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September 29, 2009

Bill Maher On Jay Leno: Emails — Mark Foley vs Gov Mark Sanford

In June 2009 Governor Mark Sanford, Republican from South Carolina, admitted that he had conducted an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina who he had gone to visit in Argentina three times during the past year.  “I have been unfaithful to my wife . . . I developed a relationship with what started as a dear dear friend,” said Sanford.

He said that he had met Maria Belen Shapur roughly eight years ago and that it had become romantic within the last year.

In September 2006 Mark Foley, Republican Congressman from Florida, sent sexually explicit email and instant messages to a 16 year old male congressional page from Monroe, Louisiana as well as to other congressional pages.

This is sad but funny.  Watch Bill and Jay read some of the emails.

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June 2, 2009

NBA Finals: Superman Will Meet The Black Mamba

Disclaimer – I am a Kobe fan and want to see him win number 4!

lakers

The Black Mamba is the perfect nickname for number 24, Kobe Bryant. He is a basketball assassin; a stealthy predator that can strike at any given moment. He possesses both a venomous skill set, and near-unrivaled speed in the NBA. He is a shutdown defender that stalks his prey. Kobe is the scariest guy in the NBA – he is a lethal weapon! Kobe’s nickname is so v-e-r-y appropriate.

The Black Mamba is one of Africa’s most dangerous and feared snakes. It is known for being very aggressive when disturbed or confronted and will not hesitate to strike with deadly precision. The black mamba is the largest venomous snake in Africa and the second longest venomous snake in the world after the King Cobra. The Black Mamba is also the fastest land snake in the world and uses its speed to escape danger. 

Since most of us knows Kobe’s stats and there are thousands of articles written about our one-name superstar I’m not going to delve into his accomplishments; just watch him play and you’ll understand why I love his game.

Dwight Howard Slam Dunk

I also really, really like Superman, D12, Dwight Howard. He’s earned his way to the big show and once the finals begin Thursday at the Staples Center our 23 year young superhero will get the greatest national exposure of his rapidly increasing pro career and his best opportunity yet to reach the rarefied superstar status of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. 

Howard has excelled on the court, and he has shown us his great charisma and personality and we can’t forget the forever present gleam in Superman’s eyes and his 1,000 mega watt smile. He is also very mature and is not an egocentric personality.  I remember during this year’s slam-dunk competition on All-Star weekend when he agreed to allow his main opponent 5 foot 9 Nate Robinson (NY Knicks) to use him as a prop to dunk the ball (see video below).  Howard inevitably knew that if Robinson jumped over him, Robinson would win the contest even though Howard was in the lead at the time.  Howard put on his Superman cape and allowed Robinson to jump over him; Robinson won and Howard was really very happy for Robinson and even gave Robinson a chest bump.  Howard is a class act.  

D12 has elevated his playing status, showed us his great personality and has made himself very marketable.  Soon Nike and Vitamin water will be calling — if they haven’t already. 

As a sports fan I am proud and happy to see two young men who are family-oriented, well-mannered and respectable representing us in the East and West. These are two young men who can serve as great inspirations for up and coming NBA hopefuls.

The finals will be a fight but a fight I will enjoy watching.  I hope Kobe gets ring number 4 – he has worked hard for it – but I will have a smile on my face if Superman gets his first.

Finals, game 1 – Thursday, June 4 @9pm EST on ABC

Watch Nate Robinson (NY Knicks) dunk over Superman Dwight Howard!

Kobe ‘baptizes’ Dwight Howard his rookie year:

Dwight Howard’s workout:

 

May 7, 2009

The Middle East Goes To Cuba: Qatar To Build Luxury Hotel In Cuba

cuba 

Well, if America wants to be a major player in the redevelopment of Cuba then we better start talking with Cuba in a meaningful way real soon before the rest of the industrial world beats us to it.  Do American businesses want to do business with Cuba?  Of course they do, they don’t want to miss out on all the opportunities to bring Cuba into the 21st century and all the money to be made doing so.

Here in America we have been conditioned to believe that Castro’s Cuba is all bad and that Cuba is automatically our enemy without knowing why Castro’s Cuba look at America as a fiend – it’s not just about communism.

Before the Cuban Revolution that led to the overthrow of U.S. backed Dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Havana was the original Sin City.  Havana was Las Vegas, before there was a Las Vegas.

Because gambling, liquor, prostitution, etc were all illegal in the United States, rich and famous Americans were looking for a place where they could revel and paint the town red without going to jail. They discovered Havana and since it is a tropical paradise and only 90 miles from Florida it became wealthy Americans’ winter destination and airlines and cruise lines offered grand tour packages to Havana.

American mob bosses benefited from Cuba’s President Fulgencio Batista’s corrupt regime and bribed them and created a glamorous playground for the rich. They created a prohibition haven, a place of safety from prosecution overflowing with dazzling nightclubs and mojitos flowing all day, outrageous cabarets, dancing girls, all-night bars, backstreet brothels, fancy hotels and resorts, gambling, music, drugs, sex and scandal.  Affluent Americans and movie stars did not disappoint the mob investors; they went to Havana in droves to whoop it up!

Many Cubans were outraged by the reveling and debauchery and Castro who was a young revolutionist became popular and his philosophy became widely accepted. When Castro overthrew Batista he had a new vision for Cuba and Americans were banned from travel to his tropical paradise.

Relations between the U.S. and Cuba quickly deteriorated when Castro nationalized many of the U.S. owned industries in Cuba. Each time the Cuban government nationalized American properties, the American government took countermeasures, resulting in the prohibition of all exports to Cuba on October 19, 1960.

In March 1960 President Eisenhower had quietly authorized the CIA to organize, train, and equip Cuban refugees as a guerrilla force to overthrow Castro. Consequently, Cuba began to consolidate trade relations with the communist Soviet Union which lead to the United States breaking off all remaining official diplomatic relations.

On January 3, 1961 the US withdrew diplomatic recognition of the Cuban government and closed our embassy in Havana.

So here we are 48 years later and Cuba and Qatar have signed an agreement to build a $75 million, 450-room resort on a cay south of the island.

Cuba and Qatar will spend 14 months negotiating financing details for the five-star “Gran Paraiso” or “Great Paradise,” said Ghanim Bin Saad al-Saad, president of state-owned Qatar Diar Real Estate Investment Company, construction will take another year and a half with a goal to open in 2015.

The resort is planned for Cayo Largo Sur, a strip of white sand, coral reefs and warm, calm waters 105 miles south of Havana that is already home to a cluster of high-rise hotels. The Gran Paraiso will also include 60 retreat villas that could be expanded in the future.

Tourism is Cuba’s second-largest moneymaker behind nickel exports.

A record 2.35 million foreigners visited last year, mostly from Canada and Europe. That was a 9.3 percent increase over 2007.  Foreign arrivals are up another 2 percent so far this year despite the global economic slowdown.

America should not continue to snub Cuba.  Even though we’ve not been friendly neighbors, Cuba really hasn’t done anything harmful to America. Cuba is very close to us geographically and we should have a respectable relationship with them. Sending the CIA to Cuba to overthrow Castro was not an endearing thing to do. 

If we continue our relationship with Cuba as is, out of necessity Cuba might befriend nations that are adversarial towards America.  We don’t have to be their BFF but we should be cordial and reopen trade with them.  Why not?

Will America come out and play with Cuba?

March 30, 2009

Tiger Wins At Bay Hill!

tiger-bay-hill-3-29-09 Magic – absolute magical, impressive and dramatic!!!

Tiger busted the weirdest celebration move ever in the picture above but I guess he didn’t know what to do with the sum of all his athletic parts as he sunk the 15 foot birdie at the 18th hole at Bay Hill as he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by one shot over Sean O’Hair to match the largest comeback in his PGA Tour career. Did you see Stevie lift him off the ground?! 🙂

“It feels good to be back in contention, to feel the rush,” Woods said. “It’s been awhile, but God, it felt good. I hadn’t been in the mix since the U.S. Open, so it was neat to feel the heat again.”

Starting the final round five shots behind, Woods closed with a 3-under 67. It was the third time Tiger won at Bay Hill with a birdie putt on the 18th hole and his sixth win there.

This is phenomenal and a testament to Tiger’s ability, work ethics and focus.  This is just Tiger’s third start after reconstructive surgery on his left knee 8 months ago!

Magical!

February 27, 2009

Entertainment: Wonderful Wednesdays At The White House

president-obama-stevie-wonder  Obama is proving that he can ‘walk and chew gum’ at the same time.  President Obama and his team are truly working hard and finding time for entertaining without compromising their work on behalf of the American people.  Balance – what a great thing to have in the White House.

The White House is the place to be on Wednesdays!

Since the presidency changed political hands less than six weeks ago, a burst of entertaining has taken hold of the iconic, white-columned home of America’s head of state. Much of it comes on Wednesdays.

The stately East Room, where portraits of George and Martha Washington adorn the walls, was transformed into a concert hall as President Barack Obama presented Stevie Wonder with the nation’s highest award for pop music on Wednesday.

A week before that, it was the foot-stomping sounds of Sweet Honey in the Rock, a female a cappella group, that filled the East Room for a Black History Month program that first lady Michelle Obama held for nearly 200 sixth- and seventh-graders from around the District of Columbia.

Cocktails were sipped during at least three such receptions to date, all held on Wednesdays.

Bookending the midweek activity were a Super Bowl watch party for select Democratic and Republican lawmakers and a dinner for governors, the new administration’s first black-tie affair. It was capped with a performance by the 1970’s pop group Earth, Wind & Fire, and a conga line.

The flurry of entertaining is in keeping with the promise by the Obamas to make the White House a more open place for everyone.

The governors’ dinner was “a great kickoff of what we hope will be an atmosphere here in the White House that is welcoming and that reminds everybody that this is the people’s house,” Obama told the state chief executives after they had dined on Maryland crab, Wagyu beef, Nantucket scallops and citrus salad.

“We are just temporary occupants. This is a place that belongs to the American people and we want to make sure that everybody understands it’s open,” he said.

At the dinner in the State Dining Room, the Obamas looked comfortable, chatting and smiling with their guests. Afterward, they escorted the governors down the hall to the East Room, which had been arranged with few tables and chairs to encourage dancing to “September,” “Boogie Wonderland” and other hits from a musical group Obama listened to growing up.

The conga line formed after the media were escorted out and, apparently, after Obama had called it a night.

“Thank you also for waiting until I had left before you started the conga line,” the president told the governors the next morning. “I hear it was quite a spectacle.”

Some Obama guests say he immediately puts them at ease. He indulges them and serves cookies, too.

“People like me felt comfortable in his presence,” said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, a self-described “poor country boy” who said he felt like a “freshman going to the senior prom” when he attended a White House reception for leaders of the congressional caucuses.

“Sometimes when you’re in the presence of the most powerful person in the world, in the most powerful democracy in the world … I was in awe that I was comfortable,” said Honda, chairman of the Asian Pacific American Caucus. “I think that’s his style and how he grew up, who he is.

“He’s down to earth and engaging,” Honda said.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., was among those invited for the Super Bowl. He said Obama, an avid sports fan, joined his guests for most of the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It wasn’t a circumstance where he came in and said ‘Hi’ and then left,” Franks said. “He actually stayed and watched the game.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, said Obama was very cordial, and he and the first lady made everyone feel comfortable. The president talked to everyone before the game started, she said, including a 12-year-old boy who asked Obama where the bathroom was.

“My favorite part was when he personally served us cookies — oatmeal raisin — when we were watching the game,” she said.

The gathering over hot dogs and hamburgers was one of several get-to-know-the-members-of Congress events Obama held as he lobbied lawmakers to support the nearly $800 billion tax-and-spend economic package he recently signed into law. His efforts produced no Republican votes in the House and just three in the Senate, but Franks said he still appreciated the Democratic president’s efforts to reach out to the opposing party.

“I think the value of social interaction like this is not so much that it co-opts anyone in any way. It certainly didn’t in my case,” said Franks, who said he had a substantive conversation with Obama at the party, “I think it humanizes and personalizes opponents. We can diminish politics and try to work together for what’s right for the country.”

Obama played the role of “first fan” at the Wonder tribute, where he opened up about his and his wife’s common enjoyment of Wonder’s music.

“As Stevie knows, I’m a huge fan. And he has been a great supporter,” Obama said before presenting the award-winning, singer-songwriter with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress.

He said Wonder’s songs “became the soundtrack of my youth” and that in them he “found peace and inspiration, especially in difficult times.”

Obama presented the medal to Wonder, and then wrapped the singer in a bear hug. As the media were led out of the room, Wonder struck up “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” which was a staple of Obama’s campaign rallies.

Original post at: http://www.mercurynews.com/politics/ci_11796961

 

 

 

 

February 25, 2009

First Dog Will Arrive In April And Might Be A Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese-water-dog  It’s (almost) official: The Obamas are getting a rescued Portuguese water dog.  Or, rather, Michelle Obama told People magazine that the family was on the lookout for a dog who fit that description, was “old enough” and was a “match” for the family dynamic. 

The primary rationale behind the choice of a Portuguese water dog is, of course, its allergy-friendly coat (a trait also found in poodles, soft-coated wheaten terriers and other breeds).  The breed’s temperament and “middle of the road” size were also factors, according to Mrs. Obama, who added: “And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them.  So that’s where we’re leaning.” 

Our colleague Johanna Neuman at the Top of the Ticket blog explains that one of those “folks we know” Mrs. Obama references is another Washington mover-and-shaker:

The choice is also likely to delight Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, an early Obama supporter who has two Portuguese water dogs himself and has never been shy about lobbying for his causes.

(One of Kennedy’s dogs, Splash, is the narrator of his children’s book, “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C.“)

The timeline for the new addition?  Look for its arrival after spring break, says the first lady. 

From People:

Here’s a sample of a typical family conversation on the matter: “So Sasha says, ‘April 1st.’ I said, ‘April.’ She says, ‘April 1st.’ It’s, like, April!” Mrs. Obama recalls. “Got to do it after spring break. You can’t get a new dog and then go away for a week.”

The Obamas’ one dog-related sticking point, now that the breed is decided, is the new pet’s name, People reports:

“Oh, the names are really bad. I don’t even want to mention it, because there are names floating around and they’re bad,” Mrs. Obama says with a laugh. “You listen and you go -– like, I think, Frank was one of them. Frank! Moose was another one of them. Moose. I said, well, what if the dog isn’t a moose? Moose. I’m like, no, come on, let’s work with the names a little bit.”

The level of interest nationwide in the first family’s dog search has been surprising, Mrs. Obama told People.  But it’s “all great and gracious attention. People are just being as helpful as you can imagine.”  The interview will appear in the issue of People due on newsstands this Friday.

“The Portuguese water dog is a fun-loving dog with a lot of energy,” Michelle Barlak of the AKC told the Baltimore Sun. “It’s a great family dog, but they have to understand the dog will require quite a bit of exercise…. Two young girls who are very active are good companions for the dog.”

What do you think of the Obamas’ choice?  Will an energetic water retriever be a good match for the first family? 

 

Original article:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/02/obama-portugues.html

February 24, 2009

Tiger is Back — YES!!!

tiger-isleworth-country-club-2-091 

I am sooo excited to see Tiger back – golf just has not been the same!

The practice range at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando is vast, beautiful and exposed, and in the last month it has been one of the final testing grounds in the comeback of Tiger Woods. At various times on different days, Woods has gone there to hit balls so often that some of his neighbors could not help but sneak a peek. Among the curious was fellow PGA Tour professional Nick O’Hern, who spotted Woods during a recent session and decided to observe a golfer on the mend. Woods placed a ball on a tee. He set the head of his driver behind it. He took the club back, swung hard and watched the ball go skyward. Instead of doubling over in pain, as he did last June while winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with bones shifting in his left leg, Woods stood tall at the finish. Then, without hesitation, he started over and did it again. “He was bombing it out there,” O’Hern says. “As physically fit and mentally tough as he is, I’m guessing he’ll win at least one major this year.”

This is the picture that the sports world has been missing for the last eight months while Woods has been healing from surgery to rebuild his left anterior cruciate ligament: the rocket tee shots and trundling chips, the dynamism and charisma of an athlete in his prime. Though Woods’ return this week, at the Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club near Tucson, is not unique in the annals of sport, the circumstances surrounding golf and the world beyond seem to cry out for his presence.

The economy is tanking. The best player in baseball admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. Golf sponsorship has become more risky amid falling television ratings and tightening purse strings. Even in the calm after football season and before the basketball postseason, golf has had trouble making a dent — until now.

“To me, when you have what is going on in the country, people escape their troubles by watching sports, and this is the biggest sports story we have going right now,” says Tommy Roy, the executive producer for golf at NBC Sports, speaking of Woods’ return. “He’s so likable in the way that he plays, it sucks you in.”

Roger Maltbie, an on-course reporter for the network (which will air the Accenture’s final rounds), is more pointed. “We are starved for him,” says Maltbie, who played for 22 years on Tour. “The year seems flat. I don’t mean to be unfair to any of the other guys, but a lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

That Tour commissioner Tim Finchem saw fit to release a statement after Woods’ announcement — “We are delighted that Tiger is returning to competition,” Finchem said — only underscores Woods’ meaning to the game in good times and bad. Finchem has asked players to do everything they can to enhance the Tour brand, from adding tournaments to their schedules to showing appreciation to sponsors, pro-am partners and fans. Some are taking the plea to heart; Tour pro Robert Garrigus says that he now thanks tournament volunteers even after he makes a bogey. And now here comes the 33-year-old Woods as the Tour’s biggest attraction, something of a one-man stimulus package. “We’re going to bring some fans back,” says Rich Beem, winner of the 2002 PGA Championship.

Even beyond Woods’ resumption of his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major titles — a mark Woods could tie by winning the Grand Slam this year — there are other benefits golf may soon realize with Tiger back in the fold. The Tour’s six-year contract with network television expires in 2012, and there is no bigger selling point than Woods as golf’s leading man.

Beyond our borders the Tour, along with the game’s other governing bodies, submitted a bid last month to the International Olympic Committee to include golf in the 2016 Summer Games. Last year several top-ranked players from a variety of tours filmed a four-minute, 35-second video trumpeting their support for the initiative. The opening footage is of Woods pumping his fist. The closing scene has Woods saying that he could not think of a better sport to make an Olympic event. “Having the Number 1 most recognized athlete in the world playing our sport certainly is something that makes [it] even more attractive for the Olympics,” says Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour VP who doubles as the executive director of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee.

tiger-woods-and-family Despite the demise of his endorsement deal with General Motors, Woods’ comeback stands to generate other business opportunities. On his bag he will carry the logo of AT&T, the company that sponsors his tournament outside of Washington, D.C., over the Fourth of July. Nike, which manufactures Woods’ clubs, balls and apparel, is also planning to release a new commercial timed to his comeback at the Match Play. The company often has launched commercials to coincide with Woods’ victories, including at the 2005 British Open and at last year’s U.S. Open, his final tournament before undergoing ACL surgery.

“We look at Tiger as if he’s making history every time he tees it up,” says Cindy Davis, the president of Nike Golf. “We do everything we can to capitalize on that energy.”

In some ways that energy has already started to build. When word filtered throughout Riviera Country Club last Thursday that Woods was coming back, the entire vibe around the Northern Trust Open changed. His peers talked about his impact on the course and at the gate. Yet Woods was quick to remind people that he is a golfer, not a savior. “The only thing I can control is, obviously, my play,” he said during a conference call. “We as a collective whole on the PGA Tour have to do a better job of making sure we appreciate all the fans and sponsors for what they do for us and allowing us to have an opportunity to compete and play for a living. I think over the years we may have taken that for granted. Now is a time that reality certainly has checked in.”

Woods’ reentry paid immediate dividends for the Match Play. After attracting 128 media outlets and 379 journalists last year, when Woods defeated Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in the final, the tournament this year issued credentials for more than 175 outlets and 500 media members. The list includes the network nightly news shows, CNN, the BBC and even a publication from Sweden, the home country of Woods’ wife, Elin.

The unanswered question is how well Woods will perform. He’s won 65 Tour events and 11 more tournaments worldwide, but will he be the same golfer after an eight-month layoff? Woods says even he is curious to see, but his peers have little doubt. They envision a golfer inspired by the birth of his second child (Charlie Axel, on Feb. 8), a golfer hitting shots pain-free for the first time in nearly two years, a golfer accustomed to carrying the game on his shoulders.

“I actually think he’ll be as good as ever, if not better,” Padraig Harrington said in the gloaming on Thursday at Riviera. “A long and forced break makes you love the game even more, if it’s possible for him to do that.”

Rocco Mediate, who pushed Woods to 91 holes at last year’s U.S. Open in San Diego, would know better than most what to expect. “He’s the man, he’s the king, he’s it,” Mediate said. “Our Tour’s cool, but it’s really cool with him. I guarantee you that he wins [the Accenture Match Play]. You think he’s coming out not 180,000 percent? He’s not coming out going, let’s see how I do. That’s not going to happen. He’s still Tiger.”

The golf world and everything it touches can only hope.

Original article at:

http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1881342-0,00.html

 

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