Thursday, March 31, 2011

American president possesses personal computer

?I?m the president of the United States. You think I?ve gotta go borrow somebody?s computer??


UK security and terrorism St Petersburg Rob Brydon Shola Ameobi Belarus Sri Lanka

Leicestershire firm helping tackle youth unemployment

​Hundreds of new first-class training opportunities will be on offer at Caterpillar's new training centre in Leicestershire.

Caterpillar will announce the opening of its new Skills Development Academy on Wednesday, April 6.

The new academy, in Desford, will provide first-class training opportunities for 675 new apprentices being recruited over the next three years.

Caterpillar is working in collaboration with Birmingham Metropolitan College to recruit apprentices to meet the production demand for their backhoe loader product line.

Robert Droogleever, General Manager of the Caterpillar facility in Desford, said: "With the urgent need for more skilled labour, we are proud to introduce a program that will have a real impact in Desford and Caterpillar."

"Through our partnership with Birmingham Metropolitan College, we will be able to identify students early who are interested in developing a skill and help them reach their goals and in-turn combat the issue of youth unemployment."

The extra workers are required after the consolidation of both side-shift and centre pivot backhoe loader production in Desford last year, as well as increasing demand.

In 2010 the company celebrated the 25th anniversary of the production of Backhoe Leaders at Desford and made a multi-million pound investment in the assembly plant.

Engineering apprentices will work as assembly operators and as logistics operatives. They will be recruited on a one-year fixed term contract to complete their apprenticeship qualification and will then have the opportunity to apply for permanent contracts at the Caterpillar plant afterwards.

Dr Christine Braddock , Principal and Chief Executive of Birmingham Metropolitan College, said: "We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Caterpillar Inc and Sigma to establish one of the biggest Apprenticeship recruitment initiatives in the region.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to utilise our expertise and enhance our successful track record of delivering effective training programmes to hundreds of employees eager to gain new skills.

"We are very much looking forward to the launch of the Skills Development Academy and seeing how experienced engineers and apprentices can enjoy the benefits of learning and working in such an inspirational environment."

For further information about Apprenticeship programmes available at Birmingham Metropolitan College, telephone 0121 362 1125 or email

Contact details and maps for education centres in Leicestershire

Contact details and maps for recruitment centres in Leicestershire

More job opportunities online at Jobsite


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Baseball: Tarpon Springs rallies from 4-0 deficit in Dunedin tournament

Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DUNEDIN — After beating public school teams at a tournament in Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago, Canterbury was trying to do the same thing at the Dunedin Spring Invitational.

Playing Tarpon Springs in the opening round Tuesday, the Crusaders jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the bottom of the fifth inning.

Then the Spongers came to life.

Tarpon Springs scored twice in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth inning to tie the game. In the seventh inning, the Spongers completed the comeback as Mike Dunnigan hit a single to bring home Danny Robinson in a 5-4 victory.

It was the first time Tarpon Springs (10-8) rallied late to win a game this season.

"Canterbury was ready to play and jumped out ahead," Spongers coach Dickie Hart said. "We were able to battle back and that's something you love to see. Hopefully, this gives us a lot of momentum for the rest of the tournament."

Caleb Koulianos had a double and a triple and Dunnigan had two singles to lead Tarpon Springs, which has won three straight. The Spongers play St. Petersburg Catholic tonight at 8.

Richie McClure and Dalton Hughes each had two hits for the Crusaders.

CCC 2, Pinellas Park 2: The Patriots tied the score in the bottom of the 14th when Brandon Grigsby came home on a double by Ryan Reinoso before the game was suspended.

In the top of the inning, Steven Arango doubled then came home on Eric Simone's triple to pull the Marauders even.

It was a pitcher's duel through the first five innings between CCC's Jeff Campbell and Pinellas park's Donny Norris.

The game will resume today at 5 with the winner to face St. Petersburg immediately afterward.

Countryside 4, River Ridge 1: After a slow start, Dominic Monda mowed down batters, finishing with 13 strikeouts to lead the Cougars.

Monda, a left-hander, walked four batters in the second inning before getting into a groove.

"Dominic was struggling with his fastball early on," Countryside coach Kemo O'Sullivan said. "So we started going more with a slider and he really locked in after that."

The Cougars (11-5) move on to face East Lake today at 5 p.m.

St. Petersburg 13, Carrollwood Day 1: The Green Devils jumped out early in a game called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.

Will Ramos went 4-for-4 and Richie Rivera was 3-for-4 for St. Petersburg (9-4-1).

The Green Devils will play the Clearwater Central Catholic-Pinellas Park winner.

Tampa Catholic 9, Palm Harbor U. 4: The Crusaders, the defending Class 3A state semifinalists, scored nine through the first five innings to advance to the winner's bracket. Tampa Catholic will face host Dunedin tonight at 8.


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Midpark High School softball team set for spring

Midpark may have lost a large chunk of its softball team due to graduation, but head coach Doug Oberg is optimistic about his blossoming young players.


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NFL players with USF ties expected at football camp at Belmont Heights complex

By Brandon Wright, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TAMPA — Jarriett Buie has spent the better part of his life knocking down quarterbacks from Florida to Canada. But now the Armwood graduate impacts others in a different way.

Buie is spearheading the fledgling ADB Sports, which will hold its inaugural Tampa's Natural Talent football camp at the Belmont Heights Little League Baseball Complex April 22-23.

"This is a way to give back to the community," Buie said. "It's something I had thought about for a while, and I finally got the opportunity to reach out and make it happen."

That's not to say Buie, 25, has ended his quest to sack quarterbacks. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder is a starting defensive lineman for the five-time Arena Football League champion Tampa Bay Storm.

"He's got nice hands and some good speed," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "I think he's going to help us this year. Plus, he's a good kid."

Buie left Armwood after earning All State honors during the Hawks' 2003 state championship run. He went to the University of South Florida. After academic issues and injuries wiped out his first two years, Buie played well in his junior year before starting every game as a senior.

Buie wasn't drafted out of college but ended up in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' camp before being cut. He then played last season for the United Football League's Florida Tuskers before finishing the year with the Canadian Football League's Montreal Allouettes. Buie played the final game for Montreal, recording an interception and forced fumble.

"I used to go up and visit my brother (Chris) when he played at Virginia Tech, so I'm used to the cold and like it," Buie said of his time in Montreal. "They made an offer for me to come back next year, and it's something I'm considering. Right now, I'm just trying to stay in shape and be ready."

And that means getting his workouts on the turf of the St. Pete Times Forum while adjusting to the indoor game with the Storm. But Buie has plenty of help in learning the nuances of the AFL. He is one of six former USF Bulls on the roster.

"I was half expecting (former USF) coach (Jim) Leavitt to come walking through the door," Buie said with a chuckle. "It's great having all those guys around to learn from and talk about the past with."

Buie enjoys his time with the Storm, but his focus these days is on the upcoming camp he put together with former Hawk Demetrius McCray. The clinic, which is open to kids of middle and high school ages, will feature sessions dedicated to improving football skills, individual techniques and 7-on-7 competitions.

"There will be something for everybody," Buie said.

In addition to drills, campers will have the opportunity to learn and interact with some big-name National Football League players. Former USF stars Mike Jenkins (Dallas Cowboys), George Selvie (St. Louis Rams), Jerome Murphy (St. Louis Rams) and Tyrone Mc-Kenzie (Tampa Bay Bucs) are all expected to attend.

"It will be great to get all these guys back together to help out in the community," Buie said. "I grew up in the inner city, and I know a lot of these kids are looking for some guidance and direction. I just want to make a difference."

For information on the camp or to sign up, visit

Brandon Wright can be reached at


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Baseball: Fifth inning key for Shorecrest in Georgiadis opener

Basil Spyridakos, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SEMINOLE — The opening game in the 20th annual Steve Georgiadis Holiday Tournament wasn't pretty, and it didn't have anything to do with inclement weather that set the schedule back a day.

The teams combined for eight errors but Shorecrest found a way to open up the game late, defeating Brooks-DeBartolo 6-3 Tuesday evening.

"You've got a lot of good teams in this tournament and we want to play the best teams we can play," Shorecrest coach Don Reed said. "It was a nice win."

Brooks-DeBartolo (6-9) struck first in the third inning when Tremayn Hopps scored from second base on two throwing errors.

The Chargers would answer in the top of the fourth. With one out and a runner on second, Jon Oorlog ripped a shot to shallow rightfield. Deshun Bollings mishandled the ball, allowing Spencer Heath to round third and score.

Javier Reynosa would break the tie in the bottom of the fourth on a home run to centerfield giving the Phoenix a 2-1 lead, but it was short-lived.

Shorecrest (13-6) inflicted serious damage and exploded for four runs in the fifth. With runners on the corners, Oorlog hit an RBI double into centerfield, followed by a two-RBI single by Brian Kinter to take a 4-2 lead.

A stolen base by Kinter and a throwing error allowed the senior outfielder to cross home.

"The fifth inning got us," Brooks-DeBartolo coach Donnie Oliver said. "Riley Crispell did a great job for us on the mound, but we started making mistakes in the field that hurt us."

Two more throwing errors scored the Chargers' John Schiff in the sixth. Brooks-DeBartolo scored once more in the seventh.

Jordan Lindsey (4-1) threw a complete game with six hits, nine strikeouts and three runs, one earned.


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Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: Awards for ex-Ray Carl Crawford, James Shields' extra trips, several Rays play out of position

By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Awards of the day

Former Rays and current Red Sox LF Carl Crawford was presented his 2010 Rays MVP and Paul C. Smith Champion awards, given by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. It was the third time he'd won the MVP award, second for the champion award. "I took a lot of pride in what I did, so whenever you guys award me, I'm very appreciative," Crawford said.

Return trip of the day

RHP James Shields made two trips from his Clearwater home to Tampa on Monday and didn't even pitch. He made the midafternoon drive, realized he forgot his gear, then went back in heavy rain and had just returned to Tampa when he was told of the cancellation. "I was panicking," he said.

Hello and goodbye of the spring

The Rays played in the first game at the Orioles' renovated Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on March 1 and played in the Red Sox's last game at City of Palms Park on Tuesday. Boston is set to move into a new facility next spring near the Fort Myers airport. The Rays "closed" two other spring parks, in Winter Haven and St. Petersburg's Al Lang Field. "We can do that," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've closed a few barrooms, too."

Disguise of the day

Class A Hudson Valley manager Jared Sandberg gets credit for creativity — tapped for bench coach duty in Fort Myers with Dave Martinez at the Tropicana Field workout, Sandberg pulled on a fake beard right before the first pitch. "He definitely gets what we're all about," manager Joe Maddon said. "I kinda liked it."

Reassignments of the day

In Fort Myers, the Rays had usual bullpen coach Bobby Ramos working at third base. "We tried to simplify the signs," manager Joe Maddon said. "We went through the Cliff Notes version. … He's animated (at third), and he's got one of the better waddles. … He's kind of like an older penguin, a penguin that gets plenty of fish." At the Trop, 3B coach Tom Foley played shortstop and hitting coach Derek Shelton second in the simulated game, with LHP David Price in the outfield.

Rays vs. Blue Jays

When/where: 4:10 today; Tropicana Field

Tickets: $10, general admission to all lower-level areas but Home Plate and Whitney Bank clubs. Available via, stadium, team Tampa store, Ticketmaster outlets.

Radio: 620-AM

Gates open: 2:40 p.m.

Parking: $10, lots open at 10.

Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297 (FAN-RAYS)

Pitchers: Rays — RHP Jeff Niemann, Andy Sonnanstine, Kyle Farnsworth; Jays — LHP Jo-Jo Reyes, TBA

Who is this Ray?

He grew up a big fan of former big-league OF David Justice. He was drafted by the Dodgers out of high school but didn't sign. He majored in sociology in college. He has a French bulldog named Astro. He is one of the most active Rays on Twitter.


This will be the first game action on the new AstroTurf surface at the Trop; initial reviews have been positive but that it plays a tad slow.

Regular season

Friday: vs. Orioles, 7:10. Rays — LHP David Price; O's — RHP Jeremy Guthrie

Who is this Ray answer: LHP David Price

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer


The Ashes New Orleans Communities The far right Discrimination at work TV ratings

Tampa Bay Rays rainout scrambles Joe Maddon's pitching plan

By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
Monday, March 28, 2011

TAMPA — Manager Joe Maddon said the decision to cancel Monday night's Rays-Yankees spring training game was right, considering how bad the storm was.

But Tampa Bay's first rainout of the spring forced Maddon to make quick decisions on how to handle final preparations for the season.

RHP James Shields, scheduled to go four innings Monday night, will throw two innings in a simulated game today at Tropicana Field, where several Rays will work out.

RHP Adam Russell and LHP Jake McGee, slated to make the second of back-to-back appearances Monday, will also pitch today at the Trop.

Despite the postponed start, pitching coach Jim Hickey said, Shields remains on schedule to pitch against the Orioles on Saturday.

"It's not ideal by any means, but it's also not the end of the world," Hickey said. "You wish it wasn't the start prior to his first regular-season start, but he's as ready as he's going to be. The four innings (Monday) wouldn't have honed him any more than he already was."

Maddon said the only disappointment was that several regulars — including 3B Evan Longoria, LF Johnny Damon and CF B.J. Upton — were supposed to play deep into the game.

Instead, Maddon said, the regulars will play longer in Wednesday's spring exhibition finale at the Trop and not just have a "cameo," with Thursday's off-day giving them rest for Friday's opening day.

Maddon said the players who were expected to make today's trip to Fort Myers to face the Red Sox will still do so.

"It's supposed to rain there (today), too," Maddon said.

ROSTER, ETC: The Rays have returned Rule 5 pick LHP Cesar Cabral to the Red Sox.

Cabral looked impressive at times in camp but was inconsistent, and the Rays were not confident he could handle the jump from Class A to the majors. Cabral cleared waivers, and the Rays get back $25,000 of the $50,000 Rule 5 fee. The Rays considered trade possibilities but couldn't find a deal.

"It's a tough one; he did so well, and he's such a great kid and he fits in here so nicely," Maddon said. "Who knows? We'll see what's going to happen if we're able to get him back somehow. I liked him; we all liked him. He's got some pretty good stuff."

MINOR MATTERS: Hickey said LHP prospect Matt Moore, who will start in Double-A Montgomery, was impressive in an intrasquad game Monday in Port Charlotte.

With the minor-league game canceled, Moore faced the Rays' Triple-A team, striking out nine of the first 12 batters. Moore led the minors in strikeouts last season with Class-A Charlotte.

"He's got a very nice delivery," Hickey said. "He's able to repeat his delivery, got a real nice direction to home plate. Virtually every fastball that I saw was in the 94 (mph) range; he threw 96 to strike out (INF Ray Olmedo). … You've got a guy who is in control of his body and (has) probably three major-league quality pitches right now. That certainly bodes well for us in the future."

RHP Kyle Farnsworth was in the intrasquad game and threw "very well," Hickey said.

Joe Smith can be reached at


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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The day that we lost our future

It's hard to find the right words to describe precisely how it feels when the baby you've carried for nine months is stillborn.


Rape Gareth Barry Panto season Noel Coward Weekend breaks Allied Irish Banks

GAA are showing disregard for Amhr�n na bhFiann

John Fogarty
THE following broadcast is an urgent appeal for decency and compassion on behalf of GAA supporters everywhere. Stop this nonsense. Stop ruining the match-day experience.
Both in and outside Croke Park, the Association is letting itself down consistently in how they are framing the games.
Let’s start with the National Anthem? Having attended two Allianz Football League games outside Croke Park this past weekend, this writer was left cold and embarrassed by the renditions of Amhrán na bhFiann.
In Portlaoise, a young singer, admittedly with a beautiful voice, was handed the microphone to sing Peadar Kearney’s The Soldier’s Song and proceeded to mix up her words. She wasn’t the first – there were plenty that have gone before her in recent leagues and championships. And, sadly, she won’t be the last.
In Armagh, a more experienced vocalist was given the duty of leading the chorus but hers was a single voice and failed to engage with the Athletic Grounds crowd.
We’re not exactly certain if Jarlath Burns, an able GAA official and head of the GAA’s games presentation committee with a great grá for the Scor, has anything to do with this recent trend of soloists.
But if he has please heed this message, Jarlath: it doesn’t work.
The National Anthem is supposed to be exactly that: a hymn of the masses that is sung by the masses, not listened to. Even the piped-in “press play” interpretations of the song are better than the soloists’, although there is no substitute for a band.
Nothing but nothing compares to a resounding version of Amhrán na bhFiann. Full of anticipation and dripping with gusto, it adds to the frenzy and the build-up. It transmits to the players, instilling them with urgency.
Sung properly by teams, it can be a powerful tool. Mickey Harte recognised that in 2003. As he wrote about the week before the All-Ireland final with Kerry in his book Presence Is The Only Thing: “How unusual would it be for a bunch of bucks from the north, with minimal grasp of the Irish language to end up in Croke Park singing Amhrán na bhFiann with perfect musical and linguistic accuracy.
“The players clicked with the idea straight away. A week before we met Kerry, we stood in a room in Citywest (hotel), singing Amhrán na bhFiann with a ferocity and pleasure that lifted all our hearts. In a week we would stand together in Croke Park again and sing our anthem without missing a word. Breaking down the stereotypes had started before the whistle was even blown.”
If RTÉ were guilty of shooting themselves in the foot when ditching the original Sunday Game theme tune, the GAA are now in danger of taking a pistol to their pinkies by damaging an integral part of their match-day experience.
It’s bad enough the IRFU decided some time ago to jettison the National Anthem for away games and dilute it in the Aviva Stadium with the hollow convenience that is Ireland’s Call.  But the disregard – and it is disregard – of Amhrán na bhFiann is but one piece of evidence which substantiates claims the GAA is over-sanitising the games.
In Croke Park yesterday and on St Patrick’s Day, that cursed announcement “Gardaí and stewards to end-of-match positions, please” (said twice for full effect) tolled with 10 minutes to go in each of the three games. Not only does it put pressure on players (who says there isn’t a hooter system already in the GAA?), it also takes away from the flow of the game for the supporters. And while most of them are there in a voluntary capacity, there is definitely room for improvement in the behaviour of some of the stewards.
Yep, we’re with Kilkenny secretary Ned Quinn on this one. In January, he told The Irish Examiner: “What annoys me is this high-vis brigade that come around the perimeter of Croke Park with 10 minutes to go and parking themselves between the selectors and the team manager.
“They are right up to the faces of the selectors. That’s really intimidatory. Subs are blocked off as well.  The whole thing could be done in a discreet manner. Why do we have to have this big announcement? And why do they have to crouch in front of the two management benches?
“They do this with 10 minutes to go when a match can be won or lost. I repeat, we have to have regulation but we need common sense too.”
The safety people will argue it has to be done but is the announcement really that necessary? In the Aviva Stadium, stewards move to their end-of-match positions in a uniform, dignified and quiet manner without players and supporters having to be warned. Why can’t the GAA do the same? Pitch encroachment is arguably the most emotive challenge facing the GAA’s games presentation committee right now. The argument made by the Association is the 2.8 metre transparent barrier put up in front of Hill 16 last August was because of concerns a child might be killed.
Yet no child has been killed in Croke Park in over 100 years. No-one has ever died from entering a pitch either.
If Dublin’s footballers do go on to win this year’s All-Ireland, it will take an inordinate amount of stewards and a mighty strong wall to stop the Hill 16 breaching onto the pitch.
Really, why should genuine outpourings of unadulterated joy be tempered for fears that have never been realised? GAA President-elect Liam O’Neill is also planning to keep acceptance speeches short Oscars-style in an attempt to avoid potential on-pitch melées.
Last year in Thurles, Waterford hurling captain Stephen Molumphy spoke for well over five minutes in front of adoring fans after receiving the Munster Cup.
For a team that had been written off, nobody could begrudge him the chance to articulate that moment of achievement.
The fact is Gaelic games aren’t in need of such disinfection but this almost clamour to be PC is taking away from the enjoyment of football and hurling.
That's it. Rant over. But while we’re at it can the GAA bid farewell to the God-forsaken May We Never Have To Say Goodbye that is played over the PA system after games at Croke Park and Thurles? That might be pushing it. That grievance is purely down to personal taste. The previous complaints aren’t.



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Estates face becoming 'slums' if regeneration bid fails

MPs could ask for a judicial review if Hull is not given money to complete housing regeneration work started in two areas of the city.


Everton Lee Carsley Kazakhmys Xabi Alonso Darren Bent Protest

Supporters intent on trouble told to stay away or face arrest

Supporters attending Hull CIty's Championship match against Millwall have been warned by police about causing trouble.


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Wonkbook: John Boehner?s tough math

The math of a possible budget deal isn?t particularly hard. If John Boehner can?t get enough Republicans, he can always move to the left and get some Democrats. As my colleague Paul Kane reports, there?ve been some preliminary feelers from GOP leadership looking into doing just that. Plenty of Blue Dogs would be happy to help out, and the Republican leadership could get a spending bill with cuts equal to their initial $30 billion proposal. By any normal accounting, that?d be a win. It?d be as if House Democrats had managed to send their first health-care bill, complete with public option, sailing through the Senate in order to head off a singe-payer proposal favored by the party?s liberal wing. What the arithmetic leaves out, however, is Eric Cantor.

Whether you call it the Tea Party or not, the hardline of the modern Republican Party has demonstrated its willingness and skill at deposing incumbent Republicans who are too willing to compromise with the other side. Deposing the Speaker of the House, however, is hard. But it?s a bit less hard if you have another option waiting in the wings. An option like Eric Cantor. As David Rogers and Jake Sherman note, Cantor has been separating himself from Boehner?s ?I?m not going to put any options on the table or take any options off the table? and making it clear that he both opposes a short-term CR and hasn?t been informed about a range of compromise discussions. It?s an odd public stance for the Majority Leader to take. But it?s right in line with a Republican Party where the conservative caucus has promised to counter Paul Ryan?s budget with an even-more conservative document -- even though no one has yet seen Ryan?s budget!

To a degree that freshman Republicans may not realize, however, Boehner?s allergy to a shutdown is in their best interests. If you buy the Mitch McConnell line that the GOP?s top priority should be denying President Obama reelection, then you want the government to stay open. Evidence that political scientists collected from almost 170 instances of late budgets or shutdowns on the state level showed that fiscal chaos hurts incumbent legislators from both parties win reelection but helps the executive when he runs. They theorized that this is because it makes Congress look small and the executive big. And sure enough, Obama has stayed out of the fray, and is set to announce a major new initiative on green energy today -- the exact sort of forward-looking, let?s-get-on-with-the-people?s-problems initiative that will contrast badly with a Congress unable to come to a reasonable compromise on 2011 funding.

Top Stories

GOP leaders are looking to moderate Dems rather than the Tea Party for support, reports Paul Kane: ?Having difficulty finding consensus within their own ranks, House Republican leaders have begun courting moderate Democrats on several key fiscal issues, including a deal to avoid a government shutdown at the end of next week. The basic outline would involve more than $30 billion in cuts for the 2011 spending package, well short of the $61 billion initially demanded by freshman Republicans and other conservatives, according to senior aides in both parties. Such a deal probably would be acceptable to Senate leaders and President Obama as long as the House didn?t impose funding restrictions on certain social and regulatory programs supported by Democrats, Senate and administration aides said.?

Democrats may allow policy riders in a budget deal, report Janet Hook and Carol Lee: ?Democrats and the White House are considering whether they can agree to any of a series of conservative policy restrictions backed by Republicans--and opposed by most Democrats--that could help break an impasse in budget talks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday. The proposals, known as riders, would use the budget process to undercut policies backed by Democrats, for instance by eliminating money to implement the new health-care law, regulate greenhouse gases or help fund Planned Parenthood. ?We?re happy to look at the policy riders,? said Mr. Reid. ?There aren?t many of them that excite me. But we?re willing to look at them. In fact, we?ve already started looking at some of the policy riders.??

The House leadership is split on passing another stopgap spending bill, report David Rogers and Jake Sherman: ?Moving to the right of Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor distanced himself Tuesday from spending compromises discussed with the White House and took a harder line on whether Republicans should keep the government open absent a budget deal next week. ?Time is up here,? said the Virginia Republican, telling reporters that a short-term continuing resolution ?without a long-term commitment is unacceptable? and that the leadership must push for the full $61 billion in spending cuts approved by the House last month. ?That is the House position. That is what we are driving for,? Cantor said.?

Evidence from the states suggests budget chaos can help the executive even as it harms legislators from both parties, reports Ezra Klein: Political scientists Asger Lau Andersen, David Dreyer Lassen and Lasse Holb�ll Westh Nielsen tallied up 167 instances since 1988 alone. But then they went a step further and tried to isolate the fiscal mismanagement they had on the next election. They succeeded. Voters respond to budgetary chaos, and they do so angrily and predictably. The big takeaway is that blame is not shared equally: ?Governors are subjected to an electoral penalty only under unified government, while legislatures are always held accountable.?...]W]hen Congress fails to pass a budget on time, voters turn on Congress, not just the minority or majority party. The researchers calculate that a budgetary breakdown under divided government reduces the chances that incumbent legislators from either party will get reelected, though it helps the governor?s party in the gubernatorial elections. That?d suggest that a shutdown would be bad for everyone serving in Congress, but good for Obama.

Though note that Chuck Schumer tweeted: ?we will not accept EPA or planned parenthood riders.?

House conservatives are proposing their own budget, report Jake Sherman and jonathan Allen: ?If House Republican leaders are looking to tighten the nation?s fiscal belt, the budget hawks in the conservative Republican Study Committee want to apply it as a tourniquet. Their tool: an ambitious fiscal 2012 alternative budget that will challenge the official GOP leadership?s spending plan and once again reveal divides within the Republican Party over how deep to cut the government. Never mind that Republican leaders like John Boehner and Eric Cantor are promising to slash basic annual budgets for government agencies and cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. The die-hards writing the rogue budget at the RSC are sure to paint them as a bit squishy on spending...But the threat of internal discord is serious enough that GOP budget aides met with RSC staff late Monday to compare notes. ?We?re now caught in this squeeze from both the left and right,? said a top GOP leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity. ?It doesn?t give us much room to maneuver.??

Music video with adorable children interlude: tUnE-yArDs? ?Bizness?.

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Still to come: The financial sector is the only sector really raking in the profits these days; new rules would reserve the best mortgage rates for homeowners putting down 20 percent down payments; the White House would welcome employers transitioning toward using exchanges; Ohio?s anti-union bill is moving forward; the administration is announcing new energy proposals; and robotic helicopters play tennis.


The economy?s profits are being driven by financial firms, writes Annie Lowrey: ?For most of 2009 and 2010, a range of U.S. corporations saw post-recession rebounds in profits. The manufacturing sector, for instance, made about $140 billion in annualized profits in the second quarter of 2009, a recession-era low. Last quarter, it made about $241 billion. Similarly, auto manufacturers lost about $50 billion in the last quarter of 2008. Today, the sector is breaking even. But in the last quarter of 2010, the story was all about Wall Street. Profits actually decreased a bit at nonfinancial firms. But companies like investment banks and insurers saw profits climb to an annualized $426.5 billion. The financial sector now accounts for about 30 percent of the economy?s overall operating profits.?

Federal regulators will require a 20 percent downpayment to get prime mortgage rates, reports Zachary Goldfarb: ?If you want to buy a $300,000 house, you?ll need $60,000 as a down payment to get the best interest rate on your home loan, according to a proposal released Tuesday by federal regulators. A group of federal agencies announced a high standard for home buyers to get the best mortgage rates: Only those who can make a 20 percent down payment and have not had problems paying mortgages in the recent past would be eligible. The regulators are trying to prevent the kinds of practices that dumped so many risky mortgages into the financial system several years ago. But the proposal has sparked concerns from some groups, which worry that a 20 percent down payment is too onerous for many working-class borrowers.?

State and local revenues are up:

Banks are offering concessions toward a mortgage settlement with states, reports Brady Dennis: ?On the eve of planned settlement negotiations between state and federal authorities and the nation?s largest mortgage servicers, the companies have submitted detailed changes they are willing to make to alter past practices and aid troubled homeowners in the months ahead, people familiar with the matter said. The five banks at the center of the settlement negotiations over shoddy foreclosure practices -- Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citibank, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo -- submitted the proposal to government officials ahead of the first planned face-to-face meetings between the groups Wednesday in Washington... At the same time, the banks? proposal doesn?t offer the extent of concessions requested in a 27-page ?term sheet? submitted earlier this month by a core group of state attorneys general.?

The Fed is being overly timid, writes David Leonhardt: ?Whenever officials at the Federal Reserve confront a big decision, they have to weigh two competing risks. Are they doing too much to speed up economic growth and touching off inflation? Or are they doing too little and allowing unemployment to stay high? It?s clear which way the Fed has erred recently. It has done too little. It stopped trying to bring down long-term interest rates early last year under the wishful assumption that a recovery had taken hold, only to be forced to reverse course by the end of year. Given this recent history, you might think Fed officials would now be doing everything possible to ensure a solid recovery. But they?re not. Once again, many of them are worried that the Fed is doing too much. And once again, the odds are rising that it?s doing too little.?

Senators should oppose an increase in the debt limit, writes Sen. Marco Rubio:

The bailout failed to restore home prices, writes Neil Barofsky: ?Though there is no question that the country benefited by avoiding a meltdown of the financial system, this cannot be the only yardstick by which TARP?s legacy is measured. The legislation that created TARP, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, had far broader goals, including protecting home values and preserving homeownership. These Main Street-oriented goals were not, as the Treasury Department is now suggesting, mere window dressing that needed only to be taken ?into account.? Rather, they were a central part of the compromise with reluctant members of Congress to cast a vote that in many cases proved to be political suicide...But it has done little to abide by this legislative bargain.?

Rise of Skynet interlude: Two quadrocopters play tennis.

Health Care

The White House is welcoming a shift to exchange-based coverage, reports Jason Millman: ?Big companies may eventually look to dump their employees onto new state-run health insurance markets in the future if a key aspect of healthcare reform turns out to be successful, an Obama administration health official predicted Tuesday morning...Joel Ario, who oversees the exchanges for the Department of Health and Human Services, said fears about the blow to the employer-sponsored health system have been overstated. In the interest of remaining competitive, major employers won?t drop their health insurance right away, Ario said...However, if the exchanges prove to be a source for better and cheaper coverage, then employers will be incentivized to scrap their health plans.?

Julie Appleby offers a primer on health care reform?s exchanges: ?What is an exchange, as envisioned by the health-care law? It?s a marketplace where individuals and small employers will be able to shop for insurance coverage. They must be set up by Jan. 1, 2014. The exchanges will also direct people to Medicaid, if they?re eligible. Will all states have exchanges? States have the option of setting up their own exchanges, forming coalitions with other states to create regional exchanges or opting out altogether. In that case, the federal government would run the exchanges...Will anyone be allowed to buy from the exchanges? No. Initially, exchanges will be open to individuals buying their own coverage and employees of firms with 100 or fewer workers (50 or fewer, in some states).?

Mitch Daniels? health plan is too expensive, writes Jonathan Cohn:

Domestic Policy

An anti-union bill is advancing in Ohio, reports Emma Fitzsimmons: ?Ohio moved closer to completing legislation to limit collective bargaining rights for public sector workers on Tuesday, while legislation in Wisconsin continued to be tied up in the courts. The bill in Ohio passed a State House committee on Tuesday after Republicans added provisions that Democrats said would further hurt unions. The legislation was expected to pass the full House as early as Wednesday. Republicans said they had made some of the changes to accommodate unions, but Democrats said the revised bill was worse than the original, especially a new provision that would prohibit nonunion employees from paying fees to unions. With little hope of stopping the bill in a legislature controlled by Republicans, Democrats vowed to take the bill to voters in a referendum this fall.?

The Supreme Court looks set to rule against a sex discrimination suit targeting Wal-Mart:

It?s no surprise that school districts with high-stakes testing have more cheating, writes Dana Goldstein: ?In the social sciences, there is an oft-repeated maxim called Campbell?s Law, named after Donald Campbell, a psychologist who studied human creativity. Campbell?s Law states that incentives corrupt. In other words, the more punishments and rewards--such as merit pay--are associated with the results of any given test, the more likely it is that the test?s results will be rendered meaningless, either through outright cheating or through teaching to the test in a way that narrows the curriculum and renders real learning obsolete. In the era of No Child Left Behind, Campbell?s Law has proved true again and again.?

A Wisconsin judge is blocking the state?s anti-union law:

Adorable children listening to hip-hop interlude: A baby in a car-seat gets really into Kid Cudi.


Obama is outlining new energy initiatives today, reports Laura Meckler: ?President Barack Obama, under pressure to respond to rising gas prices, will outline Wednesday a series of initiatives to cut the nation?s reliance on foreign oil, including new initiatives to expand oil production, increase the use of natural gas to power vehicles and increase production of ethanol. Mr. Obama?s latest attempt to take the initiative on energy policy comes as Republicans in Congress are stepping up criticism of the administration for not allowing more oil and gas drilling in the United States...Mr. Obama will put forward an overall goal of reducing oil imports by one third over a decade, with half the reduction from decreasing consumption and half from increasing domestic supply, according to two people briefed by the White House.?

Republicans are considering a series of bills to expand offshore drilling:

The Senate is set to vote on restricting EPA climate rules today, reports Andrew Restuccia: ?Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning to hold a vote Wednesday on an amendment to small business legislation that would permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency?s climate rules. The amendment, offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would prohibit EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. ?I think we?re at a point where in the morning we can vote on the McConnell Amendment dealing with the EPA and a couple of other amendments relating to EPA to get rid of that issue one way or the other,? Reid said on the floor Tuesday. Reid will discuss how to proceed on the amendment, as well as two other amendments that would limit EPA?s climate authority, at a meeting Tuesday with his fellow Democrats, a Senate Democratic leadership aide said.?

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


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No doubting Rams anymore

Times wires
Sunday, March 27, 2011









SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The team that many thought should not be in the NCAA Tournament rushed the floor at the final buzzer, then delved deep into the crowd for hugs and disbelieving smiles as another vanquished and surprised opponent shuffled silently off the court.

A topsy-turvy, wildly unpredictable tournament had its most surprising moment Sunday as 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth continued what might be the most improbable run in history, beating top-seeded Kansas 71-61 to reach the Final Four in Houston.

"Once again we felt like nobody really thought we could win going into the game," said VCU's 33-year-old coach, Shaka Smart, who wore the net clipped from one of the Alamodome baskets around his neck like a lei. "But these guys believed we could win. They knew we could win. And we talked before the game about how nobody else really matters."

VCU (28-11), the surprise winner of the Southwest Region, will play a national semifinal game Saturday against Butler, which navigated through the Southeast Region as an eighth seed.

Kansas (35-3), the last of the No. 1 seeds in the tournament, had won its previous three games by an average of 17.7 points, all over opponents seeded ninth or lower. To get to its 14th Final Four, Kansas needed to beat teams seeded 16th, ninth, 12th and, on Sunday, No. 11 VCU.

But the hot-shooting Rams sprinted to an 18-point lead in the first half. More impressive, they withstood a Kansas rally that cut their lead to 46-44 with 13:11 remaining.

"We're crushed," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "But at the end of the day, we tried real hard and just came up empty against a team that was better than us today."

VCU became the third 11th-seeded team to reach the Final Four, and the first that needed to win five games to get there, thanks to the expansion of the field to 68.

Before its latest and greatest victory, VCU sat in its locker room and silently watched a big screen, set in the middle of the narrow room, showing more clips of television pundits saying they would lose. That trick had worked four times before.

"Either you get motivated or you curl up in a ball," said VCU's Ed Nixon, who attended Lakewood High. "We got motivated."

And the Rams were headed home — to what they expected to be a huge reception at VCU's urban campus in Richmond. They will return to Texas this week for the Final Four.

Players pondered whether anyone believed they could go this far.

"Us," guard Bradford Burgess said. "The city. That's about it."

VCU's 11-0 run in the first half, behind a fast-moving offense and a frenetic defense, gave the Rams a quick 20-10 lead. The Jayhawks were unusually flustered and never fully recovered.

"All the pressure was on them," Burgess said. "They were the No. 1 seed, and no one expected us to be here."

Kansas could find no one to make a field goal other than 6-foot-9 forward Marcus Morris for the first 11 minutes. Markieff Morris broke the string with a 3-pointer with 8:41 left.

The Jayhawks arrived as the best shooting team in the country, making 51.4 percent of their attempts. But they had their worst shooting game of the season at the worst possible time, making only 22 of 62 shots (35.5 percent). Most damaging was their 2-of-21 shooting from 3-point range and their 15-of-28 rate from the free-throw line.

VCU had no such trouble, making 12 of 25 3-pointers. Forward Jamie Skeen made four on his way to 26 points.

"That game was all about style of play," Smart said. "We got the style going the way that we wanted in the first half. And if you watch closely, their players were tugging on their shorts for much of the game. When you don't have your legs, it's hard to make outside shots."


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Time to blow whistle on the foul choking hurling

Diarmuid O'Flynn

AS an observer who prefers to see a referee who lets a game flow, the referee who pauses before bringing whistle to mouth as opposed to the guy who never seems to remove it, this might seem a strange ask, but after another series of blighted games at the weekend the question finally arises: when will our whistlers pick up on a new foul that is choking hurling, a foul that has become endemic, practised now by every team at every level? 

I'm talking about hurling’s equivalent of rugby’s wraparound tackle, the arm wrapped around a player in possession of the ball, except of course in the oval-ball game, it’s perfectly legal; in hurling, it’s not.

Sometimes it’s the hand holding the ball that’s held, more often it’s the hand holding the hurley; keep an eye out for it at the next game you attend, a player in possession trying to throw the ball up but unable to do because his arm is being impeded, or a player trying to burst out of a group, his hurley hand trailing, unable to bring his stick forward so he can play the ball, because that arm is being impeded. 

More often than not, what happens is that the player in possession ends up being penalised for overcarrying – wrong, totally wrong.

I'm all in favour of teams – forwards especially – battling to win back possession, fighting tigerishly to close down the man with the ball and make it difficult for him to do anything with it, but ‘tying up’ the defender in the literal sense isn’t legal in hurling. 

It’s rarely done blatantly, the arms never wrapped fully around a player; just an arm stuck out here, a hurley stuck out there, but always making very definite contact with the arms of the player in possession.  In hurling, that’s a foul.

A couple of years ago GAA referees – at the behest of the authorities – came down very hard on the tackle from behind, and many a clean flick of the ball off the stick was blown up, to the consternation of many a player and supporter.  Now, however, we have a chasing player sticking his hurley over the shoulder of a soloing player, or wrapping it around the side, and with very definite contact on both occasions, but, no foul.  Why not? 

We’re getting more and more bunching in hurling, a game that thrived always on being fast, open, and it’s because this type of foul has crept in, to the point now where it’s become an accepted part of the game.  Well, it’s not accepted here.

There is an art to the tackle in hurling, an art to dispossessing an opponent – the wraparound tackle is no part of that art.  You're always going to have the kind of missed free we saw yesterday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, where Benny Dunne took about 50 steps before getting his goal, where Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan caught the ball three times a few weeks ago in the win over Cork before scoring his late point, and that’s all acceptable – in ‘live’ time none of us in the various press-boxes who witnessed either of those events picked them up, they happened so fast. 

But this new foul – everyone can see what’s happening, and it’s choking the game.  Time to cut it out, and free up the man in possession again.


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Harvick leads lap that counts

Times wires
Sunday, March 27, 2011

FONTANA, Calif. — Kevin Harvick isn't one of those drivers who jumps out front and stays there all the way to the checkers.

He's a lingerer and closer, staying close to the front then make his move at just the right time.

Harvick was at his pass-at-the-end best on Sunday, overtaking Jimmie Johnson on the final turn at Auto Club Speedway to win after trailing the entire race.

"I wish we could just go out there and wear 'em out one day, just not have to worry about waiting until the last lap," Harvick said. "It does kind of seem we wait until the last moments to really get going. It's probably somewhat of a bad habit I have, but I guess it worked out."

Kyle Busch had the dominant car most of the day and led a race-high 151 laps, including off a restart with nine laps left.

Johnson, a five-time winner at Fontana, chased down Busch for the lead with two laps left. Then Harvick nailed the finish.

Harvick had a rough start to the season, finishing 42nd at Daytona after a blown engine and hadn't pulled it together since despite having fast cars. His best finish was fourth at Phoenix.

Harvick didn't have a particularly strong qualifying session at Fontana, starting 24th.

He gradually worked to the front, pulling up behind Johnson after getting past Busch.

Taking advantage of a small gap to the outside, Harvick made his move going into Turn 3, and completed it coming around Turn 4 for his 15th career win.

"I really felt good when they had that restart because I knew his car was really fast on the long run," said Richard Childress, owner of Harvick's No. 29 car. "I knew if they didn't get too far out in front of us, we'd have a shot. All we needed was to get him side-by-side and start racing. That gave Kevin a chance to catch them and he made the right move going into 3."

There were few lead changes, in part because the opening 75 laps were under green to set a track record. Overnight rain, which lingered as mist, also played a role. Drivers who got the setup right got out front and stayed there while others tinkered.

Busch took his first lead on Lap 22 and lost it a few times on green-flag pit stops, but was out front within a few laps, pulling away on each of the four restarts.

He just didn't have enough left after the leaders stayed out on the last caution.

"It's real unfortunate and disappointing and frustrating all in one," Busch said. "You ask a little bit more from your race car at the last moments and it just doesn't have anything left to give. We were just a sitting duck waiting for those guys to go around us."

Johnson started 16th and worked toward the front, tracking Busch down for the late pass after losing a race off the line to him on the final restart. Johnson just couldn't hold off Harvick,.

"Looking back, maybe if I could have got by Kyle a lot earlier, maybe it could have made a difference," Johnson said. "But he (Harvick) was rolling off the top really, really fast."

Pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya remained winless in oval races. A two-time winner on road courses, he led the first six laps, then drifted back before making a late charge to finish 10th.

. fast facts

Gearhead stats

Winner's average speed: 150.849 mph

Time of race: 2 hours, 39 minutes, 6 seconds

Margin of victory: 0.144 seconds

Caution flags: 4 for 16 laps

Lead changes: 18 among 10 drivers

Lap leaders: J.Montoya 1-6; D.Hamlin 7-21; Ky.Busch 22-31; J.Montoya 32; C.Bowyer 33; J.Johnson 34; J.Yeley 35-36; Ky.Busch 37-66; M.Truex Jr. 67; T.Stewart 68-69; Ky.Busch 70-76; T.Stewart 77-79; R.Newman 80-87; T.Stewart 88-91; Ky.Busch 92-137; T.Stewart 138-139; Ky.Busch 140-197; J.Johnson 198-199; K.Harvick 200

Sprint Cup points

Through 5 of 36 races. The top 10 drivers plus two wild cards (based on wins) through 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

Carl Edwards 187—

Ryan Newman 178 9

Kurt Busch 17710

Kyle Busch 176 11

Jimmie Johnson 173 14

Tony Stewart 17017

Paul Menard 16423

Juan Montoya 16126

Kevin Harvick 157 30

Matt Kenseth15730

Kasey Kahne15730

Note: Points unofficial; NASCAR posts official points today.

Up next

Goody's Fast Relief 500, 1 p.m. Sunday, Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, Va. TV: Ch. 13.


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Recap: The pro-Social Security argument for Social Security reform (and a follow-up); some useful political-science research suggesting that a government shutdown could help Obama and hurt both parties in Congress; and the political economy of entitlement reform in two tables.


1) I?ll be talking about the budget showdown on ?The Last Word? with Lawrence O?Donnell tonight.

2) Does Rick Santorum realize that this sort of thinking implies more immigration, not more forced pregnancy?

3) A new concept I?m glad to know: Campbell?s law.

4) Amazon takes your music into the cloud.


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Cleveland has 79 in Golden Gloves: Boxing Insider

The numbers are in for this year's Cleveland Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament. After Saturday's official registration and weigh-ins at the Brook Park Recreation Center, a total of 79 boxers are slated for bouts during the two-week, four-night run of the annual tournament.

golden gloves79 boxers are slated for bouts during the two-week, four-night Cleveland Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament.

The numbers are in for this year's Cleveland Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament.

After Saturday's official registration and weigh-ins at the Brook Park Recreation Center, a total of 79 boxers are slated for bouts during the two-week, four-night run of the annual tournament.

The breakdown was 28 entries in the open division for experienced boxers, 27 in the novice division for those with less than 10 matches and 24 in the sub-novice ranks for first-time fighters.

Certainly, the numbers could be better. But it was just a few years ago that the event, held every year since 1929, nearly came to an end when fewer than 20 boxers bothered to enter.

“We had some guys decide to go pro, and so many of our [Junior Olympic] boxers are just 16,” said tournament director Clytee Dunn, pointing out that fighters must be 17 to enter. “So, we are very much pleased.”

While the organization was hoping to get the total to 100 entries, there are enough for full cards during the preliminary rounds. A year ago, there were 84 official entries. The numbers were 75 in 2009 and 90 in 2008.

The 83rd edition of the tournament opens Friday at 7 p.m. at 17400 Holland Road in Brook Park. Boxing continues there on Saturday and April 9. Tickets are $20 reserved, $15 general admission and $10 for 12-and-under.

The finals move to the North Hall at Cleveland Browns Stadium on April 16 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 general admission, $15 for 12-and-under.

Open division champions advance to the national tournament in Indianapolis, April 25-30.

For more information, contact the Cleveland Amateur Golden Gloves, 4500 Lee Road, Suite 222, Cleveland, Ohio, 44128, or call 216-662-7445.

Wolfing tickets: World Boxing Council light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs) and Bernard Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) went at it with their mouths Monday in Montreal in hyping their May 21 rematch.

Their December bout in Quebec City ended in a controversial draw, many feeling the 46-year-old Hopkins won after suffering two early knockdowns.

“I'll make sure he doesn't get up again,” said Pascal, 28, getting the rematch on his home turf. “He gave everything he had left in his body the last time.”

After the obligatory pushing and shoving, “The Executioner” let fly with his customary invective.

“Believe me,” Hopkins said during the news conference. “I gave Pascal an old-fashioned beating, and he knows what's waiting for him. It will be execution time again.”

HBO will televise the bout.

Around the ring: Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs) had little trouble defending his World Boxing Association featherweight title as he stopped Jorge Solis (40-3-2, 29 KOs) in the fourth round on Saturday night in Atlantic City, N.J. Solis was down five times. . . . On the same HBO televised card, Miguel Angel Garcia (25-0, 21 KOs) needed 10 rounds to defeat 126-pound Matt Remillard (23-1, 13 KOs), the latter not coming out for the 11th round. . . . Baltimore Ravens safety Tommy Zbikowski improved to 3-0 (2 KOs) on that show, taking a four-round decision against Caleb Grummet (0-1-1). . . . WBA super middleweight champ Andre Ward (23-0, 13 KOs) takes on former middleweight champ Arthur Abraham (32-2, 26 KOs) on May 14 in Carson, Calif. It's a semifinal in Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic.

Farewell: It is sad to report the death of longtime area trainer Al Brooks on March 11. Brooks won the Cleveland Golden Gloves novice bantamweight title in 1944. Condolences to his family and friends.

History: Marvelous Marvin Hagler stopped Juan Roldan in the 10th round in Las Vegas to retain the middleweight title in 1984.

Friday: The ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” are at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, where Philadelphia lightweight Henry Lundy (19-1-1, 10 KOs) faces Patrick Lopez (20-3, 12 KOs) of Venezuela in the feature at 9 p.m.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5168


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Roller-coaster day ends well for Laird

Times wires
Sunday, March 27, 2011

ORLANDO — All that stood between Martin Laird and victory at Bay Hill were two putts from inside 90 feet on the 18th hole, which didn't seem that long considering what he already had been through Sunday.

First came a collapse that took him from a three-shot lead to a three-shot deficit in seven holes. He was three shots behind when he walked off the 14th green, two shots ahead as he headed to the 17th tee.

Laird knocked the first putt up to 31/2 feet, then jabbed his fist when he rolled in the par putt to win the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"That was a tough fight out there," the 28-year-old from Scotland said. "It was a battle out there, but you know, it makes it even sweeter at the end when I got this trophy."

In the toughest final round on the tour this year, Laird was strong at the end with two birdies and two clutch pars to close with 3-over 75, the highest final round by a winner in the 33-year history at Bay Hill. His final total was 8-under 280.

That two-putt par on the 18th was just enough for a one-shot victory over hard-luck Steve Marino, who lost three shots on two plugged lies in bunkers over the last four holes. Marino followed a double bogey on the par-3 17th with an all-or-nothing shot over the water at the flag to 8 feet on the last hole for birdie and 72.

Laird became the first European to win at Bay Hill. He now heads to next week's Masters for the first major of the year.

Tiger Woods, a six-time winner at Bay Hill, was poised for a second straight top-10 finish until he made bogey from the bunker on the 17th and hit his approach into the water on No. 18 for double bogey and 72. In his final tournament before the Masters, Woods tied for 24th, seven shots behind at 1 under.

"I played well (Sunday). I hit the ball well all day," said Woods, who had three birdies and no bogeys through his first 16 holes.

"This year I felt like I've played my way into shape. I've kept progressing, and early in the year was disappointing because the conditions showed some signs of weakness that I had to work on. Now it's feeling very, very good."

Phil Mickelson dropped three shots on the last five holes for 73 to also finish in a tie for 24th.

LPGA: Former Gator Sandra Gal won the Kia Classic, beating second-ranked Jiyai Shin with a 2-foot birdie putt on the final hole in Industry, Calif. Gal, 25, closed with 2-under 71 to finish at 16-under 276. Shin finished with 73. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome finished the day 2-over 75 and was 3 over for the tournament.


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Josef Newgarden wins Indy Lights debut in St. Petersburg

By Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer
Sunday, March 27, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG — Josef Newgarden knew his Indy Lights debut would be as much about strategy as speed.

Through the first 11 laps of Sunday's race, Newgarden stayed safely behind the leader, Peter Dempsey, and any potential wrecks.

Then Newgarden made his move.

On Turn 5 of the 12th lap, Newgarden mashed the gas pedal, swerved inside and pushed his car past Dempsey's. By propelling to the front in what turned out to be the only lead change of the race, Newgarden powered his way to victory in 56 minutes, 11.0037 seconds. Conor Daly was second in 56:11.8589 and Dempsey fell back to third in 56:14.1388.

"Our attack strategy was take what you can get," Newgarden said. "It was a long race and we wanted to conserve the car. I could tell Dempsey was starting to lose his rear end on Turn 12. He made a mistake and we were able to make a move."

Esteban Guerrieri started on the pole, but was overtaken by Dempsey on the first lap. Dempsey appeared to have control and maintained a one-second lead over Newgarden through the first 11 laps.

"It got a fantastic start, it was a first-ever roll-in start," Dempsey said. "I thought once I get inside these top three cars would run a bit fast and try to chase each other and they did. I led for the first 10-15 laps and the tires let off a little bit."

It was quite a day for rookies in the Indy Lights race as they took the first 12 spots.

All in a Daly's work: Daly's runner-up finish in Sunday's Indy Lights Series race marked a commencement — and not a capper — to his day.

Roughly four hours after placing second in the 45-lap race, Daly boarded a flight from Tampa International Airport to England to begin a three-day test at the Silverstone Grand Prix with his British-based GP3 team.

"I get there (this) morning and I believe I'm in the car Tuesday or Wednesday," said Daly, who rose at 6 a.m. Sunday. "Can't wait."

The whirlwind itinerary won't be Daly's last of the season. After the second race of the Indy Lights season at Alabama's Barbor Motorsports Park on April 8-10, he'll immediately fly to Barcelona for a three-day GP3 test.

Leapfrogging: Petri Suvanto won the second race of the USF2000 series Sunday, beating rival Spencer Pigot by 1.311 seconds.

Suvanto and Pigot spent the weekend trying to pass each other for wins — and points. On Saturday, Pigot started from the pole and won the first of two races by 0.515 seconds over Suvanto. Pigot also vaulted ahead of Suvanto in points, 79-73.

It didn't last.

Suvanto, who earned the pole by recording Saturday's fastest lap, reclaimed the top spot in points, 106-104, by winning Sunday's race.

Shannon McIntosh, who is racing for St. Petersburg-based Cape Motorsports, finished 13th Sunday.

belleair's Long wins again: Belleair resident Patrick Long completed a weekend sweep by winning his second World Challenge GT race.

Long, a two-time American Le Mans Series champion, entered the World Challenge as a late addition this week. On Sunday, he took the lead on Lap 30 and beat James Sofronas by 0.627 seconds.

Eric Foss won the GTS class and Tristan Hervert took the TC class in Sunday's race.

Bob Putnam can be reached at


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Monday, March 28, 2011

The Patriarch wants to decrease pressure by Montenegro on Serbs

Three days before beginning of population census in Montenegro, the church officials have interfered in political and state issues. The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Muslim religious leaders called on their compatriots in Montenegro yesterday to ?gather around their religion, nation and language?. People that the ?Blic? talked with say that church instructions are encouragement for compatriots, threats for the other side, but that they also violate international conventions.


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