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KN4M 05-20-08

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , May 20 1:17 PM
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      Amputee runner Oscar Pistorius wins appeal
      By COLLEEN BARRY, Associated Press Writer

      MILAN, Italy (AP)—His Olympic dream suddenly revived, Oscar
      Pistorius can get back to what he loves most—running.

      The double-amputee sprinter from South Africa was cleared Friday to
      compete in his bid to qualify for the Beijing Games.

      The Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ruling by the
      International Association of Athletics Federations that barred the
      21-year-old runner from the Olympics and any other able-bodied
      competition because of his prosthetic racing blades.

      Pistorius broke into a broad smile to a roomful of applause when the
      decision was announced. He reached toward his manager, Peet van Zyl,
      for a victory handshake.

      "I am ecstatic," Pistorius said. "When I found out I was crying. It
      is a battle that has been going on for far too long. It's a great
      day for sport. I think this day is going to go down in history for
      the equality of disabled people."

      He is the first to acknowledge it will be a challenge to make it to
      the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Games. He holds the 400-meter Paralympic world
      record of 46.56, but must reach the qualifying time of 45.55 to
      compete in the individual event in Beijing.

      "My hopes are very big for the Olympics for 2008," Pistorius
      said. "I think the time period at the moment is very short.
      Obviously, I have the opportunity, so I am not going to let it go …
      but it is going to be very difficult in order to run those times."

      However, Pistorius also could be invited to join the South African
      relay team, which would not require him to qualify.

      "We are very much hopeful that he will be part and parcel of our
      team," said Leonard Chuene, president of Athletics South Africa.

      If Pistorius does go to the Olympics, he will be competing alongside
      another amputee South African athlete: Natalie du Toit, who
      qualified for Beijing in open-water swimming.

      Pistorius was born without fibulas—the long, thin outer bone between
      the knee and ankle—and was 11 months old when his legs were
      amputated below the knee.

      "Oscar Pistorius is a determined and gutsy athlete who will now no
      doubt put all his energy into reaching the qualification standards
      for the Olympic Games," the International Olympic Committee said in
      a statement. "If he makes it we would be delighted to welcome him."

      Pistorius will resume training in South Africa on Monday, before
      returning to Europe on May 28. Van Zyl said Pistorius will be
      running in able-bodied races July 2 in Milan and July 11 at the
      Golden Gala in Rome, and that many other offers have been coming in.

      "A lot of the time we've had this year we've devoted to the court
      case," Pistorius said. "Now when I get home my time can be dedicated
      to training. I am going to have to start thinking about getting my
      body in shape in order to run those (qualifying) times. I am hopeful
      there will be enough time but it is going to be very difficult."

      Regardless of whether he runs in the Olympics, Pistorius plans to
      compete in Beijing at the Sept. 6-17 Paralympics. He will prepare by
      running in disabled events in the Netherlands and Germany.

      Pistorius appealed to CAS, the highest tribunal in international
      sports, to overturn a Jan. 14 ruling by the IAAF. Track and field's
      ruling organization banned him from competing against able-bodied
      runners on grounds that his carbon fiber blades gave him a
      mechanical advantage.

      A two-day hearing was held before three arbitrators at CAS
      headquarters last month. The panel said the IAAF decision
      is "revoked with immediate effect and the athlete is eligible to
      compete in IAAF events."

      "Oscar will be welcomed wherever he competes this summer," IAAF
      president Lamine Diack said in a statement. "He is an inspirational
      man and we look forward to admiring his achievements in the future."

      Even if Pistorius fails to get the 400-meter qualifying time, South
      African selectors could add the University of Pretoria student to
      the Olympic 1,600-meter relay squad if it qualifies for the games
      among the top 16 in the world.

      Pistorius would not require a qualifying time and could be taken to
      Beijing as an alternate. Six runners can be picked for the relay

      The IAAF based its January decision on studies by German professor
      Gert-Peter Brueggemann, who said the J-shaped "Cheetah" blades were
      energy efficient

      Pistorius' lawyers countered with independent tests conducted by a
      team led by MIT professor Hugh M. Herr that claimed to show he
      doesn't gain any advantage over able-bodied runners.

      CAS said the IAAF failed to prove Pistorius' running blades gave him
      an advantage.

      "If I had to look at the situation, how many amputee athletes use
      the exact same prosthetic leg as I do and don't run nearly close to
      the same times?" Pistorius said. "I think running has become my
      purpose in life. It has become my calling in life."

      Associated Press Writers Graham Dunbar in Geneva and Celean Jacobson
      in Johannesburg, South Africa, contributed to this report.



      Mondavi's legend began with a fistfight
      By Jerry Shriver, USA TODAY

      The legend of Robert Mondavi began after a fistfight with his
      brother and ended with his family empire disassembled and swallowed
      by a giant beverage company — a truly American saga with overtones
      of Shakespearean tragedy.

      But in the four decades in between he did more than anyone to turn
      America into a wine-accepting nation and Napa Valley into a world-
      class tourism destination. Like his close friend Julia Child,
      Mondavi was a key pioneer of the so-called foodie revolution that is
      now entrenched in the American mainstream.

      Mondavi, who died Friday at 94 in his Napa Valley home, was a
      tireless and classy promoter, a combative taskmaster and a
      passionate lover of the good life — all of which made him ideally
      suited to try and drag America out of its Prohibitionist mindset and
      point it toward something more sophisticated. To anyone who would
      listen, the diminutive dynamo with the rugged Romanesque profile
      preached that fine wine could be made in California, and that wine-
      drinking could be part of a healthy, intellectually rewarding
      lifestyle that included food and the arts. It was a message that
      baby boomers were primed to receive.

      "We as a country are beginning to get much more mature in the way we
      view wine and the part we play in the world of wine," he said in a
      2003 interview with USA TODAY. "We were not considered at all in the
      ball game 20 years ago."

      Though his name seems to have resonated forever, Mondavi didn't
      begin his true missionary work until the second half of his life. In
      1965, at age 52, he split from the Charles Krug winery that he ran
      with his brother Peter and with whom he often clashed. Though
      strapped for cash he built Napa's first modern showcase winery, in
      Oakville, and it became a beacon both for tourism and for wine-
      making innovation.

      The success of that venture brought enormous wealth and fame to his
      family and to Napa Valley in general, but Mondavi, the son of
      Italian immigrant parents, still sought to be included among the Old
      World's elite winemaking community. This he tried to accomplish by
      forming a partnership with Bordeaux's Baron Philippe Rothschild to
      make Opus One, essentially America's first "cult" wine, and through
      later partnerships with the Frescobaldis of Italy and Eduardo
      Chadwick of Chile. Those ventures, as well as his fateful decision
      to take his company public in 1993, met with varying success. But
      they didn't detract from his overall goal of modernizing California
      winemaking and making the bounty accessible to mainstream consumers.

      "Now there are many more top winemakers than ever," he said in
      2003. "And when you combine that with the worldwide competition,
      which we spurred, you end up with more wines being made that are
      gentle and friendly and with more layers of flavor. The wines we're
      making today, without a doubt, are greater than they've ever been."


      Mike Huckabee's Wacky Sense of Humor...


      May 16, 2008
      Huckabee Jokes About Obama Getting Shot At
      Andy Barr

      During a speech to the National Rifle Association convention in
      Louisville, Kentucky Friday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
      joked to the audience that an offstage noise was Barack Obama
      avoiding gunfire.

      "That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting
      ready to speak," Huckabee said. "Somebody aimed a gun at him and he
      dove for the floor."

      The line was met with laughter.



      Friday, May 16, 2008
      John Cusack's War: The Actor Battles to Un-Embed Hollywood With His
      New Film, `War, Inc.'
      by Jeremy Scahill

      Back in 1989, in his smash hit "Say Anything," John Cusack famously
      stood with a boom box above his head outside the home of the woman
      he loved blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." With his latest
      films on the Iraq war, Cusack is standing outside Hollywood with a
      TV above his head broadcasting his political movies calling on the
      public to wake up and "Do Something."

      John Cusack began working on his new film "War, Inc.," which
      premieres in LA and New York May 23, about a year into the US
      occupation of Iraq. From the moment US tanks rolled into Baghdad,
      Cusack was a voracious consumer of news about the war. He took it
      deadly seriously, regularly calling independent journalists and
      asking them questions as he sought as much independent information
      as he could. Watching the insanity of the erection of the Green Zone
      and the advent of the era of McWar, complete with tens of thousands
      of "private contractors," Cusack set out to use the medium of film
      to unveil the madness. He wanted to do on the big screen what
      independent reporters like Naomi Klein, Nir Rosen and Dahr Jamail
      did in print. Over these years of war and occupation, Cusack has
      become one of the most insightful commentators on a far too seldom
      discussed aspect of the occupation: the corporate dominance of the
      US war machine.

      Cusack is no parachute humanitarian. While he continues to do the
      Hollywood thing with big budget movies, he is simultaneously a
      fierce un-embedded actor/filmmaker who has been at the center of two
      of the best films to date dealing with the madness of the Iraq war.
      Without big money sponsors and the backing of powerful production
      companies, Cusack has spent a lot of his own money on these projects.

      Cusack's film "Grace is Gone," was one of the most under-rated and
      under-viewed movies of 2007. Cusack should have been seriously
      considered for an Oscar for his portrayal of Stanley Philipps, a man
      whose wife dies while deployed as a soldier in Iraq. The film
      centers on Philipps's painful inability to explain to his two young
      daughters (powerfully played by two amateur actors, Shélan O'Keefe
      and Gracie Bednarczyk) their mother's death. Instead of telling his
      daughters the terrible news, he embarks on a surreal road trip to a
      theme park with the girls as he fights for his own sanity and
      grapples with his own support for the war that has just taken the
      life of his wife. The film is a jolting picture of a man caught in
      the free fall of a nervous breakdown and the ricochet impact of the
      death of soldiers in the war. It was an outright shame that "Grace
      is Gone" did not get wide distribution. I was at a screening of the
      film in New York and there were not many dry eyes at the movie's

      Perhaps the film's lack of commercial success was due to the so-
      called "Iraq movie fatigue" that took hold in Hollywood a couple of
      years ago. But "Grace is Gone" is not simply an "Iraq movie" or
      a "war movie." It isn't even really an "anti-war" movie. It is a
      haunting and moving film that cuts across political lines to tell
      the story of the suffering and shattering of so many US military
      families with loved ones deployed in Iraq. Had it received the
      distribution it deserved, "Grace is Gone" would have resonated
      strongly with both supporters and opponents of the war, a rare

      "War, Inc." is a radically different kind of movie. In fact, it
      really defies genre. It is sort of like this generation's Dr.
      Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange and The Wizard of Oz mixed together
      with the un-embedded reporting of Naomi Klein, spiced up with a dash
      of South Park. It is a powerful, visionary response to the
      cheerleading culture of the corporate media and a pliant Hollywood
      afraid of its own shadow.

      On the surface, "War, Inc." appears to be a spoof of the
      corporatization of the occupation of Iraq. Cusack plays a hit man,
      Brand Hauser, deployed to Turaqistan with the mission of killing a
      Middle Eastern oil baron (named Omar Sharif). Hauser's employer is a
      secretive for-profit military corporation run by the former US vice
      president, played by Dan Aykroyd. We first meet Aykroyd's character
      as he sits, pants down, on a toilet seat during a closed-circuit
      satellite videoconference call to give Hauser his mission. Hauser
      arrives in the Turaqi capital and heads for the "Emerald City"
      (read: the Green Zone), where his cover is director of a trade show
      for the military corporation, Tamerlane, which is basically running
      the Turaqi occupation. Hauser soon falls for a progressive
      journalist, played by Marisa Tomei, who is in Turaqistan to
      investigate Tamerlane, and what follows is an insane ride through
      Cusack's interpretation of the radical corporatization of war.

      Singer Hilary Duff gives a surprisingly fun performance as a pop
      star, Yonica Babyyeah, who performs a song in the war zone with the
      lyrics, "You say you want to invade me, baby/Enslave me, baby." As
      Duff delivers the song, she caresses a phallic gas nozzle decorated
      with diamonds while singing, "I want to blow you….up." Obviously
      Cusack and his co-writers, Mark Leyner and Jeremy Pikser
      (REDS/Bulworth), sought to tap into the extreme nature of the
      corporatized war and take it to another level, but anyone who thinks
      the premise behind "War Inc." is "over-the-top" has not been paying
      attention to real life.

      Cusack, Leyner and Pikser are not predicting the future, they are
      forcefully–and with dark humor and wit– branding the present for
      what it is: the Wal-Mart-ization of life (and death) represented in
      the new US model for waging war. With 630 corporations like
      Blackwater and Halliburton on the US government payroll in Iraq
      getting 40% of the more than $2 billion Washington spends every week
      on the occupation, Cusack's "futuristic" film is not far from the
      way things really are. A powerful, for-profit war corporation, run
      by the former US vice president "owning" the war zone; tanks with
      NASCAR-like sponsor logos speeding around the streets firing at
      will; "implanted journalists" watching the war in IMAX theaters in
      the heavily-fortified "Emerald City" to get "full spectrum sensory
      reality" while eating popcorn; a secretive "viceroy" running the
      show from behind a digital curtain are all part of Cusack's
      battlefield in the fictitious Turaqistan. But how far are they from
      the realities of the radically privatized corporate war machine
      Washington has unleashed on the world?

      "War, Inc." is already an underground cult classic and will likely
      remain so for years to come. The film is not without its
      shortcomings–at times it is confusing and drags–but its faults are
      significantly overshadowed by its many strengths. It also
      accomplishes the difficult feat of being very entertaining and
      funny, while delivering a powerful punch of truth. "War, Inc." is a
      movie that deserves a much wider viewing than the barons of the film
      industry are likely to give it. But by filling the theaters in the
      opening days, people can send a powerful message that there is–and
      must be–a market for films of conscience.

      Visit the official website of "War, Inc." or John Cusack's website
      to view trailers, get info on tickets for the premieres and to read
      more about the film.

      Jeremy Scahill's New York Times best seller, Blackwater: The Rise of
      the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, is now available in
      substantially updated paperback form.



      Suggestions to make interleague play better
      By Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
      May 16, 2008

      I like interleague play.

      Wow, that felt good.

      There is no support group for the afflicted. Though Major League
      Baseball contends that interleague play is popular and backs it up
      with compelling attendance figures, the advocates get drowned out by
      the minority, who are a lot like Ron Paul supporters: loud,
      passionate and fighting a fight that was long ago lost.

      So with that in mind, and with a bull's-eye on interleague play's
      problems, the challenge to improve it was on as its 12th season
      commences Friday. And the five resulting suggestions aren't
      egregious – OK, four aren't – are feasible and would make it better.

      Now, this isn't proselytizing. Converts should come on the merits of
      interleague play, and those who consider themselves purists – or
      pragmatists, because of the detriments – aren't likely to switch
      teams anytime soon.

      One player who traded honesty in exchange for anonymity started the
      exercise in style, responding to the question of how to improve
      interleague play in one breath: "Get rid of it."

      Not happening. But these ideas should.

      The brilliant idea: Home-field advantage in World Series goes to the
      league with the best record in interleague play

      All the credit goes to blogger extraordinaire Kevin Kaduk for this
      nugget of genius. In the absence of awarding home field in a fashion
      that makes sense – you know, uh, giving it to the team with the best
      record – this is a compromise that energizes interleague play and
      ends the All-Star game farce.

      It's rather easy: Add the records of the teams in each league at the
      end of interleague play, and the World Series representative of the
      winning league plays Games 1 and 2 at home.

      In the past, the plan would have behooved the American League, which
      has won interleague supremacy seven of the 11 years. Though before
      the AL's current four-year winning streak – nothing compared to the
      11 straight victories in non-tie All-Star games – the NL actually
      held the power in interleague play.

      Imagine this season. The NL is outplaying the AL in nearly every
      facet. Will that translate over the interleague schedule? There's
      actual intrigue.

      Frankly, you could flip a coin for World Series home field and it
      would be better than sitting through an exhibition and realizing
      that its results will skew the sport's championship. Get a bigger
      sample size – there are 252 interleague games this season – and
      reward the best league for success in games that matter, not the
      best players for winning a glorified sandlot game.

      The logical idea: Designated hitter in both parks

      To make the first idea fair, MLB needs to implement this one. Don't
      punish the AL by making its pitchers hit. Give NL fans a chance to
      see the DH in their home parks a few times a season.

      If these games are going to count for home field, there can be no
      sign of league bias.

      The simple idea: Better rivalries

      OK, we've got the Subway Series, North Side vs. South Side, the
      Beltway Series, L.A.'s Freeway Series, the Highway Series (I-70 for
      St. Louis-K.C. and I-71 for Cleveland-Cincinnati), the Bay Bridge
      Series, the Lone Star Series and the biggest of `em all this year,
      the Sunshine Series.

      Now can we please take care of some issues, like the Cubs playing
      the AL East this season – and not facing the Red Sox or Yankees. Or
      the White Sox and Brewers, about a 90-minute drive, not playing
      since 2001.

      Right now, baseball sticks with rather hard-and-fast rules about
      scheduling interleague.

      "The first priority is to get teams where they haven't been," said
      Katy Feeney, who is in charge of putting together baseball's

      That's important. It's not fair to starve fans from seeing certain
      teams. At the same time, it's imperative that the matchups stay
      relevant, that the best non-natural rivals don't wait years to play.

      The progressive idea: Neutral sites for non-traditional matchups

      Not that baseball plans to expand soon, but if MLB president and
      chief operating officer Bob DuPuy surges ahead and lifts the
      blackouts from television broadcasts, places such as Las Vegas and
      Puerto Rico and Portland, Ore., need to establish themselves as
      viable baseball locations. So treat them as such.

      Every team would play one neutral-site series, each city would host
      five series and the money from the games gets pooled and split
      evenly among the home teams, which would need the extra revenue to
      offset the losses of missing three home games.

      There will be whining. The facilities and the travel and the minor-
      league feel, oh my! Don't listen. The greater good wins out.

      The outlandish idea: The interleague draft

      Feeney started preparing the 2009 schedule in November 2007, so it
      makes the next idea a logistical nightmare. But, hey, MLB figured
      out how to get the Spider-Man logo off of bases. Surely it can
      implement a plan that would liven its product.

      Drafts provide great entertainment when the commodities are known,
      and in this case, the commodities would be teams. Every other year,
      one league's teams would "draft" opponents for one series.

      For example: Pittsburgh finished last in the NL last season, so it
      would get the No. 1 draft choice this year. Would it pick Oakland,
      because the A's were supposed to be rebuilding? Or might it have
      chosen Boston, a superior team that would almost guarantee sellout
      crowds for three consecutive nights?

      The Marlins would go next. They could select the Mariners and make
      them take a six-hour flight to Florida. Or they might opt for
      Detroit, so Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis would return one
      more time.

      Endless drama would spill out of draft day. Teams disrespected for
      going too early. The best in one league having to draft the best in
      the other, creating more must-see series. And all the potential on-
      field fireworks that could help turn fudged rivalries into
      legitimate ones.

      Last season, Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones complained
      interleague play wasn't fair because of an unbalanced schedule. I
      disagree. In the end, it evens out.

      And that's why MLB will be loath to accept any suggestions. It's got
      a good thing going. It doesn't offend too many people. It's a money-

      I like interleague play without these suggestions.

      Just not as much as I do with them.

      Jeff Passan is a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports.
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