Saturday, May 31, 2008

Final meltdown: Now what after Game 6 disaster?

It all fell apart Friday night. Everything. The game. The series. The Pistons' championship hopes. Maybe even these Pistons as we knew them.

The maintenance crew hoped to sweep confetti off the Palace floor at the end; instead, all that was left were little pieces of the Pistons' swagger.

It was rough, but as far as the Pistons were concerned, it wasn't right. And they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Wherever Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshuan Prince, Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace find themselves next season -- and the best guess is still Detroit -- don't ever let them tell you they like it rough, or that they are great in clutch situations, or that they always come through.

Because they had their chance Friday against the Boston Celtics at the Palace.

And it was an utter disaster.

The Pistons had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and blew it. They were outscored, 23-8, to start the quarter. By the time the hurricane had passed through and they could look up at the scoreboard again, they were down seven points with less than three minutes left.

Billups converted a three-point play to cut the margin to four. But then the Pistons had a chance at a defensive rebound, and they couldn't snare it.

Then they got a defensive rebound -- and Prince gave the ball right back to the Celtics, before the Pistons could even pass the halfcourt line. That play would stand out as the worst of the game, except that the Pistons had a few other turnovers just like it.

With a little over a minute left, Billups -- Mr. Big Shot -- had a chance at a huge three-pointer. He missed badly.

Before long, the Eastern Conference finals ended in Game 6, 89-91.

I thought the Pistons would be the tougher, more fiery team Friday, and I expected them to win. They sure proved me wrong.

It will be a long time before the Pistons live this down. It's one thing to lose a series; teams do that all the time, and there is no shame in losing to these Celtics. It's another thing to lose your ability to strut.

Please understand something: This game curled up in the Pistons' laps and begged them to take it. The Celtics' best player, Kevin Garnett, was in foul trouble throughout, and when he was on the floor, he missed shots. The Celtics' primary ballhandler, Rajon Rondo, was in foul trouble, too. Didn't matter. The Pistons didn't force enough turnovers.

But the Pistons only made one serious run in the whole game They should have made another, late in the first half.

This was the same time of the game, you might recall, when Game 5 started to fall apart for the Pistons. With five minutes left in the half, they led by six on the road and really had outplayed the Celtics. They needed to go into halftime with a lead -- for psychological reasons. Instead, Boston went on a 16-4 run to close out the half, and the Pistons spent the third quarter on their shrink's couch, wondering how a benevolent God could let Rondo penetrate into the lane like that. By the time the Pistons launched their comeback, they were looking up a 70-degree hill.

In Game 6, the roles were reversed. The Celtics had the lead. The Celtics were on the road. And the Pistons made a little run, thanks partly to Hamilton's bounce-around-the-rim-forever three-pointer. But they couldn't make a big run.

They couldn't force the Celtics to think about Game 7, because the Celtics always knew they were in Game 6.

Down the stretch, the Pistons kept dumping the ball into Wallace ... or at least, a guy who looked like Rasheed Wallace ... or ... do you know what he looked like? A mime impersonating Rasheed Wallace. He wanted to scream and he couldn't.

Wallace was one technical foul away from an automatic suspension. That alone does not explain his struggles Friday -- he didn't have the lift and mobility he normally does, for whatever reason -- but I think it explains part of it.

Remember last year, against Cleveland? When the series was finally lost, Wallace exploded at the officials in Game 6 and got ejected. He can't keep anything in.

He had to keep it in Friday. He couldn't risk another technical. And the result was another poor performance in a series where he had too many.

Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars now will have to make some tough decisions about his team, and about coach Flip Saunders, because the easiest change to make is always the coach.

Dumars must ask the same question that fans are asking right now:

Where does this leave the Pistons?

Same place they were in 2006 and 2007.

At home, instead of in the NBA Finals.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Judge Delays Reunions for Sect Families

A Texas judge refused on Friday to sign an agreement that would have paved the way for the first large batch of children taken from a polygamist sect's ranch to return to their parents, dashing hopes raised by a Supreme Court ruling in the case.
Texas District Judge Barbara Walther wanted to add restrictions to the parents' movement and broaden the authority of Child Protective Services to monitor the more than 400 children in foster care before signing an agreement by CPS and the parents that would have reunited the families.
When several parents' attorneys objected and argued that Walther didn't have the authority to expand the agreement, she said she would only sign the initial document after all 38 parents whose case was considered by the Supreme Court signed off — a provision attorneys said would ensure the children stayed in custody at least through the weekend.
The hearing's end was a stunning development after it appeared the parents and CPS had reached an agreement that would allow children to return beginning Monday. The tentative plan technically applied only to the mothers named in an appellate court ruling that found CPS was unjustified in sweeping up the children from the Yearning For Zion Ranch two months ago, but everyone agreed the order would be extended to all but a few specific children.
"There was an opportunity today for relief in this, and it was not granted," said Willie Jessop, an elder for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which runs the ranch.
Attorneys for several of the minors and mothers in custody said Walther's refusal to sign the order would likely result in more appellate court filings.
While Walther said she would issue the order if all the parents signed, attorney Andrea Sloan said that would take days because parents have spread across the state to be close to their children in foster care.
"It's not as simple as going across the street and setting up a booth," said Sloan, who represents several young FLDS women and minors who contend they should be reclassified as adults.
Laura Shockley, an attorney for several children and mothers not part of the original appellate court case, predicted more filings in the Third District Court of Appeals in Austin on Monday. That court ordered Walther to allow the children to return to their parents in a reasonable time, a decision affirmed by the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday.
The agreement between CPS and parents said they would not be allowed to leave Texas until Aug. 31 but could move back to the ranch. It also called for parenting classes and visits by CPS to interview children and parents in the child abuse investigation.
Walther wanted to remove the August deadline and provide for psychological evaluations of the children.
All the children living at the ranch were placed in state custody in early April after CPS said the sect was forcing underage girls into marriage and sex and endangering all the children, including infants and boys.
An appellate court ruled last week that CPS failed to show an immediate danger to justify taking the children from their parents, saying the state failed to show any more than five of the teenage girls were being sexually abused and offered no evidence of sexual or physical abuse of the other children.
The Supreme Court agreed in a ruling Thursday.
Under state law, children can be taken from their parents if there's a danger to their physical safety, an urgent need for protection and if officials made a reasonable effort to keep the children in their homes — standards that were not met in the FLDS case, the appellate courts said.
The Supreme Court justices, however, said Walther could put restrictions on the children and parents to address concerns that they may flee once reunited and that CPS had authority to investigate and intervene in the family's lives to prevent abuse.
Texas authorities, meanwhile, collected DNA swabs Thursday from sect leader Warren Jeffs in an ongoing criminal investigation separate from the custody dispute.
A search warrant for the DNA alleges that Jeffs had "spiritual" marriages with four girls, ages 12 to 15.
Jeffs, who is revered as a prophet, is serving a prison sentence for a Utah conviction of being accomplice to rape in the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to a 19-year-old sect member. He awaits trial in Arizona on similar charges.
FLDS members, who believe polygamy brings glorification in heaven, say there was no abuse at the ranch. The sect is a breakaway sect of the Mormon church, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I guess you could call it political

Kennedy Competes in Sailboat Race
Sen. Edward Kennedy took the helm of his sailboat "Mya" on Monday and rode a stiff southern wind from Nantucket back to Hyannis in a regatta just a week after undergoing a brain biopsy that diagnosed him with cancer.
The Massachusetts Democrat made partially good on a pledge from the prior week by competing in the second half of the "Figawi" boat race between the island and Cape Cod. He missed Saturday's outbound leg but got up early on Memorial Day and took a ferry across Nantucket Sound to compete in the return leg.
Also aboard for the more than two-hour journey were his wife, Vicki, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and relatives including sons Patrick and Edward Jr. and stepdaughter Caroline Raclin.
"It couldn't be a more wonderful day," Kennedy told several dozen well-wishers and a handful of reporters who greeted him dockside just down the street from his family's vacation compound.
The senator said he relished the company of "great friends and family" while Dodd, Kennedy's closest friend in the Senate, and Vicki Kennedy nodded in agreement.
Kennedy and his wife declined to discuss his upcoming treatment. Doctors are considering using chemotherapy, radiation or a combination to treat the tumor that triggered a seizure on May 17. Treatment could start as early as this week.
Kennedy planned to compete in the Figawi even after doctors determined last week that he suffered from a malignant brain tumor.
Kennedy has won the Figawi contest twice.
"He was at the helm the whole way, doing what he always does, guiding the boat to the head of the fleet," said family friend David Nunes of Colorado, an associate who regularly races with the senator and was on the boat as a crew member.
After the race was over, the group sat at anchor off Hyannis Port for an hour before coming ashore. "We always like to rehash the race," Nunes said.
Kennedy has had a limited public schedule since getting out of Massachusetts General Hospital last Wednesday.
Besides skipping the first part of the regatta Saturday, Kennedy also missed a commencement address he was slated to deliver Sunday at Wesleyan University. Instead, he asked Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama to address the graduates — including stepdaughter Caroline — at the Middletown, Conn., campus.
Kudos to you, old man. Keep it up.

Castro Criticizes Obama Over Embargo
Former President Fidel Castro says Sen. Barack Obama's plan to maintain Washington's trade embargo against Cuba will cause hunger and suffering on the island.
In a column published Monday by government-run newspapers, Castro said Obama was "the most-advanced candidate in the presidential race," but noted that he has not dared to call for altering U.S. policy toward Cuba.
"Obama's speech can be translated as a formula for hunger for the country," Castro wrote, referring to Obama's remarks last week to the influential Cuban American National Foundation in Miami.
Obama said he would maintain the nearly fifty-year-old trade sanctions against Cuba as leverage to push for democratic change on the island. But he also vowed to ease restrictions on Cuban Americans traveling to Cuba and sending money to relatives.
He repeated his willingness to meet with Raul Castro, who in February succeeded his elder brother Fidel to become the nation's first new leader in 49 years.
Castro said Obama's proposals for letting well-off Cuban Americans help poorer relatives on the island amounted to "propaganda for consumerism and a way of life that is unsustainable."
He complained that Obama's description of Cuba as "undemocratic" and "lacking in respect for liberty and human rights" was the same argument previous U.S. administrations "have used to justify their crimes against our homeland."
Castro, 81, has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency surgery in July 2006, but he often publishes columns in state newspapers.
Obama's calls for direct talks with Cuban leaders differ sharply from a more hardline policy favored by current President Bush and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, whom Castro also has criticized.
Castro's column came three days after a prominent dissident group wrote an open letter to Obama suggesting that his idea of talking directly with Cuban leaders could help win freedom for prisoners.
"We have great hope that you can contribute to the immediate, unconditional liberation" of prisoners, wrote the Ladies in White, a group formed by relatives of people jailed in a government crackdown on political opposition in 2003.

Bill Clinton Alleges Cover-Up
Former President Bill Clinton said that Democrats were more likely to lose in November if Hillary Clinton is not the nominee, and suggested some were trying to "push and pressure and bully" superdelegates to make up their minds prematurely.?
"I can't believe it. It is just frantic the way they are trying to push and pressure and bully all these superdelegates to come out," Clinton said at a South Dakota campaign stop Sunday, in remarks first reported by "ABC News."
Clinton also suggested some were trying to "cover up" Sen. Clinton's chances of winning in key states that Democrats will have to win in the general election.
" 'Oh, this is so terrible: The people they want her. Oh, this is so terrible: She is winning the general election, and he is not. Oh my goodness, we have to cover this up.' "
Clinton did not expound on who he was accusing.
The former president added that his wife had not been given the respect she deserved as a legitimate presidential candidate.
"She is winning the general election today and he is not, according to all the evidence," Clinton said. "And I have never seen anything like it. I have never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running."
"Her only position was, 'Look, if I lose I'll be a good team player. We will all try to win, but let's let everybody vote, and count every vote,' " he said.
The former president suggested that if the New York senator ended the primary season with an edge in the popular vote, it would be a significant development.
"If you vote for her and she does well in Montana and she does well in Puerto Rico, when this is over she will be ahead in the popular vote," Clinton said.
"And they're trying to get her to cry uncle before the Democratic Party has to decide what to do in Florida and Michigan," which Clinton said the party would need to do "unless we want to lose the election."
The current requirement to claim the Democratic presidential nomination is 2,026 delegates, a formula that does not take into account delegates from Florida and Michigan, whose contests were not sanctioned by the party because they moved them up earlier on the primary calendar.
But if those votes were counted as cast, Hillary Clinton would still trail rival Barack Obama in the overall delegate count.
The former president said Sunday that the media had unfairly attacked his wife since the Iowa caucuses, repeating an often-used charge that press coverage had made him feel as though he were living in a "fun house."
"If you notice, there hasn't been a lot of publicity on these polls I just told you about," he said. "It is the first time you've heard it? Why do you think that is? Why do you think? Don't you think if the polls were the reverse and he was winning the Electoral College against Senator McCain and Hillary was losing it, it would be blasted on every television station?"
He added, "You would know it wouldn't you? It wouldn't be a little secret. And there is another Electoral College poll that I saw yesterday had her over 300 electoral votes. ... She will win the general election if you nominate her. They're just trying to make sure you don't."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ontario, Canada

Telus Unlikely to Seek Merger With BCE, Globe and Mail Says
Telus Corp. is unlikely to seek a merger with BCE Inc. whether a planned buyout of BCE by a group led by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan succeeds or fails, the Globe and Mail reported, citing unidentified people close to Telus.
Vancouver-based Telus, Canada's second-largest telephone company, isn't interested in a deal with BCE under either scenario because federal regulators would make merger approval conditional on the divestment of the companies' wireless businesses, the newspaper reported. BCE is the country's largest phone provider.
Telus, which considered a bid for BCE last year, would prefer to see its Montreal-based rival burdened with debt if Teachers' record C$52 billion ($52.5 billion) buyout proceeds, the newspaper said, quoting a person who works with both companies. Telus executives declined to comment, the newspaper said.
BCE's bondholders oppose the Teachers' transaction because they say it would load the company with debt and increase the risk of default.
The Supreme Court of Canada is considering whether to hear an appeal by BCE to overturn a May 21 ruling by Quebec's appeals court that blocked the proposed buyout.

Ontario man dead, Penticton resident hospitalized after stabbings
A 27-year-old Ontario man is dead and a Penticton, B.C., man is in hospital after an early-morning fight in which both were stabbed at a beach in the Okanagan city.
RCMP say two groups of men were involved in the incident which ended with the stabbings.
Cpl. Rick Dellebuur says a 23-year-old Penticton man remains in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
No names are being released at this time.
The Penticton and District Major Crime Units is continuing to investigate.

Ontario Appeal Court tosses ailing autism lawsuit thin lifeline
Parents fighting to have their autistic children receive expensive, specialized therapies within the public education system were tossed a thin lifeline by Ontario's highest court Friday.
In a unanimous ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal essentially handed back the parents some of their claims against the Ontario government and seven school boards, saying they need to be substantially reworked if they are to have any hope of succeeding in their lawsuit.
"I would say it's a mixed outcome," said David Baker, the lawyer representing the parents.
"The issue of charter damages and the issue of negligence (was) reopened - to a degree."
Baker said it was still too soon to say whether the group would now go back to the lower courts to try again on those issues.
The five families are trying to sue the Ontario government and the school boards for negligence and damages, accusing them of failing to provide or properly fund the specialized autism therapies - known as intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) and applied behaviour analysis (ABA) - in schools.
The therapies for autism, a poorly understood neurological condition that causes developmental disability and behaviour problems, can cost between $30,000 to $80,000 a year for each child.
The parents, who say they are forced to go to financial "extremes," filed a $1.25-billion lawsuit in 2004. They argued their children were victims of discrimination because other kids with special needs get therapy and an education within the publicly funded school system.
"The crucial issue is the issue of discrimination," Baker said.
"The reason why children with autism are out of school is that they are not being accommodated by being provided with ABA support while in school."
The court said that argument remains alive, if barely, but will require "substantial redrafting."
In its written ruling, the court was critical of the various claims for their fuzziness, at one point lamenting that the lack of clarity "makes it difficult to know" what the parents want.
"It continues to be difficult to correlate the appellants' allegations of fact with their proposed causes of action," Justice Susan Lang wrote on behalf of the three-member appeal panel.
The plaintiffs were also hoping to be allowed to sue for damages if their class action is eventually certified.
As with several of the other claims, the court ruled they could try again "with the necessary concision."
Taline Sagharian of Richmond Hill, Ont., whose 11-year-old son Christopher has autism, said the court had at least not shut the door entirely on their claims, but the decision needs further study.
"It's a little bit confusing," Sagharian said.
"But we're dedicated to the case, we're dedicated to the cause."
In March last year, Ontario Superior Court Justice Maurice Cullity sided with the provincial government in striking down several of the key claims, including negligence and damages.
The Appeal Court rejected the parents' negligence claims against the Ontario government, but left open the possibility that the school boards might yet be on the hook for how they ran programs aimed at accommodating children with special needs.
The court also tossed out a claim based on age discrimination related to Ontario's now-rescinded decision to pay for ABA for children only until age six.

New Ojibway reserve opens in northern Ontario
Members of an Ojibway community who have struggled for more than century for a home to call their own were celebrating the official opening of a new reserve in northern Ontario on Saturday.
Animbiigoo Zaagi'igan Anishinaabek (Lake Nipigon Reserve) consists of 12.5 square kilometres at Partridge Lake, along Highway 11, between Jellico and Geraldton — about a three-hour drive northeast of Thunder Bay.
Almost 70 per cent of the 310 community members now living throughout the region say they're planning to make the new reserve their home.
Chief Yvette Metasinine says her people always thought of themselves as a community, even though they were not part of a reserve.
"We were called 'Lake Nipigon, Various Places,'" she said. "We didn't belong anywhere. We were always recognized by the federal government, but we didn't have a place to call home, I guess"
Elder Mary Ann Nord says she remembers her parents working with the government to get a reserve, but wondered whether the day would ever come.
"Every time we'd get a letter it would say, pretty soon, pretty soon, and then all of a sudden we got it," she said. "I almost started crying."
Unlike most First Nations in Canada, Animbiigoo Zaagi'igan Anishinaabek has more elders than children.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Boston Celtics need to win on the road to advance past Pistons

The Boston Celtics simply watched film and talked about adjustments the day after losing at home for the first time in the playoffs.
"Sometimes, I think you need a mental break," Boston coach Doc Rivers said Friday. "So, we're taking one and we'll be fresh." At this point, it's time for Boston to try anything to stop its skid on the road.
If the Celtics don't, they're going home to watch the NBA finals on TV.
The Detroit Pistons ended Boston's home winning streak at nine with a 103-97 victory that tied the Eastern Conference final at one game apiece.
Now, the NBA's top-seeded team will have to take a game on the road - or else.
"If we're going to win this series, we've got to protect the home for the rest of the series and try to get one on the road," Paul Pierce said.
Boston's first chance comes Saturday night at The Palace.
"People are going to say, 'Well, they haven't won on the road. Can they win on the road?' They're going to come in with a great focus," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We have to have the same focus and hope the adrenaline of the crowd will help us play with even more energy."
If the Celtics lose, they will be the first team to start 0-7 on the road in the playoffs to break a tie for the unwanted distinction with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971 and the Miami Heat in 2004.
"I don't think it's really bothering us, like, psychologically," Pierce insisted Thursday night after Boston fell just short of equaling an NBA record.
The Celtics were a few shots and stops away in Game 2 from matching a league mark by winning their first 10 post-season games at home. Six teams started 10-0 at home in the playoffs, including the 1986 Celtics and 1990 Pistons before both of those teams won titles.
Detroit has been pretty good at home, too, winning five straight since losing the post-season opener a month ago to the Philadelphia 76ers.
"It's going to be crazy," Richard Hamilton said. "We've got the best fans in the NBA. Everybody knows about the Palace at Auburn Hills."
Everybody also knows about Boston's Big Three and Detroit's true team.
Pierce scored 26, Kevin Garnett had 24 points and Ray Allen had a breakout game by scoring 20 of his 25 points in the second half.
"Their three main guys, for the first time in the playoffs, all played well together. Very well," Saunders said. "When we play well, usually it's a team effort and a lot of people are involved. Last night was a prime example of that."
While Boston's trio is going through the rigors of the playoffs for the first time, Detroit's nucleus is doing it for a fifth year in a row and a few key players have been together in the post-season in six straight conference finals.
The four Pistons who helped win the 2004 title each answered Boston's clutch shots in the final minute.
Hamilton made a mid-range jumper, Chauncey Billups scored on a reverse layup off an inbounds play, Rasheed Wallace had a free throw and Tayshaun Prince made two at the line.
Before that decisive stretch, two more Pistons contributed as Antonio McDyess made a jumper midway through the fourth and rookie Rodney Stuckey had six of his 13 points in 3-minute span early in the final quarter.
"What makes Detroit good is you can't really hone in on one guy," Rivers said. "Obviously in the two previous series we've had LeBron (James) and Joe Johnson. Even though they had players around them, clearly they were the focal point.
"(The Pistons) have five for sure, and six guys on certain nights they can go to."

<-- We can't let them win.

Clinton Apologizes for Kennedy Remark

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton quickly apologized Friday after citing the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as a reason to remain in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination despite increasingly long odds.
"I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever," the former first lady said.
The episode occurred as Clinton campaigned in advance of the June 3 South Dakota primary.
Responding to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, she said: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it," she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race.
Clinton said she didn't understand why, given this history, some Democrats were calling for her to quit.
Her remark about an assassination during a primary campaign drew a quick response from aides to Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama.
"Senator Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said the senator was only referring to her husband and Kennedy "as historical examples of the nominating process going well into the summer and any reading into it beyond that would be inaccurate and outrageous."
Even so, Clinton decided within a couple of hours to make a personal apology.
"I was discussing the Democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns of both my husband and Senator (Robert) Kennedy waged in California in June in 1992 and 1968 and I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That's a historic fact," she said.
"The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy," she added, referring to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's recent diagnosis of a brain tumor. "I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever.
"My view is that we have to look to the past to our leaders who have inspired us, give us a lot to live up to, and I'm honored to hold Senator Kennedy's seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York and have the highest regard for the Kennedy family," she said.
In the same editorial board meeting, Clinton said her campaign has had no discussions with Obama's aides about her possibly becoming his vice presidential pick.
"It is flatly untrue and it is not anything I'm entertaining. It is nothing I have planned and it is nothing I am prepared to engage in. I am still vigorously campaigning."
The Obama campaign also dismissed reports that there were talks going on between the two campaigns about putting Clinton on the ticket.
Obama has an almost 200-delegate lead over Clinton and is just 56 delegates short of the number needed to clinch the nomination, making Clinton's goal of catching him more difficult by the day. The primaries end June 3.
Clinton spent the day campaigning in South Dakota, which holds one of two June 3 primaries. At stake are 15 delegates.
Recent reports suggested she may be discussing ways to end her campaign by being offered the vice presidential slot underneath Obama, but she rejected that and said she suspected the talk was coming from Obama aides.
"I would look to the camp of my opponent for the source of these stories," she said. "People have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa."
Two of those recent reports, however, were attributed by CNN and The New York Times to supporters of Clinton.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a staunch Clinton supporter, said Friday that she believes that if Obama becomes the nominee he should select Clinton as his running mate.
"I think as this race has emerged each one of them has garnered a different constituency and different states, and therefore when you put the two of them together it forms, I believe, the strongest ticket," she told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
"Women feel very strongly about Hillary and African-Americans feel very strongly about Barack, and the election results show that, and the young versus old, the higher educated versus the working person. ... All these things are sort of separated out into one or the other so there is a logic in combining the two constituencies."
Feinstein is a longtime friend and supporter of Clinton's. So would Clinton accept the vice-presidency?
"I think anyone accepts if asked -- whatever they say," Feinstein said.
Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson is overseeing the early vetting of possible vice presidential running mates for Obama, Democratic officials say. He did the same job for Democratic nominees John Kerry in 2004 and Walter Mondale in 1984.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tokio Hotel Checks In

German rock band Tokio Hotel can sell out arenas in their own back yard, but they're trying to get a foot in the door on this side of the pond.

Having all the rock star looks of lead singer Bill Kaulitz won't hurt either, even if a few of the songs during their hour-long set Friday night at Sound Academy sounded uber-average at best.

With a horde of tightly packed female teens filling up about a third of the venue's floor, Tokio Hotel played most of the songs from Scream, its debut English album featuring songs culled and translated from two previous German albums. Just think of them as doing their duty in tearing down global language barrier walls.

It's an ambitious idea that seemed to get off on the right foot as the curtain parted for Ready, Set, Go! Kaulitz, with his rather large, shocking hairstyle, tight-fitting attire and somewhat androgynous appearance, looks like Bjork if she ever survived electrocution.

Yet it's a mug probably plastering the bedroom walls or computer screens of most fans in attendance.

Still a bit hesitant at times speaking English and keeping the between-song banter to a minimum, Kaulitz took a bullhorn siren out for the title track which evoked, you guessed it, loud screams. The rather radio-friendly tune ended with a strong finish by drummer Gustav Schafer as bassist Georg Listing and guitarist (and twin brother) Tom Kaulitz paced the stage.

Having cancelled the Toronto show earlier this year due to Bill Kaulitz undergoing surgery on his vocal chords, Tokio Hotel rolled through much of the songs from Scream as fans held up digital cameras and homemade signs. Two raggedy dolls were also held up resembling the Kaulitz brothers -- right down to the baseball cap and Rastafarian hairdo Tom sports.

But while the audience thought the band could do no wrong, the quartet sounded far more relaxed and tighter during the edgier Totgeliebt, the first number performed in German, which some of the audience knew.

Glad-handing those in the front and later tossing water on them to keep them refreshed, Kaulitz and company slowed things down with Monsoon, a lighter poppy-sounding number that seems to have the vocalist channeling the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan's softer, earnest delivery.

After asking everyone to "make some noise" not once, not twice but three consecutive times, Kaulitz let his brother Tom steer the band through the heavier, guitar-fuelled Break Away and the moodier Black, which again slowed the pace down.

With a lone German flag waving, Tokio Hotel started wrapping things up only 10 songs in with the punk-ish Wo Sind Eure Hande (Raise Your Hands Together) that had the singer grinning throughout while the slow-building By Your Side closed the main set. The set length probably irked a few fans and some parents who expected a bit more bang for their buck.

Returning to the stage with three stools for the obligatory "unplugged" moment, Tokio Hotel ran through Rescue Me before diving into Durch Den Monsun, the German version of Monsoon which they played earlier. The German version came off about the same as the English version with Kaulitz encouraging the crowd to sing in his mother tongue.

Sports news

Celtics Win Opener Despite Allen’s Disappearing Act
The Boston Celtics won their 15th straight home game, a streak that began nearly two months ago, to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Detroit Pistons, 88-79. If Boston keeps rolling at home, the Celtics will win the NBA title. But Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy is troubled: “What happened to Ray Allen? Can the Celtics win the NBA championship with the Big 2 1/3?”
In the playoffs so far, Mr. Allen is averaging 12.5 points and shooting 38% from the field, 31.4% from three-point range. Those are career lows for any regular season or postseason. In the Celtics’ clincher over the Cavaliers on Sunday, Mr. Allen sat for much of the fourth quarter, coming in late only because of the one stat that has risen to a career high in the playoffs: his free-throw shooting, now at 35 of 36.
“Watching Allen miss wide-open shots and/or disappear is a little shocking,” Mr. Shaughnessy writes. “It’s not as bad as witnessing Willie Mays with the Mets in the 1973 World Series, but it’s on the same path. It’s a little like watching David Ortiz try to hit in the first few weeks of the 2008 baseball season. Ray looks lost. He looks like a man suffering a crisis of confidence.”
The arrival of Mr. Allen and Kevin Garnett last offseason transformed the Celtics from a lottery franchise to one playing for the right to go to the NBA Finals. Monday night’s game tipped off just after the Chicago Bulls won this year’s lottery — more on that in a moment — reminding Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs of this time last year, when Boston was disappointed with the No. 5 pick that wouldn’t get them Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. “New England basketball fans were distraught,” Mr. Jacobs writes. “The Celtics, who once upon a time were the always champions, were never going to be champs again. Or if they were going to be champs, it would take years and years of suffering and development.” (Of course, it helps that the Minnesota Timberwolves were willing to help turn that No. 5 pick into Mr. Garnett.)
Now Paul Pierce, the Celtic who was there through the dismal years, is excelling. “This could be the spring he springs from the very good to one of the Celtics legends,” Mr. Jacobs writes. “This could be the spring he puts his number in the rafters. That’s the funny thing about not getting Oden and not getting Durant. That’s the funny thing about getting the Big Ticket. It has given Pierce the chance to be just as big a ticket. It has given Pierce the chance to remembered with all the great Celtics.”
The Bulls hope to undergo a similar transformation with that No. 1 pick earned by luck. “They were guilty of crimes against basketball last season and by all rights deserved to be stuck with little more than a middling first-round pick,” Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey writes. The lucky Bulls should choose Memphis point guard Derrick Rose, Mr. Morrissey argues — despite, not because of, his Chicago roots. “It’s a nice side story, the local kid coming home to play after one year in college,” Mr. Morrissey writes. “But it’s beside the point. There’s no place for sentimentality here, not for this important a decision. If anything, his Chicago background is a negative. Some players can’t handle the pressure of playing in their hometowns. Too many distractions and temptations. But Rose seems mature enough to handle it.”
Last year’s lottery winners, the Portland Trail Blazers, had no such luck this time, finishing with the No. 13 pick. And that’s worth celebrating, according to the Oregonian’s John Canzano: “As long as management doesn’t muck up all the good traction, what Blazers fans really witnessed on Tuesday wasn’t justice but the end of a five-year relationship between a rebuilding franchise and the league’s unequal welfare program.”
Like last year, there are believed to be two top prizes in this year’s draft: Mr. Rose and Michael Beasley. But the New Orleans Hornets, who recently broke off their own fling with the lottery, landed back in the playoffs thanks to a No. 4 pick, Chris Paul. The Hornets and Mr. Paul forced the defending champion San Antonio Spurs to the brink before losing in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals. In the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Teddy Kider looks back at a season characterized by incredible progress: “The Hornets found a home dominance during the second half of the season, and they proved it until the final game against the Spurs, winning their first three home games of the second-round series by 19, 18 and 22 points. After finishing the 2006-07 season 0-11 against the Spurs, Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, New Orleans was 15-9 against them in 2007-08.”


In the Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter previews today’s Champions League final in Moscow, expecting “a stirring affair: Chelsea stir respect but Manchester United stir the soul. Avram Grant’s side garner admiring glances for their relentless, machine-like strength which will roll across the Luzhniki’s substandard surface. But it is Sir Alex Ferguson’s United who quicken the pulse with the bewitching football that flows from the youthful pair of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Only two teams could make the final, of course, but Times of London columnist Martin Samuel points out that the other two English clubs in Europe’s premier club competition, Arsenal and Liverpool, would be there but for other English clubs. “This was the year when English clubs could only be eliminated by themselves,” Mr. Samuel writes. “Arsenal lost to Liverpool, who lost to Chelsea, who can only lose to Manchester United and vice versa. The statistics are astonishing. Including the qualifying rounds, English clubs have met foreign opposition on 42 occasions in the competition and lost four matches.” So why, Mr. Samuel wonders, are some of these top teams’ top stars considering departing for continental clubs?
In the International Herald Tribune, Rob Hughes describes the peculiar scene of hordes of English soccer fans descending on Moscow: “Thousands of fans with tickets but no visas — and thousands with visas looking for black market tickets — are meant to be segregated according to their allegiance to Chelsea blue and United red. Separation starts on entry into Russia. United followers land at Domodedovo Airport today 15:12:11 to the south, and Chelsea at Sheremetyevo to the north. Since there are not enough rooms for them at the capital’s pricey hotels, many will not see or set foot in Moscow at all. They will be bused from their airports to the stadium down cordoned routes. After the match, they may be held in pens, known affectionately as ‘gulags’ until their escorts are ready to return them to the exit.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pete Wentz in the news

Ryan Seacrest Chats Up Pete Wentz On Honeymoon
Calling in to Ryan Seacrest’s LA radio morning talk show from “the basement of a house” Tuesday, Pete Wentz gave the obsequious American Idol host details of his current honeymoon with wife Ashlee Simpson, dodged pregnancy questions and talked about…like, stuff, you know?
The interview began with Wentz relating a story from earlier in the morning, when police called to verify whether a young man found driving his Mercedes had permission to do so. Knowing him only as a rapper named ‘Tiga’, Wentz told Seacrest, “I realized, this is what’s really important: when you get to know your friends…make sure you know their full name and some stuff about them.”
Wentz then went on to describe his honeymoon with Simpson. Avoiding paparazzi, the couple are “hanging out” in the basement of “a house”, eating Digiorno pizza, surrounded by blow-up palm trees and taking turns in a sunless tanning bed.
Asked by Seacrest how he felt, Wentz responded, “I feel great man. It’s like sunny and 65 in my head.”
As for Ashlee, “she’s happy man. She’s sittin’ here - she’s got these blow-up, you know, palm trees. She’s got this husband who’s, ya know, got a tanning bed there for her. We played Monopoly last night for real. I got Boardwalk and Park Place, but I had to mortgage all my real estate to get [them]. I’m one of those guys who plays Monopoly and those are the only two [properties] I care about, you know?”
He went on to note that during the Monopoly game he was the car, Ashlee the dog.
When asked by Seacrest whether he’d thought about potential baby names, Wentz responded cryptically. Having predicted the question, Wentz told Seacrest of his plan to answer by saying, “my penis is a flamethrower” in German, adding, “but I couldn’t remember how it went.”
Dear god.
Wentz went on to say, “Ryan, this baby has not been confirmed. The only thing I’m confirming right now is we’re in the basement right now, on our honeymoon, with these blow-up palm trees.”
No word yet on when Edward R. Murrow is expected to cease grave rolling.

Pete Wentz on His Honeymoon, Pre-Nup and Pesky Pregnancy Rumors
Which exotic destination did newlyweds Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson select for their honeymoon? Believe it or not, their basement.
While Ashlee slept, Pete called in to Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM radio show Tuesday morning and chatted about their splashy wedding, low-key honeymoon and, yes, those pesky baby rumors.
"We have signed a pre-nup," Pete admitted to Ryan. And while Ash is legally a Wentz, he said he doesn't "know what she'll do with her stage name, that's up to her. She hasn't decided on that."
Their honeymoon is taking place... in the basement of their Los Angeles home. "We got some blow-up palm trees," Pete said. "A little fake-n-bake tanning booth. We're eating DiGiorno's pizza, getting in that tanning oven every once in a while. It's great."
Ryan did ask about the pregnancy rumors, but Pete refused to budge, saying: "Ryan, this baby has not been confirmed."
And he wasn't talking about his sister-in-law Jessica Simpson's possible breakup with Tony Romo either. "I don't know anything about what's going on with them," he said. "I'm so busy clearing up my own rumors!"

About to Pop: Tokio Hotel
Who: Tokio Hotel
Album: 'Scream'
Hails From: Magdeburg, Germany
For Fans Of: AFI and My Chemical Romance
Why They're About to Pop: This hard-rocking foursome has been wowing audiences overseas since its members were in their early teens. Now, still barely legal, Bill Kaulitz (vocals), Tom Kaulitz (guitar), Gustav Schäfer (drums) and Georg Listing (bass) have sold upward of 3 million CDs and DVDs in Germany, and have four No. 1 singles and two No. 1 albums under their belt. Their following has spread like wildfire across Europe, and they hope to do the same in the U.S. "It's always been a dream of ours to make it in the States," says lead singer Bill Kaulitz. "We grew up listening to American bands like Metallica, Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We wanted to get a chance to do what they do." On their impressive third album (the first in English), Tokio Hotel will get a chance to do just that.
Three Questions with Tokio Hotel:
What inspired the songs on your record?
Bill: A lot of things: We found inspiration in situations or circumstances that happened in our lives over the past few years and also in the lives of our friends and family. We've also been moved by fans who have written us letters about their lives, and we've included some of that in our music and lyrics.
What's your favorite song on the record?
Tom: That's a tough one because it always changes and we also differentiate between "favorite song on the record" and "favorite live song". My favorite live song right now is 'Don't Jump.'
Gustav: For performing live, it's 'Raise Your Hands.'
Bill: For me, it's 'Break Away.'
Georg: Hey, same here. Right now, it's 'Break Away.'
Bill: But as Tom said, if you would ask us tomorrow we might name totally different songs -- it always changes.
What are the most-played songs on your iPod?
Tom: '99 Problems,' by Jay-Z.
Georg: 'Big Casino,' by Jimmy Eat World.
Gustav: 'Make It Whit Chu,' by Queens of the Stone Age.
Bill: 'It Means Nothing,' by Stereophonics.

<--I don't think that Gustav is normal, nor that Georg is cute. Tom being tough is questionable. Bill is edgy. Someone needs to fix this picture. But I still love Tokio Hotel!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ashlee Simpson is pregnant!?!?!?

Pete Wentz, Ashlee Simpson's Wedding Had 'Alice In Wonderland' Theme, 'Emotional' Toast From Jessica: Reports

Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson's wedding Saturday night was a non-denominational, Alice in Wonderland-themed ceremony that was presided over by Ash's dad, Joe Simpson, with sister Jessica, serving as bridesmaid.

The wedding, which took place in the backyard of Joe and Tina Simpson's Encino, California, home, was attended by approximately 150 guests, including Nicole Richie and Joel Madden, "Scrubs" actor Donald Faison and girlfriend Cacee Cobb, as well as Jessica's maybe/ maybe not boyfriend, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, according to Us Magazine. The bride, 23, wore an ivory lace Monique Lhuillier dress and a diamond necklace with matching earrings, while Wentz, 28, wore a Dior Homme tuxedo.

While's initial, "exclusive" report on the wedding seemed to confirm rumors that Simpson is pregnant — saying that she is "pregnant with the couple's first child," although there were no quotes from Wentz or Simpson on the matter — at press time, the wording had been altered to read, "who sources say is pregnant with the couple's first child," and a representative for the couple told MTV News on Monday (May 19), "We have not, nor did we ever, confirm anything but the wedding." Wentz denied that Simpson is pregnant when asked about the rumors last month by MTV News, but speculation has continued.

People aso reported that Wentz's English bulldog, Hemingway, served as the ringbearer, and that the reception featured a Wonderland-inspired cake with a top hat, teapot, stopwatch and a pot of flowers on top, with elaborate centerpieces with black beauty roses. Guests sipped on Veuve Clicquot champagne and danced to music from a DJ after dinner. OK! added that the bridesmaids wore black Vera Wang gowns and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck catered the event.

One unnamed guest told E! Online that the wedding was a "magical" and beautiful" event that bore the imprint of the Simpson clan's hands-on patriarch, dubbing it the "Joe Simpson Show."

After escorting his youngest daughter down the aisle, the site reported that Joe Simpson told the guests funny and touching stories about Ashlee before beginning the wedding, frequently choking up during the ceremony. "They were all crying," the source said, "it was very moving."

Big sister Jessica was reportedly a bit glum during the wedding, but did give an "emotional, off-the-cuff" toast at one point, according to E!, saying that Pete and Ashlee's relationship, "had inspired [her] to love again." Wentz's brother also gave a toast.

Strangely, for a wedding of two musicians, E! reported that there was no live band, and no one danced until after the cake was cut.

The guests gathered underneath white tents, which were decorated with black rugs, white couches with red pillows, black chandeliers and lots of red roses, the site reported. At the couple's request, all the guests wore dark colors. After taking pictures, E! reported that Ashlee emerged in a "sexy black party dress" to dance, and claimed that it was barely noticeable that she was pregnant with the couple's first child. Though guests were required to check their cell phones and cameras at the door, they did leave with a memento: a red box containing a cookie that, continuing the "Alice in Wonderland" theme, read, "Eat me."

'I'm pregnant,' Ashlee tells wedding guests

The Outta My Head singer - who wed Fall Out Boy rocker Pete Wentz in a ceremony at her parents’ home on Saturday - confirmed to friends and family she is expecting her first child.

A source said: "At the wedding reception, Ashlee told guests, 'I’m pregnant’."

Rumours have been rife Ashlee is pregnant ever since she and Pete announced their engagement last month.

However, the couple refused to comment on the reports.

Ashlee and Pete were pronounced husband and wife by Ashlee's former Baptist minister father Joe in a non-denominational ceremony.

A spokesperson for the newlyweds said: "We are delighted to confirm that Pete and Ashlee were married in front of family and close friends."

After tying the knot, Pete and Ashlee celebrated with an Alice in Wonderland themed reception party, which included a wedding cake inspired by the classic children's book.

The sweet treat was adorned with a top hat, stop watch, tea pot and a pot of flowers.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Celtics Advance!

Paul Pierce returned home and made sure the Celtics would play there again.

Boston's captain scored 41 points -- and still lost a shootout with LeBron James with 45 -- but led the team with the NBA's best regular season record to a 97-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The conference finals begin Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons in the same arena where the Celtics have won 14 straight games and are 8-0 in the postseason.

"Before the year our goal was to be there in Game 1 at home and that's where we are," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "So we're exactly where we should be."

Home teams are 22-2 in the second round of this season's playoffs. But the Celtics are 0-6 on the road in the postseason after Friday night's 74-69 loss in Cleveland. On Sunday, they never trailed but they never were safe until the final seconds.

Pierce hit two free throws with 7.9 seconds left for the final points, then James missed a 3-pointer on the last shot of the game with 4.4 seconds to go.

"I had it going, LeBron had it going and we just didn't let up," Pierce said. "Neither one of us wanted our teams to lose."

Sasha Pavlovic's 3-pointer made it 95-92 with 8.6 seconds left and the Cavaliers immediately fouled Pierce. His first shot hit the rim, hung in the air, then fell through as the crowd roared. Pierce said team patriarch Red Auerbach, who died in October 2006 at age 89, had something to do with that.

"The ghost of Red just looking over us," Pierce said. "I think he kind of tapped it in the right direction. It sort of put a smile on my face."

Pierce's second free throw was much smoother, making it 97-92.

Cleveland raced downcourt and James hoisted a 3-pointer that missed with 4.4 seconds to go. The Cavaliers got the rebound and James waved for the ball from the same spot he had just missed from.

But Boston's Eddie House intercepted the pass and, as the final seconds ticked off, James turned and walked toward his bench, his chances of reaching the East finals dashed on the court where the Cavaliers were 0-6 this season.

"Boston did their work during the regular season to put themselves in this position" to play Game 7 at home," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.

Still, the Celtics were pushed to the limit for the second straight series. They did dominate Atlanta in Game 7, winning 99-65, but had a much tougher time eliminating Cleveland.

But now they're unbeaten in the 29 series in which they've led 3-2.

"Today it was basically get the ball to Paul Pierce and get the hell out of the way," Kevin Garnett said.

Garnett added 13 points and P.J. Brown came off Boston's bench to score 10 and grab key rebounds.

Delonte West was the only other Cleveland scorer in double figures with 15.

The Celtics led 50-40 at halftime, but the Cavaliers cut that to 52-49. It was 61-58 before Boston stretched its margin to 67-58 by scoring the next six points.

But Cleveland kept coming back and trailed by just 73-68 going into the fourth quarter.

The Celtics got a scare when Pierce was fouled by Pavlovic on a drive to the basket and fell on a video cameraman under Boston's basket with 23 seconds left in the first half. Pierce got up slowly and, after a 20-second timeout, made two free throws.

He stayed in the game for all but the last 4.2 seconds of the half, then left for treatment of a bruised left thigh but played most of the second half.

Many fans in the full house were clad in green shirts. Lucky the Mascot held up a sign reading "ROCK THE GARDEN!" and the crowd roared. Pierce got the loudest ovation when he was introduced with his nickname, "The Truth."

And when the game started, one fan bellowed, "Not today, LeBron."

With smoke from pregame pyrotechnics still rising toward the rafters where Boston's 16 championship banners hang, the Celtics got off to a strong start. They rolled to a 16-4 lead -- with Pierce scoring nine -- but the Cavaliers closed it to 29-23 with 7:20 left in the second quarter.

That's when James left the game for the first time, replaced by Pavlovic, and the Celtics got the next five points before James returned less than 1 1/2 minutes later.

Paul Perce Game Photos

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce falls into the crowd during their game seven victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series. The Celtics now meet the Detroit Pistons in the conference final.

Ashlee Simpson, Pete Wentz Wed in California

Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz are now reportedly man and wife.

The pop-star little sis of Jessica Simpson and the "Fall Out Boy" bassist wed Saturday in a private ceremony at the Encino, Calif., home of Ashlee's parents, according to People magazine.

The service had an "Alice in Wonderland" theme. Joe Simpson performed a non-denominational ceremony for his 23-year-old daughter and her 28-year-old groom, the magazine reported.

Ashlee's sister, Jessica, attended the event with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, though tabloids have claimed the pair split.

Ashlee's mother, Tina Simpson, was also among the 150 people who watched the pair get married.

The "Pieces of Me" singer donned an ivory lace wedding gown by Monique Lhuillier accessorized with a diamond necklace and earrings by Neil Lane, People magazine reported.

Pete's English bulldog, Hemingway, was the ring-bearer, and the reception featured a wedding cake by Sam Godfrey of Perfect Endings featuring a top hat, tea pot, stop watch and a pot of flowers on top, the magazine reported.

The paparazzi staked out the wedding location and began gathering before 3 p.m. White shuttle vans with deeply tinted windows were streaming through the gates, as were several delivery vehicles.

Drivers of a few expensive cars who arrived at the guard tower were told to park elsewhere and take a shuttle. One was a well-dressed woman who arrived in an Audi packed with red boxes.

The wedding followed an intimate rehearsal dinner Friday.

On Thursday, the Simpson women threw a bachelorette bash for the youngest member of their clan at Tina and Joe's home, according to E! News. Meanwhile, Pete skipped a raucous bachelor party to dine with his pals and his now-father-in-law at hot spot Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills.

Ashlee and Pete, who began dating in fall 2006, announced their engagement April 9. Tabloid reports, blog rumors and "baby bump" photos have fueled speculation that Ashlee is pregnant, but the couple has long denied its expecting a child.

The wedding may help generate more buzz for Ashlee's new album "Bittersweet World," which she released last month. The record peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in its first week and the tracks have logged more than 19 million plays on her MySpace page.

German band Tokio Hotel a hit in two languages

Growing in popularity, German rock band Tokio Hotel is new to North American fans but all the rage back home.

So when the foursome decided to break into the difficult North American market with its English debut album Scream, the group translated and then performed all of its German songs in English, something that took some time but was worth the work.

"The biggest challenge was to sing for the first time in English because as you can tell my English is not so good," singer Bill Kaulitz says inside a Toronto restaurant. "This is really the first trip that we've spoken English in interviews because we just know some words."

Tokio Hotel, playing the Sound Academy tonight, says translating each song "word by word" was trying.

"I'm a perfectionist, I really wanted to sound natural like I was a native speaker," he says. "That was really, really hard but I hope the fans like it."

"And then they (the words) have to rhyme and still have the same meaning," twin brother and guitarist Tom Kaulitz adds. "We wanted everyone to have a chance to understand what we are saying which was really important."

The band, rounded out by drummer Gustav Schafer and bassist Georg Listing, has made a lot of inroads in a short period of time with singles such as Monsoon and Don't Jump, which deals with suicide, a topic mentioned in some of the fan letters the band received from teens.

But both brothers say the single Ready Set Go! describes how the band members, who got together in 2001, found success at the mere age of 15.

"It was our first single in Germany and it was during our vacation in the summer holidays," Bill says. "It went directly to Number One and after that our whole life changed completely. It was a new life and that was our dream, our dream come true."

The resulting success caused a frenzy that some concert promoters in Germany weren't quite prepared for.

"We were playing a village party, a small festival and there were only 100 or 200 people expected," Tom Kaulitz says. "It was booked six months in advance and we released our first single Monsoon in Germany and we came to that festival."

"There were so many fans and thousands of people, the security was absolutely not ready for that," Bill says. "It was then we knew we had fans. Before it was always five or 10 people in a club just drinking beer and not looking at us."

The toughest thing a new band often has to do is learn how to say no to growing demands. A grueling touring schedule earlier this year left Bill Kaulitz unable to speak for 10 days following surgery to remove a cyst from a vocal chord.

"I was really afraid," he says. "We only played 10 concerts and had to cancel 16 (including a Toronto gig). I was in my hotel room and I looked (at the clock) and I was thinking at this time normally I'm on stage so it was really, really hard."

However, like so many identical twins, Bill had Tom nearby to act as his almost telepathic speaker.

"It's a very cool connection and a very special connection," Bill says of being a twin. "I think nobody else has a connection like that. I had a book and wrote things down (after surgery) but there were some things where I just looked at Tom."

"I always know what Bill is thinking in different situations because I think the same," Tom says without missing a beat. "I had to speak for him for 10 days, it wasn't a great time."

World News

China Suspends Olympic Torch Relay
China will spend three days marking the moment when tens of thousands died in a devastating earthquake, while hope of finding more trapped survivors dwindled Sunday and preventing hunger and disease became more pressing.
The government announced an official mourning period starting Monday and asked China's 1.3 billion people to observe three minutes of silence starting at 2:28 p.m. — exactly one week after the quake killed an estimated 50,000.
The Olympic torch relay — a potent symbol of national pride in the countdown to August's much anticipated Beijing games — also will be suspended during the mourning period, the organizing committee said.
As the second week of China's worst disaster in a generation approached, the search for anyone left alive in the rubble turned glum despite remarkable survival tales among thousands who were buried.
"It will soon be too late" to find trapped survivors, said Koji Fujiya, deputy leader of a Japanese rescue team working in Beichuan, a town reduced to rubble. His team pulled 10 bodies out of Beichuan's high school Sunday.
The steady run of rescue news flashed by the official Xinhua News Agency has slowed. Just three rescues were reported Sunday, including a woman in Yingxiu town who was reached by soldiers who dug a 15-foot tunnel through the wreckage of a flattened power station and had to amputate both her legs to set free, after 150 hours.
"She was in a delirious state" and told rescuers to leave her alone, thinking she was already in a hospital, Xinhua quoted rescuer Ma Gang as saying. "We fed her milk and water, and her family was there to reassure her."
Dozens of aftershocks have rumbled through the region, extending the damage and fear of survivors. A magnitude 6 temblor on Sunday killed three people, injured more than 1,000 and caused further damage to houses and roads, Xinhua reported.
With more bodies discovered, the confirmed death toll rose to 32,476, the State Council, China's cabinet, reported. The injured numbered more than 220,000.
Many bodies lay by roadsides in body bags or wrapped in plastic sheeting, as authorities struggled to deal with the sheer number of corpses by digging burial pits and working crematoriums overtime.
The World Health Organization warned that shortages of clean water and warmer, humid weather in Sichuan province — which bore the brunt of the earthquake — were ripe for epidemics. It urged officials not to be distracted by the false belief that corpses were a health threat.
The Health Ministry said no major epidemics or other public health hazards had been reported so far, Xinhua said. Two field hospitals with 400 beds have been set up in isolated areas and medical staff have reached all townships affected by the quake, Xinhua said.
The three-day mourning period starting Monday was the most extensive one the government has ordered since the death 11 years ago of communist patriarch Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the free-market reforms that have brought many Chinese from poverty to moderate prosperity in a generation.
During the mourning period, all national flags at home and at Chinese missions abroad will fly at half-staff, and public recreational activities will be canceled.
Beijing Olympic organizers said in a statement that the torch relay also will be suspended for three days "to express our deep mourning to the victims of the earthquake."
Officials initially resisted changing the relay, which corporate sponsors have paid millions of dollars to fund, though some of the pomp was toned down in recent days. Organizers say the relay will resume in Sichuan next month.
Responding to concerns about nuclear sites in the quake zone, a Chinese military spokesman, air force Maj. Gen. Ma Jian, told reporters Sunday that all nuclear facilities jolted by the quake were confirmed safe.
Though Ma did not elaborate, China has a research reactor, two nuclear fuel production sites and two atomic weapons sites within 90 miles of the quake's epicenter, according to the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety.
Also in the quake area, three giant pandas were missing from the Wolong Nature Reserve for the endangered animals. Five staff members were killed in the quake, forestry spokesman Cao Qingyao told Xinhua. The 60 other giant pandas at the were safe.
President Hu Jintao continued to tour the destruction for a third day and was surrounded by wailing women at a camp for homeless survivors in Yinghua.
"I know you lost family and property," Hu was quoted by state media as saying. "I share the pain with you. We will try every effort to save your people once there is the slightest hope and possibility."
China also raised the magnitude of last Monday's quake, to 8.0 from 7.8, though it did not give reasons for the reassessment and the U.S. Geological Survey kept its 7.9 measure. A magnitude-8 quake has the equivalent energy of 790 nuclear bombs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Foreign aid continued to arrive, including two U.S. Air Force cargo planes loaded with tents, lanterns and 15,000 meals.
A vast, impromptu humanitarian operation has sprung up among Chinese, with thousands flooding into Sichuan in cars loaded with instant noodles, blankets, clothes and whatever else they could carry.
Chinese people, organizations and companies donated around $1.1 billion for quake relief in the first week after the disaster, Xinhua said. That figure was set to surge after a Sunday night charity gala was broadcast nationally that featured celebrities and dignitaries dumping packets of cash into collection boxes and a tearful appearance of a young girl who survived the quake.
Some survivors, like Zhao Xingmao, were stoic in the face of grief.
Zhao's daughter was the only family member at home in Beichuan when it collapsed in the quake, and she has not been seen since. Their son survived. Every day, Zhao crawls through a small opening into what remains of their house and calls out her name in hope of a reply.
"My heart has been aching every day for her," Zhao said, as he and his wife packed clothes picked from the remains of the building into sacks and suitcases, dismissing offers of assistance.
"We're going to do this on our own. More people out there need help," he said.
Queen's Eldest Grandson Weds Canadian
The eldest grandson of Queen Elizabeth II married his Canadian fiancee Saturday in a private ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly wed at the castle's 15th-century St. George's Chapel in front of 300 guests including the queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Phillips' mother, Princess Anne. Prince Harry, the third in line to the throne, and his girlfriend Chelsy Davy were also there.
The bride wore a traditional white dress by Sassi Holford and a tiara lent to her by her mother-in-law.
She was led into the chapel by her father Brian. Her bridesmaids, wearing light green dresses, included Peter's sister Zara Phillips. After the ceremony, the couple left in a horse-drawn carriage for their reception.
Phillips - the 11th in line to the throne - met Kelly in 2003, when both were working at the Montreal Grand Prix.
Phillips did not immediately reveal he was a royal - Kelly later said she made the discovery when she spotted her husband-to-be in a program about Prince William.
The couple, both 30, live in London. Phillips works for the Royal Bank of Scotland while Kelly, a graduate of Canada's McGill University, is a personal assistant to broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson.
They announced their engagement last year.
Kelly renounced her Roman Catholic faith and joined the Church of England to marry Phillips. Under centuries-old British law, a royal who marries a Catholic cannot take the throne.
Phillips is among the most low-profile members of the royal family, and neither he nor his sister Zara undertake official royal duties.
However Phillips and Kelly raised eyebrows in some quarters by agreeing to sell the story of their nuptials to the celebrity magazine Hello! for a sum reported at up to $1 million.

Scientist Shifts View on Global Warming

Global warming isn't to blame for the recent jump in hurricanes in the Atlantic, concludes a study by a prominent federal scientist whose position has shifted on the subject.
Not only that, warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday.
In the past, Knutson has raised concerns about the effects of climate change on storms. His new paper has the potential to heat up a simmering debate among meteorologists about current and future effects of global warming in the Atlantic.
Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, hurricanes have often been seen as a symbol of global warming's wrath. Many climate change experts have tied the rise of hurricanes in recent years to global warming and hotter waters that fuel them.
Another group of experts, those who study hurricanes and who are more often skeptical about global warming, say there is no link. They attribute the recent increase to a natural multi-decade cycle.
What makes this study different is Knutson, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fluid dynamics lab in Princeton, N.J.
He has warned about the harmful effects of climate change and has even complained in the past about being censored by the Bush administration on past studies on the dangers of global warming.
He said his new study, based on a computer model, argues "against the notion that we've already seen a really dramatic increase in Atlantic hurricane activity resulting from greenhouse warming."
The study, published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, predicts that by the end of the century the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic will fall by 18 percent.
The number of hurricanes making landfall in the United States and its neighbors - anywhere east of Puerto Rico - will drop by 30 percent because of wind factors.
The biggest storms - those with winds of more than 110 mph - would only decrease in frequency by 8 percent. Tropical storms, those with winds between 39 and 73 mph, would decrease by 27 percent.
It's not all good news from Knutson's study, however. His computer model also forecasts that hurricanes and tropical storms will be wetter and fiercer. Rainfall within 30 miles of a hurricane should jump by 37 percent and wind strength should increase by about 2 percent, Knutson's study says.
And Knutson said this study significantly underestimates the increase in wind strength. Some other scientists criticized his computer model.
MIT hurricane meteorologist Kerry Emanuel, while praising Knutson as a scientist, called his conclusion "demonstrably wrong" based on a computer model that doesn't look properly at storms.
Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist, said Knutson's computer model is poor at assessing tropical weather and "fail to replicate storms with any kind of fidelity."
Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said it is not just the number of hurricanes "that matter, it is also the intensity, duration and size, and this study falls short on these issues."
Knutson acknowledges weaknesses in his computer model and said it primarily gives a coarse overview, not an accurate picture on individual storms and storm strength. He said the latest model doesn't produce storms surpassing 112 mph.
But NOAA hurricane meteorologist Chris Landsea, who wasn't part of this study, praised Knutson's work as "very consistent with what's being said all along."
"I think global warming is a big concern, but when it comes to hurricanes the evidence for changes is pretty darn tiny," Landsea said.
Hurricane season starts June 1 in the Atlantic and a Colorado State University forecast predicts about a 50 percent more active than normal storm season this year. NOAA puts out its own seasonal forecast on May 22.
In a normal year about 10 named storms form. Six become hurricanes and two become major hurricanes. On average, about five hurricanes hit the United States every three years.

Does Global Warming Have Benefits?

Ever since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, hurricanes have often been seen as a symbol of global warming's wrath. However, a new study shows that warmer temperatures may actually reduce the number of Atlantic hurricanes.
In Greenland, where the ice is melting, fishermen are thrilled by the return of cod and farmers are reporting higher yields. Cleveland, Ohio, and other cities around the Great Lakes might enjoy balmier weather, but could suffer if lower lake levels cut off shipping lanes.
A man clears snow from a roof in Parish, N.Y., in February. Warmer weather could help northerners save on heating fuel and keep residents from moving south.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

This Can't Be Good...

Climate Change Could Make Breakfast Cereals Toxic
You remember how your parents warned you that eating cereals like Franken Berry and Frosted Flakes would kill you? Well, in the age of global warming, that may not be too far off the mark.
Australian researcher Lisa Bricknell, speaking at an environmental health conference, speculated that climate change could result in an epidemic of "killer cornflakes." That's because grains like corn and rye are increasingly being attacked by a killer fungus that thrives in the hot, damp weather that we're going to be seeing more and more of as the world heats up. The fungus has harmful mycotoxins that can cause liver failure and death if eaten in large quantities.
Bricknell acknowledged that the outbreak isn't right around the corner, but notes that the effects of the toxins have been known since the Middle Ages, when European rye bread was contaminated. "People started suffering mass hallucinations, manic depression, gangrene, reduced fertility and suffered a painful, convulsive death," Bricknell said.
18 of the Craziest Breakfast Cereals Ever Made
18. Kaboom
A day-glo clown, creepy smiley-faced shapes, and an ability to turn milk a murky grayish-blue color: What's not to love about Kaboom? Note that the clown on this box front, who appears to have been dosed with LSD, refuses to actually handle the bowl with anything other than his foot.
17. Punch Crunch
Cap'n Horatio Crunch has shared the S.S. Guppy with numerous first mates over the years, but few were quite as foppish as Harry S. Hippo. The spokes-character for the "little pink rings with big pink flavor," Harry tempted the lonely sea cap'n with his teased eye lashes and curvaceous figure. If the idea of fruit-punch-flavored cereal wasn't so disgusting, who knows what could've been. Maybe in a more accepting time...
16. Sugar Corn-fetti
Though the connection between mariners and processed corn is spurious at best, Post used the seafaring Captain Jolly to pitch Sugar Corn-fetti in the 1960s. As illogical as that sounds, using a single-toothed smile to sell a sugary breakfast may be an even worse idea.
15. Wackies
In the good ol' days, an uncontrollable little boy getting hopped up on a cereal full of "banana bingles," "banana jangles," and "oat gloops" was endearing. Now it just makes him a candidate for Ritalin.
14. Rice Honeys
Given that children are taught to steer clear of bees, you'd think arming insects with pistols would make them more off-putting. Obviously, this didn't cross the minds of the execs in charge of Rice Honeys, who also led a movement to unseat Mr. Potato Head as the piece of produce most likely to be anthropomorphized.
13. Sir Grapefellow
Imagine being in General Mills' boardroom when an advertising exec proposed that a knighted, phallic-nosed British aviator with the tag-line "Tally-ho" would be the best option to market their new grape-flavored cereal. You can almost envision the staff looking on quizzically before the boss stands up and begins clapping. The yes-men follow along on cue, unaware that the boss had a four-martini lunch.
12. OKs
Long before there were Brawny paper towels there was a "Br-r-awny," cereal. It appears Kellogg's wanted kids to think eating OKs would make them grow big and strong. However, it's not entirely clear why they thought kids aspired to be stereotypically Scottish.
11. KOMBOs
After finding success using a tiger to market Corn Flakes, Kellogg's decided to use another exotic beast, the Blue Gnu, to represent the cereal's orange-flavored incarnation. While using one of the African savanna's most obscure animals seems like an odd choice, it's even stranger that they cloaked the character in a trench coat, like some kind of citrus-wielding flasher.
10. Magic Puffs
If your hat comes alive and tells you to eat cereal, you've probably already had some magic puffs. When this was on tables from 1974 to 1977, we're pretty sure it was more post-bong "munchie meal" than part of a nutritious breakfast.
9. Quisp
Once again, the children of America were forced to face an armed spokes-thing while eating cereal. Quisp cereal was introduced in 1966 and has since disappeared from most store shelves, but Quaker continues to make small batches of it every year. We think cereal lovers across America fear retaliation from "Quisp" -- a propeller-headed alien with permanently crossed eyes -- if they don't buy a box every year.
8. Mr. Wonderfull's Surprize
Regardless of whether this guy is "wonderfull" or not, any parent who would let their kid eat the creamy-filling "Surprize" found inside the balls of a man with a periscope head should be charged with child abuse.
7. Fruit Brute
Of General Mills' monster-themed cereals, only Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry scared up any business. Fruit Brute, the runt of the series, was shot by a silver bullet in 1983 after an eight-year run, leaving grocery stores devoid of cereals containing fluorescent orange puffs and nasty lime marshmallows.
6. Corn Flakes with Instant Bananas
First of all, Mr. Kellogg, bananas can't instantly appear. Their freeze-dried meat needs to be reconstituted, which is not really a "Presto!" sort of moment. Secondly, we're pretty sure the top of that banana's head was cut off to give him a nose. Needless to say, a child's fragile mind shouldn't be expected to wrap itself around this kind of macabre fruit phantasmagoria.
5. Vanilly Crunch
Once again, the good Cap'n is being tempted by a sexually aggressive animal. Wilma the White Whale is a nice literary tip of the cap to Moby Dick, but giving her long lashes and "Hello, sailor" lipstick creates the type of promiscuous sea life Melville never imagined and probably never wanted to. (You might want to re-read some of the more symbolic passages of "Billy Budd" if you don't know what we're talking about.)
4. Freakies
Born in 1973, the Freakies were Snorkeldorf, Cowmumble, Hamhose, BossMoss, Goody-Goody, Gargle and Grumble. Besides inspiring fan clubs nationwide, the original Freakies commercial became an installation at New York City's Museum of Modern Art. But if you put them in front of a kid now, they'd want to know why boogers were floating in their cereal.
3. Tutti Fruiti Twinkles
Known as the Tutti-Fruiti Sprinkler, this cartoon fire fighter appeared on the scene in the mid-'60s to tinkle sprinkles all over your cereal. It's unclear why anyone would want this, but at least there are other designs on the box to distract you from over-analyzing why Sprinkler seems so excited about using his hose.
2. Crunchy Loggs
Honestly, what's more appetizing than chowing down on some crunchy loggs? Wouldn't you just love to pop a logg in your mouth and experience its rich nutty flavor? It tastes just like what you'd get if a cartoon beaver took a dump in your bowl. Mmmm...delish.
1. Grins & Smiles & Giggles & Laughs
Created in 1975, GSGL's "story" was of four characters named Grins, Smiles, Giggles and Laughs who had to make the robot laugh to get it to vomit up boxes of cereal. While its concept is exceptionally weird, we actually ranked it number one for its profound tagline: "It takes funny people to make funny cereal." Of course, we interpreted that as "funny-weird," not "funny ha-ha."

Astronomers Baffled by Bizarre Star

Astronomers are baffled after finding an exotic type of star called a pulsar apparently locked in an elongated orbit around a star much like the sun -- an arrangement defying what had been known about such objects.
The rapidly spinning pulsar -- an extraordinarily dense object created when a massive star exploded as a supernova -- is called J1903+0327 and is located about 21,000 light years from Earth, the astronomers said.
A light year is about 6 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year.
"The big question is -- how in the heck did this thing form, because it doesn't follow our standard models of how these things form," astronomer Scott Ransom of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
This object is known as a millisecond pulsar because of its speedy whirl -- it spins on its axis 465 times per second.
"The reason why we're so excited about this is the impact it might have on our understanding of where the pulsars that we look at are coming from," David Champion, an astronomer at Canada's McGill University, told "We've never seen anything like this before."
Until now, all of the ones found orbiting with another star have been doing so with a white dwarf, another type of dying star. In each case, they shared a perfectly circular orbit. But this one has a very elongated orbit around a star similar in size and composition to our sun.
"What we have found is a millisecond pulsar that is in the wrong kind of orbit around what appears to be the wrong kind of star," astronomer David Champion of the Australia Telescope National Facility said in a statement. "Now we have to figure out how this strange system was produced."
It was detected using a radio telescope in Puerto Rico.
Pulsars are a rare type of neutron star whose strong magnetic fields channel lighthouse-like beams of light and radio waves that whirl around as the star spins.
Typical pulsars spin once a second to about 10 or 20 times a second. But millisecond pulsars spin far more rapidly.
The understanding had been that these started out as typical, slower-spinning pulsars, then built up speed after material expelled from another star reached the pulsar's surface, giving it momentum.
"If you were to ask any astronomer if we would have found a system like this, they would have said no. So this is a very big surprise," Ransom said.
The scientists, writing in the journal Science, speculate a third star -- perhaps a neutron star or white dwarf -- might be orbiting with the other two. Scientists know of about 100 pulsars in two-star, or binary, systems, and this might be the first in a triple-star system, Ransom said.

Incredible Space Pictures
Below: An artist's graphical representation obtained from NASA depicts a pulsar, center, surrounded by whirling beams of light and radio waves. Astronomers are puzzled by the discovery of a pulsar with an unusual orbit never before seen.
Below: A pair of spiral galaxies found in the constellation of Hercules meet in a head-on collision in this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Fifty-nine new swirling galaxy images from the famed telescope were released on April 24 on the 18th anniversary of its launch.
Above: Even galaxies get bullied. Here, a so-called "death star galaxy" blasts a nearby galaxy with a jet of energy. Scientists said that if this happened in the Milky Way, it would likely destroy all life on Earth.
Below: In February, photos taken in July 2007 were released showing a puzzling haze that brightened and dimmed over Venus' southern latitudes. The haze moved toward the equator and then back to the south pole. Scientists aren't sure what is causing it.
Below: In 2005, NASA's Hubble Telescope captured this image of the Crab Nebula, a six-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star's supernova explosion. Japanese and Chinese astronomers witnessed this violent event in 1054.