Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dwight [Howard] Knows He Needs Work

ORLANDO — Dwight Howard's teammates were on him again after practice Tuesday, challenging him to prove that he can still touch the piece of tape on the side of the backboard some 30 inches above the rim.

The strip of tape was originally put there two years ago, when a then-18-year-old Howard was working out for the Orlando Magic prior to the 2004 NBA Draft. It's still stuck there for all to marvel at, and every so often Howard has to prove that talk of his majestic wingspan and leaping ability is legit. After hemming and hawing a few seconds about being older now and weighing 25 pounds more, Howard sprung from the floor and actually touched a couple of inches above the tape.

"Myyyy goodness," gushed Magic assistant coach Morlon Wiley, shaking his head. Magic head coach Brian Hill also was impressed, but what followed were hardly words of glowing praise. "Now when a guy drives baseline, that's how I wanna to see you jump and contest the shot," Hill said without even a hint of a smile.

Opposing coaches and players have made a habit this season of gushing about Howard, the Magic's 6-foot-11, 265-pound beast of a power forward. New York's Larry Brown has said that Howard will someday give the Magic a chance to win an NBA championship. Meanwhile, reigning MVP Steve Nash said that of all the young players in the league he could pick to build a team around, it would be Howard.

But Howard hasn't been nearly as complimentary toward his own play, feeling he should be farther along in his sophomore season of NBA play. Too often, the steps from season one to season two have been incremental rather than monumental.

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Playstation 3 Delayed

While PS3 is delayed...I'm sure PS4 is in the works.

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp. will delay the release of its new PlayStation 3 video game console until early November because development of some of the technology is behind schedule, Japanese newspapers said on Wednesday. The Nihon Keizai said consumer electronics makers and movie companies have been unable to reach an agreement on the development of the copy protection technology for the console's Blu-ray Disc drive.

Sony said it would hold a briefing on its PlayStation video game business at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, but declined to give details. Sony shares fell 1.3 percent in early trade to 5,500 yen after the reports.

The PS3 launch has been the subject of heavy speculation in the industry as expectations are high for the powerful machine, which will feature cutting-edge technology in its DVD player, processors and graphics. The console is expected to enable users to play games and movies as well as to download and view high-quality videos from the Internet.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

103 in a 55= $375

S.C. mayor gets $375 ticket for speeding

The mayor of this rural town was candid after being ticketed for driving 103 mph in a 55 mph zone: "Thank goodness I'm not trying to get re-elected," said Mayor Bert Reeves. The mayor, who has worked to erase the towns' reputation as a speed trap, was given a $375 ticket Wednesday after a Colleton County sheriff's deputy stopped his 2005 Ford F-250 on state Highway 303.

Reeves told the deputy he thought he was driving about 80 mph, according to an incident report. Deputy Robert Cook wrote that Reeves has had numerous traffic violations and requested the ticket not be reduced. AAA Carolinas recognized Cottageville in December as one of the state's top five communities with populations of less than 10,000 dedicated to traffic safety. The town is about 45 miles northwest of Charleston.

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Picasso Who?

Boy, 12, sticks gum on $1.5M painting

A 12-year-old visitor to the Detroit Institute of Arts stuck a wad of gum to a $1.5 million painting, leaving a stain the size of a quarter, officials say. The boy was part of a school group from Holly that visited the museum on Friday, officials say. They say he took a piece of Wrigley's Extra Polar Ice gum out of his mouth and stuck it on Helen Frankenthaler's "The Bay," an abstract painting from 1963. The museum acquired the work in 1965 and says it is worth about $1.5 million.

The gum stuck to the painting's lower left corner and did not adhere to the fiber of the canvas, officials told the Detroit Free Press. But it left a chemical residue about the size of a quarter, said Becky Hart, assistant curator of contemporary art. The museum's conservation department is researching the chemicals in the gum to decide which solvent to use to clean it. The museum hopes to make the repair in two weeks and will keep "The Bay" on display in the meantime, she said. "Our expectation is that the painting is going to be fine," Hart said.

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Hillary and the Wal-Mart Dilemma

"That was a long time ago..." - Hillary Clinton on Wal-Mart

NEW YORK -- With retail giant Wal-Mart under fire to improve its labor and health care policies, one Democrat with deep ties to the company -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- has started feeling her share of the political heat.

Mrs. Clinton served on Wal-Mart's board of directors for six years when her husband was governor of Arkansas. The Rose Law Firm, where she was a partner, handled many of the Arkansas-based company's legal affairs. She had kind words for Wal-Mart as recently as 2004, when she told an audience at the convention of the National Retail Federation that her time on the board "was a great experience in every respect."

But in recent months, as the company has become a target for Democratic activists, she has largely steered clear of any mention of Wal-Mart. Late last year, Mrs. Clinton's re-election campaign returned a $5,000 contribution from Wal-Mart, citing "serious differences with current company practices." As Mrs. Clinton sheds her Arkansas past and considers a 2008 presidential run, the Wal-Mart issue presents a dilemma: how to reconcile the political demands she faces today with her history at a company on which many American consumers depend but many Democratic activists revile.

"The interesting question is not just Hillary Clinton's history at Wal-Mart, but why it's delicate for her to talk about Wal-Mart," said Charles Fishman, author of "The Wal-Mart Effect," a book about the company's impact on the national economy. "Plenty of Democrats denounce Wal-Mart, but there are also plenty of people who need it, love it and rely on it."

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One More Round, Haldis.

OSLO, Norway -- It almost seemed like a miracle to Haldis Gundersen when she turned on her kitchen faucet this weekend and found the water had turned into beer. Two flights down, employees and customers at the Big Tower Bar were horrified when water poured out of the beer taps. By an improbable feat of clumsy plumbing, someone at the bar in Kristiandsund, western Norway, had accidentally hooked the beer hoses to the water pipes for Gundersen's apartment.

"We had settled down for a cozy Saturday evening, had a nice dinner, and I was just going to clean up a little," Gundersen, 50, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday. "I turned on the kitchen faucet and beer came out." However, Gundersen said the beer was flat and not tempting, even in a country where a half-liter (pint) can cost about 25 kroner ($3.75) in grocery stores. Per Egil Myrvang, of the local beer distributor, said he helped bartenders reconnect the pipes by telephone. "The water and beer pipes do touch each other, but you have to be really creative to connect them together," he told local newspapers.

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