of war in Iraq, and then subsequently said that wasn't what he said ... about what he said ... I said. Once again for clarity, here is Senator McCain's original comment: "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 called for new kind of politics for America. So one can't help wonder about what's going on at Obama HQ, considering the latest developments

on the "100 years roar." This morning on NBC, Meredith Viera asked Senator Obama "are you willing to admit that you've distorted his [McCain's] statements?" His reply? Senator Obama responded:"No. That's not accurate, Meredith. We can pull up the quotes on Youtube. What John McCain was saying was, that he was happy to have a potential long-term occupation in Iraq.

Happy may be overstating it -- he is willing to have a long-term occupation of Iraq, as long as 100 years, in fact he said 10,000 years, however long it took." On Saturday, before the Obama campaign released a new kind of statement following Ed Schultz's redefining of the word warmonger to mean anyone who had ever used the word war in a sentence, Senator Obama, at a campaign event in

Montana said of McCain, "He wants to continue this war in Iraq maybe for another 100 years." Again, that's just this past Saturday. The Saturday after Senator Obama told 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." Be there. War. Obviously the difference is small. For example, this weekend I'm planning to war for my old Marine Corps buddy's birthday. Also, Sunday I will war at my church to pray for a new kind of 'my bills being paid'. Senator Obama's call for a new kind of politics certainly resonates with a number of voters, particulary young voters. Those voters are planning to war at the polls in great numbers. However, that he can't seem to decide the character of Senator McCain's comments or, indeed, what he himself has said about those comments, makes me wonder if he ought to shop around a little more before settling on this particular "new kind". Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Analyst downgrades: AAPL, NVS, WFC, WM and IFX
By Eric Buscemi (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:03:00 AM

Analyst initiations: TWTC, VRGY and EAT
By Eric Buscemi (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:02:00 AM

Filed under: Analyst reports, Brinker Intl (EAT), Analyst initiations MOST NOTEWORTHY: Time Warner Telecom, Verigy and Brinker were today's noteworthy initiations: • Friedman Billings expects Time Warner Telecom (NASDAQ: TWTC ) to post free cash flow growth above consensus expectations and believes carrier spending-concerns are overdone. The firm initiated shares with an Outperform rating and $20 target. • Oppenheimer initiated

Verigy (NASDAQ: VRGY ) with a Perform rating and $23 target, pointing to the company's tough year over year comps as PC unit growth slows in 2008 as well as its exposure to flash memory chips. • Brinker (NYSE: EAT ) was assumed with a Neutral rating at Suntrust, as they expect Chili's to continue to be impacted by weak consumer spending. OTHER INITIATIONS: • Baird assumed Ulta Salon

(NASDAQ: ULTA ) with an Outperform rating and $18 target. • Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF ) was initiated at Jefferies with a Hold rating and $10-$11 target. • Landstar System (NASDAQ: LSTR ) was initiated with a Market Perform rating at Morgan Keegan. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Analyst reports, Analyst upgrades and downgrades, Apple Inc (AAPL), Novartis AG ADS (NVS), Washington Mutual (WM), Wells Fargo (WFC) MOST NOTEWORTHY: Apple, Novartis and Infineon were today's noteworthy downgrades: • Morgan Keegan downgraded Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) to Underperform from Market Perform citing increased evidence of broad-based weakness in consumer technology spending in the U.S. and Europe. Additionally, the firm expects challenges in the company's education vertical due to state and local budget issues, which could lead to decelerating growth over the next 2 -3 quarters. • Bear Stearns downgraded Novartis(NYSE: NVS ) to Peer Perform from Outperform following the acquisition of Alcon (NYSE: ACL ), as they find the deal expensive. • Credit Suisse cut Infineon (NYSE: IFX ) to Neutral from Outperform to reflect weakness in the U.S. dollar. OTHER DOWNGRADES: • Goldman downgraded Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) and Zions Bancorp (ZION) to Neutral from Buy. • Keefe Bruyette cut Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM ) to Underperform from Market Perform. • Baird downgraded Flowserve (NYSE: FLS ) to Neutral from Outperform. Permalink| Email this| Comments



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Best Buy ramping up marketing for Nintendo's Wii Fit game release
By Brian White (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:28:00 AM

Existing home sales fall 1.9% as sector's doldrums persists
By Joseph Lazzaro (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:49:00 AM

Filed under: Competitive strategy, Microsoft (MSFT), Marketing and advertising, Sony Corp ADR (SNE), Best Buy (BBY), Circuit City Stores (CC) Best Buy, Inc.(NYSE: BBY), always the one to capitalize on unique marketing opportunities at every chance it gets, sees another one coming down the road very soon. The upcoming Nintendo Wii gaming title Wii Fit, which is to be released on May 17, should be one of Nintendo's hottest gaming titles of this year. The Wii has made its mark using interactive and physical gameplay, requiring the physical involvement of the players instead of the couch potato thumb involvement of regular competitive game consoles. For that reason alone, the Wii has become immensely popular, outselling both the Sony Corp.(NYSE: SNE) Playstation 3 and the Microsoft Corp.(NASDAQ: MSFT) Xbox 360. Best Buy's marketing angle with the Wii Fit release happening in over a month includes some teaser ads near fitness DVDs that use Nintendo's catchy Wii

slogan: "how will it move you?" The new Wii Fit game, which will include a "balance board" to help those playing the game to interact as much as possible physically, needs to have a "best outlet" for sales here in the U.S. due to its existing mass population appeal, and if Best Buy can ramp up anticipation correctly, it may become the outlet to buy the Wii Fit game title come the third week of May. That is, unless competitor Circuit City Stores, Inc.(NYSE: CC) becomes aggressive on its Wii Fit marketing -- and I don't see that happening. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Bad news, Economic data, Housing, Recession Sales of existing homes declined 1.9% in February 2008, the National Association of Realtors announced Tuesday. It was the third existing home sales decline in the last four months. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected February 2008 existing home sales to decline 1.0%. The January 2008 existing homes sales statistic was revised higher to an increase of 0.3%. Regionally, February 2008 existing home sales fell 9.8% in the West, 5.5% in the South, and 3.7% in the Midwest. Sales rose 3.2% in the Northeast. Meanwhile, the aggregate U.S. existing-

home price will probably decline by 1.4% to a median of $215,800 for all of 2008 before rising 3.7% to $223,800 next year, the NAR said. The existing home sales statistic is considered a lead economic indicator because the metric tracks actual signings for the month reported, in this case, February 2008. Economic Analysis: A sub-par February 2008 existing home sales statistic, but one not entirely inconsistent with the consensus estimate. Existing home sales remain generally weak, which is typical for an economy in recession and a housing market where potential buyers expect future price declines, and hence postpone home purchase decisions. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Washington Mutual shoring up its balance sheet with investment
By Zack Miller (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:24:00 AM

Nike (NKE) gearing up for summer Olympics
By Michael Fowlkes (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:15:00 AM

Filed under: International markets, Other issues, Products and services, Consumer experience, Competitive strategy, Marketing and advertising, China, NIKE, Inc'B' (NKE), Politics With this year's summer Olympics just around the corner, athletic outfitter Nike Inc.(NYSE: NKE) unveiled its new Olympic products yesterday.

While Nike has never really embraced the concept of being a sponsor for the Olympics, it prides itself on being an outfitter for the competing athletes. This year there will be thousands of Olympic hopefuls from over a hundred companies that will be sporting the famous "Nike Swoosh" on themselves for millions of watchers to see. Nike will definitely leave its own footprint all over this summer's Olympic games. For the first time ever, BMX will be an Olympic medal sport, and the new

ever." I honestly thought the word "illest" vanished from the vocabulary around the same time as Run-DMC; guess I was wrong. But I will definitely look forward to seeing the "illest" BMX gear ever, Nike definitely got my attention on that one! Continue reading Nike (NKE) gearing up for summer Olympics Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments Nike gear for the sport is being heralded by Nike's global director for action sports, John Martin, as the "illest BMX product

Filed under: Forecasts, Deals, Washington Mutual (WM) Fellow BloggingStocks contributor, Aaron Katsman, and I were discussing the pros and cons of investing in high-yield bonds this morning. You know, those types of risky bonds that pay a pretty good yield in return for investors lending a risky company their hard-earned cash. Inevitably, Washington Mutual's name came up. Is it worth the risk of default to get some juicy yield? Dunno, but just as we were discussing the troubled lender, some news rolled out over the wires. Washington Mutual(NYSE: WM), the largest savings and loan in the U.S., announced it's taking an investment totaling $7 billion from an investor group led by private equity firm, TPG, or Texas Pacific Group. Well, that helps provide some stability. At least for a while. Continue reading Washington Mutual shoring up its balance sheet with investment Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Mark Penn's Missed Microtrends
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 12:30:00 PM

A t least nominally, a conflict of interest with a foreign client, not bad strategy, cost Mark Penn his perch atop Hillary Clinton's message machine. Still, Penn is widely blamed for the Clinton campaign's struggles, having dictated the campaign's reliance on "inevitability" and "experience," and rejecting the need to establish the candidate's "likeability." Penn's biggest lapse, however, may have been his failure to correctly apply his signature approach, the creative segmenting of the electorate. This allowed Barack Obama's campaign to artfully leverage support from small groups who swing great weight in the limited universe of Democratic primary and caucus voters. Penn gained national notice when Dick Morris handpicked his polling firm, Penn Schoen & Berland—a 20-year fixture in New York City's rough political world—for Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection team. President Clinton's comeback victory helped Penn Schoen & Berland attract major corporate clients while continuing its work for politicians like Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Michael Bloomberg, all of whom spent lavishly on polling. (I was a client—a happy one, I should note—of a unit of Penn Schoen & Berland that provides research services to Condé Nast Publications, which owns Portfolio.com, and I once worked—also happily—for Geoff Garin, the pollster newly selected to replace Penn on Clinton's campaign.) In 2001, advertising conglomerate WPP Group bought Penn Schoen & Berland. Penn became C.E.O. of Burson-Marstellar, the WPP-owned public relations and lobbying giant, a position he has juggled with his work on for Clinton. On March 31 he met with the Colombian ambassador to the U.S., a BursonMarstellar client, to map a strategy to persuade Congress to pass a bilateral trade agreement with Colombia. Senator Clinton opposes that pact, and has made doubts about free trade an issue in her tight primary race in Pennsylvania. In the ensuing firestorm, Penn had to resign as chief strategist for Clinton. What was surprising about Penn's tenure

with Clinton's campaign is not the conflict that ended it (talented campaign strategists often lend their skills to corporate clients between election cycles), but Penn's failure to apply his own theories as well as the opposition did. Penn is the best-selling author of Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes. This book mirrors his approach to elections: identify influential archetypes, like 1996's Soccer Moms, and fine-tune campaign proposals (for example, requiring parental-control "V -chips" in all new TVs) to win them over. Microtrends applies this analysis to the social sphere: Penn's "microtrends" involve tiny but visible segments of the population who are growing in size or influence due to social and economic forces—like the 1 percent of California youths who list "sniper" as a career goal. The book's critical reception was mixed. While it gained some corporate cachet, political writers showed Penn no love. Influential blogger Ezra Klein called Microtrends "so epically awful as to take the entire polling industry down with it." Maureen Dowd snarked that "the chapters all read like reports that Mr. Penn wrote for clients," and compared the names he gave his population segments—among them Shy Millionaires, Mildly Disordered, and Uptown Tattooed—to "a new lineup of Fox reality shows." But perversely, Obama's success has vindicated Penn's microtargeting approach. This year, microconstituencies that could easily have fit Penn's book were poised to make a huge splash in the relatively small Democratic primary pool, swelling 2004's turnout of 16 million by 80 percent. (Primary and caucus voters are a small, skewed fraction of those who cast ballots in November, estimated at 122 million voters in 2004 and certain to grow this year.) Receptive to messages of inspiration, change and political reform, groups like newly energized Internet donors, nostalgic middle-aged liberals, freshly recruited pundits, and atypically upscale independents have provided Obama's keys to success. Online Donors. Foremost among the influencers are a new wave of political donors, who have always been a microconstituency. Most Americans

donate to charitable causes like churches, medical research, even pet rescue—not political candidates. The total number of donors to all presidential candidates in 2004 totaled just one million—less than 0.5 percent of the adult population. But the Web has caused this smallish universe of political donors to rise sharply: Obama's backers now claim that, if nominated, he alone will attract two million donors by November. These new donors' influence goes far beyond the attitudes changed by the ads they fund. They have rewritten the rules about how quickly a candidate can capitalize on sudden momentum, and pumped previously unseen amounts of cash into the campaign industry. These new online donors are perfect specimen of a Penn microgroup: small, but growing rapidly as a result of new outside forces (the Internet, here). The Obama campaign's message perfectly suits the motivation of the kind of person who puts money behind a candidate: the desire to be part of history—a claim Clinton could have made as well, but rejected in favor of the "inevitability" approach. How many people are inspired to donate to the inevitable? Political Junkies. Once, political aficionados were too few for their votes to have noticeable impact, and surveys showed voters rarely based their choices on strategic considerations. But their ranks have risen ever since Theodore White's 1961 book The Making of the President, 1960 invented the mass market for political strategy. This year, that audience is expanding thanks to a plethora of inside-baseball politics programs on three cable news networks and a growing stream of political websites. (They're still a microconstituency: the peak audience for a top political chat show is well below two million.) Political views aside, these aficionados share an obsession with the rules of the game, the ups and downs of the daily news cycle, and process and story-line rather than policies. This year, it seemed that every undecided Iowan interviewed at a rally was second-guessing the candidates' strategies or weighing their "electability." Dedicated political hobbyists could easily tip the scales in a state where, even

in this record year, Democratic caucus turnout was just 250,000. Relatively upscale and educated, they can indulge their political passion by volunteering, attending rallies, donating, and, of course, voting. Obama's history-making quest proved far more appealing to political junkies than Hillary's theme of the steady workhorse. Politicos love an exciting contest, and hate "inevitability"—and may now rally to Clinton only after it appears some are trying to force her from the race. Entry-Level Pundits. The steady increase in programming hours, columns, and websites devoted to political strategy fuels an ever-growing demand for analysts and bloggers who can explain the election. Many local newspapers now have their own political blogs, while TV and talk radio need ever more guests with some pretence to political expertise. Even amateurs can get into the act, by commenting on blogs (or clawing their way into a Frank Luntz focus group). But, rather than making political analysis more diverse, the relative inexperience of the expanded punditocracy, and their exuberance for the "horse race," produces more pack journalism. The conventional wisdom becomes more entrenched, skewing the information that flows to voters. This year, Obama stoked media excitement that translated into a constant message over the airwaves. The Clinton campaign seemed to ignore this rising class of political interpreters, making no attempt to court them—in fact, infuriating them with a heavily packaged campaign that played into their stereotypes, and mocking the pundits' very purpose by claiming Clinton's victory as "inevitable." Independent Crossovers. Independents who vote in Democratic primaries aren't "typical" independents: they're more upscale, and much more politically engaged. One stubborn barrier to the long-awaited development of a third party in the U.S. has been the reality that self-described independents agree upon almost nothing; a surprising majority of them are downscale, poorly informed and disengaged with politics. A much smaller group fits the stereotype of the thoughtful, nuanced independent:

liberal on social issues, perhaps, but fiscally conservative. These are the ones who might cross over to vote in a Democratic primary. The one thing most independents do have in common is visceral dislike for the major parties. This is why Obama's message of post-partisanship works so well for them. Independents who vote in primaries tend to be well informed and engaged with the political process. They are predisposed to Obama's central themes, which concern politics itself (activism, unity, reform) and are more concerned with Hillary's campaign tactics than her policy proposals. This year, the importance of states with open primaries has given the upscale independent voter new leverage; the relatively small electorate gives them large potential impact if they break a particular way. In Virginia and Wisconsin, nearly one in three Democratic primary voters were independents or Republicans; exit polls showed they tilted heavily toward Obama. Weepy-Eyed Boomers. Not every Baby Boomer is a nostalgic liberal or ex-Yippie. The "great silent majority" shunned the demonstrations and sit-ins. But the early Boomers for whom late '60s activism was formative are a small but visible group, now at the peak of its influence. Many of them are politicians, journalists, or donors. For many of them, the wounds of the seminal year of 1968 never healed. Those who chanted "the whole world is watching" saw their hope and excitement dissipate. The promise of that slogan was never fulfilled, and as these children of the '60s start to enter their 60s, their sense of unfinished business takes on urgency. Now Obama—seemingly Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King rolled into one—offers them a two-for-one redemption of 1968's political assassinations and the illusion of picking up where America left off. The Obama campaign has fed the fantasy, converting their iconic Kennedy endorsements into a Camelot video ad. Meanwhile, Hillary—a genuine icon from that era, thanks to her Wellesley commencement address, which Life magazine profiled in 1969—neglected to MARK page 9


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WaMu Gets Its Deal
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 8:00:00 AM

Saving Face at Facebook
MBIA is trading at $13.35. To be sure, the use of convertibles in some of the examples above will guarantee a yield, and private-equity firms have generally a longer time frame than most other money managers. Still, why do the same thing that other big investors do? For one thing, the private equity firms need to put the billions of dollars they have raised over the last year to work, as Sorkin and others have noted. And they are certainly able to make big, risky bets that other big investors can't (say a pension fund), or won't (Warren Buffett), or have come to regret (the sovereign wealth funds). With the high-yield debt markets still seized up, there are few other investing alternatives available to private equity. The Financial Times' Lex column contends his deal could be the wave of private equity's future, saying that firms "will increasingly target distressed companies which require capital and have scope for a big profit if the business can be turned round." Related Links When "Best" Isn't Good Enough, Call a Lawyer Blackstone: The First of Many Private Equity IPOs Blackstone, Enter Stage Left

Private equity used to be about changing the rules: taking on new targets, using different management tools, inventing new ways to obtain financing. By playing by the old, conventional rules, private equity is raising even more eyebrows. TPG, formerly Texas Pacific Group, is leading a group of investors to pump $7 billion, with virtually no leverage, into the nation's largest savings and loan, Washington Mutual. Why that makes TPG just like a Vanguard, Legg Mason, or Barclays—all big institutional investors of WaMu already. Also on Portfolio.com: The Buying Spree Remember when private equity bought companies? The Old Guard An interview with Pete Peterson of Blackstone. As Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times put it in his DealBook column today: "Yes, the buyout kings have been reduced to playing in the same sandbox as the rest of us." Under the deal announced today, Washington Mutual sold the investor group 176 million shares of its common stock at $8.75 per share, or $1.54 billion. It also issued 55,000 convertible shares that have an exercise price of $8.75 per share for $5.5 billion.

TPG's founding partner, David Bonderman, who served on the bank's board from 1996 to 2002, will be named to the board. Washington Mutual also said that it expects to report a first-quarter loss of $1.2 billion, or $1.40 per share, as it sets asides $3.5 billion for bad loans. It is also slashing its dividend to 1 cent, from 15 cents per share, a move that will save it $490 million a year. Shares of Washington Mutual tumbled 9 percent, to $11.99. There have been a number of prominent minority investments by private equity firms in recent years. At first glance, few look promising. Deutsche Telekom: Blackstone Group bought 4.5 percent of the German telecommunications giant for 14 euros a share. It also got a seat on Deutsche Telekom's supervisory board. Today, the shares traded at 11.28 euros, or $17.17 Sun Microsystems: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. invested $700 million in Sun in January 2007 through convertible notes with an conversion price of $7.21 per share. Sun shares are trading at $15.45. Palm: Elevation Partners invested $325 million in convertible stock in June 2007. The conversion price is $8.50 per share. Palm shares are at $5.60 MBIA: Warburg Pincus agreed in December 2007 to buy 16.1 million shares of the bond insurer at $31.00 per share.

(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 9:00:00 AM

In 2004, three Harvard alumni filed a lawsuit against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg accusing him of stealing the idea for Facebook from them. Since then, Zuckerberg has become a very, very rich man. Rich enough, it appears, to make the lawsuit go away. The New York Times' Bits blog says that Facebook is close to settling the lawsuit—filed by two brothers, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and a colleague, Divya Narendra—that accuses Zuckerberg of stealing the source code, design, and business plan for Facebook in 2003. At the time, Zuckerberg briefly worked as a programmer for the plaintiff's own fledgling social-networking site, now known as ConnectU. Terms of the settlement, if indeed there is to be one, have not been disclosed. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on legal matters. Portfolio.com emails to Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra were not immediately returned. The lawsuit had been the source of much consternation to Facebook, because its core assertion contested Zuckerberg's claim to have founded Facebook while at Harvard. At the time, Winklevoss described Zuckerberg's actions to Portfolio.com as "premeditated, well thought out, duplicitous, and conniving." "We were shocked and in utter disbelief," Winklevoss said, describing his reaction when Zuckerberg launched Facebook in

2004. Zuckerberg, Winklevoss said, had done so after promising to help build Harvard Connection, now known as ConnectU. "This was our idea, and Mark stole it." Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, said a settlement would remove an obstacle to Facebook going public, an outcome that Zuckerberg is thought to be shooting for. "It's fairly typical for a company to settle major litigation in anticipation of a major corporate event like an I.P.O. or an acquisition," Goldman said. "Settling the litigation reduces one of the risk factors that might depress valuation." In the months since the lawsuit revved up, Facebook has exploded in popularity and received a$240 million investment from Microsoft, valuing the company at a cool $15 billion. Zuckerberg himself is now thought to be worth over $1 billion, making the 23-year-old techie the youngest billionaire in the world. If the settlement goes through, it would represent a softening of Facebook's position toward the suit. Last fall, a Facebook spokesperson lashed out at the Winklevosses and Narendra, saying, "It is unfortunate but not surprising that others falsely claim credit for [Facebook] after its enormous success." Related Links Facebook's Day In Court Facebook Dispute: It's Not Just Business, It's Personal Zuckerberg Looking for His Grownup

Greenspan: No Regrets
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:00:00 AM

The most contentious campaign of the year isn't between Obama and Clinton, it's over the legacy of Alan Greenspan. The former Federal Reserve chairman is an astute politician. And so, even without a book to promote, he is making another big public push, spinning his view in the wake of the rescue of Bear Stearns and moves by Congress to deal with the housing crisis. In an opinion article in the Financial Times

on Monday and in an article based on a series of interviews with Greg Ip of the Wall Street Journal, Greenspan defends his record, contending he is being wrongly blamed for the credit crisis. Also on Portfolio.com: His Fault John Cassidy on why Greenspan is to blame. The Tenure What happened in his 18 years. Critics, he says, are ignoring the factors that led the Fed to cut interest rates under his leadership and are being selective about the record in second-

guessing him. "I was praised for things I didn't do," Mr. Greenspan tells the Journal. "I am now being blamed for things that I didn't do." Greenspan tells the Journal that he was "wrong about the improbability of a housing bubble." "Yet he has long maintained that bubbles are an unavoidable feature of a dynamic economy," the Journal says. "No sensible policy, he maintains, could have prevented the housing bubble." His critics are not being swayed by the

latest from the stump. Barry Ritholtz of the Big Picture blog, who describes him as "the grand architect of a Fed era which will forever be known for easy money and nonregulation," says"Alan Greenspan seems to be hell-bent on destroying what little reputation he has left." The main argument against Greenspan is that the Fed failed in its regulatory oversight at a time when financial institutions' holdings of opaque, over-thecounter derivatives ballooned. The Institutional Risk Analysts,

discussing the failure of Bear Stearns, notes, "by replacing exchange-traded securities with ersatz O.T.C. instruments, Greenspan and the quant economists who dominate the Fed's Washington staff have created vast systemic risk that need not exist at all and that now threatens our entire financial system." Related Links Steady as It Goes Policy on the Fly Should the Fed Buy Securities Outright?

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Whoo Hoo, WaMu
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 5:30:00 AM

Eye on a Huge Deal
requirements. Yves Smith on NakedCapitalism.com says it appears that private equity is stepping into the vacuum left by sovereign wealth funds, which last year took a number of big investments in U.S. financial institutions, apparently to their regret. "So the TPG move in theory is a positive development," Smith writes. "On the other hand if, like the sovereign wealth funds, they have merely acquired the right to lose money, TPG and any 'me too' deals could be the last private sector hurrah before banks start resorting to more desperate measures (dividend cuts, asset sales despite the weak market for banking businesses, rights offerings)." Related Links Steady as It Goes Bear Funds Being Liquidated: Who Wants to Buy? Geithner Explains the Bear Stearns Rescue

Washington Mutual, one of the nation's biggest mortgage lenders, has often seemed like a cork during the credit storm. Afloat, yes, but bobbing in a uncertain direction, driven by forces beyond its control. For months, it was viewed as a near-certain takeover target, most likely by J.P. Morgan Chase. That changed, of course, when J.P. Morgan swooped in to take control of Bear Stearns. Now it may have found its mooring. Matthew Karnitschnig, Valerie Bauerlein, and Robin Sidel of the Wall Street Journal report that private equity heavyweight TPG and other investors are nearing a deal to invest $5 billion in WaMu. The new capital is greatly needed. Last week, David Hendler, an analyst with CreditSights, estimated that if the value of WaMu's mortgage investments continued to deteriorate, it might need to raise another $5 billion to $6.2 billion of capital.

This investment in the last remaining shaky pillar of the mortgage industry should go a long way toward bolstering investor confidence. Following the Bear Stearns rescue, the Federal Reserve's moves to open the discount window, and the new capital being raised by other firms, one can be justifiably optimistic in thinking that the worst of the credit crunch is behind us. The deal would also come just days before a contentious meeting of WaMu shareholders on April 15. A number of major shareholders have been critical of the performance of the nation's largest savings and loan and the steep drop in its stock price. Last month, it had its credit rating cut a notch by Standard & Poor's. In the fourth quarter, WaMu reported its first quarterly loss since 1997. Some investors are looking to shake up the board. For TPG, formerly Texas Pacific Group, the investment is an usual one for private equity, which tends to stay away from regulated financial institutions with capital

(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 4:30:00 AM

Think deals are dead? Get an eyeful of this one. Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, has agreed to buy Nestlé's 77 percent stake in Alcon, the world's largest eye-care company, in a two-stage transaction that could be worth as much as $39 billion. Big pharma has been struggling of late because of competition from generic drugmakers and higher hurdles to developing blockbuster drugs. The deal will allow Novartis, which owns Visudyne eyedrops, to diversify its business more. "The margins are higher than our pharma business and are obviously very attractive," Daniel Vasella, chief executive of Novartis, told the press today, Reuters reported. The deal makes strategic sense, says Jeffrey Goldfarb on BreakingViews.com "But by acceding to Nestlé's desire to delay giving up control, Novartis is putting

off beneficial cost-cutting and diversification while still effectively committing a massive slug of capital," he says. In the first step of the deal, Novartis will pay $143.18 per share, or $11 billion for a 25 percent stake in Alcon. It has an option to buy an additional 52 percent for $28 billion between January 2010 and July 2011. It will not buy the 23 percent of Alcon that is held by public shareholders. The initial offer price is at a discount: Shares of Alcon closed at $148.44 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. For Nestlé, the deal will fatten its war chest and renew speculation about possible deals. Nestlé has been linked to companies like Cadbury Schweppes and L'Oréal, in which it already has a 30 percent stake. Related Links Pharma's Fees Eyeball Datapoint of the Day The Last AAAngels Standing

MARK page 7 continued from
offer her contemporaries any sense of completing the mission of their youth. Quarterlife Activists. It would be a mistake to believe that the typical 21-yearold can be found chanting "Yes We Can" at an Obama rally. Every post-'60s generation has seen its own popular cause sweep a certain segment of the young: anti -nuclear power in the 70's, apartheid in the '80s, globalization in the '90s. For all their visibility, these were fringe phenomena—most Americans aren't eager to join a movement. But some are. After Vietnam, no youth cause translated into electoral politics until 2004, when Howard Dean managed to harness the idealism and the need to belong that characterizes the young and educated. He also pioneered the use of Web tools like social networking and blogging to channel that political energy. Obama offers young idealists a huge upgrade over Dean, with a better-focused message and a more inspiring delivery. Still, 20-something activists may be the one group that Penn and the Clinton campaign can be excused for missing. Hillary's every-mom appeal is light years away from the idealistic dreams of a young Obama supporter, and probably no one attends a Clinton event in hopes of hooking up. But considering the accusations that Penn had almost microtargeted the Clinton campaign into oblivion, it's ironic how thoroughly he missed the importance of so many small groups that did so much to benefit her opponent. He provided no mechanism to harness the enthusiasm of online donors, no redemptive vision for nostalgic boomers, no sense of fresh thinking for upscale independents, and, until late in the game, no exciting storyline for the political junkies and entry-level pundits. Related Links Clinton, Short of Cash, Taps Her Own Coffers Obama Bucks The Long, Hard Slog

Motorola Truce
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 6:30:00 AM

Two weeks ago, Carl Icahn said he was just in the first inning of his fight for changes at Motorola. Now he is in the late innings. The company and the activist investor have reached an agreement, and Icahn will drop his proxy challenge. Under the deal, William Hambrecht, co-founder of Hambrecht & Quist, and Keith Meister, a managing director of the Icahn investment funds, will be nominated to the board of Motorola. In addition, all litigation between the company and Icahn will be withdrawn. "This is a very positive step for Motorola in that shareholder representatives will have strong input into board decisions affecting the future of our company," Icahn said in a statement. It is quite a turnabout for Icahn, who lost a battle for a board seat last year. Since

then, he has continued to push for changes at the company and to buy up shares. He has urged a breakup of the company, and late last month, Motorola said it would split off its troubled cell-phone business. In the statement, Icahn expressed his support for the split. (The other company will encompass Motorola's fast-growing home and networks business, which sells television set-top boxes and modems, and its enterprise mobility solutions, which sells computing and communications equipment to businesses.) The activism has yet to pay off in his investment, however. Icahn, who currently holds a 6.4 percent stake in Motorola, started buying shares when they were $19. They are now at $9.67. Related Links Icahn v. Motorola, Round Three Icahn, In Motorola's Business for Keeps Icahn Opens Motorola Proxy Fight

It's Time To Play The Game: What's Comcast Blocking Now?
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 12:52:00 PM

Broadband Reports highlights a new research report out of the University of Colorado suggesting that Comcast has changed its traffic shaping system such that it's sending RST packets for any kind of TCP traffic at times, rather than just for BitTorrent traffic. Comcast has responded saying that this is not the planned change it had announced a couple weeks ago. In fact, the company itself seems confused about the report -- but given the company's own unwillingness to admit to what it was doing in the past, it's hard to know how honest the company is being. Of course, it could just be a technical error. Considering that Comcast's earlier efforts included an accidental jamming of Lotus Notes, a technical mistake might make the most sense. Update: And, it turns out Comcast was correct. The University of Colorado folks have retracted their findings. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story


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What's Next for Merrill?
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:30:00 AM

John Thain, chief executive of Merrill Lynch, seems to be spending an awful lot of time in Japan just a week before Merrill is expected to report an ugly first quarter. That has led to speculation that the Wall Street firm will announce an alliance with Mizuho Financial Group, the world's largest bank. In comments to reporters today, Thain declined to comment on possible alliances with Mizuho, which announced in January that it would invest $1.2 billion in Merrill. "We are not being specific about it at this moment,'' Thain said, according to

Bloomberg News. Thain also repeated comments that Merrill will not need to raise more capital, but will continue to shrink its balance sheet. The firm has raised nearly $13 billion since the credit crunch hit it last fall. "We deliberately raised more capital than we lost last year," Thain said, according to Reuters. Merrill is set to report first-quarter earnings on April 17. Many analysts are expecting the firm to take a loss on an additional write-down of several billion dollars.

Google Jumps Head First Into Web Services With Google App Engine
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 10:29:03 PM

Yahoo's Dilema
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 7:30:00 AM

Microsoft is threatening to wage a proxy battle, a fight that could drive away talent and make integration more difficult if it succeeds in taking control. Yahoo, meanwhile, is trying to buy time in the hope that it can show improved results that bolster its case to stay independent. That is also a gamble if its first-quarter numbers, scheduled to be released on April 22, disappoint investors in any way. Most analysts see a deal as inevitable, and many larger Yahoo shareholders – a

number of them also Microsoft shareholders-- have indicated that they would support a bid if it were improved from the $31-per-share offer disclosed on February 1. Also on Porfolio.com: The War for the Web Yahoo Spurns Tough Talk Yahoo Deal in Limbo Related Links Idle Chatter: Sumner 'n' Tom, Together Again Search Mission Ballmer's Big Play

Who's The Evil Empire In The Battle Over Who Owns The Rights To Storm Trooper Costumes?
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:34:00 AM

And the latest in a never-ending line of ridiculous intellectual property lawsuits, apparently George Lucas is engaged in a battle over who owns the rights to the costume used by storm troopers in the Star Wars movies. It turns out that a guy named Andrew Ainsworth created the original costumes for Star Wars and feels that he therefore has the right to make, market and sell the costumes (which people apparently are buying). Lucas, on the other hand,

insists that it's a part of Star Wars and is his intellectual property. To make this more fun, Ainsworth turned around and countersued, claiming not only that he owns the rights to the storm trooper outfit, but that Lucas owes him money for all the merchandising done over the years that involved storm trooper costumes. Frankly, both sides are being a bit ridiculous here, but that's what you get in a world where everyone is convinced that you can "own" something such as a movie costume. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Our live coverage of the Google App Engine launch event is here. Google isn’t just talking about hosting applications in the cloud any more. Tonight at 9pm PT they’re launching Google App Engine( Update: The site is live), an ambitious new project that offers a full-stack, hosted, automatically scalable web application platform. It consists of Python application servers, BigTable database access (anticipated here and here) and GFS data store services. At first blush this is a full on competitor to the suite of web services offered by Amazon, including S3(storage), EC2(virtual servers) and SimpleDB(database). Unlike Amazon Web Services’ loosely coupled architecture, which consists of several essentially independent services that can optionally be tied together by developers, Google’s architecture is more unified but less flexible. For example, it is possible with Amazon to use their storage service S3 independently of any other services, while with Google using their BigTable service will require writing and deploying a Python script to their app servers, one that creates a web-accessible interface to BigTable. What this all means: Google App Engine is designed for developers who want to run their entire application stack, soup to nuts, on Google resources. Amazon, by contrast, offers more of an a la carte offering with which developers can pick and choose what resources they want to use. Google Product Manager Tom Stocky described the new service to me in an interview today. Developers simply upload their Python code to Google, launch the application, and can monitor usage and other metrics via a multi-platform desktop application. More details from Google: Today we’re announcing a preview release of Google App Engine, an

application-hosting tool that developers can use to build scalable web apps on top of Google’s infrastructure. The goal is to make it easier for web developers to build and scale applications, instead of focusing on system administration and maintenance. Leveraging Google App Engine, developers can: • Write code once and deploy. Provisioning and configuring multiple machines for web serving and data storage can be expensive and time consuming. Google App Engine makes it easier to deploy web applications by dynamically providing computing resources as they are needed. Developers write the code, and Google App Engine takes care of the rest. • Absorb spikes in traffic. When a web app surges in popularity, the sudden increase in traffic can be overwhelming for applications of all sizes, from startups to large companies that find themselves rearchitecting their databases and entire systems several times a year. With automatic replication and load balancing, Google App Engine makes it easier to scale from one user to one million by taking advantage of Bigtable and other components of Google’s scalable infrastructure. • Easily integrate with other Google services.

It’s unnecessary and inefficient for developers to write components like authentication and e-mail from scratch for each new application. Developers using Google App Engine can make use of builtin components and Google’s broader library of APIs that provide plug-and-play functionality for simple but important features. Google App Engine: The Limitations The service is launching in beta and has a number of limitations. First, only the first 10,000 developers to sign up for the beta will be allowed to deploy applications. The service is completely free during the beta period, but there are ceilings on usage. Applications cannot use more than 500 MB of total storage, 200 million megacycles/day CPU time, and 10 GB bandwidth (both ways) per day. We’re told this equates to about 5M pageviews/mo for the typical web app. After the beta period, those ceilings will be removed, but developers will need to pay for any overage. Google has not yet set pricing for the service. One current limitation is a requirement that applications be written in Python, a popular scripting language for building modern web apps (Ruby and PHP are among others widely used). Google says that Python is just the first supported language, and that the entire infrastructure is designed to be language neutral. Google’s initial focus on Python makes sense because they use Python internally as their scripting language (and they hired Python creator Guido van Rossum in 2005). Update: Here is Guido van Rossum at the launch event talking about App Engine: CrunchBase Information Google Guido van Rossum Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

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Google Finally Realizes It Needs To Be $25 Million Later, MeeVee In Trouble The Web Platform
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 5:27:01 PM

Way back in 2004, we started asking when Google was going to become "the web platform," finally opening up its infrastructure to build out new and useful applications. It seemed obvious at the time that the next real battle was going to be in that space, but time and time again, Google has missed opportunities to do so, opening up a window of opportunity for other players. Surprisingly, the closest to realizing the vision has been Amazon.com with its Amazon Web Services offerings -which was something no one would have expected back in 2004. Back then, the questions were more about Microsoft, Yahoo and Google. Microsoft, however, can't seem to get past its desktop software DNA (though, it talks a good game) and Yahoo! (typical Yahoo!) has bits and pieces here and there but can't seem to pull together a comprehensive web platform strategy. For a brief period of time, it looked like Facebook might become a true web platform, but it's been too focused on locking apps in rather than enabling

outbound efforts. So, now, finally, nearly four years later, Google has come to its senses and announced its entrance into the web platform space with its aptly named AppEngine offering. In many ways, it's similar to Amazon's offering (which is a good thing!), though much more integrated, which could prove to be either a problem or a benefit depending on what you want to do. Amazon allows for a much more a la carte setup, which could appeal to many, while you have to really embrace Google to enjoy the benefits of its setup. A big open question is pricing. A huge part of the appeal to Amazon's Web Services platform is that it's crazy cheap. You really have to be working it quite hard to build up any sort of significant charges. Google hasn't released info on pricing yet, offering AppEngine up for free to the first 10,000 developers (who appear to have snapped up all the open slots in less than two hours). That free service has some limitations: initially 500 MBs of storage and enough bandwidth to serve approximately 5 million pages per month. There's some suggestion that the final

service will always be free up to that level, with charges starting if you go beyond that. If so, that could certainly appeal to people who just want to try some stuff out for free. While this may seem like something that will only appeal to serious techheads, this could be a really big deal. A lot is going to depend on how well AppEngine really works, and how open it really turns out to be. However, if it really does provide another super cheap (or even free at low levels) full service, highly scalable platform for all different kinds of applications, things could start to get very interesting pretty quickly. Between this and Amazon's Web Services, the very concept of developing online applications may finally start to change in significant ways for the better. The easier it is to develop and deploy highly scalable web applications, the more innovative and creative solutions we're going to start to see. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 8:43:20 PM

TV listings discovery service MeeVee has put itself on the market via press release. The Burlingame based company has taken $25 million in funding over four rounds that included DEFTA Partners, Edmond de Rothschild Venture Capital, FCPR Israel Discovery Fund, Labrador Ventures, The Bay Area Equity Fund and WaldenVC. The first sign of trouble at MeeVee surfaced in July 2007 when the company cut 20% of its workforce. According to MeeVee: Due to accelerated development of the online entertainment market, the Board of Directors at MeeVee has determined that combining with an established player will maximize the potential for the community, technology and content relationships the Company has built. MeeVee claims that it is “engaged in multiple discussions with potential acquirers that provide the greatest long

term upside and synergy,” but then adds “Interested parties should contact Steve Hughey (shughey@meevee.com) for more information.” You don’t normally ask for interested parties to contact a company re a sale unless the current talks (if they exist) aren’t going well. The other sign of trouble and that they’ve just about run out of money: the press release states that MeeVee has 7 full time employees. After the July cut there were 27 employees. We’re putting MeeVee on Deadpool watch. CrunchBase Information MeeVee Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

No, Google Did Not Fleece Taxpayers Out Of $7 Billion
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 4:49:05 AM

We've talked about Scott Cleland before. He's a "telecom analyst" who has a reputation for stretching the truth as far as it can go in order to contort himself into making telcos look good and anyone opposing the telcos look bad. Jim Harper points us to Cleland's latest, where he accuses Google of "fleecing taxpayers" out of approximately $7 billion with its actions in the recent 700 MHz auction. He notes Google's admission that it was only in the auction to push the bid over the threshold requiring any service on the network to be open. This isn't a surprise. It was widely

assumed that Google would merely bid up to the threshold, knowing that if it could buy the spectrum at that price, that would be great, but if someone else got it and the network was then required to be open, that was great too. So this is hardly a shocking admission on the part of Google. Cleland then compares the prices of the other blocks of spectrum available (those that didn't have open access rules) and does a back of the envelope calculation that the average price per MHz was noticeably higher on the closed access spectrum than the open access spectrum. From that point, he jumps to the conclusion that the C block (the open access block) was significantly

underpriced because (he claims) telcos valued it less since it was open. Of course, there are all sorts of problems with this. He determines the amount of the underbidding by merely averaging the % difference in the A and B blocks to the C block -- but it's a massive difference. The A block was 50% higher and the B block was 250% higher. He then just averages that to 150%. Yet, anyone who bothered to actually think about it (rather than look for a weapon with which to bash Google) would note that this calculation is quite dubious. Beyond the "small sample size" problem, the very difference in price-per-MHz in the A and B blocks should make it clear that there are many other reasons why the price

would fluctuate having absolutely nothing to do with whether the network was open or closed. To assign the entire blame to that makes no sense whatsoever and ignores the realities of what these different blocks of spectrum were good for. Next, Cleland tries to spin this story as Google illegally swiping $7 billion from taxpayers -- since this entirely mythical $7 billion would have gone into the treasury, which will now have to make it up from taxpayers. On top of that, he suggests (totally incorrectly) that the only real beneficiary of the open access rules would be Google for its Android offering. Except... not quite. He's ignoring (conveniently) the other half of the

equation. The open access rules benefit plenty of other companies beyond Google (in fact, any company that wants to take advantage of those rules), and will likely lead to much greater innovation and new and valuable businesses and services, that will likely generate much more tax revenue for the government than the totally mythical $7 billion. But Cleland decides to ignore all that inconvenient information in order to make an entirely bogus claim against Google. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story



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The Truth According to Wikipedia
By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 8:54:37 AM

Dutch filmmaker IJsbrand van Veelen stirred a lot of controversy last week at the Next Web conference when he premiered the documentary above, The Truth About Wikipedia. It has now been posted to YouTube and is worth watching when you have a spare 45 minutes. The film pits Andrew Keen, the disapproving author of The Culture of the Amateur, and Bob McHenry, former editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica, against Wikipedia co-founders Larry Sanger, Jimmy Wales, and Web 2.0 guru Tim O’Reilly, among others. The film is masterfully made and shows many points of view, but it ends up being more than anything else a vehicle for Keen to put forth his diatribes against Wikipedia. You definitely get the sense that he wins the argument in the movie. And, in fact, when I asked van Veelen afterwards on stage who he personally agreed with the most (I was the conference MC), he admitted it was Keen. This siding with the enemy, as it were, actually makes the documentary more thought-provoking. People in the audience were seething, and one man came prepared with a speech denouncing the filmmaker. In the film, Keen actually argues that we

need gatekeepers for the truth, and those gatekeepers should be experts. Of course, he misses the point that the relatively small handful of people who do most of the writing and editing on Wikipedia may very well be experts in their topic areas, or become experts by writing and researching Wikipedia articles. That is not to say that controversies do not arise all the time about factual inaccuracies, edit wars, and companies trying to conduct PR campaigns by changing their Wikipedia entries. But the film also misses the point that Wikipedia is very much a market of ideas. Like any market, information at any given point in time can be wrong, but in the end it turns out to be right more often than not. Whether you agree with Keen or with the Wikipedians depends on your definition of truth. Keen is an absolutist. There is Truth, and everything else is fiction. Experts are the guardians of that truth. But the truth is that Truth itself is always evolving, even the experts’ notion of it. (via The Next Web). And for those of you with even more time on your hands, here is van Veelen’s 50-minute documentary from last year on Google: Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

'Laboratories Of Democracy' At Work On E -voting
By Timothy Lee (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 11:03:00 AM

File Sharing PreSettlement Letters In Europe Get Lawyer Banned For Six Months
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 3:02:00 PM

Last summer, Congress debated legislation that would have required a voter -verified paper trail on all e-voting machines. I supported the legislation and co-authored an op-ed saying so. That legislation didn't pass, but Joe Hall points out that Iowa is the latest state to switch back to paper ballots in its election system. He points out that thirty states now have rules requiring a voter-verified paper trail, with another 8 states using voter-verified paper trails without a specific state law requiring that they do so. Iowa looks to be even better than some of these other states because it's moving to an almost entirely paper-based voting system. Voting machines will only be used to help voters (especially disabled voters) mark their ballots. This approach is ideal because it ensures that the paper trail won't become an afterthought, as it often does when the "paper trail" is a roll of cash register tape that no one ever looks at. Thanks to the hard work of voting activists, it appears that state legislatures are doing the job at the state level that Congress couldn't get done last year. In

some ways, this is actually a better way of doing things. Last year's debate in Congress was very helpful in raising the profile of the issue, but even most supporters of last year's legislation recognized that some states wouldn't be able to revamp their election processes in time for the 2008 elections. More importantly, if Congress screws up -- as it did when it pushed e-voting on the states with the 2002 Help America Vote Act -it's much harder to recover than if an individual state screws up. With 50 state legislatures looking at these issues independently, states can try a variety of different approaches tailored to the needs of their individual election systems and adopt the ones that prove most successful. The momentum for verifiable elections continues to grow; hopefully the 12 states that are still conducting elections without a paper trail will get on board in time for the 2010 elections. Timothy Lee is an expert at the Techdirt Insight Community. To get insight and analysis from Timothy Lee and other experts on challenges your company faces, click here. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Earlier this year, we wrote about how common it was becoming for companies to send out "pre-settlement" letters to people they haven't yet accused of a crime. While these are well-known for groups like the RIAA, they're also used by big retailers and were famously used by DirecTV against anyone it thought might have been stealing satellite TV. The letter basically demands an upfront payment to get the company not to sue. And, of course, the letter includes all sorts of threatening legalese about how going to court will be expensive and time consuming, suggesting that it's much easier to just pay up. While these "extortion-lite" letters in the US grow in popularity, it looks like folks in Europe aren't so willing to let them pass. A lawyer representing Logistep, a company that has recently run into trouble in both Italy and Switzerland for its tactics in trying to sniff out file sharers, has been banned from practicing law for six months by the Paris Bar Council. The lawyer had been sending out these types of letters demanding 400 euros not to sue, and the Paris Bar apparently felt this was rather problematic. Somehow I doubt we'll see the same sort of thing happen in the US any time soon. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Facebook/ConnectU Settlement Shows Why Losers Litigate
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 7:40:02 AM

Last year, in the midst of various claims from multiple different people that Mark Zuckerberg somehow "stole" the idea for Facebook from other Harvard students, we noted that it really didn't matter. After all, the basic concepts behind Facebook were hardly new when Zuckerberg started it. There had been sites like SixDegrees, Ryze

and Friendster long before Facebook came along. What mattered wasn't the idea, but the execution -- and for whatever reason, what Zuckerberg did with Facebook got traction while the others did not. That's called competition, and we generally think that leads to a healthy economy. Yet, the founders of ConnectU, the competing site that went nowhere, sued Zuckerberg and Facebook over this, and both sides were pushed by a judge to settle out of court --

and that appears to be exactly what's happening. The NY Times is reporting that Facebook has reached some sort of settlement with ConnectU's founders. This sort of thing was inevitable, but it's still problematic. With Facebook generating so much publicity lately, and potentially gearing up for an IPO, it doesn't want these types of lawsuits hanging over it. So it's worth more to just settle and pay up, even if the claim itself is bogus. Yet,

all this really does is encourage more similar lawsuits from companies that lost in the marketplace whining about competitors who did a better job executing. While some may say the ConnectU case is different because Zuckerberg worked with ConnectU for a few months, that hardly changes the basic facts of the case. This wasn't a new idea, and it's unlikely that ConnectU had done anything remarkably different than other competitors out there.

In fact, it seems clear that it did not, since the site never went anywhere. Yet, because it's cheaper for Facebook to pay out and keep this quiet, ConnectU's founders get paid for failing in the marketplace. That's a bad precedent no matter how you look at it. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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SocialSpark: Candy Colored Shilling
By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 5:00:47 PM

Facebook To Settle With ConnectU
By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 3:52:17 PM

DHS Declares H-1B State Of Emergency; Allows Foreign Students To Stick Around Longer
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 6:18:01 AM

IZEA(formerly PayPerPost) has soft launched their new social network for “posties” Social Spark. Social Spark brings the PayPerPost scheme into a candy colored social network. There’s little need to describe all the features as there’s nothing really innovative: think MySpace or Facebook but in bright colors. The key difference is the focus on shilling; center stage is offers for paid posting, including most popular offers and most recent. Each offer includes which members of PayPerPost/ SocialSpark recently visited it and posties can leave props for each offer. One thing that did surprise me is that SocialSpark is also offering “sponsorship opportunities.” These would appear to be as they suggest, simple place a box on your site and get paid sponsorships that would be entirely legitimate and without moral qualms to most people. The key difference to PayPerPost before it is that offers taken up in SocialSpark must include link=nofollow links, start with a disclosure, and should be neutral in

tone: still shilling, but less evil. The service is currently in closed alpha testing and running behind schedule (it was originally scheduled for a January launch) so perhaps this explains the complete lack of offers available on the site. Most of the paid opportunities come from IZEA itself and not third party advertisers. SocialSpark isn’t my thing (nor Michael’s), but others may disagree. Screen shots as follows: CrunchBase Information Izea Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

Facebook is said to be finalizing a settlement with founders of ConnectU, according to sources quoted by the NY Times. For those unfamiliar with the case, a lawsuit before the US Federal Court alleged that Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the original code for Facebook. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra (ConnectU) accused Zuckerberg of stealing the source code, design, and business plan for Facebook in 2003 when he worked in the Harvard dorms as a programmer for their own tertiary education focused social-networking site HarvardConnect.com, now known as ConnectU. News of a settlement comes as a surprise given the case to date hadn’t been going well for ConnectU. The press conference ConnectU held in July 2007 was farcical, and the company was given two weeks to revise their complaint or have it thrown out. The next court appearance for the

company was at Facebook’s counter case that claimed that ConnectU illegally hacked into Facebook in 2004, stole email addresses then used those addresses to attempt to entice Facebook users to sign up to ConnectU. According to the NY Times, terms of the settlement have not been disclosed but in the meantime all motions in the case against ConnectU have been terminated. CrunchBase Information Facebook Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

“Deep Integration” Between Google Apps and Salesforce to Be Announced Next Monday
By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 3:25:24 PM

Salesforce will be making a whole bunch of partner announcements at an event in San Francisco next Monday. We’ve been informed that the on-demand enterprise software company will begin reselling Google’s Web-based applications such as Google Docs to its customers. These Web apps will be available within Salesforce.com and tightly integrated into

its service. Such a deal makes a lot of sense. Salesforce customers can already manage their AdWords campaigns from within Salesforce.com, a deal that was announced last summer. Salesforce wants to get as close to Google as it can. And Google wants to sell its apps to enterprise customers (Salesforce has 41,000 of them). While Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff might be happy to sell Salesforce to Oracle for $75 a share, he might be even happier

to sell it to Google. Buying Salesforce would certainly turbocharge Google’s efforts to sell into enterprise accounts. This integration news doesn’t come entirely out of the blue. Last March, Google Operating System noticed some

signs of the coming integration within certain CSS files used by Google Apps. References to Google Apps were also found in Salesforce services. Salesforce refused to comment on the announcement and we’re still waiting to hear back from Google. Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

theodp writes"Deeming the possible loss of foreign grads with technical bachelor's degrees a serious threat to the U.S. requiring immediate action on its part, the Department of Homeland Security changed immigration rules without notice or comment Friday to allow foreign students to stay on to work in the States for two-and -a-half years after graduation without needing an H-1B visa." To clarify a bit, DHS has basically realized that the H-1B visas were quickly used up almost immediately again, and that would cause problems for students who have been here on F-1 student visas, and have recently received jobs in the US. DHS's extension here makes a lot of sense. It only applies to students who recently graduated with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (i.e., skilled individuals) who are employed by companies that already review the eligibility of employees electronically with the DHS. Since it's become increasingly difficult to get an H-1B visa, these recent skilled college grads would lose their jobs and get sent out of the country. That wouldn't do anyone any good. It would hurt US companies by forcing them to lose recently hired skilled employees, and it would hurt US competitiveness by having those same students return to their home countries, where they're more likely to work for foreign companies competing against US companies. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story



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CushyCMS Beta Launch: Free Invites For TechCrunch Readers
By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 9:00:22 PM

SellaBand wins $5 million in further funding
By Mike Butcher (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 9:48:56 AM

Stateless Systems ( RetailMeNot, BugMeNot) has launched a closed beta test of hosted service CushyCMS. CushyCMS is a fast, simple and free content management system that aims to make life easier for web designers by simplifying content management. Using CushyCMS, web designers can give content editors (for example a client) access to part, full or many pages at a granular level (headings, images, sidebars, etc), enabling them to update or create standards-compliant content directly from a browser without messing with the sites coding. I sat down with CEO Guy King Monday

(Sunday PST) for a demo of the service. The key for CushyCMS is that it’s not a WordPress or similar CMS replacement, it’s a content management interface in the simplest meaning of the term that can be applied to any sort of site. The video walkthrough above or there’s a demo video on the CushyCMS site. The service opens to the public April 15, but if you want to try it now we have 150 invites for TechCrunch readers. Visit the CushyCMS site here and enter the code TECHCRUNCH to sign up. CrunchBase Information Stateless Systems Guy King Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

Social music service SellaBand has won $5 million (Euros 3.5 million) in further backing from Prime Technology Ventures, also a Dutch company, reports TechCrunch UK. Music fans on SellaBand invest 10 dollars in an artist they want to back. If the artist gets to 5,000 ‘believers’ they get 50,000 dollars and then SellaBand steps in to get the band to record an album in a real studio. Each fan gets a limited edition CD. If the artist doesn’t reach $50,000, the fans can get their money back or give it to another artist. So far they’ve released albums from eighteen bands from eleven

different countries. Last December SellaBand partnered with Amazon to offer a dedicated music store on Amazon. We predicted early last year that this model seemed to be working quite well, and noted similar startups, with some being given a boost by Amazon - which seems to be deeply involved in changing the online music industry. CrunchBase Information SellABand Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Baidu Loves Barack, I’m Sure He’s Thrilled
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 3:34:35 PM

Justice Department Sues Fox Over Failure To Pay Indecency Fines
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 3:02:00 AM

The Way To Beat Scrabulous Is Not With Lawsuits Or Crappy Versions Of Scrabble
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 9:21:00 AM

In the ongoing saga of Scrabulous, the unauthorized online version of Scrabble that has found many fans on Facebook but has upset Mattel and Hasbro (who own the rights to Scrabble), it appears that RealNetworks and Mattel have finally put out an official version of Scrabble for Facebook-- but the problem is that it's terrible. As the NY Times reports, "Facebook Scrabble takes a long time to load, does not always quickly update to show recent moves, and the words the game will accept do not reflect standard

Scrabble dictionaries, or even the English language." While it's nice to see that Scrabulous still hasn't been forced offline, it seems odd that the authorized version is so terrible. It still probably would have made the most sense to just do a deal with the brothers who created Scrabulous (and there are still rumors that a deal has been discussed, but without a decent resolution), but if that doesn't work, the way to compete is with a better product. Putting out a product that's not very good isn't likely to win over many fans. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Remember how Fox was simply refusing to pay an indecency fine issued by the FCC? Well, it appears that the FCC isn't too happy about that and has had the Justice Department file some lawsuits against the various Fox affiliates refusing to pay(it turns out a few affiliates did pay). Before filing the lawsuits, the FCC rejected Fox's appeal without comment,

but merely by saying that Fox's appeal to the FCC was 14 pages too long and the company hadn't asked permission to exceed the limit. Fox called this response "offensive," apparently resisting the more hilarious option of calling it "indecent." In the meantime, it looks like Fox will have yet another indecency case to fight in court to go along with the Supreme Court case on indecency that also involves Fox. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Chinese search engine Baidu worked an image of presidential candidate Barack Obama into their home page logo today, as well as a tribute page about the candidate. From what we can tell it’s very rare for Baidu to dedicate its home page to an individual, and no other U.S. presidential candidate has been so honored. In short, this is an endorsement of the candidate. Given the tepid relations between the two countries and general U.S. mistrust of China in general, I suspect that the Obama campaign won’t be reaching out to press to let everyone know about the endorsement. CrunchBase Information Baidu Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

Live From Google Campfire One
By Mark Hendrickson (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 7:29:52 PM

Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, and Steve Gillmor are on scene at Google Campfire One, the second developer event of its kind (the first was focused on OpenSocial). No official word yet about what will be

announced, but we’ve already published our speculations. Update: We’ve published

the details of tonight’s announcement here. Via Robert Scoble’s Qik stream, here is the first half of the event: And the second half of the event: Here are some pictures taken live at the event (more after the bump): Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

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Gadgets* Gossip


Toshiba unveils Satellite X205SLi5 and X205-SLi6 laptops
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:02:00 AM

Filed under: Laptops Back in February, Toshiba saw fit to dish out the Penryn-powered X205-SLi2 and X205-SLi4 laptops; fast forward a couple months, and here we are yet again with two more updates in the X205 series. The latest duo of 17-inchers -- the X205-SLi5 and X205-SLi6 -- each pack the same pair of 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT GPUs and a 1,440 x 900 resolution panel, but the latter ups the ante with a more powerful 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo T8300 processor. Furthermore, you'll find room for up to 4GB of RAM along with dual 160GB HDDs, Harman Kardon speakers, 802.11a/g/n WiFi, dual-layer DVD writer, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and a 1.3-megapixel webcam. As for the X205-SLi6, you'll find

University of Texas fires up petawatt laser, HERCULES weeps
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 2:19:00 AM

a potent 2.5GHz T9300 under the hood along with 400GB of total HDD space, but basically everything else remains identical to that found on its lower-spec'd sibling. Check 'em out right now for $1,999 and $2,499, respectively. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Downloadable content comes to the NES, sort of
By Donald Melanson (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:42:00 AM

Sharp intros AMD-powered Mebius FW laptops
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:34:00 AM

Filed under: Gaming It's not exactly the most elegant solution, but those looking to bring their still-kickin' NES a little(and we stress little) more in line with current-gen consoles now have a new option at their disposal, with the freshly-made Glider cart now offering downloadable content of sorts. To take advantage of that feature, however, you'll also need to snag yourself a USB CopyNES board (available for $70), which requires some cutting and soldering in order to be wrangled into your NES. If you're able to do that without doing some irreparable damage, you'll be able to connect your NES to your PC via USB and download new levels for Glider, which can be offloaded directly to the

game thanks to its use of flashable cart. Not exactly the sort of thing that'll result in a spike of NES console sales on eBay, to be sure, but just imagine what your 1980s self would have thought of it. [Via Gemaga, thanks J] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Laptops At first glance, Sharp's blindingly white PC-FW50X reminds us a lot of the PCCW50T, but thankfully, the innards have improved somewhat since last summer. Packed within the aforesaid machine (¥150,000; $1,467) is a 15.4-inch WXGA (1,280 x 800) panel, 2GHz Mobile Sempron 3600+ processor, 2GB of RAM, a 120GB hard drive, dual-layer DVD burner, PCMCIA slot, four USB 2.0 ports and a 4-pin FireWire connector for good

measure. Additionally, you'll find 802.11b/g WiFi, Ethernet, a multicard reader, VGA output and a rechargeable Liion. Those fond of darker hues can opt for the PC-FW70X (shown after the jump), which looks to pack a 1.9GHz Turion 64 X2 TL-58 CPU, start at ¥165,000 ($1,613) and ship right alongside its brother in late April. [Via Impress] Continue reading Sharp intros AMDpowered Mebius FW laptops Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Misc. Gadgets Just two months prior, we all stood in awe of the mighty HERCULES laser housed at the University of Michigan. Now, however, those 300 terawatts of power look mighty puny compared to the one petawatt potential claimed by the Texas Petawatt. Hailed as "the highest powered laser in the world" by Todd Ditmire, a physicist at the University of Texas at Austin, the device has the "power output of more than 2,000 times the output of all power plants in the United States," and in case that wasn't impressive enough, it's also "brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun" -- but alas, only for a tenth of a trillionth of a second. Aside from totally ganking the geeky gloating rights from the Wolverines, the Longhorns will use the laser to study astronomical phenomena in miniature (and probably take over the world in short order). [Via Physorg, image courtesy of University of Texas at Austin] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Shauna Sand Endorses John McCain
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:12:16 PM

Shauna Sand gave her own endorsement for John McCain while standing outside a

night club dressed in very little. Heidi Montag tried to endorse McCain as well, but the bimbo forgot to mention she’s never voted before. Shauna’s lip service is enough to get McCain some votes, and if

that doesn’t do the trick, all she has to do is show up dressed in that outfit to the polls on election day with McCain painted on her chest. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 2006-

2008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Heidi Montag No More • Hillary Clinton Caught Lying Again • Hillary Clinton Ad Actress Supports Obama

• Heidi Montag and Britney Spears Sing a Duet • Heidi Montag Music Video Voted Worst by People



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AVIO iP-60E all-in-one projector features 4MP camera
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 2:40:00 AM

Cornell Ranger sets unofficial distance walking record for a robot
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:58:00 AM

Filed under: Displays Not enough room to fit a front projector, overhead projector, document camera, scanner and electronic whiteboard into that hole in the wall your district supervisor calls a classroom? Fret not, as the AVIO iP-60E is out to make the most of the measly square footage you are entitled to. This all-in-one-type projector features 3,500 lumens of brightness and a unique top which enables instructors to place objects on a glass platen and see them on-screen as if they were operating a typical overhead unit. Packed within is a 4megapixel CCD sensor which can purportedly capture full-size documents and nearly anything else you want to lay up there for the audience to peek. Unfortunately, such a multifaceted piece of

kit isn't exactly cheap, but we're pretty certain the principal's plastic can handle an extra $8,495 if necessary. [Via AboutProjectors] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

ASUS X80H237LSL 14.1-inch laptop Filed under: Laptops goes easy on the Yuan

We're not sure if ASUS plans to launch

Filed under: Robots Think you could keep pace with Cornell's Ranger robot? Just last week, the robot walker set an unofficial world record by trotting nonstop for 45 laps (that's 5.6 miles, for those counting) around the university's Barton Hall running track. After reaching that mark, the creature presumably fell over from battery exhaustion, but the team of creators are investigating to find out the exact reason it

finally collapsed. Although Guinness officials weren't involved due to too much "rigmarole," the team has quite a bit to be proud of -- after all, an earlier version of the creature only made it 0.62 miles before calling it a day. Aside from garnering bragging rights, the crew is hoping to use Ranger to better understand the "mechanics of walking," which could be used to improve rehabilitation procedures or even athletic performance. [Via Physorg] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

IOGEAR's Portable Media Player skips the whole "portable" part
By Paul Miller (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:15:00 AM

Filed under: Home Entertainment If you need a handy way to tote around your digital movie collection, and can overlook the aesthetic criminality of this product, IOGEAR's Portable Media Player maybe, just maybe, could be meant for you. The $350 unit can play back standard def videos and upconvert them to 720p over its component outputs -- or just

sacrifice quality altogether and output over composite. There room for 50 hours of "DVD-quality video," which we're

guessing means about 120GB of storage, but we're still waiting for word on codec support. Obviously without a screen you won't be watching any of this stuff on the go, but if none of that deters you, the unit is available now. Update: Codecs include AVI, DivX, XviD, MP3, MPEG-2 and so forth, and the capacity is indeed 120GB. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Novint drums up "3D Touch Rights" to sign publishers for its haptic controls
By Paul Miller (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:22:00 AM

Former professor creates vibrating Braille handset
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:43:00 AM

Filed under: Gaming, Peripherals It's been the story from day one: the Novint Falcon is great and all, but without games there's just no point. That's about to change, however, as Novint has committed itself to developing Falcon integration for some big-name games, including a sizable number of EA blockbusters. Novint is

buying up what it calls "3D Touch Rights" to games from the publisher, a no-risk revenue stream for the them and a license

for Novint to sell games at a small profit with Falcon functionality built-in. The games will sell for $30, and you can get the haptics update for an existing game for $10. Of course, the $190-ish controller puts it all in perspective, but this is certainly a promising move for PC gamers and immersion freaks alike. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Cellphones Braille phones in and of themselves aren't all that unique, but a former professor (who just so happens to be completely blind) from Tsukuba University of Technology has crafted a variant that jumps and jives. Dubbed the world's first vibrating Braille cellphone, the device is programmed to emit pulses depending on which key is

pressed; more specifically, a pair of FORMER page 17

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ASUS page 16 continued from
this one outside of China, but there's certainly plenty to like. The 14.1-inch 1280 x 800 laptop runs on an Intel T2370 processor and measures a passable 1.37inches thick, and yet retails for a mere 5,499 Yuan -- about $784 US. ASUS didn't skimp on the looks, ports or other internals either, though the integrated graphics is always a sad comprimise of this price range. The X80H237L-SL certainly won't be revolutionizing anything, unless you count model number gluttony, but it certainly shows ASUS to be right near the top of its game. [Via Mobilewhack] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

The Daily Show: April 7, 2008 - VIDEO
By Annie Wu (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:01:00 AM

Filed under: OpEd, The Daily Show, Episode Reviews, Reality-Free"Hot Mess": Ahh! Olympic fever is catching hold. The famous Torch attempted to make its epic journey through various lands pain-free, only to have protesters and crazy people

totally ruin everything. In Paris, France, things got so bad that the police decided to

shut it all down and just throw the torch in a car and speed off. And then Jon gave us a quick little history factoid when he shared that the Torch tradition was started under Hitler's regime. His message to France: "Way to sh*t on Hitler's legacy". Continue reading The Daily Show: April 7, 2008 - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

FORMER continued from page 16
terminals attached to the handset "vibrate at a specific rate to create a message." Those currently involved with the project are now toiling to make the keypad-tovibration converters smaller, but there's no word just yet on whether the technology will be picked up commercially. [Via FarEastGizmos] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Google App Engine: An Early Look
By Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 12:08:20 AM

Soundsnap: UserGenerated Royalty-Free Audio Samples to Mix
By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 8:48:20 AM

So you’re a music prodigy. You’ve got something in mind for a new tune or “composition” and you need some kind of special effect to really get the sound you crave. Maybe you’re looking for some real SOUNDSNAP: page 18

So the big news of the midnight is that Google has launched their application cloud service. It has hands down the cartooniest looking logo of any Google service I’ve laid eyes on. It has the promise of being a game-changing. Given that Robert was at the Google Campfire event, it could have made Scoble cry.Did it do any of that? I’d say that the force is strong with this venture, but this cloud is no Jedi yet. I’ve been taking my time, playing with all the nuances of this system, and while it appears very well planned out, there are some definite weaknesses in this system that will prevent it from completely dominating the cloud computing business, but won’t prevent it from very quickly becoming a major player. Google’s How To Video for Programming Cloud Apps caution: if you don’t know Python, much of this video will be boring. What It Is and Isn’t The platform is different from the Amazon clouds in that Amazon gives you an ala carte choice of what you can put in their cloud - it can be your database, your *nix server, your code, your videos - you decide. The Google App Engine is designed to completely house your service,

and to integrate easily with Google services. You’re also particularly limited in your development style, as well. Are you a PHP developer? ASP developer? Just about any kind of developer? You’re likely going to be out of luck here. No, this isn’t a proprietary Google way of coding things, but it is limited, at present, to Python as the development environment. While this is an easy enough language to learn, I’ve personally prided myself at avoiding needing to learn that particular language my entire life, and now, it appears, I’m going to need to sit down for a week or two and learn the syntax if I ever want to utilize my Google App Engine account I was lucky enough to get. More on that later. How Reliable Is It? Being as it’s Google, I’d imagine pretty reliable. Can you remember the last time any Google service experienced a widespread outage? I’m sure there was at least one or two such instances, but none spring instantly to mind. Interestingly enough, though, the first app that we tested out here at Mashable was the HuddleChat demo application. There’s little special about the app itself it’s yet another chat application, but it’s designed to show the capabilities of the system, and how it’s able to survive the inevitable spike in traffic that’s to come when everyone wakes up in the morning

and starts playing around with this stuff. Fail. As you can see from the above screenshot (I had Adam take it for me), as soon as the invites went out, I was locked out from the AppSpot domain for about a half hour, and was unable to participate. I’m guessing it has more to do with the way the app was constructed than the service itself, but given that the URL seemed to indicate it was some sort of Google Account authentication error, it’s hard to tell. Which Leads Me To… … the fact that you need a Google Account to use anything. Who’s the big winner here? Google, hands down. Sure, unlike the Amazon cloud, developers don’t appear asked to pay anything to host their apps here, but the trade-off is that all your users are going to need a Google Account to use your application. So what do you get for a trade-off? Let me count the ways: Log-file level access. Ability to see all source and indexes. Ability to view all collected data (database view). Permissioning of the application. Collaborative development (manage access of others with developer level access). Version Control. So How Do I Get At This? As of about 1 AM CST, I was still able

to get one of the limited edition 10,000 allotted developer accounts to this thing, so there’s probably a few left, but you’re going to need to act fast to get one for your company. We developers are up late as a rule, and will pounce on the opportunity to develop on something like this, even if we have no idea what to do with it. Head on over here to apply: http://code.google.com/appengine/ Mosey this way to view the d o c u m e n t a t i o n : http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/ Galavant this way to the blog: http://googleappengine.blogspot.com/ Simple Shoutbox App developed on the platform: http://shoutout.appspot.com/ The Semi-Functional Chat Program F r o m A b o v e : http://huddlechat.appspot.com/ ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Surprise! Google Still King of Search. Lexxe - Natural Language Search Engine Google’s Translation Engine Now Live Has Google’s SSL Mistake Affected Your Business? YouTube-Google Video Plan Reveals Itself Google News Signs Licensing Deal for Hosted Wire Content Google: Vulnerable After All?

Dancing With The Stars: Week 4
By Brett Love (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 4:22:00 PM

Filed under: OpEd, Celebrities, Dancing With The Stars, Episode Reviews ( S06E07) Back for week four, with less

Guttenberg, and more 10s. It's still early in the competition, but some of the stars are really stepping things up, as evidenced this week by some very high scores. There were many questions coming into performance night. Would Kristi & Mark

continue to run away with the competition?

How did Carrie Ann's comments effect Marissa? And interestingly, would we be watching Shannon & Derek, or Shannon & Jonathan? The answers to those, and a rundown of the whole shooting match, after the jump.

%Gallery-20047% Continue reading Dancing With The Stars: Week 4 Permalink| Email this| | Comments


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Workology’s Personalized Social Job Network [The Startup Review]
By Kristen Nicole (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 10:00:00 PM

SOUNDSNAP: continued from page 17
-world ambiance, some background noise to channel Pink Floyd or Nellie McKay (sure didn’t think those two would pop up next to one another, eh?) or some other theatrical act. What do you do? Well, you could probably find some producer with a catalogue of odd samples to add to your mix. Or you could you save the effort - and the cash - and instead head on over to Soundsnap. Soundsnap is an online resource that promises to share “pro-quality” sounds, samples and loops with the world of audio experimentalists and songsmiths without any cost to the end user. Yes, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicense-transferable and high-fidelity recordings are what the site is advertising, and having given it a good once-over, I’ve concluded that for those of you out there who like to dabble and like to assemble lots of little things into larger, interesting things, the site is a real pleasure to use. With an archive of some 30,000+ audio clips, ranging in length from seconds to minutes, the volume of material that you can piece together and mold at will is fairly immense. Big enough for spark some new ideas, for sure. What’s more, the library presented by Soundsnap is almost entirely user generated and user supplied. Only at its very start did the site require the investment of time and talent by a number of sound designers and producers to get things rolling. Indeed, if you feel so inclined as to contribute a riff or some other amusing recording, you may do so, and your piece(s) to the grander puzzle even has a good chance of being recognized and perhaps even utilized. In the category labeled ‘Interiors,’ which one might suspect would be seen as obscure and relatively barren and unappealing to visitors, Soundsnap shows that some of the most recent contributions have been sampled and downloaded hundreds of times. A 55-second clip of sounds emanating within a cafe in Tokyo, Japan, racks a 3-star rating and has been downloaded 374 times and counting, either as an MP3 or AIFF file. Surprising? I think so. Intriguing as well. The interface provided by Soundsnap is an intuitive one. Genres are easy to decipher and icons are similarly simplified. You spend a few seconds browsing its homepage and any substrata and you’re immediately get it. Which is a good thing. It turns visitors into repeat users, which really quite crucial to making this type of service work and work well. If it weren’t so easy to use, it wouldn’t garner the attention is has thus far. All in all, I’d very much recommend any audio geeks to give Soundsnap a try. You may not find precisely what you’re looking for. But I’m almost certain that anyone interested in sound samples of extraordinary varieties will find something that catches their ear. Curious as to how Sounsnap survives? It’s a mix of advertising and sponsorships, of which it lists Digidesign, Ableton, Novation, Focusrite, and Propellerhead as partnerships underwriting the project. Soundsnap, open to the public since July 2007, is run by a Greek sound designer and engineer by the name of Tazos Frantzolas who’s spent the last 5 years residing in London, England. ShareThis

Editor’s Note: If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion in “The Startup Review” series, please see the details here. STARTUP DETAILS: Company Name: Workology Company Website: www.workology.com CEO’s 20 word description: A collaborative platform for individuals, organizations and businesses to come together to create work opportunities which suit their individual work styles. CEO’s 100 word description: There is no such thing as a job for life: people are increasingly choosing to control the way they work, from freelancers, working mums and job-jugglers to portfolio careerist and consultants. Workology is the first to bring this fast-growing market together, and provides them with exactly what they need to do this – a free platform to help them create work opportunities that are otherwise difficult to find. Unlike most other sites in this space, Workology harnesses the social web’s power to personalize in order to tackle the diverse and dynamic needs of individuals who

want to work their own way. Mashable’s Take: There’s a growing number of people that are finding their own ways to carve out their careers. Much of this involves working virtually, using the Internet for all it’s worth. So what of it? How do you manage your time, find new work, and network with others? If you’re anything like me (and the rest of the Mashable gang), you don’t get out the house much, and you work from your home, where the weather is always a perfect 71 degrees Fahrenheit. As this minority work force grows, there will need to be a networking utility that supports its unique needs and can provide value from a virtual standpoint. It, like its users, will need to find ways in which to leverage the Web for promotion needs, search purposes, and the gaining of knowledge from others. Workology is a UK-based site that’s aiming to achieve this, in a manner that’s optimized for those that are working to make their own career paths, steering clear of corporate bureaucracy as a life goal. So

far, most of the features on Workology are what you’d expect, and don’t differ much from what you’d find on LinkedIn, or even Squidoo. There’s an area to display your job status: are you seeking a job, or in need of an employee? There’s also a Q&A section where you can ask the community for advice. Indicate specifics, like salary expectations, and elaborate with your work experience. Tag words let you provide your interests to Workology so that it can recommend items, jobs and users that are of interest to you. This isn’t an entirely new concept: LinkedIn and BaseCamp recently added similar features to their networking tools as well. But I’m glad to see that this feature in particular is beginning to gain steam across the board: it’s a useful tool that can easily be expanded to accommodate several recommendation features, personalized RSS feeds and other forms of automated content that’s all relevant to individual users and can lend to the internal promotional purposes of a network such as Workology. Sponsored by Sun Startup Essentials ShareThis

Sellaband Nets $5M Investment to Expand to US
By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 9:34:01 AM

Sellaband, a website that provides music groups the option to promote themselves and receive funding from a pool of “fans” who in turn earn a portion of profits from subsequent sales - has itself received funding to the tune of $5 million from Prime Technology Ventures. The purpose of the infusion is to facilitate the expansion of the business in the US, according to

Gavin Haycock of Reuters. Sellaband primarily serves artists east of the Atlantic at present. The company has been in operation for nearly two years, and opened its first office in New York in Q4 2007. Prior to this announcement of a planned geographical expansion, Sellaband pledged late last year to a partnership with Amazon UK to broaden its potential reach. Johan Vosmeijer, the company’s CEO, says that “America is the biggest market for us,

potentially.” According to data release, the company has so far “funding 18 recording artists from 11 countries. Since its inception, competition for Sellaband has taken the form of another UK-based entity, dubbed

Slicethepie, which operates on a relatively similar business model. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: SellaBand Signs New Partners for Worldwide Concert Tour Amazon Selling Sellaband Artists, and You Get a Profit Publicly Traded Social Network Vois Raises $1M

Huffington Post Raises Another $5 Million YuMe Raises $9 Million for Another Video Ad Network VMIX Adds $16.5 Million in Funding to Expand Video Network Kyte Ups Its Second Round Of Funding

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Engage’s Social Matchmaker Kisses Beta Goodbye
By Kristen Nicole (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:56:14 AM

Kontera Powers Microsoft Ads on LinkedIn “Answers”
By Kristen Nicole (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 6:43:47 AM

There are a number of ways in which services are looking to tap into your “social graph” in order to provide a wealth of information about yourself, and the things in which you might be interested in. Including dates. Engage is one of those sites seeking better recommendation tools for hooking you up in a genuine, noncontrived manner. If you’re looking for a date in the offline world, you’re more likely to seek out friends of friends. Engage has been applying this same concept to its online network for a couple of years now, but the site officially emerges from beta today, unveiling its full public launch. Some of Engage’s main features for doing so include social feeds, one-click recommendations, voting, and other direct mechanisms for feedback and social interaction that leads to an offline date with a real human being. There’s a general trend that’s creating gap-bridging tools between the online and offline world, for the purpose of providing recommendations for things like travel, or service-based industries. As UGC has become the primary way in which to offer up these recommendations, the rise of social networking and the growing concept of sharing information across one’s personal network is becoming a standard in seeking out advice for

anything that’s customized in our lives. Now that we’ve found some UGC to be helpful, we need better ways in which to make it more applicable, and who better than those that have our best interests at heart? I suppose such personalized recommendations will eventually become more accessible in other areas of our social graph, especially as Engage has already signed on to be a part of the OpenSocial movement and Foundation. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Engage.com Takes $5M for Online Dating Site Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for September 6, 2007 Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for September 1st, 2007 coComment Version 2.0 with More Social Features Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for August 31st, 2007 Google Social Graph API Spotted in the Wild: Plaxo Public Profiles Pownce Launch Party Tonight - Pownce to Exit Private Beta

There’s still the long-standing question of how social media sites plan on monetizing content. We’ve seen a number of advertising implementations to help tackle that question, and the insertion methods for social media advertising is evolving quickly, on a daily basis. Kontera is a company that offers in-text and side-text marketing opportunities for those brands that are hoping to become a part of the discussions occurring on social media sites, and today the company announces that Microsoft has chosen its service for displaying contextually relevant ads on LinkedIn. These aren’t just ads, they’re also bits of information that pertains to the current discussion on a given social media page. In the case of LinkedIn, that page is the LinkedIn Answers feature, within the IT segment of the community. This particular deal between Kontera, Microsoft and LinkedIn is taking advantage of Kontera’s recently launched, all-in-one advertising option that combines resourceful information with a brand. The tactic isn’t new, and is one that’s used by a number of advertising companies, for a slew of marketing purposes. Whether it’s used as alternative

Need a Social App? Mashable Recommends Aux Interactive
By Pete Cashmore (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 7:28:04 AM

to cookies, or in conjunction with them, the method of contextually relevant ads is still being explored, especially as a branding opportunity for companies looking to increase their own SEO, and improve their relationship with existing and potential consumers. Intel partnered with popurls for a somewhat similar initiative, by creating an aggregated feed reader for content related to its brand and expertise. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: The Daily Poll: Will News Corp Buy LinkedIn? LinkedIn Launches Corporate Blog LinkedIn Introduces “LinkedIn Store” LinkedIn Launches Mobile Plaxo Adds LinkedIn to Sync LinkedIn To Launch Facebook-like Platform Microsoft Makes Windows Live Contact Info Portable

Mashable is pleased to announce a partnership for social application development with Washington DC-based Aux Interactive, a next-generation interactive agency. Aux serves clients on both the consumer and enterprise sides, leveraging technologies and platforms such as OpenSocial, Facebook and more to serve their clients globally. Check out mashable.com/social-networking to take advantage of Mashable’s exclusive partnership incentives. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Google Extends Japanese Marketshare with DoCoMo Hook Up Jajah Loves Jangl: Two VoIP Tools Join Forces MySpace + Zazzle = Tila Tequila TShirts? YouTube Launches Bollywood Channel Pump Audio Hooks Up with Redeye Distribution Jalbum Now Offers Blurb Book Creation Wikipedia Now Uses Creative Commons

Indonesian ISPs Block YouTube And MySpace
By Stan Schroeder (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:32:11 AM

Another day, another country blocks YouTube (and MySpace, for good measure). According to Gulfnews, five Indonesian ISPs have blocked, on government’s request, YouTube and MySpace because of an anti-Islam film Fitna, created by Dutch filmmaker Geert

Wilders. Official ban reason: the movie‘could disturb relations between faiths.‘ This is not the first time that Fitna has caused controversy; after being rejected by all Dutch TV stations, Wilders simply uploaded the file via LiveLeak Indonesia has around 150 ISPs, so it might still be possible to access YouTube and MySpace if you're living there, but it's

likely that all ISPs will block the sites until the ban is lifted. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Mobile YouTube Now Includes Most YouTube Videos YouTube Launching Chinese Version LG To Release YouTube Phone with

Direct Upload Mandolin Player Sues YouTube Thai King Has Cooties, Drops YouTube Suit New YouTube API Released Google News Uses YouTube Player

Guitarati Open to Public: Color-Coded Music Search Matches Your Feelings Red is often associated with feistiness,
and bold anger, while a pale blue typically GUITARATI page 20


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GUITARATI continued from page 19
evokes a calmer feeling of a soothed soul. Colors can mean different things for different people, but it’s been a longstanding fact that colors are often aligned with certain feelings we have as humans. Color-coding feelings isn’t an exact science, but it’s a somewhat universal perspective on cataloging anything, including photos and music. Most forms of media also have an emotional component, so why not combine colors and music? Guitarati is doing just that, and it’s using colors as its starting point towards helping you find the music you’re looking for (see Paul’s insightful, initial coverage here). Instead of a textladen tag cloud, you’re immediately greeted with a screen full of colored circles, some bigger than others, just as with any other tag cloud. Click on which ever color is the most appealing to you at the moment, and Guitarati will provide a list of search results that are within this color range. From there, you can modify your search by sliding up or down on the color scale, and then choosing by genre. While colors are fun, and color-coded music search is an interesting spin on the over-crowded online music space, Guitarati is taking a search feature and applying it to a self-contained music commerce site where bands, promoters and managers can upload their own content, set a price and earn revenue from music sales and streaming songs. Without the presence of major music artists from prominent labels, Guitarati is limited in its ability to provide a lasting search tool that’s ubiquitous across the music industry. Moreover, Guitarati hasn’t yet applied its color-coded system to recommendations across the site, in order to aid users in their search and discovery or the promotion of artists. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Guitarati: A Music Marketplace with Some Unique Twists (Invites)

Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for April 8th, 2008
By Pete Cashmore (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:40:58 AM

The Web 2.0 Marketplace is a place to list Web 2.0 and “New Media” websites for sale, job offers, consulting services, Facebook development services and more. (more…) ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for April 4th, 2008

Web 2.0 Marketplace: Your Feedback Please Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for March 31st, 2008 Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for March 28th, 2008 Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for March 20th, 2008 Facebook Marketplace: WRONG! Not Oodled Web 2.0 Marketplace Listings for February 21st, 2008

The Daily Show: Annie's adventure - VIDEO
By Annie Wu (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:24:00 AM

Could Jericho come back?
By Bob Sassone (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:23:00 AM

Filed under: Industry, Programming, Jericho, Cancellations, Pickups and Renewals, Reality-Free I know, I know, we've all heard those words before. It seems that every other show that gets canceled these days has a "could it come back on another network?" addendum, a glimmer of hope that somehow, some way, a show that had a small but loyal following will actually survive. Unfortunately, 9.9 times out of 10 it doesn't happen. But it could happen to Jericho. According to Brian Stelter at The New York Times, CBS/Paramount execs have been having secret talks with Comcast (yes, Comcast) about doing something with the show for a third season. Now, this might seem like an odd, desperate play for another season if it wasn't for the fact that

NBC has already done something very similar to this with DirecTV, twice. First they had a deal with the satellite provider to air Passions, but that was a big bust ( sorry, Passions fans), but they have a new deal to air another season of Friday Night Lights. The new season will start airing on DirecTV in October, and then repeats will air on NBC in early 2009. Continue reading Could Jericho come back? Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: OpEd, The Daily Show, Reality-Free Last Monday ( March 31), I went on a pilgrimage to the Daily Show studio in midtown Manhattan to attend a TDS taping for the first time. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting on the way to the studio. Actually, that's a total and complete lie, because I definitely had expectations. I wanted to enter that tiny little studio and have the most epic adventure ever. My first time at a taping of any sort was February's super-intense trip to the Colbert Report, so I guess I started with the bar set really, really, really high. I mean, after dancing like a trashy high schooler with the host, anything normal just pales in comparison.

Speaking of comparison, that's all this post is going to be. Really, it's damn near impossible for me to not compare my TCR experience with this one, since the set-up is so similar. So, with that in mind, I'm a little sad to report that my visit was disappointingly average. While queuing and sitting around

the audience, I picked up a few tips and tricks to help make the adventure a little more epic, though. For future reference, you see. Continue reading The Daily Show: Annie's adventure - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Lily Allen is Making Changes
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/7/2008 4:45:16 PM

Lily Allen will have her TV show renewed for a second season despite dismal ratings. To prepare she bleached her hair blond. All that bleach, yet she’s still dirty.

© Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts:

• Lily Allen Car Window Smashed • Lily Allen Back to Sucking on a Bottle • Lily Allen Puts a Fist in Her Mouth • Lily Allen Talk Show Audience Walks Out • Lily Allen and Ed Simons Split

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Medium: Ladykiller - VIDEO
By Paul Goebel (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 2:20:00 AM

AI Aftermath: 9th place finishers VIDEOS
By Jason Hughes (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:02:00 AM

Filed under: Medium, Video, Episode Reviews ( S04E11) "What are kids for, if not to be used as excuses to get out of things you don't want to do?" - Joe Dubois (as well as Paul Goebel) Forty may, indeed, be the new thirty but considering Rosanna Arquette is a year away from being fifty, they could have done a little more to make her look better. I always thought she was hot but seeing her in that first scene made me want to watch The Executioner's Song just so I can relive those good old days. It's about time, Manny came to his senses and stopped trying to deny that Alison was a huge help to him as the D.A. The truth is, there are plenty of voters who would actually be thrilled to know that the

Phoenix police are using any method they can to put away criminals and, as we've seen, Alison gets results. Continue reading Medium: Ladykiller VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: American Idol, Alumni, Performances, News and Gossip Welcome back to "AI Aftermath," where we explore Idol's past. Each week, as one more American Idol hopeful is eliminated from the competition, we take a look back at contestants past who were eliminated in the same week. We'll examine how they did on the show and what they've been up to since their elimination. In honor of Ramiele Malubay's elimination last week we'll be looking at other ninth place finishers. This week: 9th place finishers, featuring featuring Jim Verraros (Season One), Corey Clark* (Season Two), Camile Velasco (Season Three), Nikko Smith (Season Four), Mandisa (Season Five),

Gina Glocksen (Season Six). * - Corey Clark was not voted out by viewers but was disqualified. Continue reading AI Aftermath: 9th place finishers - VIDEOS Permalink| Email this| | Comments

New Amsterdam: Reclassified VIDEO
By Paul Goebel (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:24:00 AM

Bobby Cannavale is the new Cupid
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:41:00 AM

Jonathan Roberts on Dancing With The Stars: Week 4
By Brett Love (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:05:00 AM

Filed under: Other Drama Shows, Casting, Reality-Free Jeremy Piven was unavailable this time around, busy as he is playing Ari in Entourage, so writer/producer Rob Thomas went in another direction. Taller, by four inches. Thomas has chosen Bobby Cannavale for the title role in Cupid for ABC. Cannavale, an Emmy-award winner for his guest turn on Will & Grace as Vince, will be Trevor Hale in Cupid. He's described as manic and charming and firmly believing in the fact that he is the real Roman god of love, Cupid. His mission is to make 100 love matches so he can earn the right to leave Earth and return to Mount Olympus. ABC is behind this new pilot, an updated version of Thomas'

1998 Cupid that didn't make it past season one. Continue reading Bobby Cannavale is the new Cupid Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Interviews, Dancing With The Stars Jonathan is back this week, and all of my electronics decided to behave, so we have a much more in depth interview. He touched on all of the week 4 performances, but as you might have guessed, given Jonathan's week, we spent the most time on Shannon & Derek. We even found out how close we were to seeing Jonathan perform that waltz with her. There was just enough time left to get to all of the reader questions from last week. So, hit the link to find out how Jonathan and Anna met, his thoughts on the music of the show and what it can do for a performance, where Maks is, and when we

Filed under: Video, Episode Reviews, New Amsterdam, Reality-Free ( S01E07) A show like New Amsterdam is bound to have a lot of unanswered questions. Luckily for us viewers, many of those questions get answered in each episode. For instance, in this episode we finally learned that Chris Bauer is the father of Buffy Summers. Seriously though, it sure was nice to see familiar faces from two of my favorite shows of the past. I understand that Kristine Sutherland has taken a break from acting but I don't understand why we don't see more of Chris Bauer. I always thought his character on The Wire could easily have his own show. Continue reading New Amsterdam: Reclassified - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

might see the Jonathan and Anna dancing on the results show, among other things. Continue reading Jonathan Roberts on Dancing With The Stars: Week 4 Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Simpsons vs. Baywatch in Venezuela: Baywatch wins
By Brad Trechak (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 2:02:00 AM

Filed under: Programming, OpEd, The Simpsons, Reality-Free I guess if Venezuela had a choice, it would be David

Hasselhoff over Homer Simpson. A Venezuelan TV channel has yanked episodes of The Simpsons from their network with the reasoning that the show is "inappropriate for children." It's replacement? Baywatch: Hawaii.

The show was being broadcast at 11

A.M. daily. My first question is: shouldn't the kids be in school in the first place? Granted, I'm unaware of how the Venezuelan school system works. Probably not very well if the kids are home at 11 A.M.

Continue reading Simpsons vs. Baywatch in Venezuela: Baywatch wins Permalink| Email this| | Comments



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Charlton Heston: The First Indiana Jones?
By Richard von Busack (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:32:00 AM

AFI Dallas Review: Blood Brothers
By Peter Martin (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 1:02:00 AM

Filed under: Drama, Foreign Language, Independent, Theatrical Reviews, Cinematical Indie, AFI Dallas Glamorous photography is no substitute for compelling dramatic content. Far too many scenes in Blood Brothers look and feel as though director Alexi Tan followed a self-imposed dictum to "light first, act later." His film labors mightily to get its narrative ball rolling, to no avail. More's the pity, because Blood Brothers was inspired by very rich source material. John Woo's Bullet in the Head, released in 1990, is arguably Woo's most personal and potent work, gut-wrenching to the point where it feels that he simply opened a vein and let his blood seep into every frame (as I've written before). That film was set in war-torn Vietnam in the late 1960s and had a very gritty feel; by the end, it felt as

though you'd suffered as much pain and heartache as the three main characters, close friends whose bond of brotherhood was tested under fire. Woo's film was originally intended as a prequel to his action classics A Better Tomorrow and A Better Tomorrow II. After Woo had a falling out with producer Tsui Hark, the story was free to develop into something more original, without having to tie the characters into the other films. From the looks of things, it appears that Woo and producing partner Terence Chang similarly encouraged Tan to follow his own artistic muse. Tan's script, completed in collaboration with Jiang Dan and Tony Chan, keeps only the most basic outline of Woo's film: three close friends seek their fortune in the world. Continue reading AFI Dallas Review: Blood Brothers Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Paramount, Celebrities and Controversy, Obits Noted in Dave Kehr' s blog: commenting on the death of the great Heston, the long-memoried expert on pre Star Wars film writes "one of Heston's most influential roles remains one of his least known: that of Harry Steele. Dashing though cynical adventurer who wears a fedora and a leather jacket, as he searches for Incan treasure in a manner that distinctly suggests a certain later day hero created by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The film is Jerry Hopper's 1954 Secret of the Incas and Paramount has been strangely reluctant to release it to TV or DVD ... reportedly, Spielberg and Lucas screened it for members of the production team planning Raiders of the Lost Ark." One Raiders of the Lost Ark fansite, theraider.net. has already commented: "the atmosphere of the story is so similar that any Indiana Jones fan will be smitten with this film." Why doesn't Paramount fess up and rerelease this? It'd be worth $20 to see Heston as Steele, searching for a jeweled relic in the Inca Temple of the Sun among real life locations in Machu Picchu (as

Discuss: Renting DVDs with Your Significant Other
By Erik Davis (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 3:02:00 PM

visible above, but here's a better look at the poster). He's up against a first-rate villain (Thomas Mitchell, of Gone With the Wind, Stagecoach, and many other classics). And then there's the matter of the film's discovery, the debuting "bird girl of the Andes" Yma Sumac. Seen here at YouTube demonstrating her world-famous 5 octave pipes in one of her numbers from the film. Don't believe the horrible lie that Yma Sumac is really Amy Camus from Brooklyn! Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Celebrities and Controversy, Fandom, Home Entertainment Here's a good question: How many times have you been out renting a movie with your significant other when a fight between the two of you over which movie to rent breaks out? Okay, maybe not a fullon fight, but more like one of those annoying arguments ... in public? Over at The Movie Blog, they have up a pretty funny post called How To (And Not To) Pick A DVD With Your Girlfriend. Of course, the title kinda leaves out

DVD Review: Lions for Lambs
By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:02:00 AM

Filed under: Drama, New Releases, DVD Reviews, Home Entertainment, Politics, War While it may have had an all-star cast boasting the likes of Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise, Lions for Lambs appeared without a splash. In fact, it hit audiences with a dull and disappointing thud. Honestly, that partially surprises me, partially doesn't, and partially disappoints me. The film is by no means a masterpiece, nor is it a powerful and hard-hitting political thriller, action

film, or drama. However, it does pack a punch against apathy and disinterest, and does so with a passionate and measured hand.

The film focuses on three main interactions - the journalist (Streep) and the politician (Cruise), the professor (Redford) and the student (Andrew Garfield), and the two soldiers and old friends (Michael Pena and Derek Luke), who are in Afghanistan. Each character provides a face to an aspect of today's current war-filled society -- one that brings it out of abstract thought and the printed word. Continue reading DVD Review: Lions for Lambs Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Crazy New Stuff from 'Repo! The Genetic Opera'
By Scott Weinberg (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:02:00 AM

New DVD Pick of the Week: 'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story'
By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:02:00 AM

Filed under: Horror, Music & Musicals, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Lionsgate Films One might accuse the director of Saw 2, Saw 3 and Saw 4 of "playing it safe" with his first three movies -- and that may be true -- but there's little denying that writer / director Darren Lynn Bousman is going out on a big limb with his fourth feature, Repo! The Genetic Opera. Based upon Bousman's own stage play (and short film), Repo tells the story of a futuristic world in which vital organs are sold, bought, traded ... and repossessed. And if the plot isn't strange enough, yep, Repo is indeed a full-bore rock opera. The trailer looks like a cross between Moulin Rouge, Phantom of the Paradise, Hostel and (of course) The Rocky Horror Picture Show-- which means (at the very least) we're looking at one fairly strange concoction here. Lionsgate has yet to announce their release plans for Repo!, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to report. First off, feel free to pick through the newly-updated official site, which is full of bombastic music, creepy photos, and the aforementioned promo clip. Also, it looks

like Bousman recently invited a few horror freaks to take a look at a rough cut, and the early responses have been pretty darn positive. Here's hoping Lionsgate figures out what they want to do with the flick sooner rather than later. It's not every day you get to see a horror musical starring Paul Sorvino, Bill Moseley and Paris Hilton. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Comedy, Music & Musicals, New Releases, DVD Reviews, New on DVD, Home Entertainment This week, there's a few mainstream films to check out that won't be hitting this column. Go to Erik's review for a taste of There Will Be Blood, and check out mine for a little bit of Lions for Lambs. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story It's hard to remember that spoofs used to be more than just bad movies that we either ignore completely, or watch when we want to check out a really bad movie. Current incarnations in the genre have left a large door of opportunity open, begging for satire that is both smart and entertaining -- one that constructs a funny plan, rather than a blanketed and desperate grab for laughs. It's not surprising that Judd Apatow was the man to make it happen. But it's not just about J.A., or director Jake Kasdan. It's an entire film full of today's big names in comedy. John C.

A 'Fine' Cast Indeed -DeNiro, Barrymore, Beckinsale and Rockwell!
By Elisabeth Rappe (Cinematical)
Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig and other SNL vets, and my personal favorite - the best group of Beatles to come since the actual Beatles: Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman. Continue reading New DVD Pick of the Week: 'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story' Permalink| Email this| Comments
Submitted at 4/8/2008 2:02:00 AM

Ian Fleming Even Cooler Than Originally Thought
By Eugene Novikov (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:32:00 AM

DISCUSS: continued from page 22
boyfriends, husbands and wives -- but that's not the point. The point is that this has become one of the hardest tasks for a couple -- and if you've never argued with your significant other over a rental choice, then congrats: You're in the perfect relationship! I can't even count the number of times I've been in Blockbuster with my wife (used to be girlfriend), and she'd pick up a movie like Underdog(simply because she wanted to see how our dog would react to the other dogs talking), and I'd sort of grumble back a "Really? Do we have to get that?" Then, most (if not all) of the time, she'd say something like, "Ugh -- you think you know everything because you write for a stupid movie site. Why can't I ever pick something!?" People look, the guy putting away movies smiles allknowingly and I wind up watching Underdog while she holds our dog's head toward the screen, whispering "Who's that doggie? Is that doggie talking? Look at that doggie flying!" Continue reading Discuss: Renting DVDs with Your Significant Other Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Fandom My favorite news story of the week comes courtesy of The Times, which reports on an Ian Fleming/James Bond-themed exhibition at the British Imperial War Museum. Apparently, when Fleming was an intelligence officer in the Royal Navy -- in 1940, 13 years before Bond began -- he concocted a harebrained scheme to seize the decryption code used by the German navy to send messages. He proposed to take a captured German plane, fill it with German-speaking Brits, crash it into the English Channel, wait for

a German rescue boat to come by, board it, sabotage it, and run off with the loot. (Or, in Fleming's brilliantly terse formulation: "Crash plane in the Channel after making S.O.S. to rescue service. Once aboard rescue boat, shoot German crew, dump overboard, bring rescue boat back to English port.") Even better, he was able to put together a team and await the opportunity to put his plan into action -but one never came up, and higher-ups started to worry about the crew being killed in the crash or drowning. Continue reading Ian Fleming Even Cooler Than Originally Thought Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Casting, Family Films, Newsstand, Remakes and Sequels This is really a cast that I could never have predicted. Variety reports that Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell have all been set to star in Everybody's Fine. Rewritten and directed by Kirk Jones(director of Nanny McPhee and Waking Ned Devine), Fine is a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's film Stanno tutti bene. Miramax just snapped up the rights to the film, which will reportedly start shooting later this month in Connecticut. De Niro plays a widower who realizes that he was only connected to his children via his wife. He decides to take a road trip to reestablish his relationship with his grown kids, and discovers that their lives are anything but fine. A few shades of About Schmidt there -- and hopefully it is along those solid lines, and not total syrup. Continue reading A 'Fine' Cast Indeed -DeNiro, Barrymore, Beckinsale and Rockwell! Permalink| Email this| Comments


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'Emma' Goes Hardcore, Remixed Into Hip-Hop
By Elisabeth Rappe (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:32:00 AM

Filed under: Classics, Music & Musicals, Romance, Deals, Newsstand, Remakes and Sequels In a few months, English professors across the world are going to be saying "Dear God, Jane Austen is rolling in her grave!" or "Thank heavens, Clueless is just too outdated to get the young kids reading." Variety reports that Screen Gems is planning a hip-hop musical re-imagining of Jane Austen's classic novel, Emma, from a screenplay by Tyger Williams. Chris Bender and J.C. Spink will be producing via their Benderspink shingle. Screen Gems head Clint Culpepper says he got the idea from watching Lil Mama's Lipgloss music video. Retitled Emme, It will take place in, surprise, an inner-city

Walmart Cake
By Hollywood Grind
high school and will revolve around a stepbrother and sister. There will be 15 song and dance numbers. Continue reading'Emma' Goes Hardcore, Remixed Into Hip-Hop Permalink| Email this| Comments
Submitted at 4/7/2008 5:03:35 PM

New 'Iron Man' Clip: Tony Stark's Test Flight
By Eugene Novikov (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 2:32:00 AM

Filed under: Paramount, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Trailers and Clips Paramount has been "letting slip" so much pre-release material for Iron Man that I fully expect Jon Favreau to pop up in an EXCLUSIVE VIDEO! to describe the whole movie scene-by-scene. The latest: this short clip on Apple, showing Tony Stark's rash first test flight in his gleaming new suit. He appears to be very excited

about it, and who could blame him? That baby can move. The best word to describe the May 2nd release continues to be "glossy": it's not clear if it'll have much personality -- it looks to rely very heavily on Robert Downey, Jr.'s sarcasm to set the tone -- but it sure looks good. As for this new clip, I hate to be the guy who chimes in with pointlessly nerdy objections, but "terabytes of calculations"? That just doesn't sound right. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Pamela Anderson Gets a Reality Show
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:13:20 PM

E! signed Pamela Anderson(40) for a reality TV show, but they want it to sounds more like it’s educational, so they are calling it an "observational documentary series." The show debuts this summer. E! executive vice president Lisa Berger in a statement: "E!’s cameras capture Pam’s fabulous

adventures, emotional journey and all the surprises that come along the way. It’s going to be a wild ride." Maybe Lisa didn’t get the memo. There’s no more drama in Pam’s life now that her marriage to Rick Salomon has been annulled. Somehow this show seems to be targeting men 40 and over who still have a woody for Pam that dates back to her Baywatch days. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 2006-

Accuse Each Other of Fraud • Pamela Anderson Files For Annulment • Pamela Anderson Throws a Party for Her Liver • Pamela Anderson is NO Longer Pregnant • Pamela Anderson and Rick Salomon Working Him Out 2008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Rick Salomon and Pam Anderson

An insurance office employee was moving to another branch office, so her coworkers decided to give her a going away party. The co-workers ordered a cake from Walmart. The real cake is pictured above. The conversation with the Walmart employee taking the order is summarized below: Walmart Employee: "Hello dis be Walmarts, how can I heps you?" Customer: "I would like to order a cake for a going away party this week." Walmart Employee: "Whatcha want on dis cake?" Customer: “‘Best Wishes Suzanne’ and underneath that ‘We will miss you’.” This really happened. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • David Gest Claims to Be More Than Just Funny Looking • Hilarious Rock Ballad, Lyrics By Paris Hilton • Paris Hilton Did “It” With Jack Osbourne • James Franco Fired as Lead in Knocked Up - Video • Eddie Murphy Vows to “Do the Right Thing” for Baby

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Memphis, Kansas Ride Free-Flowing Style to Title Game
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/7/2008 12:29:00 PM

If the men’s Final Four, with its unprecedented four No. 1 seeds, really featured the nation’s four best teams, then Monday night’s championship game in San Antonio features the two mostdeserving teams, by far. Less than five minutes into the early game Saturday night, Memphis took the lead over UCLA and never trailed again en route to a comfortable 78-63 victory. Kansas did better, never trailing in 40 minutes against top-ranked North Carolina. The Jayhawks ran out to a 40-12 lead, then withstood a North Carolina comeback bid and won, 8466 (to the great relief of CBS analyst Billy Packer). The surprisingly easy wins extended to eight games the streak of Final Four games without a thriller, with none since Illinois lost for the second time all season to North Carolina in the 2005 final more than three years ago. Suddenly cautious columnists aren’t guaranteeing that Kansas-Memphis will be a nailbiter, but they do expect an entertaining game. “If you watched the way Memphis roared and Kansas soared, you understand one thing with perfect clarity: you can’t expect a photo finish today,” Mike Vaccaro writes in the New York Post. “But you can expect a hell of a lot of fun.” Left to improvise, Chris Douglas-Roberts devised a baseline drive and emphatic dunk in the second half of Memphis’s victory over Kevin Love and UCLA. (Associated Press Photo) Coaches Bill Self, of Kansas, and John Calipari, of Memphis, deserve much of the credit for authorizing their players to lead themselves and design plays. Lexington Herald-Leader columnist John Clay traces that back to their common mentor, Larry Brown, who while power-walking with Mr. Calipari was offering tips Sunday morning. “In a profession known for exorbitant salaries and overcoaching, Calipari and Self are much more inclined to let their guys, well, just play — to the

point where after his team rolled to a 40-12 lead over North Carolina on Saturday, Self proclaimed, ‘There were times when I didn’t have much control over what was going on out there,’ ” Mr. Clay writes. Letting great players freelance results in beautiful improvisation, notably a surfeit of lobs for dunks. “Sure, it takes discipline to run it right, to set the screens, to make the right cuts, to deliver the precise pass,” Joe Posnanski writes in the Kansas City Star. “But, in the end, it’s also about letting players enjoy the games. It’s about getting players to think on their own. It’s about getting out of the way and remembering the game isn’t about coaches; the game is about players. That’s how Self and Memphis’ John Calipari coach basketball. That’s why there will be some alley-oops tonight.” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander says Messrs. Self and Calipari and their brethren get too much credit this time of year, but it’s understandable because their familiar faces contrast with the exiting underclassmen. “What does allegiance to a university mean to a gifted, often poor athlete who sees no grandeur in being an ‘amateur’ — whatever that means beyond very, very low-paid — and the possibility of professional league wealth?” Mr. Telander writes. Memphis junior Chris Douglas-Roberts has stuck around long enough to suffer Elite Eight disappointments each of the last two seasons, and to surpass that round this year. He’s almost surely done with college hoops after tonight. The San Diego UnionTribune’s Tim Sullivan re-creates the moment when college coach first met future star: “The body language was lousy. The effort was erratic. The shooting style was unorthodox and the jump shot was flat. But the results were remarkable. John Calipari’s first impression of Chris Douglas-Roberts conjured a twisted wreckage on the side of the road. The Memphis coach was repelled and yet riveted, simultaneously bewildered and bewitched.” In the Louisville Courier-Journal, Eric

Crawford flashes back to the NBA prospect’s family history. “Chris DouglasRoberts grew up in a 110-year-old house in Detroit, the one his grandparents moved into when they moved from Louisville,” Mr. Crawford writes. “The one where Laura Roberts raised eight children after her husband died, half of whom went to college, all of whom became successful in their lines of work.” Mr. Douglas-Roberts is constantly reminded of his family by a tattoo bearing the name of his mother, Judy. Another tattoo quotes Psalm 37. His teammate Chance McGrady “permanently wears a quotation from Nobel Peace Prize winner Bernard Lown, developer of the defibrillator, that tells the world: Men capable of seeing the invisible can achieve the impossible,” Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla writes, in urging fans not to jump to steroetypical conclusions about this ink-decorated squad. As for Kansas, several columnists write that tragedy helped forge the close bond between Jayhawks evident at their best

moments, such as in their furious start against North Carolina. “This Kansas team that will play Memphis in tonight’s national championship game was forged of many things,” Richard Justice writes in the Houston Chronicle. “It has a terrific coach in Bill Self, a wonderful tradition, and some of the bluest of the blue-chip recruits. Kansas has something else, something that’s hard to measure and harder still to understand. Kansas has a toughness and closeness born of pain and tragedy.” Darnell Jackson left the team briefly last year to care for his injured mother, and teammates still drop in on him to make sure he’s OK. His teammate, Sasha Kaun, lost his father as a teenager in Russia, and his mother, Olga, still suspects foul play. When Sasha first arrived in the U.S., he wasn’t a basketball prospect but a beanpole. Then he developed an appetite and a sterling academic record, and colleges came calling. “Kansas appealed most to him,” David Whitley writes in the Orlando Sentinel. “Maybe the winters reminded him of Siberia, where Olga remained. Kaun was no longer homesick, but he sure missed his mother. She would have had a hard time comprehending her son’s development. He became a computer whiz like his father. It’s probably safe to say Kaun will be the only player tonight who has constructed a robot for a class project.” *** Seven times this season UConn’s women’s basketball team had faced a fellow top 10 team, and five times it won by at least 10 points, including a 12-point defeat of Stanford in November. But in the rematch Sunday night in Tampa, the Cardinal stunned the Huskies, 82-73, to advance to the championship game Tuesday night. Notable Stanford alumnae were on hand, Ann Killion writes in the San Jose Mercury News: “The women who began and sustained the magic at Stanford bore witness Sunday night to perhaps the most magical run by any Cardinal team.” LSU almost pulled off Sunday’s second

upset when senior Erica White sunk two free throws to put the Lady Tigers ahead of Tennessee, 46-45, with 7.1 seconds left. But a last-second put-back by Alexis Hornbuckle gave Tennessee another titlegame berth and sealed LSU’s fifth national semifinal defeat in five years. LSU’s accomplishment remains impressive, Carter Gaddis writes in the Tampa Tribune: “They overcame the death of a beloved coach, the scandal-ridden resignation of another coach and the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. For five consecutive seasons, under four different coaches, nothing kept the Louisiana State Tigers out of the Women’s Final Four.” A packed Forum in Tampa obscures a big challenge for the women’s game. “In its attempt to make the women’s tourney mirror the men’s, the women’s basketball committee stepped on the gas, expanding the tournament field way too quickly and going to neutral sites before there was enough evidence that people would actually show up,” Andrea Adelson writes in the Orlando Sentinel. “Take an early round game in Los Angeles last year, which drew 878 people.” *** Gib Shanley, longtime radio broadcaster for the Cleveland Browns, died Sunday at age 76. He was there for the Browns’ last championship — and for their moreplentiful disappointments. “In Shanley’s voice a measured amount of emotion could be heard, depending on the situation,” George M. Thomas writes in the Akron Beacon Journal. “The moment his voice dropped on the radio during the infamous Jan. 4, 1981, playoff game against the Oakland Raiders in an arctic Municipal Stadium as the Browns were driving to take the lead, it was apparent what had happened.” Found a good column from the world of sports? Don’t keep it to yourself — write to us at dailyfix@wsj.com and we’ll consider your find for inclusion in the Daily Fix.


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March Madness Contest Results
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 10:55:00 AM

(If you’re looking for today’s Daily Fix column, it’s here.) Congratulations to Greg Martinek and David Hudson, the only Daily Fix readers among the 86 entering our March Madness contest who picked all Final Four teams correctly and chose Kansas to win it all. Mr. Martinek won the contest by a wide margin. He’ll be joined in the Daily Fix Skybox of Champions (which by now resembles a Titanic lifeboat, but anyway) by Mr. Hudson, who finished second, as well as by Chris DeLotell and Stephen M. Schleicher, who tied for third. Dr. Schleicher managed to edge into the top four despite picking UCLA to win it all, thanks to his perfect Final Four picks and piling up points on the earlier questions. It was clear to Mr. Martinek, president of an electronics-manufacturing company, that the four top seeds were the four best teams. In the semifinals, the 50-year-old from Brookfield, Wisc., reasoned that UCLA couldn’t match “the toughness, strength, and length of Memphis.” As for Kansas-North Carolina, “A game played at such a fast pace was going to be determined by the team with superior depth, and it was.” His comments about the final, emailed to me ahead of time, proved prescient: “This type of game would favor Kansas due to their being a much better free-throw- and three-pointshooting team than Memphis.” It took the runner-up, Mr. Hudson, about 10 minutes to put together his contest entry, he estimates. The 28-year-old Oklahoma City fixed-income broker and Oklahoma State graduate based his champion pick on school ties: “My mind said UNC, but luckily my heart said Kansas (Big 12 ties, OSU alum Bill Self),” Mr. Hudson writes. “Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Now let’s go talk to Bill Self about that vacant OSU head coaching position.” Mr. DeLotell, a 21-year-old from Mason, Ohio, says he chose Kansas “because I simply thought it was the best combination

of talent and coaching in the tournament.” The senior at the University of Kentucky nonetheless was rooting for Memphis on behalf of his nine-year-old brother, who stood to win $60 in his pool if the Tigers won the title. “Luckily, he fell asleep at half-me and missed Memphis’s late-game choke at the foul-line and in the strategy department,” Mr. DeLotell writes. “Always foul with a three-point lead in the last 10 seconds!” Read on for how the contest played out, with correct answers bolded. 1. Which will be the team with the highest seed number (16 is higher than 1) to win in the first round?(Winners in italics.) Winthrop (seed 13) 12; Georgia (14) 10; Temple (12) 9; Siena(13) 8; Villanova(12) 6; St. Joseph’s (11) 5; Baylor (11), Cornell (14), Davidson(10), St. Mary’s (10) 4; Kansas State(11), San Diego(13) 3; Boise State (14), George Mason (12), Oral Roberts (13), Western Kentucky(12) 2; American (15), Cal State-Fullerton (14), Kentucky (11) 1. Siena and San Diego both went on to lose to No. 12 seeds in the second round. Most readers erred on the conservative side, with 15 correctly picking first-round upset winners but choosing one with too low a seed. 2. Which No. 1 seed will win by the fewest points in the first round? UCLA 30; Kansas 29; Memphis 17; North Carolina 8. None of the games was close; Kansas and Memphis both won by 24 points, while North Carolina won by 39 and UCLA by 41. These blowouts presaged the relatively easy path for all four teams — particularly North Carolina’s — to the Final Four. But they were poor indicators of the results of the national semifinals. 3. How many teams outside the power six conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC) will make the Sweet 16? 2.6 was the average answer, 3 was the median and the range was 0 to 6. Four broke through, as predicted by 11

readers. Only two of these Sweet 16 teams are surprises: No. 12 seed Western Kentucky of the Sun Belt and No. 10 Davidson (Southern Conference). Top seed Memphis from Conference USA and No. 3 seed Xavier (Atlantic 10) also advanced. Three of them advanced to the Elite Eight, and Memphis made the championship game. 4. Which conference will see the highest number of its representatives reach the Sweet 16? Big East 61; Pac-10 13; ACC 6; Big 12 5; SEC 1. The Big East and Pac-10 have three teams each. For this question, Stanford’s last-second leaner to beat Marquette in overtime was critical. The Big 12 led in the Elite Eight, with Texas and Kansas — and, most importantly, led all conferences with one national champion. 5. Which of the following bubble teams will advance the farthest in the tournament: Oregon, Kentucky, Baylor, Kansas State, Villanova or Arizona? Kansas State 25; Arizona 16; Baylor, Oregon 12; Villanova 10; Kentucky 7; none (all lose in first round) 4. Only Kansas State and Villanova won, and Villanova advanced to the Sweet 16. 6. Which player will score the most points (total points, not points per game) in the tournament? Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) 63; Kevin Love (UCLA) 9; Darren Collison (UCLA) 3; Wayne Ellington (North Carolina), Brandon Rush (Kansas) 2; Joe Alexander (West Virginia), Darrell Arthur (Kansas), Chris DouglasRoberts(Memphis), Roy Hibbert (Georgetown), Chris Lofton (Tennessee), O.J. Mayo (USC), Derrick Rose (Memphis) 1. Chris Douglas-Roberts finished with 140 points, though he’ll lament three that got away — his only missed free throws, all in the final minutes of regulation in the title game. Only reader Bob Trost got this one right. Davidson’s Stephen Curry, despite playing two fewer games, finished a close second with 128 points. Derrick Rose

finished with 125 points for Memphis. 7. Which freshman will score the most points (total points, not points per game) in the tournament? Kevin Love (UCLA) 49; Michael Beasley (Kansas State) 12; Derrick Rose(Memphis) 11; O.J. Mayo (USC) 7; DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh), Austin Freeman (Georgetown) 2; Gary Johnson (Texas) 1. Rose finished with 125 points, well ahead of Love’s 99. 8. Who will be named Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four? Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) 42; Kevin Love (UCLA) 21; Darren Collison (UCLA) 6; Brandon Rush (Kansas) 5; Darrell Arthur (Kansas), Chris Lofton (Tennessee) 2; Antonio Anderson (Memphis), Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Mario Chalmers(Kansas), Roy Hibbert (Georgetown), Ty Lawson (North Carolina), Brook Lopez (Stanford), Derrick Rose (Memphis), Jessie Sapp (Georgetown) 1. Chalmers finished the Final Four with six assists, seven rebounds, seven steals and 29 points — three of them tying the title game with a couple of seconds left in regulation. He was chosen only by contest winner Greg Martinek. 9. Which teams will make the Final Four (10 points each)? East: North Carolina 79; Tennessee 4; Louisville 2. South: Texas 39; Memphis 22; Pittsburgh 12; Stanford 8; Marquette, Michigan State, Kentucky 1. West: UCLA 76; Duke 4; Drake, Xavier 2. Midwest: Kansas 49; Georgetown 21; Wisconsin 7; Clemson 5; Kansas State, USC, Vanderbilt 1. 10. Which team will win the championship (30 points)? North Carolina 36; UCLA 32; Kansas 9; Memphis 3; Georgetown 2; Stanford, Tennessee, Texas 1. The two reader favorites were overmatched and outplayed in the semis.

Mischa Barton Makes Plea Deal in DUI Case
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:47:36 PM

Mischa Barton(22) has made a plea deal with the prosecutors that will keep her out of jail. In the deal Barton will serve a three -year Unsupervised probation term, attend a three-month alcohol-education class, and pay a fine of approximately $1,700. The marijuana possession charge will be dropped. It’s really good to know that celebrity justice is still the law of the land. Too bad it’s not the same for us little people. Barton said: "Obviously I’m 100 percent responsible for my actions in this case. I’m really disappointed in myself. I don’t know what to say about it, except that I’m not perfect, and I just don’t ever intend to do something this stupid again." I can’t wait to hear Barton’s excuse the next time she gets a DUI. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • No related posts.

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Jayhawks Are Champs After Chalmers Caps Furious Comeback
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 11:02:00 AM

Kansas’s comeback from nine points down with two minutes left in Monday night’s national championship game required several missteps by Memphis. But the Jayhawks also had to play nearly flawless basketball for those two minutes, and the subsequent five minutes of overtime. And so they did, capping a closely matched and thrilling title game with a 24-8 run that featured 8 of 10 shooting from the field, including the first seven shots, and 6 for 6 from the freethrow line. Kansas wasn’t the most-consistent team in college basketball this season, but in its peak moments, and at the very end, it was indisputably the best. To get to the final, Kansas used a 40-12 run at the start of its game against North Carolina, then finished on a 30-16 tear to defeat the No. 1 team in the country. Mario Chalmers celebrates his already legendary three-pointer to force overtime. (Associated Press Photo by Eric Gay) Neither run had to be executed under as much duress as the championshipclinching finish. To force overtime, Sherron Collins had just a handful of seconds to drive the length of the floor, dodge Memphis’s attempts to foul him (he said later he thought he was fouled), and get the ball to Mario Chalmers. Mr. Chalmers then discovered a narrow space between defenders draped over him, rose and hit a three-pointer. (And probably made CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz regret his declaration a few minutes earlier that a Derrick Rose jumper for Memphis was “the shot of the tournament.”) That shot will be forever celebrated by Kansas basketball fans, Joe Posnanski writes in the Kansas City Star. “Kids 50 years from now will be shooting the

Chalmers shot in driveways from Pittsburg to St. Francis, from Liberal to Hiawatha, from Cuba to Dodge City to Chanute,” Mr. Posnanski writes. “Grandparents in Wichita will call their grandchildren in Olathe to talk about what they were feeling when Chalmers took that shot, the way the ball arced, the way it fell. Farmers in Cuba and teachers in Salina and doctors in Garden City will talk about the shot forever. There were precisely 43,257 fans in the Alamodome on Monday night to watch Kansas win its first championship in 20 years, but as time goes by there will be 100,000, then 200,000, then a million who will say they were here.” Danny Manning, hero of that last Kansas championship, was among those 43,257. “Not even Danny and the Miracles, the last Jayhawks to cut down the nets (as a No. 6 seed) needed a shot like Chalmers’ in their finale,” Luke Winn writes on Sports Illustrated. “Twenty years later, Danny Manning had a prime view of the Mario Miracle, as the assistant coach who had prepared the team’s scouting report of Memphis for the title game. Ed Hightower, one of the refs from ‘88, was working the floor the floor again in ‘08, and while Manning said he was thinking ‘deja vu’ when Chalmers launched it, the reason was not Hightower. Chalmers had hit the exact same shot — on the same play — to take Texas to overtime in last season’s Big 12 tournament.” Mr. Chalmers practiced that shot with his father, Ronnie, as a child in Alaska — he follows recent Alaska basketball stars Trajan Langdon and Carlos Boozer, who both played for Duke. Ronnie went on to coach his son at Bartlett High in Anchorage, then followed Mario to Lawrence to serve as Bill Self’s director of basketball operations, a hiring that displaced Mr. Manning and seemed fishy to some at the time. But its significance

last night was in keeping father and son close together for the shining moment. “Mario Chalmers hugged his dad tightly after the game,” Jill Painter writes in the Los Angeles Daily News. “Ronnie cried, and he was pretty sure Mario had tears in his eyes, too. It was a wonderful moment between father and son, one that’s been difficult to navigate for Ronnie, since he’s part-time assistant, too.” While Mr. Chalmers justly won Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four, it should have been a close vote. The Jayhawks followed the blueprint of recent

champs by spreading the scoring load evenly. They are the fourth-straight champion with at least four players averaging in double figures, and the third straight without a 15-points-per-game scorer. Half a dozen Jayhawks have NBA prospects, but none were named to the first, second or third All-America teams. Mr. Collins, for one, came off the bench last night but played 34 minutes and won bragging rights over his erstwhile Chicago high-school rival, Mr. Rose. “In June, Rose most likely will have the ultimate bragging rights when some NBA team turns him into an instant multimillionaire,” Dana O’Neil writes on ESPN. “For now, though, Collins is the toast of Chicago.” MARCH MADNESS Wondering who won the Fix’s March Madness contest, and how? Wonder no more: Carl has the results, and commentary from the winners. Mr. Rose could have ended his college career in triumph, but instead he missed one of two free throws with 10 seconds left, paving the way for Mr. Chalmers’ date with history. Seconds earlier, his backcourt mate, Chris Douglas-Roberts, missed a pair of free throws. Those misses were chalked up by most columnists today to Memphis’s Achilles Heel — free-throw shooting. The Tigers may have ranked 339th out of 341 NCAA schools from the stripe, but until that unfortunate dry spell, they had hit 80% of their free throws over the prior four games. And Messrs. Rose and Douglas-Roberts were both a respectable 71% from the line this season. Nonetheless, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Doug Lesmerises is right to call the end of regulation “the greatest marketing campaign for free-throw shooting videos ever conceived.” Bricked free throws have been good to Kansas late in recent NCAA finals. In 2003, Syracuse missed three of four free

throws in the final 24 seconds, and five of its last six overall, to leave Kansas with another last-second three-point attempt to force regulation. That one was blocked. “History tells us, it should be pointed out, that the free throw was not a part of the original basketball rules,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Gil LeBreton writes. “The free throw rule was soon added, however, shortly after 1892, by Dr. James Naismith, the first coach at the University of Kansas. That’s a long time to wait for a payoff, but the Jayhawks will take it.” *** One tournament ends just as another begins. The NHL playoffs start Wednesday, and, stunningly, they will include the team from Washington, D.C. “A Capitals story that shamed most hockey fairy tales, a dream that seemed almost too silly to speak for months, came true in the pandemonium of Verizon Center last night,” Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell wrote Sunday. “A team that was the worst in the NHL on Thanksgiving day, but climbed and clawed for months, finally reached the playoffs on the last day of the season with a 3-1 victory over Florida.” The Caps clinched with a win before a sold-out crowd, which supports Kevin Greenstein’s thesis that the NHL is heading in the right direction. Mr. Greenstein tallies the positive indicators and has an interview with league commissioner Gary Bettman in the New York Sun. – Tip of the Fix cap to reader Garey G. Ris. Found a good column from the world of sports? Don’t keep it to yourself — write to us at dailyfix@wsj.com and we’ll consider your find for inclusion in the Daily Fix.

Paris Hilton Likes Pussy
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:12:53 PM

Paris Hilton is still in Africa, and every time she opens her mouth she blesses us with another tid bit of wisdom. A source said:

"Every time Paris saw something she liked, like a woman’s dress, she would ask how much it was. That included a cheetah she saw at an animal park. She asked how much it was and said, ’If I bought a cheetah, would it run away from me or could I keep it?’"

If you did a before and after comparison

to see if Paris talked this dumb before she did drugs, you wouldn’t see much of a difference. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Paris Hilton Fell on Her Face • Paris Hilton Has Clown Feet

• Paris Hilton Belly Dances in Turkey • Paris Hilton Knows Geography • Showbiz Tonight Exposes Famous for Nothing Stars



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Rob Lowe Sues Nanny
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:29:52 PM

Yesterday Rob Lowe published text messages from his former nanny who quit, then asked for $1.5 million to keep her from telling secrets about Lowe and his wife. Rob said earlier Monday that the former nanny is demanding $1.5 million from the actor and his wife "or she will accuse us both of a vicious laundry list of false terribles." Rob filed suit against the lying nanny. People reports: In a 26-page complaint against the longtime former nanny, Lowe’s lawyers say the woman claimed to have "a personal and intimate relationship (with Lowe), and, in effect, accusing Rob Lowe of infidelity." The Lowes also learned that the nanny repeatedly expressed romantic interest in Rob and told people that "she wished he would divorce Sheryl Lowe." On at least one occasion, the nanny "bragged" about giving Lowe a massage during a trip with the Lowe family, according to court papers. (The couple

claims it never happened.) The woman also allegedly claimed that Lowe sexually harassed her and that Sheryl Lowe was an "overly demanding" and "abusive" employer, who made "inappropriate comments of a sexual and racial nature" to her.

Rob also filed a lawsuit against two other employees. People reports: In the 19-page filing against the former chef, Lowe claims the ex-employee had sex on their bed "with third parties" when the family was out of town, stole prescription drugs from their medicine cabinet that he later distributed to his friends, broke several security cameras and overcharged them for food. According to the suit, he also allegedly made statements to various people that Sheryl was heartless, cold and "unclean." Hopefully the chef washed his hands before he started cooking. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Adolphus August Busch Arrested • Remy Ma is Going to Jail • T.I. is Going to Jail • Ashley Alexandra Dupre in Girls Gone Wild Video • Dawn Wells Was Drunk not High

Tom Cruise Movie Valkyrie Delayed Again
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/8/2008 4:21:42 PM

The new Tom Cruise movie Valkyrie looks okay in the video below, but there seem to be problems with getting it ready for release. First the release date was moved from July to October of 2008, and now its been pushed back again to February 13, 2009. It’s not a fourth of July movie, and it’s not a Halloween movie, so I guess Cruise and his partners decided

Valkyrie is more of a Valentines Day movie. I had no idea this was a love story. (It’s not)

© Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Tom Cruise Always Acts Surprised • Robert Downey Jr. in Blackface • Tom Cruise Takes Hand Washing Seriously • Will Smith is a Great Marriage Counselor • Xeno and Scientology Under Attack

Beyonce Pregnant - More Reports Now
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/8/2008 3:36:14 PM

Beyonce Pregnant
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/7/2008 4:41:10 PM

First Jay-Z and Beyonce got a marriage license, then they were rumored to have been married on Friday, then Mary J. Blige confirmed the marriage. Now this picture surfaces with Beyonce looking like she has a baby bump, and a new rumor that she’s pregnant.

© Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Mary J. Blige Confirms Jay-Z and

Beyonce Marriage • Jay-Z and Beyonce Getting Married Today • Jay-Z Does a $150 Million Deal • Jay-Z and Beyonce are Getting Married • Rihanna and Jay-Z Have Lovers Quarrel at the Grammys

Yesterday HG was the FIRST to report that Beyonce might be pregnant with JayZ’s baby. Today Rush and Molly from the New York Daily News, and others, are reporting it too. One fact we didn’t report was that at 17 years-old, Beyoncé’s little sister Solange, wed boyfriend Daniel Smith in the Bahamas after learning she was pregnant. The implication here is that

Beyonce and Jay-Z may have married all of a sudden because she is pregnant. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Beyonce Pregnant • Mary J. Blige Confirms Jay-Z and Beyonce Marriage • Jay-Z and Beyonce Getting Married Today • Jay-Z Does a $150 Million Deal • Jay-Z and Beyonce are Getting Married