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Big Ten baseball: Purdue keeps its composure

By mark Znidar, the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

May 26–When Penn State scored two runs in the top of the first inning, Purdue pitcher Matt Morgan didn’t sense any panic in the dugout.

“It was a businesslike approach,” he said. “When we get down, we know our offense can come back in a big way. I had to reset and refocus. I attacked the zone and let my defense work.”

Morgan and his teammates did just that.

the Boilermakers stormed back by scoring three runs in the fifth and three in the eighth to defeat the Nittany Lions 7-2 in the first round of the big ten baseball tournament yesterday in Huntington Park.

Morgan gave up five hits and struck out eight in eight innings, center fielder Tyler Spillner hit a two-run homer and left fielder Stephen Talbott drove in three runs.

Purdue (37-18) will play second-seeded Michigan State (34-19) in the second round at 3:35 p.m. today. Penn State (32-21) plays Minnesota (22-23) at 12:05 p.m. in an elimination game.

Coach Doug Schreiber saluted his players for coming back. his team won two of three games from the Nittany Lions during the season.

“I thought our team did a great job of persevering through the early adversity,” he said. “We got some timely hits and manufactured some runs. It’s an opportunity to keep moving forward.”

Penn State hurt itself by committing two errors in the fifth, when Purdue took a 4-2 lead.

Spillner hit the two-run homer in the eighth to give the Boilermakers a 7-2 lead.

Michigan State swept a three-game series from Purdue during the regular season in East Lansing, Mich. But the Boilermakers have won seven of their past nine games.

“They got the best of us during the regular season,” Talbott said. “We’re itching to get a crack at them again.”


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Why FOIA Needs Reform : Dispatches from the Culture Wars

It gets worse:

Apparently I was so seized with hope and change and such in those bygone days that I wanted to read the OLC’s correspondence with the CIA about torture. within my envelope was a memo, dated July 20, 2007 from acting OLC chief Steven Bradbury for John Rizzo, then the CIA general counsel: “Re: Application of the War Crimes Act, the Detainee Treatment Act, and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to certain Techniques that May Be used by the CIA in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees.”

A stunning new declassification? hardly. it was part of the Obama Justice Department’s 2009 torture disclosures. the ACLU published the document long ago. Here’s a version of it in the Washington Post. more comically, here’s an analysis of it penned by my friend Daphne Eviatar, back when we were both working at the Washington Independent.

Spencer says he figures about 20 percent of the FOIA requests he’s filed in his 9 years reporting in DC have been fulfilled, none of them promptly and lots of them inaccurately. in my experience, that’s probably a better than average record.

Last week, one of my reporters, Todd Heywood, testified before a House committee here in Michigan about the need to reform our state’s FOIA law to prevent public agencies from stonewalling and protecting themselves from the release of information that they might find embarrassing. Here, a committee led by perhaps the most conservative member of the legislature is looking at reforming FOIA in this way.

In the real world, here’s how FOIA actually works. You send in a request for something that an agency doesn’t want released. they have all kinds of tactics to choose from in making the process as difficult as possible, including:

1. Economic stonewalling. they cite you a massive price for the request, knowing that most organizations can’t pay it and will just back off at that point. the FOIA laws allow agencies to waive the costs of fulfilling a FOIA request where the release of information is in the public interest — but since it’s the agency themselves that decides what is and isn’t in the public interest, you can imagine how often they waive those costs. You’ve got a better chance of being struck by lightning while cashing in the winning Powerball ticket.

2. Citing bogus exceptions. there are a list of numerous exceptions to the FOIA law, written vaguely enough that they have prompted literally thousands of lawsuits to help define what they mean. the agency knows that most who file a FOIA request can’t afford to go to court to fight over it, so they can almost always get away with this. in my FOIA battle with the Bush administration, I could not have taken them to court without Public Citizen contacting me and agreeing to represent me pro bono (because they wanted the same document I wanted).

3. Just plain not responding. again, what’s the recourse for the person who filed the request? Taking them to court, which few filers can afford to do.

We need some serious reforms of the FOIA laws. first of all, they need to be expanded to include Congress and the state legislatures. Second, the exceptions have to be far more narrowly defined. Third, there needs to be some teeth in the law for playing games over releasing information. Start sanctioning the FOIA officers for agencies in some way and they’ll be forced to comply with the law.

Robber removes hood, shows face to cameras

COLUMBUS, Ohio, may 19 (UPI) — Authorities said they got a clear picture of an Ohio bank robbery suspect’s face when he complied with the facility’s “no hats, no hoods” policy.

FBI Special Agent Harry Trombitas said the man, described as a white male appearing to be in his 20s, was waiting in line at the PNC Bank on South Hamilton Road in Columbus about 4 p.m. Monday when a bank employee told him he would have to take off his hood, which was concealing most of his face, The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday.

Trombitas said the man complied, allowing security cameras to get clear photos of his face before he got to the front of the line and handed a note to a teller demanding money and saying he had a gun.

The robber, estimated to be about 5-foot-5, fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

“Law enforcement credits PNC Bank employees with enforcing the ‘no hats, no hoods’ policy, which caused the man to take down his hood, revealing his face to surveillance cameras,” Trombitas said.

Investigators are working to identify the man, Trombitas said.

Local books: Cleopatra as vampire, plus histories of the E.coli outbreak and an elite Army Air Force unit

New releases

“Queen of Kings: the Immortal story of Cleopatra” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Dutton, $25.95). after mark Antony commits suicide, a grief-stricken Cleopatra summons Sekhmet, goddess of death and destruction. Cleopatra becomes a “vampiric creature of mythical proportions,” and complications ensue. Headley, author of the memoir “The Year of yes,” divides her time between Seattle and new York City.

“Poisoned: the true story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat” by Jeff Benedict (Inspire Books, $24.95). the story of the deadly 1993 E.coli outbreak, traced to Jack in the Box restaurants, that sickened 500 Washington state customers. many were children, including three who died. Seattle lawyer William Marler, who represented many of the victims, is a key character in the book. Benedict is an English professor at Southern Virginia University.

“Compact with the Devil” by Bethany Maines (Atria, $15). A new spy spoof by the author of “Bulletproof Mascara,” involving a hunt for a Basque anarchist by operative Nikki Lanier, who is distracted from that and other duties by “a fresh-out-of-rehab pop star with dangerously nice eyes.” Maines lives in Tacoma.

“57th Fighter Group: first in the Blue” by Carl Molesworth (Osprey, $25.95). A new, copiously illustrated history of an “elite and heroic — though little known — aviation unit” — the first U.S. Army Air Force fighter unit to go into action in North Africa in World War II. Molesworth lives in Mount Vernon.

Guide to summer movies 2011

(CBS News) 

The biggest movie of the summer of 2010 was “Toy story 3.” So what does the summer of 2011 hold for moviegoers? bill Whitaker offers this sneak preview:

Yes, it’s that time of year: The summer movie season.

There are comics (“Mr. Popper’s Penguins”), and comics (“Green Lantern”). Sequels (“The Hangover 2″) and more sequels (“Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides”).

“Hollywood always feels comfortable when they’re bringing out films that in the past audiences have liked,” said Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times – and our guide for what the studios hope is a big summer at the box office.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a year where people in Hollywood would say, ‘You know, we’re looking at a terrible summer. They’re the last optimists in America,” Turan said.

One reason for optimism: The Pirates of the Caribbean are back, in “On Stranger Tides.” The first three films took in more than $2.5 billion worldwide.

“They hit gold, you know? Appropriate for a pirate movie!” Turan said. “You know, having Johnny Depp in this role – anything that Johnny Depp is in, everyone wants to kind of connect to.”

Another sequel: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” the third film based on the children’s toys.

And those party animals from “The Hangover” are back, too – in “The Hangover 2.” The first film was the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever.

Aliens make their presence felt in a new blend of genres – the science fiction-western, “Cowboys and Aliens.”

Blend movie-making kids, a train wreck and an alien presence, and you get “Super 8,” from director J.J. Abrams.

“J.J. Abrams is a director who’s got a real gift for pop theater entertainment,” Turan said. “I think this looks to be one of the big hits of the summer.”

You may marvel at the number of comic book characters making it to the big screen this summer.

“There’s “X-Men: First Class” … “Captain America: The First Avenger” … “Thor” … and “Green Lantern.” That film reportedly cost more than $200 million.

“Comic book movies have been very successful because there’s a core audience of kids who love these comic books and will go out to the movies,” said Turan. “But I think even that audience might be getting a little tired of it.”

And speaking of tires … there’s “Cars 2″ from the folks at Pixar.

And from Dreamworks, “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

There’ll be penguins this summer when Jim Carrey inherits six of them in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.”

And apes: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” takes us back to the beginning … more than 40 years after the franchise began.

It won’t be all kids’ stuff and cartoons and comic book characters at the movies this summer; there are more than a few offerings for grown-up audiences. too.

Turan is most looking forward to “The Tree of Life.” Premiering at this month’s Cannes Film Festival, it stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. It’s from director Terrence Malick (“Badland,” “Days of Heaven,” “The Thin Red Line”).

“He is a cinematic artist,” Truan said. “And I don’t always like the films, but win, lose or draw, he is really trying to push the boundaries of the medium.”

Opening the Cannes festival was “Midnight in Paris,” with Owen Wilson … the latest film from Woody Allen.

If you’re looking for stars, “Larry Crowne” tops the list, with Oscar-winners Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts as student and teacher.

From the bookshelf, there’s “The Help,” based on the Kathryn Stockett bestseller about African-American maids in the 1960s South.

“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” from the Lisa See novel of female friendship … past and present.

And “Submarine,” the story of a 15-year-old boy trying to keep his parents together and launch his own love life.

“It’s just got a style and a way of making film that is just unique, and it really feels like fun,” said Turan.

“The First Grader” is based on the true story of a Kenyan man in his 80s who fights for the right to learn to read.

“Project Nim” tells of a chimpanzee reared in a human family – it really happened, in the 1970s.

Another documentary, “Buck,” is the story of Buck Brennerman, the real-life horse whisperer.

“It’s really hard to stop watching this film,” Turan said. “To see him work with horses and to hear his philosophy, to understand how he operates, it’s just a marvelous thing.”

And, finally … the finale of the most successful franchise in movie history: Warner Brothers’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2″ is the last of eight films in the series that has already taken in more than $6 billion.

“They’ve really put a lot of money into these films, and they’ve made sure to really treat the books with kid gloves, not to mess with them, just to give the fans what the fans want to see,” said Turan.

Perhaps there’s something you want to see. The summer movie season is upon us. take the plunge.

NASCAR Ford star Marcos Ambrose happy with top ten finish in Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte

Top effort … Ambrose again beat NASCAR’s best, including reigning champ Jimmie Johnson. Source: Supplied

Marcos Ambrose has praised his Richard Petty Motorsports team after finishing sixth in the Coca Cola 600 and spent a lot of the race in the lead.

If it wasn’t for a loose wheel causing Ambrose to pit and drop a lap on the leaders, the Aussie may well could have taken his first NASCAR Sprint Cup  victory.

"I’m just really proud of my DeWALT team tonight," Ambrose said.

"we had a really fast car, we really ran at the front and led some laps, so it was an awesome experience to be a part of, but it just didn’t go our way.

"we had a loose wheel and got off sequence, but we fought and fought and got ourselves back up into a good top-10 finish".

Ambrose could have taken a punt in the closing stages  of the race by staying out and risk running out of fuel, but RPM elected to do a splash-and-dash.

The Aussie eventually stormed home and just passed last lap leader Dale Earnhardt Jnr who did take the gamble with fuel and his Chevrolet engine ran out of juice with one corner to run.

The Tasmanian will move on to the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway in just one weeks time and it will be live on SPEED and SPEED HD.

Manning’s silence is golden for owners, not players

the most advertised and self-promoting NFL player maybe in history is suddenly camera shy. Peyton Manning, who has never met a 60-second ad he didn’t like, now doesn’t want his close-up.

the man who has sold everything from Gatorade to MasterCard is just about invisible. He’s cloaked and doing everything possible to stay that way as the NFL goes through its own rapture. the lockout is over two months old and we’ve heard nothing from one of the key plaintiffs.

 Jim Irsay should shake Peyton Manning’s hand for keeping so quiet about the lockout for so long.(Getty Images)  Manning’s invisibility is downright odd. Case in point: Manning spoke to the Brockton Junior Boxers Pop Warner program in Massachusetts this past week and — as the Boston Herald reported — Manning told organizers if they publicized the event, he would skip it. he kicked out the media and banned photographers. Manning selected three players during a question and answer session with the queries pre-screened.

Manning has also been extremely secretive about the Colts’ lockout workouts. why passing drills and calf stretches are suddenly worthy of being classified is a mystery.

actually, it’s not. the true reason for Manning’s disappearance could not be clearer. Manning wants no part of talking about, speaking of, or being mentioned in the same sentence with lockout. That can be the only explanation for why the players’ MIRV of a publicity weapon has chosen to go silent Bob in one of the biggest fights in the history of professional sports.

the three biggest names on the NFLPA’s suit against the owners are Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Manning. Brees and Brady have publicly defended the players. Manning is the only one who has been eerily silent, and we’re now heavy into this court fight.

Manning has starred in more commercials than Marlon Brando, Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise combined. He’s a walking ATM machine.

and for Manning, that’s what his silence is about — sweet cash. He’s willing to take only so much of a stance and jeopardize his standing as America’s football good guy and bankable commercial star. Brees doesn’t seem to care, and agree or disagree with his position, he’s as principled a man as I’ve ever met. other players have risked the long-term ire of fans, including Jay Feely, Mike Vrabel, and Osi Umenyiora, among many others, doing so knowing taking a public stance could potentially cost them among a divided fan base.

Manning has more to lose. Understood. yet his silence on the lockout despite being one of the named litigants is starting to seem odd. more than odd. It’s starting to look like Manning either no longer cares or disagrees with the path the former union is taking.

these points aren’t raised in support of the players. This is a simple matter of observing and noting that Manning is conspicuously absent as fellow players see blood spilled.

Few of the high-profile players in the league have stayed silent. Even Brady, who measures every word the way a brilliant cellist measures each note, has publicly discussed the legal situation. To Brady, this fight is about helping the next generation, and he understands the historical context.

“[I'm in my position] because of Boomer Esiason, who was the lead plaintiff in 1987, and all the work he fought for current players,” Brady said in April. “So it’s really a lasting legacy that Boomer’s had. So when the opportunity was presented to me and someone like Peyton [Manning] and Drew Brees, who are also very notable players in the league — you know, we represent the entire group.”

It’s likely Manning felt a similar twinge of NFL patriotism when first presented with being a named plaintiff then along the way, as this got nastier and nastier and fans got angrier and angrier, he probably had this conversation with himself:

“This is getting ugly. Better quietly back the [expletive deleted] out.”

It was always going to get ugly. these things are never pretty.

Manning has long tightly controlled his public image and there will be those who claim his strategic silence isn’t unusual. yet in this fight, appearances matter. It’s a battle to gain the trust and backing of fans. Manning speaking would not only help the players, it would possibly tip the balance of power in their favor.

Again, I’m not speaking as a player advocate, but as someone who wonders what is Manning thinking, and what players have said to me privately.

I’ll tell you this: the owners are ecstatic that Manning is keeping quiet. every day that passes without Manning saying a word in support of the NFLPA is Christmas to them.

the owners have no qualms with using their big names. They rolled out their version of Manning this past week. John Mara, as good a human being and owner as there is in all of sports, nevertheless parroted the line about owners losing money and how the economy hurt the sport despite the NFL making a record profit. the Mara and Rooney families are the NFL’s version of the Kennedy’s (minus the affairs). When a Mara speaks, angels hearken and trumpets play. the owners understand his public-relations value, indeed, many of the key owners, from Jerry Jones to the Rooney’s to Mara to Robert Kraft, have spoken repeatedly to try and sway fans. I think it has had a tremendously positive effect for owners. When a Rooney or Mara or Kraft speaks, it carries weight.

Conversely, one of the players’ biggest weapons is Manning, and he has retreated into radio silence. If I were a player, I would wonder why.