Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Drunken Post: Fake Pro Wrestling is Awesome

So you think you’re so high and mighty, loving the shit out of predisposed music from your predisposed music blogs, and following the predisposed films from the predisposed film blogs of the Twin Cities – maybe even from us, who knows. But regardless.

Lately, not a single music movement has made a difference, nor has the movie movement. But you know what? Four days into the new decade, and there’s one entertainment unit that’s pushed itself to the limits. It’s the WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment.

The argument of the wrestling industry as ‘fake’ whereas other entertainment industries get their bullshit pass has been heresy since day one. Over the course of the last decade, ‘pro’ wrestling has been a familiar entertainment staple, and have been the one to rigorously try their best to portray themselves highly in the eyes of new generations who care nothing except for . . . what, Jersey Shore? I don’t even know.

It’s much like carnival freakshows – everybody sees it but nobody appreciates the subtlety. So it’s scripted, does that make it less entertaining than sideshow fire breathers? Or less athletic? Nonsense. What they’ve done is play off of serious entertainment stress factors, which ‘real’ sports never do. You never get satisfaction from ‘genuine’ sport rivalries.

But tonight, goddamn, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Shawn ‘Heartbreak Kid’ Michaels buried their rivalry after 12 years, and not a single emotion of that was fake. This is one of the ‘greatest ever’ sport rivalries, with those guys hating the living shit out of each other but standing in the same ring and shaking hands is a miracle of the sport entertainment business. It’s absolutely real and absolutely genuine.

I don’t even begin to assume any outside force could begin to respect this industry given its unjustly tarnished reputation, but I can do one thing – post highlights of Bret Hart’s revolutionary Wrestlemania XII match against Shawn Michaels which lasted over an hour. It’s extraordinary, and far more engaging than any ‘real’ sport clash I can recall in over the last ten years. So goddamn it, open your mind and give it a try, because shit just got intense!

NBA star Arenas might discover that jokes with guns can lead to jail time

This new piece from the Los Angeles Times provides the latest news concerning the holiday brush with the law for NBA star Gilbert Arenas:

Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas says he took unloaded guns from his locker in a "misguided effort to play a joke" on a teammate. Arenas released a written statement Monday after meeting with law enforcement officials. Arenas' lawyer says the player voluntarily met with prosecutors and detectives and answered every question during a two-hour interview.

In his statement, Arenas repeated his assertion that he brought four guns to the Verizon Center to store in his locker in order to get them out of his house and away from his children. He said he mistakenly believed that recent changes in District of Columbia law made it legal for him to store unloaded guns there.

As every 1L should know, ignorance of the law is generally no excuse, and this new piece from CBS Sports speculates about possible criminal charges and sentencing prospects for Arenas:

"The U.S. Attorney will have to file charges for possession of a pistol without a license," [an] official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he did not have jurisdiction over the case. "The prosecutor cannot simply walk away from this case."

Depending on what facts are discovered in other interviews with possible witnesses to the Dec. 21 locker room confrontation between Arenas and previously obscure guard Javaris Crittenton, the official said one likely outcome would be the following: Arenas, 27, would be permitted to plead guilty to charges of carrying a pistol without a license, a felony that carries a maximum of five years in prison. Such a charge would require a grand jury indictment, which could be acquired quickly since five grand juries are seated at any given time in the District. Any other charges -- which could include misdemeanor counts for possession of unregistered firearms, carrying maximum jail time of six months for each count -- would be dismissed. In exchange for Arenas' cooperation and guilty plea, the prosecutor would ask for no jail time.

"Given his prior offense, however, a judge might consider jail time in this case," one of the law enforcement officials said. "It all depends on which judge he draws." Arenas pleaded guilty to charges of failing to maintain proper registration of a firearm in California in 2003 while playing for the Golden State Warriors.

Beltre turned down more money to play for Sox

The Red Sox have always liked Adrian Beltre. For much of free agency, they just didn’t like his price.

But that changed when Beltre decided one year in Boston was worth more in the long run than three or four somewhere else. So today he officially agreed to a one-year, $9 million deal with a $5 million player option for 2011, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. Beltre can also earn a $1 million buyout if he reaches a plate appearances total commensurate with that of a regular, and the contract contains an escalator on the option that’s only triggered if he makes a significant number of plate appearances.

Far from Beltre’s original asking price of five years and $65 million, the one-year deal looks like a bargain for the Red Sox, who are guaranteed a season of Gold Glove defense at third, while leaving fellow Gold Glover Kevin Youkilis at first.

The deal was agreed to in principle on New Year’s Eve and finalized on Sunday night. Beltre turned down more money from at least two teams – he had a four-year offer early in free agency and then a three-year deal for roughly the same annual value as the deal the Red Sox offered – but he chose Boston with an eye on having a big year for a contender and then hitting the market again next year.

The structure of the deal holds value for both sides. The player option basically amounts to an opt-out clause, which means if Beltre hits outside of Safeco Field as well as his road averages suggest, then he’ll be in line for a big payday next offseason.
For the Red Sox, meanwhile, the $7 million average annual value of the deal lowers his hit for luxury tax purposes in 2010. If the Sox are able to jettison Mike Lowell and save a portion of his $12 million salary – a deal which likely won’t happen until Lowell proves he’s healthy during spring training – Beltre may only nudge them over the $170 million luxury threshold.

The addition of Beltre pretty much wraps up the offseason for the Red Sox, who like their bullpen options among the group they signed in December (Scott Atchison, Boof Bonser, et. al.) and will probably just look to make some minor deals to shore up their bench.

As for a potential swap of Lowell for Mets second baseman Luis Castillo, it appears extremely unlikely. For one, it wouldn’t save the Red Sox any money, the main motivator in dealing Lowell, since Castillo has two years and $12 million remaining on his deal. For two, Castillo has literally never played a game anywhere other than second in his 11-year career, so he wouldn’t offer much in the way of utility help.

Pending home sales plunge 16% in November

The National Association of Realtors came out with its pending home sales data for November a little while ago. Here's what the numbers looked like:

* Pending sales plunged 16%. That compared with an expected decline of 2%. Yikes!

* On a year-over-year basis, the pending sales index actually rose 15.5% to 96 from 83.1.

* Regionally, sales fell across the country. Sales dropped 2.7% in the West, 15% in the South, and 25.7% in both the Northeast and Midwest.

Pending home sales plunged by a much larger than expected margin in November. That's the bad news. The good news? It's largely tax credit related. Since the period covered in this report, the first-time buyer credit has been expanded and extended. We've also seen indicators of unemployment and economic growth stabilize over the past few months. So after we work through this period of housing indigestion, we'll likely see sales rates gradually pick up again and home inventories gradually decline.

Kraft sweetens Cadbury offer, confronts Buffett

Kraft Foods Inc. on Tuesday hit a major hurdle in its battle for Cadbury plc when its own largest shareholder, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., advised co-investors to vote against its plans to issue stock to pay for the bulk of the U.K. confectioner.

Berkshire Hathaway, which controls 9.4% of Kraft shares, appeared on the scene just hours after Kraft tamed a major competitor for Cadbury with an unexpected $3.7 billion asset sale to Nestlé SA. The deal, involving North American pizza brands, provided the Northfield, Ill., foodmaker with funds to increase the cash portion of its Cadbury offer and may have influenced the Vevey, Switzerland-based company's decision to abstain from the Cadbury bidding. Nestlé confirmed it wouldn't participate on Tuesday after Takeover Panel intervention, dashing hopes that it could form a rival bid partnership with declared Cadbury suitors Hershey Co. or Ferrero International SA.

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NBA Star Jayson Williams Crash Leads to DUI Charges

Former NBA star Jayson Williams is facing DUI charges after crashing his SUV into a tree on Tuesday. Williams was admitted to the hospital with minor injuries from the crash and is listed in stable condition.

According to the NYPD, Jayson Williams drove off the road and crashed into a tree in Manhattan on Tuesday morning. Police responding to the wreck found Williams in the passenger seat of the vehicle when they arrived. Witnesses, however, claim Williams had been driving the SUV at the time of the crash and no one else was in the vehicle.

Officers reportedly attempted to administer a breathalyzer test to Williams at the scene but he refused to submit. Williams was transported to a local hospital to be treated for minor injuries from the accident. The NYPD reported that Williams appeared to have been drinking before the crash.

In addition to pending DWI charges, Williams is also facing a retrial for manslaughter for killing his driver with a shotgun in 2002. Williams claims the shooting was accidental. The first jury to hear the case was hopelessly deadlocked and a new trial is pending in the case.

US Seeks to Give All Americans High Speed Internet Access

The U.S. government is spending more than $7 billion to bring high speed Internet access to all Americans. It is a huge infrastructure project and its goal is to make sure every American - including those who live in impoverished urban and rural areas - can take advantage of the World Wide Web.

Internet skills class at Byte Back, a non-profit organization in Washington, many adult students had never touched a computer or explored the World Wide Web before enrolling in the class.

Student Shelia Melvin says she has discovered the value of Internet access.

"Maybe seven years ago you'd see WWW and blah blah blah and I'd think why do people need this. Lo-and-behold, you can't do anything without a WWW. Nothing," Melvin said. "It's just entwined in your life now. I can't imagine myself without it."

Surveys show about one in four Americans have no Internet access at all. That makes for millions who cannot email their doctor or submit an application for a job or take a class online.

The U.S. Congress has given the Federal Communications Commission until February 17, 2010 to come up with a plan to bring broadband Internet access to all Americans. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski explains why the plan is important.

"We face great challenges as a nation right now - health care, education, energy, public safety. While broadband Internet alone won't provide a complete solution to any of those problems, it can and must play a critical role in solving each one," he said.

Many Americans can access the Internet on everything from a desktop computer to a handheld phone.

But one in four Americans - particularly those in rural and impoverished areas - often lack access to the Internet. Many of the students at Byte Back live in a low income neighborhood in Washington.

"Everyone in this country needs high-speed Internet access, and it must be available to all. It cannot be priced at a level where only certain people have access, because then you are cutting entire sections of our country out of involvement in the world," explained Kelly Ellsworth, Byte Back's executive director.

Byte Back provides free computer classes, free computers, and access to the Internet. Students like Shelia Melvin say they are hoping to use their newly mastered computer and Internet skills to do such basic tasks as apply for a job online.

But first, the government needs to hammer out its plan on how to spend the money to increase Internet access.

Obama to Unveil Reforms to Anti-Terror Policies

U.S. President Barack Obama is preparing to announce reforms to the nation's counterterrorism policies, following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. jetliner.

Mr. Obama will outline the new measures Tuesday, after meeting with senior members of his national security team. He summoned the officials to the White House to discuss ongoing reviews of a Nigerian man's alleged attempt to detonate explosives on a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit.

The president is to receive an update from FBI Director Robert Mueller on the investigation, while Attorney General Eric Holder will detail the prosecution of the 23-year-old suspect. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will provide a review of terrorist detection techniques.

Other attendees are to include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

Mr. Obama ordered an interagency review to determine how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly brought explosives onto the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight. The explosives failed to detonate, and passengers and crew restrained him.

The suspect's father had alerted U.S. authorities in Nigeria that his son, who was studying in Yemen, had extremist views and should be watched closely. He was placed on a U.S. terror watch list but not on the no-fly list, which would have prevented him from flying into the United States.

The U.S. government has increased security screening for air travelers from 14 countries in response to the attack.

The Transportation Security Administration said every person traveling "from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism" - listed by the State Department as Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria - or "other countries of interest" will be subject to enhanced screening. The other countries are Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

China: Diplomacy Best Way to Resolve Iranian Nuclear Issue

China hopes all countries involved in talks on Iran take more 'flexible and pragmatic' approach

China has called for diplomatic efforts to resolve the controversy over Iran's nuclear program, saying "dialogue and negotiation" are the best ways to address the issue.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, Tuesday said China hopes all countries involved in talks on Iran take a more "flexible and pragmatic" approach.

Her comments come one day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington has begun talks with its allies about imposing new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program.

Clinton also said the U.S. wants to keep the door open for dialogue with Iran. But she added that Washington cannot continue to wait while Iranian officials talk about increasing production of highly enriched uranium.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, responded Tuesday to Clinton's comments, saying that setting any deadline would be meaningless.

China has long called for more dialogue to resolve the Iranian nuclear controversy.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of working to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes to generate electricity.

"I don't know": Michael Steele on whether GOP is ready to lead

RNC Chair Michael Steele wrote a book. He's on a book tour. That means Steele is doing media. And, that's usually good for our side.

Yesterday, Steele had a rare moment of clarity. He said what most of us already know: The GOP isn't ready to lead. If the chair of the Republican National Committee doesn't have the confidence that his party is ready to take control of Congress -- and the chair of the RNC knows the GOP House leaders like Boenher, then, wow, they're in worse shape then we think. Via Hotline On Call:

Appearing on Sean Hannity's nationally syndicated show the same day his new book, "Right Now," hit store shelves, Steele said the GOP is set for "nice pick-ups" in the House. But, he said, at the moment there aren't enough candidates to take out enough Dems.

"I can't give a number [of seats the GOP will win] yet, because like I said, we're just now beginning to look at the races," Steele said. Asked if GOPers will take back the House, Steele confessed: "Not this year."

"I don't know all the candidates yet," Steele continued, according to a transcript of the show. "We still have some vacancies that need to get filled, but then the question we need to ask ourselves is: If we do that, are we ready?"

In fact, when Hannity followed up on the point, Steele said he doesn't know if the GOP is ready to take back the reins of power.

"I don't know. And that's what I'm assessing and evaluating right now. Those candidates who are looking to run have to be anchored in these principles," he said, referring to 5 conservative ideals he lays out in his new tome. "If they don't [anchor themselves], then they'll get to Washington, and they'll start drinking that Potomac River water, and they'll get drunk with power and throw the steps out the window."
Republicans don't know how to lead. Witness George Bush and the GOP-led Congress. They led the country into a very deep ditch.

UPDATE: Tila Tequila fiancee Casey Johnson found dead

Tila Tequila's fiancee and Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson was found dead this morning at 30, according to TMZ:

Johnson was reportedly engaged to Tila Tequila. We spoke with Tila a few minutes ago. She says they were fighting last week and that Casey stayed at Tila's house on the 28th. Tila tried contacting Casey on the 29th because Casey had left her dogs behind. Tila says Casey's phone has been shut off since the 29th and she was not able to make contact.
Johnson -- who tweeted frequently -- last tweeted on December 29 at 1:13 AM.
I'm not going to point any fingers here because Tila Tequila definitely did it. Don't believe me? Then how do you explain the LAPD fashioning tiny handcuffs out of a paperclip as we speak? I rest my case.