Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rhoden : Barry Bonds Is The New Jack Johnson

I’ve claimed a couple of times that Barry Bonds’ pariah status — compared to the relative hero worship afforded Lance Armstrong (in American, anyway) — has more than a little to do with the former’s amazing ability to alienate fans, journalists, and pretty much anyone not named Greg Anderson, more than any genuine outrage over his chemical experiments.  The New York Times’ William Rhoden, however, prepares us for a verdict in Bonds’ perjury trial by comparing him to a far less contemporary figure — Jack Johnson.

Johnson lived a fast, unapologetic lifestyle. He incensed some blacks and enraged many whites by openly keeping company exclusively with white prostitutes and marrying at least one.

Johnson had violated the Mann Act in only its narrowest application — if that. He was prosecuted because powerful forces within the government felt that a black man who lived such a brazenly bodacious lifestyle was a threat to America’s racial order and had to be taught a lesson.
Almost 100 years later, we have the Bonds case.

The claim that he lied to a federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative steroids scandal is not the sole reason the government so vigorously prosecuted him on perjury charges. As his lawyer Allen Ruby told the jury that is deciding Bonds’s fate in federal court in San Francisco, part of the reason is that “he was Barry.”Bonds was being himself: a self-centered, spoiled brat who embraced entitlement wrought by fame, wealth and being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was Bobby Bonds; his godfather is Willie Mays. As the most talented player of his generation, Bonds played by his own rules and forced the news media to abide by them as well.

Neither Bonds nor Johnson had a heightened social consciousness, but each possessed a ferocious sense of independence and entitlement and refused to be limited by social convention about how a champion was supposed to behave.

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American Idol: say what?

Yeah, I know, you’re all bitter about the results last night on “American Idol.” I am surprised, but not all that surprised. And least of all, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson shouldn’t be as shocked after they had a lukewarm reaction to the person sent home. Anyway, here is how it went down…..

The show began with a rock medley by the Top 9 that was really boring as usual. Then actor/comedian Russell Brand was brought in as a charisma coach this past week. Really? That guy is really not funny. Then, on to the results….

Casey, Stefano and Lauren. Lauren, safe. Casey, safe. Ste-FA-no (as Ryan Seacrest says in his fake Italian accent), in the Bottom 3. No huge surprise at all.

Then they brought Constantine Maroulis in. Remember him? I think he was from like Season 4 or 5. His new single is…ready for this?….”Unchained Melody.” Really? That song has been done and re-done about a million times, and there is just no need to keep beating a dead horse. I know it’s Simon Cowell’s song, but Simon is not on the show anymore! Anyway, the performance was okay.

Then Gwen Stefani was shown offering style tips to Pia, Haley and Lauren. Yawn.

More results…..Paul, Scotty and Pia. Scotty, safe. Paul, safe. Pia, Bottom 3. Now, most of you were looking at your TV dumbfounded, but I actually had her in my Bottom 3 last night. Her performance was solid again vocally but lacked fire.

James, Haley and Jacob were next. James and Haley, safe, Jacob in the Bottom 3. Dude went first and it wasn’t his best performance. Plus, let’s be honest here….his shaking while singing is getting a bit old, as are the Adam Lambert screams from both him and James.

So your Bottom 3…Stefano, Pia and Jacob. Interesting. Then a shirtless Iggy Pop sang his ’80’s hit, “Real Wild Child.” Iggy was shirtless as is his trademark, but wow, I just looked it up…he’s going to be 64 in two weeks. Yikes. How in the world does he have flat abs as if he’s 17? Ryan Seacrest had the line of the night when he said after that that he was thinking about cutting out carbs. Nice!

On to results. Jacob was safe. Down to Stefano and Pia. I thought for sure it would be Stefano, but no…..Pia had the lowest number of votes and got the axe last night. Wow. Everyone was shocked, especially J-Lo and Randy, but let me tell you both….go back and watch Wednesday night’s episode. You both said something was lacking, even though you sugar-coated it. And really, with everyone being so talented this season, you shouldn’t be surprised that Pia was sent packing. All things considered, Stefano really deserved to go home, but to me Pia was not going to win this thing. She’s going to have a nice little Celine Dion type career, but I am quite sure the teeny boppers that follow this show and vote are more apt to pick Lauren or Scotty. Heck, age alone is the main reason Thia stuck around so long.

So there you have it folks. We’re down to eight and six of them are dudes. Who do you like? I’m going with Lauren or Casey, but I think Scotty is still the dark horse. But Stefano, the lowest vote total has its eye on your, so watch your back!
Posted by Mike Farley

Video: Egyptian protesters call for Mubarak to face trial TelegraphTV

NYSE rejects Nasdaq-ICE bid, stays with Deutsche Boerse deal

The primogenitor association of a New York Stock Exchange pronounced Sunday that it deserted an $11.3-billion bid from Nasdaq’s primogenitor association and IntercontinentalExchange Inc. to buy a firm.
NYSE Euronext pronounced a house motionless to spin down a offer, that was submitted this month, since it was “highly conditional” and would have caused nonessential risk for shareholders.

China Records First Trade Deficit in 7 Years

Shanghai. China said on Sunday that it had posted its first quarterly trade deficit in seven years, despite a narrow surplus in March, as rising commodity prices pushed manufacturers’ costs higher.

China recorded a small trade deficit of $1.02 billion for the first quarter, its first since the beginning of 2004. But analysts said a large trade surplus was expected for the full year as its exports tend to grow later in the year.

“China’s demand is strong and the prices of bulk commodities are high currently, but the situation won’t last as China’s exports usually go up in the second half of each year,” said Wang Tao, a UBS economist, to Dow Jones Newswires.

Exports rose 26.5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter and imports were up 32.6 percent. The quarter’s trade deficit was due to the strong rise in imports, the General Administration of Customs said in a statement.

“The value of imports in the first quarter hit a record high for the first time of more than $400 billion,” it said.

For the month of March, China bounced back to a $140 million surplus after posting a $7.3 billion-trade deficit in February — its first since March 2010.

February’s slowdown was typical of China’s festive season, when factories ease off — and in most cases close — after cranking up production before the Lunar New Year holiday.

March exports rose 35.8 percent from the same month a year earlier, up from February’s 2.4 percent rise.

Imports rose 27.3 percent, up from 19.4 percent in February. Rising prices for raw materials helped push up the value of imports.

The March surplus caught analysts by surprise. A Dow Jones poll of 13 economists had forecast a median monthly deficit of $4 billion for March.

In 2010, China posted a $7.24 billion deficit in March, as companies stocked up on imported raw materials, many of which were later processed into goods for export. For the full year, China posted a $183.1 billion surplus.

Analysts said the quarterly trade deficit suggested China was making progress in rebalancing its export-reliant economy.

“The rebalancing is happening,” Isaac Meng, a BNP Paribas economist, told Dow Jones. “It’s only a matter of time.”

Meng added that rising import prices were eroding the surplus while domestic inflation was raising export prices.

Washington, one of the harshest critics of Beijing’s trade policy, acknowledged in March that China was taking steps to boost imports.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said last month that China had no alternative but to shift its growth strategy towards relying more on domestic growth as demand weakens in the United States and Europe — but added it needed to do more. Agence France-Presse 

Ivory Coast: Human Rights Watch Reports

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast - United Nations and French helicopters have fired rockets on the residence of Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who is holed up in a bunker, residents said Sunday.

Two residents from nearby neighborhoods reported seeing two Mi-24 attack helicopters and one French helicopter open fire on the residence. One resident reported seeing smoke rise from the compound. The residents couldn't be named for fear of reprisal.

An Associated Press reporter saw the same three helicopters take off from the French military base minutes before the reporter heard explosions coming from the direction of the residence.

Gbagbo's adviser in France Toussaint Alain confirmed the attack.

Gbagbo is holed up in a bunker in his residence in Abidjan. After a decade in power, he still refuses to step aside even though the United Nations has ruled that he lost the November presidential election to Alassane Ouattara.

Read more at The Huffington Post

Zuma: Gaddafi “accepts peace roadmap”

Muammar Gaddafi has accepted a roadmap for ending the conflict in Libya, South African President Jacob Zuma said after leading a delegation of African leaders at talks in Tripoli.
Presidents Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali, Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania and African Union president Jean Ping stand outside a tent erected at Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya residence in Tripoli 

‘I have some commitment which is compelling me to leave now but we have completed our mission with the brother leader (Gaddafi),’ Mr Zuma said after several hours of talks with the Libyan leader at his Bab al-Aziziyah compound.

‘The brother leader delegation has accepted the roadmap as presented by us. We have to give ceasefire a chance,’ he said, adding that the African delegation would now travel to the eastern city of Benghazi for talks with anti-Gaddafi rebels.

Libyan rebels beat off a new assault by Gaddafi’s forces on the besieged western city of Misrata, losing as many as 30 fighters but helped by more intense NATO air strikes.

As fighting raged on for the coastal town, where conditions are said to be desperate, a buoyant Muammar Gaddafi made his first television appearance for five days and his troops engaged rebels in more fighting on the eastern front of the civil war.

Misrata is the last major rebel outpost in the west of Libya. Gaddafi’s forces appear bent on seizing the city and crucially its port, which some analysts say Gaddafi needs if he is to survive a long conflict.

A rebel spokesman said that fighting centred on a road to Misrata port, where a Red Cross vessel brought in badly needed medical supplies earlier in the day.

The spokesman praised what he called a positive change from NATO, saying its aircraft carried out several air strikes on Gaddafi’s besieging forces.

Rebels have complained for days that NATO is too slow to respond to government attacks.
A government-organised trip to Misrata revealed deserted streets and many heavily shelled buildings in the city’s south.

An official there said a NATO strike hit the outskirts and a warplane could be seen sweeping across the sky.
NATO aircraft hit 15 tanks near Misrata and two south of Brega in the east of the country on Friday and early yesterday, an alliance official said.

NATO’s commander of Libyan operations said the alliance, which took command of air strikes against Gaddafi on 31 March, had destroyed ‘a significant percentage’ of his armoured forces and ammunition stockpiles east of Tripoli in the past 24 hours.

Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard also accused Gaddafi’s forces of using civilians as human shields.

‘We have observed horrific examples of regime forces deliberately placing their weapons systems close to civilians, their homes and even their places of worship,’ he said in a statement.

In Tripoli, Gaddafi, who was last seen on television on 4 April, was shown smiling and pumping his fists in the air at a school where he was welcomed ecstatically.

Wearing his trademark brown robes and dark glasses, Gaddafi looked confident and relaxed, confirming the impression among analysts that his administration has emerged from a period of paralysis and is hunkering down for a long campaign.

Gaddafi’s military have pushed back a rebel advance in the east, and inconclusive battles have been fought along the desert road between the Mediterranean oil port of Brega and Ajdabiyah, gateway to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, for over a week.

Rebels had said they had intended to take Brega and some had penetrated the outskirts. But their assault seemed to have petered out by nightfall, following a familiar pattern. RTE

Tiger Woods, KJ Choi, Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera and Charl Schwartzel Lead The Masters

The Golf Blog ( says: We’re exhausted. Totally exhausted. So many different story lines. Where to begin?

1. Rory McIlroy implodes: After Rory McIlroy brought a 4-shot lead into the final round, the lead evaporated within just about 2 holes. Rory, who would eventually shoot 80, looked like a deer in headlights and could never get untracked. We’ve seen this happen before to final round leaders–Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, Jason Gore–but it’s always painful to watch. The worst was on the 10th hole, where Rory duck hooked the ball into a tree, causing a ricochet of the ball in between 2 houses near the golf course. There’s no out of bounds apparently, so Rory had to hit the ball from in between the 2 houses. Rory couldn’t recover from behind the houses and ended up triple bogeying. That was all she wrote for Rory–only he had to play 8 more excruciating holes on his way to a back nine 43.

Rory McIlroy between 2 houses after bad drive on 10th hole at Augusta

2. Tiger Woods charges with 31 front nine, but falters down the stretch: While Rory McIlroy was imploding, Tiger Woods made a massive comeback and actually was tied for the lead at -10 at one point. With the back nine (which is supposed to be the easier nine) still ahead of him and the most momentum of anyone on the course, Tiger seem poised for his 15th major victory. But Tiger three-putted the short par-3 12th for bogey–which took some steam out of his round. His putter seemed to sputter from there. Tiger clawed his way back with a decent eagle-look from 8 feet away on the 15th, but Tiger’s putt lipped out. He had to settle for birdie, the last he would make. That was it for Tiger.

3. Adam Scott and fellow Aussie Jason Day come close: Then for a stretch it looked like Adam Scott would win. He had the outright lead for a couple holes at -11 and then -12. (We should also mention fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy who birdied 5 straight holes to tie Tiger’s finish at -10.) Meanwhile, Adam Scott’s playing partner and fellow Aussie Jason Day birdied the last 2 holes to tie Scott at -12. But by then, Charl Schwartzel had taken the lead.

4. Charl Schwartzel birdies last 4 holes to win. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back birdies–wow! Charl also holed out on the third hole and chipped in at the first hole. So it was his day!! Congrats, Charl!!