Monday, February 28, 2011

Van driver who killed farmer in crash told his punishment is to live with the guilt

A driver who killed a farmer in a road accident told a court he wish it had been him.

Matthew Meggitt, 28, was given a suspended sentence.


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'Save our green space from the house builders'

Residents have launched a campaign to save a plot of land from housing developers.

People in Western Park hope to have the patch of grass off Finch Close declared as "common ground".

This would stop developers who want to build seven homes and 13 car parking spaces on the land.

Dozens of residents gathered on the green on Saturday to show support.

They plan to make an application for the land to be declared "common ground" to the city council.

It will be the first of its kind to be submitted in Leicester, and comes after 106 residents submitted objections to the developers' plans to the city council.

Di Driver, 62, retired, who has lived near the green for 11 years, said it must be saved.

She said: "It's for the children, and their children. If we get rid of it, what will we have left?

"The kids play football on it and we are going to have a royal wedding party on it. It brings people together."

Bryony Harrison, 11, has played on the grass all her life.

She said: "I would feel sad if they got rid of it. We would have nowhere else to play."

Friend and neighbour Rebecca Ryan, 11, said: "We have picnics here and play games.

"We would just end up sitting inside watching TV."

The campaign to save the land is being backed by Leicester West MP Liz Kendall.

In order to be successful, residents will have to prove they have had unrestricted access to the land for more than 20 years and have been using it for recreational activity.

They will have to submit an application with witness statements which prove this.

Ms Kendall said: "We have a really strong case to protect the green. I want to continue to see residents enjoy the space they have been enjoying since the late 1960s."

Builders SGP Land and Developments Ltd have submitted the application to build two three-bedroom houses, four two-bedroom houses and a single one bed property.

No one from the Northampton company was available for comment.

The city council said the original developers who built the housing estate in the 1960s were given permission on the condition they provided a play area on the land, which upon completion would then be handed back to the council.

An area of land was covered in grass, which the residents are now fighting to protect, but a play park was never built and the land was never given back to the council.

The city council said it understood the land still belonged to the original developers.

Liz Kendall's parliamentary assistant Peter Mason, said: "Under the Commons Act 2006, it states if we can prove communities have had unobstructed access to the space for 20 years for recreational activity, it can be saved."

A city council spokesman said there was no set date for development plans to be considered.


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Tampa Bay Rays news and notes

By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Friday, February 25, 2011

Rays vs. Pirates

When/where: 1:05 today; Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte

Radio: 620-AM

Tickets: Reserved seats $19-$27, berm/boardwalk $10. Through and Ticketmaster, at Tropicana Field and Charlotte Sports Park box offices and Tampa team store.

Gates open: 11 a.m.

Directions: Driving time from the bay area is 1½-2 hours. Suggested route: I-75 south to Exit 179 (Toledo Blade Road), go west 6½ miles (crossing U.S. 41) to El Jobean Road (SR 776), go right 2 miles, complex is on the left.

Parking: $10, lots open at 10

Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

Pitchers: Rays — David Price, Chris Archer, Matt Bush, Cesar Cabral, Rob Delaney, Dirk Hayhurst, Adam Russell. Pirates — Charlie Morton, Brad Lincoln, Chris Resop, Daniel Moskos, Daniel McCutchen, Justin Thomas, Cesar Valdez

Heads up

The battle for the three open bullpen spots officially begins with Delaney, Hayhurst and Cabral among the dozen or so candidates in action.

Who is this Ray?

He won an Oregon state high school championship — in snow skiing. He grew up on a tree farm. He was on the Rays 2010 opening-day roster. He was acquired via waivers.

On deck

Sunday: at Pirates (Bradenton), 1:05. Rays — RH James Shields; Pirates — RH Kevin Correia

Monday: Pirates (ss), 1:05. Rays — RH Jeff Niemann; Pirates — RH Bryan Morris

Tuesday: at Orioles (Sarasota), 1:05. Rays — TBA; Orioles — TBA

Remaining schedule

All games 1:05 unless noted


2: at Blue Jays

3: Yankees

4: at Twins

5: Twins

6: at Phillies (ss)

7: at Pirates

8: Blue Jays

9: (ss) vs. Blue Jays; (ss) vs. Netherlands at Al Lang

10: Red Sox

11: Pirates

12: at Phillies (ss)

13: at Blue Jays

14: Off

15: Marlins

16: at Marlins

17: at Yankees, 7:05

18: Red Sox (ss), 7:05

19: at Twins

20: Orioles

21: Yankees, 7:05

22: at Red Sox, 7:05

23: Phillies

24: at Astros

25: Pirates

26: Orioles

27: at Pirates

28: at Yankees, 7:05

29: at Red Sox

30: vs. Blue Jays at Tropicana Field, 4:10

Who is this Ray answer: RHP Mike Ekstrom

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

T-shirt of the day

DH Manny Ramirez — most important — and other players Friday were sporting a new T-shirt designed by a group of bay area fans and available (for $18 plus shipping) from their website, Ramirez said he liked the look of the shirt but didn't know where it came from. The idea was spawned a month ago from a conversation the guys had about a new nickname for Ramirez.

Historical context of the day

It's rare to see teammates, such as LF Johnny Damon and DH Manny Ramirez, with 2,500-plus hits. (Yankees SS Derek Jeter and 3B Alex Rodriguez are the only active others.) And it was even rarer Friday to see them playing in a 9 a.m. intrasquad game. "And," Damon said, "we're here to get better still."


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2A region basketball: Tampa Prep 52, Admiral Farragut 44 (2OT)

Don Jensen, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 26, 2011

TAMPA — Two gritty teams. Two overtime periods. Too many mistakes by Admiral Farragut.

Tampa Prep (25-3) forced 25 turnovers and Josh Heath scored 26 points as the fourth-ranked Terrapins outlasted AFA 52-44 Saturday night, earning their third consecutive trip to the Class 2A state tournament. Tampa Prep will play Orlando First Academy on Wednesday at the Lakeland Center.

"It was the survival of the fittest," Tampa Prep coach John Fenlon said. "It's unreal (going back to state). We graduated seven seniors last year; it's a whole different group with a whole different feel."

AFA (15-7) took a 10-point lead early in the third quarter, but Tampa Prep turned up its full-court pressure defense. The Blue Jackets missed two potential winning shots in the final seconds of regulation.

In the second overtime, Tampa Prep snapped a 43-all tie as Devontae Morgan's steal led to a three-point play by Heath. It started a 9-0 run by the Terrapins and three AFA starters fouled out, including top scorer Chris Myrick (13 points, all in the first half).

"When you get late (with the basketball) and turn it over, it's a tough one to overcome," AFA coach Sylvio Brutus said. "These are the types of games high school players enjoy, coaches enjoy and fans enjoy. When you get two teams that make it to the regional finals, this is what you expect."

Alvin Cunningham added 10 points for AFA.

"Their big kids, (Daniel) Salomon and (Max) Eaton, were really, really good," Fenlon said. "(AFA) had 15 offensive rebounds in the first half. We did a much better job in the second half."


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NCAA men's basketball: Who deserves No. 1? Poll

No. 1 Duke lost, Ohio State won but so did Kansas. So who's number one?

jimmer.jpgJimmer Fredette

Since Virginia Tech upset No. 1 Duke last weekend, it looks like college basketball will have new No. 1. But which school deserves the top spot?

Is it No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Kansas, or No. 7 BYU? BYU had an impressive victory at No. 6 San Diego State, but will that be enough to leap over the Buckeyes and Kansas?



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High school scoreboard for Feb. 27

Sunday's results in boys basketball, bowling and wrestling.


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Captain's Corner: Use tackle appropriate for your target fish's size

By Dave Zalewski, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 26, 2011

What's hot: Bottom fishing continues to be very strong in the 40- to 60-foot depths. Because of the grouper-season closure, we have been targeting white grunts, triggerfish and mangrove snapper with tackle downsized to the size of the fish. On recent trips, just about everyone has asked to switch to 10- to 12-pound tackle once they see how much fun and sport it is to target these fish with appropriate tackle. We have always had downsized tackle onboard for children, but now we have regular clients asking for the lighter tackle.

Bait watch: Baitfish are beginning to be seen near the Sunshine Skyway bridge, all over Tampa Bay and in the nearshore waters of the gulf. Scattered reports of Spanish mackerel striking these schools of bait and being caught increase every day.

Temperature watch: Water temperatures near Venice are close to 72 degrees, the temperature that means kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita and cobia are in the area.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at or (727) 397-8815.


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Sports in brief

Times wires
Saturday, February 26, 2011


Djokovic remains perfect in 2011

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for the second time in a month Saturday, 6-3, 6-3 in the Dubai Championships final. Djokovic, who beat Federer in the Australian Open semifinals, is 12-0 in 2011.

"I'm a different player than last year. I have a serve," Djokovic said. "Last year, the serve was not there, and I was struggling a lot. I was using a lot of energy. Now I get to have some free points, which is important."

Federer entered having not lost a set in four previous tournament matches and squandered a 3-1 lead in the second set.

"Started bad and then kind of got into the match," Federer said. "But things are over in a hurry sometimes in best-of-three set tennis."

Federer leads the career series 13-8. But Djokovic has handed Federer his only two losses among 16 matches in 2011.

"We've had it kind of come and go in spells a bit against each other," Federer said. "I thought he was … playing well at the end of last year. We had a couple real close ones. This one has been one of the rather disappointing matches for me against him."

Qatar Open: Vera Zvonareva defeated world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4 in the final in Doha. After eight deuces, the world No. 3 broke for a 4-3 lead in the second. "Caroline is a great player," Zvonareva said. "So I was just fighting for every point."


Soldat takes next step toward Kentucky Derby

Soldat solidified himself as a Kentucky Derby contender by winning the $400,000 Fountain of Youth by 2 lengths over Gourmet Dinner at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. Soldat, which has three wins and four runnersup among seven starts under trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, took the lead very early and ran 11/8 miles in 1:50.23. It is next expected to run in the Florida Derby on April 3 at Gulfstream.

More Gulfstream: Flashpoint pulled away down the stretch to win the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes by 7¼ lengths over the favored Travelin Man. Trainer Richard Dutrow said he hopes to point the colt, which has won both of its career races, toward the Florida Derby then, perhaps, the Kentucky Derby. … R Heat Lightning, second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, rolled to a 7½-length victory over Dancinginherdreams in the $250,000 Davona Dale.

Tampa Bay Downs: Choragus wore down C C's Pal down the stretch to win the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes in Oldsmar. Ridden by Leandro Goncalves, Choragus ran 11/16 miles in 1:44.39.

Et cetera

BOWLING: Hall of Famer Norm Duke earned the top spot for today's U.S. Open final (3, ESPN) in North Brunswick, N.J. The Clermont native will be vying for his 34th title and seventh major.

Greyhounds: M's Free Hand and Kiowa Jsk Gustaf won third-round Sprint Classic qualifiers at Derby Lane. Qualifying concludes Wednesday.

Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires


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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sports Commission, Pecha Kucha Night and Alzheimer's Association: Society

Cleveland-area society benefit parties.

Gallery preview

Greater Cleveland Sports Commission -- Awards Banquet

Cleveland's pro teams might be having their problems, but the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission's annual awards banquet on Feb. 10 proved there are still plenty of winners in Northeast Ohio. More than 1,200 guests attended the event at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. The silent auction was a treasure trove for memorabilia hunters, highlighted by such items as an autographed Joe DiMaggio bat. Live auction items included trips to the Super Bowl, college football's National Championship Game and the NCAA Men's Final Four.

-- Bob Migra, Special to The Plain Dealer

Gallery preview

Pecha Kucha Night

The international sensation known as Pecha Kucha (Japanese for "the sound of conversation") grew a little more in Cleveland on Feb. 4 at House of Blues. More than 300 people packed the swanky Cambridge Room to hear a dozen speakers give rapid-fire presentations about art, architecture, animation and fashion. Founded in Tokyo in 2003 as an event for young designers to showcase their work and network, Pecha Kucha has spread to hundreds of cities around the world. Cleveland's 11th Pecha Kucha night was hosted again by local organizers Mike Christoff and Raseem Parker, who applied to the Japanese organization in 2008 to begin hosting the free events in Cleveland. They had to guarantee that they would never make a dollar from the events, so they've resorted to regular sponsorships and donations to keep the conversations flowing. For details about the next Pecha Kucha night go to -- Kathleen Murphy Colan, Special to The Plain Dealer

Gallery preview

Alzheimer's Association Cleveland Area Chapter -- Cadillacs, Cowboys and Cocktails

Country and Western themes filled the Cadillac Ranch downtown on Feb. 10 for the Alzheimer's Association's first Cadillacs, Cowboys and Cocktails "friend-raiser" to spread the word that Alzheimer's is a family disease. A multigenerational volunteer committee worked hard to include grandparents, parents and children for the soiree that included 240 guests. A country band helped get everyone in the mood leading to a surprise flash mob by event planners to a cover of Brooks & Dunn's "Boot Scootin' Boogie." Cleveland-area chapter executive director Nancy Udelson said the party wasn't a traditional fundraiser. "With such a low ticket price of $50 per person, we didn't expect to make any money," she said. The organization serves five counties in Northern Ohio and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2010. -- Kathleen Murphy Colan, Special to The Plain Dealer


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Tampa Bay Lightning should pay attention to the standings

By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lightning coach Guy Boucher and his players like to say they don't worry about the standings, a fine sentiment, as far as it goes. But the truth is, where Tampa Bay finishes in the Eastern Conference will have a huge effect on the road it takes in the playoffs.

Win the Southeast Division and the road looks a lot smoother. Let the Capitals slip past and there are potholes to avoid.

If the playoffs began before Saturday's games, the Lightning, as Southeast leader, would be the No. 2 seed. Its opponent in the first round would be the seventh-seeded Rangers. The series would be a blast, with crazy media hype around Tampa Bay facing former coach John Tortorella. Can you imagine Torts telling Boucher to shut his yap?

The series would not be easy. New York is hard-working. But the Lightning is 3-0-0 against it, though only one win was in regulation.

Other possible opponents, assuming the Lightning remains the second seed, include the Canadiens, against whom it is 2-0, and the Hurricanes, against whom it is 2-1.

But let's say Tampa Bay finishes second in the division behind the Capitals. Based on standings entering Saturday, the Lightning would be the No. 5 seed. Its opponent: the fourth-seeded Penguins.

This is a trickier call. Pittsburgh has been decimated by injuries, especially by the losses of Sidney Crosby, out with a concussion, and Evgeni Malkin, lost for the season with a knee injury.

Still, the Penguins have won two of three over the Lightning, and in their two victories, they have outscored it 13-2. In an 8-1 win Jan. 5, Crosby and Malkin had one goal and an assist between them, so the Penguins can be potent without them.

That's not saying the Lightning can't beat the Penguins, or any other team, in a series. It's just that by winning the Southeast, it has a better chance of facing teams against which it matches up better, even in the second round.

Tampa Bay has achieved more than anyone anticipated. It would be a shame if it put itself at a disadvantage by not paying attention to the standings.


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Clearwater's Okaro White leads FSU Seminoles to 65-59 win over Miami Hurricanes

Times wires
Saturday, February 26, 2011

TALLAHASSEE — It looked like a runaway for most of the game, but Florida State needed a clutch basket from its youngest player in the final minute to choke off a furious Miami comeback and win 65-59.

Former Clearwater High standout Okaro White, 18, a freshman starting in place of injured Chris Singleton, sank a 10-foot jumper with 31 seconds left Saturday that gave the Seminoles a 64-59 lead after Malcolm Grant's 3-pointer 25 seconds earlier got the Hurricanes within 62-59.

"I'd gotten a charge the last time I tried that (drive to the basket), so I had to pull up and take the jump shot," said the 6-foot-8, 200-pound White, who led the Seminoles (20-8, 10-4 ACC) with seven rebounds and tied Deividas Dulkys for the team high with 17 points.

White hit 6 of 11 shots, and Dulkys made 4 of 8 3-pointers.

"He stepped it up when we needed him," Dulkys said about White. "He's a very good player. You can't count him as a freshman."

Grant led Miami with 19 points, and 6-10, 300-pound center Reggie Johnson added 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Miami fought back from a 22-point first-half deficit but couldn't overcome 31.7 percent shooting (20-of-63).

"We didn't match their intensity to start that ball game," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "They jumped out on us. We were fighting uphill the rest of the game."

FSU won for the second time in three games since losing Singleton, its scoring leader this season, to a broken right foot. It reached 20 wins overall and 10 in the ACC for the third straight season.

FSU led by double figures through much of the contest, including 61-50 with 4:06 left.

The Seminoles took a 16-2 lead on their way to a 36-16 halftime cushion and a fifth straight victory over Miami. Miami's 16 points at the break were the fewest FSU has allowed in the first half this season.

"In the first half, we played about as flawless of a defense effort as I've seen us play," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said.


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Finding trade for forward difficult for Tampa Bay Lightning

By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Friday, February 25, 2011

TAMPA — Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he would like to add a forward before Monday's trade deadline.

With W Ryan Malone out until perhaps the playoffs because of what is believed to be a stomach muscle injury, another body up front would pick up some slack. "So I'd be interested in adding a forward," Yzerman said, "but it's going to be difficult for us to do that, realistically."

The problem is what Tampa Bay can offer. Yzerman kind of went back on his word not to trade his first-, second- or third-round draft picks in 2011 and 2012 when he sent a third-round pick to the Blues for D Eric Brewer last week. "I'm not going to trade any more draft picks," he said.

And that is limiting.

"For me to trade a (potential unrestricted free agent) to a team not in the playoffs, they're not interested in that," Yzerman said. "They want picks and prospects. And the teams that are in the playoffs, there aren't that many where there's a fit where I can add a forward."

There has been speculation Tampa Bay might be interested in Buffalo's Mike Grier, a 6-foot-1, 224-pound wing. Grier, 36, won't give much offense (three goals, 13 points in 59 games), but he entered Friday plus-2 and tied for third on the team with 96 hits.

"It's going to be difficult (to acquire) a forward who can replace Ryan Malone," Yzerman said. "In all likelihood it would be someone to add depth and buy us time until Ryan gets back."

MINOR INJURY: Coach Guy Boucher said the lower-body injury that caused D Mattias Ohlund to be a late scratch is not serious and he could be ready to play Wednesday in New Jersey.

WELCOME BACK: G Mike Smith cleared re-entry waivers Friday and backed up Dwayne Roloson against the Devils.

"Relieved," Smith said of returning to Tampa. "I've had a perma-grin since (Yzerman) called me. I'm just excited about being back here with the guys."

Smith was 1-4-0 with AHL Norfolk, but his 1.83 goals-against average and .924 save percentage indicated he played well.

"I'm definitely mentally stronger after all this," said Smith, demoted to Norfolk on Feb. 5 after going 17-10-5 in 17 games with a 3.20 GAA and .883 save percentage. "I went down there and played my game. I felt like myself again. Hopefully, I can bring that back up here."

What does this mean for G Curtis McElhinney, acquired Thursday from the Ducks for G Dan Ellis? He likely will be on waivers and sent to the minors.

LUCKY RESULT: D Brett Clark said he was fortunate only his knees hit the end boards when he was run in the third period by New Jersey's Mattias Tedenby, who was called for holding.

"He just got me in a bad position," Clark said. "I just went into the boards an awkward way."

ODDS AND ENDS: C Vinny Lecavalier and C Steven Stamkos led the game with five hits each. … LW Marty St. Louis has three goals, eight assists in an eight-game points streak. … D Mike Lundin, out eight games with what is believed to be an abdominal injury, could practice next week, Boucher said. … Devils RW David Clarkson, cut by a skate, needed 18 stitches in his right forearm. ... LW Johan Harju was scratched.


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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon on a mission to help growing Hispanic population integrate into hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 26, 2011

PORT CHARLOTTE — Manager Joe Maddon has a new cause.

Having worked extensively to help the homeless in the Tampa Bay area through his Thanksmas charity program, Maddon has now set his sights on his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

In short, he wants to help integrate the growing Hispanic population (in excess of 10,000) into a seemingly reluctant old-school community to help keep the whole city from dying.

After meeting with Hispanic families during his holiday visit home, Maddon said he realized the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics there now are following the same path the European immigrants, including his own family, did generations ago but are not being welcomed.

"It's exactly what we looked like 50, 60, 70 years ago. … There's no difference, and I think that's where the people back home are losing sight, or our memories are too short," Maddon said. "And at that moment, it slapped me in the face exactly what we needed — these people want to work, they want to help our city thrive, and they want something better for themselves. … "

Eventually, Maddon would like to see the Hispanics opening restaurants and stores to revitalize the city. But his first steps will be more general, to make the Hispanics feel welcome and to raise awareness and some funding.

He hopes to bring in several Hispanic Rays for a postseason visit and wants to host a showing of the movie It's a Wonderful Life and stage a Thanksmas meal event. With the help of his wife, Jaye, and other relatives who still live in Hazleton, he hopes to find funding for the purchase of a community center, where Hispanic kids could gather after school to stay out of trouble and adults can take English classes.

"Let's take advantage of these good people and help them assimilate into the community because otherwise the city is going to go away as far as I can tell," he said. "It's going to be a very lackluster place to live and not attract anything dynamic. I think these people have a chance to make it a dynamic area."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Among the themed dress-up road trips being planned: skinny jeans. … Maddon was ranked MLB's fifth-best manager by the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo. … After putting seven Rays prospects in its top 100, Baseball America also raved about LHP Alex Torres, calling him "the most unsung player in the deep Rays system." BA editors weren't kind to SS Tim Beckham, saying "there doesn't appear to be any argument" to place him among the top 300 prospects. … The Rays are planning to travel twice this season by train between New York and Boston. … ESPN's Buster Olney ranked the Rays' early season scheduled as the seventh easiest among AL teams.


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Sports in brief

Times wires
Friday, February 25, 2011

. Running

Gasparilla race start times


15K: 7:05 a.m.; 5K: 9:30 a.m.


Half-marathon: 6 a.m.; 8K: 9 a.m.

Course: All races start and finish on Bayshore Boulevard in downtown Tampa near the Platt Street Bridge.



Malcolm Glazer




Federer to meet Djokovic in Dubai

Novak DjokovicRoger FedererRichard GasquetTomas Berdych

QATAR LADIES OPEN:Vera ZvonarevaJelena JankovicCaroline WozniackiMarion Bartoli

Clermont's Duke leads U.S. Open

Norm Duke


SKIING:Lindsey VonnMaria Riesch




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Birthday celebrations for Radio Humberside, still making waves 40 years on

IT HAS dominated the region's airwaves for four decades.

From humble beginnings above a post office in the Old Town to a purpose-built media hub in Queens Gardens, Radio Humberside has become a household name.

The station first hit the airwaves on February 25, 1971, and its first broadcasts included a match between Hull KR and Widnes and interviews with Hull trawlermen aboard the Miranda, off the Icelandic coast.

Today, 207,000 listeners tune in every week to its popular line-up, including Andy The Breakfast Show, hosted by Andy Comfort and Sportstalk, fronted by Gwilym Lloyd, David Burns, Mike White and Matt Dean.

"At 40, we are still a young cheeky puppy," said managing editor Simon Pattern.

"We don't have a heritage that spans 125 years, like the Mail, but we both understand people are the heart of what we do.

"We have seen the industry evolve from time-consuming reel-to-reel tape recorders to digital recording technology."

Key moments covered by Radio Humberside over the years include the Queen's opening of the Humber Bridge and the Tigers' promotion to the Premier League.

With listeners tuning it for an average of 11 hours each, Radio Humberside is one of the most successful local stations in the country.

Mr Pattern said: "Many people will think the BBC's first presence in Hull was in the 1970s, but it is as early as 1924.

"A Hull station was trialled in Bishop's Lane in the Old Town and was called 6KH.

"As well as providing a relay of London material, the station used to broadcast many hours of its own programmes."

BBC Radio Humberside was to come more than 40 years later, taking up residence in Chapel Street.

The tone of the station's broadcasters has also changed over the years from a stern, establishment voice in the early days to a more friendly style.

Mr Pattern said: "The world was very different back then and continues to change, but engaging with people remains the same."

Other big names include Afternoon Show presenter Phil White and Grimsby-based Lara King, the Morning Show's leading light.

Notable past presenters include Peter Adamson, who joined the station in the 1980s.

For two decades, he presented Soapbox, which ended in 2005.

Afternoon show presenter Phil White, 50, said: "I have been here for the past ten years.

"This anniversary has really proven listeners' worth of the station.

"One lady told me she remembers listening to a birthday request made on her 21st birthday by her mum in 1971.

"Beyond the big stories and the fantastic sports coverage, such small moments show the station is a big impact on people's lives. We have no doubt it will continue to do so."


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Captain's Corner: Use tackle appropriate for your target fish's size

By Dave Zalewski, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 26, 2011

What's hot: Bottom fishing continues to be very strong in the 40- to 60-foot depths. Because of the grouper-season closure, we have been targeting white grunts, triggerfish and mangrove snapper with tackle downsized to the size of the fish. On recent trips, just about everyone has asked to switch to 10- to 12-pound tackle once they see how much fun and sport it is to target these fish with appropriate tackle. We have always had downsized tackle onboard for children, but now we have regular clients asking for the lighter tackle.

Bait watch: Baitfish are beginning to be seen near the Sunshine Skyway bridge, all over Tampa Bay and in the nearshore waters of the gulf. Scattered reports of Spanish mackerel striking these schools of bait and being caught increase every day.

Temperature watch: Water temperatures near Venice are close to 72 degrees, the temperature that means kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita and cobia are in the area.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach and can be reached at or (727) 397-8815.


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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Health-insurance industry: Still not that profitable

The health-care sector is absurdly profitable. According to this data at Yahoo Finance, the sector-wide profit margin is 21.5 percent. But the insurance industry is one of its least-profitable parts: Its profit margin is at 4.54 percent. Hospitals are also a bit strapped, with an average margin of 3.5 percent.

So where's the money going? Drugs and medical technology, mainly. The major drug manufacturers have a 23 percent profit margin. The medical device makers are pulling in 12.6 percent. And this is all happening despite the fact that researchers are having a very difficult time showing that there's much benefit -- either in longevity or quality of life -- to all these new, and incredibly expensive, treatments. I don't want to call this spending waste, exactly. Some of the treatments do improve health, and the money on the table is a good incentive to innovate. But just squeezing insurers and hospitals won't control costs unless the insurers and hospitals can figure out some credible way to either squeeze drug and device makers or somehow ration their products.

What we're all hoping is that the apparently massive amount of health care that does no observable good means that better evidence will allow them to make those decisions in a way that doesn't harm health. We don't have very good answers for a world in which it doesn't work out that way.


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Captains corner: Water warms, mackerel time draws near

By Larry Blue, Times Correspondent
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Coming soon: When my orange tree blossoms and the flocks of robins, blue jays and cardinals appear in my yard, I know king mackerel will be here soon. Already the Spanish mackerel have flooded into Tampa Bay. Huge schools are gathering around the bridge piers and some along the beaches. Soon the king mackerel will be chasing bait just offshore. Generally we consider March 15 the unofficial start of kingfish season here. But with the sudden change from winter into spring we may see the first catches before that. Water temperature is crucial with most fish, and the mackerel are keen on warm water to survive. They favor the 70s and 80s.

What to look for: Watch for diving terns to locate the schools of baitfish, where you will also find the mackerel. Even if you don't see the birds diving, wherever you notice a shower of bait on the surface you can be sure that the king mackerel will be close by.

Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit CaptainLarry


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USF Bulls' Porche Grant suspended two games after obscene gesture at Rutgers

By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011

TAMPA — Senior forward Porche Grant, USF's leading rebounder in her past three seasons, was suspended for two games by women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez after making an obscene gesture to opposing fans in the final minute of Wednesday's loss at Rutgers.

The 6-foot-2 Grant had to be separated from Rutgers players after she committed a foul with 38 seconds remaining, and she was ejected after being assessed a flagrant technical foul as a result of the altercation. As Grant was escorted off by a Bulls assistant coach, she raised both middle fingers to Rutgers fans.

Grant, 22, issued an apology in a release from USF announcing her suspension, which will include Monday's senior night game against Georgetown.

USF's release said her suspension was for "not representing the university and program in a positive manner and not adhering to the Big East conference sportsmanship policy."

"I want to apologize to my coaches, my teammates, the University of South Florida and the Big East conference for my actions leaving the floor against Rutgers on Wednesday night," Grant said in the release. "Although the game was extremely hard-played between both USF and Rutgers and my frustration in having just fouled, this is no excuse for how I handled myself. This is not who I am as a person, and I have to accept responsibilities for my actions."

Grant is third on the team with 6.9 points per game and leads the team with 8.8 rebounds. USF has lost seven straight games.


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Buoyed by rising support in Ontario, Tories win the backing of more Canadians despite recent controversies.


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Shooting from the lip

By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Most and least supportive fans

The Cavaliers lost superstar LeBron James. They own the worst record in the NBA at 10-47. They recently lost 26 games in a row to tie the 1976-77 Bucs for the longest streak in modern-day North American professional sports. But their fans (shown above) might be the best in the NBA. The Cavaliers are playing to 98.5 percent capacity, which is more than 20,000 fans a game. It's easy to support a winner, but fans of the Cavs are still cheering what could be the worst team in all of sports. That makes the Cavs fans, arguably, the most dedicated and supportive sports fans in the land. You can't blame fans for not supporting losing teams, and you expect fans to show up for good teams. The true test? Fans who flock to see bad teams or don't show up to watch good ones. With that in mind, here's a look at some attendance figures to determine which fans we consider the most and least supportive right now.

Major League Baseball

Most supportive: It has become nearly impossible to get Red Sox tickets, especially since the team won the 2004 World Series. Despite the team suffering a rash of injuries and missing the playoffs last year, Red Sox Nation still filled up Fenway Park. The Sox drew an average crowd of 37,619 (100.9 percent capacity). Cubs fans also should be praised as the team played to 92 percent capacity despite a losing season. Because Wrigley Field holds more than Fenway, the Cubs actually drew more fans, 37,814 a game.

Least supportive: Tampa Bay fans set records for watching the Rays on television, but the criticism fans get for not showing up at Tropicana Field is deserved. Blame the economy, blame stadium location, blame whatever you want. Bottom line: The Rays had the second-best record in baseball last season but played to only 52 percent capacity. The other teams that played to less than 60 percent capacity last season were the Marlins, Mariners, Nationals, Royals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, A's and Blue Jays. Of those teams, only one had a winning record. And that was the Blue Jays, who finished fourth in the American League East. It also included all six of the majors' last-place teams.

National Basketball Association

Most supportive: After the loss of All-Star LeBron James, it seems as if the Cavaliers fans have defiantly rallied behind the team to show they don't need no stinkin' LeBron. The team is going to go down as one of the worst in NBA history but still is drawing 20,257 per game, third best in the NBA.

Least supportive: The city of Atlanta often is criticized for not showing passion for local teams. Rumors are swirling that the NHL's Thrashers might not last much longer in Atlanta. And the NBA's Hawks are struggling with attendance. They are 11 games over .500 and heading toward the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Still, they are playing to only 78 percent capacity and just an average of 14,613 fans.

National Football League

Most supportive: The Cowboys built the swankiest stadium in sports, and fans showed up in droves even though the team was crummy for most of the season. The Cowboys went 6-10 but played before an NFL-leading 87,047 per game. That was 108.8 percent capacity, the highest in all of pro sports over the past year.

Least supportive: Sorry, locals, but again, you have to look at Tampa Bay. The team had a sensational turnaround, going from 3-13 in 2009 to 10-6 last season. Yet all home games were blacked out, meaning the team didn't sell out once. The Bucs officially played to only 75.1 percent capacity. But it often looked as if the stadium was way more than a quarter empty.

National Hockey League

Most supportive: There's a reason Toronto is considered the epicenter of hockey. It loves even bad hockey. The Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs all five seasons since the 2004-05 lockout and likely will miss them again this season. Still, the Maple Leafs have played to 102.7 percent capacity. The Blackhawks are struggling to get into the playoffs yet are playing to 108.3 percent capacity in the cavernous United Center. Then again, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last season, so interest should be high.

Least supportive: Are we seeing a theme here? Numbers don't lie, and the Lightning is playing to only 85.1 percent capacity even though it is one of the best and most surprising teams of the season. This recent 12-game homestand, tied for the longest in NHL history, didn't do the team any favors. It's hard for fans to spend that kind of money when the games are packed this close together. Still, the Lightning ranks 23rd in attendance capacity and 20th in average attendance.

St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

ESPN's new ombudsman

ESPN and the Poynter Institute announced Thursday the creation of the Poynter Review Project, which will review ESPN content across all platforms and publicly comment on ESPN's work.

Essentially, Poynter is now ESPN's ombudsman, acting as an ethics and standards watchdog for all of ESPN's platforms. Poynter takes over the job held by former TV executive Don Ohlmeyer and previously held by former New York Times sports editor Le Anne Schreiber and former Washington Post sports editor George Solomon.

As with the previous ombudsmen, Poynter's role with ESPN will last 18 months. A rotation of three Poynter professors are expected to write monthly columns as well as other pieces as dictated by breaking issues. The columns will appear on starting next month.

The Poynter Institute, which owns the St. Petersburg Times, is a journalism school located in St. Petersburg.

ESPN executive vice president and executive editor John Walsh said, "The Poynter Institute's reputation in the field of journalism is unmatched, and we welcome the panel's scrutiny in this new format. Our goal is to improve our content through increased accountability, transparency and timeliness.''

Timeliness, of lack of it, plagued the tenure of Ohlmeyer, the weakest of ESPN's ombudsmen so far. Poynter should offer a fresh perspective from the previous ombudsmen with heavy sports backgrounds. However, there are two concerns that are really no different than previous ombudsmen or, for that matter, media critics.

One is if Poynter will ignore the concerns and comments of ESPN's viewers and simply work off its own agenda. The other is if ESPN actually listens to the ombudsman anyway. ESPN began having an ombudsman in 2005 yet has continued to have various conflicts of interest, including the much-criticized LeBron James' Decision show last summer.

Media tidbits

Matt Reitz of, reports that after reviewing a USA Hockey report, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida are the "fastest-growing states'' in terms of youth hockey registration.

• NBA television ratings are up 32 percent on ABC, 26 percent on TNT and 15 percent on ESPN. At a local level, TNT's rating are up 50 percent in Boston, 39 percent in Los Angeles and 65 percent in Miami. You would expect LeBron James joining the Heat has something to do with that. But according to USA Today, the biggest jump of all has been in Oklahoma City, where TNT's ratings are up 150 percent.

• With the NFL labor situation heating up, ESPN has hired Andrew Brandt, president of the website National Football Post, to serve as an NFL business analyst. Brandt spent nine seasons in the Packers front office and teaches at the Wharton School of Business. He will continue to write for the National Football Post and teach at Wharton.


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Friday, February 25, 2011

Marquette stops UConn in OT

Times wires
Thursday, February 24, 2011

HARTFORD, Conn. — Darius Johnson-Odom scored nine of his 17 points in overtime Thursday night to lead Marquette to a 74-67 victory over No. 14 Connecticut, which played without coach Jim Calhoun on the bench.

Jimmy Butler added 16 points for the Golden Eagles (17-11, 8-7 Big East), who tied it at 59 with 5.3 seconds left on a drive by Johnson-Odom.

Kemba Walker led the Huskies (20-7, 8-7) with 27 points, but the guard missed four shots and committed a turnover in overtime.

Calhoun left Wednesday to be with his family in New Hampshire after his sister-in-law died.

This was the 15th game for which associate head coach George Blaney replaced Calhoun on the bench (UConn is 7-8).

The Huskies opened the second half with a 26-7 run to wipe out an 11-point halftime deficit. The Golden Eagles pulled within 51-49 with 6:55 to play. There were two lead changes and three ties from there, including Johnson-Odom's drive that tied it with 5.3 seconds left.

no. 4 pitt 71, west va. 58: Lamar Patterson scored the first five points of the second half, sparking a key run for the host Panthers (25-3, 13-2 Big East). Pitt freshman forward Talib Zanna will miss three to six weeks with a broken right thumb.

last winless team wins: Centenary, the last winless team in Division I, ended its 33-game losing streak with a 73-60 victory over visiting Western Illinois. The Gentlemen (1-28), located in Shreveport, La., were within one loss of tying the Division I record set by Sacramento State from 1997-99. "We have been waiting on this day for a very long time,'' coach Adam Walsh said.

fau 77, troy 60: The host Owls (20-9, 12-3 Sun Belt) achieved their first 20-win season in 18 seasons of Division I play.

georgetown: Starting point guard Chris Wright is expected back for the NCAA Tournament after having surgery for a broken bone in his nonshooting hand.

oklahoma stATE: Guard Ray Penn was suspended indefinitely for failing to follow team policy.

Mississippi State: Guard Jalen Steele will miss the rest of the season with a left knee injury.

Women: Miami beats FSU with 18-0 run

CORAL GABLES — Shenise Johnson had 25 points and No. 12 Miami defeated No. 14 Florida State 84-68, pulling away with an 18-0 run late in the game.

Miami and Duke remained tied for the ACC lead, with FSU falling a game back.

The Hurricanes (25-3, 11-2) close out the season Sunday at Georgia Tech.

Courtney Ward led FSU (22-6, 10-3) with 19 points.

vols win rain-abbreviated game: No. 4 Tennessee was awarded a 66-39 win at Mississippi when storms sent water through air vents in the roof and onto the floor with 5:24 left. "I'm just glad nobody got hurt," Vols coach Pat Summitt said. "Now I hope we can get home."

No. 2 Stanford 73, Oregon St. 37: The host Cardinal (25-2, 16-0) clinched a share of the Pac-10 title and can win it by beating Oregon on Saturday.

No. 9 Duke 71, Virginia 48: Jasmine Thomas had 18 points and the visiting Blue Devils (25-3, 11-2 ACC) held the Cavaliers without a field goal for almost 16 minutes in the first half.

ohio st. 54, no. 10 mich. st. 53: Jantel Lavender scored 24 for the Buckeyes, her free throw with 1:50 left the final scoring. The Spartans (24-4, 12-3 Big Ten) had a 20-game home winning streak end, but they clinched the outright conference title when Penn State lost to Purdue.

No. 11 UCLA 74, Arizona 70: The Bruins (23-3, 13-2 Pac-10) tied a school record with their 11th road victory of the season.

GA. Tech 64, No. 13 UNC 57: Alex Montgomery scored 15 of her 22 in the first half for the visiting Yellow Jackets. The Tar Heels (22-6, 8-5 ACC) had 22 turnovers.

No. 17 Wisc.-Green Bay 75, Valpo 48: The host Phoenix (26-1, 15-0) wrapped up the outright Horizon League championship. Green Bay has won outright or shared the regular-season crown for 13 consecutive years, the longest streak in the nation.

No. 15 Maryland 61, Va. Tech 48: Alyssa Thomas scored 15 and the host Terps (22-6, 8-5 ACC) needed a late 21-7 run to beat the conference's last-place team.

No. 20 Kentucky 55, Ark. 54: A'dia Mathies made the winning layup with 4.4 seconds left, the first time the host Wildcats (21-7, 10-5 SEC) led in more than 12 minutes.

Auburn 63, No. 22 Georgia 58: Alli Smalley scored 22 and the visiting Tigers beat the Bulldogs (20-8, 10-5 SEC).

UF postponed: The Gators' game at Vanderbilt scheduled for Thursday was postponed until 6 tonight because of storms.


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Game preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils

By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011


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Wonkbook: Senate Dems announce their own spending cuts

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We're days away from a possible government shutdown, and the messages the two sides are offering are becoming more clear. The Republicans are the side that wants to cut. "It sounds like Senate Democrats are making progress towards our goal of cutting government spending to help the private sector create jobs," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner. "Hopefully, that means they will support the [bill] with spending cuts that we will pass next week, rather than shutting down the government." Democrats are the side that wants to negotiate. "We're willing to go further," Sen. Richard J. Durbin said. "But that requires the sort of good-faith negotiations House Republicans refuse to engage in."

The endgame for both messages seems obvious enough: if we hit a shutdown, Republicans will accuse Democrats of ignoring the will of the people and the message of the election, while Democrats will accuse Republicans of being ideologues who were unwilling to negotiate a pragmatic compromise that would've avoided disaster. The bet the Democrats are making is that voters are ambivalent about specific cuts and care more about a well-run government than about slashing spending. Republicans are wagering that thd public thinks the mark of well-run government is slashing spending, even at the cost of a shutdown. I'd say something sage and predictive here, but I don't think anyone really knows how this will turn out. For all the confident allusions people make to 1994, that's but one data point.

Top Stories

Senate Democrats have announced their own spending cuts, report Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane: "With a political standoff over spending threatening to trigger a federal shutdown next week, Senate Democrats began drafting a plan Thursday to slice billions of dollars from domestic agency budgets over the next seven months, yielding to Republican demands to reduce the size of government this year. The plan will involve accelerating some of the $33 billion in program terminations and reductions included in President Obama's proposed budget for next year, a senior Senate Democratic aide said Thursday. Democrats are also looking at cuts that have been adopted by the Republican-controlled House, such as a plan to strip $8.5 billion for pet projects known as earmarks out of a measure aimed at keeping the government running through Sept. 30."

Freshman Republicans are finding that government "waste" has some supporters back home, reports Shailagh Murray: "As they return to their districts after the budget debate, Guinta and many of his fellow Republicans are discovering that fiscal responsibility can be a tricky business. Many federal programs reside in a vast gray zone, somewhere between worthy and wasteful. And while pledging to rise above local interests can establish a candidate as a principled outsider, for a member of Congress, it's often a quick way to guarantee a short career. 'This is not campaigning, this is governing,' [Rep. Frank] Guinta said in an interview. 'They're two very different things. And you have to be very careful what you say when you're campaigning, because people will hold you accountable.'"

GOP governors outside Wisconsin are backing down on labor issues, report Ariana Eunjung Cha and Amy Goldstein: "Republican leaders in several states softened their attacks on public employee unions on Thursday in an effort to avert the fiery demonstrations that have gripped Wisconsin's state Capitol for two weeks. In Ohio, Republican lawmakers agreed to modify a bill that would have banned collective bargaining, allowing state workers to negotiate on wages. Michigan's GOP governor offered to negotiate with public employees rather than create political gridlock...Even in Wisconsin - where more than 60,000 demonstrators have camped out at the Capitol for the past week to protest a budget plan by Gov. Scott Walker (R) to end collective-bargaining rights for public employees - Republicans and Democrats took a small but significant step toward resolving their clash."

Banks are skeptical of the White House's mortgage plan, report Nick Timiraos, Dan Fitzpatrick, and Ruth Simon: "The banking industry privately knocked the Obama administration's nascent proposal to force banks to modify mortgage loans, saying the plan won't help solve problems facing troubled borrowers. The nation's largest banks haven't yet seen a proposal that is designed to help resolve mortgage-servicing errors that affected troubled borrowers. But industry executives are bristling at the administration's new approach, disagreeing that principal reductions will help borrowers and, in turn, the broader housing market. Though a unified settlement is uncertain and would have to appease regulators, banks and state attorneys general, some officials are pushing for banks to pay more than $20 billion in civil fines or to fund a comparable amount of loan modifications for distressed borrowers."

Mitch Daniels should run for president, writes David Brooks: "This is the G.O.P. quandary. The man who would be the party?s strongest candidate for the presidency is seriously thinking about not running. The country could use a serious, competent manager, which Governor Daniels has been, and still he?s thinking about not running. The historic moment calls for someone who can restrain debt while still helping government efficiently perform its duties. Daniels has spent his whole career preparing for this kind of moment, and still he?s thinking about not running."

Cat Power interlude: Chan Marshall plays "Maybe Not" on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

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Still to come: The House wants to defund mortgage modification; the administration is assuring governors they have flexibility on health care reform; the White House has been meeting with lobbyists off the books; the administration is under increased pressure to allow offshore drilling; and the Muppets rock out to LCD Soundsystem.


The House wants to defund the administration's mortgage modification program, reports Alan Fram: "House committee plans to write legislation next week ending the Obama administration's flagship effort for helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure and abolishing three other housing assistance programs. At its meeting next Thursday, the highest-profile target of the Republican-run House Financial Services Committee will be the Home Affordable Modification Program. The Treasury Department has acknowledged the program won't meet its original goal of preventing 3 million to 4 million foreclosures, and last month a federal inspector general said it has been a failure. The bill comes at a time when Republicans are proposing deep spending cuts across the federal budget."

Senate Democrats are reviving Al Gore's Social Security "lockbox" idea:

Regulators are warning against budget cuts to the CFTC, reports Ben Protess: "Top regulators of the derivatives markets are fighting back against a Congressional assault on their budget, arguing that funding cuts will derail a much-needed overhaul of the $600 trillion industry. The Republican-led House of Representatives passed a federal spending plan on Saturday that would cut the Commodity Futures Trading Commission?s budget by a third. The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, is unlikely to approve such deep cuts, although the agency?s budget remains a target there. In contrast, President Obama has proposed increasing the commission?s budget by more than 80 percent. The agency?s Democratic commissioners asserted on Thursday that any cuts, big or small, would be disastrous."

Consumer groups are pleased with Obama's antitrust chief:

Wisconsin is, like Iraq, an instance of the "shock doctrine" at work, writes Paul Krugman: "From Chile in the 1970s onward, [Naomi Klein] suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society...Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state?s fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions -- an offer the governor has rejected. What?s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab -- an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy."

Our debate about the debt ceiling and budget cuts is silly, writes Alan Blinder:

The US shouldn't have a debt limit, writes Pete Davis: "Why do we have a debt limit? Congress wouldn't pass the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 to fund the First World War without it. Ever since, it has levered all manner of extraneous spending increases, tax cuts, and special interest amendments without having the slightest downward impact on federal spending. As the first two sentences of today's GAO report say, 'The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability top pay obligations already incurred.' If you really want to control spending, control spending."

Democrats should not fall for "fiscal conservatives"' bait, writes Jeff Frankel: "The zeal to cut funding for such tiny programs as the National Endowment for the Humanities and Planned Parenthood is accepted as evidence of the sincerity of the fiscal conservatives. I wish the Democrats would not fall for that bait. Their anguish over such cuts, while understandable, plays into the old narrative of big versus small government. The same with the bigger, but still small, categories of domestic spending such as food stamps. The Right reacts to such liberal anguish with glee, while the Center infers - less vindictively, but no more accurately - that such cuts are part of a painful but necessary fiscal adjustment. Losing the center is no way to put together a political majority. "

Muppet interlude: Kermit and the gang rock out to LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean".

Health Care

The White House is assuring governors they have flexibility on health reform, reports Mary Agnes Carey: "With the nation?s governors about to descend on Washington for their winter meeting, the Department of Health and Human Services today continued its campaign to calm their concerns that the health law is too expensive and complex for cash-strapped states to implement. In a letter responding to Republican governors who have been complaining they need more flexibility in setting up health insurance exchanges, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterated that the law gives states the authority to pick which insurers can do business in their states and allows for a diversity of health plans to be sold on the exchanges. In a separate report, HHS said that the federal government has offered or provided $2.8 billion so far -- and will provide 'billions more' -- to states to implement the law."

Mitt Romney is still defending the Massachusetts health law while attacking the federal one:

Domestic Policy

The administration has been meeting with lobbyists outside the White House to keep it off the books, reports Chris Frates: "Caught between their boss? anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama?s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds -- and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident. It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view -- and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public. 'They?re doing it on the side. It?s better than nothing,' said immigration reform lobbyist Tamar Jacoby, who has attended meetings at the nearby Jackson Place complex and believes the undisclosed gatherings are better than none."

Darrel Issa has issued his first subpoenas:

Freshman Republicans are finding it hard to avoid local spending, reports Shailagh Murray: "As the government programs fell and the tens of billions in savings piled up during the budget debate in the House last week, freshman Republican Frank Guinta was right there cutting with the rest of them. The former Manchester mayor axed funds for after-school programs in his hometown. He voted against money to replace an aging bridge in Portsmouth. And he backed steep reductions for health centers that treat thousands of New Hampshire's uninsured. But Guinta also found that he had some limits. He wasn't willing to cut a subsidy for heating bills...Guinta and many of his fellow Republicans are discovering that fiscal responsibility can be a tricky business."

Teachers' union leader Randi Weingarten has a plan to reform teacher tenure:

Simpler times interlude: A compilation of '90s TV news segments on what the "Internet" is.


Pressure on the White House to allow offshore drilling is mounting, report Tennille Tracy and Ryan Tracy: "Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to meet with oil industry executives in Houston Friday to assess the industry's readiness to handle a major offshore oil spill, amid growing pressure from congressional Republicans and a federal judge to resume deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Salazar is expected to meet with representatives of an industry-led consortium, Marine Well Containment Co., and Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc., a company that aided BP PLC with BP's response to last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Obama administration has said the oil industry must demonstrate it can quickly contain a large offshore spill before it will allow companies to resume drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet."

A report has cleared US scientists of misconduct in "climategate":

House Republicans want to block EPA air pollution rules, reports Andrew Restuccia: "House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) raised the specter late Wednesday of taking action in Congress to change the Environmental Protection Agency?s final air pollution regulations for industrial boilers, which the lawmaker said were issued hastily amid a looming court-ordered deadline. 'If congressional intervention is needed to provide EPA the time it needs to provide careful, defensible rules that will not invite additional judicial challenge, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is prepared to act,' Upton, who was joined by energy subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), said in a statement."

House Democrats want Obama to tap strategic oil reserves:

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews and Michelle Williams.


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Hull oil worker trapped in Libya pins hopes on Navy warship rescue

Oil worker Neil Kemp was last night pinning his hopes on a Royal Navy frigate rescuing him from Libya.


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Midpark High School girls basketball team blasts Parma

The Lady Meteors (19-2) fully controlled this Division I sectional final girls basketball contest Thursday evening at Valley Forge High School, beating Parma, 74-44.


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Carolina Panthers eyeball Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in the draft

By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS — First-year coach Ron Rivera isn't sure which player the Panthers will take with the No. 1 overall pick.

But he is certain they need a franchise quarterback, particularly since the Panthers can't win an arms race in the NFC South with the Saints' Drew Brees, the Falcons' Matt Ryan or the Bucs' Josh Freeman.

Which means the Panthers are eyeballing Auburn QB Cam Newton.

"You look at all three of those teams and all three do have franchise-type quarterbacks, and I think if there is something that has to happen, we've got to identify that and come up with our own," Rivera said. "Then I think we've got to prepare ourselves to be ready to take this challenge on."

The Panthers drafted Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen in the second round last year. As a rookie, Clausen completed 52.5 percent of his passes for 1,558 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner, will work out Sunday at the NFL scouting combine. Rivera said he is one of about 10 players the Panthers are considering as the first pick.

"As far as skill set goes, the young man has tremendous physical talent," Rivera said. "He's got natural size and the ability to run. He's got a tremendous arm, and he's got a pretty good pocket presence already. I think he's well on his way, but again, we've got to go through that process. We're going to be at his workout, we'll bring him in and visit with him and go through that whole process of trying to get a feel for what he does know and how well he'll learn."

FEELING A DRAFT: GM Mark Dominik says the Bucs are in a prime position (picking No. 20) to be active in trade talks on draft day. Two years ago, Tampa Bay selected 19th overall but traded up two spots to take Freeman.

"We're going to let the draft come to us, kind of like we felt it did the second and third day in Tampa (last year)," Dominik said. "I like where we're at. … It's been an active spot for trades over the years, at that No. 20 range. So I think it will give us the ability to either sit still or … move up or move back. But it's always been a good spot to pull a deal if you like to."

Channeling JOE NAMATH? Jets coach Rex Ryan, whose team has been defeated the past two seasons in the AFC Championship Game, says he's not crying wolf this time.

For the third year in a row, Ryan said his Jets will win the Super Bowl. This time, he guarantees it.

"The fact is I thought we'd win it the first two years," Ryan said. "I guarantee we'll win it this year. … I know we're an excellent football team. … I know the kind of players we have, and I know the kind of players we're going to have represent us."


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