Thursday, April 16, 2009

Afghan Women Protest Marriage Law

From yesterday’s New York Times:

“About 300 Afghan women, facing an angry throng three times larger than their own, walked the streets of the capital on Wednesday to demand that Parliament repeal a new law that introduces a range of Taliban-like restrictions on women, and permits, among other things, marital rape.”

These women deserve enormous kudos for braving the insults (“Whore!” “Dog!”) and rocks hurled at them from crowds of angry men (and women).

And they have almost certainly put their lives at risk. One prominent women’s rights activist was shot dead last week after receiving death threats.

This law directly contradicts the Afghan constitution which states that men and women have “equal rights and duties before the law.” International outrage led President Karzai to order a review of the law, though rights groups are concerned that the review will not be independent, because those leading the revision process are conservatives Shiites.

According to one conservative Shiite, women who protest against rape are merely ignorant of Islamic law:

“Afterward, when the demonstrators had left, one of the madrassa’s senior clerics walked outside. Asked about the dispute, he said it was between professionals and nonprofessionals; that is, between the clerics, who understood the Koran and Islamic law, and the women calling for the law’s repeal who did not.

“It’s like if you are sick, you go to a doctor, not some amateur,” said the cleric, Mohammed Hussein Jafaari. “This law was approved by the scholars. It was passed by both houses of Parliament. It was signed by the president.

The religious scholars, Mr. Jafaari conceded, were all men.”

Men who trade women’s rights for votes.

Fan files suit over ‘God Bless America’ incident

Benjamin Kabak

Ever few months, the Yankees’ continued playing of “God Bless America” and their enforcement of the song uncomfortably creeps back into the news. We discussed this topic nearly two years when The Times got wind of complaints about the Yanks’ ushers’ behavior during the song, and last year, Bradford Campeau-Laurion made headlines when police ejected him from the stadium for going to the bathroom as the song began.

Yesterday, on the eve of the opening of new Yankee Stadium, Campeau-Laurion and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Yankees, the City of New York and the New York Police Department for their actions during that August 26 game.

The complaint — available here as a PDF and now sitting on the docket of a judge from my alma mater — alleges a variety of Constitutional, federal and state law violations. Campeau-Laurion contends that police aggressively evicted him from the stadium when he got up to the go to the bathroom. The police contended in August — and reiterated to The Times’ Sewell Chan — that Campeau-Laurion was anything but civil.

While the facts focus around that incident, the causes of action focused around the general policies of the Yankees and their use of Paid Detail cops in enforcing it. The complaint alleges First and Fourteenth Amendment violations. Specifically, the NYCLU contends that the Yankees are violating fans’ First Amendment rights by abridging fans’ rights to freedom of religion and freedom of political speech.

The case also claims rough treatment on the part of the cops in violation of Campeau-Laurion’s Fourth Amendment rights. Allegedly, one of the officers, after forcibly ejecting the fan from Yankee Stadium, told him to “get out of the country if he didn’t like ‘it.’”

In addition to compensatory damages, Campeau-Laurion is asking for the the federal court to issue an injunction stopping the Yanks from enforcing their No Movement policy during “God Bless America.” As a law student and Yankee fan, I’ll be following this case. I wonder how the various parties will respond.

And a postscript: If the Cubs’ series is any indication, Kate Smith and “God Bless America” made the trip across 161st St.

A note on comments: I realize this is a politically sensitive topic. I didn’t express my views on here, and I know that Yankee fans will come down on both sides of this issue. Debate the story, but do it respectfully. Don’t attack anyone’s political beliefs. Everyone is entitled to their own views and opinions.

Eastern Quarterfinals Game 1: Rangers 4 - Caps 3

It’s first to “four,” not first to “one.”

It’s first to “four,” not first to “one.”

Repeat after me… it’s first to “four,” not first to “one.”

Hey, Peerless? It’s also a three-period game, not a one-period game.

OK, ya got me there. If you’d have told me that after the first period the Caps: a) out-shot the Rangers 14-4, b) out-hit them 16-11, and c) won 11 of 15 draws, I’d have told you that the Caps: a) led after one period, b) had the Rangers on their heels, and c) had the crowd really into it.

The fact is, the game was scoreless after one period, the Rangers started to shift the momentum at the end of the period, and the crowd wasn’t quite as over the top as we might have expected.

That hits statistic is especially revealing. After tenderizing the Rangers relentlessly and remorselessly for 20 minutes, the Caps… stopped. And that was a metaphor for the whole evening as the Rangers ended up spotting the Caps a goal before winning Game 1, 4-3 last night.

After the Caps put up those 16 hits in the first 20 minutes, they registered only 11 for the last 40 minutes of the contest. And that was merely a reflection of the comparative listlessness that the Caps displayed in letting the Rangers off the hook.

Much will be made of the fact that Jose Theodore allowed four goals on 21 shots – certainly the fan reaction on the post-game radio show indicated that Theodore was, at best, the worst goaltender ever to have strapped on pads in the history of earth. But Theodore suffered from two things last night, neither of which were in his control. First, he is listed – generously, we think – at 5’11”. Why is that important? Because the Rangers did a good job of picking corners over his shoulders. The second Ranger goal by Nik Antropov and the game-winner from Brandon Dubinsky were scored in that fashion.

Second, despite the Rangers getting only 21 shots, the Caps did not play a very good game of team defense in front of Theodore. What unfolded was precisely the sort of thing that was described in many pre-game reviews of this series – the Caps spent such a portion of their effort on the attack that it leaves the goaltender having to face good scoring chances from the opponent frequently. Markus Naslund’s goal could fall into that category, as could Dubinsky’s, for that matter.

We won’t argue that Theodore played a good game – he didn’t, and he admitted as much in the post-game. But he didn’t get a lot of support in front of him at crucial moments, either.

Which brings us – speaking of that support in front of him – to Jeff Schultz. There probably isn’t a person in the Washngton metro area who feels worse about what happened on the Dubinsky game-winner than Schultz. Small consolation. He took a bad angle on Dubinsky, fell when Dubinsky cut back against the grain, and could only watch as Dubinsky skated in with Markus Naslund and only Mike Green back. Dubinsky picked the top corner, and that was that.

Then there was the fourth goal, which was actually the first of the night for the Rangers. If you only saw the end of the play, you might ask, “how is it that Scott Gomez got so open to skate in alone on Theodore?” Well, rewind the tape. What you’ll see is that Sean Avery set a moving pick on Mike Green at the Capitals’ blue line to spring Gomez free. What we don’t understand about the play, though, is what Shaone Morrisonn was doing at the end of it. He slid across the crease to try to deny Gomez a shot, but failed – or didn’t seem to attempt – to poke the puck off Gomez’ stick. He slid completely out of the play, allowing Gomez to cut across and stuff the puck behind Theodore.

Other stuff…

- 13 shots, 28 attempts, six hits, three takeaways, and a two assists (after originally being credited with a goal that ultimately went to Tomas Fleischmann). Alex Ovechkin had a very full evening.

- 46-20 on draws. You can’t do much better against air. Perhaps more than in any game this year, the Caps did a fine job of tying up the center on the draw and having a teammate come in and control the puck.

- Two power play goals for New York…two power play goals for Washington. If the Rangers equal the Caps scoring on the power play, this is not going to end well for the Caps. For it is there that the Rangers, well, suck, and the Caps can – and have to – make Henrik Lundqvist pay.

- Yes, we get it. Lundqvist is a better goalie than Jose Theodore. The object of the exercise for the Caps was, and will continue to be, not letting this get into a goaltender battle. They can’t give up chances in their end (they did), and they have to convert the chances they get at the other end, generally by getting second shots and traffic.

- Which brings us to what is too often the most frustrating thing about this team. They get so cute on the power play, it is as if they are trying to one-up one another to see who can make the prettiest pass, when what is called for is to pound the puck into the crease and go after it. That is how Alexander Semin scored his goal on the power play last night, and you could argue that it is how Tomas Flesichmann – setting up as a screen in front of Lundqvist as Ovechkin took a drive – scored his power play goal. If the Caps are going to spin the puck around the perimeter and go for that one last cross-ice pass that seems always to be deflected by an opponent’s stick, then it’s golf in May.

- For all the talk of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi drawing Ovechkin duty, it didn’t last long (Staal ended up being on the ice for all three Caps goals). The Rangers ended up sending Wade Redden and Michal Roszival out there. That didn’t really help much either. Ovechkin was the best player (at least the best one not wearing goalie pads) on the ice.

- It took 22 games, but Viktor Kozlov finally got his first career playoff goal off a positively brilliant pass from Nicklas Backstrom.

- Mike Green had two assists, but he was also on the ice for three Ranger goals and took a delay-of-game penalty. We’re thinking he got his bad game out of the way in this one.

- Here is an ominous statistic for you Caps fans hoping for a Cup this year. In the last ten seasons, the record of the Stanley Cup winner in Game 1 of the first round?... 8-2.

Stan Fischler is already rolling out the “S” word with respect to this series, and Larry Brooks is working the Lundqvist-over-Theodore angle this morning. Fine. What the Rangers did was pop the Caps in the nose. But it’s still first to four, not first to one.

Repeat after me…”it’s first to ‘four,’ not first to ‘one.’”

Doc Rivers Tells WEEI KG Will Not Be Ready for Postseason

In his weekly interview with WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that after watching him run this morning, there was “no way” that Kevin Garnett was going to be ready to start the playoffs, and that after 20 minutes of running, he didn’t know if Garnett would be ready at any point to play in the postseason.

I wish that Doc subscribed to the Bill Belichick school of injury discussion. For weeks, Doc has been telling us that Garnett was close, that he could play if the playoffs started that day, that the team was just being cautious, and now he comes and drops this bomb just before the playoffs.

It appears Michael Holley was on the right track earlier this week when he said that he didn’t think KG would be ready for the playoffs, since nothing that Rivers and the Celtics had said regarding KG had turned out to be true. Since that has been the case, Holley reasoned, why should we believe that Garnett would be ready to play in the playoffs?

Sri Lankan troops attack rebel defenses

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked Tamil Tiger defenses in the northeast Thursday, a rebel-allied Web site reported, as international pressure grew for a new cease-fire to allow civilians to escape the fighting.

The government, which has surrounded the rebels along with tens of thousands of civilians in a sliver of land along the northeast coast, has vowed to crush the Tamil Tigers and end this Indian Ocean island nation's quarter century civil war.

The military initially denied launching new attacks on the rebels after its two-day unilateral cease-fire expired Wednesday, but the Ministry of Defense later posted a statement on its Web site announcing it had resumed the offensive and killed at least 19 rebels. There was no explanation for the government's conflicting reports.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent his chief of staff to Sri Lanka for talks aimed at getting the trapped civilians out of the war zone.

Vijay Nambiar, a former Indian ambassador, already arrived in the capital, Colombo, U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq said Thursday. He gave no details of the meetings.

Ban was disappointed that Tamil fighters refused to allow the civilians to leave during the 48-hour cease-fire, Haq said.

Ban and U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes have urged both sides to agree to a longer cease-fire to get the civilians to safety and avoid what Holmes warned could be "a bloodbath on the beaches."

"Civilians must be allowed to leave the area of violence," Haq said. "They must not be used as targets of political or military designs."

Also Thursday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the rebels' former administrative capital for the first time since government troops captured Kilinochchi on Jan. 2, the government said in a statement.

Rajapaksa earlier this week announced the two-day "pause" in fighting to commemorate the Sri Lankan New Year and allow the civilians to flee the war zone. Only a few hundred crossed the front lines.

The remaining civilians are trapped in the crowded "no-fire zone," a civilian refuge inside rebel territory the government has promised not to attack. However, the military's rapid advance reportedly has pushed many Tamil Tiger fighters into the refuge and reports have grown of fighting in the area.

On Thursday morning, government troops, helicopters and artillery attacked fortifications erected by the rebels on the edge of the "no-fire zone," the rebel-affiliated TamilNet Web site said. The site, which reported that as many as 180 civilians were killed in fighting Wednesday, said it had no immediate details on casualties.

Meanwhile, foreign diplomats pressed for a new cease-fire.

U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters in Washington on Thursday that the government should stop shelling the "no-fire zone," grant visas for aid groups and allow journalists to visit the displaced people.

The killing of civilians will not end the fighting and will "stain any eventual peace," he said.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner issued a joint statement Wednesday accusing the rebels of forcing the civilians to stay in the war zone for use as human shields against the government offensive.

The statement called on Rajapaksa to again halt the fighting.

"It is vital that a pause in the fighting should be long enough to give civilians the opportunity to leave the conflict area, and for the U.N. to build confidence amongst the population that they will be safe if they leave," the statement said.

The government has brushed off calls for a new cease-fire.

Holmes said the rebels were clearly preventing the 100,000 trapped civilians from escaping. The rebels say the civilians do not want to leave.

In recent months, the government has forced the Tigers out of much of the de facto state they ran in northern Sri Lanka.

The rebels have been fighting for 25 years to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have faced decades of marginalization by successive governments controlled by the ethnic Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.

Holmes called reports that the casualty toll in the war zone was rising once again "very worrying," and urged the government to live up to its promises not to use heavy weapons in the area. He said dozens of civilians are killed each day.

Fed to invest $13 billion in nationwide high-speed rail project

Four months after unveiling a high-speed rail plan for the United States, the federal government is now allocating money to get the ball rolling.

The White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday said it will invest $8 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and $1 billion a year for five years as a down payment to develop a passenger rail system and put the transportation policy on the right track.

Georgia is one of the states where rail corridors would be established.

Overall, the program will have 10 high-speed rail corridors that would be potential recipients of federal funding. Those lines are: California, Pacific Northwest, Chicago Hub Network, Florida, Southeast, Keystone, Empire and Northern New England. Also, opportunities exist for the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston to compete for funds to improve the nation’s only existing high-speed rail service.

“A major new high-speed rail line will generate many thousands of construction jobs over several years, as well as permanent jobs for rail employees and increased economic activity in the destinations these trains serve,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “High-speed rail is long overdue, and this plan lets American travelers know that they are not doomed to a future of long lines at the airports or jammed cars on the highways.”

There will be two types of projects for funding under the government’s plan -- create new corridors for world-class high-speed rail like that found in Europe and Japan, and make train service along existing rail lines incrementally faster.

Funding for the projects would be broken down by:

• Individual projects: Providing grants to complete individual projects that are “ready to go” with completed environmental and preliminary engineering work — with an emphasis on near-term job creation. Eligible projects include acquisition, construction of or improvements to infrastructure, facilities and equipment.

• Corridor programs: Developing entire phases or geographic sections of high-speed rail corridors that have completed corridor plans, environmental documentation and have a prioritized list of projects to help meet the corridor objectives. • Planning: Entering into cooperative agreements for planning activities (including development of corridor plans and state rail plans) using non-American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) appropriations funds. This third approach is intended to help establish a structured mechanism and funding stream for future corridor development activities.

Funds could be awarded as early as this summer, according to the government.

US to release 'torture' memos

The White House is to release several memos written while George Bush was president which authorised the harsh interrogation of detainees by in secret prisons overseas, US media reports have said.

The US attorney general is reportedly in favour
of releasing the memos

The documents are expected to include justice department memos from 2002 and 2005 approving the CIA's use
of techniques including "waterboarding" which simulates drowning, the New York Times said on Thursday.

A US federal judge ordered the release of the memos following a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, but the CIA reportedly wants sensitive information on the memos to be withheld.

The news comes as US media also reported on Thursday that the US National Security Agency had overstepped its remit in spying on US citizens in recent months.

Richard Armitage on why may have resigned over 'torture'

More Videos...
The New York Times reported on Thursday that Eric Holder, the US attorney-general, and others in the justice department, favour the release in order to distance the present government from its predecessor.

The interrogation methods have been criticised by rights groups as torture, and both Holder himself and Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, have said they consider waterboarding to be torture.

Panetta told US congress last week that the secret sites where CIA prisoners were waterboarded and interrogated by other harsh means were to be closed.

However, he said he had no intention of prosecuting any CIA employees for their role in a secret programme that was deemed legal at the time.

On Tuesday, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview that he had been continued to be mistreated since Obama came to power.

Mohammad al-Qurani told Al Jazeera's Sami al-Hajj, a journalist and former detainee, in a phone call from the facility that he had been beaten and tear gassed by guards and had been subjected to ill treatment "almost every day".

In an interview with Al Jazeera's Fault Lines programme, Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state under George Bush, said he would possibly have resigned had he known that detainees were being waterboarded.

"Torture is a matter of principle as far as I'm concerned. I hope, had I known about it at the time I was serving, I would've had the courage to resign," he said.

The CIA had admitted using waterboarding on three detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.

Obama ordered the Guantanamo prison camp closed within a year shortly after entering office and says the US will never again condone torture.

Spying claims

On Thursday, the New York Times also quoted US government officials as saying that the NSA had intercepted private emails and phone calls of US citizens beyond the limits set by US congress last year.

The agency also reportedly attempted in 2005 or 2006 to wiretap an unidentified US congressman while on a trip abroad without court permission, the paper said.

The US justice department told the Times that there had been issues with NSA surveillance operations but they had been resolved, while the NSA itself said its programmes were "in strict accordance with US laws and regulations".

However, intelligence officials said they were still investigating the extent of the NSA's practices and congressional investigators said they hope to determine if any violations of US citizens' privacy occurred, the paper said.

Susan Boyle: What's the big deal?




All these words have been thrown around pretty liberally in reference to Susan Boyle, the unassuming 47-year-old Scottish woman who bowled over Simon Cowell with her rendition of a Les Miz song on Britain's Got Talent. Her clip went viral, and next thing you know, she's got 11 million hits on YouTube and an endorsement from Patti LuPone herself on The Early Show (see clip above, and check out Ken Tucker's take here).

Not to be a grump, but am I the only one who finds this a little over-the-top and, frankly, a little condescending? Plenty of big-voiced PYTs sing their hearts out every week on American Idol (not to mention onstage in Broadway shows) without getting this kind of reaction. But Susan, because of her looks, because of the fact that people were snickering at her before she opened her mouth, becomes a sensation simply by being able to carry a tune. She has a decent voice, sure. But let's not get carried away. She's no LuPone, and her talent is only really shocking if you've already counted her out as a squawker on account of her granny hairdo and pre-fame Julia Roberts eyebrows. Once the element of surprise is gone, we're all going to be stuck with the fact that she's a capable, but by no means extraordinary singer. And is that really worth all the fuss?

What's your take, PopWatchers: Is Susan really a major talent, or are we all getting a little carried away?

NY governor introduces bill to allow gay marriage

Gov. David Paterson announced plans Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, making a political gamble that he can ride the momentum of other states that have recently allowed the practice.

The proposal is the same bill the Democrat-controlled state Assembly passed in 2007 before it died in the Senate, where the Republican majority kept it from going to a vote. Democrats now control the Senate, but opponents are vowing to make sure this one fails, as well.

The governor's approval ratings have plunged to below 20 percent, and it's still unclear how the legislation will play in the state. Paterson says gay marriage is a crucial issue of equal rights in America that cannot be ignored.

"I'm introducing a bill to bring marriage equality to the state of New York," Paterson said to applause, surrounded by leaders including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Paterson, who is black, framed the issue in sweeping terms, invoking Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe and drawing a parallel between the fight to eliminate slavery in the 1800s to the current effort to allow gay marriage.

"Rights should not be stifled by fear. What we should understand is that silence should not be a response to injustice. And that if we take not action, we will surely lose," Paterson said.

Paterson said gay and lesbian couples are denied as many as 1,350 civil protections — such as health care and pension rights — because they cannot marry.

At the same time Paterson was to announce his proposal, Sen. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, an opponent of same-sex marriage, planned to meet with religious leaders to discuss how to block the bill.

Diaz, who is an evangelical pastor, said his meeting in the Bronx was to inform Hispanics, Catholics, evangelicals and others opposed to same-sex marriage of their options to prevent the bill's passage.

Diaz also said it is "disrespectful" of Paterson to introduce the legislation in the same week that Catholics celebrated the installation of New York City Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

Paterson attended the ceremony Wednesday at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

"I think it's a laugh in the face of the new archbishop," Diaz said Thursday before the start of his meeting. "The Jews just finished their holy week. The Catholics just received the new archbishop. The evangelical Christians just celebrated Good Friday and resurrection. He comes out to do this at this time? It's a challenge the governor is sending to every religious person in New York and the time for us has come for us to accept the challenge."

NBC football broadcaster John Madden retires

NEW YORK (AP) — John Madden is retiring from football announcing, where his enthusiastic, down-to-earth style made him one of sports' most popular broadcasters for three decades.

The Hall of Fame coach spent the last three seasons on NBC's "Sunday Night Football." His final telecast was the Super Bowl in February.

"You know at some point you have to do this — I got to that point," Madden said on his Bay Area radio show Thursday. "The thing that made it hard is not because I'm second guessing, `is it the right decision?' But I enjoyed it so damn much.

"I enjoyed the game and the players and the coaches and the film and the travel and everything."

Cris Collinsworth will replace Madden, moving over from the network's studio show, NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol said. Collinsworth filled in when Madden took a game off last October.

Ebersol called Madden "absolutely the best sports broadcaster who ever lived."

Madden said his health is fine, but at the age of 73, he wanted to spend more time with his family. His 50th wedding anniversary is this fall, and his five grandchildren are old enough to notice when he's gone.

"If you hated part of it or if something was wrong, it'd be easy," Madden said.

Madden's blue-collar style and love for in-the-trenches football endeared him to fans. His "Madden NFL Football" is the top-selling sports video game of all time.

Madden is reluctant to fly and often traveled to games in a specially equipped bus.

Longtime broadcast partner Al Michaels said Madden will have a unique place in pro football history.

"No one has made the sport more interesting, more relevant and more enjoyable to watch and listen to than John," Michaels said in a statement. "There's never been anyone like him and he's been the gold standard for analysts for almost three decades."

Madden began his pro football career as a linebacker coach at Oakland in 1967 and was named head coach two years later, at 33 the youngest coach in what was then the American Football League.

Madden led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory and retired in 1979. He joined CBS later that year.

He worked at CBS until 1994 when the network lost rights to broadcast NFL games, leading him to switch to Fox. He left Fox in 2002 to become the lead analyst for ABC's "Monday Night Football" and joined NBC in 2006 when that network inaugurated a prime-time Sunday game.

Madden said that for the last several years, he waited until two months after the season to determine whether to continue, not wanting to rush into a decision. He surprised Ebersol when he told him last week he was retiring.

Ebersol flew to California on Wednesday morning and spent 11 hours with Madden, trying to persuade him to change his mind. Ebersol even offered to allow Madden to call games only in September and November and to take October and December off.

"I knew right away there was no way of talking him out of it," Ebersol said. "I knew in his voice he really thought about this."

Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

"There is one thing football fans have agreed on for decades: they all love John Madden," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "John was a Hall of Fame coach before becoming one of the most-celebrated personalities in sports. He had an incredible talent for explaining the game in an unpretentious way that made it more understandable and fun.

"John's respect and passion for the game always stood out. He was the ultimate football fan who also happened to be an extraordinarily talented coach and broadcaster."

UPDATE: Linda Hogan Slams Hulk for O.J. Comments

Linda Hogan is not pleased her ex Hulk Hogan said he "totally" understood O.J. Simpson -- who was acquitted for the murder of his wife in 1995.

"Hulk's serial cheating destroyed our marriage, our family and our future," she snaps in a statement released to "Sadly, his recent comments remind us that his definition of fair is much different than what the law dictates."
In the new issue of Rolling Stone, Hogan goes off on Linda, 48, for leaving him for "some shaggy-haired pool boy 30 years her junior."
>"I could have turned everything into a crime scene, like OJ, cutting everybody's throat," says Hulk, 55.
"You live half a mile from the 20,000-square-foot home you can't go to anymore, you're driving through downtown Clearwater [Florida] and see a 19-year-old boy driving your Escalade, and you know that a 19-year-old boy is sleeping in your bed, with your wife...." Hogan continues. "I totally understand OJ. I get it."
Linda's rep slams the pro wrestler as well.

"We have always maintained that the fear that Linda has had to live with comes from the rage and instability much too often associated with pro wrestlers," Gary Smith says in a statement. "Linda and her family are taking these recent homicidal comments seriously. Linda's attorney Ray Rafool is weighting all options necessary to protect his client."

Hulk backpedaled Wednesday by releasing a statement downplaying his comments.

"Hulk in no way condones the OJ situation," his rep said. "As part of a larger conversation, he referred to it to exemplify his frustration with his own situation."

Griffey, Ichiro reach milestones for Mariners

Now Ken Griffey Jr. truly is back. And so is Ichiro Suzuki.

Griffey hit career home run No. 613 and his 400th as a Mariner on Wednesday night in his second home game of his return season in Seattle, the surprising Mariners' 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Suzuki had two hits in his season debut following his first career stint on the disabled list, including his first grand slam in six years during a seven-run seventh inning, to tie Isao Harimoto's Japanese record with hit No. 3,085.

Griffey's fifth-inning homer off starter Jered Weaver, his first as a Mariner in Seattle in 10 years, broke a 2-2 tie. Then Suzuki, who was out due to a bleeding ulcer, golfed a full-count pitch from Jason Bulger into the right-field bleachers.

The eight-time All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder trying the record is a big deal in Japan, so big a television network there flew Harimoto to Seattle so he could see it happen.

Jarrod Washburn allowed two runs in six steady innings against his former team for yet another strong start by a supposedly failed starter, as a team remade since losing 101 games in 2008 won its sixth straight. Seattle (7-2) is off to its best start since 2001, its last playoff season.

Griffey, baseball's 39-year-old active home run leader returning triumphantly to the team that spawned his superstardom as a teen in 1989, turned sharply on a 2-1 fastball from Weaver in the fifth inning for his second home run of the year.

Griffey gave his vintage, no-doubt reaction to the solo shot: a dropped bat at his feet and long stare. He watched the ball land three rows into the bleachers beyond right-center field to give Seattle a 3-2 lead, three pitches after Endy Chavez had tied the game with a solo home run.

Weaver (1-1) allowed 10 hits and four runs in five-plus innings. He walked two and struck out two.

Giddy fans scrambled for the souvenir ball from Griffey's home run.

The crowd of about 18,516 at Safeco Field — dubbed the house that Junior built after Griffey's MVP heroics in the mid-1990s largely saved baseball in Seattle — roared as he rounded the bases. The fans kept roaring, prompting Griffey's first curtain call since returning. He emerged from the dugout to tip his batting helmet to the fans, many of whom were wearing his No. 24 jersey in either blue or white.

Back inside the dugout, his teammates mobbed him.

Griffey's previous home run as a Mariner in Seattle came on Sept. 22, 1999, off Kansas City's Jay Witasick in what was his 48th and final home run of that season. A few months later, the Mariners granted his wish and traded him to Cincinnati.

Griffey also singled in the eighth off Kevin Jepsen, before Suzuki tied Harimoto's record.

Torii Hunter hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Washburn (2-0), who allowed four hits and two runs in six innings against his former team. Hunter's homer gave Los Angeles a brief 2-1 lead in the fifth. It was Hunter's third home run in six at-bats.

Then came the heroics from Seattle's twin superstars.

Griffey was one of 12 major leaguers to wear specially designed, Dodger-blue-and-silver cleats Wednesday that featured an engraving of Robinson sliding into home plate. Robinson's uniform No. 42 was stitched on each heel.

Hunter was also wearing the shoes.

Griffey was believed to be the first major leaguer to wear 42 to honor Robinson in a game, 12 years ago with the Mariners. He just went up to the Mariners' equipment man weeks before the game and said he wanted to do it — he didn't think to ask for the league's permission because no one had done it.

The league granted permission for others to honor Robinson after that.

"I knew the family. It was just my way of saying thank you. I had no idea it would become something like this," Griffey said before the game of all players wearing 42 on Jackie Robinson Day in the majors. "There's a lot of people who wouldn't be here (in the majors) if it wasn't for him."

Will Allen Iverson Casino Ban Affect NBA Finals Odds?

Will Allen Iverson Casino Ban Affect NBA Finals Odds? Sure, Allen Iverson’s public persona hasn’t been anywhere near squeaky clean, that’s no mystery. From his infamous “practice-tantrum”, to his several arrests, to the many other incidents that have come to define him as sort of a troublemaker, Iverson and drama just seem to come hand-in-hand… so, why should things change now?

Who's going to win the 2009 NBA Finals? Can you successfully predict the winner before the start of the 2009 NBA Playoffs? Try your knowledge and smarts at's NBA Finals Odds.

Well, they haven’t as the NBA Star has recently been banned from two Detroit-based casinos: MGM and Greektown. The league’s office is now looking into a commotion at Greektown that involved one of Iverson's bodyguards.

Allegedly, the Detroit Pistons guard may have been, in fact, trying to act as a peacemaker as his bodyguard was involved in some kind of scuffle. The Los Angeles Lakers [7:4] are currently listed as the SportsOdds favorites to win the NBA Finals Odds.

Nevertheless, Iverson has been banned “mostly for his boorish behavior”. Allegedly he is “a bad loser, and he loses a lot, often throwing his chips or cards at the dealer”. He had been repeatedly warned about improper behavior in the past, as he is often “loud, disruptive, rude to dealers, other players and the wait staff”. The Cleveland Cavaiers [3:2] are presently listed with the second best Sports Odds to win the NBA Finals Odds.

According to a report, Iverson caused a disturbance at a casino outside of Minneapolis earlier this season. It is also said that he's also earned a bad reputation at Atlantic City in the past. How bad can this man’s behavior be for casinos to ban him, considering all the money he spends and losses, and with the casinos all fighting bankruptcy? The Boston Celtics [7:2] are third best in the category of Best Sports Odds to win NBA Finals Odds.

Sports Odds Home Free Sports Picks SPORTSBOOKS Compare Sports OddsSports NewsFootballRugby FootballAmerican Football Canadian Football European Footba

What is going on in the land of Arizona Cardinals with these Anquan Boldin trade talks? Is the team really talking trade on one of the leagues best receivers, albeit disgruntled receivers at that.

In 2009 NFL futures betting at online sports betting giant , the Arizona Cardinals are listed at +1800 moneyline format odds to win Super Bowl XLIV. Will the departure of Anquan Boldin, if he really goes, affect the Cardinals chances to make it to the Super Bowl.

The team first deny's Boldin is being offered then acknoledges they are listening. Well, if you are listening then you're interested. And if they plan to make a move it will probably come before the looming NFL Draft this month. With two years remaining on the pouting receivers contract, the Cardinals have some leverage room.

We have not heard any names thrown about from other teams but Boldin would be worth some good draft picks and a quality player or more.

"I think it would be foolish from our standpoint not to listen to those opportunities and see what actually exists," said Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt regarding any trade rumors. "Our position on Anquan has been sonsistent and our goal hasn't changed."

So why does Boldin want to be traded anyway? The Pro Bowl receivercomplains of being under compensated and thinks the Arizona Cardinals management no longer cares about him as a player. On March 12 of this year NFL writers were notified that Boldin was on the trading block. Then the team later denied he was up for trade. The Eagles, Dolphins and Giants have expressed interest in aquiring the talented Cardinals receiver.

Talent show singer is online hit

A 47-year-old church volunteer from West Lothian has become an unlikely overnight singing sensation with millions watching her perform online.

Susan Boyle, from Blackburn, stunned judges on ITV's Britain's Got Talent with her performance of I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables on Saturday.

Since then Hollywood actress Demi Moore has joined the legions of fans who have voiced their support on the internet.

Ms Boyle has now become the bookies' favourite to win the talent show.

Ms Boyle, who told viewers she had "never been kissed", said she had always wanted to be a singer.

She said: "I entered the competition because I wanted to have a chance at my singing.

"I found it very nerve-wracking to begin with but once I settled down and began to sing, I thought that the audience accepted me a bit more. Then I sort of relaxed and began to enjoy it.

Ms Boyle, who is currently unemployed, is a keen church-goer and community worker who is well-known for her Karaoke performances.

She said: "It all began for me at age 12, when I used to sing in choirs and school concerts. Then after that when I got older I was singing in clubs."

Hollywood fans

Her performance on Saturday has received more than 5m hits on You Tube.

Among those who have clicked to watch are Ghost star Demi Moore and her husband Ashton Kutcher.

He sent her a message on the micro-blogging service Twitter saying: "This just made my night."

Her entry read: "You saw it made me teary!"

After Ms Boyle's audition performance at Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium she is now tipped to beat 75,000 other applicants to the Britain's Got Talent prize, a chance to perform at the Royal Variety Performance.

Tom Kerr, West Lothian's Provost, said: "We would like to add our best wishes for the next stage of the competition.

"Susan has clearly wowed the audience, the judges and the world with a truly fantastic performance.

"Now tributes from across the globe are flooding in, including from Hollywood star Demi Moore.

"And with millions of hits on You Tube, Susan has put Blackburn, West Lothian, firmly on the map."

'American Idol': Matt Giraud Saved By Judges

Giraud is first contestant in show's history to avoid elimination thanks to new rule.

At last. No, not the Etta James song every "American Idol" contestant thinks is their ticket to the winner's circle. At last the judges busted out their Wednesday night, making "Idol" history by giving dueling piano player Matt Giraud a second chance after he landed in the bottom three again.

Though he didn't appear to win them over with his singing Wednesday night, there's clearly something about the Justin Timber-alike from Kalamazoo that continues to speak to the four panelists, who only had two weeks left to use the save before it ran out. The bad news? That means two contestants have to go home next week.

After a hectic night in which time constraints forced the judges to give their opinions in pairs for the first time — and the show still ran over — the elimination night felt almost breezy.

Because this week's mentor, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, is one of the show's biggest fans, it seemed he couldn't help but put his imprint on the opening of Wednesday night's show. With a doomsday showdown vibe fueled by an ominous voiceover, "Pulp Fiction"-style titles screens, quick edits and scratched-negative reels, the intro set up the elimination show as a do-or-die faceoff.

But before any drama could unfold, things got warm and fuzzy for a while. In keeping with this week's movie theme, the top seven sang the "Flashdance" classic "Maniac," with Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta taking turns flirting with the judges as the kids shimmied through a high-energy arrangement. We also got to see tape of the cast meeting Zac Efron at the premiere of "17 Again" after Tuesday night's show and watch Iraheta get a bit tongue-tied as the boys teased her about her Efron crush.

Speaking of Iraheta, who got props Tuesday night for being the girls' only hope left in the competition thanks to her gutsy take on Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," she was the first one to pass through to the next round. Though Simon Cowell didn't love Adam Lambert's cover of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," the leading contender on the show quickly took a seat as well, though Anoop Desai wasn't so lucky despite good notices from the judges for Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," landing in the bottom three for the third week in a row.

To shouts of "My sister loves you!" Kris Allen waited to find out whether viewers liked his cover of "Falling Slowly" from the movie "Once," which Kara DioGuardi labeled his best, but which Randy Jackson called pitchy. Simon, who didn't get a chance to discuss the song Tuesday night called it "brilliant," the opposite of what he said about Lil Rounds' cover of "The Rose," which sent the one-time leading contender back to the bottom three again.

That left Matt Giraud and Danny Gokey as the last two awaiting their fate, with Giraud having sung an unevenly received cover of Bryan Adams' "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman," and Gokey banking on his performance of Lionel Richie's "Endless Love," which Simon said he found boring and unoriginal. Gokey got the pass, which meant Giraud was facing the bottom three for the second time.

Looking the cellar dwellers over, Kara said the bottom three looked right to her. It wouldn't be a long trip for Desai, though, who got yet another reprieve.

With only two more weeks left to use the once-only season save, Simon said, "You know, there is one I think that I would consider saving, and it might be a surprise to that person." When pressed by host Ryan Seacrest if it was Rounds, who has come under repeated fire from Cowell, the judge said, "We'll see who it is." After a vote of more than 36 million, Seacrest sent Rounds back to the couches, leaving Giraud center stage to sing for his life.

Throwing a bit of rasp onto his usually smooth croon, Giraud gave the Adams song from the 1994 Johnny Depp/ Marlon Brando movie "Don Juan DeMarco" a bit of a country swing, appearing confident and energized as he faced down the judges. At one point, he stretched to hit a high note that he couldn't quite reach, grimacing a bit, but then ended on one of his signature clean falsettos, which brought the audience to their feet. Paula Abdul and Kara, who swayed along and clapped during the entire performance, stayed on their feet as the crowd broke out into a chant of "save, save, save, save!"

Simon asked Giraud how many times he'd been in the bottom three and then told him that the performance was not as good as the night before. "I don't see that you have really any chance of winning the competition," he said flatly, as Abdul, Jackson and DioGuardi protested, "Oh, come on!" and waved their fingers.

"Matt, we've made a decision," Cowell said. "Matt, it's good news." Giraud was swamped by his fellow contestants and burst into tears as Cowell looked on with a warm smile and warned the remaining seven, "I wouldn't be so quick to congratulate him. Number one, two people are going home next week now. Second piece of bad news, next week is disco week."

The show also featured the triumphant return of former "Idol" finalist, Oscar- and Grammy-winner Jennifer Hudson, who sang her latest single, the slinky R&B tune, "If This Isn't Love." The pre-taped segment featured Hudson unleashing some of her signature titanic vocals, providing further proof that viewers got it wrong when they prematurely voted her off in season three, a mistake that led to the implementation of this year's save rule.

Also performing on the program was Miley Cyrus, who sang her new single, "The Climb," while wearing a glittery silver ball gown on a stage enshrouded in fog.

In addition to the sounds of disco from the competitors, next week's elimination show will feature music from last season's runner-up, David Archuleta, singing his latest single, "A Little Too Not Over You," as well as disco legends Harry Wayne "KC" Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band, Thelma Houston and Freda Payne, who will perform a medley of their boogie-fever hits, including "Get Down Tonight," "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "Band of Gold."

NYC's new archbishop aims to renew church

Archbishop Timothy Dolan was installed Wednesday as the leader of Roman Catholic New York, taking the most prominent American pulpit in the church during an elaborate ceremony that drew thousands of parishioners and civic leaders to St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Known for his wit and warmth, Dolan beamed as he walked down the aisle toward the altar, waving to the crowd, hugging well-wishers and stopping to shake hands in a front pew with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson, among others who attended.

At a news conference hours earlier, Dolan said he would challenge efforts to legalize gay marriage in New York state. Paterson is expected Thursday to introduce such a bill; gays and lesbians can already marry across the border in Connecticut, Massachusetts and, later this year, Vermont.

In his sermon, Dolan lamented that the church was "ridiculed for her teaching on the sanctity of marriage." He said his goal was to revive observance in the church and protect human life, "from the tiny baby in the womb to the last moment of natural passing."

"The church is a loving mother who has a zest for life and serves life everywhere, but she can become a protective 'mama bear' when the life of her innocent, helpless cubs is threatened," he said, sparking a standing ovation. "Everyone in this mega-community is a somebody with an extraordinary destiny. Everybody is a somebody in whom God has invested infinite love."

Dolan, 59, the former Milwaukee archbishop, succeeded Cardinal Edward Egan, 77, who retired after nine years in the job. Dolan is expected to eventually be named a cardinal.

The Archdiocese of New York is the nation's second-largest diocese after Los Angeles, yet it is the most visible Catholic post in the country.

Among Dolan's predecessors was Cardinal Francis Spellman, who was so influential that his residence was dubbed "the powerhouse." Cardinal John O'Connor was the most forceful Catholic voice in the national debates of his era, especially on abortion. Dolan said in the news conference that his new job "does have an enhanced prominence that might take getting used to on my part."

Yet he appeared to revel in the spotlight of the two-day installation, which began with an evening prayer service in the cathedral Tuesday night. At Wednesday's Mass, about 150 bishops, archbishops and cardinals took part in the procession inside St. Patrick's, accompanied by hundreds of priests and other representatives of the archdiocese.

As Dolan awaited his entrance, he shook hands with police officers who were guarding the church and waved to the hundreds of onlookers kept behind barriers across the street.

"I need to see my shepherd," said Merle Paisley, a hospital worker from the Bronx who joined the crowd outside. "I need to pray for him."

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican ambassador to the U.S., read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI naming Dolan to the job. After the document was notarized, Dolan formally became New York's archbishop. When he was handed the golden crosier, or bishop's staff, a symbol of his office, he joked, "Do I keep this?"

The archdiocese covers a region with 2.5 million parishioners in nearly 400 churches and an annual budget estimated to be at least half a billion dollars.

Its vast Catholic service network includes 10 colleges and universities, hundreds of schools and aid agencies, and nine hospitals that treat about a million people annually.

Dolan faces challenges identical to those for bishops nationwide: strengthening the finances of Catholic schools and parishes as Catholics move from urban areas to the suburbs; boosting the low rate of Mass attendance and serving a growing number of Latinos and other immigrants.

He read a small part of his sermon in Spanish, calling the strong faith of Hispanic Catholics "a light for us all." He said he hoped immigrants would find the church to be the "spiritual counterpart" of the Statue of Liberty, welcoming and embracing them.

He noted the "deep wounds" of the clergy sex abuse scandal that erupted in 2002 and has cost American dioceses more than $2.6 billion in settlements with victims and other expenses in the past five decades, and pledged to continue "reform, renewal and outreach" to victims.

Dolan is a St. Louis native and the oldest of five children. He holds a doctorate from The Catholic University of America and is a former rector of the North American College in Rome, considered the West Point for U.S. priests.

Clinton gains in bid to clear campaign tab

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign committee reports it now has enough funds to pay off her campaign debt.

The committee filed finance documents with the Federal Election Commission Wednesday, reporting a total of $2.3 million in debts at the end of March, compared with $2.6 million in the bank, CNN said.

It was not clear, however, whether the entire amount would be used to even up the campaign tab since fundraising activities were continuing.

The nation's top diplomat has been steadily chipping away at unpaid campaign bills since last June when she suspended her bid for the presidency.

The debt peaked at $25.2 million, which included $13.2 million she lent her campaign from personal funds. Since she could not repay the personal loan by the time the Democratic National Convention convened in Denver in August 2008, she had to forgive that sum, officials said.

The Clinton campaign owed $6.4 million to 16 creditors at the end of November and 5.9 million to five creditors at the end of December.

The current $2.3 million is owed to one creditor, Penn, Schoen & Berland, a political consulting and polling

firm that advised Clinton during her presidential bid. The firm's president, Mark Penn, served as Clinton's senior strategist during the campaign.

Obama restates tax reform efforts

U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday used the deadline U.S. taxpayers face to file their returns to reiterate his commitment to provide tax relief.

Since the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed, "we have delivered real and tangible progress for the American people," Obama said after meeting with several families in Washington. "I am proud to announce that my administration has lessened the tax burden on working families while also restoring some balance to the tax code."

The tax cuts included in the economic stimulus plan lower taxes for 95 percent of American workers, Obama said, calling it "the most progressive tax cut in American history."

He said cuts affect 120 million families, putting $120 billion into their wallets, and saving or creating more than a million jobs.

"This tax cut also keeps a fundamental promise: that Americans who work hard should be able to make a decent living," he said.

Obama also pointed to a tax change that affects small-business owners, allowing them to offset losses for five years instead of two. Other tax modifications included in the stimulus include a college tuition tax credit, and a simplification of the federal student loan process.

In addition, "we are helping more Americans purchase homes that they can afford," including a credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers, Obama said. "This will put a home within reach for hard-working Americans who are playing by the rules and making responsible choices."

Bean-counters in Washington also identified $2 trillion in deficit reductions that can be realized over the next decade.

"Finally, we need to simplify a monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand," Obama said, "but just complicated enough for the insiders who know how to work the system."