Monday, June 29, 2009

Venus and Serena reach last eight

Sisters Venus and Serena Williams both eased into the Wimbledon quarter-finals with victories over Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantuchova respectively.

Defending champion Venus was leading 6-1 1-0 when Ivanovic retired with a thigh problem after lengthy treatment.

The American third seed will now play Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat 17-year-old qualifier Melanie Oudin 6-4 7-5.

Serena beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-3 6-1 and will play Victoria Azarenka after she overcame Nadia Petrova.

There was a shock on Court Four, however, as Danish ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki crashed out to Sabine Lisicki of Germany.

Wozniacki - many people's tip to go far in the women's draw - went down 6-4 6-4 and missed out on a quarter-final match-up against top seed Dinara Safina or Amelie Mauresmo.

The Dane failed to convert any of her six break-point chances as world number 41 Lisicki, who accounted for French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in round three, held her nerve to come through.

Tearful Ivanovic retires
Fourth seed Elena Dementieva was a 6-1 6-3 winner against fellow Russian Elena Vesnina and now faces Francesca Schiavone after she beat 26th seed Virginie Razzano 6-2 7-6 (7-1).

The unseeded Italian had never previously gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon but looked fully of confidence after her shock victory over 12th seed Marion Bartoli in round three and was fully deserving of a place in the last eight.

Dementieva, a semi-finalist in 2008, attacked Vesnine from the outset and raced into a 5-0 lead before serving out the first set for the loss of only one game.

Vesnina rallied at the start of the second set but was broken in game four and then again at 5-3 as Dementieva wrapped up a 69-minute victory.

Venus, who is now on an 18-match winning streak at Wimbledon, looked well on course for victory before a tearful Ivanovic succumbed to injury.

She raced through the opening set and has now won 30 consecutive sets at Wimbledon, a run that dates back to her third-round match against Akiko Morigami in 2007.

Number 13 seed Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, called the trainer after hitting an ace to save break point during game one of the second.

Highlights - Serena crushes Hantuchova
"I didn't feel anything up until that point," she later told BBC Sport. "When I landed, I just felt a sharp pain on my inner thigh, and I couldn't step on my leg again."

The 21-year-old Serb had her left thigh taped up but was clearly hampered and, despite taking a 1-0 lead, she retired at the change of ends.

"I think she was in a lot of pain," said Venus, who is bidding to become the first woman to win three successive Wimbledon singles titles since Steffi Graf between 1991-1993.

"I'm one of those players who only pays attention to what's going on on my side of the net. But I felt really sad for her actually. She was really upset.

"This is Wimbledon. It's the last place you want to have an injury that you can't overcome."

Venus' quarter-final opponent Radwanska took advantage of some shaky moments from world number 124 Oudin to progress.

The American miscued an easy volley to lose the first set, and faded after leading by a break in the second.

An all-Williams final remains possible after two-time champion Serena cruised past Hantuchova in just 56 minutes on Court Two.

The number two seed exchanged breaks with her Slovakian opponent early on but it was one-way traffic thereafter.

Serena raced into a 4-0 lead in the second set and, although Hantuchova managed to get on the scoreboard in game five, it was too little too late for the world number 32 , who wilted under the pressure.

Your thoughts on the women's fourth-round matches
After holding serve for 5-1, Serena forced another break in game seven to clinch the win and a last eight spot.

There she will meet the number eight seed Azarenka after the Belarussian claimed a 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-3 win against 10th seed Petrova.

Azarenka had already won the opening set on a tie-break when she lost her discipline in the second.

The 19-year-old, unhappy with a line call, accused the umpire of "ruining the game" before going over to sarcastically shake the hand of the line judge.

Azarenka's tantrum occurred at 4-2 down in the second set as she struggled to get on top of Petrova's game and went on to lose the set.

But in a one-sided final set on Court Three, Azarenka's class eventually told and she game through powerfully to win.

Michael Jackson Guardianship Papers Filed

A guardianship petition has been filed for Michael Jackson's children by Katherine Jackson, the grandma.

She is asking the court to appoint her as the guardian for all three kids.

The petition states the kids have "no relationship with their biological mother."

According to the petition, the kids are in the care of Katherine and they have "a long established relationship."

The petition says the value of Michael Jackson's assets are unknown at this time.

Debbie Rowe is named as mother of two children in the petition.

As for why Katherine thinks it would be "best" to appoint her guardian, "Minor children are currently residing with paternal grandmother. They have a long-established relationship with paternal grandmother and are comfortable in her care."

The petition says it's "not known at this time" whether the mother (Rowe) agrees that Katherine should be the legal guardian.

As for Prince "Blanket" Michael Jackson II -- MJ's third child -- the box where it says "mother" is checked "none." The DOB is listed as January 21, 2002.

Supreme Court may hear Troy Davis case

Troy Davis

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ajc dot com > Metro
Off-duty Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail killed in 1989


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, June 28, 2009

With just two days before the U.S. Supreme Court closes for summer recess, the court is expected this week to consider a last-ditch hearing for death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis.

If the court does not decide by Tuesday whether to hear Davis’ most recent petition to retry his 1991 police murder case, justices won’t convene again until this fall. This current petition is largely considered Davis’ most viable option to stay alive, said Laura Moye of Amnesty International USA’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign.

But the delay could be good news for Davis’ legal team and supporters.

“It buys more time for all of the advocates to get more publicity on the case,” Moye said.

If the courts decide against hearing Davis’ petition, it will be up to Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm whether to pursue Davis’ fourth execution warrant. Chisolm could not be reached for immediate comment Sunday.

Davis, 40, was convicted of murdering Savannah Police officer Mark Allen MacPhail 20 years ago, though no physical evidence directly linked him to the crime. MacPhail, then a 27-year-old former Army ranger, was working off-duty when he was shot three times in a Burger King parking lot.

Since Davis’ trial, seven of nine witnesses have recanted their testimony and some people have implicated Sylvester “Redd” Coles as the shooter. Coles was the first person to implicate Davis in the killing.

Davis’ execution has been stayed three times as his team of attorneys exhaust their efforts to save his life. Requests for a new trial in Chatham County have been denied, as have their petitions to have new evidence considered in the case.

Judges, lawmakers and worldwide leaders have rallied behind Davis.

In May, a group of 27 former jurists and federal prosecutors pushed for a new hearing for Davis, filing a petition that said Davis can show “new, never reviewed evidence that strongly points to his innocence.” U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat who represents the 5th District, has called for a new trial. Former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI have asked that the inmate be spared death by lethal injection.

On Monday, Moye will be joined by the NAACP and community faith leaders to deliver thousands of new petitions to Chisolm calling for a retrial, she said. They’ve collected roughly 10,000 signatures in Chatham County alone, with as many as 70,000 signatures from around the U.S. and world, she said.

Bernard Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years for Epic Swindle

-- Bernard Madoff told a federal judge he had no excuses before a judge sentenced him to 150 years for masterminding the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

Madoff appeared in court today before U.S. District Judge Denny Chin for the first time since his March 12 guilty plea for an epic swindle that may have reached $65 billion.

“I don’t ask for any forgiveness,” Madoff, 71, told Chin. He said he deceived his brothers, his two sons and his wife.

Madoff pleaded guilty to securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the SEC and theft from an employee benefit plan.

Madoff today was led into the 11th floor courtroom in Manhattan federal court clad wearing a suit and flanked by federal marshals. Seated beside defense attorney Ira Sorkin, Madoff sat silently as nine former investors assailed him for a fraud that cost many their life savings.

Madoff has shown “no remorse,” said victim Carla Hirschhorn, of Manalapan, New Jersey, at the hearing. She told Chin her life is a “living hell,” her mother is dependent on social security and her daughter works two jobs to pay tuition. “Don’t fail us,” she told the judge.

Sorkin told the court after the victims spoke that his client is a “deeply flawed human being.”

Madoff pleaded guilty to securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the SEC and theft from an employee benefit plan.

The case is U.S. v. Madoff, 09-cr-00213, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Day Of Reckoning For Madoff - Bloomberg

Bernard Madoff will be sentenced in Federal Court in New York. Prosecutors ask that he be given 150 years of imprisonment.

Wang finally picks up a win as Rivera saves No. 500

Mariano Rivera celebrates his 500th career save as the Yankees defeated the Mets, 4-2.

When Joe Girardi summoned Mariano Rivera into the game with two outs and two on in the bottom of the 8th, it was the 561st time in his career that Rivera would enter with a save on the line. For the 500th time, Rivera would complete it. He is just the second closer to reach that lofty mark and the first to do so while driving in a run as well.

The Yankees headed into tonight’s game with a sense of urgency. The Red Sox had lost earlier in the day, and the Rays had won. They could gain a game on first place while keeping two games ahead of the charging Rays. Furthermore, the Yanks needed to see Chien-Ming Wang get that first win. It had been nearly one year and two weeks since his last victory.

Early on, the Yanks seemed to be rolling. Derek Jeter doubled, and then Nick Swisher hit into what should have been an out. Daniel Murphy, an outfielder pressed into duty at first base, tried to get Jeter at third and failed. Mark Teixeira hit a booming double to drive them in. A few batters later — after Murphy dropped the relay on a potential double play — Posada hit a sac fly to give the Yanks a 3-0 lead.

That would be it for a while though, and in fact, the Yanks had a frustrating offensive night. Livan Hernandez gave up just one more hit after the 1st, and the Yanks would add one more against K-Rod in the 9th. However, the team worked out 11 walks against the Mets. It was all for naught though as the Yanks went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and hit into three double plays. On another night, we would have bemoaned it. Last night was a night for celebration.

After the first, the highlight of the day came during the 9th. K-Rod had some problems finding the zone, and with the bases loaded and two outs, Rivera’s spot came up. On Friday, he had just his second career at-bat, and he nearly managed to knock in a few with a line drive. Today, he was more patient. He saw seven pitches from K-Rod — including one foul ball — and the Yanks’ Hall of Fame closer worked out a bases loaded walk. It would be his first RBI of his career, and the timing — coming on the same night as his 500th save — could not be better.

It is fitting that Joe Girardi was the catcher for Rivera’s first save on May 17, 1996. It was Girardi who handed Mo the ball in the 8th. Rivera has now saved 18 of 19 this year, and after a hiccup earlier this month, his ERA is down to 2.93. He has walked three and struck out 39 in 30.2 innings of work. Superhuman, indeed.

Lost in the hullabaloo over Rivera was Chien-Ming Wang. After dominating Atlanta last week, he wasn’t as perfect against the Mets, but it worked. He allowed two earned runs and four hits against the Mets in 5.1 innings. He walked three and struck out three while tossing 49 of 85 pitches for strikes. While his sinker wasn’t as consistent as it should be, he generated 11 ground ball outs and just two fly outs — one on the first out of the game.

It’s hard to understate the psychological importance of that win. After a terrible start that had many of us questioning whether or not Wang should be in the rotation, he is seemingly settling down. If Wang can get back to form, the Yanks will have a fearsome rotation indeed.

As the Yanks wrap up Interleague Play, they head into an off-day feeling good. They’ve won five in a row and five of six against the Mets this year. They’ll face Seattle and Toronto this week, and I’m feeling good about the team.

Jackson Family Considering Global Celebrations

LOS ANGELES -- The Jackson family is considering simultaneous celebrations across the globe as a way to commemorate the family's most famous member, Michael Jackson, who died Thursday after suffering cardiac arrest.

The Rev. Al Sharpton reported the possible plans after talking to Jackson brothers Jackie and Jermaine. He said the entire family wants to meet to solicit his advice on how best to remember the "king of pop."

Sharpton, who flew in from Atlanta Sundday, will be at the Encino home of the Jackson family Monday to discus the possible tributes.

"I'm here to make sure Michael gets in death what he never got in life -- he never got credit," Sharpton said upon his arrival in Los Angeles. "He was not somebody who was eccentric, he was innovative and that innovation smashed barriers and he should be given a lot more credit than he's given."

Sharpton, a longtime family friend, said the family is upset that so much of the news coverage of Jackson's death has focused on the more controversial aspects of his life, including allegations of child molestation and reports of prescription drug abuse. Sharpton said the singer's father, Joe Jackson, was "saddened" and wanted to protect his son's "king-of-pop" legacy.

"Michael Jackson was a genius," Sharpton said, "he wasn't a freak."

The inspiration for a series of global happenings, he said, is to show the world and, especially, Jackson's three children, that the entertainer was a musical force. The events, he said, would be upbeat.

Meantime, Sunday night's BET Awards show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles was a celebration of Jackson's life.

His father, Joe Jackson, walked the red carpet and spoke about his son's death, saying he wished Michael could be there to "enjoy all of this."

Various performers did tributes to Jackson, and thanked him for his influence.

While accepting the award for Best Female R&B Artist, Beyonce Knowles said, "This is for Michael Jackson. I have to thank Michael Jackson for being my teacher, my hero."

Sister Janet Jackson made a surprise appearance at the end of the show.

"My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just to painful" she said. "They elected me to speak with all of you and I'm going to keep it very short, but I'd like to say that to you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family."

Janet pays tribute to her brother

Michael Jackson's sister Janet has made her first public appearance since her brother's death on Friday.

Janet appeared at the Black Entertainment Television Awards show in los Angeles, which had been rearranged to accommodate tributes to Michael Jackson.

She told the audience at the awards that the entire Jackson family had wanted attend, but it was too painful.

Air Force test fires missile, North Korea criticizes

Early Monday morning the U.S. Air Force test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile into the Pacific Ocean. This weekend, North Korea criticized the U.S. for missile defense program.

According to California TV reports, the U.S. Air Force test fired a Minutemen 3 ICBM around 3 a.m. Monday.

The missile was fired into the Pacific Ocean and hit its target, according to Lt. Geoffrey Raymond at the Vandenburg Air Force Base.

The test was designed to test the Air Force's weapons system, which hypothetical could be used in response to threats from North Korea.

North Korea criticized the U.S. for bolstering its missile defense systems. The Communist state said it would "bolster its nuclear arsenal in retaliation."

According to media reports in South Korea, the North is ratcheting up its threats against the U.S. North Korea accused the U.S. of preparing for "pre-emptive nuclear war."

Tensions on the North Korean peninsula, where 28,000 U.S. troops are stationed, have been on the rise. North Korea recently tested another nuclear weapon and test fired new long-range missiles.

In response to a threat from Kim Jong-il, the North's dictator, the United States positioned missile defense systems in Hawaii.

Court reverses Sotomayor decision

The US Supreme Court has overturned a ruling endorsed by Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee to fill a vacancy on the court.

Justice Sotomayor, an appeals court judge, had ruled that white firefighters in Connecticut had not been unfairly denied promotions.

But the Supreme Court ruled by five votes to four that the firefighters had been unfairly discriminated against.

The ruling could have a significant impact on US employment practices.

'No right'

The firefighters, from New Haven Connecticut, had taken a promotion exam, but city authorities threw out the results after no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters did well enough to win promotion.

Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions

Justice Anthony Kennedy
New Haven officials feared that if they honoured the results of the test, they could have been sued under racial equality legislation.

But some of the city's white firefighters brought a lawsuit against the authorities to reinstate the results of the exam.

When Ms Sotomayor and her colleagues on the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case, they ruled that the city had acted correctly, but the US Supreme Court has now overturned that decision.

"Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions," said Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion for the court, backed by four other justices.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the white firefighters "understandably attract this court's sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion."

Justice David Souter, whom Ms Sotomayor is nominated to replace on the court, agreed with Justice Bader Ginsburg's opinion.

The majority ruling made little mention of the appeals court's decision, but Ms Sotomayor's fellow Second Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes has criticised his colleagues' opinion.

"This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal," he said.