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07/04/08 - 15/04/08

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Michelle Obama: Patriot
By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:03:00 AM

Filed under: Democrats, Barack Obama, Featured Stories, 2008 President Michelle Obama, wife and confidante of Democratic Presidential frontrunner Barack Obama, has been the subject of some of the most virulently negative comments that I've seen on these pages. A quick review of The Political Machine's coverage of Michelle Obama reveals little more than rehashes on the theme of the video below, the infamous "Proud for the first time" soundbite. I've occasionally Googled the random Michelle quote that her detractors inflate to Macy's Parade proportions, and found them to be uniformly reasonable when put into context. With all that's been happening in this campaign, I haven't had a chance to learn much more about her. One theme that I consistently heard, though, was the notion that Michelle Obama is a "Black Separatist," or a racist, White Devil-hating militant bent on the destruction of the American way of life. This is usually "supported" by snippets from Michelle's senior year thesis from Princeton. I decided to get to know a little bit more about Michelle. After the jump, what I found in the pages of that veritable "Anarchist's Cookbook" of a thesis, and about Michelle Obama in general. Obama by krs601 Michelle Obama is a patriot, perhaps the truest patriot I have ever seen. This country was founded by men who challenged the status quo, who dared to expect more from their fellow man, and every step of the way has progressed with the winds of dissent and, yes, even criticism at its back. As far

as I can tell, the biggest mark against Michelle Obama is that she dares to criticize America, to challenge the status quo. Yet, even this is a deception. The endless stream of out-of-context quotes is disingenuously used to score political points against Michelle and her husband. No less a flaming liberal than Bill O'Reilly admitted as much: Again, I don't believe Michelle Obama dislikes her country. I sincerely hope she does not, but this is a big deal. It is not going away. And the Obama campaign should understand that. So, if the real problem isn't this notion that she's "not proud of America," what is it? Perhaps this passage from the New Yorker contains a clue: First Ladies have traditionally gravitated toward happy topics like roadside flower beds, so it comes as a surprise that Obama's speech is such an unrelenting downer. That sounds kinda familiar, a lot like what they used to say about Hillary Clinton. The dame doesn't know her place. What makes it worse for Michelle, though, is that she has two places that people are anxious to put her back in. Which brings me to that thesis. I downloaded it from Politico, and I read through most of it (a lot of it is pretty clinical), and wouldn't you know it? All of the quotes that people love to point to as evidence of Michelle's "racism" are from the introduction."My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before," the future Mrs. Obama wrote in her thesis introduction. "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and openminded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the

circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second." Even Politico, which did a rather thorough piece on the subject, misstates her conclusion:"I hoped that these findings would help me conclude that despite the high degree of identification with whites as a result of the educational and occupational path that black Princeton alumni follow, the alumni would still maintain a certain level of identification with the black community. However, these findings do not support this possibility." She goes on to say that, despite those findings, those same alumni are still as likely to want to benefit the black community, despite that lack of identification. She also offers a clinical definition for "identification" that differs significantly from the one conveyed in the quote. Michelle Obama and I came of age at roughly the same time, a fact that I hadn't realized before. She wrote that thesis in 1985, a year that I remember well. I got a pretty good sense of where her head was at the time, and I can assure you, I was more militant than she was back then. I also learned that she doesn't use any notes when delivering her 45 minute stump speech, a courageous act that doubtless contributes to the unvarnished nature of some of her comments. Yet most of the things she says, almost necessarily, are forceful echoes and permutations of things that her husband says. I can only conclude, then, that it isn't so much what she says, or how she says it, but rather the fact that it is she who is saying it. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Obama AG May Review Bush Administration
By Jay Allbritton (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:46:00 AM

Filed under: Bush Administration, Barack Obama, 2008 President, Investigations When Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table before the 2006 midterm elections, many staunch critics of the Bush administration felt betrayed. That betrayal was aggravated when none of the so-called mainstream Democratic Presidential candidates uttered a word about holding the Bush administration accountable for a variety of misdeeds. Now, after 18 months since Pelosi's declaration about impeachment, Will Bunch of Attytood reports that Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would allow his Attorney General to "immediately review the information that's already there". Bunch asked Obama the question in light of an ABC News report published earlier this month that several high ranking current and former administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet and John Ashcroft among others painstakingly planned the torture of "specific high-value al Qaeda prisoners". Obama's full answer shows that he is well aware that he would have a difficult

task of balancing the pursuit of justice and the perception that any investigation of the Bush White House conducted by a Democratic administration would appear politically motivated. "If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated." he said. "You're also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve." He went on to say, "And I think it's important--one of the things we've got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity." Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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The Perception Battle
By David Knowles (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:56:00 AM

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Democrats, Barack Obama, Featured Stories To be sure, the Democratic race for the nomination has proven an entertaining spectacle. Websites like this one would not exist were it not for the incredible interest that Americans have taken in the outcome of this hotly-contested battle. Debate ratings are way, way up. Record Democratic turnout has been the story-line in virtually all of the primaries thus far. Every utterance, gesture, and facial expression of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is mined for potential significance. The slightest miscue is exploited for political gain. Of course, somehow overlooked in the ferocity of the campaign itself is the fact of just how similar Clinton and Obama really are when it comes to the thing that matters most of all: policy. Lost in the shuffle last Friday--sandwiched between Bill Clinton's resurrection of his wife's trip to Bosnia, and Barack Obama's gaffe at a San Francisco fundraiser--the Associated Press ran a piece that, once again, spelled out the truth about Obama and Clinton: their legislative priorities just aren't that different. Indeed, we might be seeing far less acrimony if the two candidates actually disagreed more. Bookings Institution fellow Stephen Hess explains: "There is simply no doubt that when two candidates virtually agree, you have to find

other reasons to find an argument about why you should be for one rather than the other," he said. "That's why suddenly the issues in this campaign are issues of character rather than position. And once they are issues of character, they can get very personal." We see this on a daily basis here in the Political Machine comment section. A favorite charge is that one candidate is a liar, while the other is consistently truthful. Selective examples are provided to impugn the character of the enemy. Very rarely do

the examples have anything whatsoever to do with how that candidate would actually govern the country. In short, we, as a nation, seem eager to turn the race for the White House into a popularity contest. All of this nonsense about who one would rather have a beer with, and who is or isn't elitist, is straight out of a bad teen movie. Yes, there are differences between Clinton and Obama, and some of those may actually have meaningful consequences for the country if either makes it to the White House. Then again,

they may not. Promises made during a campaign are by no means guarantees, and while the small differences between Obama and Clinton can be amplified and made to seem like deal breakers, the truth is that we really won't ever know who would do better as commander-in-chief. By and large, we're going on a hunch. That said, if you want to shift the tax burden away from the poor and the middle class, then vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Ditto if you want to start devising a timely exit strategy from Iraq. Both are committed to working on these issues. John McCain is not, as good as he may come off on the late-night television circuit. We should remember that George Bush defeated his rivals in large part because he succeeded in seducing voters to believe he was just an average Joe. He was "in touch," to use the current phrase, with middle class Americans. Look what has happened to our economy during his tenure? Have average Americans benefited from his time in office? 81% of the country doesn't seem to think so. And yet, here we are again, arguing over insignificant questions of perception. Maybe we just get what we deserve. We hear the labels spew forth from our televisions-- "compassionate conservative," or " liberal elitist," or "straight talk"--and we flush all the other stuff, the evidence of how these people govern, right down the toilet. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

'Pennsylvania' - New Clinton Ad
By Greg McNeilly (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:54:00 AM

Hillary on Colbert This Week, Not Barack
By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:35:00 AM

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Democrats, 2008 President, Stephen Colbert, LOLection According to a report on AOL News, in what may be the turning point of this election, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is scheduled to appear on The Colbert Report this Thursday: News of Clinton's visit was divulged Monday night in Philadelphia by

MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews. He blurted it out during taping of the show at the University of Pennsylvania's Zellerbach Theater. The news was confirmed by a person close to the satirical news program, who insisted on anonymity because the date of the visit hadn't been publicly announced. The report doesn't say how we're supposed to know that the confirmation wasn't satirical. Meanwhile, her Democratic rival, Barack Obama, has so far rebuffed the fundit's invitations to appear, although his wife,

Michelle, will appear tonight. My colleague, Denise Williams, and I have been all over Colbert like a bad smell this election season, and this will be no different. Check back here Thursday night for a liveblog of the Report, followed by in -depth analysis and a special, biometrically measured focus group. OK, not the focus group. After the jump, brief analysis of the burning question: Is Barack Obama shooting himself in the foot here? Perhaps Senator Obama is unaware of the political rocket fuel that is The Colbert

Bump, or maybe he just doesn't think he needs it. From Denise: An actual study (pdf) of this phenomenon has been done by political scientist James Fowler of the University of California showing "first scientific evidence of Stephen Colbert's influence on political campaigns". It has footnotes and everything! Be sure to check back here Thursday to see Hillary put this thing away for good. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Ads, 2008 President Hillary Clinton's campaign has released a new :30 TV spot in the Keystone state titled "Pennsylvania." The ad focuses on the "Bitter-gate" set of comments made by her rival and Democrat front runner Barack Obama. Obama supporters - who seem to see nothing elitist about trashing small-town America to a liberal confab in San Francisco - are the one's who this ad will make truly bitter. This ad brilliantly connects with voters - it wasn't the word "bitter" that was such an insult, it was the contexing of people clinging to God and guns in response to economic woes. If you're in the Rust Belt, believe in God, and own a gun - Obama is just another intolerant liberal politician who doesn't share your values. This is the chorus that Clinton's ad seeks to tap. The ad's script reads: HRC: I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve this message. Anncr: Barack Obama said that people in small towns "cling to guns or religion...as a way to explain their frustrations..." Woman 1: I was very insulted by Barack Obama. Man 1: It just shows how out of touch Barack Obama is. Woman 2: I'm not clinging to my faith out of frustration and bitterness. I find that my faith is very uplifting. Man 2: The good people of Pennsylvania deserve a lot better than what Barack Obama said. Woman 1: Hillary does understand the citizens of Pennsylvania better. Woman 3: Hillary Clinton has been fighting for people like us her whole life. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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Curbs on PATRIOT Act Tool Sought
By Mark Impomeni (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 12:45:00 AM

Filed under: Bush Administration, Senate, House, Terror The House and Senate are both set to consider legislation that would restrict the use of a tool granted to the FBI under the USA PATRIOT Act. The tool, known as a national security letter, is an administrative subpoena that allows the Bureau to demand certain information from persons being investigated for suspected ties to terrorism activities without the oversight of a federal judge. The FBI has admitted that use of the letters regularly brings in more information than the government is legally allowed to collect and maintain and has promised to tighten its procedures for record gathering. But now the House and Senate are considering tightening those procedures for the FBI. The House bill would limit the use of national security letters to investigations of foreign powers or agents and would require the Bureau to destroy any information that it obtains illegally. The Senate bill focuses on the documents subject to the letters. That bill would reduce the types of documents that the FBI could seek with the letters and require the Bureau to track its use of the letters more carefully. The Bush Administration has

vigorously opposed proposed changes to law enforcement tools under the PATRIOT Act and would likely threaten to veto both pending bills. The FBI's top lawyer will testify at House hearings on the legislation today and is expected to say that the Justice Department needs more time to work out an internal fix. Assistant FBI Director John Miller said that despite the problems, the Bureau is committed to, "maximize [the letters'] national security value while providing the highest level of privacy and protection." But those assurances have increasingly fallen in deaf ears in Congress. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), a co-sponsor of the House bill and a liberal Democrat, said that the time has come for Congress to act to

correct the problem. "It is clear that the NSL authority is too overbroad and operates unchecked. We must give our law enforcement the tools they need to protect us, but any such powers must be consistent with the rule of law." Nadler has managed to attract Republican co-sponsors of his bill, including one of the most conservative members of the House, Rep. Jeff Flake (RAZ). The Senate bill is similarly cosponsored by both liberals and conservatives, garnering support from Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Sen. John Sununu (R-NH). The prospects for passage of the two bills are as yet uncertain. It will be difficult to get majorities of both houses to vote for legislation that could be interpreted as hindering terrorist investigations in an election year. But clearly, public sentiment is growing for a change in the law, as evidenced by the support for the bills across the ideological spectrum. The Bush Administration will have its work cut out for it if it wants to finish its term with the provisions of the PATRIOT Act intact. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

US Negotiators Drop North Korea Demands
By Mark Impomeni (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 3:00:00 PM

'It Won't' - New Obama Ad
By Greg McNeilly (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 2:47:00 PM

Filed under: Barack Obama, Ads, 2008 President Barack Obama's campaign is airing a new :30 second ad in Pennsylvania titled "It Won't." The ad features U.S. Senator Bob Casey(D-PA). The ad's script reads: Bob Casey: In towns like yours and mine, families are struggling with bills they can't afford and jobs moving away. It has to change - but it won't until we change Washington. That's why I believe in Barack Obama. I've worked with him. I've seen him stand up to the lobbyists and special interests...And like us, he's tired of the political games and

division that stops anything from getting done. Barack Obama knows Pennsylvania's hurting. He can unite America and bring real change. Another :30 second populist pitch. It's a good tone for the Keystone audience who will vote April 22nd. But the messenger makes it a tad tone-deaf. Bob Casey, like Obama himself, is a career politician who comes from a nondisadvantaged background (one went to private prep-schools the other Ivy league, both attorneys). Politician hearts politician does not scream change. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: Bush Administration, Breaking News After months of negotiations over North Korea's failure to completely disclose all of its nuclear weapons programs, United States negotiators have apparently given up their demand that the communist regime provide a full accounting of its illicit nuclear activities. Rather than provide a declaration of all its past nuclear development and proliferation activities, North Korea and the United States agreed to softer language that would require the North only to "acknowledge" U.S. concerns about its nuclear program. Last fall at the Six Party Talks between the United States, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, Pyongyang agreed to completely dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and to make a "complete" declaration of its nuclear programs and activities by the end of the year. But the North missed the deadline for disabling its reactors, and the U.S. has criticized the declaration, calling it incomplete. Talks between the two countries over the past several months have been aimed at finding a way to restart the Six Party Talks, which the North has been delaying due to the controversy. This concession by the United States may be enough to get the process back on track, but ultimately may damage the underlying rationale for holding the talks among the regional powers and all of the North's neighbors. The Six Party Talks are designed as such in an effort to put as much pressure on North Korea as possible. The theory is that the North would be more likely to live up to agreements made with all of its neighbors than those made bilaterally with the United States. But the North has shown a frustrating tendency to fall short of its obligations, only to seek more concessions in return for actions that never quite come up to the original agreement. That appears to be what happened in this case. President Bush will ultimately have to decide if he is willing to go along with the

new agreement, but past history indicates that he will. The Bush Administration is up against the clock, and it desperately wants to wrap up as many foreign policy issues as it can before the president's term expires. That is partly behind the Administration's last-year push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. North Korea knows this and is seeking to exploit the Administration's haste. The Administration's predicament was summed up best by a senior U.S. official familiar with the agreement. [The U.S. could] negotiate for the next 100 years trying to get these guys to fess up, or you can get them to acknowledge that they did this without them going into specifics. Negotiation is the art of the possible. This is a regime that is incapable of certain things, and it is incapable of doing that." One thing North Korea has proven itself clearly capable of is waiting the United States out. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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Gonzales' Resume Just Isn't Working
By Liza Porteus Viana (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:45:00 AM

Filed under: Bush Administration, Republicans, Featured Stories, Ed Morrissey Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is also feeling the pinch of quasi-unemployment these days. Lawyers and his associates inside the Beltway tell The New York Times that Gonzales, who was forced to resign last year amid the dismissed attorneys scandal, hasn't been able to get any law firms to bite on his resume. Gonzales' experience should be enough for firms to be chomping at the bit. We've all heard his personal story - the son of poor Mexican immigrants makes his way through the Texas public school system, then goes on to Rice University and Harvard Law School. He has won numerous awards and accolades for his accomplishments, and, prior to his tenure at the Justice Department, served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas as Texas' 100th Secretary of State. While in private practice, Gonzales also taught law as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center. But despite all that, less decorated Justice Officials are getting jobs and he's not. Last year Gonzales took a lot of heat for his role over the firing of several federal prosecutors and for not being forthcoming

with lawmakers about those dismissals and the government's wiretapping program. President Bush said his old friend was "dragged through the mud" for political reasons. The Times reports that since he left office on Aug. 27, 2007, his main source of income has come from talks at colleges and before private business groups - at at least $30,0000 a pop. Firms may be hesitant to hire him because not only are they concerned about his behavior toward the end of his DOJ

tenure, but his troubles aren't over. His conduct is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department, which could recommend exonerating him or criminal charges. Then there's that pesky torture issue that keeps resurfacing. And the DOJ is getting slammed with allegations of politically tainted actions amid probes of White House interference in personnel matters. The latest news on that front was in The Washington Post Sunday, as the newspaper reported that former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is the latest Democratic defendant taking aim at Bush's Justice Department. Siegelman, recently released from prison pending his appeal, wants a new trial because of what says were faulty jury instructions underpinning his 2006 conviction on bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and obstruction charges. He argues that Karl Rove and other administration officials railroaded him because they wanted a Republican in the governor's mansion. "We don't have the knife with Karl Rove's fingerprints all over it, but we've got the glove, and the glove fits," Siegelman told the Post. The House Judiciary Committee has launched a probe into Bush's DOJ. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Elton John Concert Breaks Campaign Law?
By David Knowles (Political Machine)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:44:00 AM

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Democrats, Breaking News, Investigations From The New York Times comes word that Elton John's big Radio City Music Hall fundraising concert for Hillary Clinton may have violated campaign finance laws. You see, because Sir Elton is not a U.S. citizen, he is forbidden from donating to candidates running for office.

The concert brought in an estimated $2.5 million for Clinton precisely because Elton's name was at the top of the bill. Elton did the gig as a favor to Clinton, and thus, argues Judicial Watch, has effectively made an "in-kind donation" to her campaign. An official complaint has been filed with the FEC. Here's a snippet from the concert. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Wal-Mart (WMT) looks to Russia
By Douglas McIntyre (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:35:00 AM

Huaneng (HNP): Dividend power play
By Steven Halpern (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:45:00 AM

Filed under: International markets, China, Newsletters, Huaneng Power Intl ADS (HNP), Commodities, Oil, Stocks to Buy "For global income investing, I ran a screen of Chinese ADRs, and my favorite from the list is Huaneng Power(NYSE: HNP), with an indicated yield of 5.3%," says Nilus Mattive, editor of Dividend Superstars. "Tons of power is being consumed in China, and Huaneng is right there to serve it up - the company is China's largest independent power producer. All told, Huaneng owns 17 plants outright, controls another 12, and has minority interests in

five power companies. "Profits have been rolling in at a steady clip. However, investors have recently become concerned about shrinking profit margins at Chinese utilities. "There is certainly cause for concern: Coal is the main power source for utilities' plants, and the price of the raw material has been rising because of increased demand around the world. To make matters worse, the severe winter weather that struck China in January pushed up coal prices even further and created a whole host of other challenges for Chinese utilities. "However, it looks to me like investors have been far too aggressive in their selling. They're now pricing Huaneng at

10.5 times next year's earnings. The stock is so oversold that it's currently yielding 5.3%. "What about the coal situation? Well, I think supply and demand will come back in line, and I also think this politically well -connected company will be granted price hikes to compensate for its higher input costs. I recommend income investors buy at the market." Each day, Steven Halpern's TheStockAdvisors.com offers the latest market commentary and favorite investment ideas from the nation's leading financial newsletter advisors. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: International markets, Competitive strategy, Wal-Mart (WMT), China, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Eastern Europe Now that it is clear that WalMart's(NYSE: WMT) international operations are growing much faster than its US division, the company is searching for new frontiers. Revenue overseas is growing at a rate better than 20% Wal-Mart has had trouble in some countries. Its operation in Japan continues to loss money and it has pulled out of Korea and Germany. Now, the world's largest retailer is looking to Russia and eastern Europe for more growth. According to the FT, WalMart "firmly signaled its intention to expand into Russia and eastern Europe, announcing that it had recruited Stephan Fanderl, a German retail executive, to explore opportunities in the region." It will be at least a couple of years before the market can gauge whether Wal-Mart

can have success in the region. It has to compete with other companies like big European retail chain Tesco. The WalMart model clearly does not work in all cultures. A break-down of Wal-Mat's track record overseas is telling. It problems in Germany, Japan, and Korea have been more than off-set by successes in China and Mexico. To some extent that may mean that countries with lower median incomes are better markets for the company. Russia and Eastern Europe are a mixed bag. Parts of Russia have done very well financially. Eastern Europe is still in a stage of economic development. Wal-Mart may be expanding outside the US, but its success is hardly assured. Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Newspaper wrap-up: If the U.S. has to save Fannie and Freddie, triple-A rating could suffer
By Laurie Pasternack (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:15:00 AM

Could Nissan tie-up with Chrysler be model for Ford (F)?
By Douglas McIntyre (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:45:00 AM

Filed under: Newspapers, Magazines, Cisco Systems (CSCO), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), International Business Machines (IBM), Citigroup Inc. (C), Oracle Corp (ORCL), Blackstone Group L.P (BX) MAJOR PAPERS: • A newly published report by Standard & Poor's said that the performance of organizations such as Federal National Mortgage Association (NYSE: FNM ), or Fannie Mae, and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (NYSE: FRE ), or Freddie Mac, could directly affect the U.S. economy and the country's credit rating, especially if they have to be rescued by the government, according to the Wall Street Journal's "Credit Markets" column.

• Seagate Technology LLC (NYSE: STX ), a hard drive maker, filed a patent infringement suit in San Francisco against STEC Inc (NASDAQ: STEC ) over four patents related to technology used to store data on computer chips, the Wall Street Journal reported. • The Financial Times reported that Citigroup Incorporated (NYSE: C ) is allowing private equity groups such as Apollo, The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX ) and TPG that are bidding for up to $12B of its leveraged loans to 'cherry-pick' from a wide range of assets with different credit ratings and prices.

WEB SITES: • According to analysts, Reuters reported that technology industry leaders that include International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: IBM ), Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL ), Cisco Systems Inc (NASDAQ: CSCO ) and Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ ) are among the companies with large cash reserves that could be used to fund acquisitions. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Deals, Industry, Competitive strategy, Ford Motor (F) Nissan and Chrysler will begin to build full-sized pick-ups together. According to The Wall Street Journal, " Chrysler will start building a large pickup for Nissan at its truck plant in Saltillo, Mexico." Nissan will also build some small cars for the US company. The deal allows both companies to increase output from some of their plants, making more efficient use of manufacturing facilities and the arrangement could also cut design costs for the two automakers. The new partnership raises the question of whether embattled Ford(NYSE: F) should do the same thing. Ford's shares trade between $6 and $7 most days, about

where they were when there were rumors of Chapter 11 two years ago. Ford now has only about 15% of the US market, and, if that share falls more, it has to raise the question of how viable it is for Ford to "go it alone" in the US market. Ford could turn to several partners, but the most obvious one is Volkswagen. VW has said that it wants to expand into the US market and has had little success here. Since Ford losses money on many of its smaller cars, an area where VW is strong, it may make sense for Ford to take VWproduced cars for its domestic dealers and have a piece of a profitable joint venture instead of losing billions on its own. At the end of the day, Ford has to do something. Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Huge Brazil oil discovery brings no relief from surging oil prices
By Douglas McIntyre (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:00:00 AM

Your Electric Vehicle Is Too Quiet; Congress May Force It To Be Louder
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 6:26:00 AM

Filed under: Forecasts, Industry, Brazil, Russia, Oil The price of crude moved to a record above $112 overnight. It seems that speculation, a weak dollar, and concern about demand just keep pushing oil higher. Now, oil is part of a "good news/bad news" play. Evidence is coming out of Russia that oil production there has peaked. According to the FT, " Russian oil

production has peaked and may never return to current levels." By many measures, Russia is the world's second largest oil producer. That bad news may be offset by a huge oil discovery off the coast of Brazil. The country's state-owned oil company, Petróleo Brasileiro, said it had made a huge discovery off-shore. According to The Wall Street Journal, " the head of Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, Haroldo Lima, said the strike could be one of the world's biggest oil discoveries in decades, containing as much as 33 billion

barrels in oil equivalent." The question now is whether one huge deposit can offset a decline in Russia and a

fall-off in oil from other large producers like Mexico. For now, the answer is "no." That's because the Brazil discovery is in deep water. It could take several years to get it completely online. The decline in production in other countries is happening now. The Brazil discovery brings hope, but no relief, at least no for now. Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Who knew silence was such a problem? Somewhat reminiscent of laws that required cameraphones to add a fake mechanical shutter sound, so people couldn't take pictures "silently," Congress is now looking at requiring electric vehicles to make additional noise to stop people from driving so quietly. Apparently, the real fear is that pedestrians can't hear these quiet cars, since we're all used to at least a certain level of engine noise that just isn't present. The whole thing seems rather silly. While the desire for safety is understandable, forcing these vehicles to make an unnecessary noise seems pretty extreme. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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Ford Focus success shows Wal-Mart starts strictly change is happening at Ford, but tracking gun sales By Brian White (BloggingStocks) it's still too little and too late
By Andrew Horowitz (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:30:00 AM Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:30:00 AM

Filed under: Industry, Competitive strategy, DaimlerChrysler (DAI), Ford Motor (F), General Motors (GM), Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) Sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to the head to get a company to change direction. Fuel costs are soaring, profits are dwindling and companies are desperate. Yet, nimble as they would like to be, U.S. auto manufacturers have been unable to provide any significant benefit to consumers in terms of meaningful fuel efficiency. Up until last year, SUV sales were still the dominant component of sales for the Big 3. It wasn't until the pain of a significant drop in SUV sales was realized and reports showed U.S. auto sales to be the lowest since 1993 that our old friend Mr. Hammer was able to wake up a sleeping (or it it dying?) U.S. auto industry. Now Ford(NYSE: F) is trumpeting a dramatic increase in demand for its economical Ford Focus and boosting

output by 30%. But I think the change is too little too late. The truth is that U.S. vehicle sales are expected to drop by 15 million units in 2008. An increase of 30% of the Ford Focus would still mean a paltry benefit as these lower cost models also have a lower profit margin for Ford. So, as consumers buy more lower margin cars, Ford makes less money. Continue reading Ford Focus success shows change is happening at Ford, but it's still too little and too late Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Products and services, WalMart (WMT) Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.(NYSE: WMT) will soon be employing a new method to track gun sales in its stores. As part of a new measure in concert with the "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" group, Wal-Mart's chief compliance officer J.P. Suarez went to D.C. with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to explain details on a new "10-point code" that will apparently thwart weapons from Wal-Mart from falling into criminal hands. Wal-Mart will soon be video recording gun sales in its stores and then archiving the footage as part of being included in the "Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership." In addition, the world's

largest retailer will create a computer system to notify the company of a gun purchased in one of its stores is indeed used in a crime. If workers think they can get at guns from the inside, Wal-Mart will now perform screening and background checks on employees that will be handling and selling firearms in its stores. The National Rifle Association said that these moves wouldn't do a thing to reduce crime, calling out Bloomberg from his "bully pulpit". Will videotaping gun purchases lead to any less crimes being committed, or is this a PR move by the retailer? Hard to say, but Wal-Mart did indicate that it hopes "other retailers will join us in adopting the code." Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

US Bancorp (USB) profit slips during firstquarter on loss reserves
By Eliza Popescu (BloggingStocks) Shares of U.S. Bancorp(NYSE: USB) are

Oil surges to record $113.66 on Mexico, Nigeria disruptions, Chinese demand
By Joseph Lazzaro (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:15:00 AM

JP Morgan and Wells Fargo Q1 profits expected to fall
By Trey Thoelcke (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:20:00 AM

Filed under: Earnings reports, JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect JP Morgan Chase & Co.(NYSE: JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co.(NYSE: WFC) to post smaller profits in the first quarter. Both banks are scheduled to report results on Wednesday. JP Morgan is expected to earn 65 cents per share, which is down 51% from the

same period in 2007 when it earned $1.34. The company has tended to beat quarterly estimates recently. However, it fell short of the consensus fourth-quarter 2007 estimate by six cents, or 6.8%. New York-based JP Morgan is the third largest financial services firm in the U.S, behind Citigroup(NYSE: C) and Bank of America(NYSE: BAC), and recently agreed to buy Bear Stearns(NYSE: BSC). In the past year, JP Morgan's revenues were $116.3 billion and its net income totaled $15.3 billion. Its EPS growth

forecast for the year is -23.4%, much worse than the banking industry average and the S&P 500. Yet the consensus recommendation of analysts is to buy JPM and has been for most of the past three months. The stock has fallen 15.5% in the past year and trades at a P/E of 9.47. Shares closed Monday at $41.50. Continue reading JP Morgan and Wells Fargo Q1 profits expected to fall Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: International markets, Bad news, Mexico, Commodities, Oil Oil surged over $113 per barrel Tuesday on word of supply disruptions in Nigeria and Mexico and increasing fuel demand in China, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. Oil increased $1.90 to $113.66 per barrel Tuesday morning after Mexico, the third largest supplier of oil to the United States, shut its fourth export terminal Monday, while Eni SpA halted output in Nigeria, Bloomberg New reported. Meanwhile, China, which boasts world's fastestgrowing major economy, said diesel oil imports increased 49% in March 2008. The other major energy commodities also vaulted ahead on the news in early trading Tuesday. Heating oil jumped 3 cents to $3.25 per gallon, unleaded gasoline added 2 cents to $2.84 per gallon,

and natural gas added about 14 cents to $10.20 per million BTUs. Supply disruptions jolt market Independent energy trader Jim Dietz told BloggingStocks Tuesday the supply disruptions in Mexico and Nigeria were negative datapoints the oil market did not need. Continue reading Oil surges to record $113.66 on Mexico, Nigeria disruptions, Chinese demand Permalink| Email this| Comments

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slightly higher in early trading despite the fact that the company posted a decline for its first-quarter profit. As Trey Thoelcke discussed, analysts were waiting for the sixth-largest U.S. bank to show smaller profit, but the firm was able to beat by 1 penny analysts' predictions. For the quarter, US Bancorp announced that its profit slipped 4% to $1.09 billion, compared with $1.13 billion, a year earlier. The drop was tied to impairment charges and higher credit losses provision. The bank posted quarterly earnings of 62 cents per share, slightly higher the 61cents per share that analysts expected. Taking a look at the company's quarterly revenue, we see a growth of 14% to $1.8 billion. For this period, the Minneapolisbased company also saw an increase of 14% in expenses which rose up to $1.8 billion. Quarterly revenue exceeded analysts' predictions for sales of $3.66 billion, according to Reuters Estimates. Continue reading US Bancorp (USB) profit slips during first-quarter on loss reserves Permalink| Email this| Comments

Dead Deals Walking
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 4:30:00 AM

Companies that investors have left for dead have been busy trying to find new lives in deals. Take AOL and Yahoo or Delta and Northwest, for example. The latest and strangest is Blockbuster's unsolicited offer to acquire Circuit City Stores for more than $1 billion in cash. Blockbuster said today that it had approached Circuit City in February, but that it was now making its offer public

because Circuit City has not allowed Blockbuster to conduct due diligence to make a formal offer. In a February 17 letter to Philip Schoonover, the chief executive of Circuit City, Jim Keyes, the new C.E.O. of Blockbuster, said his company was prepared to offer $6 to $8 per share. That would be a premium of 67 percent to Circuit City's February 15 price and more than double Circuit City's closing price of

A Deal in the Skies
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 6:30:00 AM

Buffett Gets "Spitzered"
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 11:00:00 AM

It's a fair bet that most investors would trust the judgment of Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, in the running of his companies. Federal prosecutors are apparently not as trusting. Today, Joseph Brandon, the chief executive of General Re, the reinsurance subsidiary, resigned. His departure comes amid reports that federal prosecutors were pressuring Berkshire to replace Brandon—who had been on a short list of candidates to succeed Buffett—following the convictions last month of four former General Re executives on fraud charges. "I haven't seen it this explicit," says Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School and a founding editor of the White Collar Crime Prof Blog. The last explicit threat he could recall was when Eliot Spitzer, then the New York attorney general, refused to negotiate with insurance broker Marsh & McLennan back in October 2005, forcing the resignation of Jeffrey Greenberg—the son of Maurice Greenberg, formerly of insurance giant American International Group—as chief executive. "Spitzer went on the warpath. I haven't

seen prosecutorial pressure this explicitly since then." During the trial of the former executives, prosecutors named Brandon an unindicted co-conspirator in the scheme of sham deals between General Re and A.I.G. to prop up A.I.G.'s balance sheet. After the convictions, Paul Pelletier, one of the prosecutors, said, "We're not done. The investigation continues." He added, "We've got a lot of work to do to work up the corporate ladder." Did Brandon resign in conjunction with a nonprosecution or deferred prosecution agreement? That is not yet known. Berkshire did not return calls for comment. Tom Carson, spokesman for the United States attorney in Connecticut, declined to comment on the resignation or on whether the corporation remains under investigation. The trial was a joint prosecution by the Connecticut District, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the fraud section of the Department of Justice, where Pelletier is a lawyer. It's an ongoing investigation," Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman at the Justice Department, said of the General Re case. She declined to comment on Brandon's resignation or to confirm news reports that it had been

prompted by pressure from federal prosecutors. Henning, for one, does not believe that General Re will be charged. "I think it would have happened a while ago," he said. "Is there a wink and a nod here?" And while deferred prosecution agreements are "the settlement du jour," he said, the government may have given General Re "a complete pass." (A recent article in the New York Times reported that the Justice Department has entered deferred prosecution agreements with more than 50 companies suspected of wrongdoing during the last three years.) Another forced resignation of a chief executive occurred in October 2006, when Frederick Lacey, a retired federal judge and former U.S. attorney, served as a monitor of Bristol-Myers Squibb under a 2005 deferred prosecution agreement that followed an accounting scandal. Lacey forced the resignation of Bristol's C.E.O., Peter Dolan, and its general counsel over their handling of a patent dispute. But white-collar crime defense lawyers say Brandon's resignation does not signal some new trend in prosecutorial overreaching. "I can't think of more than a handful," says Walter Brown of Orrick, Herrington

and Sutcliffe. "A lot of prosecutors will take the position that they are not in the business of telling a company how to run itself." But the potential for pressure exists, under guidelines for charging corporations released in December 2006 in what is known as the McNulty memo, for its author, Paul McNulty, then the deputy attorney general of the United States. One factor is whether the corporation has taken appropriate "remedial actions," among other things, "to replace responsible management, to discipline or terminate wrongdoers." That can include firing the chief executive, says Brown. "It is really just the company deciding, based on the smoke signals" sent by the prosecutors, he says. "It's a natural thing to consider." Like Henning, Brown suspects that General Re is "out of the woods on the allegations." Brandon will be replaced by General Re's president, Franklin "Tad" Montross. Related Links Ex-Insurance Executives Convicted The $300 Trillion Time Bomb Buffett Moves Into Bond Insurance

Sarah Silverman has Amazing Orifices
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/14/2008 8:46:51 PM

Is a Northwest- Delta Air Lines merger finally going to happen? A deal between the two airlines could be announced as early as Tuesday, according to several reports citing anonymous sources close to the talks. Rising oil prices have added a sense of urgency to the merger negotiations, which have been ongoing for many months now. The rising fuel costs have forced four small airlines into bankruptcy in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal would value Northwest at around $3 billion, which is slightly more than its market capitalization as of Friday afternoon, but significantly lower than it was when talks began. Shares of both airlines rose more than 5 percent in morning trading on the news of an imminent deal. Also on Portfolio.com: Travel in the Time of Merger Changes in the Air The hurdle both airlines still need to overcome is reaching satisfactory terms for their pilots. Representatives for Delta's 6,000 pilots met this weekend in Atlanta, while union leaders of Northwest's 5,000 pilots called a meeting in Minneapolis. The main sticking point for both pilot groups appears to be seniority lists. The lists are important to pilots because they determine scheduling and routing priorities in addition to ranking for pay. The pilot groups can't formally block a merger, but they can complicate the process. U.S. Airways and America West Airlines have been trying to combine operations for two years, but have been unable to resolve issues related to pilot seniority, the New York Times notes. Related Links Will It Fly? Turbulence Ahead Bad Times at the Airport

Sarah Silverman performed her best grade school version of Amazing Grace last night at Comedy Central’s Autism

benefit. Rosie was in the audience just loving it, because Sarah’s humor speaks to Rosie on so many levels. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Sarah Silverman is Effing Matt Damon -

Video • Hayden Panettiere Asked About Sarah Silverman Joke • Britney Spears Crotch Shot Post 2007 MTV VMA • Sarah Silverman Disses Britney at 2007

MTV VMA • Was Broken Heel or Sarah Silverman Cause of Bad Britney Spears Performance at 2007 MTV VMA?

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Who's Smarter Than Carl Icahn?
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 10:30:00 AM

Will It Fly?
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 7:00:00 PM

Blockbuster's attempted takeover of Circuit City may have raised plenty of eyebrows, but it turns out that certain behind-the-scenes players at both companies have quite a history together. Mark Wattles, an activist investor who has been agitating for change at Circuit City since taking a 6.5 percent stake in the company earlier this year, is no stranger to being a target of Blockbuster's roving eye. Wattles founded Hollywood Entertainment, the second-largest video chain behind Blockbuster before it was sold to the smaller rival Movie Gallery in 2005. Before that deal was consummated, however, Blockbuster made its own higher bid for Hollywood Entertainment, which did not sit well with the antitrust regulators in Washington. Wattles left the chief executive post at the video chain just days after Blockbuster's takeover attempt was made public in early 2005. He later teamed up with Blockbuster, offering to buy half of the Hollywood Video stores in order to help earn a green light from regulators for the Blockbuster deal. It didn't work. Movie Gallery won its bid for Hollywood Entertainment, and the combined company is now in bankruptcy. At the time of the takeover battle for his

company, Wattles had what appeared to have been civil discussions with Carl Icahn, who was a major shareholder of both Hollywood Entertainment and Blockbuster. Icahn remains a major owner of Blockbuster shares, despite his furor over its failed takeover of Hollywood Entertainment, and Blockbuster said this morning that he supports its bid for Circuit City. Icahn and Wattles are reportedly still chatty. Wattles told Bloomberg that Icahn told him that he was even willing to help the transaction financially if need be. "I view it as a very favorable transaction for shareholders relative to other opportunities,'' Wattles said of the Blockbuster and Icahn financing. But the connections between Circuit City and Blockbuster don't stop there. Circuit City's largest shareholder today is a hedge fund called HBK Investments, which has a 9.2 percent stake. Although the fund has a history as an activist, it made it known that its investment in Circuit City, which was made last year, is a passive one. The Dallas-based HBK, which was founded by former Merrill Lynch executive Harlan B. Korenvaes, should be more than pleased with today's 30 percent jump in Circuit City shares. It helps to make up for the loss it took earlier this year on its Blockbuster investment. That's right, HBK once stood right

alongside Icahn as the No. 1 shareholder of the video chain to Icahn's No. 2 stake. HBK's stake in Blockbuster was also a passive one and, ultimately, a very costly one. The fund acquired its stake in Blockbuster in late 2004, when the stock traded for around $10 per share. It sold off enough of its stake to fall below the 5 percent ownership threshold required by the S.E.C. in January of this year, when a share was worth $3.28. There's no word yet on what HBK thinks of Blockbuster's intention to buy Circuit City for $1 billion in cash. But considering that Blockbuster shares are down a whopping 17 percent today, it's safe to assume that Harlan B. Korenvaes is thankful he parted ways with Icahn at Blockbuster earlier this year. Icahn's investment in Blockbuster is now down some 80 percent. It's unclear just exactly how Blockbuster's unusual and unwelcome bid for Circuit City came about. But at least the major players have already made their introductions. Related Links Dead Deals Walking Blockbuster Buying Circuit City for Buzzwords Blockbuster to Circuit City: Why Can't We Be Friends?

That Inflation Thing
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 6:00:00 AM

Everything in this economy seems to slowing—except the prices for energy and food. The latest sign that inflation is very much on the boil came as the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the prices paid to manufacturers and other producers climbed 1.1 percent in March, more than double forecasts and up from a 0.3 percent gain in February. Energy prices gained 2.9 percent, while

food prices rose 1.2 percent. Rice surged 8.7 percent. Excluding food and energy costs, the Producer Price Index rose just 0.2 percent. The Federal Reserve has repeatedly noted that it is concerned about the mounting threat of inflation, but feels that the need to stabilize the markets and promote growth outweigh those concerns. The Fed is expected to cut its benchmark interest rate by another quarter point this month. Higher food and fuel costs will further sap consumer spending and will cut into

companies' profits. "Cost pressures are building and will continue to build for a few quarters before they recede,'' Michael Gregory, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, told Bloomberg News before the P.P.I. data were released. Perhaps it is time to start thinking seriously about stagflation? Related Links Damaged Goods House Poor Steady as It Goes

Delta Air Lines agreed to buy Northwest Airlines for about $3 billion, effectively challenging reluctant pilots at both carriers to resolve their dispute over reconciling seniority at a combined company. Under terms announced Monday evening Delta agreed to swap 1.25 of its shares for each Northwest share. Based on Delta's closing price of $10.48 a share on Monday, the offer values each Northwest share at $13.10, a 16.8 percent premium over their close Monday. Based on Northwest's recent disclosure that it has 236.43 million shares outstanding, the Delta offer values Northwest at $3.097 billion. Several news reports on Monday said a deal was imminent, driven by the rapid rise in oil prices over the last year. Rising fuel costs have forced four small airlines into bankruptcy in recent weeks. Delta and Northwest acknowledged the effect of higher oil prices when they announced their intention to merge. "Record fuel prices have fundamentally changed the economics of the airline industry," they said in a statement. "Fuel is the highest single expense for Delta and Northwest, significantly eroding the financial benefits of restructuring and placing the airlines' new found strength and stability at long-term risk. "At the beginning of 2007, oil prices were approximately $55 a barrel," they added. "Now, oil prices have nearly doubled. This dramatic run-up in the price of oil makes the transaction even more compelling." A merger would let the combined company cope with high fuel costs by generating what it said would be "more than $1 billion in annual revenue and cost synergies" from reduced overhead, and improved operational efficiency. Sensitive to the specter of job losses and service cuts, the companies went out of their way to add: "The merged airline will maintain all hubs at Atlanta, Cincinnati,

Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City, Amsterdam, and Tokyo-Narita—each of which will benefit from improved global connectivity." Still, a deal would require the airlines to integrate, if not reduce, their workforces—particularly their pilots. Representatives for Delta's 6,000 pilots met last weekend in Atlanta, where Delta is based, while union leaders of Northwest's 5,000 pilots have called a meeting in Minneapolis, home of Northwest. The main sticking point for both pilot groups appears to be seniority lists. The lists are important to pilots because they determine scheduling and routing priorities in addition to ranking for pay. The pilot groups can't formally block a merger, but they can complicate the process. U.S. Airways and America West Airlines have been trying to combine operations for two years, but have been unable to resolve issues related to pilot seniority, the New York Times noted. Delta chief executive Richard Anderson would run the merged airline, which would be called Delta. Delta Chairman Daniel Carp would keep that title, while Northwest Chairman Roy J. Bostock would become vice chairman. Another Delta executive, Edward H. Bastian, would be president and chief financial officer. Delta would have seven of 13 seats on the combined board. Northwest would get five seats, one held by Bostock and another by current Northwest C.E.O. Douglas M. Steenland. One director will come from the Air Line Pilots Association. The new airline would have its headquarters in Atlanta, but has pledged to keep "significant jobs, operations and facilities in Minnesota." Related Links New Dawn for Delta Deals Taxi for Takeoff No Pardons for Pardus Investors

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$3.79 on Friday. Blockbuster said in a statement that a merger "would result in an $18 billion global retail enterprise uniquely positioned to capitalize on the growing convergence of media content and electronic devices." Keyes, a former 7-Eleven executive hired by Blockbuster last year, said the proposal "creates a game-changing retail concept." Carl Icahn, the activist investor who owns more than 10 percent of Blockbuster, supports the proposal for Circuit City, Blockbuster said. Circuit City acknowledged that it had received Blockbuster's proposal and said that it would "continue to carefully consider and evaluate" it. The Circuit City statement also questioned how Blockbuster, a smaller company, could finance a deal. "In particular, Blockbuster's proposal appears to contemplate a rights offering of unprecedented size relative to the issuing company's market capitalization and at a price that is at a significant premium to Blockbuster's current market price." "In addition, Circuit City and its advisers have a number of other fundamental questions regarding the structure, sources, and uses of funds and consents required with respect to the proposed transaction." Shares of Circuit City are up 33 percent in mid-morning trading, while shares of Blockbuster are down more than 10 percent. The merger proposal is odd for several reasons. For one, both companies have been struggling. Blockbuster is engaged in a grinding battle with NetFlix, and its future is endangered by the kinds of digital downloads Apple and others are offering. While its most-recent quarter was much stronger than expected, prompting the company to forecast a profit for the year, Blockbuster did lose $124 million last year. And it is carrying $758 million of debt. Circuit City has been slashing costs to return profitability, although it, too, faces grueling competition from Best Buy and Wal-Mart Stores. It is also facing a challenge from a major shareholder. It's not clear how combining two different brick-and-mortar chains that are struggling with intense competition will spark some kind of transformation. "Synergies between a video store and an electronics store aren't that obvious," Nick Bubb, a retail analyst at Pali International in London, told Bloomberg News. Douglas McIntyre on the 24/7 Wall St. blog is extremely skeptical: "There is no evidence that the combination of the companies saves a dime in expenses. How it enhances revenue is the stuff of fantasy. Blockbuster is suggesting that the combined firm take on debt to help finance the transaction. In the present environment, where debt is anathema, the proposal is especially insane." These are the kinds of deals that are made in a recession. Depressed stock prices bring out strategic players either sniffing for opportunity—Microsoft's pursuit of Yahoo, for example—or trying to paper over the cracks in their business by becoming bigger. While on the surface a bold, creative maneuver, Blockbuster's approach smacks of desperation. Related Links Who's Smarter Than Carl Icahn? Blockbuster Buying Circuit City for Buzzwords Blockbuster to Circuit City: Why Can't We Be Friends?

Twitter Testing Advertising In Twitter Streams
By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 11:12:44 PM

Twitter was down tonight, nothing really unusual for the San Francisco based startup (to be fair though downtime has improved since they dumped Joyent), but what was different is some reports of users spotting ads in their Twitter stream during the service difficulties. There were no ads evident when I visited Twitter, which may indicate testing only in preparation for a broad-scale rollout Twitter has long been the poster child for the often controversial Valley mantra of build an audience first, and the business model will follow that has been copied by Seesmic and others. Founded in March 2006 and with its most recent round in July 2007 at $5.7 million, Twitter has grown to cult status among its growing user base, but hasn’t earned a cent. Occasional ads in the Twitter timeline, in

a similar fashion to what Twitteriffic users currently see (Twitteriffic runs their own ads on the free version) seems like the only real way to monetize Twitter, aside for premium subscriptions. The only question remaining is how Twitter users will accept the move after a two year free ride. Do you support ads on Twitter? • No, keep it ad free • Yes • Yes/ No, but I'd pay for an ad free version View Results CrunchBase Information Twitter Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

Pay to Fly
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 11:00:00 AM

Deals Taxi for Takeoff
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 5:30:00 AM

Let the matchmaking in the skies begin. With Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines finally sealing a deal, a longawaited burst of consolidation is expected to erupt. For years, investors and industry officials have pointed to a need for airlines, with their high cost structures and razor-thin margins, to combine in order to cut expenses, eliminate overlapping routes, and take seats away, enabling them to raise fares. With fuel prices soaring, the industry is expected to lose as much as $9 billion this year. And any airline will want to get a deal done when the merger-friendly Bush administration is still in power. Also on Portfolio.com: Who Takes the Hit? The sky is falling—on the heads of business travelers.

Changes in the Air Here are the busiest routes for the nation's big hub-and-spoke airlines. First on the deal runway will be United Airlines and Continental Airlines. The Delta-Northwest merger frees Continental from an earlier agreement that gave Northwest a veto over any deal involving Continental. Jeff Bailey and Micheline Maynard of the New York Times report that the two airlines "now may try to get the deal wrapped up within the next 30 days." Deutsche Lufthansa has been rumored to be looking at taking a stake in a combined United-Continental. Lufthansa acquired a 19 percent stake in JetBlue late last year. A new Open Skies treaty frees where airlines in the United States and the European Union can fly on both continents. While U.S. law still prevents foreign investors from controlling an airline, there may be more minority stakes,

like Lufthansa's in JetBlue, that could pave the way for operational alliances. It's unclear if American Airlines, the longtime leader of U.S. aviation, will try to disrupt the Delta-Northwest or UnitedContinental deals or seek alliances of its own. Earlier this year, the TheDeal.Com noted that Southwest Airlines had signaled it was interested in acquisition opportunities, but that it was more likely to seek gates and other assets rather than merger deals. It is important to note that no deal is a certainty. Delta and Northwest reached their agreement without the support of their powerful pilots' union. Its deal and others will face political challenges and regulatory scrutiny. Under terms announced Monday evening Delta agreed to swap 1.25 of its shares for each Northwest share. Based on Delta's closing price of $10.48 a share on Monday, the offer values each Northwest share at

$13.10, a 16.8 percent premium over their close Monday. Based on Northwest's recent disclosure that it has 236.43 million shares outstanding, the Delta offer values Northwest at $3.097 billion. Delta and Northwest acknowledged the effect of higher oil prices when they announced their intention to merge. "Record fuel prices have fundamentally changed the economics of the airline industry," they said in a statement. "Fuel is the highest single expense for Delta and Northwest, significantly eroding the financial benefits of restructuring and placing the airlines' newfound strength and stability at long-term risk." Related Links Will It Fly? Achtung, JetBlue New Dawn for Delta

The European Union is playing hardball with the US aviation industry. In order to reduce aviation-generated carbon emissions in Europe, the EU is requiring airlines to join a carbon cap and trade program no later than 2012. It's a European plan, but its not just for European airlines. Jacques Barrot, the EU transport commissioner, announced that all airlines with European service must participate, and those which don't may see access to lucrative European destinations chopped. The US industry is not amused. Other industries in Europe have been engaged in carbon trading since 2005, and EU environment ministers decided last year that its time for commercial avaiation to come to the party. Under their plan, airlines will be allocated carbon credits that they use to "pay" for their CO2 emissions on an annual basis. Airlines that PAY page 10

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Google Revs Up Search Growth
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:30:00 AM

PAYfrom page 9 continued
come in under their quota will end the year with extra credits which they can then sell on the carbon market. And they'll have plenty of buyers -- pollution spewing airlines that exceed their yearly allowance will need to buy additional credits. This, in a nutshell, is how carbon trading works. European airlines aren't exactly doing cartwheels over the plan, though with carbon trading a key part of the Continent's environmental strategy, they must have seen it coming. But non-European carriers say it's unfair and potentially illegal that the scheme is being imposed on any airline flying into or out of the EU. The US airlines aren't having it. They say the Europeans are being hysterical and that forced participation in their carbon trading plan violates international treaties. The Air Transport Association, the trade group for US carriers, calls the European's focus on aviation emissions "out of proportion" and believes that the US industry is having success with market driven approaches like buying more fuel-efficient aircraft, reducing the weight of their planes, and investigating alternative fuels. But EU airlines insist that if they have to join the carbon trading market, their US competitors should be forced to jump in as well. They expect to shell out up to $65 billion buying carbon credits over the next 15 years, and say that if other airlines aren't forced to do the same, it would amount to a massive tax on European aviation. It's unlikely that the EU would ever go so far as to actually impose flight curbs. Foreign airlines would likely respond in kind, which would cause serious financial hardship all around. But even the threat shows just how far apart the EU and US are when it comes to aviation-related environmental oversight. Is the EU overstepping its bounds? Threatening to suck the life out of an already fragile industry with a blanket of stifling regulation? Or is the US, with its "let the market take care of it" approach, not doing enough to hold aviation accountable for its carbon output? Related Links The Skies Open Overseas Open Skies = Closed Options for Some Join the ClubBut Which Club?

Fears that the the great Google growth machine may be slowing have been eased by a new comScore.com analysis that shows that search queries revived last month. That is a development that will be welcome by investors anxiously awaiting Google's first-quarter results on Thursday. And while Google is gaining in the search market, Yahoo is losing ground, just at a time when that company is desperately trying to stave off a takeover by Microsoft. Google's total searches increased by 30 percent in March on an annual basis, according to new comScore numbers, while Yahoo's searches fell by 2 percent. "Google continues to gain share, with year-over-year query growth accelerating up 30 percent in March," Ben Schachter, an analyst with UBS, wrote in a note to clients. "Yahoo was the sole search property of the 'Big Five' to show negative query growth in March"

On a monthly basis, Google's share of the domestic search market grew to 59.8 percent in March, according to comScore, up from 59.2 percent in February, while Yahoo's share fell to 21.3 percent, down from 21.6 percent in February. MSN's March search market share was 9.4 percent, down from 9.6 percent in February, while AOL's market share was 4.8 percent, down from 4.9 percent in February. The new data show that Google continues to grow its commanding lead in the search market, while Yahoo falters. Google's investors will be looking at its first-quarter results to see how the company is coping with a softening internet-advertising market. In the fourth quarter, Google had trouble monetizing its social-networking business, which consists primarily of its $900 million deal to handle ads on MySpace. "We are cautious on Google's quarter due to the apparent lack of meaningful monetization improvements, slowing paid click volumes, and our view that the

Street's margin estimates are too high," UBS's Schachter wrote to clients. Furthermore, another study shows that Google's growth in search ad dollars in the U.S. market lagged behind that of Yahoo's in the first quarter, Miguel Helft reports on the New York Times Bits blog. The study SearchIgnite, a search-advertising technology firm, showed that "spending by search advertisers on Yahoo grew a robust 57 percent while spending on Google grew only at about half that rate," Helft says. Yahoo, which reports quarterly results on April 22, hopes that its numbers show that it is healthy and doesn't need Microsoft or any other company to come to its rescue. "Given the management team's track record," Schachter wrote, "it is difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will post much of an upside surprise." Related Links Dangerous Liaison Dangerous Liaison Google Wins One

Wachovias Woes
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 5:30:00 AM

An unexpected loss from Wachovia and its plans to raise $7 billion are stark reminders that the credit crisis is far from over. That was underscored on Friday when a troubled March for General Electric's financial businesses caused the conglomerate to report a surprising miss in earnings. More upsetting news may come this week, when Merrill Lynch and Citigroup report first-quarter losses. What is unsettling to investors is that nearly a year after the implosion in subprime mortgages first shook the markets, banks are still struggling to get an accurate reading on the depth of their losses. A number of housing markets continue to deteriorate, and events like the teetering of Bear Stearns in March can create damaging ripple effects for other institutions. Wachovia reported a loss of $350

million, or 20 cents per share, in its first quarter compared with a profit of $2.3 billion, or $1.20 per share, in the quarter a year earlier. The fourth-largest bank in the nation will cut its dividend by 41 percent and will raise $7 billion from the sale of convertible preferred stock and common shares. The bank is setting aside $2.8 billion for credit losses on mortgage-related investments. "The provision largely reflected more severe deterioration in the residential housing market, particularly in specific markets in California and Florida," Wachovia said. Many of Wachovia's troubles stem from its 2006 acquisition of Golden West, a California-based lender that was a leader in adjustable-rate mortgages. "With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the timing was poor for this expansion in the mortgage business," Ken Thompson, the chief executive of Wachovia, said in February. Today Thompson said: "I'm deeply

disappointed with our first-quarter results, but I am confident we're taking prudent and appropriate actions in this challenging period to restore Wachovia to a more profitable path. The precipitous decline in housing-market conditions and unprecedented changes in consumer behavior prompted us to update our creditreserve modeling and rely less heavily on historical trends to forecast losses. As a result, we have substantially increased our reserves." Wachovia is the latest big bank to shore up its capital. It follows the route taken last week by Washington Mutual, by selling shares. For Wachovia, however, this is the second time this year it has raised capital. Earlier, it raised $8.3 billion through the sale of preferred stock and securities. Related Links Stocks Want to Run With the Bulls Good Morning on Wall Street Why Wachovia Needs Another $7 Billion

Artist Creates A Real Where's Waldo Adventure For Online Satellite Imagery
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 1:23:02 PM

A few years back, a bunch of publications ran misleading stories claiming that the department store Target was trying to make use of tools like Google Maps/Google Earth that used satellite imagery to advertise on their rooftops. That wasn't the case at all. The image of a Target rooftop in question was near an airport, and there are a number of stores that have painted large advertisements on their rooftops for passengers in landing airplanes to spot. However, the concept has inspired some artistic thinking. Reader Joseph B writes in to tell us about how one artist has now purposely hidden a rather large image of Waldo of "Where's Waldo"

fame on an unidentified rooftop in Vancouver. The real trick, though, is figuring out not just where this Waldo is, but when he'll actually show up in Google Earth. Of course, this whole thing has ticked off folks who are upset with the suggestion that it's somehow Google taking all of these satellite photos (no, Google doesn't own a satellite... yet), rather than 3rd parties who license the photos to a bunch of companies. In the meantime, while this is a bit silly, it's kind of cool to see people thinking about different ways to create artwork, display it and interact with it, thanks to new technologies like Google Earth. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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Federated Media’s $50 Million CBuild A Book On Round Confirmed—No Plans to Buy Up Facebook With Blurb Blog Partners
By Mark Hendrickson (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:32:20 AM

By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 5:25:09 AM

After turning down a$100 million buyout offer, Federated Media Publishing has opted instead to raise $50 million in a C round led by Oak Investment Partners. As was reported two weeks ago, the rumored valuation is$200 million. While the company is not confirming that number, publisher Chas Edwards quips, “We have to be worth at least $101 million.” Federated Media acts as the advertising salesforce for about 150 blogs and dozens of online media properties with a collective audience of 50 million people a month. Its blog partners include Boing Boing, GigaOm, Ars Technica, Silicon Alley Insider, and TechCrunch. It even sells ads for video blogs like AskANinja and on some Facebook apps, such as Graffiti and Watercooler. A Tidy Advertising Business . . . In 2007, according to Edwards, Federated Media sold $22 million worth of ads across its network, up from $4 million in 2006. It generally splits the ad revenues with publishers, taking 40 percent for itself. Edwards says that Federated Media is able to command between $10 and $25 per 1,000 impressions (CPMs) for the ads it places on the blogs it works with (and $6 to $12 CPMs on its Facebook apps, which is very high for social-network inventory). Edwards says Federated Media has been cash-flow positive for more than a year and EBITDA-positive since September,

2007. The blog advertising network previously raised a total of $7.5 million. . . . or a Blog-By-Night Network? The issue, though, is that unlike a traditional media company where content and publishing are under the same roof, FM does not control the sites for which it sells ads. And there is no lack of ad networks that big blogs can work with. Even Technorati is hoping to turn itself into an ad network for blogs. In order to tie its partner sites closer to Federated Media, we’ve suggested before that the company could use this new cash to buy guaranteed ad inventory on the blogs in its network, or buy some of those blogs outright. But Edwards tells me Federated Media will not guarantee advertising under any circumstances, and is unlikely to buy any partner blogs: Let’s say we bought all the sites that are part of FM. If we don’t deliver value they can walk away. The stability of our relationship with content creators will come from the value we create every day, not from our contracts. He goes on to qualify this statement this way: I wouldn’t rule out any scenario. If an

author needs $100K. Is there a way FM could help them with that? Absolutely, and it can be structured a thousand different ways. But I don’t suspect that FM’s path is to acquire the blogs we work with. He also argues that even when blogs get big enough to hire their own ad sales team, they will never be able to cover as many ad agencies and clients as the 25 sales people at Federated Media. That’s true, but it doesn’t take 25 people to sell ads for one blog, and blogs that sell their own ads have a better chance of getting higher ad rates. The type of bundled selling that Federated Media can do will have a place in any given blog’s advertising mix as long as Federated Media can do a better job selling ads to the big brands (which generally require the type of scale and vetting that Federated Media offers). So what is Federated Media going to do with that $50 million? Expand beyond blogs, expand internationally, help existing media partners expand to new sites (and thus more ad inventory), and help them expand beyond the Web (by selling sponsorships for conferences and other events, for instance). Federated Media is going to have to keep finding new ways to keep the money flowing to its blog and media partners if it wants to keep them from bolting. CrunchBase Information Federated Media John Battelle Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

Blurb, the on-demand print service with a specialization in photographic layouts, is expanding its “crowd sourcing” strategy onto, where else, but Facebook with a new app that brings people together to create professional quality books. This past October Blurb deployed a new feature for its desktop publishing software called Community Books that could be used to create books with others. The new Facebook application, called GroupBook and found here, does essentially the same thing except without the need for any download on the part of your friends. Want to compile a book with all of the photos that you and your friends took at graduation? Invite them to participate in a GroupBook project and they can contribute up to 20 of their own photos with a simple upload form on Facebook. Once the contribution period ends, you can turn these photos into a book with Blurb’s BookSmart desktop client. My only real gripe is that friends can’t submit captions along with their photos, leaving book owners to make ones up themselves. Also, you can’t pull photos directly from Facebook collections - a limitation imposed by the social network itself since Facebook doesn’t store and serve high enough quality images for print. Blurb’s social features form a smart strategy in an age when electronic media is replacing many printed materials. I imagine this will help the company drive

demand for so-called “personal” books, ones created not for profit. It shouldn’t have an affect, however, on the print of marketing materials, which form half of Blurb’s businesses. When asked about Amazon’s recent foray into on-demand print services, CEO Eileen Gittins expressed a lack of concern that it would cut into Blurb’s business. Since relatively few people use Blurb to create books intended for sale (on Amazon or elsewhere) anyway, she doesn’t think the giant ecommerce site has any real competitive advantage in this area. Plus she thinks Blurb’s economics are better because the company does not take any cut from the sale of books, it just charges printers for the leads it makes. CrunchBase Information Blurb Amazon Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Russia Wants Everyone Setting Up A WiFi Network To Register With The Government
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 12:49:00 AM

When WiFi was first becoming popular a few years back, there were occasional stories about countries that hadn't opened up the spectrum necessary for WiFi and

how problematic that was for getting WiFi adopted. However, it looks like some bureaucrats in Russia may be taking the whole concept to a new level. Apparently, Russia's equivalent of the FCC, the Russian Mass Media, Communications and Cultural Protection Service (or

Rossvyazokhrankultura) have announced that any device that uses WiFi indoors anywhere needs to be registered with the government. Even worse, the registration is per user with a non-transferable license. So every user of every WiFi device will need a separate registration. As Glenn

Fleishman notes in the link above: "Setting up a home Wi-Fi network or a hotspot would require what sounds like vast amounts of paperwork, akin to putting [up] a cell tower." I'm sure that will increase adoption. From the sound of it, though, some are questioning whether the group

even has the authority to make such a mandate. In the meantime, if you're in Russia and using WiFi, apparently you may want to get ready to sign some paperwork. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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Strutta: I’m the best around, nothing’s ever gonna bring me down
By Peter Ha (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 6:06:03 AM

WiMAX Supporters Try To Suppress Case Study About WiBRO Troubles
By Derek Kerton (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 9:22:00 AM

“What, you think you’re better than me?” We’ve all uttered this phrase at one point or another in our lifetime. Well maybe we’ve just thought about saying it, but we’re inherently wired to feel it. We love to compete with one another no matter what the circumstances are, but let’s face it, seeing who can do the most one armed push-ups at the office is getting old, and frankly Erick is sick of losing. It’s time for some fresh meat. Am I right? What, you think you can come up with something better? Then prove it. I dare you. That’s where Vancouver, BC-based Strutta comes in. They’re taking usergenerated video content and melding it with casual gaming to create the online version of a spectator sport. The name alone should tip you off to what they’re all about. Strut your stuff. Show the world what you’re good at and get a chance to smoke the competition. Or if you’re more of a spectator, just spend time voting for the best players in different games to crank

up your judge points (yes judges get points, too). Think of Strutta as a federated body for online competitions, kind of like what the WWF is to wrestling, only on Strutta you can compete against the entire world in anything you see fit. Strutta even lets you compete on behalf of your city, your state, and your country kind of like a web

Olympian. To play in a game, upload a video that you created or starred in, or login to your YouTube account from Strutta’s site and select videos from there. Compete in an existing game on Strutta, or create a new one to feature your best skills and drop in your video. You can keep track of your stats on Strutta’s dynamic leaderboards and as soon as you see your

rank dropping, just swap out your video for a new one to show more of your skills or up the star-quality of your performance. Also, if you don’t want to play directly on Strutta’s site you’ll be able to simply embed the game you’re competing in onto other sites and social networks, like MySpace and Facebook, and have your friends vote for you, there. So what exactly are you competing for? Well, not only are you vying for bragging rights, but you’re also trying to get into the Strutta finale. While the details of that were not disclosed to me yet, I think the Strutta team has something exciting planned… So, I challenge everyone to a game: I want you all to do your best impression of Michael. Seriously. Let’s see what you’ve got. CrunchBase Information Strutta Information provided by CrunchBase CrunchBase Information ibeatyou Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

Mowser Founder Says Mobile Web Is Dead. It’s The Opposite: The Mobile Web Was Born Only Yesterday
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:39:56 AM

The Mobile Web is dead, says entreprenuer Russell Beattie, and it’s time for him to deadpool Mowser. Read the details in Duncan’s post from earlier today. Now I certainly think that the day of creating specialty stripped down version of web pages for mobile devices is coming to an end (and that’s what Mowser did). Small screens with poor bandwidth equals an unusable product. In the U.S. today almost all mobile browsing occurs on smart phones with big screens and full keyboards. The iPhone in particular is

browsing friendly as users can simply move the screen around with their fingers, and zoom in or out on the extremely crisp screen. In short, the gains in hardware have made a special markup language for phones redundant. More and more people will be getting true smart phones in their hards that can open and view normal webpages quickly. and see the entire screen. We no longer need middleman software to convert normal websites into stuff that lesser phones can understand. It will be much better to push prices down so that todays iPhone is available for next to nothing in the third world. The First world

will have moved on to increasingly better devises. So I disagree that The Mobile Web is dead. For many of us it is just coming alive. Given the speed at which these devices are evolving and price dropping, I don’t think it’s worth people’s time to build sofware that optimizes the experience. Rather, they should use their expertise to build exciting new applications that will run directly on these

new platforms. So don’t think of this as the death of your startuup, Russell. Think of it as an opportunity to let your creativity fly while you imagine how you can change the world. My guess is you’ll land somewhere very interesting, and start building software that will be used passionately by your users. CrunchBase Information Mowser Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

Tempers flared at the WiMAX show in Singapore last week when the WiMAX Forum apparently moved to suppress a report issued by one of their media sponsors, Telecoms Korea. The Telecoms Korea report, prepared with the expectation of distribution at the event, apparently included a case study regarding KT's deployment of WiBRO in South Korea, including relevant facts about the rocky start the service has had. Well, apparently "rocky start" isn't on the agenda at the WiMAX Congress, since the Forum blocked distribution of the report. Telecoms Korea is accusing KT of being behind the cover-up, and it is specifically singling out Ron Resnick, the Intel executive who currently sits as President and Chairman of the WiMAX Forum as being the ax-man. The publication is furious at the alleged censorship, and says it degraded to a shouting match at the Congress with Resnick saying, "Get out of here, now!" several times. That's too bad, because as an occasional subscriber to Telecoms Korea, I have seen that their editorial position on WiBRO has been one part national pride mixed with one part realism. If they have had any bias, it has been a hope to see WiBRO succeed. The publication argues that by turning a blind eye to the simple realities of KT's difficult launch, the WiMAX community is setting itself up for repeat disappointment rather than being able to learn from it. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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AOL Buys Sphere’s Blog Google’s Don’t Be Evil Content Engine Not “Ordained Motto” Says Marissa Mayer
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 8:59:58 PM

You Have No Privacy Anywhere: Administration Pushes Forward With Domestic Spy Satellite Program
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 11:06:00 AM

Tomorrow AOL will announce the acquisition of San Francisco-based Sphere, a blog content engine that launched in 2006. The price is not being disclosed, but sources are suggesting it’s in the $25 million range, or possibly a little more. More details from Om Malik When Sphere first launched as a blog search engine they were already late to the blog search game. Technorati and others had been around for some time already, and even Google Blog Search was nearly eight months old. Sphere had some nice features, but it was in a tough and competitive space. But CEO Tony Conrad, a former venture capitalist, quickly adapted to the changing market and focused on delivering blog results relevant to content delivered by big news and content sites. Time was the first to go live with “Sphere It” links, and most of the big news sites followed over time. In July 2007 we noted that they had very quietly completed a transformation into a “ related content” engine. Sphere lands in Bill Wilson’s organization, the EVP of Programming at AOL. His division controls AOL’s content properties (Entertainment, Finance, Weblogs, etc.). In a phone call today, Wilson told me he doesn’t intend to change Sphere’s approach or brand. They are growing a number of micro/niche

By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:07:33 AM

brands, he said, and leveraging what he calls “passion points” of small but passionate audiences. Sphere fits right into that by showing relevant content to users, and getting AOL content in front of more users. Congratulations to Conrad on the aquisition, as well as the rest of the Sphere team (Martin Remy, Steve Nieker, Toni Schneider, Mike Garfias, Alex Bendig, Andy Cabell, Anne Dorman, Jeff Yolen, Adam Embick, Josh Guttman, Kevin Cowan, Sven Henderson, Troy Vitullo and Michael Harzheim). Sphere had raised$3.5 million in venture capital over two rounds. CrunchBase Information Sphere Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto, first uttered by Googler Paul Buchheit(now founder of FriendFeed) in 2001, has long been the pillar of their self-imposed code of conduct. It was amended somewhat in 2006 when CEO Eric Schmidt, under fire for entering the Chinese market with censorship restrictions, said“We actually did an evil scale and decided not to serve at all was worse evil.” He turned it into a sort of evil minimization algorithm. But the core motto is still displayed prominently on the Google Investor Relations site, and the company appears to be supporting it up 100%. Not so, apparently. Last week, however, Google’s Marissa Mayer said“It really wasn’t like an elected, ordained motto” during an interview in Australia, adding“I think that ‘Don’t Be Evil’ is a very easy thing to point at when you see Google doing something that you personally don’t like; it’s a very easy thing to point out so it does get targeted a lot.” There’s a certain disconnect between

paragraph two above and what Marrissa says in paragraph 3. This is most likely not a precursor to an official move away from the motto. I imagine it’s little more than a venting of a frustration that Google continues to be held to a promise made six years ago, when they were under significantly less scrutiny than they are today. Google can’t ditch the motto (the press would eat that up), and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to live up to it. What can they do? Not much. They made this bed. It’s too bad they couldn’t get Buchheit to take it with him when he left to found FriendFeed. (Hat tip to reader Asher Moses for pointing this story out to us). Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

While everyone's arguing over the legality of warrantless wiretaps, it looks like the administration and the Department of Homeland Security have moved on to even bigger fish: using spy satellites to spy more thoroughly throughout the US. For rather obvious reasons, this has many folks concerned. The government has shown a decided lack of ability to "stick to the rules" when it comes on domestic spying programs, and given what some of these spy satellites can do, it has people concerned about why the US is using such military hardware, normally reserved to spy on enemy countries, to spy on our own citizens. Somehow, DHS boss Michael Chertoff's response to his critics isn't particularly reassuring:"There is no basis to suggest that this process is in any way insufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans... I think we've fully addressed anybody's concerns. I think the way is now clear to stand it up and go warm on it." To translate: "You should trust us, because we're trustworthy people who would never do anything wrong (please ignore all we've done wrong over the past few years). So, now that that's settled, let's get this baby rolling..." Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Fring iPhone Chat/Voip App Launching Today
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 12:41:23 AM

Fring, an Israeli startup that has a great VOIP/Chat service for mobile phones (see our February coverage), is launching an iPhone version of the service sometime in the next 24 hours, we’ve heard. This is not a browser-based chat app like FlickIM or Mundu. It should be a fully functional downloadable version of the

application that allows users to access the fring, Skype, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, SIP, Twitter, Yahoo and AIM services. That means they’ll be using the Jailbreak installer, which severely limits the number of iPhone users who will download and use it. But Fring may also be the first really killer application that can get non-early adopter users to consider using Jailbreak.

The ability to make VOIP calls over the data plan in itself is probably worth it

(although it may only work over Wifi, not the Edge network). This is most likely a test run in preparation for the official iPhone app store that will launch this summer. It’s also a risky strategy - some developers I’ve spoken with are avoiding Jailbreak because they don’t want to anger Apple and have their official applications banned down the road. Fring is doing very well even without the

iPhone. The service, which is about a year old, gets 100,000 new active users per month. We’ll update when Fring actually launches the application. Update: It launched. Read about it here. Download it here. CrunchBase Information fring Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

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Press Boycotts Indian Cricket When The Best You Can Do Is Matches Over Restrictions On Get Fake Facebook Fans, You Know You Have A PR Problem Digital Media
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 8:39:00 PM

Is It That Difficult To Understand The Difference Between Public Data And Private Data?
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 11:14:00 PM

Last week, we wrote about how disappointing it was that American newspapers agreed to restrictions placed on them by Major League Baseball concerning how those newspapers could report on games online. You would think that newspapers reared on the idea of freedom of the press and editorial independence would not allow an organization they were covering to dictate the terms of coverage -- but they did. Luckily, it looks like reporters down in India are more willing to stand up for what they feel is right. Reader Bipin writes in to

let us know of a very similar situation, where the Indian Premiere League put a number of restrictions on how the press could report online on its cricket competitions in India. Rather than agree to the restrictions, the press threatened to boycott IPL events entirely. Apparently the boycott threat has worked to get the league to back down a bit, though it may still end up with some restrictions. That still seems ridiculous, and hopefully the press will again point out that it needs to remain independent and cannot abide by any restrictions placed on it by the very organization it's covering. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 6:02:01 PM

Ticketmaster is widely considered one of the more hated companies in America, so it made a few people scratch their heads when they saw that Ticketmaster was near the top of the list in terms of the number of "fans" it had on Facebook. Valleywag points to an enterprising blogger who checked out who those fans were and noticed that many, many of the fans appear to be entirely fake creations. They have no picture, no other friends and they're only fans of Ticketmaster. In other words, it looks like Ticketmaster is "stuffing the

ballot box" in order to look more popular than it actually is. That's pretty sad. Of course, as people in the comments note, it's not so much that Ticketmaster created the fake fans themselves: they simply offered a promotion to give any "fans" five free iTunes downloads. So it looks like a bunch of folks set up fake Facebook profiles just to get those five free downloads -- and Ticketmaster gets to "pretend" it has all these fans. Except, of course, now it just looks like a serious loser that has to pay for "fans" and gets a bunch of fake fans for its troubles. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

And Of Course, FCC Sides With Shockingly, YouTube NOT Verizon In Argument With Cable Blamed For Teen Web Attack By Michael Masnick (Techdirt) Cos.
Submitted at 4/14/2008 7:44:05 AM

By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 3:35:05 PM

Last month we pointed out that the cable companies had filed a complaint with the FCC accusing Verizon of some shady practices in trying to get customers to stay, even after they'd already agreed to switch to cable. Since most customers want to keep their home phone number, the cable companies needed to contact Verizon to make the switch. At that point, Verizon would immediately contact those customers to prevent them from switching. As the cable companies pointed out, this

gave the telcos an unfair advantage. They were using information they learned from elsewhere (the group in charge of managing number portability) to steal customers back from the cable companies. Of course, given how today's FCC tends to think that telcos are always right and cable co's are always wrong, it will surprise probably none of you, that the FCC has no problem with Verizon's practices. Perhaps the cable companies should have waited until a new FCC commish was sworn in before making this complaint. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Last week, there was plenty of news about a group of eight Florida teenagers who purposely lured another teen into someone's home and then beat her while filming the attack -- which they specifically planned to put on YouTube in an attempt to "get famous." While there have been some attempts to point a finger of blame at YouTube and MySpace, it looks like the press isn't jumping on that bandwagon as quickly as you might expect. Rose M. Welch writes in to point

to an Associated Press article that quotes a bunch of people pointing out that YouTube is not to blame and has nothing to do with this attack. Some point out that those sites gave us a record of the attack to make it easier to capture and prosecute those responsible -- while others point out that "the public" is equally as responsible for wanting to watch that kind of attack in the first place. Either way, it's nice to see the AP quickly come out with a clear defense of why YouTube isn't the problem here. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Just a little while after some folks in Pittsburgh, PA sued Google over its Street View offering, it appears that Google is getting ready to launch a similar offering in Australia. However, rather than celebrate a rather useful service, there's a somewhat ridiculous newspaper article in Australia charging Google execs with hypocrisy for not revealing private data about Australian Google execs. It's hard to see where the hypocrisy is here. Google is creating a database of public info, and the newspaper, by its own admission, was asking Google to give up private data on its execs. Despite what the newspaper implies, Google's Street View doesn't reveal who lives where -- it just shows photos taken from public roadways, just as anyone would see driving up and down those same roads. To equate that with private data about executives is simply wrong. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Update: Fring’s Jailbroken iPhone App Now Live
By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 7:41:21 AM

As Mike reported earlier today, Fring is launching a downloadable app for the iPhone that will allow people to make Skype and other VoIP calls over the data

connection instead of using up talk minutes. Fring supports Skype, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, SIP, Twitter, Yahoo and AIM services. It is now live. (Warning: You will need to Jailbreak your iPhone to make it work). The Fring blog has more details or you can

download it at the Fringcubator. With so

many minutes on most cell phone plans, most people won’t be using this to make local calls. But it could come in handy for international calls or simply keeping up with IM on the go. The latter is really the killer app. And here’s a video of how it works:

CrunchBase Information fring Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

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Realtime Worlds confirms $50m Series B
By Mike Butcher (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:19:23 AM

O2 slashing £100 from 8GB iPhone in UK
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:30:00 AM

Games company Realtime Worlds has raised $50 million in a Series B round led by Maverick Capital, reports TechCrunch UK, news which confirms Michael Arington’s story in March. Existing investors New Enterprise Associates and WPP also participated to back the Scotland and Colorado based firm which previously raised nearly $33 million. Realtime has an exclusive partnership with Microsoft Game Studios and its first title, Crackdown for Xbox 360 in early 2007, sold about 1.4m copies, but the money looks likely to head towards it’s online games development.

Realtime Worlds already runs is poised to release All Points Bulletin, a massively multiplayer online game. ( Release) CrunchBase Information Realtime Worlds Information provided by CrunchBase Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Filed under: Cellphones The whispers are true, or so it seems. According to Stuff, O2 is getting set to one -up T-Mobile's price cutting affair in Germany by hacking a full £100 from the 8GB iPhone in the UK (bringing it down to £169). Better still, the discount will apply regardless of which contract selection you make, whereas T-Mobile forced users to sign the dotted line on a pricey Complete

XL plan. Unfortunately, the lower sticker only applies to the 8GB version -- the 16GB model will remain £329 -- but anyone who sprung for one of the former

iterations within the last month will receive an "Ultimate Price Promise" £100 refund voucher. Before you dash out to cash in, it should be noted that the deal is set to expire come June -- and we certainly don't have to remind you what that could mean. [Via Mobile Today, thanks to everyone who sent this in] Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Sanyo's Superbright PLC-ET30L projector actually is really bright
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:54:00 AM

Filed under: Displays, HDTV, Home Entertainment Presumably ensuring that no one views Sanyo as hypocritical, the company's Superbright PLC-ET30L actually can throw up a fairly recognizable image even in a well-lit room. Featuring an SXGA+

(1,400 x 1,050) resolution, a 1,300:1 contrast ratio and a remarkably high 4,200 ANSI lumen rating, this PJ was undoubtedly designed to function in classrooms and boardrooms (or living rooms) that just can't avoid ambient light. Additionally, Sanyo's introducing the lower-spec'd PLC-XT21/L, which offers up an XGA (1,024 x 768) resolution, 1:000:1 contrast ratio and 4,000 ANSI

$6,495 and $4,995 (respectively), the duo is most definitely cut out for the corporate card and not your own. Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments lumens. Both newcomers to the T series line support wired networking and emit just 35dB of fan noise, but being priced at

Tesla Motors sues Fisker over stolen secrets
By Joshua Topolsky (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:19:00 AM

Filed under: Transportation Tesla Motors can't seem to keep itself out of the press, can it? The newest flareup concerns rival Fisker and claims that the automaker has stolen trade secrets and copied design concepts. In a lawsuit filed Monday by Tesla, the carmaker accuses Henrik Fisker -- whom the company had hired to design its WhiteStar sedan -- of accepting the work to "gain access to

confidential design information and trade secrets." The company alleges that Fisker then used that knowledge to launch a

competing vehicle, and believes Fisker has implemented its range-extended vehicle (or REV) technology in the recently introduced Karma. "I think it's ironic that Fisker chose to name his car the Karma, when what he's done is very bad karma," said the company's lawyer. Fisker wouldn't comment on the case, then drove silently away when pressed. [Via CNET] Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Couric may be traded for Cooper (and an intern to be named later)
By Joel Keller (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:41:00 AM

Filed under: News, Industry, Talk Show, Reality-Free With the rumors swirling around that Katie Couric may leave (or be removed from) the CBS Evening News soon after the 2008 election, speculation of what she might do and who might take her place has also been in the air. The latest speculation by insiders, though, is an interesting one, so interesting that it just might make complete sense. According to the New York Daily News, "TV insiders," whoever they are, think that a trade of sorts might take place: Anderson Cooper comes to CBS to anchor the Evening News, while Couric goes to CNN to host a talk show in the 10 PM slot where Anderson Cooper 360 currently resides.

The idea is to have Couric eventually take over for Larry King. Continue reading Couric may be traded for Cooper (and an intern to be named later) Permalink| Email this| | Comments

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Gadgets* Web 2.0

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7 Last Minute Tax Tools
By Sean P. Aune (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:47:32 AM

Apple and Sony settle with Japanese battery burn victims
By Joshua Topolsky (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:02:00 AM

iHome iP99 claims to be first iPhone-friendly clock radio, isn't
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:57:00 AM

Filed under: Cellphones, Peripherals, Portable Audio Oh sure, the iHome iP99 is certainly a welcome addition to the fray, but the first iPhone-compatible clock radio it isn't. Nevertheless, this device claims to be able to play back tunes on your handset without that sanity-killing interference that's so common on most iPod stereo systems. While blasting out tunes, users can still expect to receive calls while it's charging,

and if you're currently rolling sans an iPhone, it'll also play nice with all docking iPod models. Per usual, there's an AM / FM tuner, auxiliary input, a variety of wake modes, dual alarm settings, backlit buttons and a remote control for switching tracks / controlling volume from afar. Of course, by the time this thing lands in June for $149.99, we could be testing to see if it works with an all new iPhone. Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: Laptops Remember that Japanese couple who sued Apple and Sony over one of those famous burning batteries? Well it looks like the companies have decided to settle, and will pay the fire-damaged pair a total of ¥1.3 million (or around $13,000). Of course, this is a bit less than the absurdly low $16,700 the two were asking, but percentage-wise they didn't make out too

badly. During the trial, Apple Japan apparently accepted responsibility for the incident but couldn't justify settling out of court due to a request for "excessive compensation," while Sony maintained its distance by suggesting a link between the battery and burns wasn't clear. We're sure the guy who made the trip to the hospital thinks otherwise. [Thanks, Jackie] Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Tick-tock, tick-tock, the time is quickly approaching, and you need to get those taxes done in a hurry. Well, your choices are quickly dwindling, but there are still some sites you can use to get them done fast! (more…) ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Internet Tax Ban Almost Permanent? eBay Exec Warns Against Internet Taxes Internet Tax Ban Gets 7 More Years Will an Internet Tax Ban Ever Be Permanent? House Approves Senate Net Tax Ban New Yorkers Beware. Spitz’s ‘Amazon Tax’ Is Near Law 12 Things To Do Online Before The End Of 2007

Kegerator-based cooling system gives your PC a buzz
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:29:00 AM

Filed under: Desktops, Misc. Gadgets Okay, so Jared Bouck's kegerator-cooled PC doesn't really sip on Hennessy, Bud Light or even Milwaukee's Best, but it sure does a good job of pretending to be 21. Essentially, this here mod is more for show than anything, but when all's said and done, you do have a liquid-cooled gaming

rig and a nearby locale to stock your favorite beverages. After all, it's common knowledge that you can't stray too far to

replenish your fluids during an all-night WoW raid, right? With $180, a bit of patience and some good old fashion work, you too can replace that vanilla cooling setup with one the boys are sure to swoon over. [Thanks, Tom] Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Coway intros SWV-08AM megasonic cleaning apparatus
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:02:00 AM

Filed under: Household Now that the Ultreo toothbrush has made you a believer in the cleaning power of ultrasonic waves, why not pick up a cleaner sure to do the same for objects not

located in close proximity to your incisors. The oh-so-sleek SWV-08AM megasonic cleaning apparatus is reportedly designed to "remove dirt and agrochemicals" from fruits, dishes, etc. with little to no detergent. There's also an integrated PSediment filter to make sure the water coming out is ultra-pure, and those two

exactly sure what this piece of kit will run you, but to our ears, it's just screaming "pricey." Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments large buttons determine whether the blasts are strong or soft. Honestly, we're not

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Long Portraits Finally, A Way To Use Flickr Video
By Stan Schroeder (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:19:25 AM

Hands Free 3D enables your movements to control Second Life avatar
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:28:00 AM

Filed under: Gaming Using 3D cameras in order to let humans control interfaces by simply moving about is old hat, but for those sick and tired of being strapped to a mouse / keyboard in Second Life, take a glance at this. Hands Free 3D is a prototypical system that gives addicts members of the virtual realm the ability to walk, jump, fly and interact by

simply gesturing in front of a PCconnected camera designed by 3DV Systems. Currently, it doesn't seem like this solution is on the fast track to release or anything, but we have a sneaking suspicion they aren't demoing this stuff for kicks and giggles. Peek the video right after the break. Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Tresling: it's Tetris, with arm wrestling
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 12:26:00 AM

Filed under: Gaming Given the multitude of ways Tetris has been tweaked already, we were beginning to wonder if the spectacular mods involving the famed title were dwindling down. Apparently not. Tresling is a brilliant creation involving a sophisticated arm wrestling board which converts tussling into block movements within the

game. For each flinch, yank and pull, one's block turns -- if you can't maintain your position, chances are that your figure will end up all out of place. Believe it or not, it actually looks even more fun on video, so check out the heated competition in the read link below. [Thanks, Tom] Read| Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

HP 2133 Mini-Note PC misses ship date for pre-orderers
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:20:00 AM

Filed under: Laptops Say it ain't so! Just a week after HP's totally adorable 2133 Mini-Note PC popped online for purchase, we've received word that pre-orderers aren't going to be seeing their new machine quite as soon as

originally expected. Reportedly, HP has sent out notifications to customers who pre

-ordered to let them know that their lappies won't be shipping today as promised, but there's no word on how long the delay will last. Hang in there, subnote lovers -- a tracking number is bound to come soon (er, we hope). [Thanks, Brian] Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Have you been frustrated with Flickr Video’s limitation to only 90 seconds? Yeah, it’s no YouTube; the idea is to store all those short video clips you’ve captured with your camera. The problem is, are you ever even using the video function on your DSLR or compact? Do you even know where it is? Well, the folks at PhotoJojo have an idea: capture a long portrait. Long portrait is essentially a very short video interview, in which you ask a person a question and capture it with your camera. The idea is to capture the “essence” of a person; therefore the idea is to ask something witty, make them sing a song, dance a silly dance - anything that you may use against them at a later date. Check out an example below, and don’t ask us if this is going to be forgotten tomorrow or turn into a global phenomenon. It’s the internet, anything can happen. The best thing Jacqueline saw this week from Photojojo on Vimeo. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Iconize Me: Is digital content becoming more valuable? Long Tail Camp: Exploit the Meme The Daily Poll: Are Facebook Beacon Ads Illegal? Lolcats + MySpace = Lolspace BookTour.com: Wired Editor Launching New Startup AFP Moves To Ban Journalists From Referencing Wikipedia, Facebook How Fat is Online Video’s Long Tail?

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Better Entertainment Through Bayesian Google Maps Adds Mathematics with theFilter [Invites] Options To Embed YouTube Clips
By Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 10:52:13 PM

If you’re like Peter Gabriel, you’re sick and tired of going through the arduous and painstaking task of listening to new music and deciding whether or not you like it. There are enough folks out there, as it turns out, that are so disenfranchised by the process that Gabriel saw the need to launch his latest digital music venture, theFilter, that provides what he calls a ‘holistic approach’ to removing the white-noise of content and bringing you content that reflects your tastes. It claims to do this through a very complex algorithm (they sent us a several page document explaining this algorithm) that works across entertainment media types, including music, film, infotainment and television. It’s All About the Algorithm This is certainly a tried and true business model. As we discussed this past weekend(and the weekend before) one Elite Tech News, one of the few things we really love about Yahoo’s offerings is their music service, which operates on a similar algorithm. Yahoo’s algorithm, though, makes it’s judgments based off your previous music selections only, and from my own personal experience with the service, doesn’t appear to be as advanced

as what theFilter seems to be doing here. In the case of Yahoo, after you have several thousand ratings, your musical preferences tend to get rather muddled and confused. Also, after a time, it’s suggestions seem to come fewer and further between than the old favorites it sends your way. By contrast, theFilter uses Bayesian mathematics, with a system that ‘learns and forgets.’ Their ‘evidence model’ grows as more input is given, but when new evidence seems to contradict earlier input, the model is weighted more heavily towards the current taste of the individual. We Have Some Invites, If You Need Them! It definitely sounds like an interesting system, and one that I’m eager to give a shot. We haven’t yet been given access to test out and play with theFilter yet. It’s easy to see that this an interesting system, but we’re still curious to learn more about the motivations behind it. When it was pitched to us by the creators of the site, Martin Hopkins and Rhett Ryder of Bath,

England, Peter Gabriel’s motivations and influence on the project was played up heavily. Aside from the actual functionality of the site, and whether or not it works as advertised, the most interesting aspect we’d want to investigate is whether or not there’s a clear need for music discovery - a strong argument could be made for the fact that we live within a glut of music to the point where it can be considered a commodity in this day and age. We wanted to ask Mr. Gabriel to elaborate a bit more on his involvement, influences, and inclinations involving this project, but he was not willing to talk with us on the project. Since Peter wasn’t willing to pitch you further on the concept, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not you need a new way to discover music. If you do, we have a number of exclusive invites to the system available here. Check it out and tell us what you think of the service! ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: The Filter Brings Home $5M in Second Round of Funding The Filter Launches Last.fm-style Social Network, WMP Support Mobimii & The Filter Facebook Apps

By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 7:51:11 AM

Donald Trump gets cast on Lifetime
By Brad Trechak (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:00:00 AM

Filed under: OpEd, The Apprentice, Casting, Reality-Free In the strangest case of offbeat casting I've ever written about, the Lifetime Channel has cast Donald Trump to executive produce and narrate a new series called Trump Towers. Unlike The Apprentice, this would be a scripted series. The show would be a nighttime soap opera set within Trump Towers itself. Lifetime Entertainment President Susanne Daniels describes the series as " Desperate Housewives in Trump Tower with The

Donald narrating." According to the article, Lifetime also has several other series in the works with a concentration on comedic appeal.

Given the fact that the Lifetime Network has historically been a women's network and Trump's behavioral history can hardly be called female-friendly, one wonders why this premise was proposed in the first place. The series might even make more sense for the network if the narrator was Ivana Trump or Marla Maples. Obviously, this is an attempt by Lifetime to cash in on Trump's fame. This is another example of Jay Black's theory of channel drift. Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Users of Google Earth have been allowed to geo-tag videos since October 2007 and view the results on the service’s YouTube layer. Some searching today will show quite a lot of clips already tacked onto the virtual globe since the option became available. Well, Google is now building on its YouTube embed features even further. Starting this week, the company is including the option of users to affix video clips to specific locations on its more basic, more widely-utilized Google Maps service. If you’re a business owner, you’ll likely appreciate this development. If you’re just an individual with a video camera, you might also find this appealing, since you can share clips with friends, family, and tons of strangers while offering some geographic bearing for your handheld productions. Sure, Google Earth users probably get a bit more out of the experience through the YouTube layer launched several months ago, but Google Maps embeds can certainly prove useful in numerous scenarios as well. The prime example Google offers in its introduction of YouTube attachments to Google Maps locations is of course related to commerce - pastries, no less- since the service is clearly most often used to find destinations, many of which I would presume to be places of business. If you’re in the field of sales, say, and you’re looking to market yourself in a more interactive fashion, a simple production uploaded to YouTube and linked with your profile on Google Maps could go some

way to gaining more interest and traffic. Or, if you’re in the business of real estate, perhaps marketing rental properties, and are often placing listings on Craigslist fitted with Google Maps links, you can offer easily-accessible visual tours of apartments and so forth in addition to still photographs. On the whole, Google Maps-plusYouTube isn’t a revolutionary development, but it is an evolutionary step, and one that many users of both websites will probably take to their advantage. The most appealing aspect of this announcement is one of convenience, which Google is proving to deliver quite handily. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Google Offers Easy Embed Code for Maps More Options for Google Maps Social Network Visualize Recent Edits to Google Maps Google Maps Launches Embedded Maps Google Maps Get More Social with Comments and Ratings Google’s New Social Network = Google Maps Google Launches MyMaps - Platial Gets Screwed

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Spleak Lands Hearst for eBuddy Claims 10x Hybrid Publishing Network Meebo’s Revenue, Gets Ready To Conquer US
By Kristen Nicole (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 5:01:26 AM

Investors Phone In $5.7 Million for Mobango
By Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 9:25:51 PM

Spleak recently announced the official release of its hybrid content aggregation platform, and already another large media partner has signed on to use its service. Hearst, which is shifting its traditional media focus to online media distribution in multiple capacities, will be utilizing Spleak’s publishing platform for integrating its content deeper into social media. You may recall that Spleak takes premium content and user-generated content, aggregates it, and pushes it out for a combined perspective on current topics. Spleak also uses this same interface for gathering its user-generated content, so users and viewers can also participate with the content in a very direct manner. Having options for distribution across networks and clients via widgets, integration with social networks and an instant messaging access point, Spleak enables a broad set of options for viewers’ interactivity with a publisher’s content. For Spleak’s integration, Hearst will be using Spleak’s Embassy option, which allows the publisher to place a Spleak interface on some of its major content sites, such as Teen Magazine.

By Stan Schroeder (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:35:11 AM

Additionally, Hearst will be pushing its content throughout the larger Spleak network to make its content accessible by other media participants. Hearst has been turning some of its television and print content into niche sites and applications on the web, while becoming rather active in acquisitions and the advertising network space as well. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Spleak: IM Gossip Bot is Now a FullFledged Media Network Popular File Host Selling for $3 Million+ Hearst Media Acquires Niche Q&A Site, Answerology YouTube to Split Revenue with HearstArgyle’s Local TV Stations TurnHere Video Ad “Outsourcing” Gets $7.5M Kaboodle Acquired by Hearst Magazines Hearst Launching High School Sports Social Network

In an interview with VentureBeat, online IM aggregator eBuddy’s CEO Jan-Joost Rueb has revealed the company’s future plans, as well as some interesting facts about their revenue. According to Rueb, Amsterdam-based eBuddy is opening an office in San Francisco, and they’re hoping to expand through new campaigns and partnerships in the US. They don’t fear Facebook Chat (Rueb claims that the introduction of MySpace chat didn’t have “ any impact” on their traffic, which is approximately 15 million monthly uniques), and they have great expectations from the mobile side of the business (they have “ close to two million monthly uniques on mobile versions,” and they’re growing at 20 percent per month. But perhaps the most interesting part of the interview is Rueb’s claim that they’re earning 10x as much as Meebo, which has reportedly had 1 million dollars in revenue since they started. Now compare this with the speculated 250 million dollar valuation for Meebo and you get some very high numbers. How did they achieve such a high CPM? Rueb says they’ve focused on

monetization early on, and that they’ve head great success with “ advertising packages that include homepage takeovers and “sponsored” emoticons.” Add to this the fact that they haven’t even started monetizing their mobile traffic yet, and, provided that the numbers are true, you get a nice little web 2.0 success story. eBuddy should expect a fierce fight from Meebo, though, because I’m not sure whether there’s room in the online IM space for more than one big player. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: eBuddy Mobile…5 Million Users? eBuddy Mobile App eBuddy on iPhone eBuddy Funded eBuddy Officially Launched Mobile Version e-Messenger Becomes eBuddy, Helps Kids Use IM at School MySpace Making $30 Million/Month

Rumor Confirmed: Federated Media Gets $50 Million
By Kristen Nicole (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 5:31:09 AM

After numerous rumors of a new round of funding, Federated Media has finally confirmed that it has raised $50 million from Oak Investment Partners. This is a minority investment on Oak Investment Partners’ part, and supposedly brings the valuation of Federated Media to $200 million, as Mark has already mentioned in his previous coverage of the rumored funding some days ago. To top things off, Oak Investment

Partners’ general partner Fred Harman will be joining FM’s board of directors. The online publishing and advertising firm has been around for about 3 years, and heavily deals in display ads. And with some large clients under its belt, Federated Media has also been able to establish itself as a recognizable brand in its own right, having been founded by John Battelle and several other media veterans heading up the executive team. No word on what FM’s next steps will be, now that it’s recent funding has been confirmed, but with a unique approach to

author-driven “conversational marketing” and the company’s promise that this additional funding will not change its relationship with its clients and publishers, FM is solidifying the ongoing activity in the social media advertising space. Disclosure: Mashable has an advertising relationship with Federated Media. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Rumor: Federated Media Hauls In $50 Million

Federated Media Raises Another $4.5M in Series B Funding Federated Media Seeks New Round Of Funding Federated Media Partners with Facebook Apps Demand Media Raises Another $35M in Series D Funding Collective Media Raises Funding for Online Ad Network VMIX Adds $16.5 Million in Funding to Expand Video Network

Mobang o, the mobile social networking service Pete first reported on back in January of last year, has closed another round of funding. Mobango claims a total userbase of 2.9 million worldwide that use the service to watch and share videos as well as ringtones, images and audio. Despite proclamations that mobile web is dead, Mobango, and theoretically its investors, are convinced otherwise. According to Venture Capital Update, they’ve received $5.7 million in Series B funding from Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures and Innogest Capital. Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures is a returning investor from the €2M Series A round. Back when Pete originally wrote about them, they were billed as the YouTube for Mobile, and they’ve been going about the business then and since of taking usergenerated content of all types, and making it mobile friendly (in aspect-ratio, size and bitrate). The site currently boasts 51,000 videos, 95,000 ringtones and close to half a million images - which certainly pales in comparison to most user generated content sites, but it certainly is enough to keep one busy on the commute to work. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Zedge.net Acquired By IDT YouTube TV, Meez, Capessa, Imity, Mobango, InChorus, HyperComics, CitizenImage, Terapad and More Drupal 5.0 Launches Today SOCIAL NETWORKING GOD: 350+ Social Networking Sites

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Coghead Gallery is a Marketplace to Sell Applications
By Kristen Nicole (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 5:19:39 AM

Strutta Turns Videos into a Spectator Sport
By Kristen Nicole (Mashable!)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 5:20:06 AM

Most platform-as-a-service providers offer a pretty well integrated option for creating applications for internal or consumer-facing use cases, but Coghead is taking it a step further with the Coghead Gallery. This is an open-market exchange for application developers to publish their applications. Now others will be able to select apps they’d like to apply to their own services, for a given purpose. It makes sense to extend such an open offering amongst Coghead users, and helps spur innovation and productivity across the board. But the ideals behind apps created for business use are quite different from those created for social networks. This could make apps created for the Coghead Gallery less likely to be inherently monetized. However, Coghead is also sure to point out that these apps shared in the Gallery are also protected. And going back to the monetization aspect of the Coghead Gallery, there will in fact be a way in which developers can sell the apps to their

customers and other users. This is where things could get interesting, especially as web-based companies are readily adopting the application creation and white-label solution as business models. I imagine such marketplaces will appear through other networks, and support for inherent monetization will also be an inclusive part of a strategy at some point down the line. ShareThis --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Coghead XP for Extreme Programming Task Management Coghead Offers Business Apps Verticals Atoolo Adds Slide Shows to Virtual Desktop Application Slideroll AV Lets You Create Photo and Video Galleries Offline Shutterfly Gallery: First Major Release Since Acquiring Nexo Pentax Gallery Promotes Photographers in Select Voting Community 123Flickr Quickly Generates Photo Gallery Widget

Some people are competitive by nature, and the online market is certainly beginning to provide more socially apt ways in which competitions can be played out online. Strutta is the latest entrant into the market, with a very decided approach to how its online game and competition network will play out. Similar to iBeatYou, users can create a game or join an existing game. Strutta has a pretty slimmed down focus on how these games are presented within its network, however, ensuring that they can become spectator sports. This enables Strutta to appeal to those users that are willing to participate in the games, and those users that would rather sit back and watch. Strutta is also a video network. Only video content can be uploaded for game participation, and it must be a video of the player himself. Strutta has made it easy enough to upload your content, thanks to the new YouTube API, but if you’re adding a clip from YouTube, you’ll need to authenticate your account so that Strutta

knows the video comes from you. Somewhat like a Hot’or’Not for competitive videos, spectators can vote or skip clips, which is the core of the Strutta games themselves. These games can then be embedded into other sites and shared with others. The best players based on these games get to continue on to the Strutta Finale. The other interesting aspect of Strutta is its viewer feedback, which lets individual players see where their affinity lies, in terms of demographics, how long viewers are watching a particular clip, etc. This will likely be an extended feature later on down the line, as Strutta incorporates more ways in which to utilize its network as a self-publicizing platform of sorts, for players. ShareThis

Deadliest Catch Behind The Scenes - VIDEO
By Brett Love (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:26:00 AM

Ten awkward TV moments
By Jane Boursaw (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:01:00 AM

Filed under: Other Drama Shows, Other Comedy Shows, OpEd, 24, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The Office, TV Squad Lists, Lipstick Jungle, RealityFree Last week's episode of The Office now ranks high on my list of Awkward TV Moments. It got me thinking about other all-time great awkward TV moments. Sure, we've all seen the episode where a disheveled Mary Richards shows up at the awards banquet wearing one fuzzy pink slipper. And the one where Frasier and Roz nearly do it on a cruise ship. But let's take a look at a few recent awkward TV moments.

1. Jan heaves a Dundee at Michael's flatscreen TV. Okay, we'll start with last week's episode of The Office, in which Michael coerces Jim and Pam into

attending a couples-only dinner party at his and Jan's condo. The entire episode is one long awkward moment, from Dwight showing up with his former babysitter as his date to Pam realizing she'll be held hostage for three hours, thanks to Jan's poor culinary planning. But the topper is when Michael and Jan's love spat escalates into a huge fight, ending with her heaving one of his treasured Dundee awards at his new (and tiny) flat-screen TV. The cops show up after the neighbors report a disturbance, and Michael ends up going home with Dwight. Continue reading Ten awkward TV moments Permalink| Email this| | Comments

New Amsterdam: Love Hurts (season finale) - VIDEO
By Paul Goebel (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 12:36:00 AM

Filed under: Other Reality Shows, Video If you turned on your TV over the weekend, you probably noticed that Discovery had gone all Deadliest Catch, all the time. That was, of course, because the new season is upon us today. That's a good thing, because it really is the best of the deadliest, scariest, dirtiest, frozenest jobbased programming. To get ready for the big event, I thought I'd toss up this little video from youtube. As part of the background filming for the show, the Discovery crew headed out to one of the local watering holes, J. R. Phinickeys, with Josh from the Cornelia Marie. After the jump, you get a look at a whole lot of flaming monkey shots being set ablaze. You'll also see the Discovery camera man on the left, and Josh coming in to high five the bartender at the end. One more reason to order up that Discovery HD. Continue reading Deadliest Catch Behind The Scenes - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

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Filed under: Video, Episode Reviews, New Amsterdam, Reality-Free ( S01E08) As this is probably the final episode of New Amsterdam, I'm going to take an extra hard look at the show tonight. Consider yourself warned. Tonight, we got to see an example of how John once used his powers for evil. It's about time! So far, we've seen John as a lawyer, a soldier, a medic, and an artist, just to name a few, but aside from the time he spent as an alcoholic club emcee, he seems to have led a fairly honorable life. It seems to me that a guy who has the ability to live forever would spend a good deal of time exploiting that ability for profit, if nothing else. Sure, his conscience would catch up with him eventually, but when you live forever, you have to be expected to explore everything immortallity has to offer. Continue reading New Amsterdam: Love Hurts (season finale) - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Bones: The Man in the Mud VIDEO
By Richard Keller (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:25:00 AM

Watercooler Talk: Should TV lie to us about the economy?
By Jay Black (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:21:00 AM

Filed under: News, Watercooler Talk, Reality-Free My father is a former economics major who spent 30 years as a mortgage banker before starting his own company (which does economical things so complex that to my simple mind, they might as well be magical). One of the things that constantly irks him is the loaded language that the nightly news uses to describe our economic situation: words like "crisis," "downturn," and, worst of all "recession." Now, anybody who has spent more than forty seconds online in the last six months can see that we are, more than likely, in the middle of a recession brought on by a downturn in the real estate market because of the current credit crisis. That said, I'd

Filed under: OpEd, Video, Bones, Episode Reviews, Reality-Free (S03E10) Rejoice! New episodes of Bones have finally returned to the FOX schedule. And, despite what others think, this guy, this dude, this muchacho, is very glad for its return. Not happy that FOX is screwing with the schedules of this show and House, mind you, but glad there are new episodes nevertheless. For those of you new to the series, Bones is one of those unique dramas that can mix gruesome, terrible death with humor and light-heartedness. It is really a story about relationships, friendly or romantic, and the connections that are established by two totally opposite sets of people. Plus, you get to see maggots crawling

around a person's skull. So, it's all good. %Gallery-20595% Continue reading Bones: The Man in the Mud - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Paula Deen going into syndication
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:42:00 AM

Medium: Partners in Crime - VIDEO
By Paul Goebel (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:02:00 AM

like to ask the question: would we be better off if TV simply lied to us about all of these things? Continue reading Watercooler Talk: Should TV lie to us about the economy? Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Food/Home/DIY, Celebrities, Reality-Free Move over, Rachael Ray! Another Food Network bird is straying for the nest to try her wings in syndication. Southern diva Paula Deen is readying a daytime cooking show for syndication in 2009. She also following Rachael's lead by not giving up her secure and lucrative connection to Food Network. Her Paula's Home Cooking and Paula's Party programs will remain Food Network staples. The challenge for Paula will be coming up with a show that's not simply an echo of her other two shows. Unlike Rachael, who does a full-fledged talk show with a cooking segment, Paula's new effort is

being called a "cooking" show. That could be limiting. Continue reading Paula Deen going into syndication Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Are you a sitcom snob?
By Bob Sassone (TV Squad)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:23:00 AM

Filed under: Other Comedy Shows, OpEd, My Name Is Earl, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, 30 Rock, Reality-Free Interesting piece by Tim Goodman over at The San Francisco Chronicle. Basically

he says that many TV viewers who watch the NBC Thursday night comedies ( My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office, and Scrubs) and other shows are snobs when it comes to CBS comedies like Two and a Half Men, Rules of Engagement, and How I Met Your Mother. He says that the people who pride themselves in watching

good time by avoiding CBS on Monday nights." Continue reading Are you a sitcom snob? Permalink| Email this| | Comments the critically-acclaimed (but lower rated) shows on NBC are "denying themselves a

Filed under: Medium, Video, Episode Reviews, Reality-Free ( S04E12) I had all but forgotten about Kurtwood Smith. I've been a big fan ever since Robocop and this character is really fun to watch. I only wish the writers had given his character a different name. Every time someone calls him Agent Cooper, I flashback to Twin Peaks and I feel like I'm betraying Medium by wishing that Peaks was still on the air. One of the best things about Smith is how he can be so menacing while still keeping a smile on his face. In fact, I find him scarier when he smiles. I felt the same way when Red would actually say something nice to a member of his family on That 70's Show. Continue reading Medium: Partners in Crime - VIDEO Permalink| Email this| | Comments

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New DVD Picks of the Week: 'Juno' & 'Lars and the Real Girl'
By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:02:00 AM

Video of the Day: Popular 'Iron Man' Trailer to Become Full-Length Film
By Erik Davis (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 4:50:00 PM

Filed under: Comedy, Drama, New Releases, DVD Reviews, New on DVD, Home Entertainment Juno She came onto the scene with a bang, charming audiences and quickly becoming a sensation. Of course, after the press she got, and buzz that followed, many have grown sick of the snarky teen and her Diablo Cody dialog that often crosses over the line from quirky to tired, but one thing always remains -- the phenomenon that followed the film centers on the fact that it's a wildly enjoyable comedy. Ellen Page stars as Juno, a young woman who has discovered that she's gotten pregnant from an interlude with Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). After mulling over her options, she decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption -- to the awkwardly yuppie couple Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman). The story is simple, and it's the delivery that gives Juno charm. Within the over-the-top dialog exists real, flawed characters and a lot of heart. This is the sort of film that exists on many levels. For some, it will be utterly perfect as they delight in undone doodles, a melange of cultural references, and a moment in time that wonderfully encapsulates today and yesterday. For most of the rest, it will still be a great and enjoyable comedy because there are so many pieces to the Juno puzzle -- one might not capture you, but another piece is sure to. There are three DVDs to choose from, and each one ups the ante on the other -refreshingly, no matter which you pick, you're sure to get a large selection of goodies to watch. On the single disc

Filed under: Fandom, Newsstand, Trailers and Clips Ah, remember the days when The Onion was just a simple newspaper three of your friends kinda knew about? You'd sit, snicker and try desperately to convince people to read this free, fake funny thingy. Mmmm. Now The Onion has gone video, and the one above is just priceless. In case you were living under a truck for the past year, the Iron Man trailer debuted and took the world by storm. Now, looking to profit off the millions of folks who want to see more of the trailer, the studio has decided to adapt it into a full-length film. (Unfortunately, out of the 758 Iron Man trailers currently available online, they do not say which one will be getting the feature treatment. One assumes, however, it will be the seventh international teaser

extended intro scene.) Luckily, those crazy cats at The Onion were all over this story -- debating whether or not it's smart to extend what most people felt was an excellent trailer 179 more minutes. Good news is Robert Downey Jr. has decided to reprise his role from the trailer (fans would've freaked if they re-cast the character) and reporters from The Onion do hope they bring back that pretty red head played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Amen to that! Says The Onion, "The studio has tried to reassure the public that everything they love about the trailer will be incorporated into the movie, right down to the actual lines from the trailer." Awesome. Could go either way here -but what do you think: Would you pay to go see a feature-length trailer? [via The Movie Blog] Permalink| Email this| Comments

Redford Returns to Baseball with Jackie Robinson Biopic
By Eric D. Snider (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 2:32:00 PM

Filed under: Drama, Sports, Casting No list of great baseball movies would be

version, there's a bunch of deleted scenes, a gag reel, gag take, cast & crew jam, and even screen tests. When you add another disc to the mix, there's a digital copy and four featurettes -- about the kids, Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman, and creating the film. Finally, with the Blu-Ray option, you get all of the above features plus two extras from Fox Movie Channel Presents. Check out Scott's Review, and Kim's| Buy the One-Disc, Two-Disc, Blu-Ray Continue reading New DVD Picks of the Week: 'Juno' & 'Lars and the Real Girl' Permalink| Email this| Comments

Parents Still Don't Want Their Kids to Go to Art School
By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 3:02:00 PM

Filed under: Comedy, Deals, Scripts It was 1987. All Keith wanted was Amanda Jones -- the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who caught the eye of rich jerk Hardy Jenns and became one of the popular girls. It didn't matter that he had the super-cool Watts pining for him, nor that he'd saved all of his money for college. He stood up to Jenns and took Amanda out on one of the most memorable dates to ever hit the big screen -- super cool, yet super tacky when you think of that whole "you're wearing my future" bit. All he wanted was love and art school, no matter what his dad said about it. Twenty years later, things haven't changed. Variety reports that Kopelson

Entertainment has picked up a spec by Barry Schwartz called Parents Weekend. The project is "a youth-targeted comedy about a college freshman, secretly attending art school, who must convince his parents he's still enrolled in the college

of their dreams." I guess this dude didn't have the nerve that Keith had to stand up to mom and dad. Still, I'm always amused by plots or real-life stories where people create elaborate ruses to save their asses. Doesn't it get confusing and tired really quickly? Arnold Kopelson said of the script: "All of us at the company were laughing out loud reading it, while at the same time drawn into a story with a lot of heart that both college kids and their parents can appreciate." That sounds promising. The next step would be casting, so what college -aged actor would you pick? Permalink| Email this| Comments

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REDFORD continued from page 22
complete without The Natural, starring Robert Redford. His best performance ever? Maybe not -- but it's certainly a lot of people's favorite. Because of that classic film, Redford is forever connected to our national pastime, and so it's a little exciting to see that he's about to produce another baseball movie: a biopic of Jackie Robinson. It was Robinson who broke through Major League Baseball's race barrier when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Despite constant racist attacks by opposing players (and, at first, his own teammates), he went on to win the first-ever Rookie of the Year Award and to be a star player throughout his 10-year stint with the Dodgers. Redford will play Dodgers manager Branch Rickey, who supported Robinson from the beginning. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project (which we talked about here and here) has the support of Robinson's widow (Robinson died in 1972), as well as Branch Rickey Jr. and Major League Baseball. It will be co-produced by ESPN Films, with Thomas Carter directing. Carter's last film was the true-life basketball story Coach Carter, and the three writers listed at IMDb have extensive biopic experience. The flick has all the hallmarks of a loving, faithful, not-toocontroversial biopic, and that's fine with me. Continue reading Redford Returns to Baseball with Jackie Robinson Biopic Permalink| Email this| Comments

'Ghost in the Shell' is Next in the 3-D Pipeline
By Eugene Novikov (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:32:00 AM

Killer B's on DVD: Barn of the Naked Dead
By Matt Bradshaw (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:03:00 AM

Filed under: Horror, Independent, Killer B's on DVD Years ago when I first read about 1974's Barn of the Naked Dead I thought "this is the greatest title ever conceived anywhere by anyone in the history of cinema and I must see it," so I was a bit disappointed when I eventually tracked down a VHS copy and found that it was then traveling under the name Nightmare Circus(which in fact was the original release title). This new DVD version from Legend House restores the salacious but sadly inaccurate (only the briefest of nudity here) title by which the flick is best known. Three showgirls on their way to a job in Vegas break down in the desert. As this is an exploitation horror film, one need not be a rocket scientist to deduce that the nice young man named Andre who stops to

Filed under: Animation, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Deals, Tech Stuff, Exhibition, Dreamworks, Steven Spielberg There's been a flurry of buzz around theatrical 3-D lately, perhaps because James Cameron has come out of hiding to talk a bit about Avatar. (If you haven't yet read this interview with the King of the World, do so immediately.) The last thing we heard was that exhibitors have ganged up on Steven Spielberg for apparently standing in the way of the digital revolution. But Spielberg seems to have seen the light: he's acquired the rights to the Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell for Dreamworks, which plans to film it in -- you guessed it -digital 3-D. A Dreamworks suit boasts that the story "epitomizes 3-D live-action motion picture possibilities." If that title sounds familiar, it's because the manga has already been adapted into one of the most celebrated anime films of all time. The story involves an attempt to fight cyber-crime by creating a breed of ultra-powerful cyborgs, which strikes me as a terrible idea. I found Mamoru Oshii's

movie visually spectacular but impenetrable -- I'm not an anime buff, and it confused the hell out of me. I'm sure that if nothing else, Dreamworks will find a way to solve that problem. Jamie Moss( Street Kings) is taking a crack at writing the adaptation. Continue reading'Ghost in the Shell' is Next in the 3-D Pipeline Permalink| Email this| Comments

Rob Lowe Nanny on the Today Show
By Hollywood Grind
help isn't very nice at all. Andre is played by Andrew Prine and despite his numerous film and TV credits, I remember him best as the villain in the unsuccessful Wonder Woman pilot movie from 1974 that featured Cathy Lee Crosby as the amazon princess. Andre has issues with women stemming from his mother's desertion. He deals with this by collecting women and chaining them up in his barn (no naked dead folks, but we do get a barn), and trains them to perform like circus animals. Picture Norman Bates with a flare for the theatrical. Continue reading Killer B's on DVD: Barn of the Naked Dead Permalink| Email this| Comments
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:23:30 PM

Jessica Gibson, Rob Lowe’s former nanny, went on the Today show, and let her lawyer Gloria Allred. Jessica smirked and smiled after every question was asked. In my opinion, Jessica appeared to be lying. Gloria’s presentation seemed like she is abusing the sexual harassment laws to try to get her client money, even though the Lowe’s appear innocent in my opinion. Gloria loves to have her name in the papers, she’s a publicity whore. After an email was revealed that was totally inconsistent with her current allegations Jessica had no explanation, but Gloria tried to play it off as if Jessica is a weak innocent victim who is going up against

the rich and powerful Lowe family. If Jessica loses in court I hope the Lowe family pursue her for fraud, and blackmail. Unfortunately, the Lowe family declined an offer for the police to investigate the matter as a crime against them, and chose to fight this in court instead. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Rob Lowe Sues Nanny • Heather Mills Slammed by Divorce Judge • Britney Spears Bodyguard Testifies Against Her • Britney Spears is Sexy, Banned, and Losing the Kids • Britney Spears Could Lose Custody of Kids Tomorrow

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Netflix Has Movies That Aren't Even On DVD! Like 'Rolling Thunder'!
By Scott Weinberg (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:02:00 AM

Chabrol Set for 'Bellamy'
By Eric Kohn (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 1:02:00 AM

Filed under: Fandom, Home Entertainment Now this was a strange little discovery: If you're a Netflix member then you get to watch movies online for free as part of your membership fee, which is great for people like me because one never knows when he'll suddenly need to watch My Blue Heaven or The Mask of Zorro or six consecutive episodes of Heroes S2. It's not like you'll ever find any "buried treasure" on Netflix's 'insta-watch' list because if they're on that list ... they're also available on DVD! To own if you like! So I thought it was a little bit weird that, as I was scanning through Netflix's latest online offerings, I noticed a flick called Rolling Thunder. Hmm, I vaguely recall that movie NEVER being released on DVD, so what gives? Well heck, it sure looks like Netflix has released some "instant watch only" titles that are simply not available on Region 1 DVD yet. (Just a reminder: Rolling Thunder is a 1977 action flick that's built up quite the cult following over the years. Apparently it's one of

Tarantino's favorites too.) So there you go, movie freaks: If you belong to Netflix already, here's your chance to check out Rolling Thunder-- which I'll be doing later tonight. They're even using the old VHS cover, ha! Continue reading Netflix Has Movies That Aren't Even On DVD! Like 'Rolling Thunder'! Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: DIY/Filmmaking, Newsstand Cineuropa reported last week that octogenarian French filmmaker Claude Chabrol is nearly ready to start shooting his fifty-fourth feature, a unique mystery called Bellamy. While Woody Allen has become the quintessential prolific director, Chabrol, more than a decade his senior, outdoes the whiny nebbish in terms of volume and quality. Chabrol's movies rely heavily on genre, but he tends to constrain the proportions of messy relationship dramas and other unsettling plot trajectories to bring a renewed sense of claustrophobia to familiar territory. Blending excitement with dread, he has always been simultaneously the most accessible and least forgiving French New Wave auteur. His work is consistently gripping: The urban college thriller Les Cousin(1959) contrasts studious intentions with drunken tomfoolery against a

collegiate backdrop, not unlike the modern American frat movie (but a lot scarier). Les Bonnes Femmes(1960) featured a chilling stalker and a brilliantly frightening sequence where a woman nearly drowns in a public swimming pool. Continue reading Chabrol Set for 'Bellamy' Permalink| Email this| Comments

'Iron Man' Enjoying Early Rave Reviews
By Erik Davis (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 4:32:00 AM

Filed under: Action, RumorMonger, F a n d o m , E x h i b i t i o n , Comic/Superhero/Geek, Trailers and Clips

Pete Wentz Denies Ashlee Simpson Is Pregnant
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/14/2008 9:10:11 PM

New 'Speed Racer' Featurette
By Elisabeth Rappe (Cinematical)
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:32:00 AM

Filed under: Animation, Classics, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Warner Brothers, Family Films, Newsstand, Movie Marketing, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Remakes and Sequels, Trailers and Clips So much has been released lately, I am honestly losing track of what Speed Racer footage is new - but the Internet is raving over the new featurette posted over on Apple. If you've been to the theatre in the past week or so, you've seen at least half of this on the First Look. The rest of it is ... well, probably most of

the movie. For a movie full of such eyeblowing visuals, you would think they'd hold back a little. Hopefully, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and Speed Racer fans

will be stunned anew. I confess, the trailers and featurette are enough for me. It certainly is pretty -- the world of the future that I long to live in -but it just doesn't grab me otherwise. I feel terribly out of touch and I shouldn't admit it, but my first thought upon seeing Matthew Fox's racing gear was "Oh, he's Scottish." At least I know the plot, now. I am still amazed they managed to snag Susan Sarandon for this. It has to be pretty cool if she's involved, right? We will find out soon enough. Speed Racer comes to the theatres on May 9th, 2008. Permalink| Email this| Comments

Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson made video back in February of 2008 showing Ashlee Simpson faking a pregnancy. The couple just announced that they are engaged to be married, and suddenly Us Magazine and OK! magazine are reporting that Ashlee is really pregnant, but now Pete is denyingAshlee is pregnant in an interviewed with MTV: "There is a witch hunt for people to be pregnant whenever they get engaged in Hollywood," he wrote. "This is all news to me. I can’t wait for the story about how I’m really in a gay relationship and this is all just a cover. … I mean really, this is crazy. … I mean we’re engaged, that’s true, and happy about it." Asked again if he was denying reports

that Simpson is pregnant, Wentz replied: "Yeah." Pete seems pretty annoyed, but he only has himself to thank for these rumors. Maybe Pete and Ashlee haven’t told Papa Joe yet. n Is Ashlee really pregnant? • No • Yes View Results © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Ashlee Simpson is Pregnant • Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson Are Getting Married • Ashlee Simpson Bittersweet Album • Ashlee Simpson Denies Being Drunk on Radio Show • Ashlee Simpson Sounds Drunk in the Morning

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If you're lucky enough to live in some parts of the world, like Mexico or Sydney, Australia, then you may be among the few who have attended an early screening of Iron Man. Apparently, there was also a screening for exhibitors last week where one such exhibitor had the following to say about the film: "I have never read the comic and know almost nothing about the character. But I had seen some clips of Downey developing the suit and was amused. Well I can report the movie is terrific. It is a thinking person's superhero film with more character development than special effects and action scenes (though there are plenty of those which are nicely balanced so we get involved in the story rather than bored by non-stop effects.)." We've included video from the Iron Man press conference in Mexico after the jump, courtesy of Anne Thompson. Gallery: Iron Man Continue reading'Iron Man' Enjoying Early Rave Reviews Permalink| Email this| Comments

Let the Tiger Coronation Wait
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/9/2008 10:59:00 AM

(If you’re looking for today’s Daily Fix column, it’s here.) Tim Carroll offers his Masters pick: Now that the media has handed out the major tournament trophies for 2008, let’s review: Tiger Woods won the Masters because ESPN said so, the U.S. Open in June because NBC wanted him to, the British Open in July because it made for really great ratings for ABC, and CBS had Tiger finishing up the Grand Slam in a runaway because it was a wonderful lead-in to the fall programming. Tiger even went 5-0 in the Ryder Cup in September simply because, well, he’s Tiger and it makes for great TV. And the U.S. romped 27.5-0.5 in the Ryder Cup, missing out on the clean sweep only to give Johnny Miller something to talk about on the final day of the match. Don’t hand Tiger the green jacket yet. (Getty Images) OK, not really, but equally not really are the ads that ESPN is running to announce it is broadcasting the par-three contest on Wednesday and the first two rounds of the Masters this year. The ads talk of how Tiger is going for history this year. History? His 14th professional major and fifth green jacket? Nah, Jack Nicklaus did both. It’s an allusion to Woods winning the Grand Slam this year. And it’s likely an

illusion. Memo to everyone: Please calm down and remember the boys have yet to put a tee in the ground, have yet to hole a single putt, have yet to wipe a sweat-stained brow after a power lip-out leaves a putt longer than the original. And we all know how well the media is at predictions, don’t we, President Giuliani? Certainly, Woods is a prohibitive favorite. Las Vegas lists him as even odds in a sport where if someone — other than Tiger, of course — has a winning percentage near 10%, it’s a monster, monster year. Woods won five PGA Tour events in a row, and then his streak ended when he plummeted all the way to fifth in his last event. Check out the stats pages on PGATour.com and you don’t need a workout for your scrolling finger to come across Woods’s name in scoring, money, putting, greens in regulation, etc. And, yes, in last year’s four majors he finished

second, second, all the way down to 12th, and first. And, yes, this year’s majors — or at least the middle two of the U.S. and British Opens — set up very well for Woods. But let’s all calm down: From now until August is a long time to hyperventilate. So if not Woods, who does win the green jacket? Chad Campbell does all the things that a Masters champion needs to do — he hits it long enough and well enough, but more importantly he putts well enough — and his second-place showing on Tour this past week portends well. Phil Mickelson has shown he can win here. And his short-game coach Dave Pelz told me in a conversation about a month ago that Mr. Mickelson’s wrist was hurt worse than people thought last year, but now is completely healed. Mr. Mickelson has already won once on Tour this year. A third jacket for him is not farfetched. But the Fix Pick is K.J. Choi. He is second in greens in regulation this year, sixth in scoring average, has won once this year, and, after getting off to an awful start last week, rallied to finish 11th. And, who knows: If my prediction is right, maybe I’ll run for president! Mr. Carroll, a news editor at the print Journal, always wanted his Dad to be president so the family could bowl in the White House. He can be reached at tim.carroll@wsj.com.

Taylor Swift Takes Home Country Music Award
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/15/2008 7:33:58 AM

Taylor Swift(18) accepted the female video of the year award for Our Song in her bare feet, saying "Are you sure? Are you serious?" I’m so glad she didn’t say "Like OMG!" She did sasy she had to take off her pink heels because they made her feet her. She used to cowboy boots. Taylor said "I walked by Faith Hill and I was like, ’This hurts so bad.’ And she was like, ’Take them off,’ Faith Hill told me to. So I did it." Swift said she wrote Our Song in 9th grade for a talent show saying: "I never thought it would be on an album,

never thought I’d record it, never thought it would be a single, never thought it would be No. 1 and certainly never thought it would win video and female video of the year." Swift beat out Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, and Sugarland. Hopefully someone will upload the original version of Our Song as it was performed when Swift was still in 9th grade. I have a feeling she was a blond back then too, and was very popular with the boys. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Taylor Swift Takes it in the Rear

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Welcome to the Daily Fix’s 2008 Seasonlong Baseball Contest
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/8/2008 5:28:00 PM

(If you’re looking for today’s Daily Fix column, it’s here.) The Detroit Tigers are Fix readers’ consensus pick to win the World Series, for the first time since 1984. Of course, the Tigers promptly started the season by losing their first seven games, so the 134 readers who entered the Daily Fix seasonlong baseball contest can take solace in the fact that the World Series winner is just one of 20 questions. Predicting Barry Bonds’s home run total (most think he won’t have any); the first player to be released or traded (so long, Richie Sexson); and the most-improved team (break up the Rays!) is just as important in this test of forecasting skills. This roundup of reader picks may come late, but the first week of the baseball season generally doesn’t mean much, as New York Sun columnist Tim Marchman pointed out this week. Unfortunately for Mr. Marchman, one early return that does seem to matter is the Tigers’ early woes — he’s a guest entrant in the Fix contest, along with eight of our other favorite baseball writers, and he picked the Tigers. Marchman, Joe Posnanski and Jeff Passan are newcomers to the contest this year, joining veterans Deadspin’s Will Leitch, Jon Bois and Nick Dallamora from the Dugout, Larry Borowsky, Alex Belth and Joe Sheehan from Baseball Prospectus (here are the returning sextet’s 2007 picks). Below they share their predictions for the season, along with some commentary. If you didn’t think the eephus pitch, Minnie Minoso, a young, sullen Nick Markakis, Leavenworth, Jimi Hendrix, Residence Inn, Sunday school, “Michael Clayton” and a bronzed llama could all make it into one MLB column, you haven’t read these guys enough. Also returning from last year are the winner and runner-up among our readers. The winner, Matt Viereck, expects the Tigers to beat the Cubs in a World Series with lower ratings than last year. Also, he thinks the Giants will finish with the majors’ worst record. Runner-up Steve Saeger likes the Mets to beat the Tigers in October. He thinks Barry Bonds will hit 12 home runs. Meanwhile, the first prize of the 2008 contest goes to Elie Mischel, for

getting in the first entry. On to the picks. Answers may not add up to 135 because some readers omitted some answers. Readers picks come first. Last year’s right answer in bold, where applicable. Want to weigh in on how the season, and this contest, will play out? Please sound off in the comments. THE BASICS(point value in parentheses) 1. Which six teams will be division winners? (5 each) AL East: Red Sox 105; Yankees 27; Blue Jays 2. AL Central: Tigers 95; Indians 39. AL West: Angels 98; Mariners 33; A’s 3. NL East: Mets 101; Phillies 22; Braves 11. NL Central: Cubs 86; Brewers 37; Reds 6; Cardinals 4; Astros 1. NL West: Diamondbacks 60; Dodgers 40; Padres 18; Rockies 16. More than 43% of readers picked identical division winners in the AL: the Red Sox, the Tigers and the Angels. And there were just five picks, total, for teams that didn’t finish first or second last year. There was far less unanimity in the NL, where all but five teams got at least four votes. Alex Belth: Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners, Mets, Cubs, Rockies. I’ve actually found myself avoiding reading too much about the coming season this spring. Not an easy trick when you maintain a daily blog. This is now the sixth Opening Day I’ve blogged on Bronx Banter. When I started, there were only a handful of Yankees-related sites. Now, there seems to be dozens, including professional blogs by journalists like Pete Abraham, Joel Sherman, Kat O’Brien and Tyler Kepner. The constant stream of information and analysis helps make this something of a golden age for baseball fans. At the same time, I find it all to be overwhelming at times. So, in the interest of having a fresh perspective going into the year, I’ve tried to read as little as possible, only keeping myself familiar with what is happening, not intimately so. This general feeling of needing a break also has been heightened by the departure of Joe Torre, the decline of George Steinbrenner and the beginning of the final year of Yankee Stadium. That said, it should be another

compelling year for the game in both leagues. The NL West is exciting and it’ll be interesting to see how the Mets perform after their regrettable finish in ‘07. If Pedro and Johan remain healthy, each home start will be an event, kind of like the old Doc Gooden days. I think the Yankees may have trouble relying on so much young pitching; still, they still have a formidable team with a lot of players I find easy to pull for. The defending champion Red Sox, once again, look to be tough. The Indians should regroup from their disappointing playoff exit and be strong too, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the Tigers are the team I’m most interested in watching — their offense is just staggering. Jon Bois: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Mets, Cubs, Dodgers. The American League’s division winners are slam dunks compared to the National League’s. Why? The designated-hitter rule, naturally. The AL is a real-world computer program comprised of flesh, wood, leather and dirt. It’s an algorithm, played out with simple dice-roll probability. When NL teams send pitchers to bat, they’re putting baseball’s primary mathematical unknown into play. Sure, you know the pitcher is probably going to suck at the plate, but you don’t know how or how badly he’s going to suck. The NL wild card is truly a wild

card, as is nearly everything else that happens in this wretched league. Take the 2007 Diamondbacks. There’s no way a team with a negative-20 run differential could win an American League division. Madness. I also blame the designated hitter whenever I stub my toe or spill my beer. Larry Borowsky: Red Sox, Indians, Angels, Mets, Brewers, Diamondbacks. A lot fewer gimmes than usual — the Mets are the only no-brainer pick (although the D-Backs pick required only the brain stem). The Braves, Cubs and Yankees would not look out of place on this list; the Mariners have two Cy Young candidates (Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard), and the Phillies have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels. I don’t like the Tigers’ pitching at all, so I’m picking against them. Nick Dallamora: Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners, Mets, Brewers, Rockies. Will Leitch: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Mets, Cubs, Diamondbacks. Tim Marchman: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Mets, Cubs, Diamondbacks. Jeff Passan: Red Sox, Indians, Mariners, Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Red Sox are a no-brainer. Indians benefit from Detroit’s bullpen and Seattle from the Kelvim Escobar injury. The Mets and Brewers are too talented, and I rolled a four-sided die to get the Dodgers. Joe Posnanski: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Mets, Cubs and Diamondbacks. I feel good about none of these. Maybe Arizona. Joe Sheehan: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Mets, Cubs, Diamondbacks Carl Bialik: Red Sox, Indians, Angels, Mets, Reds, Rockies. Jason Fry: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Mets, Cubs, Padres. 2. Which two teams will win the wild cards? (5 each) AL Yankees 51 Indians 33 Red Sox 19 Tigers 15 Blue Jays 7 Angels, Mariners 4 NL Phillies 24 Braves 19 Mets 16 Rockies 15

Diamondbacks 14 Cubs 11 Padres 10 Brewers 9 Dodgers 8 Reds 4 Astros, Cardinals 1 Just 11 readers choose their AL wildcard pick to win the league crown, and just three expect the wild-card team to go on to win the World Series. Those numbers are a similarly paltry 17 and five, respectively, in the NL. Yet a wild-card team has made each of the last six World Series. Meanwhile, more than 57% of readers expect the AL wild card to come from the East, which makes sense given that the Red Sox or Yankees have taken the extra playoff spot in four of the last five seasons. Belth: Angels and Phillies. Bois: Yankees and Braves. Their lineups are strong enough to reach the playoffs, but their pitching rotations hold too many unknowns for them to win a division race. Borowsky: Tigers and Reds. I don’t really think the Reds will go, but they’re a fun novelty pick. They vaguely remind me of the D-Backs from last year — young talent out the wazoo. Not even Dusty Baker can ruin this much potential. Dallamora: Yankees and Dodgers. Leitch: Yankees and Brewers. Marchman: Yankees and Braves. Bronx partisans will continue to stay curiously silent about the corrupting effects of allowing second-place teams into the playoffs. Passan: Tigers and Cubs. Solace for Cubs fans: A wild card has made each of the last six World Series. Posnanski: Yankees and Phillies. I want to say Cleveland, but I suspect the Yankees will find a way. Sheehan: Yankees and Braves. Bialik: Yankees and Braves. The Tigers can’t pitch. Fry: Indians and Braves. Watch out, Met faithful, the Braves are alive again. Oh yeah: Eat it, Steinbrenners! 3. Which two teams will go to the World Series? (15 each) AL Tigers 49 Red Sox 38 WELCOME page 27

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Indians 17 Yankees 14 Angels 12 Mariners 3 Blue Jays 1 NL Mets 62 Cubs 17 Diamondbacks, Dodgers 13 Phillies 11 Braves 6 Brewers 5 Rockies 3 Cardinals, Padres 2 Some 22 readers predicted the Tigers would face the Mets, and another 20 predicted a rematch of the Mets-Red Sox series in 1986. One of these, Samuel Sanchez, writes, “Mets in seven, only this time it will be Ortiz at Shea with the boot.” Belth: Tigers and Mets. Bois: Tigers and Braves. The Tigers possess the playoff experience they lacked during their 2006 run to the Series, both from holdovers from that team and from the newly-arrived Edgar Renteria. Aside from being an excellent player, Renteria has played in two Series and is a clubhouse leader. I think Dontrelle Willis will find his throw again, and the acquisition of Miguel Cabrera will make the Tigers’ lineup the scariest in baseball. I’m picking the Braves because I always pick the Braves. If for some reason Mike Hampton stays healthy enough to pitch 150 innings, Atlanta will possess one of the best rotations around. During off-days they should store him in that vat of fluid that they kept Luke Skywalker in while he recovered from his encounter with the ice monster. I have a lot of other great ideas. Borowsky: Red Sox and Diamondbacks. The D-Backs’ rotation is the best in the NL. They’ve got good defense, a good pen, and I like their manager. They could use another hitter, but they’ve got the trade chips to land one (and they could always pick up Barry Bonds, who played his college ball in Tempe). As for the Red Sox, they’re a near-perfect balance of inprime stars and breakthrough youngsters. Dallamora: Tigers and Brewers. This is starting to become a little too cliché, but the real World Series is going to be the ALCS. I’m seeing the Red Sox taking it to seven games again, but it’s the Tigers’ year to bring it home. Leitch: Red Sox and Mets. Marchman: Red Sox and Cubs. Boston and Chicago will win the pennants, inciting unprecedented levels of sepia-toned columnizing by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. Passan: Indians and Mets. Sorry, Cubs fans: No wild card this year. The Indians’ pitching is deep and hitting will return to form, and the Mets have the best pitcher in baseball, a talented offense and superb up-the-middle defense. Posnanski: Red Sox and Mets. Sheehan: Red Sox and Mets. Bialik: Yankees and Mets. This may be wishful thinking: I want to be in New York for a Subway Series, having missed by 90 miles last time around. Fry: Indians and Mets. 4. Which team will win the World Series? (30) Tigers 29 Mets 27 Red Sox 23 Yankees 12 Indians 10 Angels 8 Cubs 7 Braves 4 Dodgers, Phillies 3 Brewers, Diamondbacks 2 Cardinals, Mariners, Padres, Rockies 1 Just 51 readers expect the NL to win the World Series. Two sweeps in three years will do that to a team’s repuation. Thanks to the addition of Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers are readers’ favorite pick to win it all — but they started the season winless. (Associated Press Photo) Belth: Tigers. Bois: Braves. I’m picking the Braves again because I always pick the Braves again, and also because it gives me the opportunity to talk about them some more. I believe Matt Diaz is one of the most underappreciated hitters in baseball. He hit .338 last year, and his splits (.318 vs. lefties, .356 vs. righties) more than justify a full-time slot in left field. Yunel Escobar, who hit .327 last year, wasn’t the best infielder, but should improve defensively now that he doesn’t have to play three different positions. Borowsky: Red Sox. I can’t pick the Sox to repeat — it’s boring. There hasn’t been a repeat champ in almost a decade, and that was the Yanks so it doesn’t count (the last team other than the Yankees to repeat was the Blue Jays, in 1993). But am I really picking the Diamondbacks? Ah, screw it: the Sawx win again. Dallamora: Tigers. Leitch: Red Sox. Marchman: Red Sox. Boston will win in the 19th inning of Game Seven at Wrigley Field, having come back from at least two sizable deficits. One also naturally supposes that this game will involve a Cubs pitcher walking the bases loaded and then giving up a grand slam on an eephus pitch, Alfonso Soriano tossing a live ball into the stands on account of having forgotten how many outs there are, or something else of the sort. Passan: Mets. Santana at least twice, Pedro and Maine filling the other slots, Wright and Reyes in the swing of their primes. The only thing that could screw this up is Willie Randolph and, well, come September, if this looks foolish because of him, at least I’ll have been prescient in one respect. Posnanski: Red Sox. They won’t be able to talk about curses in Boston for a long, long time. Sheehan: Red Sox. Predicting who will win short series in October is hard enough in October, so consider this just a vote for the best team. No playoff team has better than a 1-in-5 shot in October, and, most years, worse than that. Bialik: Mets. Fry: Mets. I write this every year it’s even plausible. Is it a jinx? Possibly. But since I want it to happen, wouldn’t NOT writing it when it’s plausible just be an attempt to trick the baseball gods, and therefore an even bigger jinx? Some people pore over VORP and advanced stats; I ponder the butterfly effect of my wishes on the baseball cosmos. 5. Which team will have the best regularseason record? (10) Red Sox, Tigers 33 Mets 29 Angels 14 Yankees 12 Diamondbacks 5 Indians 4 Mariners 3 Cubs 1 Just 35% of readers think that the team with the best record will win the World Series. And barely a quarter of readers expect an NL team to have the best record — all but 6 picking the Mets. Belth: Mets. Bois: Red Sox. Their mix of veteran leadership and young talent is tuned perfectly to rack up 105 wins. As an aside: I’m now 25 years old, which makes me older than a decent number of players. I can actually say “young talent” and mean it. It’s unsettling. Borowsky: Red Sox. Dallamora: Red Sox. Leitch: Red Sox. Marchman: Red Sox and Mets, in a tie. Passan: Mets. I remember the Mets of April and May 2007 (34-18), not the ones from June through September (54-56). Posnanski: Tigers. Sheehan: Red Sox. Bialik: Red Sox. The last three teams in their division will provide lots of easy games. Fry: Tigers. 6. Which team will have the worst regular-season record? (10) Orioles 48 Giants 23 Marlins 17 Royals 15 Pirates 14 Nationals 11 Rays 3 A’s, Astros, Rangers 1 See the answers to No. 11 for one reason why the Orioles are such a popular pick for this one. Belth: Orioles. Bois: Orioles. The Orioles have two good players: Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts. MSNBC’s Tony DeMarco seems to think that Roberts could be out the door soon, which would leave them with one good player. And Markakis? As kids, Nick and I were in the same Cub Scout den in suburban Atlanta. He and I raced our cars against each other in the Pinewood Derby. My car won. I offered to shake his hand, but he responded with, “Whatever, you don’t want me to win, you don’t care,” and angrily stomped off. He grew up to be a star baseball player, and I grew up to blog about him on the Internet. But as far as I’m concerned, that fateful day makes me the winner. Borowsky: Giants. Dallamora: Orioles. Finally, an easy one. Leitch: Giants. Marchman: Giants. San Francisco will have a season so bad that the Dolan family will charter planes full of basketball writers and enraged fans to the Bay Area just to make themselves look good by the contrast. Isiah Thomas will be seen munching a hot dog in the stands, pointing and laughing at Giants management, and loudly boasting that even he wouldn’t field a team whose average age was 37. Passan: Orioles. Especially after they trade Brian Roberts. Posnanski: Orioles. It’ll be Baltimore or Pittsburgh. Does it matter? Two proud 1970s organizations. Sheehan: Orioles. Just barely behind the Giants. It’s a necessary part of the process, but the Orioles are going to be almost unwatchable this year. Bialik: Nationals. They won’t get a new-ballpark bounce. Fry: Giants. 7. Who will win the AL and NL Cy Young awards? (10 each) American League Justin Verlander (Tigers) 42 Josh Beckett (Red Sox) 24 C.C. Sabathia(Indians) 20 Erik Bedard (Mariners) 14 Roy Halladay (Blue Jays) 8 Felix Hernandez (Mariners) 5 John Lackey (Angels), Chien-Ming Wang (Yankees) 4 Rich Harden (A’s) 3 Fausto Carmona (Indians) 2 Jeremy Bonderman (Tigers), Mark Buehrle (White Sox), R.A. Dickey (Mariners), Scott Kazmir (Rays), Daisuke Matsuzaka (Red Sox), Gil Meche (Mariners), Johan Santana (in a trade from the Mets?), Dontrelle Willis (Tigers) 1 National League Johan Santana (Mets) 77 Brandon Webb (Diamondbacks) 18 Jake Peavy(Padres) 16 Cole Hamels (Phillies), Dan Haren (Diamondbacks) 5 Roy Oswalt (Astros), Carlos Zambrano (Cubs) 3 Aaron Harang (Reds), Chris Young (Padres) 2 WELCOME page 28

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John Maine (Mets), Brad Penny (Dodgers), Ben Sheets (Brewers) 1 Belth: Verlander and Santana. Bois: Halladay and Santana. Halladay has already won a Cy, and finished third and fifth in voting the last two years. My process for determining my prediction went exactly like this: “Johan Santana. Oh wait, he’s in the NL. Uh, Pat Hentgen.” Then I pulled up the Blue Jays’ Baseball Reference page. “Did Pat Hentgen change his name to Roy Halladay? I can’t imagine why he would, but then, I haven’t watched a Blue Jays game in years. Halladay it is.” Cy Young voters tend to get excited about wins, and I think Santana will rack up 22 of them. He’s moving to a pitcher’s league and will enjoy plenty of run support. Borowsky: Felix Hernandez and Santana. Dallamora: Verlander and Santana. Leitch: Verlander and Santana. Marchman: Sabathia and Santana. These are admittedly incredibly unimaginative picks. I would pick Josh Beckett, as one almost expects that his back problems will recur in perfect proportion to the number of 18-hour flights he’s asked to take, but taking him at his word one has to slate him behind Sabathia and his marvelous array of hat angles. Passan: Felix Hernandez and Santana. If you asked me two years ago, I would have thought Felix Hernandez would gain 30 pounds instead of lose them. When I walked into Seattle’s clubhouse, I didn’t recognize him. His arm is the same, and with his slider unleashed by the Mariners and his conditioning likelier to keep him deep into games, there’s no reason he shouldn’t break out. Santana with Shea is like Jimi with a Strat. Posnanski: Verlander and Santana. Verlander becomes the first AL pitcher in three years to win more than 20. Santana has a monster year for Mets. Sheehan: Felix Hernandez and Santana. Bialik: Carmona and Santana. Fry: Felix Hernandez and Johan Santana. 8. Who will win the AL and NL MVP awards? (10 each) American League Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) 46 Alex Rodriguez(Yankees) 43 Manny Ramirez (Red Sox) 14 Grady Sizemore (Indians) 9 Magglio Ordonez (Tigers) 7 Vladimir Guerrero (Angels) 5 Victor Martinez (Indians) 2 Travis Hafner (Indians), Torii Hunter (Angels), Derek Jeter (Yankees), Justin Morneau (Twins), David Ortiz (Red Sox), Placido Polanco (Tigers), Jorge Posada (Yankees), Dontrelle Willis (Tigers) 1 National League David Wright (Mets) 43 Matt Holliday (Rockies), Ryan Howard (Phillies) 14 Prince Fielder (Brewers), Jose Reyes (Mets) 10 Alfonso Soriano (Cubs), Chase Utley (Phillies) 8 Mark Teixera (Braves) 5 Albert Pujols (Cardinals) 4 Chipper Jones (Braves), Jimmy Rollins(Phillies) 3 Carlos Beltran (Mets), Derreck Lee (Cubs) 2 Jeff Francoeur (Braves), Alex Gonzalez (Reds), Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Aramis Ramirez (Cubs), Hanley Ramirez (Marlins), Johan Santana (Mets), Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) 1 Belth: Cabrera and Utley. Bois: Cabrera and Chipper Jones. If I’m supposing that the Braves will make an improbable run to the World Series, I need to be consistent with my improbable prediction and suppose that their injury-prone clubhouse leader will lead them there. At age 35, Chipper is a better player than he’s ever been. Borowsky: Sizemore and Pujols. I picked the same two guys last year; Pujols pert near snuck off with the award (and he might have won it if us sabermetric types ran the voting). Dallamora: Manny Ramirez and Prince Fielder. I picked Manny last year and he had his worst season in 10 years. By my logic I should learn that he’s an aging All-Star and pick Alex Rodriguez. This, of course, results in him going bonkers in a contract year, leaving me to kick my own behind when he picks up the award. I’m outsmarting you this time, baseball god. Leitch: Alex Rodriguez and Wright. Marchman: Cabrera and Teixeira. Cabrera will not deserve it, but his 150 runs driven in will trump the 25 that bounce off of and drop past his outstretched glove. Teixeira will deserve it, and the team that signs him for $25 million a year coming off his peak season will deserve what they get most of all. Passan: Alex Rodriguez and Utley. Sorry, but A-Rod was so much better than anyone last season, it would be foolish to pick against him. Utley, not Jimmy Rollins, would have won NL MVP had he played a full season last year, and, at age 29, he’s about as good as he’s going to get. Posnanski: Jeter and Beltran. I have this weird feeling that this will finally be the year Jeter wins it. I always pick Beltran to win in the NL. Sheehan: Cabrera and Wright. Note: will win. “Should” is an entirely different matter, especially in the AL. Cabrera’s RBIs and new-car-smell will carry the day, but his defense will trim his true value down. Bialik: Rodriguez and Beltran. Fry: Cabrera and Wright. 9. Who will win the AL and NL Rookie of the Year awards? (10 each) American League Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox) 42 Evan Longoria (Rays) 39 Clay Buchholz (Red Sox) 18 Joba Chamberlain (Yankees) 10 Daric Barton (A’s) 8 Carlos Gomez* (Twins), Adam Jones* (Orioles) 3 Ian Kennedy (Yankees) (2) Erick Aybar* (Angels), Carlos Gonzalez (A’s), Phil Hughes* (Yankees), Dustin Pedroia* (Red Sox), Jonathan Van Every (Red Sox) 1 The Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudom, who had played 1,074 games for Japan’s Chunichi but none in the majors before this season, is the favorite for the NL’s Rookie of the Year award. National League Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs) 38 Geovany Soto (Cubs) 17 Joey Votto (Reds) 13 Jay Bruce (Reds) 11 Cameron Maybin (Marlins) 10 Johnny Cueto (Reds) 7 Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Andy LaRoche (Dodgers) 4 Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers), Jayson Nix (Rockies), Colby Rasmus (Cardinals), Justin Upton* (Diamondbacks) 3 Chase Headley (Padres), J.R. Towles (Astros) 2 Homer Bailey (Reds), Yunel Escobar* (Braves), Evan Longoria (traded from Rays?), Lastings Milledge* (Nationals), Alexei Ramirez (traded from White Sox?), Troy Tulowitzki* (Rockies), Edinson Volquez* (Reds), Delwyn Young (Dodgers) 1 *No longer eligible for the award (see eligibility rules here) Cueto made a strong first impression, striking out 10 batters with no walks — and by one analysis compiling one of the best major-league debuts in history. Belth: Buchholz and Fukudome. Bois: Buchholz and Homer Bailey. Bailey had an awful Spring and was sent to Louisville, but I believe he’ll be called back up before too long. Reds manager Dusty Baker has already proven his ability to get the most out of young pitchers, and he can do the same with Bailey. Granted, he’ll probably trot him out to throw 340 innings, run him into the ground, and sacrifice the rest of his career, but what’s a vase if you don’t break it? Borowsky: Barton and Bruce. Dallamora: Buchholz and Fukudome. Leitch: Longoria and Soto. Marchman: Buchholz and Soto. Clay Buchholz’s award will, along with continued great pitching from Justin Verlander and Scott Kazmir, help provoke a scouting bias toward beanpole pitchers, an entirely welcome development. Geovany Soto’s award will prove an inadequate salve for the above-mentioned Game Seven. Passan: Longoria and Cueto. Posnanski: Longoria and Fukudome. Fukudome becomes the latest Japanese star to win the inappropriately named “Rookie of the Year” award. Sheehan: Longoria and Fukudome. Bialik: Buchholz and Fukudome. Fry: Longoria and Fukudome. TEAMS(all remaining questions 10 points each. All questions include regularseason games only.) 10. Which NL team will score the most runs? And which AL team? (5 points each) NL Phillies 58 Rockies 26 Mets 17 Cubs 14 Brewers 10 Braves 5 Astros, Diamondbacks 2 AL Tigers 77 Yankees 37 Red Sox 16 Angels, Indians 2 Belth: Phillies and Yankees. Bois: Phillies and Tigers. Unfortunately for them, the Phillies lack the pitching to win more than 85 games. I wonder whether Ryan Howard would hit so many home runs if someone let him know they were all going to waste. Borowsky: Phillies and Yankees. Dallamora: Brewers and Red Sox. Leitch: Phillies and Tigers. Marchman: Rockies and Yankees. In the NL, Chicago will score the most among teams that don’t play in a pinball machine. ( Humidor or no, Coors Field still has freak-show tendencies.) The Yankees will bludgeon people to death as usual. Passan: Phillies and Tigers. The Yankees are getting too old, and even though the Tigers have some rings on their tree, I’ll take them by 15 runs. Phillies ahead of the Braves simply because of their ballpark. Posnanski: Phillies and Tigers. Philadelphia, because the Phillies ballpark is roughly the size of a Residence Inn Suite. Sheehan: Braves and Tigers. Bialik: Phillies and Tigers. Fry: Cubs and Indians. 11. Which NL team will give up the most runs? And which AL team? (5 points each) NL Marlins 38 Pirates 20 Nationals 19 Astros 13 Rockies 12 Giants 11 Reds 8 Phillies 5 Brewers 4 Cardinals 3 George Sherrill and his fellow Orioles hurlers are expected to lead the AL in the dubious stat of yielding the most runs. (Associated Press Photo) AL Orioles 65 Royals 25 Rangers 24 Rays 13 White Sox 2 Mariners, Tigers, Twins 1 Belth: Marlins and Orioles. Bois: Marlins and Orioles. WELCOME page 29

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See my Markakis anecdote above. He can pitch a fit, but unfortunately for the Orioles, he cannot pitch a baseball. Borowsky: Astros and Orioles. Dallamora: Marlins and Orioles. Leitch: Reds and Rangers. Marchman: Rockies and Rangers. Colorado will allow the most, but Florida’s runner-up performance will be far more impressive in context. Texas will continue to labor under whatever curse it is that they suffer from. Passan: Nationals and Orioles. Sucks to be a Beltway baseball fan. Posnanski: Marlins and Orioles. Sheehan: Marlins and Orioles. Bialik: Nationals and Rangers. Fry: Phillies and Rangers. 12. Which team will have the mostimproved record, measured in increase in total regular-season victories? Rays 49 Reds 20 White Sox 12 Royals 10 Dodgers, Tigers, Mariners 5 A’s, Marlins 4 Cubs, Giants 3 Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Pirates 2 Astros, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Rangers, Twins 1 Belth: Blue Jays. Bois: Braves. Braves, naturally. They’ll win 98 games, which won’t be enough to catch the Mets, but will be enough to clinch a wild card by mid-September. Borowsky: Brewers. The very quiet addition of Mike Cameron is huge: The resulting defensive shuffle (Bill Hall to third base, Ryan Braun to left field) will improve the Brewers by at least half a dozen games. They’ll have Yovanni Gallardo around all year, Dave Bush will probably pitch better, and for once Ben Sheets had a healthy spring; maybe this’ll be the year he finally makes all 32 starts. Dallamora: Rays. Leitch: Rays. Marchman: Rays. Tampa Bay would have to botch things pretty badly not to win out here. Passan: Rays. When they finish the season at .500, it will be the best moment for the franchise since Vince Naimoli’s wife got popped for running a red and he asked the cop: “Do you know who I am?” Posnanski: Rays. Sheehan: Rays. There won’t be that many great leaps forward this season, in part because not that many teams were all that bad last year. Bialik: Royals. They should have won five more games than they did last year, based on run differential. Fry: Rays. 13. Which team will suffer the biggest decline, measured in decrease in total regular-season victories? Rockies 26 Twins 16 Indians 13 Angels 12 Cardinals 10 A’s 8 Red Sox, Yankees 6 Brewers, Giants 5 Astros, Mariners, Padres 4 Orioles, Phillies 3 Braves, Diamondbacks, Marlins 2 Blue Jays, Mets, Rangers 1 Belth: Yankees. Bois: Twins. In addition to losing the best pitcher of his generation, they also dumped Torii Hunter, an underappreciated Carlos Silva, and future star Matt Garza. You know what you do when you want to mail in a season? You get rid of your talent and sign Livan Hernandez. Borowsky: Rockies. They were a .500 team until midSeptember last year, and they look like a .500 team to me again. I’m counting on them not repeating the 14-1 finishing kick. Dallamora: Twins. Leitch: Rockies. I don’t think my Cardinals are going to be as terrible as everyone thinks, but maybe I’m just saying that to avoid the fact that Todd freaking Wellemeyer is in our rotation. Marchman: Mariners. A great number of people will express disbelief at the huge decline from an 88win team that added Erik Bedard, and will continue to scoff at the idea that there are stable, predictable relationships between runs scored and allowed and win totals. Passan: Cardinals. By June, Pujols will be begging for surgery to get away from this mess. Posnanski: Rockies. Maybe the Rockies. Maybe Seattle. I’ll go with the Rockies, but I don’t feel good about it. Sheehan: Orioles. The Giants will be right here as well, as will the Phillies. Bialik: Diamondbacks. They should have won 11 fewer games than they did last year. Fry: Cardinals. Let’s see Tony La Russa’s annoying micromanaging and paranoid fantasies get them out of this fix. I’ll feel for St. Louis fans, but not for him. 14. Rank these teams in order of regularseason wins, most to fewest: Nationals, Pirates, Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals. Nearly 60% of readers –77, to be exact — think the Rays will do best of these teams. Just seven picked the Orioles, who were the pick of 73 readers to have the worst record of the five. The most popular ranking: Rays, Nationals, Royals, Pirates, Orioles. In all, 53 of the 120 possible rankings were selected. Incidentally, they’re now the Rays, not the Devil Rays, as the Fixers erroneously called them in this contest. Reader William Backer deducted points from us for this gaffe; at least he didn’t fine us. Belth: Rays, Nationals, Pirates, Royals, Orioles. Bois: Royals, Rays, Nationals, Pirates, Orioles. I’m choosing to believe what I read about new Royals manager Trey Hillman. He seems like a Joe Girardi type, which is exactly what that team needs. Borowsky: Rays, Royals, Pirates, Nationals, Orioles. Dallamora: Orioles, Nationals, Pirates, Royals, Rays. Leitch: Rays, Royals, Pirates, Nationals, Orioles. Marchman: Rays, Nationals, and Pirates, with the Orioles and Royals tied. (Note the high correlation, also on display in San Francisco, between being terrible and having a really great ballpark.) Passan: Rays, Royals, Pirates, Nationals, Orioles. Posnanski: Rays, Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Orioles. I think this question is just plain mean. That’s all. Mean. I should refuse to answer it on principle. But since I have no prinicples… Sheehan: Rays, Nationals, Royals, Pirates, Orioles. Carl, you owe the Rays a dollar. Bialik: Royals, Rays, Pirates, Orioles, Nationals. Fry: Rays, Nationals, Royals, Pirates, Orioles. Still, all of those teams can plausibly think better days are coming. INDIVIDUALS(Asterisk denotes partial credit will be given.) 15. Which manager will be first to no longer be managing his team (whether fired, retired, resigned or otherwise not managing) in 2008? White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, shown arguing on Opening Day, isn’t expected to last in his job much longer by dozens of Fix readers. (Getty Images) Ozzie Guillen (White Sox) 26 John Gibbons (Blue Jays) 17 Dave Trembley (Orioles) 14 Ron Washington (Rangers) 11 Bruce Bochy ( Padres Giants), Ned Yost (Brewers) 9 Tony La Russa (Cardinals) 7 Charlie Manuel (Phillies) 6 John McLaren (Mariners) 5 Manny Acta (Nationals), Willie Randolph (Mets), John Russell (Pirates) 4 Joe Girardi (Yankees), Lou Piniella (Cubs) 3 Cecil Cooper (Astros), Bob Geren (A’s) 2 Dusty Baker (Reds), Bud Black (Padres), Bobby Cox (Braves), Ron Gardenhire (Twins), Mike Scioscia (Angels), Eric Wedge (Indians) 1 The only immune managers, in the view of our readers, are those who manage teams with very low or very high expectations: Red Sox, Rays, Royals, Tigers, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Rockies Giants. Amid this paranoia, one reader even predicted Phil Garner’s repeat departure would come first. Incidentally, Guillen is also the most likely pick according to a betting Web site. Belth: La Russa. Bois: Fredi Gonzalez. …because Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria tends to fire managers for no good reason. Borowsky: Gibbons. Dallamora: La Russa. Leitch: Yost. Marchman: Guillen. Guillen threatened to run for mayor of Chicago a while ago, so once he’s fired he should look into maneuvering his way into the Illinois Senate seat I expect will open this year. Alan Keyes got 27%, and he has no world championships as far as I’m aware. Passan: Guillen. Or: Likeliest to have a Tom Wilkinson-in -”Michael Clayton” meltdown. Posnanski: Guillen. I’ll go with my old friend Ozzie Guillen. That curtain seems about read to close on that act. Who is managing Pittsburgh now? Oh, John Russell — he just started. He’ll be fine. Dave Trembley in Baltimore seems like a good guess too, but he’s probably also too new. Sheehan: McLaren. Bialik: Trembley. Fry: Gibbons. 16. Who will be the highest-salaried player (based on 2008 salary) released or traded? All dollar figures are 2008 salaries, in units of $1 million rounded to the nearest $100,000, and are based on USA Today’s salary database. Richie Sexson (Mariners: $15.5) 10 Jason Giambi (Yankees: $23.4) 9 Miguel Tejada (Astros: $14.8) 7 Carlos Delgado (Mets: $16), Todd Helton (Rockies: $16.6), Juan Pierre (Dodgers: $8) 5 A.J. Burnett (Blue Jays: $13.2), Joe Nathan (Twins: $6) 4 Jason Bay (Pirates: $6), Coco Crisp (Red Sox: $5.1), Mike Hampton (Braves: $16), Andruw Jones (Dodgers: $14.7), Melvin Mora (Orioles: $7.8), Alex Rodriguez (Yankees: $28), Barry Zito (Giants: $14.5) 3 Bobby Abreu (Yankees: $16), Beltre (Mariners: $13.4), Lance Berkman (Astros: $14.5), Pat Burrell (Phillies: $14.3), Jose Contreras (White Sox: $10), J.D. Drew (Red Sox: $14), Adam Dunn (Reds: $13), Jim Edmonds (Padres: $8), Nomar Garciaparra (Dodgers: $9.5), Ken Griffey, Jr. (Reds: $8.3), Brandon Inge (Tigers: $6.2), Jeff Kent (Dodgers: $9), Carlos Lee (Astros: $12.5), Hideki Matsui (Yankees: $13), Andy Pettitte (Yankees: $16), Brian Roberts (Orioles: $6.3), C.C. Sabathia (Indians: $11), Jim Thome (White Sox: $15.7), Javier Vazquez (White Sox: $11.5) 2 Daric Barton (A’s: $0.4), Joe Borowski (Indians: $4), Milton Bradley (Rangers: WELCOME page 30

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WELCOME continued from page 29
$5.3), Bartolo Colon (Angels: $16), Joe Crede (White Sox: $5.1), Kyle Farnsworth (Yankees: $5.9), Eric Gagne (Brewers: $10), Jay Gibbons (Orioles: $5), Orlando Hudson (Diamondbacks: $6.3), Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks: $15.1), Kyle Lohse (Cardinals: $4.3), Daisuke Matsuzaka (Red Sox: $8.3), Kevin Millwood (Rangers: $10.4), Mike Mussina (Yankees: $11.1), Carl Pavano (Yankees: $11), Manny Ramirez (Red Sox: $18.9), Ivan Rodriguez (Tigers: $12.4), Curt Schilling (Red Sox: $8), Jason Schmidt (Dodgers: $15.2), Ben Sheets (Brewers: $12.1), Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners: $17.1), Mike Sweeney (A’s: $0.5), Mark Teixeira (Braves: $12.5), Woody Williams (Astros: $6), Dmitri Young (Nationals: $5), Michael Young (Rangers: $6.2) 1 According to 10 readers, Richie Sexson won’t be with the Mariners by the end of the season. (Associated Press Photo) Multiple readers selected Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia, the defending MVP and Cy Young Award winner, respectively of the AL. Gibbons and Williams, both released before their teams’ openers, make less money than dozens of players on this list, so the Fix has some time to defer the decision as to whether they count. Belth: Giambi. Bois: Nathan. When I was a little kid, one of my favorite storybooks was titled, “As Right As Right Can Be.” It was about a poor man who bought some sharp new shoelaces. The shoelaces only served to highlight the dullness of the rest of his possessions, so he bought new shoes, then a new jacket, then a new house. The story ended with his property being repossessed by the bank. It’s a good read. Anyway, the Twins are currently in the process of telling this story in reverse. Johan Santana was the new mansion; Torii Hunter was the horse and cart, and Joe Nathan is the snappy new vest. The shoelaces are Kevin Slowey. Borowsky: Burrell. Dallamora: Buerhle. Leitch: Thome. Marchman: Pujols. Passan: Jose Vidro. Only redeeming quality is that he doesn’t strike out in a lineup full of guys who do. But with Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien waiting, why are the Mariners sticking with a sub-.400 SLG DH? Runner -up: Nomar Garciaparra, making the $8.5 million Vidro is, and probably just as likely a designate-for-assignment. Posnanski: Eric Chavez. Sheehan: Contreras. I never, ever, ever get this right. Bialik: Giambi. Fry: Delgado. 17. Which starting pitcher who’s changed teams (a group that includes Johan Santana and Dontrelle Willis) will earn the most wins? Johan Santana (Twins to Mets) 111 Dan Haren (A’s to Diamondbacks) 8 Erik Bedard (Orioles to Mariners) 6 Dontrelle Willis (Marlins to Tigers) 4 Livan Hernandez (Diamondbacks to Twins) 2 Shawn Chacon (Pirates to Astros), R.A. Dickey (Rangers to Mariners), Brett Tomko (Padres to Royals) 1 Among top picks, last year Santana and Haren had 15 wins apiece, Bedard had 13 and Willis had 10. Belth: Santana. Bois: Santana. “Your search for ‘johan santana good baseball fellow’ returned about 38,300 results (0.24 seconds).” Borowsky: Santana. Dallamora: Santana. Leitch: Santana. Marchman: Santana. Santana will win more games than he pitches. Some guy somewhere in Ozone Park will remain really angry that the Mets gave up Carlos Gomez in the deal, and will repeatedly call Joe Benigno to express his views on the use of leverage in negotiations. Passan: Santana. I’m nothing if not consistent. Posnanski: Santana. But I think Willis has a good year too. Sheehan: Santana. He could have an obnoxious record, 26-3 or something. Bialik: Santana. Fry: Santana. 18. Will anyone reach the 20-20-20-20 threshold (in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases) that Curtis Granderson and Jimmy Rollins reached last year? If yes, who? No one 76 Jimmy Rollins (Phillies) 21 Jose Reyes (Mets) 13 Curtis Granderson (Tigers) 11 Hanley Ramirez (Marlins) 7 Carl Crawford (Rays), Grady Sizemore (Indians) 2 Ryan Braun (Brewers), Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners) 1 Belth: Jeter. Except instead of 20 triples he’ll be hit by 20+ pitches. Bois: Ramirez. These days, answering “Hanley Ramirez” when asked “who will do good in baseball” is like answering “God” in Sunday school. Borowsky: No. Dallamora: No. Honestly, I’m thinking Hanley Ramirez, but saying “no” is a lot easier than picking the player correctly. Leitch: No. Marchman: No. Absolutely not. Eight guys have hit 20 triples in a season since integration. Passan: No. The closest will be Grady Sizemore. Posnanski: No. Rollins could do it again if he gets 800 plate appearances or whatever crazy number he got last year. Sheehan: No. It’s kind of a fluke thing. You need a million plate appearances, not that many walks, the right park… Bialik: No. Fry: Reyes. 19. How many home runs will Barry Bonds hit?* Barry Bonds won’t get much of a chance to add to his record home-run total while attending basketball games such as this Lakers-Kings matchup. (Associated Press Photo) The mean was four, while the median and mode were zero (98 readers thought Bonds would remain stuck at 762). The highest guess was 24. In a season with more than 42 at bats, Bonds hasn’t hit as few as 24 homers since 1989. Since this is a Major League Baseball contest, incidentally, we’re only counting homers Bonds hits in the majors — though several readers wondered if we’d be including homers in Japan — or a federal penitentiary. Belth: 0. Bois: 0. It’s starting to look as though Bonds’ legal problems won’t prevent him from playing this year. What will prevent him from playing is the truth that no team with any measure of ego or self-respect will want him. I suppose that narrows the candidates to San Francisco and Baltimore, and even those two strike me as very unlikely. On the legitimacy scale, his role as a pinch-hitter in San Francisco would be more of a joke than his role last year, and less of a joke than Minnie Minoso’s return to the White Sox at age 54. We can only regard the teams’ refusal to sign Bonds as an act of collusion if we view the Coates family’s decision to shoot Old Yeller as an act of collusion. I’m not saying Bonds is a dog; I guess I’m just saying that he contracted rabies defending his family from a prairie wolf. Borowsky: 0. And 74, for the Cell Block 6 Raiders in the California Institution for Men. Dallamora: 10. Prison ball counts, right? Leitch: 0. If Bonds were on the Opening Day roster of, say, the Mariners, they could win their division. Teams ignore him at their own peril. Marchman: 19. 13,429 if we’re counting home runs he hits while bitterly playing MLB 2k8 on his Xbox, 19 if we’re counting the ones he hits for the Yankees after he’s signs for a prorated $30 million, a bronzed llama, and a framed letter of general apology. Passan: 0. Let the dying die, would you? Posnanski: 0. Don’t know how we would count the balls hit out of Leavenworth. Sheehan: 18. If I say “zero,” the best I can do is tie. Bialik: 11. Fry: 0. 20. Will average television ratings for the World Series go up or down from last year’s 10.6? Up 87, Down 47 Belth: Down. Bois: Up. Just barely. Not sure if I’ll be contributing, though. I’m volunteering my apartment as a Nielsen household, purchasing 25 televisions, and tuning them all to re-runs of “The Wire” in an effort to convince HBO to order a sixth season. I want to find out whether Bubbles helps with the dishes. Borowsky: Down. Ya can’t go wrong betting on baseball TV ratings to go down. Dallamora: Up. Leitch: Up. Marchman: Up. Way up, as the prospect of a BostonChicago World Series hints at the possible creation of a pocket universe right there on the field. Passan: Down. Under 10.0. Baseball’s greatest trick: Nearly quintupling its revenue over the last 15 years in spite of plummeting TV ratings, something that would kill the NFL. Posnanski: Up. If it’s Red Sox-Mets as I predict, then yes, way up from last year. CincinnatiTampa Bay would draw quite a bit fewer, I fear. Sheehan: Up. … courtesy a longer, more competitive Series. Bialik: Up. Though New Yorkers will have to watch in droves to make up for apathy elsewhere. Fry: Up. Seeing the Red Sox annihilate the Rockies was fun if you lived in Massachusetts. Otherwise, not so much. – Tip of the Fix cap to Thomas Sperber, Patrick Houston, Nick Dallamora, Alex Belth, Richard E. Peck and Tim Marchman for suggesting contest questions.

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31

Parker, Lady Vols Claim Title
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/9/2008 11:41:00 AM

Tennessee joined Kansas as NCAA tournament champions Tuesday night, as Candace Parker scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Lady Vols to a 64-48 rout of Stanford, marking the end of Candice Wiggins’ stellar career with the Cardinal. But reducing the title game to Ace and Ice is too simple, John Smallwood writes in the Philadelphia Daily News. The tale of a title-game defeat: Lady Vols everywhere. (Associated Press Photo) ” ‘Ace’ got the support that both she and ‘Ice’ agreed would be the difference,” he writes, noting that Ms. Parker (Ace) and Ms. Wiggins (Ice) had said the championship game “was going to about the best team, not the best player. It was going to swing on which supporting players would make Tennessee or Stanford the better team. With Parker struggling due to an injured shoulder, her teammates — Alberta Auguste, Nicky Anosike, Shannon Bobbitt and Alexis Hornbuckle — did what you would expect of four senior starters who already had won a national championship. With Wiggins just struggling, her teammates — Kayla Pedersen, Jayne Appel, JJ Hones and Rosalyn Gold-Onwude — played the way you might expect three sophomores and a freshman to play in their first championship game.” Ms. Parker is projected as the top pick in Wednesday’s WNBA draft, to be joined within a few picks by Ms. Wiggins. (And will they both go to Russia in the offseason?) But first, Scott Ostler ponders the final thud of Ms. Wiggins’s collegiate career in the San Francisco Chronicle. BASEBALL CONTEST See how Fix readers, the Fixers and some of our baseball writers see the season playing out, in a roundup of the Fix’s seasonlong baseball contest. 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. “Stanford, which had been picking up momentum like a Cardinal-colored avalanche, was stopped cold by a quicker, tougher, fiercer foe,” he writes. “The Vols forced 25 turnovers. Twenty-five! Stanford couldn’t even inbound the ball at times. It was a valuable life lesson for the Stanford women. Never get into a wrestling match with an octopus. The Vols were all arms and legs and double-team traps and tripleteams. … The Vols are a team, much more than simply Parker, backed by the legendary Death Stare of their coach, Pat Summitt. They were a swarming, hungry, mature (five seniors), well-oiled machine. They smothered Stanford and the Wiggins mystique.” *** Who’ll win the Masters? Tiger Woods, obviously. Next! *** Wait a minute! Not so obviously! That’s what Fix golf guru Tim Carroll says in his Masters preview: “Please calm down and remember the boys have yet to put a tee in the ground, have yet to hole a single putt, have yet to wipe a sweat-stained brow after a power lip-out leaves a putt longer than the original.” His pick for the green jacket? It’s not Eldrick. *** The Boston Red Sox — who started the 2008 season on the other side of the world what seems like a very long time ago — finally made it to Fenway Park for their home opener, complete with handing out World Series rings, welcoming back a redeemed man, and thrashing the suddenly pathetic Detroit Tigers. The feel-good story of the day was 1986 World Series goat Bill Buckner, who threw out the first pitch. “The pause lasted a full 13 seconds,” Amalie Benjamin writes in the Boston Globe. “Bill Buckner sat at a table in the Fenway Park interview room, a microphone in front of him, and pondered

the question. Had he had second thoughts about throwing out the first pitch at yesterday’s home opener and celebration of the 2007 World Series win? … His eyes grew wet and red. Dwight Evans, seated next to him, reached out and put his arm around Buckner.” Bah, says Sean Crowe on Bleacher Report, arguing that’s just more Red Sox mythologizing. “Every time his name is brought up, history is completely re-written to make Red Sox fans look bad,” he writes. “Boston hates Buckner. Boston never forgave Buckner. Boston blames Buckner for the curse. Its all crap. Garbage. Hogwash. In 1990, Bill Buckner made his triumphant return to the Boston Red Sox. This was four short years after the 1986 World Series, when old wounds were still fresh on Red Sox fans minds. So, given the way things have been portrayed, we must have booed him off the field, destroyed his confidence, eaten his first born and banished him to Canada. After all, were the awful Red Sox fans who blamed our cursed baseball team on his bad fielding, right? As a matter of fact, he received a five minute long standing ovation on opening day.” *** The homecoming was a lot less sweet for the New York Mets, taking the field at Shea Stadium for the first time since they completed their epic gag job by getting pummeled by the Florida Marlins on the final day of the 2007 season and missing

the playoffs. Fans cheered new ace Johan Santana and gawked at Citi Field, now looming behind the outfield wall — but in the late innings they wound up booing luckless reliever Scott Schoeneweis and first baseman Carlos Delgado, who erased a good day at the plate by firing a doubleplay ball into the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley. The Phils won, 5-2; the Mets are in last place. (And in New York, it’s never too early for it to be getting late.) “This was supposed to be a day of pleasant nostalgia,” writes Joel Sherman in the New York Post. “But by the end of yet another Mets loss to the Phillies, their ninth in a row, all that was rekindled for the Shea Stadium fans was how much they disliked this team the last time they saw it together. The regrouped Mets made just as bad an initial impression at the last-ever Shea opener. The largest first-game crowd in the closing stadium’s history booed Scott Schoeneweis and Aaron Heilman and ultimately the whole team more lustily than they booed Jimmy Rollins.” *** The horror show that is the New York Knicks has been well-chronicled, but the Fix has never seen the mess plumbed quite so deeply and pitilessly as Jeff Coplon does in New York magazine. Virtually every sentence stings, so it’s hard to pick a representative few, but here’s a taste: “Theyve been called the worst team in the history of pro basketball, but theyre really much worse than that. These Knicks are worse than the fire-sale 41 Phillies or the expansion 62 Mets or the 76 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were perfect in their winlessness. Theyre the worst of the worst because of how theyve lost, in petulance and complacencyand with management that bulldozed any critic it could not ignore. … Now that the [Isiah] Thomas era is dead, the obituary can be written. The temptation in these moments is to gloss over the faults of the deceasedto remember through a lens, brightly. But Isiahs tenure was so contemptibleso bereft of redeeming value, on court or offthat such tenderness

is hard to muster. In the Knicks me-first self-regard, theyve blasphemed the most gorgeously collaborative of games.” *** This year the ever-flowing ink of sportswriter elegy is bathing Yankee Stadium, in its final year before the Yankees open the new version of the House That Ruth Built. Not much ink is flowing the way of a place that’s seen more than 2,000 spring-training games: Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Jason went to Met spring-training games there in the mid-80s, and remembers being astonished to find he was about the same height as the Mets’ Wally Backman, who also stepped on the future Fixer’s foot while hurrying to the bus.) Al Lang’s long tradition seems to be at an end: The Tampa Bay Rays are relocating to Port Charlotte next spring, and eyeing the site for an open-air stadium. If this is the end for Al Lang, it couldn’t ask for a better farewell than the column ESPN’s Jayson Stark wrote a couple of weeks back. “Lou Gehrig trained here,” he writes. “Stan Musial trained here. Grover Cleveland Alexander and Tom Seaver trained here. Joe DiMaggio got four hits in his first spring training game as a Yankee here. Don Zimmer hit the first Grapefruit League triple in the history of the Mets here. Babe Ruth once launched home runs here that traveled across First Avenue into the balconies of the now-defunct West Coast Inn. Mickey Mantle once smoked a mammoth, game-winning, opposite-field home run here that high-hopped off the asphalt beyond the left-field fence and plunked into the turquoise waters of Tampa Bay.” – Tip of the Fix cap to reader Don Hartline. 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.

Amy Winehouse Does Shots with a Baby
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/14/2008 9:46:16 PM

Amy Winehouse won’t let a little thing

like a baby in her arms stop her from doing shots of hard alcohol in the morning. Amy will baby sit free of charge as long as the bar is open, and the shots are free.

© Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Amy Winehouse has Boney Legs • Amy Winehouse is Falling Apart

• Amy Winehouse Before Drugs • Amy Winehouse Without Clothes On • Amy Winehouse Still Has Impetigo

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Poulter Upstages Woods in Masters Opener Like No Other
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/11/2008 12:33:00 PM

Your guest Fixer is David Roth: Let’s do a quick thought experiment. Say there’s some sort of institution that you have, in the past, not merely admired but actually enjoyed. Thanksgiving, let’s say. Only this year, starting around Halloween, you start seeing commercials for Thanksgiving on television. “Thanksgiving: A Tradition Like No Other,” a voice intones, as a series of artfully composed close-ups are intercut with images of smiling white guys. There’s no real reason to be advertising Thanksgiving — it’s Thanksgiving, after all — but the commercials work. Soon, whenever someone says the word “Thanksgiving,” the phrase “a tradition like no other” is spilling from your lips. It’s a bummer. Ian Poulter finally is known for something other than brash comments about Tiger Woods. (Associated Press Photo) And so, in its way, is the pomp-intensive promotion by CBS and ESPN of the Masters, a legitimately iconic if recently overhyped golf tradition which began Thursday with some pretty good golf. Justin Rose and Trevor Immelman sit atop the field at four under par, but the story of the day was Ian Poulter, who finished the day two strokes off the lead, in large part thanks to a hole-in-one eagle on the parthree 16th. Before that memorable eightiron, Mr. Poulter was best known for his glib good humor, New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden writes. In 2007, Mr. Poulter “told Golf World magazine that he hadn’t yet played to his full potential, ‘and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.’ Until Thursday, Poulter had not been able to live down the comments, although…his ace at No. 16 got everyone’s attention. Maybe even Tiger’s. Poulter, an Englishman, called the subsequent sensation the greatest

adrenaline rush he had ever experienced. ‘It was a great buzz,’ he said. ‘Massive. Unbelievable buzz.’ ” The majority of the buzz, of course, has accrued to Tiger Woods, who shot even par on Day One, and is the overwhelming favorite to win the Masters and an eventual PGA Grand Slam. The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell has the actual odds on Woods’ win — “London bookmakers have Woods as an 11-to-8 underdog against the field” — as well as some other stuff about how great Woods is. “Woods wins more often, by larger margins and with a more complete game in his era than [Jack] Nicklaus did in his,” Mr. Boswell writes. “But let’s not pretend Woods has won this Masters, much less the Grand Slam, when the first of the four major events has barely begun. Woods is better than anybody, by a lot, but he’s no better than everybody put together. What we’re watching here — Woods vs. the world — is fabulous drama, a fair fight (93 against one), not a foregone conclusion.” To the Fix’s mind — and to that of Tim Carroll, our resident golf guru — Mr. Boswell is right. But considering that Woods is facing a field of competitors that’s colorless even by PGA standards — and that he’s won 10 of the last 20 PGA events he’s entered — it’s probably no surprise how much Masters coverage has been centered on him. That’s not justification for ESPN’s Bob Harig parsing Woods’s every shot and speculating over “butterflies floating beneath those six-pack abs” — click here if that sounds good to you — in what was supposed to be coverage of the first day. But it is understandable. BASEBALL CONTEST See how Fix readers, the Fixers and some of our baseball writers see the season playing out, in a roundup of the Fix’s seasonlong baseball contest. 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.

Less comprehensible is Bill Plaschke’s Los Angeles Times column today. Maybe it’s Mr. Plaschke’s frequent shouting-head appearances on ESPN — or the smirking author photo atop his column — but the Fix doubts that Mr. Plaschke even believes what he writes half the time. Even for one who manufactures outrage so well, though, Mr. Plaschke is particularly goofy today in his argument that the field is “kissing up to Tiger.” “Have you ever heard anything like it?” Mr. Plaschke fumes. “In a sports world whose very pulse is pumped by the heartbeat of competition, would this happen anywhere else? Tiger Woods showed up here this week reiterating his understandable belief that he can win this summer’s golf Grand Slam. “Then his opponents — exasperated gasp — agreed with him. ‘He has already won four majors in a row, so it’s not an impossible feat,’ Phil Mickelson said this week. ‘I think it’s doable.’ Doable? Lefty, are you that dork-able? You’re Woods’ biggest rival, yet you’re going to concede him the entire World Series even before the season’s first pitch?” Somebody award that man some “Around the Horn” points! Mr. Plaschke’s bluster aside, a broader media trend towards celebrity is just one reason so much Masters coverage has fixated on Woods (the other is that he’s really, really good). Still, his dominance presents a challenge not just for sportswriters and his fellow

tour players, but for Woods himself. “Throughout Tiger’s career, golf pundits have opined that, great as he is, the absence of a foil like Arnie or Jack will hinder the reckoning of Tiger’s legend,” Slate’s Dave Larzelere writes. “This is an alluring idea, but it’s got Tiger and golf all wrong. Going by the Arnie-and-Jack index, it’s hard to imagine what this absent adversary could add to Tiger’s narrative, because Tiger himself is the entire equation. As the most charismatic and marketable golfer who’s ever lived, he is the clear heir to Palmer, the sport’s first great salesman-idol. And, of course, he is the only credible heir to Nicklaus, simply because he’s so overwhelmingly and consistently dominant. In the end, the yinand-yang theory falls apart when it comes to golf. The best golfers play the course and not the man.” *** The tight playoff race in the NBA’s Western Conference is starting to shake out as the regular season enters its final days. After some recent struggles, the Mavericks have gotten back on track and clinched the seventh playoff spot in the West last night with a dramatic 97-94 win over the Utah Jazz. The final spot will go to either the Denver Nuggets or Golden State Warriors, a pair of fun-to-watch teams that faced off in Oakland last night, with Denver scoring a dramatic 114-105 win. “Just as the crazy season, this tortuous playoff run and the Nuggets as we know them were on the verge of fading to black,” Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla writes, “A.I. came to their emotional rescue. Using every basketball move that has made him famous, from a twisting reverse layup to his trademark pull -up jumper and a step-back 12-foot shot that ripped the nets, Iverson led a desperately beautiful 21-1 run by the Nuggets that opened the second quarter. It forever changed the tone of a game that put them in the driver’s seat for the eighth and

final playoff spot in the Western Conference.” And then there’s the Eastern Conference, where the Atlanta Hawks (36-42) hold a two-game lead on the Indiana Pacers (3444) with four games remaining, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley isn’t ready to forget his hometown franchise’s broader futility. “Of nine [straight] losing seasons, this is by far the best,” Mr. Bradley writes. “The Hawks have changed ownership and management and coaches and have had seven lottery picks over those nine seasons and have finally swung a trade for their long-sought point guard, and still they’re south of mediocrity. They’ve made progress, yes, but does progress get any more glacial than this?” *** Finally, to the world of NCAA hockey. No, seriously. After scoring a 5-4 upset over Michigan last night, Notre Dame became the first No. 4 seed ever to make it to the NCAA championship game. That’s a nice story in itself, but the story of Notre Dame defenseman Christian Hanson is even better. His last name is familiar to fans of the ultra-profane cult hockey flick “Slap Shot,” in which his father, Dave Hanson, played one of the fighting Hanson brothers. The Fix recommends two entertaining pieces on the younger Mr. Hanson and the role that his father’s only movie role has played in his life: Brian Hamilton’s article in the Chicago Tribune and Allison Hayes’s piece at the Notre Dame football fansite Blue and Gold. – Tip of the Fix cap to readers Gerard Cosloy and Don Hartline. 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.

Hillary Clinton is in Love
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/15/2008 7:33:12 AM

Every time Hillary Clinton sees a shot glass full of whisky she says

____________ . © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Hillary Clinton is a Heavy Drinker • Elton John Stumps for Hillary Clinton

• Chelsea Clinton asked about Monica

Lewinsky • Pitt and Jolie Related to Clinton and Obama • Hillary Clinton Called a Big Liar and Manish

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33

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.

34

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Is Upshaw Facing Challenge to His Reign?
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/10/2008 12:30:00 PM

Your guest Fixer is David Roth: Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover is an unlikely labor radical. Mr. Stover, the Ravens player representative to the NFL Players Union, is an 18-year veteran best known for being one of the most devout Christians in the already-pretty-darndevout NFL and for having spent his entire career with the Browns/Ravens. Nevertheless, this mildest of NFL figures found himself cast as an insurgent on Wednesday, when an email he wrote to other reps urging an end to NFLPA head Gene Upshaws 25-year tenure was leaked to ESPNs Chris Mortensen. Is Gene Upshaw facing rebellion? (Associated Press Photo) Content-wise, its not a terribly scandalous email, unless youre the sort who gets outraged by a veteran kicker urging his unions executive committee to use Board Designated Funds to hire an outside consultant, Executive Head Hunter or Search Firm to aid in the collection of candidates from both the outside and within the NFL world. (OK, maybe the syntax at the end of that last sentence is a bit scandalous.) It seemed even less so later that day after Mr. Stover wrote a second email— this time sent to Mr. Mortensen directly — denying it was his intention to oust the ultra-entrenched union president and claiming he was only trying to deal with the inevitability of the end of Genes tenure. Whatever Mr. Stovers intention, this is the closest Mr. Upshaw has come to an internal challenge to his authority. Upshaw confirmed that hints of a movement ultimately to change the union leadership were in play at the March [NFLPA] meetings in Maui, Mr. Mortensen writes. An effort by one coalition of players to get Philadelphia Eagles safety Brian Dawkins elected as the new NFLPA president fell

short. Mr. Dawkins is seen as representing a faction that seeks to replace Mr. Upshaw with former Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent, whom Mr. Mortensen describes as a political force within the ranks of the players [who] desires to replace Upshaw one day. BASEBALL CONTEST See how Fix readers, the Fixers and some of our baseball writers see the season playing out, in a roundup of the Fix’s seasonlong baseball contest. 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. All that would be so much internal wrangling, were it not for the controversy surrounding Mr. Upshaws last few years as NFLPA head. While the NFL is awash in profits and the average players salary rose to $1.2 million in 2007, increasing awareness of the plight of broken-down NFL retirees — Paul Solatoroffs 2007 article in Mens Journal is a good primer on this issue — has led to tons of bad publicity for the NFLPAs pension and health-benefits programs. In response to increasingly intense criticism from both active and retired players (as well as NFL Network employee Bryant Gumbel), Mr. Upshaw a Hall of Fame offensive lineman has delivered himself of some impressively tone-deaf comments, most memorably when he expressed his wish to break [the] goddamn neck of fellow Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure, a particularly vocal critic among retired players. Mr. Upshaw wasnt notably more circumspect in his response to Mr. Stovers email. Critics of the Hall of Famer have said he runs the union in a dictatorial fashion, the Baltimore Suns Don Markus writes. [And] Upshaw doesnt express much regard for Stover. Matt Stover has no clue, Upshaw told ESPN. Whoever is pulling his chain is doing a disservice to the union. But Mr. Upshaw is a significantly more

complex figure than the caricature of bitter, snarling dominance painted by well, his own quotes. Gary Smiths long article about the NFLPA president appeared in Sports Illustrated in late January, but it remains the best thing the Fix has read about Mr. Upshaw, touching on everything from his harrowingly belt-reliant father to his tendency to do plumbing repairs around the NFLPA offices. Of course, it also details Mr. Upshaws failings in dealing with a unique labor force, 78% of whose members would be divorced, bankrupt or unemployed two years after their jobs — often because of injuries — had been terminated. Another executive might have anticipated the trap the [retired players] were setting: the feelings trap, Mr. Smith writes. Another executive, early in the crisis, would have called a news conference and issued press releases assuring everyone how much his heart went out to those suffering and how hard he was working behind the scenes to improve their lot. But Upshaw’s catalog of emotional experience did not contain that page.” “You dont say to Gene, I deserve this or I demand this. That’s the worst thing you can do. He decides when to give it out, Mr. Upshaws friend Neil Grasso told Mr. Smith. If these retired guys just did this behind closed doors, theyd get much more of what they want He loves to give. Hes incredibly generous. But you dont question

him. You dont challenge him. It is a little late for that, but Mr. Upshaw and the NFLPA face another, morepressing challenge: an NFL collective bargaining agreement that expires in 2010, the same year as Mr. Upshaws six-year, $24 million contract. I normally hate writing about labor and things like looming strikes, Sports Illustrateds Peter King writes, before going on to write about what would happen if either the NFLPA or owners backed out of the current CBA and failed to agree on a new contract. What would happen? A 2010 season played without a salary cap — its less friendly both to players and successful, deep-pocketed teams than youd think — among other things. In 2011 and beyond? Mr. King writes. Murky times. The union could disband and try to rewrite the rules of engagement with the NFL, as it did in the 80s to try to break a labor stalemate. The league could try to unilaterally adopt bargaining terms. There could be a strike. Still, King believes that the NFLPA and owners will work things out. That season is three-and-a-half years away, and to think the two sides couldnt figure out some way to divvy up $8 billion or $9 billion a year…There’s a better chance of Brett Favre quarterbacking the Bears this year. *** The Masters: maybe youve heard about it? The golf tournament with the green jacket begins today and will be discussed more extensively in tomorrows Fix, but the annual Par 3 Contest, which takes place at the 1,066-yard par-three course next to Augusta National, had its moment in the sun on Wednesday. It was the 49th year in which the contest has been played, and the first time in which it was shown on live television. Those with some time in the afternoon your substitute Fixer, for instance got the chance to watch a parade of legendary players (one threesome was comprised of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold

Palmer) get their lob-wedge on before an appreciative crowd, often with their kids or grandchildren acting as caddies. It was all kind of cute, in a benignly plutocratic, insanely-good-at-golf way. Many first-time visitors to the course don’t even know the Par 3 exists, ESPNs Bob Harig writes. From the clubhouse looking out onto the main course, the Par 3 is located to the left, behind a series of cabins where the members often stayWhen you walk through the hedges and past the cabins there and you see that green the size of your dinner table and youre hitting a wedge and there are 20,000 people surrounding the hole, it can be pretty disconcerting, former PGA Tour player Jay Haas told Harig. Its a good warm-up for the tournament. Rory Sabbatini won this years Par 3; no player has ever won the Par 3 Contest and the Masters in the same year, which is no doubt a relief to Tiger Woods. While the Fix is talking golf, our guru Tim Carroll has his pick for who’ll wind up wearing the green jacket. *** And then theres the Olympic Torch, which made a brief, clandestine, predictably contentious stop on U.S. soil in San Francisco. Sports Illustrateds Frank Deford, who was sticking it to the IOC before the Fix knew how to do long division, isnt surprised. And to tell you the truth, he writes, I think the Olympics are yesterday’s party. Once upon a time before globalism and jet airplanes and cyberspace bringing athletes together quadrennially in one place might have made sense. Today, its an unnecessary excess. 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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35

Immelman (Not Woods) Gets Green Jacket
(WSJ.com: The Daily Fix)
Submitted at 4/14/2008 12:26:00 PM

Your guest Fixer is David Roth: The Fix was surprised, too: There were people other than Tiger Woods in the Masters? Why weren’t we told? As it turned out, Tiger Woods — still the greatest golfer of his generation by a country mile, if you were wondering — wound up a fairly distant second at this years Masters, won by South Africa’s Trevor Immelman. And so we see the regrettable downside of Tiger vs. the Field, writes Dan Shanoff in the Sporting News. When Tiger wins, its all good. And when he doesnt? It’s The Meh-sters. Sorry Tiger: The jacket is Trevor’s. (Associated Press Photo) Presumably Mr. Immelman was more enthused: After grabbing a share of the lead on Day One, he never relinquished it, and shot a three-over 75 on the windy final day the highest final-round mark for a Masters winner in 36 years to finish three strokes ahead of Tiger. As he took the champions walk up the 18th fairway, bathed in shafts of soft light shining through the Georgia pines, Immelman smiled, waved and fought to keep his emotions in check, the New York Times Larry Dorman writes. Nearly four months ago, he was in a hospital awaiting the results of a biopsy on a tumor. It was benign. He has a seven-inch scar on his back as a reminder of what could have been. After parring the last hole for a total of 8-under-par 280, he wore a huge smile as a reminder of what is. Another thing Mr. Immelmans win was: surprising. Hed missed the cut in a Tour event in Houston just last week, and had won only one PGA Tour event since turning pro in 1999. Still, by avoiding the putting errors that dogged Woods (and the general meltdown of third-place finisher Brandt Snedeker, who shot 77 on the final day), Mr. Immelman became the second South African ever to win the Masters. And that was thanks in part to support from the first, Gary Player. By way of context, the Chicago Tribunes Ed Sherman explains that Player is revered in South Africa, the highest order of sports royalty. To be a young golfer and have Player advising you in that country is akin

to a basketball prodigy in Chicago being guided by Michael Jordan. Mr. Immelman, for his part, calls Mr. Player another father. Player recognized Immelmans passion when he picked up a then-5-year-old Immelman, his front teeth missing, in his arms and posed for a picture, the San Diego Union-Tribunes Ed Zieralski writes. Player is Immelmans biggest fan and, when needed, his most stern taskmaster. He left Immelman a voice mail Saturday night that touched the heart and soul of his countryman, inspired him. It gave me goose bumps, Immelman said. He told me he believed in me and I needed to believe in myself. And he told me to keep my head a little quieter when I putt. He said I was peeking too soon. One thing that hasnt peaked: golf commentators inimitable ability to lodge their feet in their esophagi. One of the least -surprising, most-unfortunate consequences of the decision to tender special invitations to star players from India, Thailand and China was CBS announcer and former PGA player Bobby Clampett referring to Chinas Liang-Wen Chong as the Chinaman. Mr. Clampett later issued one of those heavily conditional non-apology apologies favored by sports figures, leading Michael David Smith of AOL Fanhouse to note that the style of apology that begins with if I offended anybody always rings a little bit hollow. The word chinaman is a slur, and it’s the slur that should be followed up with an apology, not the reaction of being offended by the slur. While the commenters at AOL were confused at how anyone could think the term was offensive (also not particularly surprising — scroll down to the comments if you dare), the bloggers at Awful Announcing werent having it, writing that there are certain words that those of us who live in the 21st century no longer use; this is certainly one of them. All of which makes William C. Rhodens discussion of the PGAs global diversity ambitions from last weeks New York Times seem that much more prescient. The Masters initiative to expand the sport reflects a complex, razor-thin distinction between bringing fresh players into the game and inviting new members into the club, Mr. Rhoden wrote. Inclusion can be

a supercharged word around the country club; some golfers havent bought into the concept. *** The Fix, or at least this substitute Fixer, is so out of touch with the NHL Playoffs — apparently the Hartford Whalers didnt make the field this year? — that its probably best not to weigh in at this late a date. But we loved the Frozen Four, a.k.a. the NCAA Hockey Championship. In part, this is because of the extraordinarily varied selection of schools in the tournament this is the only collegiate sport in which Colorado College, Clarkson and St. Cloud State qualify as juggernauts but its also because of the frenzied enthusiasm of the games. The underdog Fighting Irish of Notre Dame had their run end in the final on Saturday in a 4-1 loss to Boston College. They backed into the tournament as the final at-large bid, then upset three giants of the sport New Hampshire, Michigan State and Michigan before running into the one they couldnt solve, the South Bend Tribunes Steve Wozniak writes. Well get over this, and well start preparing for [Washington] D.C., ” said [sophomore wing Ryan] Thang, alluding to the site of next years Frozen Four. Because now, its time to start hanging some banners. The Eagles spent much of the game turning away Notre Dame scoring attempts despite the fact that, as the Boston Globes Theresa Smith reports, they had only five healthy defensemen. Ms. Smith also got a great quote from injured B.C. defenseman Carl Sneep, who skated onto the ice for the postgame celebration despite a nasty high ankle sprain. I cant feel a thing right now, Mr. Sneep told Ms. Smith. Its so awesome. While the outcome itself wasnt really in

doubt for most of the game, Saturdays final was still a great showcase for Boston College star Nathan Gerbe, who scored two goals, earned Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player honors and, most prestigiously, cemented the honor of becoming the Fixs favorite college hockey player under five and a half feet tall. In a recap of the Frozen Four win over North Dakota that got B.C. to the final, the Globes Barbara Matson asked(rhetorically). What else can be said about Nathan Gerbe, except perhaps where did he learn to skate like that? Charging after his older brothers on a pond in Michigan started Gerbe on the fast track, she answers, and when he didn’t get bigger than 5 feet 5 inches, he just kept getting fasterEvery time Gerbe had the puck and a slice of open space in the neutral zone, he deked and ducked to get away from checkers, suddenly appearing on the other side of the blue line, staring down the goalie. Even if you know where he is, you dont. For a visual of Mr. Gerbes work, check out this jaw-dropping penalty shot against Providence College. *** Finally, the requisite Longish Awesome Feature Piece of the day comes from Dave McKenna of the Washington City Paper, who casts a not-so-fond look back at the recently retired Chris Webber and the ultra -boorish Washington Bullets/Wizards of the 1990s. The Webber Era confabs werent only uncompetitiveone playoff appearance, zero playoff wins, Mr. McKenna writes, but hindsight reveals their rank as the most unlikable team to ever call this town home. Those teams are given a soul-stirring salute in two YouTube knockoffs of the NBAs Where Amazing Happens ads from the inimitable Wizznutzz. The videos are here and here. – Tip of the Fix cap to reader Don Hartline. 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.

Who’s Your Daddy
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:56:47 AM

A home DNA test kit that we’ve known about for months will soon be putting Maury Povich out of the paternity testing business. A company called IdentiGene will be selling a DNA test kit in select stores to determine if a child is indeed your biological child. My favorite is the Paternity test, that allows a man to collect his DNA and a child’s DNA without the need for mommy’s DNA, and learn if he really is a daddy in only 3 days for only $249. Hopefully the availability of these tests will make some women think twice before knowingly naming the wrong daddy. Chris Rock is one of those, along with many other rich celebrity men, who have already gone through this hell. The kit is available at Rite Aid, and online here. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Jason Beghe Says Scientology is Dangerous • Dwarf Soccer Team • Stacey Dash Has Still Got it • Model Mysteriously Disappears • When the Owner is Away the Kitty will Play

36

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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.

Carmelo Anthony Arrested for DUI
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/15/2008 3:11:19 AM

Carmelo Anthony(23) was arrested at 4 am for DUI. Anthony was driving his silver Mercedes, and was swerving between lanes with his high beams on. Anthony’s attorney, Dan Recht, said: "He cooperated by consenting to a blood test, the results of which will not be available for approximately two weeks … There was no accident and no one was hurt." Anthony’s court hearing is on May 14. It seems like a DUI these days means you’ve made it to the big time, and now you can afford to f**k your life up drunk behind the wheel of a Mercedes. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Richie Sambora Faces DUI and Child Endangerment Charges • Foxy Brown Being Released From Jail • Barron Hilton Pleads No Contest to DUI • Naomi Campbell Racial Tirade • Pete Doherty Goes to Jail

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37

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. BASEBALL CONTEST See how Fix readers, the Fixers and some of our baseball writers see the season playing out, in a roundup of the Fix’s seasonlong baseball contest. 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.

Gary Dourdan is Leaving CSI
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:40:24 AM

Gary Dourdan will be leaving CSI next month after his contract expires. The decision was mutual between Dourdan and producers. The May 15 season finale may

be his final appearance on CSI. Producers are actively seeking, via a casting call, a new male series regular in his late twenties to early thirties to play Ray Santoro, a "handsome, smart and athletic" CSI who transfers from Henderson to join the graveyard shift at the Las Vegas crime lab.

Gary is too young to retire, and probably would like to try the silver screen. How

about the first black Batman, or a villain in the next Spiderman? © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Separated at Birth • Gary Dourdan Hits Girls Too • Gary Dourdan Issues Excuse for Photog

Assault • Gary Dourdan Assaults Paparazzi

38

Gossip

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Kate Hudson Wants a Baby
By Hollywood Grind
Submitted at 4/15/2008 2:40:57 AM

Just last month there was a raging debate over pictures of Kate Hudson that appeared to show her pregnant, and showing a baby bump. Yesterday Kate told the U.K.’s Sunday Times: "I’m a mom and that’s my first priority. I can’t wait to have more. I’m at that place when I’m ready to have another one and Chris and I are not together. I’m like, ’Oh no! Uh-oh! I’m ready.’ " She’s adding fuel to the flames, and fanning them to get those rumor fires burning. Kate is also looking for a younger guy: "I need to find that 18-year-old in me again, who was way more adventurous when it came to kissing boys. I would love

nothing more than to have a good, honest make out sesh, but I find it really hard because I’m a mom." Yet she also wants someone mature: "Any guy I ever meet is always going to

come second to my son, and you get to weed out the boys from the men. You definitely know which ones are the boys." This description sounds a lot like Owen Wilson, who also loves a good make-out "sesh," yet he’s mature enough to have a successful money making career, which is something Kate is desperately seeking. © Copyright HollywoodGrind.com 20062008. All Rights Reserved. Related posts: • Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey at Fools Gold • Kate Hudson in a Bikini Pregnant or Not? • Is Kate Hudson Pregnant or Not? • Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson Are Dating Again • Kate Hudson Pregnant with Justin Timberlake Baby