Friday, May 29, 2009

If Myers Is Done, What Should Phillies Do?

Posted by Tim Malcolm,

I stepped away from the Phillies for a while today, since there wasn’t anything really new to write about. Yes, the offense has some bad games, especially against sinkerball pitchers and guys who … well … can actually pitch. And yes, the pitching wasn’t good last night - Brett Myers was probably hurt; Jack Taschner probably isn’t long for the 25-man roster. We know all these things.

Then the news about Myers grew worse, and now it looks as if the longtime Phillie won’t finish 2009; moreover, he might not even don a pair of red pinstripes again.

So now the question becomes: What now? Suddenly the Phillies have lost their best pitcher (statistically), leaving one bonafide ace (Cole Hamels), a probable mid-rotation seesaw (Joe Blanton), a still-unproven mid-rotation lowballer (JA Happ) and an aged veteran who hasn’t shown to be worth his weight (Jamie Moyer). Suddenly they’re - at best - a three-man staff.

It’s no secret the Phillies have been the most ambitious of gentleman callers this season. They’ve inquired about the following pitchers: Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, Roy Halladay, Doug Davis, Erik Bedard, Cliff Lee, Aaron Harang, Brad Penny, Chris Young and Jason Marquis. The names range from the elite to the broken, and everything in between. For once, though, the Phillies have the talent leverage to pull a deal. Names teams are salivating over include Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Taylor, Dominic Brown, Freddy Galvis, Vance Worley, Kyle Drabek and Antonio Bastardo. Ah, the benefits of finally having a top-shelf farm system.

But considering the circumstances of both the major league rotation and the potential dearth of pitching prospects, the Phils might need two starters via a trade. It might mean Jason Marquis now, Jake Peavy later. Or the Phillies could call up Carlos Carrasco or Vance Worley. Or they could play it safe with Kyle Kendrick or Andrew Carpenter (safe, meaning, they don’t mind making the offense score seven runs per game).

Of course, one problem the Phillies now face is every team in baseball knows the Phils need an arm, so the Phils carry no value leverage. A multiple prospect deal (say Marson, Worley and Bastardo) for a Young is very possible.

So should the Phils point their guns at a big-time pitcher right away?

I think it’s best the Phillies work with what they currently have, at least for a little while. Yes, there is only one goal: Win a world championship. There is no selling to be done. There is no resting on their hands. They must show a commitment to winning. But jumping that gun and trading for a mid- or top-line starter right away wouldn’t be wise. Instead, give Kendrick and Carrasco their chances. Yes, Kendrick has struggled, but his average against with runners in scoring position remains strong (.170, almost 100 points less than his standard average against). That seems like the old Kendrick.

Meanwhile, despite Carrsaco’s faults he remains a high-strikeout pitcher capable of going undamaged in five-to-six inning starts. Start him on a major league track now - force him to make adjustments and see if you can ride him for a few starts. If so, you’ve saved some money and gained some leverage.

Of course, it’s still possible Myers might eschew surgery and risk his hip, pitching the remainder of 2009 without surgery. That’s not wise, but if he feels okay about it, it’s his call. That said, the Phillies can’t be reactionary. They’re already naked to the rest of the league; if they can prove they have more clothes than others think, they can gain some leverage and, ultimately, help themselves out in the long run. Not just in the short term.

Can Dodgers keep on winning without Manny Ramirez?

If they can, they might just give the guy back to Boston.

The Dodgers’ run for the World Series title in the 2009 MLB baseball season is in question with the huge loss of slugger Manny Ramirez.

The dreadlocked slugger was banished for 50 games when MLB found out that Ramirez had testosterone in his body that was not natural and came from an artificial source. Ramirez said he did not take steroids and was only given medication by a doctor that contained a substance he never taught was banned.

Of course, MLB heard that one before and eventually decided to suspend Manny Ramirez anyway. A person familiar with the details of the suspension said Ramirez used the female fertility drug HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin.

Ramirez is batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs through the first 27 games of the season. The Los Angeles Dodgers have bolted to a 21-8 record and a 13-0 mark at home that has set the modern major league record for a home winning streak to start a season.

That’s BEFORE everybody found out that Ramirez was taking female fertility drugs illegally.

And now that he’s out, the question would have to be on the Dodgers and if they can survive just long enough to make a run for the title. It’ll be awfully hard to do it without Ramirez but at this point, the Dodgers really don’t have much of a choice.

Ramirez was acquired by Los Angeles from Boston last July 31 and became a fan favorite. His contract negotiations became a long-running drama during the offseason, and he agreed in early March, well after the start of spring training, to a $45 million, two-year contract that gives him the right to void the second season and become a free agent again.

I have a feeling they’d be having contract negotiations again once the season is over.

Which team will win the 2009 MLB World Series? has the odds.

Philadelphia Phillies 14/1

Tampa Bay Rays 14/1

New York Yankees 9/2

Boston Red Sox 11/2

Want more odds? Visit for more baseball betting odds. Want to watch MLB baseball live? Get MLB baseball tickets online now.

Can Nuggets beat Lakers in Game 6 to tie the series?

They have to, otherwise, it’s an early vacation and they’ll have all the time to blame the referees.

The 2009 NBA Playoffs just keep on getting better and better each day. We already know that the Cavaliers have postponed the inevitable when they defeated Orlando in Game 5 to keep their season alive. In the West, well, the Lakers on Friday have the opportunity to do what the Magic failed at in Cleveland, finish off the competition.

You read it, the NBA Playoffs continue this Friday as the Los Angeles Lakers, up 3-2 in the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals, will have a chance to return to the NBA Finals by finishing off the Denver Nuggets. However, since the Nuggets will be home for Game 6, it won’t be easy.

The Denver Nuggets need this elimination game to be played on their own floor too since every bad call imaginable in basketball was slapped on them in Los Angeles. Well, that’s what some of the Nuggets claim anyway.

According to one Nuggets player who refuses to identify himself for fear of retribution from the league, the Los Angeles Lakers paid the referees officiating Game 5 in Los Angeles to give them the game and the 3-2 advantage.

‘’The Lakers paid $50,000 to win that game. They got their money’s worth.'’

The Nuggets complaining about the officiating after losing a playoff game doesn’t surprise me since it was only a few days ago when it was the Lakers who were playing the blame game on the referees after losing to the Nuggets, 120-101, in Game 4.

Yep, the Lakers were not so happy about that one. Lakers coach Phil Jackson and the entire Lakers organization were even fined $50,000 by the NBA for complaining about the calls made in Game 4.

Game 6 should be a nice game. Hopefully, these crybabies will stop bitching and play basketball for a change.

Can the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6? Bodog sportsbook has the odds.

Los Angeles Lakers +5.5

Denver Nuggets -5.5

Want more odds? Visit Bodog sportsbook for more NBA Playoffs betting odds. Want to watch Game 6 in Denver live? Get Denver Nuggets tickets online now.

Los Angeles Lakers Denver Nuggets

Charges Against Black Panthers Dropped

WTF!!!! I wrote about this back in November last year. A bunch of baton wielding Black Panther thugs threatened, intimidated and coerced voters in Philly. It was a clear case of voter intimidation and under the Bush administration they were charged and justice was days away from being served when for no reason whatsoever, Obama's DOJ has decided to drop the freakin' charges???? Why? I want a reason why the charges were dropped.

"Charges brought against three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense under the Bush administration have been dropped by the Obama Justice Department.

The charges stemmed from an incident at a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008 when three members of the party were accused of trying to threaten voters and block poll and campaign workers by the threat of force -- one even brandishing what prosecutors call a deadly weapon."

Need refreshing on this topic? Here you go:

Defining Sonia Sotomayor, Day 2

Just about 24 hours have passed since President Barack Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve as the next justice on the Supreme Court. What's the web making of the pick? Somewhat surprisingly, the Internet hasn't exactly been a celebration of instantaneous reaction to Sotomayor's selection. All things considered, all has been relatively quiet on the web front. Are folks laying in wait for more opportune moments? Or is this nomination fight all but over before it began, pending any unforeseen revelations? Who knows. But let's do a grab bag review of Day 2 of the Sotomayor nomination.

Not Up for a Fight? Elected Republicans and their close circle of aides and allies are telling Politico that absent any significant new news about Sotomayor, they're not eager to do battle over her nomination. "The sentiment is overwhelming that the Senate should do due diligence but should not make a mountain out of a molehill...If there's no 'there' there, we shouldn't try to create one." Meanwhile, the conservative Heritage Foundation posted on their Foundry blog under the title "‘Advice and Consent’ Takes Time" that they're not prepared to rush the process: "The President hopes to have his nominee confirmed by Congress’s August recess -- an aggressive timetable. But that may not comport with the Senate’s constitutional role and responsibility." The conservative group Judicial Watch, so aggressive in pursuing the alleged wrongdoings of the Clinton Administration, put out a tepid press release saying that "If Judge Sotomayor shares Obama's activist judicial philosophy, U.S. Senators who want to protect the Constitution will have no choice but to oppose her nomination." Judicial Watch also posted Sotomayor's financial disclosure forms from 2003 to 2007.

Off-Message Retweeting. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reports that the RNC's new media director Todd Herman retweeted a Twitter note from Newt Gingrich in which Gingrich made the arguement: "Imagine SCOTUS nominee 'my experience as a white make makes me better than a latina woman' new racism = no better than old" -- a reference to a speech made by Sotomayor in which she said that the diversity of her life experience shapes her judicial approach. Sargent reports that while RNC chair Michael Steele has urged the party to avoid "knee jerk reactions," the GOP is now refusing to say whether it agrees with Gingrich's characterization.

Ad Wars. Not much is happening on the Google Ad front, as of yet. The sole Google Ad now running for "Sonia Sotomayor" is from the pro-immigrant group America's Voice. Even there, the tangential case they're making is that Sotomayor's nomination doesn't reflect all that much on the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform under the Obama Administration. Google searches for "Supreme Court Justice" don't return any ads of yet. The Washington Post reported that the Heritage Foundation was ready yesterday with an imminent Google ad buy, but they have yet to pop up.

The Video. One copy of a video clip of Sotomayor saying that "court of appeals is where policy is made, and I know this is on tape and I should never say that," has been viewed on YouTube 184,000 times since it was posted at the beginning of the month.

Doing a Deep Dive. Over on the conservative blog Hot Air, Ed Morrissey is picking over Sotomayor's record from her many decades on the court and examining the Republican pushback against her nomination to the Court of Appeals back in 1998. The New York Times has posted copies of some of her more notable court opinions, as well as the full transcript from her "A Latina Judge's Voice" lecture which has led to Gingrich's criticisms. Meanwhile, Sotomayor's Wikipedia entry is unlocked, lengthy, and largely positive.

Driving the Nomination from the White House. The Above the Law blog's David Lat has the back story on "a conference call between a senior Administration official and several reporters, to discuss the Sotomayor nomination." The White House pushed a talking point for allied groups to use in responding to critique's of Sotomayor's decision in the New Haven firefighter case: "They can't criticize her as a judicial activist on the one hand and then attack her for applying Second Circuit law on the other."

Infrastructure Building. People for the American Way has a mild-mannered press release calling on senators to conduct "a smooth, fair confirmation process." The new Coalition for Constitutional Values, which includes progressive groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, have launched; the site is centered around a new web ad that calls attention to Obama's call for a justice whose work is informed by his or her life experience. The Washington Post reports that the Latino blogosphere is gearing up for a fight, and the National Organization of Women has announced it will launch as "Confirm Her" campaign.

Analyzing Jay Leno: Why doesn't the Tonight Show host get more respect?

Forget Rodney Dangerfield; Jay Leno is the guy in Hollywood who gets no respect.

You can feel it now, even as he winds up to his last show tonight in the big chair of the Tonight Show, the greatest talk program in the history of television.

Past Tonight Show leaders are hailed as seminal figures in television: Steve Allen as the irrepressibly brilliant man of all talents; Jack Paar as the compelling, volatile storyteller; Johnny Carson as the smooth, spot-on king and kingmaker.

But how will Leno be remembered? As the guy who got Hugh Grant to apologize on air for picking up a hooker? The man who brought the Dancing Itos to pop culture history?

Part of this problem is of Leno’s own making. He started his Tonight Show hosting stint under a cloud, for the way he outmaneuvered David Letterman to succeed Carson, after establishing his career with well-regarded appearances on Letterman’s NBC show (to say nothing of the way his then-manager, Helen Kushnick, abused and alienated Hollywood until Leno had to fire her).

After that moment – exemplified by a scene in Bill Carter’s excellent book The Late Shift, where Leno secretly listened into a conference call among NBC executives about whether they would keep him as Tonight Show host – Leno was forever the backstabbing, hacky populist, while Letterman was the pained, creative talent.

Now, at a time when he should be basking in 14 years at the top of the late-night ratings, Leno faces whispers over the way he outmaneuvered NBC to take over the 10 p.m. timeslot this fall – a move that seems to undercut his successor, Conan O’Brien, while threatening the network’s relationship with its affiliates.

That may explain why this week’s farewell tour for Leno doesn’t feel like much of a goodbye. An infamous workaholic – one person who knows him told me he was so miserable during his one European vacation with his wife, Mavis, that he came home early – he won’t be off TV even half a year before his prime time return.

Imagine the impact for Leno if Carson had vaulted into prime time back in 1993, when the Tonight Show was faltering in the ratings against a resurgent Letterman and the young host’s reputation in Hollywood was at its worst? No wonder Carson never went back to his old show after retiring; instead, he visited Letterman’s show twice.

So, in contrast to Carson’s finale week, studded with celebrities and a tearful serenade from Bette Midler, Leno tonight gives us his successor, O’Brien, and singer-songwriter James Taylor.

For Leno, a guy who never met a goal he couldn’t overwhelm with his insane work ethic, this all feels like little more than a pause before he resumes his relentless campaign to outdistance his own lack of legacy by sheer force of will.

Regardless of how it all turns out, it will make for some seriously compelling television.

Piers Morgan Says Let Susan Boyle Have Her Moment

Britain's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan doesn't want the media being too harsh on Susan Boyle. Piers says, "Essentially she's a very nice middle-aged lady from a small Scottish village who is finding the pressure really tough to deal with." Piers said Susan Boyle was prepared to leave Britain's Got Talent at one point because of all the sniping. He says there is a lot of unnecessary criticism and sniping about Susan Boyle out there. Take a look.

Encouraging Signals on Settlements

I must say that I've been encouraged by the Obama administration's public stance on Israeli settlements. Obama has made it a point to emphasize that settlement growth must stop. And Clinton used even stronger language:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “He wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth’ exceptions.” Talking to reporters after a meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, she said: “That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly.”

The administration needs to follow through of course, but the forcefulness of the rhetoric is encouraging -- and suggests that the US is finally serious about playing a more constructive role in the peace process.

Ending settlement growth is a no-brainer on both policy and moral grounds. And I think most Israeli leaders recognize this (certainly most Americans do). However, as in many countries, there are domestic political constraints on the leaders' ability to do the right thing. (It's similar in this respect to our Cuba policy).

But that's where America could play a productive role. It could provide Israeli leaders with the political cover they need to do the right thing. And it's not like ending settlement growth is a controversial measure that would threaten Israel's national security. It's a land grab. And stopping it would be a meaningful commitment that could hopefully snowball into even better developments.

One last note -- the whole episode illustrates another benefit of choosing Clinton for Secretary of State. Coming from her, the strong words take on additional strength -- more so than if they had come from, say, Kerry (who also would have been an excellent SoS).

A military answer to North Korea? Not likely.

Defense Secretary Gates, off to Singapore for a regional security summit, says US sees no 'crisis' in Pyongyang's 'very provocative' display of force this week.

Washington - The US is unlikely to use its significant military presence in Asia to counter the rising belligerence from North Korea, which conducted unlawful nuclear and missile tests this week.

The US has about 28,500 troops on the Korean peninsula, including more than 16,000 soldiers guarding the "demilitarized zone" between North and South Korea. On Thursday, the US and South Korea raised the threat level there to its highest point in 2-1/2 years, in response to Pyongyang's actions.

But there are few military options to counter North Korea's move, and analysts say most of them would seem aggressive and only ratchet up the tension.

"As North Korea escalates day by day, you don't want to be provocative," says Nicholas Szechenyi, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington. The US military should sit this one out because this is a time for diplomacy, not a show of force, he says.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, en route to an annual security summit in Singapore Friday, signaled as much, saying North Korea's actions so far do not warrant sending more US troops to the region.

"I don't think that anybody in the [Obama] administration thinks there is a crisis," Mr. Gates told reporters aboard his military jet early Friday morning, still Thursday night in Washington.

"What we do have, though, are two new developments that are very provocative, that are aggressive, accompanied by very aggressive rhetoric," he said. "And I think it brings home the reality of the challenge that North Korea poses to the region and to the international community."

The missile tests, including a new one Friday, no doubt will feature prominently at the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue, which brings together Japan, South Korea, and China, among other nations. In seeking to reassure America's Asian allies, Gates will have to navigate a fine line between diplomacy and military muscle-flexing there, experts say.

"I think the military role in this is to reassure the South Koreans that we're engaged," says Chris Hellman, military policy fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a policy group in Washington. The best way to counter North Korea's bellicosity, he says, is to signal that American support of its South Korean ally is unwavering.

This week, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress that it planned to provide a $250 million upgrade to 35 South Korean F-16 fighters that would allow the deployment of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles as part of a package of upgrades, training, and equipment.

A separate contract for about $170 million for 84 missiles of different kinds will "enhance" South Korea's defensive capabilities, according to the agency.

With so many troops in the region, the US military could conduct new naval or even ground exercises as a show of power. But such exercises – typically thinly veiled chest-beating aimed at sending a message – could be seen as overly aggressive. Also, they would take months to plan.

Expanding a naval embargo would also be interpreted as aggression.

Such "moves on the chessboard" would be overly provocative at a time when the situation between the US, its allies, and North Korea is precarious, Mr. Hellman says.

North Korea has kept the Pentagon up at night for years, in part because of its mercurial leader, Kim Jong Il. Mr. Kim's focus is to ensure his regime stays intact, even as the country confronts an economic crisis that could make him all the more desperate, said Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp, the top US commander in the Republic of Korea, during a House panel hearing in March.

The military has a "contingency plan" for any security scenario, and this region is no different. Should security in the region unravel completely and North Korea attack South Korea, the US has a secret war plan called "5027" that would provide the required American troops to South Korea to ward off the attack.

"I'm absolutely confident if North Korea were to attack today, we, the Republic of Korea-US alliance, would be victorious and we would be able to execute our war plan, 5027," General Sharp said.

For now, the US military only has plans to bolster South Korea's military capabilities and leave it to American and international diplomats to sort out.

At any rate, it's important for the US to be deliberate in its response to an act of aggression that is likely to be more bark than bite, say analysts.

"It's all smoke; these guys have no cards to play," Mr. Hellman says.

Teacher from LI held in statutory rape of student

Melissa Weber, 27, of West Babylon, is escorted out of a police precinct, left. Weber is accused of a sexual relationship with a student, 14, according to police.

A woman from West Babylon is in custody on rape charges after she repeatedly had sex with a 14-year-old student after hours at the Queens school where she teaches, prosecutors said.

Melissa Weber, 27, "engaged in sexual intercourse" with the student in a second-floor classroom of MS/IS 8 in Jamaica on seven occasions between April 13 and May 14, prosecutors said Thursday.

Weber, a social studies and homeroom teacher, told the victim, "Don't tell anyone. I could get arrested and I could lose my teaching license," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a news release.

The teacher is being held pending arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on seven counts of second-degree rape, 14 counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, prosecutors said.

Things to do this weekend Brown called the charges "disturbing."

"A teacher is accused of preying on a young student who she is entrusted to teach," Brown said in a Thursday news release. "A classroom should always be a safe place for a child. The defendant is alleged to have destroyed her students' trust."

Brown said the boy's mother's learned from "sources at the school" that a teacher was "engaged in an inappropriate relationship with her son."

The mother checked her son's cell phone and "allegedly found hundreds of contacts between the teacher and her son over the last two months," the district attorney said.

One of the last texts from the teacher stated, "Erase your phone," prosecutors said.

Weber, of 1566 12th St., West Babylon, faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

There was no activity Friday morning at the small, white ranch-style house on 12th Street near Little East Neck Road where, neighbors said, she has been a tenant for several months.

Nearby residents said they rarely saw her at the house, where a white picket fence encloses a lawn and small statues of Jesus and Mary.

"She leaves early in the morning and comes home late at night," said Debbie Arpino, 57, a retiree who lives across the street, and who said she has never spoken to Weber but feels sorry for her.

"It's just really sad," Arpino said. "You never expect things like this to happen."

Josh Seidman contributed to this story.

Off-duty NYPD cop fatally shot by fellow officer

Police conduct an investigation on 125th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues after NYPD officials say an off-duty cop was mistaken for a criminal and fatally shot by a fellow officer.

An off-duty police officer chasing a man who had broken into his car was shot and killed in East Harlem Thursday night by a plainclothes officer who thought he was an armed criminal, police said.

The shooting appears to be a classic case of friendly fire, and it seems likely to raise the thorny issue of race: Officer Omar Edwards, 25, a recently married father of two, was black, and the officer who shot him was white.

Police sources identified the officer who shot Edwards as Andrew Dunton of Ridge.

Edwards, a two-year veteran who worked in the housing bureau, patrolling projects, was in street clothes and had his gun drawn as the chased the suspect, Miguel Santiago, along East 125th Street, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said early Friday.

Officers who tended to him after he was shot didn't know he was a police officer until they opened his shirt and saw he was wearing a Police Academy T-shirt, a police source said. His badge was in his pocket.

The officer who fired the six shots at Edwards is a four-year veteran assigned to the 25th Precinct anti-crime team. There were conflicting accounts about whether that officer or others with him - all dressed in plainclothes - identified themselves as police officers or told Edwards to drop his gun.

The police source said the anti-crime team was responding to a 911 call - possibly from Edwards himself - about the break-in.

"On behalf of the entire department, I extend deepest condolences to the family and friends of Officer Edwards," Kelly said at Harlem Hospital, where the fallen officer died at 11:21 p.m. "We are in the process of interviewing officers and the sergeant from the anti-crime team, as well as Santiago, the individual who we believe broke into Officer Edwards' car, to get a fuller picture of what transpired."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was also at the hospital and spoke to Edwards' wife, promised a full investigation.

"Nothing that you can ever say will bring back the deceased,'' Bloomberg said early Friday. "He was there protecting the rest of us. We will find out what happened. This is a tragedy.

"We'll see what we can learn from it.

Here's how the shooting unfolded, according to Kelly:

Edwards left his command, Public Service Area 5 - on East 124th Street - just before 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

He was done with his shift and was walking toward his car, which was parked on 2nd Avenue, just north of East 124th Street, when he saw Santiago, "rummaging through his car after having smashed the driver side window to gain entry."

"The officer struggled with Santiago, who escaped by slipping out of his sweater," Kelly said. "We believe at this point, Officer Edwards, with his gun drawn, chased the individual north to 125th Street and then east toward 1st Avenue."

Edwards had his 9-mm drawn when he was spotted by the anti-crime team - a sergeant and two officers - driving east on East 125th Street, between 1st and 2nd avenues, in an unmarked car.

"When they observed Officer Edwards with his gun out, pursuing a second man, they made a U-turn on 125th Street and drove west toward them," Kelly said.

One of those officers, Kelly said, got out of the car and fired the six shots, one bullet hitting Edwards in the left arm, one striking him in the chest. Edwards, having finished work for the night as he headed home to Brooklyn, was not wearing his bullet-resistant vest.

The officer who fired his gun did not make any statements at the scene, and the NYPD, as per policy, did not interview him because the Manhattan district attorney is first trying to determine if the case should be presented to a grand jury.

Santiago, Kelly said, has prior arrests for drugs, assault, robbery, criminal trespass and bail jumping.

On his weekly radio show Friday morning, Bloomberg said the investigation is early and part of the probe will be reviewing any security tape and interviewing witnesses who the mayor said were present "from a distance and at night.

"The bottom line is Omar Edwards is gone," Bloomberg said. He later added, "Something went horribly wrong...(it) was not a premeditated shooting by any means."

Kelly has repeatedly said the NYPD is the nation's most diverse police force and that its patrol force is comprised mostly of minority officers.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said the probe into the Edwards shooting should not depend on New York police investigators.

"This calls for federal investigation and intervention to sort out the facts and bring about a just resolve," he said in a statement Friday morning. "Can police investigate themselves fairly and impartially? It would seem very difficult at best and unlikely in fact."

Friendly fire cases have made big headlines in recent years, most famously in the 1994 case involving Officer Desmond Robinson and Peter Del-Debbio.

Robinson, who is black, was on duty and chasing two youths suspected of having guns, when he was shot four times in back by Del-Debbio, who is white, inside the Lexington Avenue subway station at East 53rd Street.

Del-Debbio, who was off-duty and heading home, put on his badge, pulled his gun and sprung into action when he saw one of the suspects drop a shotgun.

Mistaking Robinson for a gunman, Del-Debbio shot him from about 6 to 8 feet away, and was charged with assault.

He was convicted, sentenced to probation and fired. Robinson, meanwhile, forgave Del-Debbio, retired on a disability pension and settled a lawsuit against the NYPD and the city for $3 million.

In 1998, Sgt. Dexter Brown was shot in the back by Sgt. Louis Lopez and badly wounded during a buy-and-bust drug operation in Brooklyn.

The city has offered varying accounts of what happened. Brown suffered permanent damage and was forced to retire. His $31 million lawsuit is still pending.

Three years ago, another cop, Officer Eric Hernandez, 24, was shot dead in the Bronx by a fellow officer, Alfredo Toro, while responding to a 911 call about a fight at a White Castle restaurant.

At the time of that shooting, Newsday interviewed Robinson, who talked about how each friendly fire case makes him realize how lucky he was to have survived his shooting.

He also suggested fate plays a role in police work.

"There are many officers who can go 20 years without even pointing their weapons," he said. "It's hard to say who is going to be the guy who is lucky enough or unlucky enough to even be involved in a shooting."

Obama to Outline Strategy for Cyber Security

U.S. President Barack Obama is to underscore the importance of digital security Friday by outlining his strategy to protect the nation's public and private computer networks from attack.

Mr. Obama is expected to detail broad goals for dealing with cyber threats in a White House speech Friday at 1455 UTC.

A major part of the strategy will be creating the post of "cyber czar," a senior White House official who will coordinate cybersecurity efforts with both the National Security Council and National Economic Council. The president is not expected to name the new cyber czar on Friday.

Mr. Obama ordered a comprehensive 60-day review of the government's cybersecurity efforts shortly after taking office in January.

The New York Times says the U.S. Defense Department plans to create a new military command for cyberspace that will conduct both offensive and defensive computer warfare.

A Pentagon spokesman recently said the number of attempted cyber attacks has "more than doubled recently."

A report last month in The Wall Street Journal said spies, believed to be from China, used the Internet to break into a computer system containing information on the $300 billion U.S. Joint Strike Fighter project - one of America's most expensive weapons programs.

Bush misses seeing G.I.'s, White House food

— Flying on Air Force One, eating meals prepared by the White House kitchen staff and drawing inspiration from his encounters with U.S. military personnel were among things former President George W. Bush missed since leaving office, he said Thursday.

The often-tearful meetings he had with relatives of fallen soldiers were "in some ways... very hard and in some ways, it was very uplifting," the Texas Republican said in a speech to The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan at Lake Michigan College.

About eight people protested Bush's appearance outside the venue, carrying signs that called him a murderer and a traitor. The speech Thursday was one of the first made by the former president since leaving office in January.

Bush, the nation's 43rd president, spoke to 2,500 people about "the fog of war" that followed the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the economic downturn and his return to life as a regular citizen.

"It was a roller coaster of emotions, it really was," Bush said of the terror attacks. "I think about it now at times but I definitely thought about it every day as president."

He talked about the economy, blaming "a lack of responsible regulation" in the lending industry for the recession and said that the Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., or Freddie Mac, shouldn't have engaged in certain financial practices.

"I don't want to sound like a self-serving guy, but we did try to rein them in," Bush said.

He also said he believes he was right to depose Iraq president Saddam Hussein and that it may lead to the spread of democracy throughout the Middle East.

The audience, which gave Bush a warm welcome at his arrival, cheered when he said he wanted to be remembered as a president who "showed up in office with a set of principles and he was unwilling to sacrifice his soul for the sake of popularity."

Mark Brewer, chairman of the state Democratic Party, disagreed.

"I think it takes a lot of gall for him to come into Michigan without acknowledging the damage that his policies have done to the state," Brewer said. He did not offer any specifics.

OPEC looks to sustained price recovery, oil tops $66

* Oil on course for largest monthly gain since 1999 * Inventories still high
* $75 a barrel target moves closer
By Alex Lawler and Vera Eckert
VIENNA/MUNICH, May 29 (Reuters) - The biggest monthly oil rally in a decade stoked OPEC confidence higher prices would be reached before the year was out, although ministers said on Friday they were still monitoring bloated fuel stocks.
Oil rose to a six-month peak above $66 on Friday and was on course for its highest gains in a month since 1999.
OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri told a breakfast briefing the market could be at $70-$75 before the end of the year.
"If this current trend continues, this recovery as we see it coming now, I think, by year-end, we'll see prices in the range of $70 to $75 a barrel," Badri told reporters.
After Thursday's OPEC meeting, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi announced the group had decided to "stay the course" and stick with existing production targets.
He also said he believed $75-$80 could be hit this year, roughly the level producer countries have said is needed to ensure investment in new supplies.
Libya's most senior oil official Shokri Ghanem was still more bullish, predicting in an interview with Reuters on Thursday oil could climb above $85 a barrel.
The mood that has surrounded the May meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is very different from that when the group met two months ago.
In March, the price was below $50 a barrel and the fragility of the world economy made ministers anxious about weak fuel consumption and high inventories, but also wary of driving prices to levels that would destroy demand further.
Since then, growing optimism the worst economic news has past has spurred financial and commodity markets.
This month's oil rise -- approaching 30 percent, according to Reuters data -- is the biggest monthly jump since the nearly 37 percent rally of March 1999.
While bullish sentiment has encouraged buyers, OPEC has also played a major role in supporting the price.
It has kept output targets steady at its last two meetings, but in December announced a record production cut.
In all, it has promised reductions of 4.2 million barrels per day since September and analysts estimated it has delivered roughly 80 percent of those curbs.
Even so, inventories are still high and in days of forward cover equate to 62.4 days, according to the International Energy Agency, around 10 days more than OPEC considers comfortable.
Noting the stockpile, United Arab Emirates Oil Minister Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hamli said "this has been a huge crisis".
Asked when stocks would fall, he said that would happen once demand recovered and added there were already hints of greater fuel use.
"We believe there are signs of recovery in the world economy. I really don't know when demand will pick up, but the signs are there. Asia is an area of (such) signs," Hamli told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Munich on Friday.
"We are almost at the end of the second quarter. This is when the driving season begins in the U.S.," he added.
From a producer's viewpoint, oil prices are well above that required to make fields already onstream profitable, even if they are still below the cost arguably needed for the most expensive new output, such as Canadian oil sands.
"Some say prices are not high enough for investments, others are more comfortable," Hamli said.
Still mindful of last year's records of nearly $150 a barrel, which proved unsustainable and destroyed fuel demand, officials said they would temper the rally if it threatened to get out of control.
"If the prices go high and the stocks go below 52 days, I think OPEC will take a positive decision not to hinder the economic growth of the world," Badri said.
But he added he did not expect stocks to fall to that level before the end of the year or the first three months of 2010.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Leff in Singapore, Writing by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Sue Thomas

PA official: Abbas expects US pressure to push out Netanyahu

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not resume negotiations with Israel unless the Netanyahu government agrees to a complete settlement freeze and publicly accepts a two-state solution, Abbas has told the Washington Post in an interview.

And since he does not believe Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will lift his opposition on these issues, Abbas and his leadership expect American pressure to gradually force Netanyahu out of office, the paper reported on Friday. "It will take a couple of years," it quoted one of Abbas's officials as saying.

Abbas was interviewed the day before his Thursday meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama.

Setting out what the newspaper called "a hardline position," the Palestinian leader conditioned a resumption of talks with Israel on Netanyahu's agreement to a halt in all settlement building - a demand being repeatedly stressed by Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other senior US officials - and formal Israeli government acceptance of Palestinian statehood.

* Obama says Israel must stop settlement construction

Abbas added that he would not even assist Obama's special envoy, George Mitchell, in trying to encourage Arab states to begin warming relations with Israel until Israel accepted these conditions. "We can't talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognizes the two-state solution," Abbas was quoted saying. "Until then we can't talk to anyone."

However, the Washington Post went on, "Abbas and his team fully expect that Netanyahu will never agree to the full settlement freeze - if he did, his center-right coalition would almost certainly collapse. So they plan to sit back and watch while US pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office. 'It will take a couple of years,' one official breezily predicted."

Abbas, the article continued, "rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession - such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees."

Abbas intends to remain passive, he told the paper. "I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements… Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

Abbas also told the Washington Post that former prime minister Ehud Olmert accepted the principle of a "right of return" to Israel for Palestinian refugees and offered to resettle thousands of Palestinians in Israel. And he said Olmert proposed a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank, and showed him its contours on a map.

Abbas said he turned down Olmert's peace offer because "the gaps were too wide."

"What's interesting about Abbas's hardline position," wrote the Washington Post'sJackson Diehl, who conducted the interview along with a colleague, "is what it says about the message that Obama's first Middle East steps have sent to Palestinians and Arab governments." While the Bush administration placed the onus for change in the Middle East on the Palestinians, Diehl wrote, the Obama administration had shifted the focus to Israel.

The upshot, wrote Diehl, is that "in the Obama administration, so far, it's easy being Palestinian."

The Palestinians, under Bush, knew that "until they put an end to terrorism, established a democratic government and accepted the basic parameters for a settlement, the United States was not going to expect major concessions from Israel," wrote Diehl.

But Obama, with his repeated demands for a settlement freeze, "has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud."

As Abbas told his interviewers, "The Americans are the leaders of the world… They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, 'You have to comply with the conditions.'"

Diehl wrote that Netanyahu and the Likud party had not reconciled themselves "to the idea that Israel will have to give up most of the West Bank and evacuate tens of thousands of settlers" for a permanent accord. "But Palestinians remain a long way from swallowing reality as well. Setting aside Hamas and its insistence that Israel must be liquidated, Abbas -- usually described as the most moderate of Palestinian leaders -- last year helped doom Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, by rejecting a generous outline for Palestinian statehood."

Olmert's offer "was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton," wrote Diehl. "It's almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further."

Cavs still in fight

LeBron's triple-double too much for Magic in Game 5

CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers walked on the court Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena with not only their championship hopes, but also those of a region, resting squarely on their collective shoulders.

Win and live to play another day against the Orlando Magic. Lose and call it a season, one filled with records never completely validated by winning a ring.

The Cavs will return to Orlando for another game Saturday after beating the Magic 112-102. They still trail the Magic 3-2 in the best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron James posted the fourth triple-double of his playoff career with 37 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. But it was a night for a return to Cavaliers basketball. Three other Cavs starters scored in double figures, and Daniel Gibson gave the team double digits off the bench.

''That's big,'' James said. ''That's what we got all year from our complementary players. Mo [Williams] came out and was aggressive once again. Ben Wallace played strong in the post against Dwight. Daniel
Gibson gave us big minutes and made some big shots.''

Hedo Turkoglu led the Magic with 29 points and six rebounds.

There's little denying that urgency was the word of the night as the Cavs played that way from the tipoff, getting off to a quick start.

Led by Williams, who looked as if he had much to prove, the Cavs raced to a double-digit lead in the first quarter with Williams making 4-of-6 shots.

His teammates mimicked Williams, and the Cavs built the lead to 22 points. Every negative trend and tendency they'd displayed through the series disappeared — at least for 12 minutes.

Williams had 11 points, and James tossed in 10 in the quarter.

''I thought Mo was big the entire game,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ''His energy, his mental awareness was terrific running the ball game the entire game.''

As they had done time and time again in the series, the Magic came back strong.

In the second quarter, the Magic whittled the lead all the way to one point.

After shooting the lights out to start, the Cavs struggled in the second quarter, making just 6-of-16 shots (38 percent). The Magic made 14-of-25 for 56 percent.

Magic center Dwight Howard and forward Rashard Lewis led the way.

The half ended with the Cavs ahead 56-55, and a familiar sense of impending doom hit for those in attendance.

The opening moments of the third quarter only heightened that feeling. The Magic scored the first nine points before Williams stopped the run.

Williams continued to make big shots, and the Cavs quickly got back in the game. One of them came with the Cavs behind by six. Getting a pass from forward Anderson Varejao, Williams made his fifth 3-point shot of the game to cut the deficit in half.

When James made a jump shot midway through the quarter to give the Cavs a one-point lead at 68-67, the arena crowd erupted and the momentum shifted.

''Big plays were the difference,'' Williams said. ''Those are the plays that they have been making. Those big plays, those big stops, those big shots. We made them tonight.''

The Magic, however, ended the quarter leading by a point at 79-78.

Opening the fourth quarter with an 8-1 run, the Cavs couldn't quite make it easy on themselves. With the Cavs leading 86-82, they looked for the one 3-point shot to put them closer to a double-digit lead. First came a miss by Daniel Gibson. After a rebound by Varejao, Delonte West misfired on another 3-point attempt.

The Magic raced down the court, and Mickael Pietrus nailed a 3-pointer in transition that brought the Magic back within one. It served to add just a touch more drama when just a little patience might have proved to be more effective.

That's the route the Cavs took on subsequent possessions. After the Magic took a one-point lead at 90-89, the Cavs went on a 10-4 run to take a 99-93 lead. A three-point play by James, who was fouled by Howard, pushed the lead to 102-93 and sent Howard to the bench with his sixth foul.

James wasn't finished. On the Cavs' next possession, James made a jump shot to make the score 104-96 and give the Cavs some much-needed breathing room with 1:45 left in the game. It allowed them to hold the Magic at bay for the rest of the game.

''As poorly as we played, we were still there with chances to win with about five minutes to go and just didn't get it done,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.

Report: NKorea test-fires short-range missile

A news report says North Korea has test-fired another short-range missile off its east coast.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency did not provide any details about the reported launch Friday.

The launch would be the sixth short-range missile North Korea has test-fired since its nuclear test on Monday.

Officials could not immediately confirm the report.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

YEONPYEONG, South Korea (AP) — North Korea warned Friday it would take "self-defense" action if provoked by the United Nations Security Council, which is considering tough sanctions on the communist regime for conducting a nuclear test.

Tensions surrounding North Korea rose further as Chinese fishing boats pulled away from its coast, possibly to avoid skirmishes between the Koreas. But U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the situation is not a crisis and no additional U.S. troops will be sent to the region.

"If the U.N. Security Council makes a further provocation, it will be inevitable for us to take further self-defense measures," the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement called the council "hypocrites."

"There is a limit to our patience," the statement said. "The nuclear test conducted in our nation this time is the Earth's 2,054th nuclear test. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have conducted 99.99 percent of the total nuclear tests."

The North has been strident since its test — which it has also called a self-defensive measure. It did not specify what further action it was considering in response to U.N. resolutions, nor what it would consider a provocation.

Fears have increased of military skirmishes, particularly in disputed waters off the western coast, after North Korea conducted the nuclear test on Monday and then renounced the truce keeping peace between the Koreas since 1953.

The waters were the site of two deadly clashes in 1999 and 2002.

From Yeonpyeong, the South Korean island closest to the North, about a dozen Chinese ships could be seen pulling out of port in the North and heading elsewhere. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that more than 280 Chinese vessels were fishing in the area earlier this week, but the number has dropped to about 140.

It was not clear if the Chinese vessels, in the area for the crabbing season, were told by the North to leave or if they were leaving on their own for fear of clashes at sea.

"For now, it seems quiet," said local construction worker Lee Hae-un, 43. "But if North Korea provokes us with military power, I think our government should actively and firmly counteract it."

South Korean and U.S. troops facing North Korea raised their surveillance on Thursday to its highest level since 2006, when North Korea tested its first nuclear device. About 28,000 American troops are stationed across the South.

North Korea, whose 1.2-million strong military is one of the world's largest, says it is merely preparing to defend itself against what it says are plans by the United States to launch a pre-emptive strike to overthrow its communist government.

The United States has repeatedly denied any intention to attack North Korea.

In Washington, the Army's top officer, Gen. George Casey, expressed confidence that the U.S. could fight a conventional war against North Korea if necessary, despite continuing conflicts elsewhere.

But Gates, en route to Singapore for regional defense talks, tried to lower the temperature.

"I don't think that anybody in the (Obama) administration thinks there is a crisis," Gates told reporters aboard his military jet early Friday morning.

Meanwhile, talks at the United Nations Security Council over possible sanctions for the nuclear test were moving forward slowly.

Russia's U.N. ambassador said Thursday there was wide agreement among key world powers on what a new U.N. resolution should include, but said putting the elements together will take time because the issues are "complicated."

A list of proposals was sent Wednesday to the five permanent veto-wielding council members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and the two countries most closely affected by the nuclear test, Japan and South Korea.

Diplomats said a draft of the proposed resolution is not expected to be circulated until next week.

The two Koreas technically remain at war because they signed a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953. North Korea disputes the U.N.-drawn maritime border off their west coast and has positioned artillery guns along the west coast on its side of the border, Yonhap said.

Traffic at the border between the Koreas appeared to be normal. Yonhap said more than 340 South Korean workers crossed to a joint industrial complex in the North.

The two Koreas are also maintaining a communication line to exchange information on commercial vessels passing through each other's waters, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said.