Archive for March 2012
I was going to write an op/ed piece about the 64 teams in this years NCAA tournament and what fine athletes and citizens these young men and their teams represent and then, right there on my television is University of Louisville Basketball Coach Rick Pitino. Pitino may not have broken any laws but he has sure shattered any potential morals clause instituted by his employer. Oh wait! His employer is the University of Louisville…no morals clause should be expected.
I wondered tonight about Karen Sypher, the Louisville woman Pitino had sex with on top of a table in a Louisville Italian restaurant. Karen Sypher is serving a seven-plus year prison sentence for trying to extort the all-time great coach. In 2009, Pitino admitted to having sex with Sypher in a Louisville Italian restaurant six years earlier. Reports said that Sypher – who also accused the coach of rape all those years later – soon after told Pitino that she was pregnant and wanted an abortion, for which Pitino allegedly paid $3,000.
The Louisville coach made the public statements about his affair with Sypher, who happened to be the estranged wife of Cardinals equipment manager Tim Sypher, because of her attempt to get “cash, cars and a house” from Pitino in exchange for silence according to the Associated Press. Sypher was convicted in 2010 of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliation against a witness, according to the AP. Currently, she is locked up in federal prison near Tallahassee, FL, in Marianna, where she reported on April 6, 2011.
While Pitino sits down to Italian cuisine tonight at Vincent’s in New Orleans, Sypher is serving her sentence in prison. Last October, Sypher did an interview with Louisville television station WDRB via telephone. From what can be gathered from the interview – in which Sypher’s mother, Judy Cunaghan, expresses her worry – it’s clear that Sypher is suffering through her sentence. “This is like, um, just a terrible nightmare that I just can’t seem to wake up from,” Sypher said in the interview.
According to WDRB, Sypher is especially distraught over not being able to see her young daughter, whom had not visited the prison like other family members since her incarceration to that point, the report said. But Sypher suggested in the interview that she is going to be proactive about refurbishing her reputation, which apparently includes a tell-all book that provides her side of the story. “The name of the book is ‘Raped and Railroaded: The Karen Sypher Story,’” she said in the interview. “I’ve obviously had so much time to think and relive – instead of just reliving it in my mind, I started writing it down on paper. How can an innocent person who’s never asked for a penny, taken a penny, be in prison for seven years? Oh my, it’s unbelievable.”
So unbelievable, according to Sypher, that she has claimed that there is a conspiracy against her involving Pitino, the federal trial judge and Sypher’s ex-attorney, the AP said. The wire service said that the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, OH, will hear arguments May 31 on Sypher’s claim. This broad conspiracy, as her claim is being deemed by the Associated Press, seems to conjure up anger directed at her former attorney – almost as if she is upset at the process of her defense along with what she perceives as an ignorance to her innocence. “Regrets that I have are actually believing in who was representing me and why this has all happened,” Syper said in the 2011 interview. “I’m figuring that all out and that will be mentioned in my book.”
As for Pitino, he’s probably licking his wounds after a bruising defeat by Kentucky tonight trying to figure out the loss to his nemesis, John Calipari. And that’s a long way from the poor judgement by Pitino and criminal acts by Sypher, which, at the time, seemed like they would be a permanent stain on his personal and professional reputations. Sypher faces a much longer road to moving on from this scandal and in Louisville, I wonder if anything matters besides winning basketball games.
I am highly critical of U.S. foreign policy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that our “diplomacy” is based largely on carefully crafted lies and deception all designed to supposedly enhance our national security. It comes as little surprise that the CIA operated secret prisons in foreign countries, after all, torturing someone in Poland or Afghanistan would not, necessarily violate U.S. law. Would it?
Zbigniew Siemiatowski confirmed to Gazeta Wyborcza, a Polishnewspaper, that prosecutors had charged him as part of their long-running investigation into a secret detention centre in eastern Poland used by the CIA from 2002 to 2003 for suspects in transit to Guantanamo Bay, but said he refused to co-operate. “While in the prosecutor’s office I refused to answer questions and I shall continue to do so at every stage of the proceedings, including in court,” Mr Siemiatowski told the paper.
Investigators allege the spy boss exceeded his powers and breached international law through the use of “unlawful deprivation of liberty” and “corporal punishment” against prisoners of war. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office refused to confirm the charges owing to state secrecy. The paper also claimed that Colonel Andrzej Derlatka, then second in command at the foreign intelligence agency and responsible for co-operation with Washington, will face similar charges.
Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, former head of Poland’s intelligence services Photo: AFP
Gazeta Wyborcza explained that the cases against the two are based on documents released to prosecutors by the foreign intelligence agency detailing links with the CIA in the first years of Washington’s proclaimed “war on terror”. The case brought against the ex-spy chief makes Mr Siemiatowski the first Polish official to face the possibility of trial over the “black site” scandal since an investigation into allegations that the CIA had operated a base in Poland in contravention to Polish law started in 2008.
Despite repeated denials from former Polish government ministers about the existence of the base a Council of Europe report said Warsaw permitted the CIA to open a secret holding pen on a military base in Stare Klejkuty, in north-east Poland, in December 2002 for “high-value detainees”. Classified as “passengers” for bureaucratic purposes the prisoners were apparently flown into a nearby civilian airport on non-military aircraft. They were then taken to the base where they were subject to “enhanced interrogation” techniques. One of prisoners, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national wanted by the CIA on suspicion of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbour in 2000, has claimed he was threatened with a pistol during his time in Poland while on another occasion an interrogator scared him by switching on an electric drill.
A Polish intelligence agency source quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza said Poland only provided transport to a villa on the base, which was “off limits to Poles”. The charges brought against Mr Siemiatowski could place more pressure on Leszek Miller, Poland’s prime minister when the base was apparently operational. Rumours of prosecutor’s preparing a case against the politician strengthened in the wake of the latest revelations, and prompted Mr Miller to issue another denial over the base’s existence. “According to my knowledge, and as I have told you many times before, there were no CIA prisons in Poland,” he said at a press conference.
CLEVELAND, Texas — (DMN) – The body of 2-year old Devon Davis who was missing since last Tuesday has been found in Liberty County, Texas near his home. Devon was found dead in a body of water Saturday afternoon just one hour after Liberty County officials announced their decision to suspend the search. Authorities feverishly searched for the child after he disappeared Tuesday from the family’s home. The toddler was last seen when his mom put him down for a nap.
Devon’s mother told investigators that she put the toddler and his sister down, bolted the front door and went to sleep herself. When she woke up, the boy was gone. Devon and his family had only been living at the home in Liberty County for six days. They recently moved from Virginia, and were staying with a family friend. Investigators said after she realized the boy was gone, the mother called 911. An Amber Alert was issued for the boy Tuesday evening, and crews immediately launched an extensive search.
Aided by helicopters, search dogs and sonar equipment from Texas EquuSearch, volunteers and authorities combed through the rough, wooded terrain, but found no sign of the child. Concerned neighbors said the area was full of wild animals and water. “It’s a mean river. She’ll take a life in a heartbeat, she’s taken a lot of them,” neighbor Deborah Scott said. “What I’m worried about is the gators. There’s gators everywhere, and they’re crawling real bad, and we’ve got snakes out here too. I can’t believe this baby is missing.”
I’m going to admit some serious disinterest in this years final four. Simply put, I don’t have a horse in this race but Kentucky does…two of them. Eric Crawford writes for the Louisville Courier-Journal: You think it’s wild being a fan when a basketball-obsessed state encounters the biggest rivalry meeting in its history? Try being a politician. Hours after the University of Kentucky punched its ticket to a Final Four meeting against the University of Louisville, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear’s office was asked for a reaction. That was on Sunday night, but it took until Monday morning before it came. Let’s just say the game plan from the Democratic governor was conservative: “The best thing about this game is that a team from Kentucky will play for the national title.” (Kansas plays Ohio State in the other semifinal)
Imagine the high-fives among the staff for walking that non-committal tightrope. Others in the state have been less cautious. In a state defined by its basketball loyalties perhaps even more strongly than its political allegiances, the jump circle and political circle sometimes merge. John Yarmuth and Ben Chandler are Kentucky Democrats who sit on the same side of the aisle in Congress, but will be on decidedly different sides of this rivalry. “The teams are both so good, I’m sure that whoever prevails, it will be the experience of the teams’ seasoned upperclassmen that leads the way,” said Yarmuth, whose district includes Louisville.
Boom. Kentucky has only one seasoned upperclassman who plays regularly. Chandler, whose district includes Lexington, issued his own subtle jab, saying, “I think it’s great that everyone in Kentucky can be a part of the Wildcats’ journey to another championship.” Boom. That’s not exactly a part that Louisville fans will relish playing. When it comes to basketball, Kentucky is both a red (Louisville) and a blue (Kentucky) state. The state’s most iconic architectural features, the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby illustrate the split. One is lit red, the other blue, for the entire week.
The latest poll conducted by the Louisville Courier-Journal found that about 65 percent of the state’s largest city identified themselves as Louisville fans. Out in the state, that number was 91 percent who backed Kentucky hoops. But wherever they are this week, there is conflict. On Tuesday, in a dialysis clinic in Georgetown, Kentucky, police were called when two patients got into a fistfight over the game. Ed Wilson, 69, was actually hooked up to a machine when he heard Charles Taylor, 72 and a Louisville fan, “start to run his mouth,” Wilson said. Taylor said he was talking to another fan when Wilson, “told me to shut up and gave me the finger.”
So, dialysis machine or no dialysis machine, Taylor went over and hit Wilson — and this longtime rivalry added another chapter to its lore. The rivalry, of course, has roots that run much deeper than sports. Louisville, the state’s largest city, has always had a contentious relationship with the rural rest of the state. And basketball has played a major role in the identity of this state, has always been a point of pride for a population often on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. For much of their basketball histories, the teams did not play. Legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp didn’t believe in playing the smaller state schools. An example of Rupp’s influence: He once raised his hands in practice and said, “Lord, please send me a man who is worth a damn!” At that moment, then-governor (and once commissioner of baseball) Happy Chandler entered the gym. When Chandler laughed, Rupp told him he didn’t care if he was the governor, if he couldn’t be quiet, he’d have to leave.
The University of Kentucky called the shots, and these teams did not play for 24 years until the NCAA Tournament threw them together in a 1983 regional game dubbed “The Dream Game,” by fans in the state. Before that, all Kentuckians could do was argue over which team was better. Someone manufactured a board game with dice and player cards that could be used to simulate a contest. But resentment seemed to fester. In a vintage 1983 video before the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall tried to end an on-camera interview when he was asked about why the Wildcats wouldn’t play the Cardinals. Louisville’s Denny Crum, young and confident, took great pleasure in baiting Kentucky and its fans.
Once Louisville won that contest, the teams agreed to a yearly series, even as the state legislature was moving to force them to play. But none of the subsequent meetings has had as much at stake as Saturday’s game — a trip to the national championship. The rivalry between the coaches — Rick Pitino at Louisville and John Calipari at Kentucky — only intensifies matters. Pitino coached Kentucky to a national championship in 1996 and his name hangs in the rafters at Kentucky’s Rupp Arena, while Calipari is seeking his first national title. The two men have been polite this week. It’s unlikely their state will follow suit.
It’s hard to describe to those outside the state how this rivalry is woven into its very fabric. A handful of weddings have been rescheduled. People wear UK or U of L T-shirts under their clothes to church. Businesses will close early on Saturday. One local high school Hall of Fame had to reschedule its ceremonies because inductees were going to miss it to watch the game. Early in the week, on Craigslist, a man claiming to be a Kentucky fan offered his wife in exchange for a Final Four ticket. It might’ve been a joke. It’s testament to the particular brand of March Madness in this state that no one is really sure. From the statehouses to the coffee houses, time is going to stop on Saturday night, and one fan base is going to dread going back to work on Monday morning.
As a diehard Indiana fan when it comes to college hoops, I have little to add to this discussion other than a cursory joke about Rick Pitino’s penchant for Italian restaurants and U.K.’s problems keeping their program clean and above board. That being said, I suppose I will enjoy watching the best of Kentucky battle it out. Wouldn’t it be something if they both came home to the Bluegrass State empty handed? I’m kidding…I’m kidding!
I have never cared much for the lefty loon Keith Olbermann who was fired by Al Gore’s TV network, CURRENT. Olbermann and right wing nut Bill O’Reilly could probably fight for the title of the most pompous ass on television the only difference is O’Reilly, a Fox News hound has an audience and ratings…sort of. First, about Olbermann. He was shown the door by leftist cable network MSNBC and found a new home on Al Gore’s fledgling down-channel cable network Current. Current founders Gore and Joel Hyatt said in a letter to viewers that they decided to cut bait because the relationship no longer represented “the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers.”
Olbermann’s primetime show, “Countdown” has been replaced, effective immediately, by one anchored by former New York Governor/former CNN show anchor Eliot Spitzer. Olbermann issued his own statement Friday, “It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently.” Olbermann’s humdinger of a statement continues:
“In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.” Olbermann had been back on Current TV, if unhappily, since a wild week of public brawling back in January. The feuding erupted Jan 3. slightly less than a year after after Olbermann joined the network for what was to have been a five-year deal. That day, Current TV pre-empted “Countdown,” with coverage of the Iowa caucuses — the important first vote of the GOP primary season.
“Keith was asked to be the sole anchor and executive producer of our primary and caucus coverage. He declined,” Current TV president David Bohrman said in a memo to staffers that day. “We then made other plans to have our 4 hours of prime time election coverage [Jan. 3] hosted by Al Gore, Jennifer Granholm, and The Young Turks. We tried several times to have Keith participate in our coverage, including being the lead anchor for the 8p hour tonight, incorporated with our election group in the Los Angeles studio and produced in the LA control room.” Olbermann fired back with a statement to trade paper The Hollywood Reporter, in which he insisted he was “never given a legitimate opportunity to host under acceptable conditions. They know it and we know it.”
Speculation seemed to fall into two camps:
*The “Current TV is too low-rent for Olbermann” camp. His New York-based show has been plagued by tech problems, satellite feeds dropped out, and in early December a blown fuse caused the lights to go out while Olbermann was on the air in early December.
*The Hello? They hired Keith Obermann” camp. No explanation required.
But, after a week-long spitting match, Olbermann issued a statement saying he was pleased that he would be running the election coverage on Current, following the New Hampshire primary. Spitzer, whose CNN show, “In The Arena,” was canceledfor pulling in the kind of numbers Current TV would kill for, is replacing Olbermann immediately. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to host a show on Current TV that will provide insight into and analysis of the critical issues on the minds of Americans today,” Spitzer said in Friday’s announcement.
Current TV is not the only network that’s learned they’d need to fasten their seatbelts when in business with Olbermann, because it was going to be a bumpy ride. He feuded with ESPN, where he anchored “SportsCenter” for years, followed by a contentious relationbship with MSNBC, which he dumped for Current TV. Back in February of 2011 when Current TV announced it was getting into bed with Olbermann, Hyatt hailed the hireas “the best investment that Current has ever made.”
Here’s Current TV’s full statement:
To the Viewers of Current:
We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.
Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.
We are moving ahead by honoring Current’s values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily — especially now, during the presidential election campaign. Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation.
As we move toward this summer’s political conventions and the general election in the fall, Current is making significant new additions to our broadcasts. We have just debuted six hours of new programming each weekday with Bill Press (”Full Court Press, at 6 am ET/3 am PT) and Stephanie Miller (”Talking Liberally,” at 9 am ET/6 pm PT).
We’re very excited to announce that beginning tonight, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer will host “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day. He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year. We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Governor Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis.
All of these additions to Current’s lineup are aimed at achieving one simple goal — thegoal that has always been central to Current’s mission: To tell stories no one else will tell, to speak truth to power, and to influence the conversation of democracy on behalf of those whose voice is too seldom heard. We, and everyone at Current, want to thank our viewers for their continued steadfast support.
Al Gore & Joel Hyatt
and here’s Keith Olbermann’s full statement:
I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.
Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,” I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain. http://nyti.ms/HueZsa
In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.
Keith Olbermann is, arguably, toxic and probably should have kept commenting about sports and leaving politics to the adults. Now, back to Bill O’Reilly and Fox for a minute. O’Reilly is Olbermann’s nemesis…well he WAS Olbermann’s nemesis if only in Olbermann’s make believe world but here is something to note. The majority of Americans watching Cable News are getting their news from someplace other than Fox. On Thursday, March 29, FOX had 1,181,000 viewers while 1,410,000 turned to a product owned by CNN or NBC.
I am not going to get drawn into the national race war surrounding George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Al Sharpton and Ann Coulter need to shut up. All of the race-baiting commentators need to shut up and allow this case to take shape. What matters here is what happened in Sanford, Florida that left a teenage boy dead and a neighborhood watchman’s motives and actions questioned as they should be. The overriding question on my mind is this. Would Trayvon Martin be dead at the hands of a certified police officer? Would a confrontation between Trayvon Martin and a policeman have had the same result? The answer is obvious…probably not.
The problem is not that Trayvon Martin was profiled or picked on because of his race, the problem is that he was confronted by an armed neighborhood watchman, a rent-a-cop, if you will. I doubt, seriously, that George Zimmerman had anywhere near the training that law enforcement officers go through. I doubt, seriously, he had even the fundamentals of firearms training and/or use of force which is, basically, that you use only the force necessary to accomplish the enforcement action you are faced with.
The biggest problem for me is why George Zimmerman, an armed rent-a-cop, was charged with enforcing anything. The focus in Florida, where thousands gathered Thursday night in Sanford for an emotional rally, has primarily been on complaints that Martin may have been targeted because of his race. The uproar led Thursday to the temporary resignation of Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, who has been accused by demonstrators of bungling the case and criticized for not arresting Zimmerman. The focus needs to be on allowing neighborhood watchmen to carry and use firearms with minimal training. The idea that anyone who can get a firearm license can become a rent-a-cop is concerning.
What we know is this. Zimmerman enrolled in Seminole State College with hopes of becoming a law enforcement officer. He became the self-appointed protector of the streets around his home, although his neighborhood watch organization was not officially registered. He called the police department at least 46 times since 2004 to report everything from open garages to suspicious people. In 2005, according to police records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations, Zimmerman was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence. He had a concealed-weapon permit and had a black Kel-Tec semiautomatic handgun and a holster the night Martin died.
Trayvon Martins family, friends and supporters insist the young man was profiled…by a rent-a-cop. Zimmerman’s father has sought to emphasize his family’s diversity in hopes of saving his son from condemnation as a racist. While images of protests from across the country skitter past on television screens, the elder Zimmerman has tried to do what others have been doing, in various ways, for days: define his son. George is “a Spanish-speaking minority,” the father wrote in a letter delivered to the Orlando Sentinel. “He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.” George, the father insisted, was more like the boy he killed than people thought. George was a minority — the other — too.
With all of the noise from both sides arguing about race, a most important discussion is not being held and that is laws that allow citizens to shoot and kill each other when we feel threatened. Texas has such a law known as the Castle Doctrine which allows, basically, for the use of deadly force in certain situations. The Texas law is, apparently, similar to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law which allows for the use of deadly force in certain situations. The difference is that in Texas, generally, these cases are vetted by a Grand Jury.
The case involving Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman is tragic but rather than scream and yell about profiling and racism, how about a discussion surrounding the use of deadly force by anyone with a gun permit. That is the issue. While the likes of Al Sharpton, Ann Coulter and the New Black Panthers fan the flames of racism, the real issue is that a guy with a gun permit shot and killed someone on a street with was not charged and the case was not presented to a Grand Jury. Is this really OK? Are we OK with this kind of street justice? I think not.
Columbus, Ohio this morning.
To gauge President Obama’s strength this fall, an early sign of tea party strength in primary elections could be an indicator of how well the President will fare in the general election. There is, arguably, no better place to gauge the tea parties strength than in the normally “red” state of Indiana where six term incumbent Senator Richard Lugar faces a serious challenge from State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. The lead up to the May primary has been ugly. Lugar will switch his voter registration to his family farm in Indiana to resolve a dispute with election officials who ruled he couldn’t vote using the address of an Indianapolis home he sold in 1977.
The resolution that Lugar’s lawyers reached Friday with elections board headed off a court hearing on a challenge from Lugar, who lives in Virginia. The judge dismissed the case after lawyers agreed Lugar could legally vote from the farm in Marion County that has been in his family for more than 80 years. Lugar is facing one of his toughest election battles in the Republican primary against state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Lugar has received criticism for his decision not to keep a home in Indiana while serving in the Senate.
A super PAC supporting Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar is readying an attack against his Republican primary opponent. The ad posted online Friday attacks the anti-tax Club for Growth for supporting state Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s campaign against Lugar. Hoosiers for Economic Growth and Jobs is spending $100,000 to air the ad on Indianapolis television stations next week. The group has said in mailers to supporters it plans to raise $1.75 million to support Lugar. Meanwhile, other super PACs and national interest groups are playing a bigger role in the race as Indiana’s May 8 Republican primary draws near. The Club for Growth has spent more than $250,000 on an ad attacking Lugar that will run statewide through next week. Another pro-Lugar group spent $35,000 on a cable ad attacking Mourdock.
The Indiana Debate Commission announced Tuesday that it is accepting questions for the April 11 debate through Facebook or its website. Questions will be screened by the commission. Voters whose questions are chosen may ask them in person or through a pre-taped video. The one-hour debate will be held at 7 p.m. at the Indianapolis studios of television station WFYI. Former NBC News correspondent and Ball State University professor Phil Bremen will be the moderator. Debate commission President Max Jones says the debate will focus on the economy, international affairs and other topics.