Thursday, April 26, 2007

The First Debate of the Caucus

Well, the first democratic debate has come to an end, and as the political pundits over at MSNBC interview each other and talk about who looked the best, I’ll make the call to arms – bloggers: start your fingers!

For starters, to those of you who don’t know exactly where Hillary, Barack, and John Edwards stand on the issues: don’t feel bad. None of us do. The three front-runners coming into the debate have continued their firm stances of not having any firm stances. Hillary is roughly in favor of leaving some people in Iraq, Barack is more or less in favor of leaving no residual troops, and John Edwards is definitely from a poor, southern family. That’s about all they gave up in their continued campaigns to sound passionate without offering real solutions. Oh, and they’re all Christian. That matters to some people, I know.

If you want to know what their stances are – please just check their official sites, because there’s no point in going through a middleman when the information is so readily available. I’ll put the links at the end, if I can figure out how.

Now, to those of you who don’t know where the lesser-known candidates stand: shame on you! For the first time in a very long time, we have a great cross-section of democrats that are all ready to lead our country into a renaissance of peace and understanding. Any one of these candidates would be an unprecedented leap forward from our current administration, and every one has ideas that are both novel and refreshing. But as is the case with so many things in life, the best ones are flying under the radar. So here they are: the candidates without $20 billion….

Not that my opinion should mean anything to anybody other than myself (please just read about the candidates and make a decision on your own), but I’m officially stating that I feel Bill Richardson (Governor of New Mexico) is the best candidate for president of the United States Of America that we’ve had in decades. For virtually every question he was asked, he had a well thought out and decisive answer prepared, even if he wasn’t asked the same questions as the other candidates. He had multiple-points that he attempted to get to in the 1 minute allotted to him per answer. Admittedly, he doesn’t seem to have mastered the art of being concise with his speech, but that just tells me that he was more prepared than anybody else and he knows that there isn’t a quick, 1-minute answer to these difficult questions. His speech was honest (admitting once that he was the last of the candidates to call for Alberto Gonzales’s resignation, partially because Gonzales is Latino) and his opinions were clear and well stated. The moderator once mentioned that Richardson has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times, and he was the only one to propose a way to give universal health care without raising taxes (which correlates with his track record in New Mexico, but again – check his site for facts. Blogs are for opinions.)

However, I’m not here to blow smoke up Governor Richardson’s ass, as every candidate is worth mentioning. Standing out from the crowd was former Alaskan representative and senator Mike Gravel. His speech was loud and often accusatory with radical ideas and an aggressive style, but frankly: that’s what we need. He was the most vocal against the Bush administration, but was also opposed to the other candidates that would pander to said administration by trading more money for a long-term timetable of withdrawal and taking any action that wouldn’t result in immediate change. The only other candidate looking for such quick action is Richardson whose timetable is “the end of this calendar year” but Gravel offered a virulent path to that end: a call to congress to make a law that would make it a felony for President Bush to continue the war in Iraq. His idealism may be a bit far-fetched, as he would need 67% of congress to over-rule the President’s obvious veto, but the idea is the sort of progressive thought that liberals are looking for.

Another stand-out in the field of candidates is senator Joe Biden, who came across as the most intelligent and professional of the group, even if his opinions are less radical than Gravel’s. Also, despite his great track record he doesn’t have the diplomatic experience that Richardson does. Biden is a very well spoken candidate who advocates a complete withdrawal from Iraq and a quick end to the war. Unfortunately, he has a similar approach as Hillary, Barack, and Edwards in that he seems fine with a slow withdrawal and has no brilliant new ideas to make the changes we all want to see. He does have the intelligence, passion, and experience to run the country though.

Dennis Kucinich, like always, stands out as a passionate and intelligent individual. I’ve been a fan of Kucinich for years, and it’s a shame that once again I see him picking the wrong fights and choosing the wrong places to make a stand. When not one of the other 7 candidates would endorse his plan to impeach Vice President Cheney (this caucus is all about uniting, not further dividing) he pulled out a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution and held it up while explaining that Cheney was going against what the country stands for and needs to be held accountable. A great point, and a good picture that we’ll likely see again during this race, but it certainly didn’t help his popularity. Richardson was right to say that the American people want an honest candidate, but a level of discretion is advisable to somebody involved in a popularity contest. And make no mistake: this is the grandest of popularity contests.

Senator Christopher Dodd also came across as both intelligent and well spoken, but his opinions were little more than regurgitation of everybody else’s stances. He was neither controversial nor particularly memorable, so his presence is more that of a strong benchwarmer than anything else. He reminds me that even the least memorable democratic candidate is infinitely better than the options that the other side has, and we would be lucky to have Dodd as a president, even though I don’t see him making many waves this year. But it’s still early, and we may hear from him yet – he certainly has the capacity to lead the democrats, and we could all rejoice if he were our next president.

As for the three front-runners, they don’t need more press, so I won’t spend as much time talking about them. Hillary was very well composed and presented herself like a President. Her pearls were a bit extravagant (who cares about a $400 haircut when you’ve got a $10,000 necklace?), but I’m not one to make a decision based on superficialities so that’s the end of that. Barack wasn’t his usual self, but that’s not to say he isn’t still deserving of his large following. I was first made aware of him three years ago, and to this day I like the guy. My only problem (like most people’s problem with him) is the lack of experience: it’s more than signing bills and pulling the troops out, and his continued reluctance to take any firm stances would keep me from voting for him. I’d love to see him take the vice-presidency, and then take over after 8 years of internship. That’s a distinct possibility. As for John Edwards: he’s the cookie-cutter candidate that we get at least one of every four years. Just like Al Gore before him and countless others that I won’t waste my time mentioning, he’s got the key phrases (“my Lord” was mentioned, of course) and his look is both clean-cut and conservative (appropriate, considering his approach). He doesn’t represent change – just a solid step away from the current regime.

So what should we all take away from this debate? Hope - tons and tons of hope. Every single candidate up on that stage was a good remedy to the bunch of stubborn misfits that we have in place right now, and no matter what happens – we’ll be much better off in 2009 than we were before. These candidates all represent more than a change of primary color in the executive branch: they represent a change in philosophy and approach. Every single one agrees that war has to be 2nd to diplomacy, not the other way around. They are all more willing to talk about the issues than to give each other grief (even if only one of them was willing to sign Governor Richardson’s agreement not to sling mud during the caucus), and they are all qualified leaders. We are terribly lucky to have this group vying for our votes, and 2009 will prove to be a great year in American history.

So do yourself a favor, and watch the future debates, keep track of the candidates, and know that whatever happens: voting democrat in 2008 is going to be a good decision regardless of your usual party affiliation.

Official sites/candidacy sites:

Bill Richardson

Mike Gravel

Joe Biden

Dennis Kucinich

Christopher Dodd

Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama

John Edwards

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Senator Barack Obama On U.S. Foreign Policy @ Chicago Council on Global Affairs - NY Times

Obama Outlines His Foreign Policy Views
NY Times | April 23, 2007

By Jeff Zeleny

CHICAGO, April 23 -- Senator Barack Obama said today that even though the global image of the United States has been sullied by the war in Iraq and a "foreign policy based on a flawed ideology," America must repair its standing in the world and resist the temptation to turn inward.

"America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America," Mr. Obama said. "We must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission - we must lead the world, by deed and example."

In a speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Mr. Obama presented himself as a presidential candidate "who can speak directly to the world." After a sharp critique of President Bush, Mr. Obama called for increasing foreign aid to developing countries, expanding and modernizing the military and rebuilding fractured alliances.

"This president may occupy the White House, but for the last six years the position of leader of the free world has remained open," Mr. Obama said. "And it's time to fill that role once more."

Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat elected to the United States Senate two years ago, delivered the first major foreign policy address of his Democratic presidential bid to hundreds of supporters in the ballroom of a downtown hotel here. It is the first of several policy speeches he is scheduled to deliver in the coming weeks as he works to define his candidacy with specific proposals an Obama administration would pursue.

"This election offers us the chance to turn the page and open a new chapter in American leadership," Mr. Obama said. "The disappointment that so many around the world feel toward America right now is only a testament to the high expectations they hold for us. We must meet those expectations again, not because being respected is an end in itself, but because the security of America and the wider world demands it."

He added: "This is going to require a new spirit, not of bluster and bombast, but of quiet confidence and sober intelligence, a spirit of care and renewed competence."

In the opening three months of his presidential race, Mr. Obama has solidified his role as one of the leading contenders for the nomination, raising more money than any of his rivals for the primary campaign. But Mr. Obama is also striving to expand his appeal beyond that of a best-selling author and political celebrity as he tackles questions of substance and policy.

The United States must build a 21st century military, Mr. Obama said, in addition to "showing wisdom in how we deploy it." He called for expanding American ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 to the Marines. But less than 1 percent of the military can speak Arabic, Mandarin or Korean - a shortcoming he said needs to be corrected through training and recruitment.

"We know what the war in Iraq has cost us in lives and treasure, in influence and respect," Mr. Obama said. "We have seen the consequences of a foreign policy based on flawed ideology, and a belief that tough talk can replace real strength and vision."

The Bush administration, Mr. Obama said, "squandered that opportunity" to unite the world after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The war in Iraq, he said, "was based on old ideologies and outdated strategies, a determination to fight a 21st century struggle with a 20th century mindset."

"And after all the lives lost and the billions of dollars spent, many Americans may find it tempting to turn inward, and cede our claim of leadership in world affairs," Mr. Obama said. "I insist, however, that such an abandonment of our leadership is a mistake we must not make."

If elected, Mr. Obama said he would lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons and materials across the world within four years. In addition to securing stockpiles of nuclear material, Mr. Obama said the United States should work to negotiate a ban on producing new nuclear weapons material.

To discourage countries from building weapons programs, Mr. Obama endorsed the concept of providing reactor fuel through an international nuclear fuel bank, proposed last year by former Senator Sam Nunn, a Georgia Democrat who now advises the Nuclear Threat Initiative. As president, Mr. Obama said he would provide $50 million to get the fuel bank started and urge Russia and other countries to join.

Mr. Obama also called for the United States to rebuild its alliances, reform the United Nations and strengthen NATO.

"We have heard much over the last six years about how AmericaĆ¢€™s larger purpose in the world is to promote the spread of freedom - that it is the yearning of all who live in the shadow of tyranny and despair," Mr. Obama said. "I agree, but this yearning is not satisfied by simply deposing a dictator and setting up a ballot box."

Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, dismissed Mr. Obama's criticism.

"Senator Obama started his career with a tone of hope, but has quickly turned to one of blame," Ms. Miller said. "Obama has no foreign policy experience; therefore has no record of having done anything - wrong or otherwise. His comments today blamed others and failed to detail his own plan for success."

Signposts On The Zeitgeist - David Halberstam Passes - SF Chronicle

Signposts On The Zeitgeist - Paul Erdman Passes - SF Chronicle

I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Erdman only once, and was struck by his kindness and willingness to engage in conversation. He's one of those popular economists who's ideas and words were always part of popular culture and certainly a part of my intellectual awareness.

Paul Erdman -- expert economist and prolific writer

Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Paul Erdman, a world-class economist and banker who used his knowledge of economics and politics to write best-selling novels, died at his Sonoma County ranch Monday after a long illness.

He was 74.

Mr. Erdman was a renaissance man -- an expert on high finance who once was the CEO of a Swiss bank, wrote 10 novels and two non-fiction books, was an Internet and newspaper columnist, and was a man of charm and culture who could talk on nearly every subject.

His opinions on professional football were published in newspapers, he held baseball season tickets, and he admired the Georgetown University basketball team.

One of his greatest achievements, said his daughter Constance Erdman Narea, "was inspiring intellectual curiosity.''

"Knowledge was something very, very important to him,'' said Hernan Narea, his son-in-law.

Mr. Erdman had the rare gift of being able to communicate his knowledge in a clear and entertaining manner.

His first book, "The Billion Dollar Sure Thing,'' published in 1973, received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His second book, "The Silver Bears," was made into a movie starring Michael Caine and Jay Leno.

His books have been translated into 32 languages and spent a combined 152 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. His other books include "The Crash of '79", published in 1976; "The Panic of '89" in 1987; "The Palace"; "The Swiss Account"; and his last book, "The Great Game," to be published this year.

His books were entertaining and got excellent reviews. "I gave 'The Palace' a read,'' San Francisco author Peter Delacorte wrote in 1988, "and I want to tell you, I was floored."

His genre was what reviewers called "financial thrillers,'' with complex plots and carefully researched settings.

"I never write about a place unless I've been there," he told Metroactive, an online book publication. His last novel -- "The Great Game'' -- is set in Uzbekistan, where Mr. Erdman traveled in 1991. He was intrigued at first by exotic places like Samarkand, but the book is a cautionary tale about power politics and oil in central Asia.

Mr. Erdman's books were more than entertaining -- "The Swiss Account," a 1992 novel, has been credited with triggering worldwide investigations into the role of the Swiss in connection with Nazi Germany during World War II.

Paul Emil Erdman was born in Ontario in 1932. His parents were Americans and his father was a minister. He was educated in U.S. prep schools and earned a degree from Georgetown's foreign service school. He later received a doctorate in economics with the highest honors from the University of Basel in Switzerland.

He was an international economist from 1957 to 1961 in Europe and at the Stanford Research Institute. Later, he founded and was the CEO of a Swiss bank.

Mr. Erdman visited San Francisco years ago and became enamored of the city.

"He could have lived anywhere in the world, but he chose San Francisco,'' said his daughter Constance. "He was a San Franciscan first and foremost.''

He lived on Nob Hill for many years, and also maintained his Sonoma County ranch, near Healdsburg, where he did a lot of his writing.

Mr. Erdman had strong loyalties. One was to Georgetown. He appeared frequently on campus and on the 75th anniversary of the foreign service school he was one of 12 alumni to be placed in the school's Hall of Fame. Another was former President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Erdman also made a point of always mentioning San Francisco or San Franciscans in his novels. One of his favorite spots, the Big Four restaurant on Nob Hill, appeared often.

Mr. Erdman is survived by his wife, Helly , of the family home in Sonoma County; two daughters, Jennifer Erdman of Healdsburg and Constance Erdman Narea of Greenwich, Conn.; and two granddaughters.

The funeral will be private.

Bush Greets Colts at White House

Bush Greets Colts at White House
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON -- Even when football season ends, superstar quarterback Peyton Manning is hard to miss on TV. He has become such a marketable pitchman that his commercials -- a sports drink here, a credit card company there -- seem endless. Apparently, President Bush has taken notice while flipping the channels.

"So a lot of people here in the White House compound have been really looking forward to seeing Peyton Manning," Bush said Monday on the South Lawn. "They wanted to see a guy who gets more air time than I do."

The good-natured poke came as Bush welcomed another championship team to the White House: The Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in a pounding rainstorm last February to become Super Bowl champs. On Monday, players basked in the sunshine below the South Portico, as Bush hailed them for ignoring naysayers and playing as a well-balanced team.

As he usually does at these events, Bush played up the theme of perseverance. He liked that the Colts fought through ups and downs.

"Isn't that what life is about, isn't it really?" Bush said. "Through the ups -- it's easy to fight hard in the ups. It's when the downs come that you've got to be a fighter."

The team's coach, Tony Dungy, became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. Long one of the most respected figures in the National Football League, Dungy coped with the suicide of his son, James, in late 2005. Bush alluded to that.

"He is a man who has used his -- a position of notoriety to behave in a quiet and strong way in the face of personal tragedy that has influenced a lot of our fellow citizens," Bush said of Dungy, who stood next to him on stage. "And I want to thank you for your courage."

The Colts are used to getting showered with attention. More than 93 million people watched the Super Bowl. Yet the team's players and executives seemed awed to be at the White House, and they didn't hide it.

Players pulled out personal cameras to get photos with Bush. They did the same with another political star and football fan who showed up for the ceremony -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Earlier, players visited injured troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Manning, Dungy and a handful of others also got a 20-minute tour of the Oval Office from Bush.

"Winning the Super Bowl a few months ago was probably about as special as you could get," Manning told reporters after the White House ceremony. "But I'm not sure you could actually beat what's happened here today."

As for all those commercials, Manning said he's used to getting ribbing from teammates. All Bush did, he said, was provide "more ammo for the offensive line to have some fun with me."

Monday, April 23, 2007

CIA Should Get Eric Volz Out Of Prison - Falsely Accused Because He's White

I just saw a very disturbing CNN Anderson Cooper 360 segment on Eric Volz, an American doing business in Nicaragua who was arrested and then convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, even though ten witnesses, phone records, and other evidence have cleared him of being a suspect.

I could not believe the Nicaraguan kangaroo court came to the wild verdict and sentenced him to 30 years -- 30 years -- in jail! It's one of those television shows you've got to see to believe. It's shocking the injustice.

After watching this, I came to the conclusion that President Bush should send the CIA in to get him out of jail and bring him back home. The Nicaraguan crowd of poor people wanted him jailed because he's White apparently, even though evidence points to three other men, and not Volz.

There's website called "Free Eric Volz" that is up and a lot of articles written on this. But there is this moving post written by Eric after #134 days in jail (April 7th) that must be read:

April 4, 2007

Eric Update: Day # 134 in prison

A letter from Eric:

It has been some time since I have been able to get word out to tell everyone supporting me how I am doing and what is happening from my perspective.

I'm in a maximum-security prison about 20 minutes outside of the capitol city of Managua called "La Modelo." My mother has established a good relationship with the warden and he has been very kind, allowing me to visit with her and my step-father on a regular basis. As you can imagine, these visits have been invaluable in terms of being brought up to speed on all that is taking place as a result of my conviction. I have received a complete update on what is happening around the globe on my behalf. The amount of support and energy going into freeing me from this injustice is simply incredible. From a grass roots My Space campaign, letters to senators, international media, people praying and fasting, You Tube video, and all the awesome letters of encouragement and support, my sprits are greatly lifted and my strength has been miraculously restored. Your all are breathing for me! THANK YOU ALL FOR GETTING MY BACK ON THIS ONE!!! I'm eternally grateful and feel like the richest man on earth!

I have worn a small thread necklace with 2 small square ornaments for the last 5 years without every taking it off. A priest, in Jalisco, Mexico, in a very mystical experience, gave it to me. He told me as long as I took care of the necklace it would protect me. I grew superstitious of the piece and felt like it provided me with some sort of divine protection. I know it might sound silly to some, but I figured it was a harmless fantasy. It has survived 5 years of doing what guys do and the thing is still there as strong as ever. Needless to say, it really freaked me out when on my third day in prison after my arrest I noticed that one of the ornaments had fallen off. It was a sure sign that what lay ahead was not going to be pretty. After over 130 days in prison my necklace has taken a beating like never before. The water we have to bathe in seems to have somehow discolored the thread.

Last week after I was told about all that was being done on my behalf, I came back to my cell glowing, and decided I would restore the necklace. I utilized a combination of candle wax, the tag from my Nike gym shorts, some yellow thread and needle. It is not as 'stylee' as before, but it has taken on a new life, as have I, and symbolizes my life force in the face of this new chapter.

The best analogy I have come across for being locked up here is that it's like being buried alive. It is like having a cave collapse around you leaving just enough room to breathe and touch your toes. At first you are shocked and terrified. Time and space come to mean something totally different than before. You sleep a lot in the beginning. It is almost like a body function similar to hibernation that activates to deal with the extreme trauma. When you are asleep, you're not imprisoned.

The physical and mental claustrophobia sets in hard and never lets up. I reached a point where I had no choice but to turn and face it, let it cut deeply, let if ferment, and then I was able to transcend the new references of time and space. At this point it becomes a state of mind called "doing time."

I have buried myself in books, I meditate and pray, I live in my head and feel very centered. My spirits rise and fall. I refuse to join a gang. I maintain my independence and only socialize when I exercise and play soccer in the gallery. Despite the hardship and loss of freedom, I am developing. I'm developing in ways that would not be possible unless I was walking this path. I see this as a test; a rite of passage. I will not be defeated and I will see each and every one of you on the free side.

A friend asked in a letter, "Where are you pulling your strength from?" The answer is - all of you are my strength. The prayers, the campaigns, the letters, the movement - without you I would be lost.

I send my deepest and purest love to every person that had read these lines.

Eric V.

Get this guy out of the Nicaraguan grip. Send the CIA and the U.S. Army. One blogger has called for the US to stop lending to Nicaragua. I agree.

Here's an update on the appeal's process. I personally think Nicaragua's a joke at this point.

An Angry Taiwanese Man On The Heels Of Virginia Tech

The Virginia Tech tragedy shed light on the problem of guns, functioning psychotics, minority isolation in America, and the Angry Asian Guy.

What was that last one? The what?

Yep. Cho Seung-Hui was totally off his rocker, we all agree on that, but a number of people also believe that something made him snap over time. That something seems to be society itself. Cho comes off as a person who's envious of anyone White or rich, plus he seems to have a fixation with White Women and a dislike for Asian Women, even to the point of openly expressing this.

I have formed the view that some -- not all -- Asian Men who immigrate over to the United States are more likely to have a fixation on White Women and an idea that White Women -- and more specifically, blondes -- are to be the objects of their desire, and are more often of the view that Asian Women should date Asian Men and not want White Guys. (By contrast, American-born Asians don't have such issues on display and have no such fixation problem.)

I've observed this behavior from time to time and remember various examples from Grad School at UC Berkeley (like the Korean student who was PISSED that Korean women were dating White Guys and not him); today, there was someone at my gym who really fit the description and in a scary way.

(Now, as a momentary aside, one could echo Chris Rock and say that most Black men seem to make Blonde women the object of their desire, but since the rate of Black out marriage in America is actually less than that of Asians, it's not the "habit" people think it is.)

Ok, it all started with a short athletic Blonde woman who was working out on one of the machines and it happened to be one that I always use. Since she already beat me to the device, I curled dumbbells while waiting my turn. Ok, she was totally hot -- great athletic legs -- but not off the charts "hot" to be sure.

After a while, all of a sudden I hear this loud clanging not far from both of us but closer to me than her by far. I took a sideways glance and noticed someone lifting a barbell, but because I wasn't looking directly I could not see the person.

The person making the noise kept up the banging of weights and finally I did get a look at the noise maker. He was an Asian man with glasses who looked to be in his early 30s or so. But since I was concentrating on my workout and -- ok -- taking a look or two at the woman, I could have cared less about the guy.

Well, he continued the annoying act of letting the weight he was lifting hit its support frame hard, resulting in a loud bang. The more he did it -- and this was several times -- the more I moved away from him. I then realized he was trying to get the attention of the woman, and seemed real frustrated in the process, getting up from the weights, dancing around a bit as if to the tune on his iPod. So, what did I do?

I talked to her. I asked her if something was wrong with her back and about the way she was using the gym machine, as I could learn something.

Well, as this was happening I overheard the Asian man talk to a White Guy he obviously knew and who was nearby working out as well. But what he said to this man was not pleasant.

He said "Americans are stupid" and went on a general rant about people here and other matters I frankly tuned out from hearing because it was terrible. He sounded angry. He mentioned that he was from Taiwan and "We're different."


Then the hot Blonde White Chick moved on to another area, after showing me her way of using the machine, and then the Asian guy basically stopped being loud. He got up and looked for another place in the gym to workout another body part area. It was the most amazing display of what I contend is sexual frustration channeled to anger about America.

But it was also scary. In the dark light of Virginia Tech, I can't help but look at anyone fitting the behavioral profile of Cho Seung-Hui differently. That person does not have to be Asian, but does have to express, well, what I saw today.

Regarding what seems to be an wild focus on Whites on the part of Asians, I would hope that our diversifying society would make this less likely over time. It can be taken to dangerous extremes with unfortunate results.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Steve Bornstein, CEO Of The NFL Network

All a Part of Its Vision

On Thursday night, word will come from a production booth in one of those studios, a signal will be shot to the sky and Bornstein's NFL Network will broadcast the first of eight Thursday-Saturday league games. It's a bold new venture for the league and the network, though not one that is without its tribulations. The NFL Network is not on three of the country's largest cable companies as they resist what they see as the league's heavy-handedness.

"If somebody else had done it, it would be great," Bornstein said. "But no one has done it. Right?"

The world he oversees is changing every day, faster than anyone in sports could have imagined. And a television network is only a small part. While this year the NFL will bring in $3.73 billion in television deals alone, there is another potentially more lucrative universe out there still mostly untapped, and it involves the Internet, cellphones and iPods. For want of a better term, the NFL calls this "new media" and has pinned hopes on its money-making promise.

It is Bornstein who must take his new network, sift through the haze of this wired planet and find a way to intertwine it all.

In 1980, when Bornstein was in his late 20s, he was brought to Bristol, Conn., to help a four-month-old sports network named ESPN grow. For the next two decades, he oversaw much of the station's development, first in the programming department and ultimately as an executive at ESPN and ABC through the 1990s. It was a stunning rise, that in some ways left those around him agape as ESPN blossomed beyond their wildest dreams.

"Clearly, Steve was somebody for whom the status quo was unacceptable," said John Wildhack, ESPN's senior vice president for programming, acquisitions and strategy, who was with Bornstein for much of the company's surge. "He kept asking, 'How do we do this better? How do we take calculated risks? How do we differentiate ourselves?' "

Peace and Prosperity

When the NFL first approached Bornstein in 2002, after a brief run as president of ABC television, there was no network, just a vision of something the league's 32 team owners felt was necessary yet did not know how to do. To build it they wanted someone who had created a network before, someone who would make their place unique. Bornstein was the obvious choice.

He said he sees a lot of similarities between those early days at ESPN and this new venture. Both have that unrestrained feeling, where every idea is wrought with head-tingling excitement. "Everybody has that razor focus," he said.

And yet when you get past the thrill of starting something that has never been done before, this remains a football network. And a professional football network at that. Unlike ESPN, where the borders stretch from Australian rules football to Sunday morning fishing shows, the NFL Network must live in a more confined world. Even as Bornstein constantly tries to point out that they are a "lifestyle network," not a football network, there is only so much football you can show.

Bornstein points to the exorbitant amount of money CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN have paid to televise NFL games, repeats some of the anecdotal evidence of how networks have struggled when they dropped football and promises that no matter what next year's top-rated TV show might be, its ratings won't exceed that of the Super Bowl.

"There's no league that's been more successful in any way you measure that success than the NFL," Wildhack said.

But part of the reason for the NFL's triumph is the fact it has been mostly untroubled by labor strife. While baseball, basketball and hockey have been hit with crippling strikes and lockouts, pro football has sailed along, making billions of dollars. That bliss was tested this past spring when an unusual development occurred in the latest negotiation with the NFL Players Association: the owners bickered more with themselves than they did with the players.

The owners of the smallest-revenue teams felt they had fallen far behind those of the biggest money-makers. And even though all the teams equally share the league's enormous television and licensing contracts in addition to being restrained by a firm cap on player salaries, the disparity was showing itself in other ways. Franchises in bigger markets could generate money from suite sales that smaller-market teams couldn't touch.

Ultimately, they came up with a compromise. The players would receive at least 60 percent of every team's revenue, which created a bigger pool for the salary cap. But it caused a problem for the lower-revenue teams like the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, which might see 70 percent of their intake going to player salaries while the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins would be spending only 60 percent. So to try and make up the difference, they agreed that the 15 highest-revenue teams would pay equally into a pot totaling $30 million to be redistributed to the 17 poorest clubs.

It only adds up to a couple of million for each small-revenue franchise. But at the same time the owners agreed that the 15 larger teams would also give up their profits from the league's new media ventures and share that money with the smaller-market teams as long as those small-market clubs dedicate at least 65 percent of their revenue to player salaries.

This is a confusing, but potentially significant clause.

As it stands now, the owners may take an option that allows them to blow up this latest labor deal in 2009, in part because some of the small-market teams still feel left out in the new contract, unsure how a trickle of money from the richer clubs is going to help them catch up. A potential solution -- and it could be a bit of a long shot -- is if there were a sudden flood of money from new media.

"It could be if new media was something substantial," said Bill Prescott, the Jaguars' chief financial officer.

Yet how much is substantial? No one really knows because no one has a grasp on exactly what new media are going to bring in, partially because the league is only starting to cut deals in this world, signing contracts for podcasts and cellphone telecasts. Just last month, the owners voted to operate the league's Web site,, themselves. Previously CBS SportsLine held the contract.

"We hope that that [new media] will be a real contributor and hopefully it will ameliorate some of that" big-market/small-market tension, Jeff Pash, the NFL's executive vice president, said recently after testifying before a congressional antitrust hearing. "And also by bringing it in house we can keep that revenue as a league asset and share it equally among the 32 teams as opposed to having yet another revenue source that exacerbates revenue disparities between teams."

Or as Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said, "If [the media money] is coming from a league-owned asset, then it will be easier to cut it up and give it to the smaller market teams rather than to just take it from the higher-revenue teams."

The burden of this hope falls on Bornstein. He scowls at the suggestion of new media as a solution for the league's future labor woes, partially because he is dealing so much with the unknown. He is fond of saying "my crystal ball is no better than anyone else's," but his expertise is in running networks, not solving league labor disputes. Maybe using cellphones as a way to broadcast games or deliver breaking NFL news is a great idea. Maybe it isn't. Time will tell.

Still he feels it's important to slowly collect these technologies, hire people to develop them and see what they have.

"The league has always been really prescient about getting this stuff right and not be the first one in," Bornstein said. "I think they got it right."

It's a delicate balance. The NFL needs its revenue quickly to try and fill some of the gulf between big- and small-market owners, yet its instincts say not to grab too fast.

"There's going to be peaks and valleys and some acceleration and deceleration [in new media]," said David Katz, the head of sports and studios at Yahoo!, which currently streams NFL games on the Internet overseas. "The NFL has proven to be the best at exploitation and management of their assets. I have no doubt they will continue to be good at what they do."

League Leverage

In a way, Bornstein and the NFL are perfect for each other. Both are audacious, assured and accustomed to getting their way. "With Steve you always knew where he stood," Wildhack said.

So it probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise that in the last television deal, Bornstein and the NFL pulled eight games from the Sunday afternoon lineup and said they were going to place them on Thursday or Saturday and put them up for bid. The Outdoor Life Network (now called Versus) reportedly offered $400 million for those rights. An outlandish sum, if you think about it. But rather than take the easy money, Bornstein and the league decided to put them on the NFL Network, a move that league officials believe drove up the price of the other network's bids.

By putting its own games on TV, the league has leverage, something it has never been shy about using. A few months ago, with the games in hand, it turned to the cable companies and reportedly said the price per customer for the network would rise from 20 cents to 70 cents. The cable companies balked and a fight ensued that has left the NFL Network off three of the country's major cable systems -- Time Warner, Cablevision and Charter, meaning almost all of New York City will not get Thursday night's Denver-Kansas City game, barring a last-minute deal. Bornstein said such a development is unlikely.

The dispute with Time Warner surrounds the company's insistence that it put the network and the games on an expensive sports tier of service that would cost extra for subscribers. The NFL wants to be on the standard tier.

"We would certainly like to carry the network, we have a number of football fans," said Time Warner spokesman Mike Harrad. "But because of the price it's a niche-type service."

What Bornstein won't say, but some league officials will confide, is that the NFL is sure it can win a stare-down with the cable companies. When Thursday night comes and New York can't get the game, the NFL figures enough fans will be so outraged that Time Warner will come crawling to the bargaining table.

Likewise, the two bowl games the NFL Network is showing (the Texas Bowl on Dec. 28 and the Insight Bowl on Dec. 29) are not part of a strategic plan to show college football in the future, a league source said. Rather, the hope is a school from one of the markets served by a holdout cable company will be in the game. And when fans find out they can't watch their beloved State U in its bowl game, the cable operator will be besieged with angry calls.

It's a gamble, but one the NFL is willing to take, figuring fans will have to take sides. Either they choose the league with the highest ratings or the local cable company that is often a monopoly. The NFL thinks it can win that fight every time.

Even if the crapshoot doesn't pay off, the NFL Network has already won. It has managed to take a piece of the lucrative market that its games produce, it has already forced itself onto many of the country's cable systems as well as both its top satellite providers and it has subtly forced football further into the American consciousness.

Rich Eisen, the NFL Network's main anchor who worked seven years at ESPN, knew the NFL Network had changed ESPN when he turned on his old station on the night of the NBA draft in June and ESPN was doing a program ranking the NFL's pass defenses -- just minutes before the NBA's draft.

"I had to look at the bottom of the screen to be sure it was ESPN," Eisen says. "When I was at ESPN, I would say in April, 'We should be doing something on the NFL,' and they laughed at me. Now on the night of the NBA draft, they were doing the best pass defenses in the NFL. We have definitely challenged them, no question."

In his office, Bornstein talks about the station he has built from nothing and about how it will help feed the Internet, cellphones, iPods and whatever else has yet to be invented. He calls these connections "pipes." And he knows these pipes, when filled, and under the NFL's control, have the real potential of making his bosses in the NFL very, very happy.

"I'm a guy that likes winning, right?" he said. "One way you can measure this is: can you make money? I've found personally that's where I can excel."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Eric Steinbach has abdominal surgery

Browns' Steinbach Has Appendectomy
Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND -- For the second straight year, the Browns' top free-agent acquisition has undergone surgery before playing one snap.

Offensive lineman Eric Steinbach underwent an appendectomy Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic and was released from the hospital Thursday. The Browns say he will make a full recovery and be ready for June minicamp.

Dr. Anthony Miniaci, the team's head physician, said Steinbach will be limited in the Browns' offseason strength and conditioning program for the next three to six weeks.

Steinbach, who spent his first four seasons with Cincinnati, signed a seven-year, $49.5 million contract with Cleveland in early March.

The Browns, needing to repair an ineffective and unstable offensive line, have spent big money in free agency the last two seasons, signing the top free-agent lineman available.

Cleveland signed Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley to a six-year, $36 million contract last season. While blocking on a running play in summer training camp, Bentley tore a tendon in his knee when planting his foot. Following surgery, he got a staph infection, which caused further damage to the tendon.

Bentley needed a second operation just one month after the first to clean out the infection and fix the damage it caused to his tendon. He was hospitalized for more than one month at the Cleveland Clinic.

Bentley's status is unclear for the upcoming season and his injury is possibly career-threatening.

The Browns on Thursday also signed restricted free agent nose tackle Ethan Kelley to a one-year contract. Kelley played 11 games, including one start at left defensive end, and had 22 tackles.

Mike Vick Gives $10,000 for Va. Tech Families

Vick Gives $10,000 for Va. Tech Families
By Associated Press
April 18, 2007, 11:03 PM EDT

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has teamed up with the United Way to donate $10,000 to assist families affected by the massacre at Virginia Tech, his former school.

"When tragic things like this happen, families have enough to deal with, and if I can help in some small way, that's the least I can do," said Vick, who played for the Hokies before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Falcons in 2001.

The Vick Foundation is collecting donations from local communities in both Atlanta and Virginia that will be placed in the United In Caring Fund for Victims of the VA Tech Tragedy and the special fund at the United Way of Montgomery, Radford and Floyd counties, which serves the Virginia Tech area.

Vick's foundation said the money will be used to provide help with funeral expenses, transportation for family members and other support services.

Todd Sauerbrun wins contract Grievance against Patriots

Sauerbrun Wins Grievance Against Pats
By Associated Press

BOSTON -- Punter Todd Sauerbrun won his grievance against the New England Patriots on Wednesday and is now a free agent.

The 13-year veteran is expected to join the Denver Broncos. He agreed to a one-year deal with them earlier this month, but the Patriots matched it through a clause in his contract with New England. Sauerbrun had signed with the Patriots last December and punted in the playoffs.

Sauerbrun, with the help of the NFL Players Association, contended that the clause was inappropriate because it was not written separately from the contract itself, a requirement for right-to-match deals. A special master in Boston ruled Wednesday that the Patriots erred, thus freeing Sauerbrun.

His deal with Denver was worth more than the $1.395 million he was scheduled to make with the Broncos last year. Sauerbrun started the 2006 season with Denver, but lost his job while serving a four-game suspension for using the banned dietary supplement ephedra.

Sauerbrun has a career punting average of 44 yards, with a net average of 36. He made the Pro Bowl three straight times, between 2001 and 2003, when he was with the Carolina Panthers.

Sauerbrun said he knowingly took an over-the-counter weight loss product last summer that he strongly suspected contained ephedra, which the NFL banned after the death of Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer during training camp in 2001. Players are randomly tested and can be suspended after the first violation.

That drew the ire of Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who said the punter is the only player on the team who can be fat as far as he was concerned.

Sauerbrun, who packs 215 pounds on his beefy 5-foot-10 frame and who was fined by the Panthers for eating too much, said at the time he worries about his weight all the time.

He also said he especially regretted letting down Shanahan, who gave him a fresh start after a trouble-filled stint in Carolina, and that he hoped he could make it up to him someday. He might get that chance soon.

Virginia Tech - Asian Men Ignored In News Coverage?

I found this interesting post on a forum called Asians, Inc. that speaks for itself. It's a demonstration of why it's good to have different racial and ethnic points of view, something all but forgotten by the mainstream news media.

Hey all. I'm usually posting about positive stuff but I just felt compelled to write about the Va Tech shooting from the perspective of an asian male.

First thing I like to say is that I feel for the victims and their families and I've posted my condolences on other sites. That was my first reaction.
My second reaction was that guns should not be in the hands of lunatics leading to the deaths of great people. Which led to my third reaction was how great these people are and that they deserved better.

Then as I continued to watch and learn more about the madman I kept seeing his picture. I don't get on the media for covering this madman for however long they want to. I just get the feeling that subliminally the viewers will have a link between this madman's profile and other asian men. I was kind of hoping that the reporters would interview a few asian men who attend Va Tech just to show that we are not like this madman in any way shape or form.

I also watched 360 on CNN when they interview his roommates. They talked about his unusual behavior and how they tried to get him to be more social. I thought those were good roommates since they were very patient with him. They also described him as being shy and quiet. When they said that, an alarm went off in my head as a natural reaction. I too am shy and quiet but in no way as sick as that madman. They also mentioned that he was a loner and didn't talk to many people. That also describes me but that's only because I feel more at peace not always being around people all the time.

I also listened on WWOR, a radio station in NYC, the Joey Reynolds show. He had on a Korean comedian who is running for councilwoman in New Jersey I believe. When the Rabbi who was also a guest on the show mentioned that the Va Tech shooting happens partly due to the madman not being able to get out his frustration in a positive way the Korean lady said that all Korean men are like that. Then the Rabbi totally shot down her prejudice about Korean men by saying that men of all backgrounds are usually non communicative. I'm Vietnamese but I know plenty of Korean guys who are very communicative and as pleasant as can be.

In conclusion(not that this is some college essay), I feel the media should give more positive news not just about asian men but in general. I know I'm going to continue to be myself and not change too much about how I behave.

Please feel free to comment on what I wrote and keep it intellectual.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Video Of Cho Seung-Hui's Rant Before The Second Virginia Tech Shootings

This is the video that was sent to NBC News by wacko killer Cho Seung-Hui before his second killing spree in Virginia Tech.

Bill O'Reilly Is A Sick Man - Ok's Tommy Thompson's Anti-Semetic Remark

Tommy Thompson made a dumb comment. So why is Fox's Bill O'Reilly protecting him?

This is sick! O'Reilly defends this politician because he's White and Catholic. And he does this in the face of the Virgina Tech murders, where it's clear that the killer has problems that were brought to the surface by racial isolation.

I dream of the day O'Reilly's taken off the air. He spreads hate amoung those who are White who can be swayed by him.

Thompson says making money 'part of Jewish tradition'
Republican presidential candidate later apologizes

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson told a Jewish group Monday that earning money is "part of the Jewish tradition," a remark for which he later apologized.

"I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money," Thompson told the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. "You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition. ... "

Later, he added: "I didn't (by) any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances. ... What I was referring to ... is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that."

Thompson spokesman Tony Jewell said the former Wisconsin governor, who is Catholic, was sorry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech: Lets take a breath

It has a little over thirty-six hours since the first shot was fired on the Virginia Tech campus. The horrors that will hopefully always remain unfathomable to me littered websites with bold headlines.

As I try to keep up with the details through work and conversation, it becomes painful to see the media torrent that has already surrounded the tragedy. For all of us glued to the television and computer screen, in anticipation and hope for reason or excuse, let us just morn the loss of life.

It is becoming far too apparent that blame is being placed as quickly as news vans are being scattered across Virginia Tech's campus. There is ample time to find motives and debate gun control. We will seek out the tragedies heroes, those who selflessly gave their lives for others, and those who could have saved lives by quick action. But lets save all that for next week or at least tomorrow. For now, lets forget about the news cycles and developments and just light a candle for those lost.

Virginia Tech - Cho Seung-hui - 23-year-old VaTech Student, English major Is Shooter

• Police ID shooter as 23-year-old resident alien, English major
• Police say one of the guns recovered was used in both shooting incidents
• At least two professors among the dead in Virginia Tech massacre
• Officials: 33 dead, including gunman, in Norris Hall and dormitory shootings
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BLACKSBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- The gunman who killed 30 people at Virginia Tech's Norris Hall before turning the gun on himself was student Cho Seung-hui, university police Chief Wendell Flinchum said Tuesday.

University officials said they were still trying to determine whether Cho was responsible for an earlier shooting at a dormitory that left two dead.

However, Flinchum said ballistics tests show that one of the two guns recovered at Norris Hall was used at Norris and at the dorm, both located on the 26,000-student campus. (Watch police disclose new information about the shooter )

Authorities are still investigating whether Cho had any accomplices in planning or executing Monday's rampage, Col. Steven Flaherty of the Virginia State Police said.

"It certainly is reasonable for us to assume that Cho was the shooter in both places, but we don't have the evidence to take us there at this particular point in time," Flaherty said.

Cho, a 23-year-old South Korean and resident alien, lived at the university's Harper Hall, Flinchum said. He was an English major, the chief said.

Cho was a loner and authorities are having a hard time finding information about him, said Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations.

A department of Homeland Security official said Cho came to the United States in 1992, through Detroit, Michigan. He had lawful permanent residence, via his parents, and renewed his green card in October 2003, the official said.

His residence was listed as Centreville, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

The university and police are still in the process of releasing the names of the 32 people killed in Monday's shootings. (Watch how some are asking why warnings weren't issued sooner )

"What went on during that incident certainly caused tremendous chaos and panic in Norris Hall," Flaherty said, describing how victims were found in four classrooms and in the stairwell of the school's engineering science and mechanics building.

Virginia Tech Shooting Murder - Photo Timeline

This is from USA Today. Click right on the photo to enlarge it.

Virginia Tech Shooting Murder - Web 2.0 Gives Us A Unique View

The Washington Post covers the role of cell phones and other video recorders in the coverage of the Virginia Tech Shooting Murder as well as the ability to upload the digital information to a website for view by many people.

Perhaps one day the technology and use of it will become so widespread that a crime will be thwarted because of their use. I certainly wish that were true in this case.

Dana Perino's Mistake - President Bush's Position On Gun Control Not Relevant To Virginia Tech

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino made an enormous mistake in going into detail regarding President Bush's position on gun control in light of the Virginia Tech Shooting Murder .

Perino went on to quote the President's position as stated in Texas. Well, things do change and I think in this case, she should have engineered an "out" position for him.

I think she should have explained that "Now is not the appropriate time to discuss the President's position on gun control." But what she said made him and the administration sound careless and not caring about the victims of this horrible nightmare.

Virginia Tech Shooting Murder - Part One

This is the most terrible thing I've ever been alive to be aware of. There's more news. The video's below.

Gunman Kills 32 in Virginia Tech Rampage
SUE LINDSEY | AP | April 16, 2007 11:32 PM EST

BLACKSBURG, Va. — A gunman massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history Monday, cutting down his victims in two attacks two hours apart before the university could grasp what was happening and warn students. The bloodbath ended with the gunman committing suicide, bringing the death toll to 33 and stamping the campus in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains with unspeakable tragedy, perhaps forever.

Investigators gave no motive for the attack. The gunman's name was not immediately released, and it was not known whether he was a student.

"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."

But he was also faced with difficult questions about the university's handling of the emergency and whether it did enough to warn students and protect them after the first burst of gunfire. Some students bitterly complained they got no warning from the university until an e-mail that arrived more than two hours after the first shots rang out.

Wielding two handguns and carrying multiple clips of ammunition, the killer opened fire about 7:15 a.m. on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston, a high-rise coed dormitory, then stormed Norris Hall, a classroom building a half-mile away on the other side of the 2,600-acre campus. Some of the doors at Norris Hall were found chained from the inside, apparently by the gunman.
Two people died in a dorm room, and 31 others were killed in Norris Hall, including the gunman, who put a bullet in his head. At least 15 people were hurt, some seriously. Students jumped from windows in panic.

Alec Calhoun, a 20-year-old junior, said he was in a 9:05 a.m. mechanics class when he and classmates heard a thunderous sound from the classroom next door _ "what sounded like an enormous hammer."

Screams followed an instant later, and the banging continued. When students realized the sounds were gunshots, Calhoun said, he started flipping over desks for hiding places. Others dashed to the windows of the second-floor classroom, kicking out the screens and jumping from the ledge of Room 204, he said.

"I must've been the eighth or ninth person who jumped, and I think I was the last," said Calhoun, of Waynesboro, Va. He landed in a bush and ran.

Calhoun said that the two students behind him were shot, but that he believed they survived. Just before he climbed out the window, Calhoun said, he turned to look at the professor, who had stayed behind, perhaps to block the door.

The instructor was killed, he said.

At an evening news conference, Police Chief Wendell Flinchum refused to dismiss the possibility that a co-conspirator or second shooter was involved. He said police had interviewed a male who was a "person of interest" in the dorm shooting who knew one of the victims, but he declined to give details.

"I'm not saying there's a gunman on the loose," Flinchum said. Ballistics tests will help explain what happened, he said.

Sheree Mixell, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the evidence was being moved to the agency's national lab in Annandale. At least one firearm was turned over, she said.

Mixell would not comment on what types of weapons were used or whether the gunman was a student.

Young people and faculty members carried out some of the wounded themselves, without waiting for ambulances to arrive. Many found themselves trapped behind chained and padlocked doors. SWAT team members with helmets, flak jackets and assault rifles swarmed over the campus. A student used his cell-phone camera to record the sound of bullets echoing through a stone building.

Trey Perkins, who was sitting in a German class in Norris Hall, told The Washington Post that the gunman barged into the room at about 9:50 a.m. and opened fire for about a minute and a half, squeezing off about 30 shots.

The gunman first shot the professor in the head and then fired on the students, Perkins said. The gunman was about 19 years old and had a "very serious but very calm look on his face," he said.

"Everyone hit the floor at that moment," said Perkins, 20, of Yorktown, Va., a sophomore studying mechanical engineering. "And the shots seemed like it lasted forever."

Erin Sheehan, who was also in the German class, told the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, that she was one of only four of about two dozen people in the class to walk out of the room. The rest were dead or wounded, she said.

She said the gunman "was just a normal-looking kid, Asian, but he had on a Boy Scout-type outfit. He wore a tan button-up vest, and this black vest, maybe it was for ammo or something."

Students said that there were no public-address announcements after the first shots. Many said they learned of the first shooting in an e-mail that arrived shortly before the gunman struck again.

"I think the university has blood on their hands because of their lack of action after the first incident," said Billy Bason, 18, who lives on the seventh floor of the dorm.

Steger defended the university's conduct, saying authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus.

"We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur," he said.

Steger emphasized that the university closed off the dorm after the first attack and decided to rely on e-mail and other electronic means to spread the word, but said that with 11,000 people driving onto campus first thing in the morning, it was difficult to get the word out.

He said that before the e-mail went out, the university began telephoning resident advisers in the dorms and sent people to knock on doors. Students were warned to stay inside and away from the windows.

"We can only make decisions based on the information you had at the time. You don't have hours to reflect on it," Steger said.

Some students and Laura Wedin, a student programs manager at Virginia Tech, said their first notification came in an e-mail at 9:26 a.m., more than two hours after the first shooting.

The e-mail had few details. It read: "A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating." The message warned students to be cautious and contact police about anything suspicious.

Edmund Henneke, associate dean of engineering, said that he was in the classroom building and that he and colleagues had just read the e-mail advisory and were discussing it when he heard gunfire. He said that moments later SWAT team members rushed them downstairs, but that the doors were chained and padlocked from the inside. They left the building through an unlocked construction area.

Until Monday, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history was in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, when George Hennard plowed his pickup truck into a Luby's Cafeteria and shot 23 people to death, then himself.

The massacre Monday took place almost eight years to the day after the Columbine High bloodbath near Littleton, Colo. On April 20, 1999, two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

Previously, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history was a rampage in 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower and opened fire. He killed 16 people before police shot him to death.

Founded in 1872, Virginia Tech is about 160 miles west of Richmond. With more than 25,000 full-time students, it has the state's largest full-time student population. It is best known for its engineering school and its powerhouse Hokies football team.

The campus is centered on the Drill Field, a grassy field where military cadets practice. The dorm and the classroom building are on opposites sides of the Drill Field.

President Bush offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia, saying the tragedy would be felt in every community in the country.

After the shootings, all campus entrances were closed, and classes were canceled through Tuesday. The university set up a spot for families to reunite with their children. It also made counselors available and planned an assembly Tuesday.

Police said there had been bomb threats on campus over the past two weeks but said they had not determined a link to the shootings.

It was second time in less than a year that the campus was closed because of a shooting.

In August, the opening day of classes was canceled when an escaped jail inmate allegedly killed a hospital guard off campus and fled to the Tech area. A sheriff's deputy was killed just off campus. The accused gunman, William Morva, faces capital murder charges.

Among Monday's dead was Ryan Clark, a student from Martinez, Ga., with several majors who carried a 4.0 grade-point average, said Vernon Collins, coroner in Columbia County, Ga.

At a hastily arranged service Monday night at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Susan Verbrugge gazed out at about 150 bowed heads.

"Death has come trundling into our life, a sudden and savage entity laying waste to our hearts and making desolate our minds," Verbrugge said during a prayer. "We need now the consolation only you can give."

After the service, Clark's friend Gregory Walton, a 25-year-old who graduated last year, said he feared his nightmare had just begun.

"I knew when the number was so large that I would know at least one person on that list," said Walton, a banquet manager. "I don't want to look at that list. I don't want to.

"It's just, it's going to be horrible, and it's going to get worse before it gets better."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Web 2.0 Expo - Web2Open Better Than Keynote

Ok. I'm sitting here listening to an interesting conversation about to what degree one can expose a part of their body over the other. Note, I'm using my ears.

The conversation is part of something called Web2Open and it's quite interesting. For example, what's taking place now is a discussion over the First Amendment -- free speech. There's parts of this conversation I simply can't print, but it's

What can a person say online? If this happens on a privately owned social network, what can be done? My almost-a-lawyer response is that if what happens in this "private space" impacts millions of people, it's no longer really private. Thus, it is subject to a set of laws that goes all the way back to Rylands v. Fletcher and the underpinnings of what became the Coase Theorem.

The reason I wound up here is I was in line to go into the regular Keynote Speech, but because -- unknown to me -- I had an "Expo only" badge, this woman, who I'm a little aquainted with as she's in my video on Aimee Allison, didn't even bother to cut me a break, she just told me to get out of the line. It's easier to spot me as I'm one a few Blacks here. But still the, eh, person could have really given me a break.

But in a way I thank her, because if it were not for that, I'd have never sat down at Web2Open.

Sitting In An Overcrowded Room 2016 At The Web 2.0 Conference!

Yep. I'm at the Web 2.0 Expo and I'm sitting on the floor of an overcrowded conference room with an all-too-slow web connection.

Part of the reason for the overcrowded condition is the topic: "Profit From The Long Tail By Tapping The Invisible Crowd." The other part of the reason for the crowd is the other event didn't have a description of what it was all about. Plus, this and the other event can be attended by anyone with a tag, and since I paid just $100 rather than a grand, I'm here as are a LOT of other people.

The topic itself is interesting...and wrapping up. I'll write more about it in a bit.

I'm also trying to get my Mac to "talk" with my cell phone, but when I go through the procedure, I get my phone...and five other phones.


More soon!

Broncos Release LB Al Wilson

Broncos Release Linebacker Al Wilson
AP Sports Writer

DENVER -- Broncos linebacker Al Wilson's heart tells him he can still play football. His neck is a different story.

The Broncos released the five-time Pro Bowl player Friday because of a combination of injury and salary cap concerns. Wilson, who injured his neck against Seattle on Dec. 3, was scheduled to make $5.2 million in base salary this season.

A Broncos spokesman declined comment and an e-mail to Denver general manager Ted Sundquist wasn't returned.

Wilson, who was informed by the team Thursday night he'd be cut, had no bitter feelings toward the team.

"My time is up as a Bronco," the eight-year veteran said. "It's time to move forward and try something else. You have to do what's best for your organization, just like a Fortune 500 company. Sometimes you have to let good employees go."

Wilson has been the defensive captain for the last six seasons. He led the team in tackles last season with 113.

However, he was plagued by injuries in the second half of 2006. Wilson hurt his neck running into teammate Gerard Warren on a tackle against the Seahawks and had to be carted off the field as the crowd gave him an ovation and chanted his name.

And while he played the next three weeks, Wilson didn't participate in the season finale against San Francisco due to thumb and back injuries. The loss knocked Denver out of a playoff spot.

"I've had a great time here," Wilson said. "I feel like I've got a few more good years in me, too."

He was nearly dealt to the New York Giants earlier this spring. However, he failed a physical and the Giants backed out of the trade.

"I was looking forward to a new opportunity," Wilson said. "There are 31 other teams out there."

But his neck remains a concern. Wilson won't play again until doctors clear him. Wilson claims doctors say his neck is getting better.

"If I can get medically cleared, hey, I'm going to go out and play," Wilson said. "I feel like I still can play. It's not about the money. I'll only get out there and play if I'm healthy."

Peter Schaffer, Wilson's agent, wouldn't discuss the exact nature of Wilson's neck injury.

Wilson played the following week after he injured his neck against division rival San Diego. Asked if he came back too soon from the injury, he paused as his eyes stared at his folded hands.

"Maybe I should've sat out a week or two," Wilson said. "The competitive nature in me, I wanted to compete."

Wilson had a good parting conversation with Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on Thursday.

"I wish him nothing but the best," Wilson said.

Yet there's still the side of him that wants to prove cutting him was a bad decision.

"You definitely have that in the back of your mind," Wilson said. "You definitely want to prove people wrong. You want to go out and show people you can still compete. If I'm able to get back out there, and the doctors say I can do it, you'll see me out there flying around."

Wilson was the undisputed leader in the locker room and even spoke at the funerals for cornerback Darrent Williams and running Damien Nash. Williams and Nash both died in the offseason at age 24.

The fact Wilson was a no-show at the Broncos' offseason conditioning program in early April was taken as an ominous sign by teammates. Cornerback Domonique Foxworth took the Broncos shopping Wilson around as a wake-up call.

"It tells you everybody is expendable in this business," Foxworth said at the time. "I don't think anybody in this organization will say that we're better off without his personality around. For whatever reasons they felt we'll be better off going in a different direction."

If Wilson's neck injury prevents him from playing again, he said he's at peace with his accomplishments. He has 21.5 career sacks and five interceptions.

"I have no regrets," said Wilson, the Broncos' first-round pick in the 1999 draft out of Tennessee. "I gave them all I had. I can walk away with my head held high."

Schaffer thinks Wilson's tenure in Denver will one day be rewarded.

"I believe he's done enough to have No. 56 on the Ring of Fame someday," Schaffer said of the ring around Invesco Field that honors former players and administrators. "That's immortality right there. He's definitely a player who's earned that right."

But Wilson isn't ready to close the door on his career just yet. Neck willing, he still wants to play.

"It's time for a change," he said of his release. "I'm not sad. I'm not mad. I'm looking forward to the next step."

Will Shields Retires from Football

Chiefs Guard Will Shields Retires
By Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City guard Will Shields is retiring after 14 NFL seasons, during which he made a record 12 Pro Bowl appearances and anchored one of the top offensive lines in the league.

The 35-year-old announced his decision on his Web site --

"The decision to hang up my cleats has not been an easy one to make for me, but one I knew I would eventually have to make," Shields wrote. "Today, I am letting everyone know that I am putting away my pads."

Shields, who made a team-record 224 starts, made his 12th Pro Bowl appearance last season to tie the record held by Minnesota guard Randall McDaniel.

The Chiefs had been waiting for Shields to decide whether he would come back for another season. Making the announcement entirely without warning on his Web site seemed in keeping with the privacy he has closely guarded throughout his stellar career. A team spokesman said Sunday night the club was not aware of Shields' announcement.

Shields strongly contemplated quitting after the 2005 season.

Shields' agent, Joseph Linta, did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.

"We haven't spoken with Will regarding his future plans," Chiefs spokesman Bob Moore said. "I'm sure in due time we will speak if that's the path he takes.

"Without question, Shields has been more than a good player. He's been a major figure in the community. There's no doubt that whatever decision he makes, he will continue to hold that position."

On his site, Shields thanked fellow players, coaches and his wife and children.

"I am looking forward to a future filled with sports in mind," he wrote. "Whether it is in the stands, on the sideline, in the press box or in an office -- football will remain in my blood. My best wishes to all and I hope to see you soon. Thank you again, for all your support."

Shields was a third-round draft choice out of Nebraska in 1993 who quickly developed into one of the best players at his position.

Quick and agile for a 300-pounder, Shields led the way Pro Bowl runners Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.

For several years, he teamed with Pro Bowl left tackle Willie Roaf, Pro Bowl left guard Brian Waters and Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez to form one of the best blocking units in the NFL.

Roaf retired abruptly just before the opening of training camp. It's possible that only Waters and Gonzalez will remain of the great Chiefs line of a few years ago because center Casey Wiegmann, an 11-year veteran, is also contemplating retirement.

Shields' absence, although not unexpected, is certain to leave a big hole in the offensive line as the Chiefs give second-year quarterback Brodie Croyle the chance to compete for the starting job.

Shields also has been active in community affairs, but never used his work in that area to raise his own profile. He created the "Will To Succeed" Foundation in 1993 and dedicated it toward improving the lives of abused, battered and neglected women and children.

"Every day I count the blessings that have been bestowed upon my family and me," he wrote.

"Each day I am thankful that I was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and think of all the people who have supported the team, our family's foundation, and me. This community is like no other when it comes to support. Fourteen years sure fly by when you get to do what you love. The love for the game never decreased but, as the years passed, the physical requirements of the game became harder to fulfill each and every day. If it was up to me I would play football forever but, as we all know, that is unrealistic.

"However, I do hope to always be connected to the game in some capacity."

To Say that Will Shields was a Good Player is like saying That Paul Brown or Vince Lombardi were good coaches. it's an understatement! The Prototypical Offensive Pulling Guard in College, he more then outdid himself in the pros. Guess the Chiefs are really looking for OL help now.....

President William J. Clinton - Clinton Foundation Speech In San Francisco - Video

President William J. Clinton – Bill Clinton – appeared before 2,000 people at a reception for the Clinton Foundation at the Fairmount Hotel in San Francisco. An event which raised $200,000 for his organization. (The video that accompanies this is the only one online with the full speech Clinton gave that night.)

He gave a short – for him – speech about giving. He says that this event is part of a global movement toward lifting citizen power to do public good without holding office, where people are donating to World causes at levels not seen in history. "Warran Buffet’s gonna give away 98 percent of all his money. Bill Gates already gave $35 billion,"President Clinton said.

"The Internet," he said, "has made it possible for people of modest means, if they agree on one thing, to change the World." President Clinton said the Internet made it possible for the Bush / Clinton Katrina Fund to generate $1.2 billion in America alone.

President Clinton also pointed to the rise of "NGO’s" or "Non Governmental Organizations "around the world for the rise in global donations to causes. They are the organizations like the Gates Foundation giving money and directing it to solve problems around the World. There's a half million NGOs in Africa and China, each.

President Clinton himself was able to negotiate a dramatic price reduction in medicine for AIDS in developing countries. In America he’s working to combat the problem of childhood obesity and promoting economic empowerment.

President Clinton explained that we must work to achieve positive works from our interdepence. "We’ve still got to figure out how to live with our differences, "he said.

“I want you to talk to people about what you did tonight, "he said.

Senator Hillary Clinton did not appear on stage, but she was there according to a security agent I talked with.

For more information, visit the Clinton Foundation website at

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Chicago Is U.S. 2016 Olympic Bid Candidate -

My sweet home town has always shown a "can-do" attitude and it's what I love and take from it, and is still within me. I'm so proud of Chicago. It will win the World Bid, and show the World what Chicago's really all about! Wooo!

Chicago Is U.S. 2016 Olympic Bid Candidate By Close Vote
Posted 9:04 pm ET (

It was not necessarily a landslide, it was a “very, very close vote”, said U.S. Olympic Committee officials following the announcement that Chicago would be the U.S. candidate in its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Patrick Ryan, Chicago’s bid committee chairman said, “it’s just beginning. It’s a long road”.

USOC chief executive officer Jim Scherr said, “this contest ultimately is not about the economics, it’s not about the surplus, it’s about the magic that can be created through the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and how that by itself can transform a city, can transform a nation, can transform the world. And so we look forward to trying to earn that prize”.

Before opening a sealed envelope that revealed the winning city USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth said it was a very tough decision. He said, “if I had all the power – and sometimes people accuse me of that – I would take the map and merge the two cities because I’ll tell you what: If you could take the mayors of these two communities and have them run our country, we would all be better off”.

Chicago’s plans call for a $1.1 billion lakefront village that would be built near the convention centre just south of downtown. The lakefront plan was repeatedly mentioned as a key factor, reports the Associated Press.

USOC international vice president Bob Ctvrtlik said, “for the Olympic Games to be a success we have to recreate a certain magic, a certain celebration centre, and the waterfront location, right on the lake, we felt could do that”.

He added, “the legacy projects, coupled with the guarantees they have offered, I believe gave our board a level of assurance that might have been the differentiation between the cities”.

At a press conference following the announcement Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said it was an honour to be chosen to partner with the USOC to bring back the Olympics to the United States. He called L.A. a great city - “they put us through our paces. We will support each other”, adding “2016 here we come”.

Daley admitted he was “very, very nervous” until he heard the name Chicago.

Ctvrtlik said the USOC will work very closely with the city. “It will be a full time partnership this time. It wasn’t so in 2012” (when New York was the U.S. candidate).

When asked how they would do it differently from New York he said, “this is a new day, this is about partnership. We’re a different USOC”.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called Los Angeles’ bid an effort “that we’ve very, very proud of” and a “fair process”. He said he wouldn’t change anything about L.A.’s bid if he had it to do over.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement thanking the Los Angeles team for its efforts saying he would like to congratulate the city of Chicago “which I am confident will do an outstanding job representing the U.S. and ultimately prevail in this competition”.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don Imus - Problem Of White Racism Masked By Talk About Black Rappers

The Don Imus matter has opened a sore in American society and demonstrated to me that racism still exists and more to the point White Racism. In fact, this form of mental illness is so persistent that those who either practice is or support those who do have worked to steer the focus away from the identification of and reduction of White Racism and on to ....Black rappers.


What's all the more upsetting is that Jason Whitlock and Carol Swain -- both Black writers -- have allowed their own self-hate of Blacks to spill over into their appearance on CNN and The Today Show to talk not about White Racism but Black Rappers.

And in Jason's case, his Black self-hatred even caused him to treat a Black family at the Las Vegas Airport like they were animals to be feared and challenged, rather than people who deserved respect.

I'm really disppointed in them. But the task remains -- Racism is a mental illness and White racism must be stamped out. Now, since Whites are the majority and have majority economic power, any talk of Black racism in some weird attempt to even the argument is plain nuts. Plus, Whites are 77 percent of the U.S. population. That's almost eight of every ten people. You can't argue that racism is an "equal" problem if there are more Whites and Blacks, or anyone else!

Plus, the decades past since the passasge of the civil rights amendment have seen African Americans struggle with an inferiority complex that says "You're not good enough because you're not White and were enslaved."

Both ideas are not true, but they're borne of the extreme prejudice that Blacks in America have suffered; a prejudice that comes from White Racism. It's not a Black problem or a White problem; it's our problem.

Lest you think this division between Black and White views is not along color lines, research Technorati by typing in "Jason Whitlock" and reading the difference. Many African Americans don't like what Jason wrote, whereras many Whites do. It's a wake up call for those who think America's grown. It's got a long way to go. Also, it's was shown in a recent study that Whites react more negatively to Blacks than to Whites.

The seeds of what drive Don Imus to make the comment he did, are right there. This pattern of thinking must be unlearned or the problems that stem from it will continue.

Also, by writing this, I'm not referring to everyone who's White or Black, so don't even try to water down the argument with that presentation. Anyone an everyone knows there's a problem.

There's not so much Black racism as Black anger over White racism. Thus, when White Racism is eliminated, Black anger too will go away. You can bet on it.

What Don Imus said was pure White Racism. In an effort to deflect the blame from him, he threw up the Black Rapper claim and those who are White jumped at the device Don Imus himself crafted to defend himself. Now they had something to fight back with and turn the matter away from White Racism.

And that's sick, because we're still stuck with the problem of White Racism. The one best way to eliminate it is diversity. Diversity must be a new public policy objective. We must retrain the people of America to expect this, to walk in room full of Blacks or Whites and ask why there are not more different kinds of people in the room? This should be our objective. I certainly know it's mine.

I also know its the objective of many people, White, Asian, Latino, and on. It's just not a matter of national importance and it should be, plus you've got White conservatives like Tucker Carlson launching senceless rants against it when they get the chance.

Now that's one guy I'd love to debate; I'd make him look ridiculous.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock At War With His Own Black Community

Read: Problem of White Racism masked by talk about Black Rappers.

Jason Whitlock's an African American columnist for the Kansas City Star. On the 12th he wrote an article blaming Don Imus' words on the "problem" created by Black rappers.

That's stupid.

What bothers me about Jason is he's on shows basically attacking the all-too-easy target of the Black rapper , while leaving every White racist and White rapper without blame.

Look, it's plain dumb to compare Don Imus obvious racial gaffe to Black rappers. The real problem is that there are people who are White and Asian and Latino who feel that it's OK to make fun of and essentially be hurtful to those who are Black because they are Black.

Those people who do this will use any reason available to justify their words of hate, including pointing at Black rappers as "creating the climate". (Hey, to blame hundreds of years of racism on a 17-year old kid is pretty silly when you think about it.)

But it take a stupidly-reasoning person to help them point the finger and thus let them off the hook.

That's what Jason Whitlock is trying to do.

As I do my research on Jason, it turns out that he's pissed with all Blacks -- I guess including himself -- because he had a bad experience at the airport leaving the NBA All Star Game. Here's what happened:

"The whole All-Star Weekend just put me on edge; it left me in a sour mood. I can't deny what I saw.

When I arrived at the Vegas airport Tuesday afternoon, All-Star Weekend gave me one final kick in the stomach, and I'm not talking about the long lines at the Southwest baggage check-in.

I stood in line for 75 minutes in the Southwest A boarding group. I was fourth in line behind three elderly white people (ages 60 to 75). They beat me in line by three or four minutes. The A, B and C groups were all filled an hour before the flight's scheduled departure.

Twenty feet away from where we all waited in line, a middle-aged black woman (45 to 55), what appeared to be her two sons (22 to 30) and an elderly black man (60s) all sat together and randomly slept, ate and talked.

When it was time to board the flight, the group of four stood, approached the elderly white woman standing in front of me and told her, "We're second in line. That's my bag on the floor."

The elderly white people were obviously intimidated. I wasn't and told the group they were crazy, and they needed to head to the back of the A boarding group and get in line behind all the people who stood for an hour.

Of course, they disagreed. I walked over and told the Southwest boarding agent to fix the problem. He witnessed the whole thing and came over and told the group they needed to move to the back of the A group. Words were exchanged between the agent and the group.

Eventually, and I'm not making this up, one of the young men told the agent that this was racism and they were being to asked to move because they were black. The other young man said that people like me were the reason black people couldn't get ahead.

The rest of the story is boring. I bring the story up to illustrate the mindset that has infected some of us in the black community."

What bothers me about this is that Jason's using a bad experience with a group of individuals who are Black to cast a bad light on all who are Black, and then gets on national television to spread his hatred of what he sees as "Black culture."

And he's Black. He might as well be White and racist, because that classic way of acting comes from a person who's basically blocked their intellect from seeing that there are all kinds of people and that the ones he encountered were obviously not good people -- period, end of story.

But it's not because Jason's telling of the story calls his own behavior into question. It reads -- he told the Black family they were "crazy" -- like Jason has such a weird chip on his shoulder with other Blacks that he as much caused the confrontation at the airport, whereas he could have been the sooth-saying voice that made a bad situation good and gained new friends in the process.

Nope. Jason would rather fight Blacks he views as holding a stereotype. I know this kind of person, because I was that way once. It's a terrible way to be and I was called on it by a neighbor when I was 17-years old. I felt bad, because I'm emphathic enough to be able to feel someone elses pain, especially when I'm the cause of it.

I can't at all say Jason's like that. He was even disrespectful to CNN contributor Amy Holmes, who's Black and female. She's making a point, and he just laughs dismissively while she's talking.

And Jason's talking about Black men being disrespectful to Black women?

Nice demonstration, dude!

There are some of us who think that to have and gain White friends -- and be paid at a position owned by a White-controlled media company, let's be honest -- means pointing hateful fingers at other Blacks who aren't "refined like they are." I'm serious. Jason comes across as that kind of person. Heck, he might find it weird to know that some of us drive
Hybrid Cars!

I've moved far beyond my teens, and learned that I can and do have good friends of all kinds, and don't have to sellout Blacks who aren't "like me" to get them.

I hope Jason sees this, and as they say "Check's himself before he wrecks"....Us!