Blagojevich guilty: 17 counts

A federal jury today convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of corruption.

Blogojevich showed no reaction as the jury found him guilty on 17 of 20 counts against him. He then sat back in his chair with his lips pursed and looked toward his wife Patti and whispered, "I love you."

 As he left hisRavenswood Manor home for the courtroom today, Blagojevich had told reporters, 
“My hands are shaking, my knees are weak.” He said he was praying for the best.  “It’s in God’s hands.”

Blagojevich stopped to hug one onlooker and thanked her for her support.  Another onlooker jeered, calling to Blagojevich to enjoy his time in jail.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and the head of Chicago'sFBI office, Robert Grant, were in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.

Jurors had barely begun their 10th day of deliberations when they told Judge James Zagel they had reached a verdict on 18 of 20 counts against the former governor.

“The jury has come to a unanimous decision on 18 of 20 counts … We are confident that we will not be able to come to agreement on the two counts even with further deliberation,” a note from the jury read.

Blagojevich took the stand at his retrial and denied all 20 counts. One allegation is that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

Jurors at Blagojevich's first trial last year came back deadlocked after deliberating for 14 days. They agreed on just one of 24 counts, convicting Blagojevich of lying to theFBI. He faces up to five years on that conviction.

If found guilty on all the counts this time, he faces up to 350 years in prison — though guidelines would dictate he get far less.

Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008, after theFBI had wiretapped hundreds of his telephone calls at work and home. TheIllinois Legislature impeached him a month later.

Both trials hinged on whether the former governor's bold ramblings to aides and others on the telephone was just talk, as he insisted, or part of "a political crime spree," in the words of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Before a national audience, the Blagojevich saga exacerbatedIllinois' reputation for graft. A conviction would mean Blagojevich is the secondIllinois governor in a row facing a prison sentence for corruption. His predecessor, former Gov. George Ryan, is serving a 6{ year sentence.

The case also became a media spectacle, as the indicted governor and his wife, Patti, appeared on TV reality shows, and as the loquacious Blagojevich made theatrical appearances daily outside the courthouse during the first trial to profess his innocence and hug his remaining fans.

In a case full of high-level name dropping, defense attorneys in the retrial pulled into court Chicago's new Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Emanuel's appearance on the witness stand, the most anticipated by a Chicago mayor in a federal courtroom in decades, was over in just five minutes. Jackson was done in about half an hour.

Overall, though, the retrial had far less of the circus-like atmosphere that accompanied the initial trial. Blagojevich himself also was more subdued this time.

Other major differences were in the prosecution's dramatically streamlined case, and the fact that the defense put on a case after not doing so the first time around.

Prosecutors dropped racketeering counts against the ex-governor and dismissed all charges against his then co-defendant brother, Robert Blagojevich. They presented just three weeks of evidence — half the time taken at the first trial. They called fewer witnesses, asked fewer questions and played shorter excerpts ofFBI wiretaps that underpin most of the charges.

There was also a new variable at the retrial: The testimony from Blagojevich himself. At the first trial, the defense rested without calling any witnesses and Blagojevich didn't testify despite vowing that he would.

Retrial jurors saw a deferential Blagojevich look them in the eyes and deny every allegation, telling them his talk on the recordings was mere brainstorming. This time, jurors must decide if they believe him.

Contributing: Associated Press

U.S. Veteran Faces Legal Action for Flying American Flag

A member of a military Honor Guard stands at parade rest during a Memorial Day remembrance at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Boston Common in Boston, Thursday morning, May 26, 2011. Ten thousand American flags have been place near the monument to represent the number of Massachusetts citizens who have given their lives in America's wars. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

A retired U.S. Army chaplain is being threatened with legal action for flying the American flag in his front yard, the Daily Mail reports.

Fred Quigley, 77, of Macedonia, Ohio, a minister who served active duty during the Vietnam War, has been told by the homeowners’ association that his flag violates the property rules.

The association has offered to fly the flag at the entrance of the building development, but Quigley refused the offer.

“If they can dictate to me that I cannot fly an American flag in America, then, to me, the country is lost,” Mr. Quigley told the paper.

 Quigley's lawyer Gerald Patronite said the association has no right to stop his client.

According to the Mail, Joseph Migliorini, the representative for the homeowners’ association and former mayor of Macedonia, which is between Cleveland and Akron, said he plans to take Quigley to court if the flagpole is not removed.

Migliorini said: “We just want the rules and regulations followed. “

Members of the local American Legion post joined Quigley last week in a flag-raising ceremony in protest at the association's policy.

Quigley said that he's been given until Monday to remove the flag, or legal action will be taken by the association.

"As a minister and a chaplain, I have fought for people," Quigley said. "Now I fight for myself."

Kansas: Golfers hit consecutive holes-in-one

Greg Bontrager, left, and Justin Pressnall had back-to-back hole-in-ones at the Hesston Golf Course at hole 17. (June 23, 2011) Photo by Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle

BY BOB LUTZ-The Wichita Eagle

What are the odds that a golfer will make a hole in one?

* Two players from the same foursome acing the same hole: 17 million to 1

* One player making two holes-in-one in the same round: 67 million to 1

I'm going to give you the details of what happened last Thursday on hole No. 17 at the Hesston Golf Park. You're not going to believe them. You're going to think I'm making them up to get attention. Or that I've gotten into the liquor cabinet.

On the 212-yard par 3 hole, Greg Bontrager and Justin Pressnall, involved in match play against one another, made back-to-back holes-in-one.

Stay with me here.

Pressnall, raised in Moundridge and now living in McPherson, hit first. The wind was blowing gently toward the No. 17 green as he launched a six-iron.

It was a pretty shot, one that was definitely going to land on the green.

But Paul Voran, who was in the foursome, screamed out that it was something more than just a good shot. He said Pressnall's ball went into the cup, although it was difficult for anyone to see exactly what happened.

Clearly, everyone in the group needed a moment to contemplate. And to wonder.

Then Bontrager, a music teacher in Buhler who lives in Newton, stepped to the tee box. He and Pressnall barely knew one another from their participation in the Hesston men's club. They've never been golfing buddies and could never have known they were about to do something so incredible, so amazing, so unbelievable that they would forever be bound together.

Using a 23-degree hybrid, Bontrager hit his tee shot. Remember, now, everyone on the tee box had just gone through the emotions of what at least one of them swore was a hole-in-one by Pressnall, so the energy level was high.

Bontrager's shot, he said, mirrored the shot hit by Pressnall. The golf ball took the same path of flight and landed on the green and looked to roll straight toward the flag stick.

Could it be? Had a couple of small-town Kansas guys — decent golfers but nothing close to scratch — done the impossible? Or at least accomplished something National Hole-In-One Registry determined has at least 17 million to 1 odds?

But that's on a typical par-3, whatever a typical par-3 is. Hesston's No. 17, at 212 yards, isn't typical.

Hesston pro Scott Welsh, who has been at the course for 11 years, estimates there are three or four holes-in-one on No. 17 a year, among the thousands of rounds played.

"It's not a hole that regularly gives up holes-in-one,'' Welsh said. "I don't remember where the pin was that day, but does it really matter?"

No, probably not.

Neither Bontrager nor Pressnall had ever had a hole-in-one.

As they neared the No. 17 green, neither saw his ball on the green. The anticipation was enormous, but had to be contained. The worst thing would have been for Bontrager and Pressnell to get their hopes up, then be disappointed.

"We all jumped out of our carts and went running up there pretty quick when we noticed there were no balls,'' Pressnall said. "Greg's partner (Voran) got to the hole first and looked into the cup and saw both balls sitting in there.''

Another moment was needed.

"We never really believed it until then,'' Bontrager said. "You want it to be, but you're not going to get too excited before you actually see it.''

At that point, both golfers went a little crazy. It was so loud, they said, that golfers on nearby holes stopped to take notice. And the celebrating lasted for a good long time, a combination of euphoria and disbelief.

Mostly disbelief.

"I've always wanted to just witness a hole-in-one,'' Bontrager said. "It was just crazy.''

The two golfers might have stopped their rounds right there. Called it a night and rushed to a nearby watering hole to rehash the story over and over and over.

But there was a match to be decided. Pressnall had a one-hole match-play lead over Bontrager as they stood on the No. 17 tee and Pressnall, for good reason, probably thought he had locked up the match with his shot.

It turned into a push, however, and Bontrager won No. 18 with a par to Pressnall's bogey. It's probably justice that they tied the match.

Thursday night, Bontrager and Pressnall treated the other players in the men's league to a barbecue and drinks. Probably a few drinks, considering the immensity of their accomplishment.

"If something like this happened on the PGA Tour, I'm sure it would make the Top 10 plays,'' Bontrager said.

Instead, it happened in Hesston, Kan. Two shots heard 'round the world.

Or at least 'round Harvey County.

This is no urban legend. Years from now, when this story of back-to-back holes-in-one is being told yet again, non-believers will be shrill in their skepticism.

But this happened. It really happened.

Rare Billy the Kid photograph sold for $2.3 million

Henry McCarty, a.k.a. Billy the Kid, is pictured in this photograph obtained by Reuters on December 16, 2010.

By Keith Coffman

(Reuters) - The only authenticated photograph of infamous Wild West gunslinger Billy the Kid was auctioned off to Florida billionaire William Koch for an $2.3 million on Saturday night.

Koch, an energy company executive and well-known collector of art and American West artifacts, placed the winning bid in person before stunned onlookers at Brian Lebel's annual Old West Auction in Denver.

Lebel said at an auction preview that he expected the tintype image to sell for between $300,000 and $400,000.

Koch told Reuters after the auction that he plans to allow some small museums to display the piece, and after that he will "just enjoy" the iconic piece.

"I love the old West," he said. "This is a part of American history."

The metallic photo, taken outside a Fort Sumner, New Mexico, saloon in late 1879 or early 1880, depicts the outlaw gripping the upright barrel of a Winchester carbine, with a Colt 45 pistol strapped to his hip.

The photograph was owned by the descendants of Dan Dedrick, who was given the photo by his cattle rustling partner, Billy the Kid himself.

Born Henry McCarty, but known in New Mexico as William Bonney, the Kid was shot dead at age 22 by lawman Pat Garrett in 1881, months after a jailbreak in which Bonney reportedly killed two deputies.

In the 130 years since his death, Billy the Kid has been depicted, with varying degrees of accuracy, in scores of popular culture movies and books.

Koch's winning bid was actually $2 million, but a $300,000 "buyer's premium" was tacked on, bringing the total selling price to $2.3 million, an auction spokeswoman said.

Brian Lebel said he was pleased that the photo wasn't sold to an overseas buyer.

"I'm happy that it will stay in this country and will be shared with the public," he said.

Koch is one of the sons of Fred C. Koch, founder of Wichita, Kansas-based energy conglomerate Koch Industries, one of the largest private companies in the United States.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Ellen Wulfhorst)

Gold Cup: Mexico 4–2 USA

Associated Press - US vs Mexico, Gold Cup
Mexico celebrate with the Gold Cup after defeating the USA 4-2 in the final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Photograph: Mike Nelson/EPA

Javier Hernández named the most valuable player.

West Ham United's Pablo Barrera scored twice as Mexico beat the USA 4-2 to claim a second consecutive Concacaf Gold Cup. Andrés Guardado and Giovani dos Santos also scored for Mexico, who have now won the tournament six times. "There's no better moment than victory," Mexico's coach, José Manuel de la Torre, said. "Everything else is in the past now."

The USA got off to a bright start as Michael Bradley headed in Freddy Adu's corner after eight minutes and Landon Donovan added to the lead 15 minutes later.

"You're worried and you don't want to become disorganised," De la Torre said about falling behind early. "The United States was playing well. They surprised us with the first goal. We pushed too far up in the second goal. Fortunately, we were able to maintain our calm."

Barrera scored his first when he sent the ball just inside the right post in the 29th minute and Guardado equalised for Mexico seven minutes later after a deflected pass from Dos Santos found its way into the winger's path.

Barrera gave Mexico the lead in the 50th minute, when he slipped a shot beneath the right hand of Tim Howard. Dos Santos sealed the win in the 76th minute by lofting the ball over Eric Lichaj into an empty net.

"Things were difficult, but the coach told us to fight every single play," said the Manchester United striker Javier Hernández, who scored seven goals and was named the tournament's most valuable player. "Our attitude is in our hands."

The USA coach Bob Bradley said he hoped the loss would be a "learning experience" for his squad. "We're disappointed," he added. "A game like this, when you're together for a month, you feel like you've grown and put yourself in the final and let it get away ... it's an empty feeling."

Donovan said the team did a good job containing Hernández but didn't have an answer for Mexico's other players, including Barrera and Dos Santos. "They're as dynamic as any Mexican team I've played against," he said. "They've got a few guys who can change the game in a heartbeat."

The attendance of 93,420 was the largest for a Gold Cup match in the United States, but the vast majority of the crowd were supporting Mexico.

"Obviously, the support that Mexico has on a night like tonight makes it a home game for them," Bradley said. "It's something that we expected. As a team, we understand that it's part of what we've got to deal with."

Antarctic penguin ends up 4,000 miles away from home

London, June 24 : A penguin took a wrong turn in the Antarctic and landed up some 4,000 miles away in New Zealand, a media report said Friday.

The ten-month-old bird has been moved to Wellington Zoo so it can be better looked after, Daily Mail reported.

The penguin was taken to a hospital after it had eaten sand that it confused with snow. It showed signs of distress as it waddled up and down the Peka Peka Beach on the North Island.

Emperor penguins, the largest of the species, normally feed on fish, krill, and squid.

The penguin probably started eating the sand to cool itself down as they normally do with snow if they get too hot, the Mail quoted Peter Simpson of New Zealand's conservation department as saying.

Despite it being winter in New Zealand, the country is enjoying temperatures of up to 18 degrees Celsius - too warm for a bird who is around 4,000 miles from its frozen Antarctic home.


Stranded penguin moved to zoo over health fears
Dr. Lisa Argilla, Wellington Zoo
The manager of veteranary science at the Wellington Zoo says the emperor penguin who was found on a New Zealand beach is recovering after a procedure to remove sand from his stomach.
The stray Emperor penguin was found thousands of miles from its home in Antarctica. The rare animal was discovered on Peka Peka Beach in New Zealand.

The Associated Press WELLINGTON, New Zealand — After planning to let nature take its course, wildlife officials moved a stranded emperor penguin from a New Zealand beach to a zoo Friday after its health appeared to be worsening.

The young penguin had been eating sand and small sticks of driftwood, which it tried to regurgitate. First seen on a North Island beach Monday, the penguin appeared more lethargic as the week progressed, and officials feared it would die if they didn't intervene.

The rare venture north by an Antarctic species captured public imagination, and experts initially said the bird appeared healthy and well-fed and intervention was unnecessary.

They became concerned enough to step in Friday.

Three experts lifted the penguin from the beach into a tub of ice and then onto the back of a truck. The bird was docile, so they didn't sedate it for the 65-km journey from Peka Peka Beach to the Wellington Zoo, said one of the helpers, Colin Miskelly, a curator at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand.

It made sense that a penguin might mistake sand for Antarctic snow, which emperors eat for hydration, Miskelly said, but he had no explanation for the bird eating wood.

Miskelly said experts at the zoo were considering sedating the penguin and putting it on an intravenous drip as they tried to nurse it back to health. Ideally, the bird would heal enough that it could be released into the wild.

Miskelly noted no facilities in New Zealand were designed to house an emperor penguin long-term. It's the tallest and largest penguin species and can grow up to 4 feet (122 centimetres) high and weigh more than 75 pounds (34 kilograms).

Christine Wilton, the local resident who discovered the penguin Monday while walking her dog, was back at the beach Friday to say goodbye.

"I'm so pleased it's going to be looked after," she said. "He needed to get off the beach. He did stand up this morning, but you could tell that he wasn't happy."

Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said veterinarians would give the bird a full health check. The zoo clinic has a salt water pool which has been used in the past to nurse smaller varieties of penguins, she said.

Often sick birds require rehabilitation for a month or two before being released, Baker said, adding that some creatures with severe injuries remain in captivity.

Experts believe the penguin is about 10 months old. It stands about 80 cm high. Experts haven't yet determined whether it is male or female.

Emperor penguins typically spend their entire lives in Antarctica, the coast of which is about 3,200 km from the North Island beach where the penguin was stranded. It has been 44 years since an emperor penguin was last spotted in New Zealand.

'Cars 2': Fast start at the box office

Disney's 'Cars 2' has grossed $8.4 million as Friday afternoon and is expected to cume roughly $60 million this weekend.

Disney Pixar's "Cars 2" is off to a racing start at the domestic box office, cuming $8.3 million at 4,115 locations as of Friday afternoon.

Sony's "Bad Teacher" grossed $1.4 million in 3,049 domestic plexes, with B.O. observers expecting an uptick with the over-25 Friday night auds.

"Teacher" tracking, which popped Friday, puts the film in line to collect in the high $20 to low $30 million range through Sunday, according to insiders. Even if the laffer doesn't hit that range, a bow north of $20 million would still be an exceptional start given the film's production costs at just under $20 million. "Cars 2" will likely top out around $60 million for the weekend.

The toon's Friday numbers suggest that more families headed to the multiplexes in the afternoon than anticipated, perhaps due to many schools' summer vacations. Pic should still show a sizeable uptick on Saturday with parents not working.

"Cars" will likely see the frame's best hold on Sunday as family films typically play better than any other genre.

"Teacher" should see a nice Friday evening cume with the popularity of R-rated comedies like "Hangover 2" and "Bridesmaids" likely boosting appeal for the Sony laffer.

"Bridesmaids" saw a 26% uptick on opening Saturday numbers over Friday numbers with a 26% downturn on Sunday. B.O. observers could expect to see similar percentage shifts for "Teacher."

"Cars 2" is in the lead with Friday ticket sales, accounting for 72% via online ticketing service Fandango. Contact Andrew Stewart at andrew.stewart@variety.com

Mexican troops cross into the United States

A convoy of three military trucks loaded with Mexican soldiers crosses the border at Bridge Number Two clearly violating international law.

It happens as Customs and Border Protection inspectors try to figure out what to do.

A CBP spokesperson says they got on the phone with Mexican authorities after being alerted that the military trucks were heading their direction loaded down with soldiers and weapons.

Mexican leaders say the soldiers, who had just been deployed to Nuevo Laredo, didn't know the area, got lost and then made their way through Bridge Two.

It's important to note that CBP did not tell us about the potentially serious situation. It came from another law enforcement agency.

Some callers to our newsroom were upset inspectors allowed the Mexican military to get so close to all those inspection booths over at Bridge Number Two.

Some noted had it been Mexican drug lords they could have taken inspectors by surprise and easily crossed the international border deeper into the United States.

For more information contact:

Dept. of Home Land Security

Customs and Border Protection

Major quake hits Pacific off Alaska, tsunami warning issued

(Reuters) - A major earthquake of 7.4 magnitude hit in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday 107 miles east of Atka, Alaska, and at a depth of about 25 miles in the Pacific Ocean, and a tsunami warning was in effect for coastal Alaska, the U.S. Geologic Survey said. (Writing by Philip Barbara, editing by Peter Cooney)

Earthquake Details
Magnitude    7.4

    Friday, June 24, 2011 at 03:09:39 UTC
    Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 06:09:39 PM at epicenter
    Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location    52.042°N, 171.842°W
Depth    46.8 km (29.1 miles)
Distances    64 km (39 miles) SW of Amukta Island, Alaska
103 km (64 miles) SW of Yunaska Island, Alaska
1677 km (1042 miles) WSW of Anchorage, Alaska
2429 km (1509 miles) W of WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory, Canada
Location Uncertainty    horizontal +/- 20.2 km (12.6 miles); depth +/- 11 km (6.8 miles)
Parameters    NST=283, Nph=283, Dmin=228.2 km, Rmss=0.97 sec, Gp= 61°,
M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=6

Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good - Official Movie Trailer

Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good - Official Movie Trailer

Drug traffickers or human smugglers probably started Arizona fires

Massive wildfires in eastern Arizona that have scorched 250,000 acres were probably started by Mexican drug traffickers or human smugglers, an Arizona sheriff told Fox News on Wednesday.

During a televised interview on Fox News, Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said the most recent blaze -- the so-called Monument Fire -- was "man-caused" and began about a week ago near Coronado National Forest, where the border fence ends. Dever said the 4,700-acre park had been closed for days prior to the start of the fire.

"The bottom line is, there was nobody in the park [who] would've been there legally," Dever said. "There were no vehicles, no nothing.  It's a high-intensity drug trafficking and human smuggling area. We have scouts that hang out there all the time. They light signal fires, they light warming fires because it gets cold at night … There is nothing to indicate that there was any other cause. And the highest probability -- not possibility -- is that this is how this fire started."

Mexican Drug Smugglers to Blame for Arizona Wildfire?

Sheriff responds to McCain's comments

Federal authorities have said humans started the three major wildfires currently raging in Arizona, but it remains unclear whether illegal immigrants were involved. The second major blaze, the Wallow fire, is now 58 percent contained as of Wednesday after destroying at least 32 homes and burning nearly 828 square miles in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico since late May. The Horseshoe Two, meanwhile, is now 95 percent contained after scorching 348 square miles and 23 structures since May 8.

"It's a man-caused fire," Dever continued. "Whether it was a random campfire, a signal fire, a cigarette flung by a smuggling group, or arson, there's no way to know at this point."

An aerial photograph purportedly taken on June 12 of the area by American Border Patrol, an independent organization that monitors the border, claims the blaze actually started in Mexico and traveled upwind into the United States. Dever said that was an "accurate picture" of what occurred.

"There's really only one likely source of this fire and that's someone who was moving through the area illegally," Dever told FoxNews.com during a brief interview. "It's evidence of illegal trafficking. It's the result of illegal activity any way you look at it. It wasn't naturally caused."

Dever continued: "And this isn't the first time. This has been going on for years. I'd ask anyone to present me another logical explanation."

Jeff Olson, a spokesman for the National Park Service, told FoxNews.com that the cause of the Monument Fire remains under investigation by National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service personnel.

Dever's statements came just days after Sen. John McCain ignited a firestorm of his own by saying there is "substantial evidence" that illegal immigrants were to blame for the blazes. During a weekend news conference, McCain said undocumented aliens "have set fires because they wanted to signal others … and they have set fires because they wanted to divert law enforcement agencies."

On Tuesday, following a barrage of criticism regarding those statements, McCain told NBC's "Today" show he was "puzzled" by the barrage of criticism after his remarks.

"We know that people who come across our border illegally … that these fires are sometimes, some of them, caused by this," he said. "I'm puzzled … that there should be any controversy."

McCain said he was repeating information given to him during a recent briefing with federal officials.

McCain's statements angered Roberto Reveles, the founding president of the Phoenix-based Hispanic civil rights group Somos America.

"It's his constant refrain for everything that ails mankind," he told the Associated Press. "It just seems like we have an epidemic of, 'Blame it all on the illegal aliens, blame it all on the Mexicans.' It's amazing that the public doesn't rebel against this type of scapegoating."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

California lawmakers: No budget, no pay

By Jim Christie
There's no reward for a job poorly done, California lawmakers were told on Tuesday as their wages and expense pay were suspended after passing a budget that did not "add up."

Controller John Chiang on Tuesday said he was acting under terms of a law approved by voters last year, the "On-Time Budget Act of 2010," to withhold lawmakers' pay if they miss a mid-June deadline for balancing the state's books.

Democrats pushed a budget through the legislature last week, but Governor Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat, vetoed the budget a day later, saying it was filled with "legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings" and didn't close a $10 billion gap.

Chiang on Tuesday vowed to withhold paychecks until lawmakers submit a balanced spending plan for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.

Last Wednesday was the deadline for lawmakers to submit a budget to Brown.

"My office's careful review of the recently passed budget found components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished," Chiang, also a Democrat, said in a statement.

"The numbers simply did not add up, and the legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the governor," he said.

Assembly Speaker John Perez said Chiang's decision gives the legislature's Republican minority control of the budget process, since they have refused to vote for Brown's plans to put a temporary tax extension up to a popular vote.

Without any Republicans lending support for that, Democratic leaders said they opted to drop Brown's plan to try to push through their own budget last week.

California is notorious for late budgets. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the state's current budget last October, 100 days after it should have been in place.

Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, said the loss of pay could act as a catalyst. "Withholding paychecks might lubricate discussions," he said.

A report released by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on the heels of Chiang's statement may also encourage California's leaders to bear down on the budget.

California's already low credit rating is at a "crossroad," S&P said.

A lengthy budget impasse extending into the new year could result in a "patchwork" budget similar to one Brown vetoed, S&P said, which "may lead us to lower the state's long-term rating depending upon the severity and duration of the cash crisis that we believe could precede it."

Legislators were quick to voice their discontent.

"Our state government right now reminds me of a troop of boys lost in the wilderness," Democrat Mike Gatto said in a statement.

(Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Pixar Announces Official Date for New Film

By Alex Suskind
A new Pixar film is on the horizon! Granted, we don't have much information on it yet.

The good news is that today Disney decided to set an official release date for a yet-to-be-named, original, non-sequel Pixar flick. The bad news is that it won't be out until November 27, 2013 (well, that and the fact that we don't know what the actual film is going to be about). But just because we're in the dark doesn't mean that we can't begin speculating.

Hit the jump for a few guesses on what it may be as well as what else is on the horizon at Pixar.

'Cars 2' comes out this Friday, June 24. On deck for 2012 is 'Brave,' a story set in medieval Scotland; it will also be the studio's first foray into fairy tales, as well as the first to star a female protagonist. 'Monsters University,' the prequel to 2001's 'Monsters, Inc.' is slated for a June 2013 release date.

As for this to-be-determined project, /film had a prediction as to what it may turn out to be: "The best guess we have is that this is 'Up' director Pete Docter's mystery project, which we heard about last year. He was working with 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'Toy Story 3' writer Michael Arndt on the film."

For more information visit: http://www.pixar.com/

Marie Osmond: is 'Bold and Beautiful'

With all she has done in her career, there's still one thing Marie Osmond has not done that she can now check off of her list: appear on a soap.

Osmond told "Entertainment Tonight"  on the red carpet at the 38th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards that she has agreed to take a role on the CBS daytime drama.

Standing with one of the soaps stars and an Osmond family friend, Adam Gregory who plays "Thomas Forrester," Osmond joked about becoming a daytime actress.

"That's right, you only have 'One Life to Live,' and 'All My Children' asked me to do a soap, so I'm doing 'The Bold and the Beautiful,' 'cause I'm bold, and he's beautiful," the NutriSystem spokeswoman and former "Dancing with the Stars" contestant said.

Asked whether she would be playing Gregory's love interest on the show, Osmond joked that anything is possible as she is only "7 years older" than the actor.
For more information visit:

Miss California Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA!

(NewsCore) - Miss California Alyssa Campanella beat a field of 50 other girls competing for the title of Miss USA Sunday, to take home the crown at the annual beauty pageant.

The 21-year-old redhead -- a full-time model who was born and raised in New Jersey -- will represent America at the Miss Universe pageant to be held in San Saulo, Brazil on September 12.

Second at the event, held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino and televised live on NBC, was Miss Tennessee Ashley Durham, while Miss Alabama Madeline Mitchell came third and Miss Texas Ana Rodriguez was fourth.

Campanella replaced Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih, a Lebanese-born Muslim who was the first Arab-American to hold the title.

Miss Kentucky Kia Hampton won Miss Congeniality USA, while Miss Arizona Brittany Brannon won Miss Photogenic USA.

Beverly Hills: Johnny Cash Items Will Be Auctioned

Handwritten lyrics to three of Johnny Cash's songs will be put up for auction. Julien's Auctions will sell the lyrics to "Billy Brown," "The Dogs Are In The Woods" and "Dan." A black jacket missing a button that Cash gave to a friend will also be sold, as will Cash's white cotton shirt.

Photos by Ray Tharaldson
all right reserved

Other items for sale include a cowboy hat autographed by Garth Brooks and Joe Stampley's blue shirt and pants covered with embroidered horses. The auction will be held June 25 and 26 in Beverly Hills, California.

For more information visit:

Clarence Clemons dies; Springsteen sax man

By Terence McArdle
Clarence Clemons, 69, the tenor saxophonist who worked with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, died Saturday after suffering a stroke June 12 at his Florida home.

A spokeswoman for Springsteen confirmed Mr. Clemons’s death to the Associated Press.

In a career spanning five decades, Mr. Clemons worked with performers ranging from Aretha Franklin to Lady Gaga and also led his own bands, the Red Bank Rockers and the Temple of Soul.

But he was best known for his big-toned sax work with Springsteen.

Mr. Clemons, whom Springsteen called “the Big Man” for his formidable presence, was a focal point of the E Street Band’s performances. His calm, almost stoical demeanor contrasted with Springsteen’s kinetic antics. His solos dominated such Springsteen songs as “Jungleland,” “Spirit in the Night” and “Born to Run.” In concert, Springsteen would tell “Big Man” stories and rest his ear against Mr. Clemons’s saxophone during his solos. He would also land at Mr. Clemons’s feet as he darted across the stage.

In a statement late Saturday, Springsteen said, “His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years.”

The saxophonist joined Springsteen in 1971, a year before the singer-songwriter’s first recordings, when both musicians were still hustling gigs in New Jersey bars — and remained with him until 1989, later rejoining the band for reunion tours.

“Nobody would argue that he was a ground-breaking musician,” said rock critic Anthony DeCurtis. “But Bruce didn’t need a virtuoso. It was about a band and, as a sax player in that band, Clarence was fantastic.”

“He had a symbolic importance in the band and in the larger E Street Band mythology; a sense of bridging a racial gap in a creative partnership. And all of the lore surrounding him was as important to Bruce as his playing.”

Part of the lore was a fictionalized account of their first meeting. Onstage, Springsteen would tell of fearfully encountering Mr. Clemons at night. Mr. Clemons extended his hand, they shook and “sparks flew on E Street.”

Springsteen immortalized their partnership in his song “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”:

When the change was made uptown

And the Big Man joined the band

From the coastline to the city

All the little pretties raise their hands

I’m gonna sit back right easy and laugh

When Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half

“Bruce created a whole mythology for the Jersey shore on his early records — a created landscape like in literature,” DeCurtis said. “All the guys in the band had nicknames, they all had a role and the one who had the biggest role was Clarence — the Big Man.”

Mr. Clemons was Springsteen’s link to the early era of rock-and-roll when the sax, not the guitar, was the genre’s dominant instrument. As the saxophone became less prominent in Springsteen’s music in later years, Mr. Clemons’s work with the E Street Band brought him other opportunities.

He had small acting roles in Martin Scorsese’s 1977 film “New York, New York” and on the HBO series “The Wire.” He also toured with his band, Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers, which a Washington Post reviewer described as “solid as it dug into well-worn soul grooves” but “less effective when trying to stretch into contemporary rock.”

Mr. Clemons’s sax solo graced Aretha Franklin’s 1985 hit “Freeway of Love,” and that same year, he duetted with singer-songwriter Jackson Browne on the pop hit “You’re a Friend of Mine.” More recently, he appeared on Lady Gaga’s album “Born This Way.”

Clarence Clemons was born Jan. 11, 1942, in the Tidewater region of Virginia. His father owned a fish market. Mr. Clemons sang in church groups, but it was the unanticipated Christmas gift of an alto saxophone — he’d asked for an electric train — that whetted his interest in music.

In high school, he switched to tenor sax after hearing recordings by rhythm and blues great King Curtis.

Mr. Clemons attended Maryland State College on a football and music scholarship and played in bar bands on summer break. He moved to Newark and continued to work at music while counseling emotionally disturbed children at the New Jersey Training School for Boys in nearby Jamesburg.

While performing with a cover band in Asbury Park, Mr. Clemons went down the street to take in Springsteen’s show.

“I had my saxophone with me, and when I walked in this club — no lie — a gust of wind just blew the door down the street. Boof!” he recalled to People magazine. “I say, ‘I want to play. Can I sit in?’ Bruce says, ‘Hey, you can do anything you want. Take a couple of background singers, anything.’ ”

Mr. Clemons quit his job and joined Springsteen’s band. He later recalled that he initially made only $15 a week.

His first marriage ended in divorce. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

Mr. Clemons was once asked why he received almost as much applause as Springsteen on their shows together.

“It’s because of my innocence,” he said. “I have no agenda — just to be loved. Somebody said to me, ‘Whenever somebody says your name, a smile comes to their face.’  That’s a great accolade. I strive to keep it that way.”

U2 guitarist loses bid for Malibu mansion

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A plan by U2's lead guitarist, the Edge, and his associates to build several mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean was denied on Thursday by California officials, who said the project would be a visual blight on a pristine ridgeline.

The California Coastal Commission, which voted 8-4 to reject the controversial 156-acre project, also cited potential damage to native vegetation near the seaside enclave of Malibu.

The Edge, whose real name is David Evans, bought the ridge-top parcel of land for his proposed home in 2005 and has since been fighting to win approval for the development.

A spokeswoman for the Edge said the guitarist and his associates were weighing a potential lawsuit and other options to revive the project.

The Edge had touted the proposed complex of mansions as an environmentally sustainable undertaking that would boast such features as solar energy panels, a rainwater catchment system and on-site electric vehicle charging.

The musician and his associates also said the five homes they were planning to build would collectively occupy just over 1 acre of the 156 acres of private land they had purchased for the development.

Officials with the California Coastal Commission argued the proposal was deceptively presented as five separate developments even though the Edge was the single driving force behind it.

The commission also noted the other principals behind the project were closely tied to the Edge, and included his sister and his business partner.

Environmentalists had opposed the development, saying it would mar views of the ridgeline for over a mile along the coast, a fact cited by commission staff.

Malibu City Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal told Reuters that many of her constituents would agree with the commission's decision.

"Absolutely it's been a big issue, and people have been talking about it and are concerned about it," she said.

Fiona Hutton, a spokeswoman for the Edge, said California officials have approved dozens of other similar projects in the area.

"We'd like to be treated fairly, like any other applicant that comes before the Coastal Commission," she said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Steve Gorman)

Rush Limbaugh launches his own brand of (patriotic) iced tea

By Fiona Roberts
Now we know what devoted Tea Party members will be drinking at their summer barbecues.

Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh today revealed he is launching his very own brand of iced tea.

Fed up of trying to fight the current 'oppressive regime' on the airwaves, the controversial presenter hopes he can take make his mark on America with a patriotic beverage instead.

New venture: Rush Limbaugh revealed he is launching his own brand of iced tea on his radio show today - and it comes with a typically patriotic message.

Emblazoned with a picture of Limbaugh dressed in full colonial costume, 'Two If By Tea' takes its name from Longfellow's famous poem, Paul Revere's Last Ride, about the arrival of British troops during the War of Independence.

According to its website, the tea represents 'traditional American values of capitalism and the pursuit of excellence', and each bottle 'is designed to rise above the sameness and mediocrity that threatens our great nation.'

Limbaugh announced the unexpected new sideline halfway through his show this morning, saying: 'There I am in all of my glory on every bottle on the shrink wrap...as Rush Revere. The liberals are coming, folks!'

Patriotic: The website for Two if by Tea depicts Limbaugh in full colonial garb on a horse, and draws its name from the poem Paul Revere's Ride.

Limbaugh fans can try two flavours, both of which are available in diet.


Paul Revere's Ride was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1861. It opens with:

Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, 'If the British march

By land or sea from the town to-night,

Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch

Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--

One if by land, and two if by sea;

And I on the opposite shore will be,

Ready to ride and spread the alarm

Through every Middlesex village and farm,

For the country folk to be up and to arm.'

Describing it as 'kick butt', he urged his listeners to go online and fork out $23.76 for a 12 pack.

He said: 'You are going to want to chug it and you are going to regret you didn't order more after you taste it.'

Following a long line of new product promoters, he told listeners: 'It tastes just like my mother used to make iced tea when I was growing up.'

And he didn't just put himself on the label - according to his website, Limbaugh went through dozens of blind tasting sessions and is now an accredited tea tasting specialist.

It comes in original and raspberry flavours, and both are available in low-calorie versions.

But he reassures dieters: 'you still get a dose of pure Americana in every single drop you taste.'

A percentage of every sale will go to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity which helps the children of servicemen who died in combat.

He said: 'I wanted to demonstrate that even in this economy, with an oppressive regime like the one we have standing in the way of economic growth that it can still happen with ambition and with ingenuity and with desire.'

For more information or to donate to the 
Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation contact:

110-Year-Old Light Bulb Still Shines

A light bulb in the northern California town of Livermore has been glowing continuously for more than a century.

The Centennial Bulb, as its known by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, will celebrate its 110th birthday on June 18, making it the longest-burning light bulb in the world.

Lynn Owens, a retired department division chief and light bulb centennial committee chairman, told the BBC the low watt current that runs through it may have prolonged the light bulb's life, but no one really knows how it's kept burning for so long.

The legendary bulb was manufactured by the Shelby Electric Company of Ohio and has served a number of city fire department facilities since it was first used in 1901. It currently resides at the fire department's Station 6.

According to the city's website, both the Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe It-Or-Not have certified its authenticity.

The bulb also has a livecam that refreshes every 10 seconds, which you can see here.

Distributed by Internet Broadcasting. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Stanley Cup final: Boston 4, Vancouver 0

The Bruins broke things open in the second period by scoring twice, the second time while shorthanded. It got so quiet in Rogers Arena you could hear the Stanley Cup being polished — and not for presentation to the Canucks.

Despite having led the NHL in goals scored during the regular season the Canucks couldn’t get anything going against the Bruins and Tim Thomas. And goaltender Roberto Luongo undermined their feeble efforts with a flat-footed effort on the third goal and no inspirational saves that might have boosted his team’s spirits.

The Bruins didn’t get a shot in the second period until more than seven minutes had passed, but they made their shots count. After taking a pass from 43-year-old Mark Recchi — who might be playing in the final game of his distinguished NHL career — Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg took a long slap shot that Luongo saved with his chest. But Luongo couldn’t control the rebound and Brad Marchand pounced on it, controlled it and took a wraparound shot that eluded Luongo at 12:13.

Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara was serving the game’s first penalty—for interference, called at 16:07—when the Bruins scored again. Patrice Bergeron broke in alone on Luongo and was impeded by Vancouver defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. The referee raised his hand to signal a penalty, but the puck slid into the net at 17:35. The play was reviewed and the goal stood, a stunning blow to a team that was being outscored, 22-8, in the Cup finals.

Canucks in a last ditch effort pulled their goalie and the Bruins scored their forth game winning goal.

Tim Thomas of the Bruins was awarded most valuable player.

Ricky Skaggs appearing at the Three Rivers Art Festival

Written by Rich Kienzle, photos by Ray Tharaldson.
Fourteen-time Grammy Award winner Ricky Skaggs, will be appearing at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburg, PA Saturday at 8 PM with his band Kentucky Thunder.

Ricky Scaggs grew up in rural Kentucky with parents who loved bluegrass music.  When he was five, he harmonized with his mother and got his first mandolin (1959).  A year later, he played with Father of Bluegrass onstage hen Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys performed in nearby Martha, Kentucky.  Monroe even placed that famous 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin around the six year old's neck.

A year later, the Skaggs family moved to Goodlettsvile, Tennessee and Ricky had appeared on the Grand Ole Opry as a guest (where some officials disliked the fact he sang adult tunes and not kids' songs) and on the Lester Flatt-Earl Scruggs syndicated TV show sponsored by Martha White Flour.

photos by Ray Tharaldson
all rights reserved

Note Lester just ending a Martha White commercial when Ricky saunters up, and take note of his hot mandolin picking on the Flatt-Scruggs original "Foggy Mountain Special," basically just a 12-bar blues complete with a quote from "Yankee Doodle."

 In 1969. back in Kentucky, Skaggs met singer-guitarist Keith Whitley, who was the same age and had a similar musical bent. The two became brilliant harmony singers, so much so that when they joined Ralph Stanley's band, Stanley brought back numbers he hadn't sung since his brother Carter Stanley died in 1966. Skaggs and Whitley worked with Stanley over summer vacations until they graduated high school and joined Stanley's band full time. Whitley later became a mainstream country star in his own right before dying from alcoholism in 1989.

On this 1980 performance, Skaggs, then with Emmylou Harris's Hot Band, perform "Hello Stranger," a traditional tune from her 1977 Luxury Liner album (recorded before Skaggs joined her)

In '85, Skaggs made this video to accompany his single "Country Boy," written by guitar legend Albert Lee, known for his fiery country and rock playing.  Skaggs managed to get friend and mentor Bill Monroe to appear in the video. It marked a dramatic change for the seminal musician. For most of his career, Monroe projected a stiff, highly formal public persona.
photos by Ray Tharaldson
all rights reserved

He loosened up considerably after he beat colon cancer in the early 80's and projects like this one showed him emerging from his shell, with Skaggs' help. His video character of "Uncle Pen" is an in-joke, referring to the famous Monroe tune "Uncle Pen," the famous musical tribute to Monroe's real-life fiddling uncle, who helped inspire his vision of bluegrass.

 photos by Ray Tharaldson
all rights reserved

In 2008 Skaggs Family Record released Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946  & 1947 makes a very valid point about younger bluegrass fans being unware of the music's founding fathers.

This fourteen-time Grammy Award winner continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music.  With 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics behind him, all from his own Skaggs Family Records label, the diverse and masterful tones made by the gifted Skaggs come from a life dedicated to playing music that is both fed by the soul and felt by the heart
The Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival will cover most of the musical bases -- rock, rap, pop, gospel, country and zydeco, among them -- when it sets up shop in Point State Park for 10 days in June.

Produced by The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the 52nd festival will open June 3 with The Blind Boys of Alabama and include such headliners as the Tom Tom Club, Buckwheat Zydeco, Ricky Skaggs and Brandi Carlile.

The concerts are free to the public and will begin at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of the Sunday performances which begin at 6 p.m

For more information contact:

Clarence Clemons suffers stroke

By Jay Lustig/The Star-Ledger
A source close to Clarence Clemons has confirmed that he has suffered a stroke. The source, who offered the information on the condition of not being identified, did not know how serious the stroke was.

Veteran entertainment journalist Roger Friedman wrote, on the web site showbiz411.com that the beloved saxophonist, known as the Big Man, had suffered a stroke at his Florida home, and is "seriously ill."

Clemons is an original member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, and the oldest member of the band, at 69. He is someone whose importance to the New Jersey music scene can't be overstated, and who is utterly irreplaceable.

His big, immediately recognizable, saxophone sound is one of the cornerstones of the E Street sound. Songs such as "Born to Run" and "Jungleland" wouldn't have sounded remotely the same without him, and his larger-than-life personality has always made him a crucial element of the band's stage shows.

 Springsteen even gave him a crucial role in the autobiographical song "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," singing, about the moment when it all changed for the E Street Band: "When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band/From the coastline to the city all the little pretties raise their hands."
Although the E Street Band is currently on hiatus, Clemons has been in the news, lately, after performing on Lady Gaga's new album, "Born This Way."

He was also the subject of a documentary, "Who Do I Think I Am? A Portrait of a Journey," that premiered at the Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park, in April.

The film documented traveling that Clemons had done, in China, after Springsteen's "Rising Tour" of 2002-03. “I was kind of looking for myself,” Clemons told The Star-Ledger, in March. “The tour with Bruce was just so long: It took me out of my body, it took me out of myself. And finding who I am was what this (trip) turned into.”

He was still, at the time, undergoing "major, major rehab," he said, from the knee replacement and spinal surgeries he has undergone over the last few years, but was hopeful that the band would tour again in 2012.

He also published a memoir, "Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales," in 2009.

Sarah Palin email frenzy backfires on her media antagonists

The trove of more than 13,000 emails detailing almost every aspect of Sarah Palin’s governorship of Alaska, released late on Friday, paints a picture of her as an idealistic, conscientious, humorous and humane woman slightly bemused by the world of politics.

One can only assume that the Left-leaning editors who dispatched teams of reporters to remote Juneau, the Alaskan capital, to pore over the emails in the hope of digging up a scandal are now viewing the result as a rather poor return on their considerable investment.

If anything, Mrs Palin seems likely to emerge from the scrutiny of the 24,000 pages, contained in six boxes and weighing 275 pounds, with her reputation considerably enhanced. As a blogger at Powerline noted, the whole saga might come to be viewed as “an embarrassment for legacy media”.

Mrs Palin, who suddenly resigned as Alaska governor in July 2009, is no longer a public official. She holds no position in the Republican party. Despite the media hubbub that surrounds her every move, she is unlikely to be a candidate for the White House in 2012.

She is, however, viewed with a kind of horrified fascination by many in the media, who faithfully records everything she says and does while at the same time decrying her as ignorant and even evil.

Whether or not she runs for the White House – and the solid consensus among Republican leaders is that she won’t – the scramble over the Palin emails confirms her status as a pivotal figure in the race to challenge President Barack Obama next year.

It comes at a moment when the battle for the Republican nomination appears set to be transformed by the late entry of Governor Rick Perry of Texas, a social conservative and Palin ally who could almost immediately leap to the front of a currently lacklustre field.

Sources close to Mr Perry have confirmed that he is “highly likely” to announce a presidential run in the coming days. Intriguingly, they have also hinted at a something they believe would increase immeasurably Mr Perry’s chances of winning the White House – an endorsement from Mrs Palin.

On policy, Mrs Palin and Mr Perry, who succeeded George W Bush in 2000 and has since become the longest-serving governor in Texas history, are in almost perfect alignment. In addition, they are both beloved of the Tea Party, highly suspicious of Washington and physically attractive (Mr Perry is often likened to the Marlboro Man), charismatic figures.

Mrs Palin has repeatedly said that she believes Mr Obama can be defeated and that she will do everything to achieve that. With her popularity among independent voters very low, despite the intensity of her core support, throwing her weight behind a stronger candidate would be a better way of preserving her political capital and earning power than being one of the losing candidates in the Republican primaries.

The notion of Mrs Palin as White House kingmaker would have seemed wildly improbable if anyone had raised it before August 2008.

It was then that she was catapulted to international fame by Senator John McCain’s surprise decision to make her his vice-presidential running mate. Her reaction? “Can you flippinbelieveit?!”

This was a world, as the emails reveal, in which the then Alaska governor fretted about things like there being alcohol in her official residence, that might be a temptation to the teenage friends of her children.

In May 2007, she sought help from her staff in keeping the alcohol in the governor’s mansion away from young people, stating that it should be boxed up and “removed from the People’s House” – both for practical reasons and as a statement about her administration.

“Here’s my thinking: with so many kids and teens coming and going in that house, esp during this season of celebrations for young people – proms, graduations, etc, I want to send the msg that we can be – and ‘the People’s House’ needs to be – alcohol-free. There’s a lot of booze there – its too accessible and may be too tempting to any number of all those teens coming and going.”

In a February 2007 exchange, one adviser recommended that when she was in Washington she meet Pete Rouse, a Senate official who had lived in Alaska. “He’s now chief-of-staff for a guy named Barack Obama,” the aide wrote, adding that Mr Rouse “wants to help Alaska however he can”. Far from shrinking at the idea of conferring with a Democrat, Mrs Palin replied: “I’m game to meet him.”

The emails will finally confirm – in all but the darkest recesses of the world of Left-wing conspiracy theories – that Mrs Palin is, in fact, the mother of her youngest son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome.

After relentless promotion by Andrew Sullivan, the British blogger who now works for Daily Beast/Newsweek, of the proposition that the mother was in fact Mrs Palin’s daughter Bristol, a teenager at the time, the subject had become part of mainstream debate.

The emails show Mrs Palin’s determination to protect Bristol but also her desire for a degree of privacy. “I wish I could shame people into ceasing such gossip about a teen, but I can’t figure out how to do that,” she wrote.
Communications from her children and husband make her family appear close and loving.

An email from Bristol, referring to her younger sister, said: “Hello Mother, Um, I’m sitting in library and I really thing you need to get Piper a cell phone!! Wouldn’t that be so adorable! She could text me while she was in class!! It’s a done deal right?! Perfect! Ok, I will talk to you later and I need some cash flow! Love ya!”

To an extent, the emails remind Americans of the person they saw take the stage at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota nearly three years ago – refreshing, plain-speaking, open and uncomplicated.

Since then, her image has hardened into one of a brittle, even paranoid, politician who seethes with resentment, feels aggrieved and entitled and is intent on pursuing celebrity even at the expense of her family.

Mrs Palin as a person has become so remote that it is hard to assess how much, if any, of that widely-held caricature has a basis in truth. The email release could mark the end of a chapter of what conservatives have termed “Palin Derangement Syndrome”. Her enemies in the media appear to have overplayed their hand.

Expressing a sentiment that will resonate with many, Greta Van Susteren, a Fox News anchor who is close to Mrs Palin, argued that she had been subjected to “a media colonoscopy” by news organisations on “a mission to destroy”.
With a film entitled The Undefeated, chronicling Mrs Palin’s rise to prominence, about to air, the former Alaska governor is doubtless hoping that harsher perceptions of her can be blunted.

Toby Harnden’s American Way column is published in the Sunday Telegraph each week.

Filipino: World's shortest man

By BULLIT MARQUEZ, Associated Press

SINDANGAN, Philippines – Officials say a Filipino about two feet tall is expected to be named the world's shortest man when he turns 18 on Sunday.

Lolit Homay, municipal health officer in Zamboanga del Norte province's Sindangan township, says Junrey Balawing was measured at about 24 inches (61 centimeters) from head to foot lying down and slightly above 23 inches (58 centimeters) standing up Saturday.

A representative of Guinness World Records is to announce the official measurements on Sunday.

Current record holder Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal is 26.4 inches tall.

Municipal administrator Allan Selda says the local government is preparing to celebrate the expected Guinness announcement with balloons and a cake for Balawing

Norway terminating air support in Libya. Concern over sustainability issues.

Norway has dropped approximately 370 bombs on targets in Libya to date, flying so many missions that it was beginning to run out. Government tripartite Coalition Party the Socialist Left (SV) has also expressed fears the campaign could become drawn out.

“It is important Norway continues to contribute, but we must expect understanding from our allies that having such a small air force means we cannot maintain such a large fighter jet contribution over time,” Minister of Defence Grete Faremo said Friday.

The announcement means up to four of Norway’s six F-16s will remain until 01 August, and the government has informed Parliament it will be seeking an extra 100 million kroner to cover the costs.

Defence Ministers agreed at this week’s NATO meeting to continue Operation Unified Protector also decided NATO will be ready to support any post-Gaddafi operation if they are requested.

“Norway will take over the Chair of the Contact Group from Denmark. Participation will give us a good opportunity to exert influence on the over all international effort in Libya, even after the military operations are completed,” said Minister Faremo.

Top Al Qaeda Operative Killed In Somalia

By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) -- A top al Qaeda operative in East Africa, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, was killed at a Somali checkpoint in Mogadishu, Kenyan and U.S. officials told CNN Saturday.

Mohammed, a citizen of both Kenya and Comoros, was long sought in Somalia for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Mohammed's death "a significant blow to al Qaeda, its extremist allies and its operations in East Africa."

"Miracle on the Hudson" plane, crew to reunite in N.C

(Reuters) - Many of the crew and passengers of the US Airways flight known as the "Miracle on the Hudson" will reunite in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday to celebrate the plane's arrival at its intended destination two-and-a-half years after it took off.

The Airbus A320 plane -- which hit a flock of Canadian geese upon takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport, lost power and made an emergency landing in the Hudson River -- will be on permanent display at the Carolinas Aviation Museum starting January 15, the third anniversary of the water landing.

Among those planning to attend a reception at the museum Saturday night will be Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, whose cool-headed but daring decision to land his stricken plane in the river resulted in the survival of all the flight's 155 passengers and crew.

"I look forward to seeing the airplane once again and reuniting with the passengers and crew who are able to come," Sullenberger told Reuters by e-mail.

The 60-year-old former fighter pilot recently became an on-air aviation consultant for CBS News.

To the plane's brief but storied journey in the air and into the water has now been added a long and remarkable trek on land.

This week, a massive trailer carrying the plane's fuselage traveled from a Newark, New Jersey warehouse to Charlotte.

The plane's wings were shipped separately.

Throughout the trip, onlookers gathered along highways and on overpasses. They waved American flags and cheered the plane that has become a symbol of good fortune and heroic action.

"I'm moved to see and hear about the large crowds following the transport of the aircraft," Sullenberger said.

"It's one thing to remember what happened on January 15, 2009 in the Hudson River, and quite another to see the aircraft and allow others to take part in this story that I hope will continue to offer hope for years to come."

Shawn Dorsch, president of the Carolinas Aviation Museum, traveled with the convoy from New Jersey. As the plane neared Charlotte on Friday, he said the crowds of onlookers grew.

"It's overwhelming. There are thousands of people at every exit," Dorsch said by phone.

Throughout the journey, Dorsch sent out a steady stream of Tweets alerting people of the plane's approach. Thousands more followed its progress online as the convoy signaled its location through GPS.

When the convoy's GPS stopped working briefly, Dorsch said hundreds of people called the company that donated the transport services, J. Supor & Son Trucking & Rigging Co. of Kearny, N.J., to find out where the plane was.

Some 700 high school and middle school students in Braxton County, West Virginia, lined up along I-79 on their last day of school Wednesday to see the plane as it came south.

The plane sighting was a major event in the rural county, said Dawn Dooley, principal of Braxton County High School.

"We don't have many kids who ever leave the county," she said. "To see an airplane in person is not very common for the children here."

And this wasn't just a plane but also a message for her students, Dooley said.

"There are not enough heroes," she said. "It was great to be able to say there are things you can do when you don't think you're doing something great, but you are really. We were able to teach a lot with the fuselage coming through."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)