Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm pretty sure nobody won the Mega Millions jackpot in, so people better hope and pray that nobody won. If not, the next jackpot is going to be near $1 BILLION
Be sure to play the Mega Millions jackpot today. Why? It's now over $600 million dollars! Yes, i said $600 million dollars. I'm considering playing it myself...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Medallion Renewal Form/CMVT Delay | TLC Retracts Industry Notice #12-10, Dated March 28, 2012

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) wants to notify you that the Medallion Renewal invoices will be mailed out later than usual this year.

Renewal invoices, which are normally mailed out between March 15 and March 31, are tentatively scheduled to be mailed out during the week of April 23, 2012.  Filing timeframes and any late filing fees will be adjusted to reflect the delay.  No payments will be accepted until the mailing occurs.

Additional time will be given to all Medallion Owners and\or their Agents to submit payment of the required fees, including the Commercial Motor Vehicle Tax (CMVT), which was collected by the Department of Finance in prior tax years.

Per recent changes to the NYC Administrative Code, the TLC, beginning with this year’s medallion renewal cycle, will be collecting the CMVT together with all licensing fees for the medallion.  No payment for the CMVT for the period(s) beginning June 1, 2012, should be sent to the Department of Finance.  The CMVT will now be billed as a permanent part of the Medallion Renewal fees by the TLC. The CMVT amount due of $2,000 (for the two-year Medallion license period) will be added into the two-year renewal fee. For Medallions that renew in 2013, a bill will be sent out by the TLC for the one-year tax period.

No tax stamp will be issued. You will be mailed a receipt once your payment has been processed. To avoid a summons, you must keep a copy of this receipt in your vehicle at all times.  Failure to pay the full amount due to the TLC, including the 2012 Tax Year CMVT, could result in the suspension of your Medallion.

The TLC apologizes for the billing delay and any inconvenience this may cause our licensees.

Decision on Lilly's status expected Friday

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly said his stiff neck improved enough to throw a bullpen session Thursday, but team trainers put it off one more day, when the club will decide whether Lilly opens the season on the active roster or disabled list.

Lilly hasn't pitched since March 21 after a flare-up of a neck issue he has had for years and that forced him out of a game last August. Manager Don Mattingly said the club will determine by Friday whether it needs to adjust the work schedule if Lilly won't make his first scheduled regular-season start in San Diego on April 7.

Mattingly said the backup plan is to move fifth starter Chris Capuano into Lilly's third spot and replace Lilly on the roster with a reliever, most likely Josh Lindblom, who could be optioned to the Minor Leagues when Lilly returns. Prior to the Lilly injury, Capuano was expected to be skipped the first time through the rotation because of a day off five days into the season.

"We want Ted healthy and feeling good," Mattingly said. "We need to get him stretched out and have him bounce back from a start. He's missed time and that's put him behind. He's going to need to be where we need him to be. We have to weigh the risks and rewards."

Mattingly hasn't forgotten that Lilly missed about a week with illness last Spring Training and suffered through a difficult first half, encountering elbow soreness that prevented him from making between-start bullpen sessions. It wasn't until the second half that Lilly got on track and helped the Dodgers make their late run.

Lilly would probably pitch in one or two simulated games with the Major League club rather than stay in Arizona to pitch in extended Spring Training games, Mattingly said.

The manager also said that reliever Matt Guerrier came out of a Minor League game Wednesday healthy and has been removed from the club's injury list after missing time with a sore lower back.

Infielder Adam Kennedy continues to progress from a mild groin strain, but Mattingly said he hasn't been cleared to run as a precautionary measure.

300-pound hero flight passenger said he had no choice when he took down crazy captain

HENRYVILLE, Pa. -- David Gonzalez boarded a plane to Las Vegas on Tuesday morning and managed to do something that very, very few people have ever done.

Gonzalez put the pilot in a choke hold while the aircraft was in midair.

But Gonzalez, of Henryville, Pa., said he had no other choice. The pilot was acting so erratically that the plane's crew asked for passengers' help to subdue him, the Pocono Record reported Thursday.

Gonzalez, a former New York City corrections officer, reflected on his experience aboard JetBlue Flight 191. He said he was happy no one got hurt and that he was trying to deal as best he could with being thrust overnight into the national media spotlight.

"It was a difficult time. But it was something I had to go through. I was just glad I was able to do it," Gonzalez, 50, said.

Gonzalez, who moved to the Poconos from New York City 10 years ago with his family, said he put the captain of the flight, Clayton Osbon, into a "sleeper hold" after Osbon entered the cabin and started shouting about terrorists and al Qaeda while the plane was over Texas.

When Osbon started acting erratically, the copilot locked him out of the cockpit.

"He was acting real strange," according to Gonzalez, who works for a security firm and was heading to Las Vegas for a convention. "[Osbon] was saying things like, 'You gotta pray.'"

After Gonzalez put the choke hold on Osbon and wrestled him to the ground, others rushed to help, he said. The passengers and crew put plastic restraints on Osbon, but the pilot broke out of them. They then tied Osbon up with belts, but Gonzalez said more serious measures needed to be taken.

"What wound up really happening was I wound up personally sitting on the guy until we landed in Texas," according to Gonzalez, who is about six-foot-four and weighs about 300 pounds.

After the flight landed in Amarillo, Texas, Gonzalez said people on board wanted to take pictures with him and wanted to buy him beers. "But I don't drink," he said.

Osbon was charged Wednesday by federal authorities with knowingly interfering with the flight crew of Flight 191. He is undergoing medical evaluations and is in FBI custody.

"I'm just glad no one got hurt," Gonzalez said.

Hardy: 'No chance' he starts year on DL

SARASOTA, Fla. -- J.J. Hardy received a cortisone injection in his right shoulder Tuesday to help alleviate nagging discomfort in the area, but the shortstop said Thursday that there's "no chance" he'll be sidelined to start the season April 6.

Hardy took off Wednesday and said he would do the same thing on Thursday. He last played in Monday night's game against the Pirates and is hoping to play on Friday.

"There's nothing structurally wrong with [the shoulder], it's just taking a while to get over the hump," Hardy said. "Every year -- I've said it before -- I've had it and it goes away the first couple of weeks of spring. This year, it's just taking a while. So we are just basically kind of taking it easy, and hopefully a couple days off will get [me] over the hump and I'll be fine."

Hardy is hoping he will feel "like nothing's wrong" when he throws Friday and that he will be able to go from there. He has never previously received a cortisone shot in his shoulder.

Asked if that meant the discomfort was worse than in previous springs, Hardy said that was not necessarily the case.

"It just wasn't going away," he said. "So it was kind of like, 'OK, we've got a week left until the season, I don't want to be dealing with this once the season starts. So if that's a good thing to do, then I'll do it.'"

As for him possibly starting the season on the disabled list, Hardy said there's no chance.

"Even the way it was this spring, I was playing through it," Hardy said. "I can play through that."
Hardy is hitting .278 with a .381 on-base percentage, a homer and two RBIs in 36 at-bats over 13 games. He reiterated Thursday he only feels shoulder discomfort when he throws at game speed and he said that it doesn't bother him at the plate.

Lindsay Lohan taken off probation stemming from 2007 DUI arrest

LOS ANGELES — Lindsay Lohan took her final courtroom bow today — for now at least.

A judge gave Lohan glowing reviews for the actress' performance in community service and declared the “Mean Girl” free from formal probation.

“The only terms left .. are to obey all laws — not that hard,” LA County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner said.

The judge said she sympathized with Lohan’s fishbowl life in Tinseltown.

“I know it’s kind of hard when people are following you all over the place and you really can’t get anywhere. But that’s the life you chose,” Sautner said during the nine-minute heading.

“I’m not going to give a lecture because you know what you need to do. You need to lead your life in a more mature way. Stop the nightclubbing!”

The judge added: “I don’t expect to see you again.”

Lohan, who smiled broadly after Sautner formally ended probation, said community service at the morgue and a women’s center on Skid Row was good for her.

The “Freaky Friday” actress also underwent psychotherapy and counseling for shoplifters during her probation.

“I just want to thank you, thank you for being so fair,” Lohan told the judge. “It’s really opened a lot of doors for me so I really appreciate it."

She's still under terms of informal probation, meaning Lohan can’t break any laws for the next 2 1/2 years. Lohan risks 245 days in jail if she legally slips up between now and May 24, 2014.

“You were on a very tight leash,” Sautner said. “Now you’re on a self-imposed leash. Good luck.”

As a result of this morning's hearing, Lohan, 25, no longer has to report to court or meet with a probation officer.

Lohan appeared in court wearing a light blue pantsuit and her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She declined to speak with reporters when she walked out of the courthouse.

Linz's seemingly continuous courtroom appearances stem from a 2007 DUI bust and a host of ensuing probation violations.

The professional party gal’s last bad bust resulted from a five-fingers shopping spree on Feb. 9, 2011, when she strolled out of an LA jewelry store with a $2,500 necklace around her neck.

This most-recent run of bad behavior earned Lohan a whopping 480 days of community service.
Lohan hopes to pick up the pieces from her once-promising acting career.

The Long Island native appeared as host of “Saturday Night Live” on March 3, ahead of upcoming small-screen gigs on “Glee” and as Elizabeth Taylor in a TV movie.

While Lohan drew lukewarm reviews for her “SNL” performance and puffy-faced appearance, she looked composed and confident today -- wearing five-inch black heels and her hair in a more natural, soft strawberry blond tint.

``It's a great day,'' said mom Dina Lohan. ``We're just going to have a quiet dinner - she won't be driving.

``All my daughter ever wanted to do was act,'' the famed stage mom added. ``She just can't wait to make great films. She still has to be careful. They're still following her and chasing her car.''

Red Sox don't want to put pressure on Crawford

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox simply don't think it is prudent to publicly outline a timetable for the return of Carl Crawford, because it could force the left fielder to push too hard to make a perceived deadline.

But late April or early May seems like a reasonable projection, given where Crawford is at in his rehab from left wrist surgery and subsequent inflammation.

"I don't think that they're top-secret things," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "The only thing I know about that is that you don't want to put the kid -- anybody rehabbing -- under the pressure of a deadline. It can never be the calendar or the schedule that says when a guy is healthy. It can't be. It's not fair. It's just not fair."

Crawford would probably need about 15 games of Minor League action to get the 50 at-bats or so he needs to be Major League-ready.

"If he gets 15 games from the time he starts playing, we have a target, but it's not a bull's-eye," Valentine said.

The plan on Thursday was for Crawford to bunt about 20 times.

"They have a very detailed schedule," said Valentine. "It's hard for me to give you all those things. He needs to stay on course, which he is, and slowly progress."

Crawford has done tee work, but he hasn't taken batting practice against a coach yet.

Ex-club owner turns down no-jail plea for Manhattan bar brawl with Prince of Monaco

Royal jaw-buster Adam Hock turned down a no-jail plea in a Manhattan courtroom today -- insisting he'll go to trial to prove he was the victim of "international bar brawlers" in his flashy February fight with the Prince of Monaco.

"We have information that these four individuals are known bar brawlers," Hock's new lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, insisted after a brief court appearance today, referring to Prince Pierre Casiraghi and the three royal pals Hock is charged with also decking.

"They're international bar brawlers -- Paris, Belize, the US," Tacopina said.

Hock, the beefy former owner of the HawaiianTropic Zone in Times Square, is fighting misdemeanor assault charges after busting Casiraghi's jaw with a single punch at the Double Seven.

Prosecutors say Hock popped not only Casiraghi, but three members of his royal posse: Paris Hilton-ex Stavros Niarchos, Diego Marroquin and Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld. It was a fracas that witnesses say sent a gaggle of attendant fashion models scurrying into the street.

"They've started brawls in prior instances," Hock's lawyer told reporters, declining to describe the instances, except to say, "To date, I have evidence of a half dozen of them. At times it's all four of them, or two of them, or just one. They're not always together."

Under the deal offered today, Hock could have pled guilty to the top charge of third degree assault and stayed out of jail by completing a 12-week anger management program.

But Hock will never plead guilty in the case, not even to a reduced charge of a violation, Tacopina told reporters. Three eyewitnesses are already on board to say that Hock was not the aggressor, and only swung to protect himself from a four-against-one pile on, the lawyer said. Hock will himself need surgery for a tear to his shoulder he claims was caused by Roitfeld swinging a vodka bottle at him.

"These are four drunk guys who make a living trying to get their names in the papers," Tacopina complained.

Also today, prosecutors turned over to the defense ten minutes worth of surveillance video from inside the club; Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Michelle Armstrong ordered it be sealed, on the request of prosecutors, so that a future jury pool is not "tainted" by seeing evidence in advance.

Hock returns to court May 24.

Samardzija named No. 3 starter in rotation

MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija set school records in touchdowns, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns at Notre Dame, has played in bowl games and in front of 100,000 fans. But on Thursday, he scored a personal goal, securing a spot in the Cubs starting rotation.

The right-hander was named as the No. 3 starter, following Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm round out the starting five.

"This could be right up there," said Samardzija, who has pitched primarily in relief for the Cubs since he was drafted in 2006. "It's definitely at the top because I feel I went through college and I just played. It was natural and I didn't have too many setbacks. I didn't play much freshman, sophomore year because I was 185 pounds.

"I didn't have too many things that I've really had to earn and I had to earn this and it feels good," he said. "To put that work in and see it pay off, it's pretty nice."

Samardzija had a strong spring with the exception of one outing against the Rockies when he gave up seven runs on 10 hits over four innings. On Wednesday, he faced the Indians and threw six scoreless innings, giving up three hits. Cleveland did the same as Colorado, and overloaded the lineup with left-handed hitters.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum and the front office met after Wednesday's game to finalize the roster decisions.

"I'd say it convinced me more than anything," Sveum said of Samardzija's outing vs. the Indians. "He did a good job yesterday, especially because they had seven or eight left-handers in their lineup, which is always a test against any right-handed pitcher. He kept them off balance, got weak popups. That shows he was controlling bat speed and doing a good job of it."

On Thursday, Samardzija was called into Sveum's office to get the news.

"We just kind of said thanks to each other, for me personally to get the opportunity to do it and they were happy I didn't take it for granted and just show up and go through the motions," Samardzija said. "It felt good."

The 27-year-old pitcher has grown up quite a bit in the last few years. He admitted to having a sour taste after previous Spring Trainings when he was either demoted or assigned to the bullpen.

"You don't know how many opportunities you're going to get to start," Samardzija said. "Once you become a reliever and have success, a lot of times that's where you end up in your career. I really wanted to give this a full head of steam and a full shot."

In past years, Samardzija might have had a different approach in Wednesday's game.

"I think that showed my growth and where I'm at today," he said. "Normally, I probably would've tried to throw 100 [mph] and try to strike everyone out and I didn't do that. I came out and threw strikes and continued what I've been doing all spring. I think it shows a little maturity on the mound."

Mega Millions jackpot grows again, reaches $540M

The Mega Millions jackpot just got bigger — $40 million bigger to be exact.

The record lottery jackpot climbed to a staggering $540 million this afternoon, officials said.

Since Tuesday's drawing, when no winning tickets were sold, the jackpot has grown twice — from $363 million to $500 million to $540 amount.

The $500 million was already the largest in history for a multistate game.

"This is the all time record for any lottery, including the El Gordo lottery in Spain," said Elias Dominguez, a spokesman for the California Lottery, which began offering Mega Millions in 2005.

"We usually see a huge increase in the number of people buying tickets, so the jackpot could well go up again before Friday" when the next winning numbers are picked, he added.

Tandi Reddick, a spokeswoman for the Georgia lottery where the actual drawing of numbers takes place, said peak sales hours on Friday are typically during the evening as people are on their way home from work.

Mega Millions is one of the largest multi-state lottery games in North America and is played in 42 states, plus Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Players pay $1 for a ticket and must pick five numbers from 1 to 56 plus a Mega number from 1 to 46 to win the jackpot.

The odds of winning are 1 in about 176 million, according to the official Mega Millions website.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won was $390 million in March 2007, when the prize was split between two tickets sold in Georgia and New Jersey.

With Reuters

Mariners depart Japan with series split

TOKYO -- A fun-filled week in Japan didn't end quite the way the Mariners hoped Thursday as the A's played long ball on Seattle's bullpen to spoil a sterling start by Jason Vargas for a 4-1 victory in the second game of the Opening Series.

Cuban free agent Yoenis Cespedes ripped a two-run home run off reliever Shawn Kelley in the seventh inning and Josh Reddick followed with a solo blast off George Sherrill as the two new Oakland outfielders provided all the punch needed on a day Seattle managed just one run on a Justin Smoak home run.

Kelley didn't allow a run in 12 2/3 innings last September after returning from Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander gave up the game-changing blow when he hung a slider to Cespedes as the A's pulled out a split in the two-game set.

"That's my go-to pitch," Kelley said. "I want to make a pitch and I didn't do it. It's sad. Vargas pitched a [heck of a] game and deserved to win. Smoaky got the big hit and I cost us the game. Everything that happened after me is on me.

"I'm going to do everything I can to not let that happen again," he said. "It was just a mistake."

Designated hitter Jonny Gomes added an insurance run with another home run, this one off Steve Delabar, in the eighth inning.

Seattle's offense did little to help out, managing just three hits and one run off veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon, who went eight innings in his first start for the A's.

"He came right at us, worked both sides of the plate," said Smoak. "You've got to get guys on base to score runs, and that's something we didn't do tonight."

Other than a bases-loaded situation in the fifth, the only Mariner to reach all night was Smoak on his home run trot.

That blow interrupted a pitcher's duel between Vargas and Colon after Colon had breezed through six innings on just two hits. That lead was short-lived, however, once manager Eric Wedge took Vargas out after he'd thrown 85 pitches.

Wedge said he wanted to bring in the right-handed Kelley at that point in the lineup, and he got the second out with a fielder's-choice grounder by Kurt Suzuki before Cespedes turned the game around.
"We were one pitch away from being out of that inning, then you can go to your setup [man] and closer," Wedge said. "You're one pitch from being in command of the ballgame. But Shawn hung that slider and then Sherrill did the same to Reddick. The big ball really hurt us late in the ballgame."

Kelley wasn't the only reliever to struggle. Sherrill faced three batters and gave up the home run to Reddick and then two sharp singles before Delabar came on to end the eighth.

"It was just bad pitches," Sherrill said. "The breaking ball [to Reddick] was a bad pitch, but it was still a popup. The next two were just bad pitches and got laced.

"I hate to say it, but it still feels like Spring Training to me. It's kind of weird playing real games and then going back to Spring Training again. No excuse, I've still got to do better. But I still have a little ways to go to get ready."

Vargas went 6 1/3 innings with just one run on two hits in a masterful season debut. He gave up a single to Cliff Pennington, the A's second batter, then retired 13 straight before a Reddick double in the fifth.

But Oakland couldn't do any real damage to the 29-year-old lefty. Even when he walked leadoff hitter Jemile Weeks with one out in the sixth, Weeks immediately was thrown out stealing by Miguel Olivo.

Could Vargas have gone longer? Perhaps, but this hasn't exactly been a normal spring and it had been 10 days since his last Cactus League outing, when he struggled and didn't throw as long as hoped.

"Skip has a great feel for the game and what's going on and what he wants to do in what situations," Vargas said. "Would I have liked to stay out there? Yes. But at the same time, he probably knows it's been a long time since I threw 100 pitches."

Colon was even more efficient in his first start for the A's, needing just 65 pitches to get through the first six innings before Smoak ripped a 2-2 pitch into the left-field seats.

Colon had a perfect game until rookie designated hitter Jesus Montero finally pushed a single to right with one out in the fifth. The Mariners loaded the bases with another base hit by Olivo and a walk by Michael Saunders. But Brendan Ryan grounded out to short to end that threat.

After a 4-for-5 opener, Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4 and saw his batting average drop to .444. But the veteran right fielder wasn't alone in his struggles as Colon stifled the Mariners from start to finish in front of the crowd of 43,391.

The Mariners fly home Friday and then play five more Cactus League games before resuming regular-season action at Oakland on April 6.

Cespedes' first homer gives A's first win

TOKYO -- Breaking ball? Yes, please.

Yoenis Cespedes clobbered the pitch many thought he couldn't hit, drilling one -- "Loud and clear," as A's manager Bob Melvin described it -- from Mariners reliever Shawn Kelley to left-center field at the Tokyo Dome on Thursday, all the while giving his new A's team its first win.

The rookie's two-run, seventh-inning shot put Oakland ahead for good in the 4-1 victory -- one that proved to be an all-around effort from a handful of new faces.

Offseason acquisitions Josh Reddick and Jonny Gomes also homered, and right-hander Bartolo Colon, signed by the A's off the free-agent market in January, enjoyed a pretty swanky debut, as well.

"That builds team chemistry," Melvin said. "We've got a lot of new players we feel like have been working hard all spring to mesh together, and it shows when you get contributions all the way around like that."

But none created as much chatter as Cespedes' hit. Nor as much money, as the outfielder was awarded with a check worth $12,000 in an MVP ceremony following the game.

"It was a blast," Reddick said. "Everyone's been questioning his ability to hit a breaking ball, and for him to sit back on one and then line one out, that's a big step for him."

"I know the whole game they were throwing sliders," Cespedes said through translator Ariel Prieto. "I tried to make adjustments, and that's the only way I hit that ball."

With their first win of 2012, the A's departed Japan having split the two-game Opening Series with Seattle. They will resume the regular season against the Mariners in the Bay Area on April 6.

Thursday's victory ensured both teams a share of first place in the American League West for at least eight days. Considering the talent that resides in Texas and Anaheim, the A's might not enjoy such a lengthy stay there again this season. For now, though, they'll enjoy the view from above -- figuratively and literally.

The A's quickly exited the Tokyo Dome on Thursday to get to Narita International Airport for a nine-hour flight back across the International Dateline to Oakland, where they are scheduled to arrive around 5 p.m. PT.

Combined with the 12-hour flight they made to Japan seven days ago, the A's would have traveled a rather long way -- nearly 12,000 miles -- to return home with two losses. But several players ensured that wasn't the case. Cespedes' homer was followed by solo shots from Josh Reddick and Jonny Gomes, and it coincided with another stellar performance by an A's starter.

Bartolo Colon, more than 10 years the senior of the average age on the A's Opening Day roster, made his Oakland debut and put on quite the pitching clinic, retiring his first 13 batters faced and allowing just one run in eight innings.

He needed just 86 pitches to do so, relying on a steady diet of fastballs and two-seamers in front of a roaring crowd on an international stage.

"I don't know that he has a heartbeat," Melvin said. "His pulse doesn't seem like it's ticking much. He doesn't seem to let many things affect him. He's the kind of pitcher that takes it pitch to pitch."

The lone run off Colon came courtesy of a seventh-inning solo shot from Justin Smoak that shook up a pitching duel that also featured Mariners lefty Jason Vargas, who was responsible for just one of the A's runs while pitching 6 1/3 innings.

Colon's impressive outing, which included just one walk and six strikeouts, followed an equally encouraging start by Brandon McCarthy, who allowed one run through seven innings in Wednesday's 3-1 loss.

At the age of 38 years, 310 days, Colon is the oldest pitcher to start a game for the A's since Tom Candiotti, who was 41 years, 275 days when he made his final start for Oakland on June 2, 1999.

Thursday's performance is what the A's will need this season to stay in the win column -- good from the old and new. So far, so good.

"It's a lot different than last year," Vargas said. "Gomes and Cespedes make a big difference in the middle of the their lineup. They lost [free-agent outfielder Josh] Willingham [to the Twins], but they got some other guys that can do some things."

Melvin said the late-inning comeback following a season-opening loss is a confidence-booster.

"We go into that game," Melvin said, "and it seems like it's going to be another close one, and to come out with the win in that fashion, it really gives us some confidence."

New security plan in works for problem-plagued Village McD's

The owner of the problem-plagued Greenwich Village McDonald’s met last night with police brass and political reps to hash out plans to improve safety and security, The New York Post has learned.

Some of the ideas floated were the hiring of off-duty NYPD officers to act as guards, giving police remote Internet access to the eatery’s surveillance cameras, and cordoning off seating after a certain hour to prevent customers from lingering, Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo of the Sixth Precinct told concerned residents at a community meeting.

“Every business has a hand in the quality of life inside and outside their door,” said Del Pozo.

Del Pozo attended the closed-door sit-down with franchise owner Carmen Paulino and representatives from the offices of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, as well as members of Community Board 2.

Earlier in the week, Quinn had called on her constituents to boycott the troubled McDonald’s.

“What we're trying to convince McDonald's to do, and what I think they've been receptive to, is treating their McDonald's as if it were a bar past a certain hour of the night,” said del Pozo.

“What they're getting is every negative aspect of having to deal with policing a bar without the high profit margin of actually selling alcohol.”

A brutal, booze-fueled St. Patrick’s Day fight recorded outside the fast food joint and uploaded to YouTube once again highlighted the violence that residents say has become commonplace at the West Third Street location.

No assault charges were filed, and, therefore, no suspects are being sought, del Pozo said.

"The safety of my employees and customers will always be my first priority. I am committed to doing the right thing," said Paulino, adding that she had reached out to the NYPD paid detail to "explore options."

In October, cashier Rayon McIntosh pummeled two women with a metal rod after they allegedly hopped the counter to attack him. Rayon, a manslaughter parolee, was cleared after a grand jury found he acted in self-defense. The women, however, were indicted on burglary charges.

And, last March, gay patron Damian Furtch, 26, was jumped outside the eatery by Anthony Bray, 21, over a matter of “disrespect,” police sources previously told The New York Post.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dodgers sold to Magic Johnson's group

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A deal has been struck between the Dodgers and legendary Laker Magic Johnson's bidding group for the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium for $2 billion, the club announced on Tuesday night.

The purchase price is the highest amount ever paid for a North American sports franchise.

The sale officially is to Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, which includes Mark R. Walter as its controlling partner, Johnson, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly. Current owner Frank McCourt and certain affiliates of the purchasers will also be forming a joint venture, which will acquire the Chavez Ravine property and parking lots for an additional $150 million.

"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles," said Johnson.

"It is extraordinarily exciting for Major League Baseball that Magic Johnson, a beloved figure in Los Angeles and around the world, has entered into an agreement, along with Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten, that would make them a part of our national pastime," MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said in a statement.

"I believe that a man of Magic's remarkable stature and experience can play an integral role for one of the game's most historic franchises, in a city where he is revered. Major League Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities, and Magic Johnson is a living embodiment of so many of the ideals that are vital to our game and its future.

"The interest in this franchise and its historic sale price are profound illustrations of the great overall health of our industry. This has been a long, difficult process, and I once again want to thank the great Dodger fans for their loyalty and patience."

The deal will be presented to bankruptcy judge Kevin Gross next month for an expected approval. The price would set a new mark for a sports franchise, topping the sale of the NFL's Miami Dolphins to Stephen Ross ($1.1 billion) in 2009 and of the Manchester United soccer club in England by Malcolm Glazer and his family ($1.47 billion) in 2005.

"This transaction underscores the Debtors' objective to maximize the value of their estate and to emerge from Chapter 11 under a successful Plan of Reorganization, under which all creditors are paid in full," the Dodgers said in a release.

"This agreement with Guggenheim reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community," said McCourt. "We are delighted that this group will continue the important work we have started in the community, fulfilling our commitment to building 50 Dream Fields and helping with the effort to cure cancer."

General manager Ned Colletti said he was "thrilled" the bidding process was concluded and looked forward to working with the new ownership group. Colletti has a contract for an unspecified time, with an out at the end of this year. He said he exchanged emails Tuesday night with Kasten, who is expected to be the club president.

"When you're talking about Magic and Stan Kasten, you're talking about people that have been a part of many championship clubs," said Colletti. "Magic and Vin Scully are two of the biggest names in the history of Los Angeles sports. It's important how deep in L.A. roots this group brings. In Magic, he's not only a Hall of Fame basketball player, but a great businessman in the city. It's a great combination."

Kasten, a graduate of NYU and Columbia Law School, ran the Atlanta Braves during their remarkable 14-year playoff run, the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL. He later ran the Washington Nationals. Colletti said he had dinner with Kasten after he toured the Dodgers' Spring Training complex at Camelback Ranch two weeks ago.

"He's successful, relentless in his pursuit of excellence and tireless," Colletti said of Kasten. "At one time, he was in charge of three teams. You look at what he's accomplished and you wonder how one man can accomplish all of it. He knows a lot, he's seen a lot and he's won a lot."

Other than upgrading the Dodgers' presence in Latin America, where the Dodgers have fallen far behind after a long history of signing top talent from there, Colletti would not detail specifics of his conversations with Kasten, other than to assure fans that the resumes of the new owners indicate a commitment to winning.

"You think about Stan and Magic, they are guys that have won a lot. It's paramount with what they do," Colletti said. "They are all about winning. We're a good club with a chance to be better than good. Look at what Stan did in Atlanta, it's pretty impressive. Magic, in a lot of areas, has been remarkable. This group, and what I know of Guggenheim, they're about top-shelf people, top-shelf entertainment. They are very, very focused on being the absolute best."

The Dodgers entered bankruptcy last June when they couldn't meet player payroll or pay bills after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig declined to approve a $3 billion agreement between FOX and the Dodgers to extend their television broadcast rights.

Based on a settlement with MLB and overseen by the bankruptcy court, McCourt had until April 1 to identify a winning bidder. The deal must close by April 30, the same day McCourt must pay his former wife, Jamie McCourt, a $131 million divorce settlement.

There were three final bidders in the auction run by Blackstone Advisory Partners on behalf of McCourt -- the winning group of Guggenheim, Johnson and Kasten; billionaires Steven Cohen and Patrick Soon-Shiong and agent Arn Tellem; and Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams.

The McCourts bought the Dodgers in 2004 from FOX for a net purchase price of $371 million. With the $2 billion for the team and stadium, plus $300 million for the surrounding land and parking lots, the selling price is a total of $2.3 billion, just shy of $2 billion appreciation in eight years.

JetBlue captain yelled over the radio that co-pilot needed 'to take a leap of faith'

Feds filed criminal charges today against an unhinged JetBlue captain, who caused an emergency landing by saying “things just don’t matter” and seeking to “take a leap of faith.”

Clayton Osbon, who has been a pilot at JetBlue since 2000, was charged with "interfering with flight crew instructions," within hours of his suspension by the airline.

Osbon freaked out aboard Flight 191 en route from JFK to Las Vegas yesterday.

First, Osborn turned over control of the plane to his co-pilot and went off on a faith-based tangent, according an affidavit by FBI Special Agent John Whitworth.

“Osborn began talking about religion but his statements were not coherent,” Whitworth wrote.

“The [co-pilot] became concerned when Osborn said `things just don’t matter.’ Osbon yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet.“

That’s when Osbon turned off the radio, dimmed his monitors, and “sternly admonished the [co-pilot] for trying to talk on the radio,” according to Whitworth.

The final straw came when Osbon said “we need to take a leap of faith,” according to the criminal complaint.

“Osbon started trying to correlate completely unrelated numbers like different radio frequencies, and he talked about sins in Las Vegas,” according to Whitworth.

“At some point, Osbon told the [co-pilot] `we’re not going to Vegas.’ Osbon began giving what the [co-pilot] described as a sermon. “

The pilot then left the cockpit and banged on the bathroom door, ordering a woman inside to come out, feds said.

That odd episode gave the co-pilot his chance to act and the quick-thinking flyer brought another JetBlue pilot on board -- traveling as a non-revenue passenger -- into the cockpit.

When Osbon, locked out of the cockpit, began to fiercely bang on the door, the co-pilot ordered over the PA system to have the captain restrained, according to feds.

By this point, flight attendants had already been deputizing passengers to help if they needed to take down Osbon.

Several passengers jumped Osbon and one flight attendant suffered bruised ribs in the tussle at 34,000 feet.

“Osbon said `pray f--king now for Jesus Christ,’ “ Whitworth wrote. “Osborn also yelled jumbled comments about Jesus, September 11th, Iraq, Iran and terrorists. He also yelled `Guys, push it to full throttle.’ “

The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas, yesterday after Osbon’s erratic behavior.

One of the passengers who helped restrain Osbon insisted today that the plane's co-pilot was "really the hero" for recognizing his colleague’s disturbing behavior.

Passenger Tony Antolino's comments came as the CEO of the airline said he knew the pilot personally and described him as a "consummate professional."

"I think at that point, we just, without thinking, quite frankly, just tackled him to the ground," Antolino told NBC's "Today" show, describing Osbon as having been in a "complete uncontrolled near-rage."

Asked if there was a message he had for JetBlue CEO Dave Barger, Antolino said, "I think the co-pilot is really the hero here."

"He had the instincts to recognize that something was going horribly wrong in the cockpit, and whatever happened up there between he and the captain, he was able to persuade the captain out of the cockpit," he added, saying the co-pilot's actions "averted what could have been a tragedy."

Antolino also urged Barger to review the airline's use of plastic zip-tie restraints, which the flight crew initially gave the passengers to use as handcuffs.

Antolino said the restraints "systematically failed" and that passengers were forced to use seatbelt extenders, belts and their hands to restrain Osbon.

Speaking to “Today” later in the morning, JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said he had known Osbon "personally for a long period of time, and there's been no indication of this, at all, in the past."

Barger described Osbon as a "consummate professional" and said the airline never had any reason to believe the pilot was a risk.

While the CEO said the airline would "take a look at procedures," he said he was confident about the safety methods used by JetBlue and the industry as a whole. He added he would "absolutely" review the use of plastic restraints.

Osbon was taken to a nearby medical clinic under the care of the FBI after the plane landed.

McCarthy can't halt A's Opening Day woes

TOKYO -- No flash photography.

A's shortstop Cliff Pennington heard the request, and surely the 44,227 fans in attendance at the Tokyo Dome did, too. But it didn't matter, not with icon Ichiro Suzuki on the field. So the flashbulbs kept coming, images of the Mariners outfielder being captured by the millisecond.

Ichiro always in focus, the A's attempted to turn the attention their way. After all, they were the designated "home" team, despite playing on a different continent. But they collected just six hits as a team, compared to Ichiro's four, and Seattle's Dustin Ackley topped off his own memorable night with a go-ahead RBI base hit in the 11th inning to leave Oakland on the losing end of a 3-1 decision on Wednesday.

It marked the A's eighth consecutive Opening Day loss, a trend that proved a difficult one to halt even before the first pitch was thrown, with Mariners ace Felix Hernandez set to take the mound. The right-hander, making his fifth consecutive Opening Day start, naturally shut down Oakland, allowing just one run through eight innings. He now owns a career 2.47 ERA against the A's.

"I didn't think he was throwing as hard as he normally throws," Pennington said. "But he was still Felix, and was still pitching. It's always a battle when you're facing him."

But Oakland righty Brandon McCarthy proved just as effective, also surrendering just one run, his time on the hill lasting seven innings. The A's hurler worked effortlessly, allowing six hits with no walks and three strikeouts, utilizing just 82 pitches, 58 of which were thrown for strikes.

And one he'd like to have back.

McCarthy, having cruised through the first three innings, greeted Ackley with a fastball down the middle that, well, wasn't supposed to be a fastball down the middle.

"It was a really bad fastball," McCarthy said. "It was supposed to be a cutter up and in, and it turned out to be a cutter in the middle, and I asked him to hit it out."

The A's, though, responded in quick fashion in the bottom half of the inning, when Pennington reached on a double and came around to score on an RBI double off the bat of Kurt Suzuki.

They appeared primed for even more in the next frame, when Yoenis Cespedes, making his Major League debut, collected his first big league hit by leading off with a hard-hit double to center field.

But the A's stranded him on second and witnessed a similar scene in the sixth by not capitalizing on a one-out opportunity with men on first and third.

"We had some opportunities situationally," manager Bob Melvin said. "We really didn't do as well as we liked. In games like that, you're always searching for silver linings, and we did hit some balls hard, but in the end, they had a couple more big hits than we did obviously."

The biggest came in the 11th with A's reliever Andrew Carignan on the mound. Looking to continue his bullpen mates' streak of nine consecutive batters retired, the right-hander instead gave up a leadoff double to Brendan Ryan. The Mariners shortstop advanced to third on Chone Figgins' sacrifice bunt and scored on Ackley's RBI single.

Ichiro, once again cause to bring out the cameras, followed with his own run-scoring single to extend the lead.

"Today we missed a few, and then they didn't later," Pennington said.

The A's can't have too many repeat performances of Wednesday's if they want to maintain a respectable standing in the division. Whereas counterparts Texas and Los Angeles ooze power, Oakland must rely on other facets of its game -- situational hitting among them.

"Certainly we weren't as good with it today, but we were dealing with a tough customer, too," Melvin said. "Felix wasn't throwing as hard as he normally does, but when he needed to make a pitch, he did.

And that's what good pitchers like him do when they need to. He gets guys on base and then makes some of his best pitches of the night.

"You knew, between Brandon and Felix, it probably comes down to one or two big hits. If we had scored a run a little earlier, we would have been a little happier tonight."

Still, the A's were in awe of the atmosphere that surrounded them, one that meant a lot to everyone on the field, but just a little more to one particular player.

"More than the four hits, it was more being able to enjoy the atmosphere with the fans," Ichiro said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "Being there with the same feelings, that was special to me. That's what will stay in my heart."

Ackley, Ichiro unstoppable in Mariners' win

TOKYO -- Ichiro Suzuki racked up four hits -- including an RBI single in the 11th inning -- as Seattle's right fielder had a homecoming to remember in a 3-1 victory for the Mariners in the first game of the Japan Opening Series with the A's on Wednesday.

Second baseman Dustin Ackley drove in Seattle's other two runs with a home run in the fourth and the go-ahead single in the 11th, while Felix Hernandez pitched eight innings of one-run ball.

"More than the four hits, it was more being able to enjoy the atmosphere with the fans," Ichiro said through interpreter Antony Suzuki in the cramped Tokyo Dome visitors' clubhouse. "Being there with the same feelings, that was special to me. That's what will stay in my heart."

The Mariners received much of the Tokyo Dome support despite the A's playing as the "home team" in this two-game set, thanks in large part to Ichiro's presence. But the 12-year MLB veteran was pleased the crowd of 44,227 provided strong support for all the players in their first experience with Japanese fans.

"Seeing how they welcomed the players, they were very warm-hearted," Ichiro said. "That makes you cry."

The Mariners were thrilled to be part of Ichiro's party on this night.

"Welcome home, huh?" said reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, the winning pitcher with two shutout innings of relief. "What a great show for the fans and obviously for us and the team. It's just amazing. Felix is the king of Seattle and Washington. But this is just something un-Godly. [Ichiro] was just amazing, and I'm happy he was able to get those four hits and put on the show he did."

Ackley put on a pretty good show of his own, going 2-for-5 with his team's first two RBIs, including the solo smash off A's starter Brandon McCarthy leading off the fourth.

"The first thing I thought of when I got back to the dugout was that I was leading the Major Leagues in home runs," Ackley said. "It might be the coolest thing I've ever done in my life. So to be a part of that and to be a part of this winning team and the game tonight in extra innings, it was awesome."

After Brendan Ryan led off the top of the 11th with a double, he was sacrificed to third by Chone Figgins and then driven home by a single up the middle by Ackley to give Seattle a 2-1 lead.

"He's just a good hitter," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He's going to be one of the better middle-infield hitters in the league at some point in time."

Wilhelmsen pitched two hitless frames in the ninth and 10th, and closer Brandon League slammed the door in the 11th. But Hernandez once again did the yeoman's work to get his team in position to pull out its sixth straight Opening Day victory.

Hernandez gave up five hits and one run in his fifth Opening Day start and is now 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in season openers. The 25-year-old threw a complete-game victory on Opening Day against the A's in Oakland last year, giving up five hits and two runs in a 6-2 win, and was equally dominant in this one.

"It was a great win, and it was an honor to pitch here in Tokyo," Hernandez said. "It's been unbelievable to be here. Great fans and everything. Everyone worked together and it was a great win for us. And all the fans in the stadium, that was pretty good, man. That was awesome."

Hernandez gave up a run in the bottom of the fourth on a pair of doubles by Cliff Pennington and Kurt Suzuki, but otherwise shut down the A's on just three other hits in his eight innings of duty.

The Mariners' six straight Opening Day wins is the longest streak in the Majors. The D-backs and Pirates have won five straight heading into their openers next week.

It was Seattle's fifth extra-inning affair on Opening Day and first since 1996, with the club's record now 4-1 in those games.

The two teams square off again Thursday in the Tokyo Dome at 2:04 a.m. PT, then return home to the United States after a week in Japan. The Mariners will return to Cactus League action for five games before facing the A's again to resume the regular season in Oakland on April 6.

Hitting in his new third spot in the order, Ichiro finished 4-for-5 as he tied Ken Griffey Jr's team record for Opening Day hits, set in 1990. The 38-year-old moved past Griffey for the franchise lead for most career Opening Day hits with 17, three more than Griffey.

Ichiro capped his day with the fourth hit, a single to center that scored Ackley for the 3-1 lead and sent fans home happy for their returning hero, who was greeted by a cascade of camera flashes from every part of the stadium every time he stepped to the plate.

"That was pretty crazy, the flashbulbs and the crowd," Pennington said. "I know they announced no flash photography before the game, but I guess that memo was missed."

Congressman reprimanded for wearing hoodie and sunglasses on House floor

WASHINGTON — Congressman Bobby Rush was reprimanded on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday after he delivered a floor speech wearing a hoodie and sunglasses to protest the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

"Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker," Rush said as he removed his suit jacket to reveal a gray hoodie and proceeded to don a pair of sunglasses. "Just because you wear a hoodie does not make you a hoodlum."

At that point, he was interrupted by the presiding speaker of the chamber, Mississippi Republican Gregg Harper.

"The chair must remind members that clause 5 of rule 17 prohibits the wearing of hats in the chamber when the House is in session," Harper said, loudly banging his gavel to restore order to the chamber.

However, Rush (D-Ill.) continued to deliver his speech with Harper repeatedly interrupting him to note "the member is no longer recognized."

Harper asked the Sergeant at Arms to enforce the House prohibition on hats in the chamber.

"Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor," Harper said as Rush finished his speech and walked away.

Martin, a 17-year-old unarmed African American, was shot and killed Feb. 26 by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., sparking a national debate about racial profiling and "Stand Your Ground" laws. Zimmerman, who has not been charged, has said he acted in self-defense.

Afterward, Rush -- a former Black Panther who holds the distinction of being the only person to ever defeat President Barack Obama in an election when he defeated him in a congressional primary in 2000 -- told FOX News Channel he understood the speaker had to fulfill his duties.

"Some of us in the House know the importance of civil disobedience and sometimes it makes a difference," he said. "Sometimes decorum has to take a back seat."

"I think the spotlight was on me and the speaker had to respond and I understand the speaker had to respond," he added.

Asked what she thought of Rush's protest, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted that 25 years ago, women were not allowed to wear pantsuits on the floor.

"I'm more concerned about the words than whether someone wears a hoodie on the floor," she said.

Afterward, Martin's parents praised Rush for his demonstration, telling The Washington Post they were touched by his show of support.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trayvon Martin case moves to DC, civil rights leaders converge on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON — The front lines of the Trayvon Martin case moved to Washington Tuesday, with family members and civil rights leaders expected to attend a Capitol Hill briefing as a more complex picture of the teenage shooting victim began emerging in media reports.

With emotions and anger running at fever pitch in the aftermath of Martin's Feb. 26 death, his parents were to attend the Tuesday afternoon briefing on racial profiling and hate crimes organized by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) and other Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.

However, it was not certain if either parent would speak at the session.

On Monday, they appeared at a rally in Sanford, Fla., where their son was shot by Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman, to demand justice and press for Zimmerman's arrest.

"We're not asking for an eye for an eye," Martin's father Tracy told the crowd of thousands. "We're asking for justice, justice, justice."

Martin was shot by Zimmerman as the teen walked through a gated community in Sanford, about 20 miles north of Orlando, wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles candy. He was not armed although Zimmerman claimed he shot him in self defense.

On Monday, Zimmerman's version of events appeared for the first time in a police account leaked to the Orlando Sentinel.

The 28-year-old claimed that it was Martin who triggered the fatal confrontation by allegedly approaching Zimmerman from the left rear and exchanging words.

According to Zimmerman, who reportedly is in hiding, Martin punched him in the nose and then, as he fell to the ground, got on top of him and slammed his head into the sidewalk.

ABC News reported Zimmerman also said Martin tried to take his gun, according to a police source.

At the same time, the Miami Herald reported Martin had been suspended from his school three times.

The paper said his reported infractions included marking a school door with graffiti, possession of a baggie with a marijuana residue and tardiness and truancy.

During the graffiti incident, a school employee found 12 pieces of women's jewelry and a screwdriver in his backpack, the Herald said, but he was not disciplined for that discovery and there was no evidence the jewelry was stolen.

Martin's parents, along with family attorney Benjamin Crump and civil rights leader Al Sharpton said any school issues were irrelevant to his shooting death and an attempt to demonize him.

"They've killed my son and now they're trying to kill his reputation," Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said Monday.

100th Street Depot Now Renamed as the Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot

MTA's 100th Street Bus Depot has been renamed The Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot in honor of the World War II African-American military pilots and support personnel.

These heroes made up the famed flight-training program at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Over the years, twelve former Tuskegee Airmen have been employed in the New York City Transit system, serving New Yorkers and creating an unbreakable link between the two organizations.

Held at the depot, the rededication ceremony was attended by MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota, NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast and Darryl Irick, President of MTA Bus and Senior Vice President NYC Transit's Department of Buses. Also part of the celebration, were local community leaders and former members of the illustrious 332nd Fighter Group.

The centerpiece of the rededication was a bronze commemorative plaque newly installed in the depot's entryway. Listing the names of each of the twelve Tuskegee Airmen who became employees of the New York City transit system, the plaque will serve as a living reminder of their bravery and dedication to duty. A logo, bearing an artistic rendering of three Tuskegee Airmen and the red-tail P-40 Mustangs they flew, has been incorporated in the plaque, while depot signage has been installed and decals affixed to each bus assigned to the depot.

"The Tuskegee Airmen overcame so much to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of the War, thanks to the numerous civil rights organizations that convinced the Army to create this iconic African-American pursuit squadron," said Chairman Lhota. "These heroes included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff. We see a very similar dynamic at the bus depot. Bus Operators, mechanics and other personnel all working together toward one common goal. That is what makes today's dedication ceremony that much more special."

"It is with a feeling of great pride that we name this bus depot after a group of true American heroes, men who first served their country valiantly and then served our City in various jobs throughout the transit system," said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. "This dedication of the Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot points out their history of achievement and sacrifice and we are all honored to have had a number of them working for the transit system."

The 332nd Fighter Group, or "The Red Tails," as they were known, had the combined duties of battling both American prejudice at the time and Nazi militarism. The Group maintained an impressive record of protecting American bombers as they pounded enemy targets.

Tuskegee Airmen: Reginald T. Brewster, Victor A. Collymore, Conrad A. DeSandies, Harry R. Dickenson, John R. Freeman, Noel R. Harris, Oscar W. Hawkins, Austin D. McKenzie, Maury M. Reid, Jr., Percy E. Sutton, Victor W. Terrelonge and Fred O. Wilson. There are currently two surviving airmen from this group, Reginald T. Brewster and Noel R. Harris.

"I'm extremely proud to be the leader of the MTA's bus operations as we establish this historically relevant New York City memorial to authentic American heroes," said Darryl Irick, President of MTA Bus and Senior Vice President NYC Transit's Department of Buses. "Honoring these former subway, bus and trolley workers who served as Tuskegee Airman and all Tuskegee Airmen for their valiant service, sacrifice and achievement in the face of adversity reflects the honor that they have brought to all Americans, all New Yorkers and to the dedicated men and women of NYC Transit."

The depot is a state-of-the-art bus maintenance and storage facility designed to have as little impact as possible on the surrounding community, far less impact, in fact, than the cramped, 108-year-old streetcar barn that it replaced when it was opened in 2003. Taking into account two major community concerns, additional space was provided to allow indoor parking for the entire fleet and additional bus service lanes that eliminate queuing on the street.

The facility consists of four fully enclosed floors and a mezzanine. Each floor is approximately 80,000 square feet and the mezzanine is 29,500 square feet, for a total building area of 349,500 square feet.

The depot is currently home to seven bus routes, 130 buses and a total of 460 employees.

Latos exits game with strained left calf

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos left his game vs. the Cubs on Tuesday with a strained left calf. He is day to day.

There were two outs in the fifth inning when Latos made a first-pitch delivery for a ball to Alfonso Soriano. Latos appeared to have some discomfort and was visited at the mound by manager Dusty Baker, pitching coach Bryan Price and trainer Paul Lessard.

Following several moments, Latos walked to the dugout and looked disgusted. Expected to work six innings, he finished with three runs (two earned) and four hits allowed over 4 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out two.

Entering the day, Latos had a 1.93 ERA in four spring starts.

The Reds expect Latos to be their No. 2 starter this season. He was acquired in a blockbuster December trade from the Padres for Edinson Volquez and prospects Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger and Yasmani Grandal.

This development is especially unwelcome in light of the season-ending injury to fellow offseason acquisition Ryan Madson. The new Reds closer was diagnosed on Saturday with a torn ligament in his right elbow, which will require season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Mob turncoat details the 1997 slaying of NYPD cop Ralph Dols

A mob hit man today detailed the sickeningly intricate steps taken to rub out NYPD cop Ralph Dols, who'd innocently asked “what’s up” to his killers just seconds before they pumped him up with lead.

Mafia capo-turned-stool pigeon Dino “Big Dino” Calabro told jurors in Brooklyn federal court that Dols, who was killed because he was married to an ex-mob wife, never saw it coming on that deadly 1997 night in Brooklyn.

Calabro is testifying against his cousin Dino “Little Dino” Saracino and Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, who are being prosecuted for murder and racketeering.

Big Dino said he and Little Dino followed Dols home, and the cop was killed moments after getting out of his Cutlass.

“He [Dols] pulled to the right, where he lives. I pulled off the left,” Calabro coldly recounted. “Me and [Little] Dino jumped out. “

Dols didn’t know the two approaching men were about to whack him.

“He said `What’s up?’ “ Calabro testified.

“We shot him [pause] multiple times.”

Dols staggered backward and fell on the hood of his car.

“When we shot him, he fell back,” Calabro said.

“I shot him. I shot him with my cousin Dino.”

Big Dino and Little Dino had been carefully casing Dols’ home for weeks before pulling the trigger.

A week and a half before the killing, Big Dino and Little Dino had followed Dols home and were ready to nail him then, according to Calabro.

But Dols unknowingly bought himself more time on earth by making a yellow light, while Big Dino and Little Dino were left back at the red.

Calabro explained that killers used three cars in Dols’ slaying:
  • The “kill car,” a stolen Chevy Caprice carrying the gunmen;
  • A “crash car,” allegedly driven by look-out man Joseph “Joey Caves” Competiello, who was ready to ram a responding police cruiser;
  • And a “clean car,” that the gunmen used for their final getaway after ditching the stolen “kill car.”
“We stole a car. We waited there and we ended up shooting him,” said Calabro, adding that he used a .44-caliber Magnum revolver in the job while Little Dino packed a .45-caliber semi automatic.

“We used [police radio] scanners, we used walkie-talkies, we used gloves, we used baseball caps.”
The capo-turned-canary insisted he had no idea Dols was a cop. Calabro said he got the kill order from his mentor Gioeli, who in turn claimed the ultimate request had come from his boss, Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace.

“Tommy told me he [Dols] was a Mexican who worked in a Queens social club,” according to the mafia snitch.

Dols’ killing was splashed on the front page of newspapers the next day. It was only then, Calabro said, that he learned Dols was an NYPD officer.

“We don’t typically kill police officers. That’s just a rule in the mafia,” he said.

“You don’t kill kids, you don’t kill cops.”

Big Dino said he was so upset about Officer Dols’ slaying, he asked Gioeli if they should take out Cacace for the cop-killing order.

“I asked Tommy we should take him cause he screwed us,” Big Dino testified. “He [Gioeli] took a step back and he listened and he said, 'Let me see.'"

Four relatives of Dols, who declined to identify themselves, sat in the courtroom during Calabro’s testimony about his murder.

“We just want this to be over with. It’s been so many years,” said a female relative of Dols, whose killing preceded Calabro’s elevation from mere Colombo associate to "made man" in the crime family.

Calabro also testified how Tommy Shots, who feared that he was going to Hell because he had inadvertently killed a former nun named Veronica Zuraw during a mob hit, had a habit of praying in the garden of a Catholic church in Massapequa, LI, not far from Gioeli’s home.

Calabro said Gioeli also conducted more secular business in that church garden, a photo of which was introduced into evidence today.

Gioeli once summoned Calabro to the garden to discuss a plan – later carried out – to killed Colombo underboss William “Wild Bill” Cutolo because of concerns that Cutolo would launch a power struggle for control of the crime family, Calabro testified. 

Safety First! MTA Adding More Onboard Bus Video Surveillance Cameras

In continuing to enhance both customer and employee security, the MTA is purchasing and installing Bus Camera Security Systems (BCSS) for an additional 1,150 buses.
MTA Bus Camera Security System image
The original contract for equipping 426 buses was awarded in December, 2010 to UTC Fire and Security. The contract also called for hardware and software installations in nine bus depots. The current option will allow similar installations in an additional 12 depots and include three servers. The system captures video images and then uploads them wirelessly to the depot server along with a system health report while the bus is being fueled.

The integrated surveillance system includes multiple cameras covering the interiors of standard 40-foot buses and 60-foot articulated buses. The depots are equipped with equipment capable of not only capturing the video images but also performing diagnostic health checks on the system.

“Video surveillance is a vital element of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ongoing effort to maintain a transit network that is as safe and secure as possible,” said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. “Bus cameras offer a visible crime deterrent, while also providing a state-of-the-art electronic tool that will aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity aboard the vehicle.”

Mariners, A's set to make it count overseas

TOKYO -- The wait is just about over for the Seattle Mariners, the Oakland A's ... and Major League Baseball and its fans all over the world.

The regular season will officially begin on Wednesday around 7 p.m. in Tokyo, which will be 6 a.m.

ET and 3 a.m. PT, when Oakland right-hander Brandon McCarthy throws the first pitch of the regular season, most likely to Mariners leadoff man Chone Figgins, and Opening Series Japan 2012 gets under way in earnest.

Aside from the fanfare of a rabid Japanese crowd, a busy week in the Land of the Rising Sun replete with military visits, a somber Tuesday trip through the tsunami zone north of Tokyo for a baseball clinic and various autograph sessions around this sprawling metropolis, Wednesday's opening game will most of all match up two American League West rivals who are young, hungry and looking to surprise some people this year.

The two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers and upstart Angels, with new first baseman Albert Pujols on board, are getting most of the love from preseason prognosticators forecasting the AL West, but the Mariners and A's have other ideas after stealthy winters and hard-fought springs.

For Seattle, Wednesday will represent the culmination of an extended spring that still isn't over; the club will return to Arizona after this two-game set to finish off its Cactus League slate. But the team is hoping it means a lot more -- specifically, the continuation in an ongoing progression of building a winner and a perennial contender.

"We played pretty good baseball all spring," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I trust these guys, I trust in what we're doing, I trust in their ability, and when we turn that switch on Opening Day, I'm counting on us being ready to go."

Some things have changed since the Mariners' fourth-place finish in the AL West last year.

Ichiro Suzuki is batting third instead of leadoff. Catcher Jesus Montero, who was brought to Seattle in a trade with the Yankees for pitcher Michael Pineda, is hitting in the middle of the order. The bench has been strengthened.

Young right-hander Hector Noesi, who also came from New York in the Pineda deal, and veteran starter Kevin Millwood will round out the starting rotation behind Seattle's ace, former AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, who gets the ball on Wednesday for his fifth Opening Day start.

"Everyone's excited," Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders said. "We're young, we're exciting, and when we get nine guys on the field taking care of business, we're going to be a really good ballclub.
We're trying to build a winner in Seattle, and we want to do it as a nucleus of players that will stay together over the long haul."

The A's are heading into this season with a very similar attitude.

Oakland, after all, went 74-88 last year with a young team, then underwent an offseason roster remodel the likes of which fans have seen before from general manager Billy Beane. Oakland said goodbye to young starters Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, among others, bringing in prospects galore and a Cuban defector, Yoenis Cespedes, whom the team hopes will be a major presence in center field and in the heart of the batting order for years to come.

Attempting to win now while preparing to win in the near future, Oakland has clearly defined priorities in 2012 -- getting second-year leadoff man and second baseman Jemile Weeks a full season of at-bats and seeing what it has in Brandon Allen, Josh Donaldson, Josh Reddick and a revamped pitching staff that includes newcomers Graham Godfrey, Tommy Milone and Tyson Ross.

"I think the talent's here," McCarthy said. "It's a good group of guys that works hard and is very serious about what they're doing."

Serious is a good word, because serious is what will happen starting on Wednesday. The country might be foreign, the playing surface might not be natural grass and jet lag might still be a factor, but the players know that the bell is ringing. The 2012 season is beginning right here in Tokyo.

And when A's manager Bob Melvin talks about his team, he's echoing sentiments that Wedge has been drilling into his charges since the day his pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training in early February.

"I'm excited about where this team is going," Melvin said. "This could be the start of something that we feel is going to get better each and every year."

Mariners: Hernandez an obvious choice
  • Hernandez will make his fifth career Opening Day start for Seattle, having also done so in 2007 against the A's, '09 against the Twins, '10 at Oakland and last season at Oakland. Hernandez will join Randy Johnson (six: 1992-96, '98) as the only pitcher in franchise history to make five or more Opening Day starts. Hernandez's three career Opening Day wins are the most in Mariners history.
  • This year marks the ninth time in club history that the Mariners will open the season against the A's, and the sixth time they'll open a season in road grays against Oakland (the previous five came at Oakland Coliseum). Seattle is 5-3 all time on Opening Day against the A's, having won the last three.

Athletics: McCarthy a no-brainer for Melvin
  • McCarthy enjoyed a resurgence last year, and he was rewarded for it. Oakland's brass took notice of the right-hander's 3.32 ERA in 2011, and he was such an obvious choice to start Opening Day that Melvin named McCarthy the No. 1 starter in late February.
"I thought it was a natural [decision], based on what [McCarthy] accomplished last year," Melvin said. "With some of the pitchers that we traded away, we had a good feeling that would be the case."
  • The other time the A's opened the regular season in Japan was in 2008, when they split two games with Boston. Oakland lost the opener, 6-5, in 10 innings and won the second game, 5-1. Catcher Kurt Suzuki is the only player on the roster who was on the A's Opening Day roster that year. Outfielder Coco Crisp was with Boston in '08.

Worth noting
  • The Mariners are 20-15 in season openers, including a five-game Opening Day winning streak.
  • McCarthy went 1-3 against the Mariners in four starts last year, but he still managed to carry an ERA of 1.99 vs. Seattle hitters.

Manhattan cop guilty of sex assault after jury reaches partial verdict

A drunken, off-duty Manhattan cop who pulled his service weapon on an Inwood school teacher in a random attack last August was found guilty of three counts of predatory sexual assault carrying a potential maximum sentence of life in prison, a jury said this afternoon in issuing a partial verdict in the case.

Pena was additionally convicted of violating the woman during the heinous attack on the woman, a stranger to him who had been on her way to her first day of teaching second grade when the cop pulled her into a backyard and threatened to shoot her in the face.

After four days of what jurors described in a note as sometimes contentious deliberations, the Manhattan Supreme Court panel was unable to come to a unanimous verdict on two counts of rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault connected to the two rape charges.

A few hours after the verdict, the NYPD fired Pena.

The petite, brunette victim -- who was only 25 years old when Pena held a gun to her head and attacked her in an Inwood backyard last August -- sobbed quietly as she sat in the second row of the courtroom waiting to hear the partial verdict.

She burst into audible, gasping sobs at one point -- when the jury forewoman said that the jury was unable to come to a verdict on the predatory sexual assault charges connected to the alleged rape.

Earlier in the day, deliberations came to a halt when it emerged that Juror No. 2 gave a campaign contribution to DA Cy Vance and worked for former "love guv" Eliot Spitzer.

Prosecutors revealed that the panelist is lawyer Lloyd E. Constantine, a former advisor Spitzer.

Constantine, one of four attorneys on the panel, is also a law partner of Richard Aborn, who ran against Vance. Juror No. 2 gave $5,000 to both Vance and Aborn in 2008.

During voir dire, Constantine and other jurors were asked if they had a connection to the DAs office or police and he said, "No."

Constantine -- whose leanings either way in the case are unknown -- was called into court and on the carpet shortly before the lunch break, and assured the trial judge that he remains objective despite his pro- and anti-DA ties.

Constantine also penned a book on the Spitzer ordeal called, ''Journal of the Plague Year."

The political insider said he didn't inform the judge of these ties during jury selection because "I had already passed my own subjective test" of objectivity, and didn't want anyone to think he was trying to get out of jury duty, he said.

As one of the governor’s most trusted aides, Constantine was quoted frequently in the press during Spizter’s political crash and burn. The governor and his wife Silda reportedly fumed over Constantine’s willingness to talk on the record, leading to a huge strain in their once-close relationship.

Constantine was allowed to continue deliberations.

"They said there's a lot of anger going on -- a lot of ad hominum attacks," Pena's defense lawyer Ephraim Savitt told reporters, speaking of a note that was not immediately read into the record.
"And they don't think it's going to get any better.”

Jurors had first told the judge of an "impasse" yesterday. They have reached a verdict on six other sex attack charges in the case, they also told the judge yesterday, which were not revealed until today.

Yesterday, the 25-year-old victim, a petite, bespectacled brunette sobbed softly in a courthouse hallway when lead prosecutor Evan Krutoy told her of the lack of agreement on the rape count.

The victim had insisted in emotional testimony that she was certain she was raped. "It hurt," she explained tearfully of her certainty.

Defense lawyer Savitt has told jurors that Pena admits pulling his service weapon on the terrified woman, a total stranger who was on route to her first day of school, and to sexually attacking her in a random Inwood backyard. But he has argued that there are no direct forensics confirming that there was actual intercourse.

But one passerby testified that, from 12 feet away, it appeared that Pena was having intercourse with the woman. Forensic exams found the woman's DNA on Pena's genitals and Pena's DNA on the woman's underwear.

Poetry in Motion Is Back

Back by popular demand, poems are returning to the subway after a four-year hiatus. We have joined with the Poetry Society of America to restore Poetry in Motion, the popular program that brought thought-provoking poems and poetry excerpts to the subway between 1992 and 2008.
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We’re enhancing and expanding the program as well. Poems will be paired with details of work of art that appear in the MTA system.

Within subway cars, the poems will be positioned in the prominent square poster wells at eye level of seated passengers. Previously, they had been in the overhead advertising spaces.

And the poems are expanding to new venues. The poems posted in the subway will now appear, for the first time, on the backs of select MetroCards. The poems also are being brought into the digital age.

Animated sequences featuring the poems are being added to the MTA’s “On the Go!” travel stations, which have been installed in a pilot program at five major transportation hubs: Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station, Bowling Green, Atlantic Av-Pacific St, and Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Av.

“Our customers tell us again and again that even a small investment in art and music underground makes a huge difference to them,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. “It can really improve the entire experience of riding the subway. And the beauty of this program—and of poetry and art in general—is that it can really transport you.”

The poems are selected by MTA Arts for Transit in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America, partners in the program since its inception. In addition to context, aptness, and literary merit, the selections for Poetry in Motion will seek a diverse authorship reflective of the diversity within New York.

The first poem to be included in the new incarnation of Poetry in Motion is the timely “Graduation,” by Dorothea Tanning, who passed away in January at the age of 101.

“Dorothea Tanning was an outstanding American artist and the author of a novel and two memoirs when in her late 80s,” said Alice Quinn, Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America. “She became an accomplished poet, too, publishing her first collection at 94 and her second a month after her 101st birthday. Her poem, ‘Graduation,’ speaks to the uncertainties of youth, to a mixture of skepticism and trust, and expresses a wistfulness about beginnings. The timing seemed great for this poem as so many all over the city will be graduating from one place or another all through May and June when the poem is up, a moment of embarkation Tanning's poem delicately enshrines.”

“Graduation” is paired with images of the artwork “The Flora of Bensonhurst” by Joan Linder, a newly installed, but not yet unveiled, laminated glass artwork at the 71st Street station on the D Line in Brooklyn. The artwork depicts six intricately drawn plants specimens flowing in the direction of the train. Linder created the drawings based upon wild vegetation discovered on the streets and lots within a 6-block radius of the station. These panels act as windows to a lost history – a place shaped by Native Americans and farmers. The botanical images offer passengers an experience that is a counterpoint to the built environment of the city.

As poems are selected, Arts for Transit will pair them with details from its more than 230 works of permanent art installed in subway and railroad stations. Any connection between the artwork displayed and the subject matter of the poetry may not always be immediately apparent.

“The artwork and the poetry are not meant to necessarily interpret each other but to create a dialog,” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design. “You may experience them individually or as one. Each stands in its own right, yet they can be viewed in tandem. The interpretation is up to the individual, so we don’t expect everyone will experience the art or the poetry or the two together in the same way. It will be left to a multitude of interpretations.”

Tigers' Cabrera cleared to return to field

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- All-Star Miguel Cabrera was cleared by doctors to resume physical activity on Tuesday, eight days after an odd bounce on a ground ball caused a fracture below his right eye.

Cabrera was examined on Tuesday morning by a specialist in Lakeland, close to the Spring Training facility. Once he was cleared, he returned to Joker Marchant Stadium for conditioning drills. He'll resume baseball activities there on Wednesday.

Manager Jim Leyland met with Cabrera at the stadium before leaving for Osceola County Stadium, where the rest of the Tigers took on the Astros on Tuesday afternoon, a game that ended in a 14-7 loss.

Leyland normally stays subdued about injuries, but he didn't hide his enthusiasm over Cabrera's impending return.

"That's not good news. That's great news," Leyland said. "You don't realize when you write a lineup card what a void it is when you lose any one of your regular hitters, but particularly him. That shortens up that lineup quite a bit, and when he's in, that extends that lineup quite a bit.

"So we got the best possible news we could have got. We're thrilled."

No timetable was given for Cabrera's return to game action, but it's expected he should be ready later in the week. Cabrera told that he could be ready in two or three days, something Leyland suggested last week. The Tigers have a Thursday evening game against the Nationals that will be televised in Michigan, so if Cabrera's healthy, he could return in a showcase game.

Regardless of the return date, the clearance all but ensures that Cabrera should be ready for Opening Day, on April 5 against the Red Sox, a timetable that seemed in question when the injury occurred.

When talking with reporters on Monday, Cabrera predicted that he would be ready for the season.
"I don't feel any pain, nothing," Cabrera said. "The next day I was feeling good. I was a little sore, and [there was] swelling, but I was like normal. I was [feeling] like I was going to be OK very soon."

Cabrera spent the past week resting at his spring home, watching some television. The only baseball he watched was the replay of the incident, trying to figure out what he could have possibly done differently to prevent it.

"I [tried to] see if I did something wrong or if something helps me to get better or helps me [make sure that] this doesn't happen again," he said. "But I don't have anything [else] do to with the ball. I was in good position. I was right there. And at the last second, I see the ball in my eyes."

Passengers subdue 'screaming' JetBlue captain as mid-air rant diverts flight

A JetBlue flight captain had to be tackled by passengers today after he ran up and down a packed flight screaming about "terrorism" and "al Qaeda" in a terrifying mid-air outburst.

“Say your prayers!” the crazed pilot screamed as he ran up and down the aisle, a passenger told The New York Post.

“Someone next to me said he was saying something about bombs,” recounted the passenger, Tiffany Lee, a 26-year-old Las Vegas resident.

The captain was identied as Milwaukee-native Clayton Osbon, according to Fox News.

The Amarillo Globe-News also quoted passengers on board saying the pilot was screaming about al Qaeda.

"Iraq, al Qaeda, terrorism — we're all going down," he yelled, according to witnesses.

Laurie Dhue, a former Fox News Channel anchor who was on the flight, told the network passengers could hear the pilot using the words "Afghanistan" and "Israel" during the tirade.

The crazed captain’s outburst came after he was booted from the cockpit, passengers said.

He banged on the cockpit door asking to be let back in before passengers subdued him, said authorities.

Four passengers, including a retired NYPD sergeant jumped up and held the man down, Fox 5 reported.

“It was so scary,” said Lee. “People around me were freaking out a little bit. The girl next to me was saying, ‘Oh my god, what If I never talk to my fiancĂ© again?’ ”

JetBlue Flight 191 — an Airbus A320 that can hold 150 people — made its emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas at 10:11 a.m. local time.

The flight had departed from JFK at 7:28 a.m.

Grainy YouTube footage purportedly taken by one passenger aboard the flight after its landing showed a scrum at the front of the plane as an attendant reminded them to stay seated and scolded people for taking video, saying, "We don't need pictures of this, please."

JetBlue said in a statement that the captain had a “medical situation” and was taken to an Amarillo hospital.

He was replaced on the flight deck by an off-duty captain who happened to be on the plane, the airline said.

The FBI is investigating the incident.

In August 2010, JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater gained national attention when he grabbed some beers, deployed his JetBlue plane’s emergency chute on the JFK tarmac and slid right off his job after an argument with a testy passenger.

‘I’ve had it! To the passenger who called me a motherf----r, f--k you! . . . I’m done!” Slater bellowed into the plane intercom before taking the slide.

Two weeks ago, an American Airlines flight attendant had to be restrained after a "mental episode" where she began ranting over the public-speaker system that the plane was going to crash.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Brandon J.’s News commentary: What I think of the Trayvon Martin shooting

Written by head writer/reporter Brandon Julien, follow him on twitter @Brandonjnews

Being a rookie blogger/journalist, I watch the news a lot and also read the newspapers because it’s a great way for me to be up to date with current events (even when I’m not on the computer). So when this story came out, I took a big groan. Why? Because this just isn’t territory that I should be exploring at all. But it’s good to take risks so here we go.
I think it's safe to say that very few new journalists will be madly covering this story. I know whatever good thoughts I had about this story (even though it came completely out of left field) breathed its last when Al Sharpton started running his mouth, there were protests in the streets, and the word “racial profiling” or “racism” was used in the protests or used more than once in the same sentence. But then, the journalist side of me started to kick in. "Shame on you, Brandon Julien," spoke myself. "Have you forgotten your top 10 from last year already? You should give everything a chance or you're no better than those dipshits at Fox News.” I had to give it some decent thought. It's not like there are any other new things to talk about, unless I want to start complaining about the Knicks.
But the whole thing actually questions me. For starters, we don’t have ANY security footage of what happened that day, and there were no witnesses, so it makes it kind of hard to charge George Zimmerman with the crime. #2, we don’t know if Martin WAS acting suspiciously to make him shoot, or if he WAS a racist. And #3, we don’t know what that drink was. It could have been a suspicious substance.
So let the FBI and the state of Florida have its little investigation. Let the people protest in the street. And let Martin’s parents and Al Sharpton continue to run their mouths. JUST REMEMBER that in this case, we have more questions than answers.
On the trail of something different, I’m Brandon Julien.

Knicks shake off injury bug to beat Bucks 89-80

Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points, delivering his highest total in two months without the injured Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, and the Knicks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 89-80 on Monday night to increase their lead for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth.

Shortly after learning Stoudemire was lost indefinitely with a bulging disk in his back, the Knicks opened a 2 1/2-game lead over the Bucks and prevented Milwaukee from winning the season series and clinching the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record.

Baron Davis scored 13 points in his first start in place of Lin, who has a sore right knee. Tyson Chandler also had 13 and Iman Shumpert 11.

Mike Dunleavy scored 26 points for the Bucks.


Swelling down, Miggy expects to play in opener

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The swelling is down around Miguel Cabrera's injured right eye, and the discoloration is gone. The vision is fine, he said. The only lingering sign that the Tigers third baseman took a high hopper a week ago is the cut under his eye.

The boredom, though, has set in. Cabrera is ready to play baseball again. And when the Tigers open the season April 5 against the Red Sox, he expects to be playing.

"I'll be ready. Don't worry," Cabrera said.

The way he said it, there's no doubt in his mind.

Officially, the third baseman still has a doctor's exam coming up. He needs medical clearance to resume physical activity, let alone play baseball. But the fact that Cabrera's eyesight is fine and his pain is non-existent has him very encouraged.

"I don't feel any pain, nothing," Cabrera said. "The next day, I was feeling good. I was a little sore and swelling, but I was like normal. I was [feeling] like I was going to be OK very soon."

For now, Cabrera is quite bored. He spent the last few days basically resting, watching some television. The only baseball he has watched is the replay of the incident, trying to figure out what he could've possibly done differently to prevent what happened.

Cabrera has watched it several times. He can't find anything to second-guess.

"I [tried to] see if I did something wrong or if something helps me to get better or help me [make sure that] this doesn't happen again," he said. "But I don't have anything [else] to do with the ball. I was in good position. I was right there. And at the last second, I see the ball in my eyes."

Next thing Cabrera knew, he saw blood coming out, essentially covering his hands. But he wasn't in pain.

"I was thinking I'm going to feel so much pain the next day," he said. "But it was OK. It was like not too swelling. It was a good feeling."

Cabrera came to Joker Marchant Stadium on Monday, he said, because he wanted to see his friends -- not just on the Tigers, but the Marlins.

"I want to see Hanley [Ramirez]," he said. "I want to see Ozzie [Guillen]. I want to say hi to all my friends on the other side. I say hi to my friends here. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be here for practice."

Considering his exam is scheduled for Tuesday morning, it's conceivable Cabrera could be at the park for the afternoon. The Tigers will be in Kissimmee in face the Astros, but it leaves the field open for the third baseman to do some work if he wants.

Cabrera doesn't expect to have any lingering effects. He doesn't expect to have any hesitation the first time a hard chopper comes his way on a bad field. He isn't afraid, he said, of taking another one.

"It can happen anytime to me again, but I'm not scared," he said. "I'm not scared of anything. I'll go out there and play baseball."

The Tigers are planning as if Cabrera will be ready. Manager Jim Leyland said a few days ago that he has a couple of potential Opening Day lineups he's working on -- one presumably with Cabrera, and one without. However, Leyland said Monday that Cabrera's injury will have no effect on how he decides the final positional spot on the 25-man roster, a strong indication he expects Cabrera back.

Knicks' Stoudemire out indefinitely with back problem

The Knicks on Monday announced that Amar'e Stoudemire is out indefinitely with a bulging disk in his lower back.

Stoudemire left Saturday's game with lower back soreness and an MRI exam Monday revealed the condition.

The Knicks do not know when he will return, but his season is in jeopardy. Stoudemire is in Miami seeking a second opinion.

The forward will receive what the Knicks termed "non-surgical treatment." But surgery is seemingly an option after Mike Woodson said, unprompted, "If he has to have surgery, he has to rehab and come back."

The Knicks play the Bucks on Monday night. They lead Milwaukee by 1-1/2 games for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

This is the second straight year that Stoudemire, who's in year two of a five-year, $100 million contract, has suffered a back injury. He pulled a back muscle in the playoffs last year and had to spend the offseason rehabbing.

Woodson said he was not given a possible date by which Stoudemire could return. The coach also said he has not spoken to him yet.

The injury news is surprising in its significance. Stoudemire said Saturday his back had improved and he expected to play Monday. He also assured reporters his back was not a serious issue.

The Knicks also played Monday without Jeremy Lin, who was out with a sore left knee. Lin called himself “day to day” and is not sure if he will play Wednesday against Orlando. He seemed optimistic at shootaround that he would play, but that ended up changing.

“It was a mutual decision,” Lin said. “Just kind of weighed the options and I want to make sure that when I come back, I’m 100 percent.”