Monday, April 30, 2012

How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes

"Downloadable goods illustrate how modern tax systems have become increasingly ill equipped for an economy dominated by electronic commerce. Apple, say former executives, has been particularly talented at identifying legal tax loopholes and hiring accountants who, as much as iPhone designers, are known for their innovation. In the 1980s, for instance, Apple was among the first major corporations to designate overseas distributors as “commissionaires,” rather than retailers, said Michael Rashkin, Apple’s first director of tax policy, who helped set up the system before leaving in 1999."
RENO, Nev. — Apple, the world’s most profitable technology company, doesn’t design iPhones here. It doesn’t run AppleCare customer service from this city. And it doesn’t manufacture MacBooks or iPads anywhere nearby.

Yet, with a handful of employees in a small office here in Reno, Apple has done something central to its corporate strategy: it has avoided millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states.

Apple’s headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif. By putting an office in Reno, just 200 miles away, to collect and invest the company’s profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains.

California’s corporate tax rate is 8.84 percent. Nevada’s? Zero.

Setting up an office in Reno is just one of many legal methods Apple uses to reduce its worldwide tax bill by billions of dollars each year. As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.

Almost every major corporation tries to minimize its taxes, of course. For Apple, the savings are especially alluring because the company’s profits are so high. Wall Street analysts predict Apple could earn up to $45.6 billion in its current fiscal year — which would be a record for any American business.

Apple serves as a window on how technology giants have taken advantage of tax codes written for an industrial age and ill suited to today’s digital economy. Some profits at companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft derive not from physical goods but from royalties on intellectual property, like the patents on software that makes devices work. Other times, the products themselves are digital, like downloaded songs. It is much easier for businesses with royalties and digital products to move profits to low-tax countries than it is, say, for grocery stores or automakers. A downloaded application, unlike a car, can be sold from anywhere.

The growing digital economy presents a conundrum for lawmakers overseeing corporate taxation: although technology is now one of the nation’s largest and most valued industries, many tech companies are among the least taxed, according to government and corporate data. Over the last two years, the 71 technology companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index — including Apple, Google, Yahoo and Dell — reported paying worldwide cash taxes at a rate that, on average, was a third less than other S.& P. companies’. (Cash taxes may include payments for multiple years.)

Even among tech companies, Apple’s rates are low. And while the company has remade industries, ignited economic growth and delighted customers, it has also devised corporate strategies that take advantage of gaps in the tax code, according to former executives who helped create those strategies.

Apple, for instance, was among the first tech companies to designate overseas salespeople in high-tax countries in a manner that allowed them to sell on behalf of low-tax subsidiaries on other continents, sidestepping income taxes, according to former executives. Apple was a pioneer of an accounting technique known as the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” which reduces taxes by routing profits through Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean. Today, that tactic is used by hundreds of other corporations — some of which directly imitated Apple’s methods, say accountants at those companies.

Without such tactics, Apple’s federal tax bill in the United States most likely would have been $2.4 billion higher last year, according to a recent study by a former Treasury Department economist, Martin A. Sullivan. As it stands, the company paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent. (Apple does not disclose what portion of those payments was in the United States, or what portion is assigned to previous or future years.)

By comparison, Wal-Mart last year paid worldwide cash taxes of $5.9 billion on its booked profits of $24.4 billion, a tax rate of 24 percent, which is about average for non-tech companies.

More information:
How Google Does the Same Damn Thing

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Redskins Also Draft Kirk Cousins and Add Depth

Washington Examiner:
The final scorecard on the Redskins draft: Six offensive players; nine players total; two quarterbacks, two guards, one tackle, one running back, one corner, one safety and a linebacker.

“I was pleased at the end result,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said.

But the story of the day involved the Redskins taking a second quarterback, Kirk Cousins, from Michigan State as the seventh pick in the fourth round after taking Robert Griffin III in the first. Clearly Griffin is the quarterback of the future.

“Anytime you get a quarterback like Robert in the second pick of the draft… he’s your franchise quarterback,” Shanahan said. “He’ll be your quarterback for the next decade. I’ve always enjoyed an offense where you can move the quarterback around with the exceptional speed that he has. To be able to drop back as well as throw on the move, that just doesn’t happen very often.”

But he viewed Cousins as too tempting to pass up, despite holes at other positions. He finished his career as Michigan State's all-time record holder in passing touchdowns (66), passing yards (9,131), completions (723), passing efficiency (146.1 rating), total offense (9,004 yards) and 200-yard passing games (26). He ranks among the Big Ten's all-time Top 10 in completion percentage (tied for sixth at .641), passing efficiency rating (7th), passing yards (10th) and TD passes (tied for 10th).

Shanahan said added depth allowed him the luxury of taking Cousins.  He also pointed out how many times he’s lost players in games to injuries.

“In that fourth round you’re trying to find people that can make your team,” he said. “We have to have depth to win and you want quality. If you see quality in the fourth round…. Hopefully it doesn’t happen [an injury to Griffin] but you want to be prepared it if does. I thought it was a steal for us at that position.

“Kirk is a very smart guy. I said to him I couldn’t pass you up. I’m sure he knows he’s going to be a backup, but you’re one play away or two plays away from being a starter. I’m hoping Robert for the next 10 years never misses a game.”

Shanahan said he also spoke to Griffin early on Saturday about the possibility of the Redskins taking another quarterback.

“He knows he’s our franchise guy and he knows he’s our future,” Shanahan said. “He was pretty good about it. He understood. He does have a lot of confidence; he’s not afraid.”

Here’s what Shanahan had to say about the rest of the draft picks:

G/C Josh LaRiebus: “He has pretty good size. He does have quickness. He can play center or guard. He’s extremely bright. We’re very happy to get him.”

LB Keenan Robinson: “We liked his speed. One of the reasons why we drafted him is that we had him at the Senior Bowl. He’s a quality young man. I like the way he handles himself. I thought he could fit in well.”

G/C Adam Gettis: “He has the quickness we look for, kind of like Kory. He can play center or guard. He has speed. You never have enough depth on that offensive line. That’s why it was big for us to get three offensive linemen. We’re not sure when they would go. All three of the guys we got we targeted. We’re very happy with the depth on the line.”

OT Tom Compton: “He has great speed and quickness. That’s what we look for in our tackles. He did a great job in our agility drills as well as the 40-yard dash and he has the flexibility to play both sides.”

RB Alfred Morris: “I liked his running style. He has the ability to make people miss. He has great lateral quickness and he can cut on a dime. Now we’ll get a chance to see how he competes with the other backs. A lot of times you need four or five guys. … He’s a tailback.”

CB Richard Crawford and Jordan Bernstine:  “Bernstine is a safety. Crawford has the possibility to play inside in a nickel and is also a punt returner. He has some value.”

More information:
1994 Draft: Third overall pick Heath Shuler upstaged by seventh-round afterthought Gus Frerotte

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spotlight: RG3

“I’ve never been a Cowboy fan. I’m not a Cowboy hater, but as soon as I put on the burgundy and gold, I’m all for the burgundy and gold. And that’s something that I try to live by. When I put on the green and gold, I wasn’t chanting the Texas A&M Aggies’ fight song. I try to bond with my teammates, bond with the fans in that way. So you won’t see me taking it easy on the Cowboys because I’m from Texas, you won’t see me cheering for the Cowboys because I’m from Texas. I’ll be a Redskin, through and through.”

Former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who won the 2011 Heisman trophy, was selected by the Washington Redskins with the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Known to many as RGIII, the 22-year old threw for for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns and six interceptions and rushed for 699 yards and 10 TDs in his senior season. Griffin further impressed NFL teams at the scouting combine. His 40-yard dash (4.41 seconds) and 39-inch vertical leap were tops among quarterbacks. In order to draft Griffin, the Redskins traded up to the No. 2 pick in the draft, sending the sixth overall pick and their second-round selection in the 2012 draft and first-rounders in 2013 and 2014 to the St. Louis Rams. Griffin threw for 78 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions in his college career. He played in just three games in 2009 because of a torn ACL.

Washington Post:
The formalities Thursday night were anticlimactic. Soon after the draft began at 8 p.m., the Indianapolis Colts made Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck the top overall selection. The Redskins then turned in Griffin’s name for the second pick to be announced by Goodell. Luck and Griffin became the fifth set of quarterbacks selected first and second in the same year since the NFL and AFL combined their drafts in 1967.

Redskins officials said after they completed the trade with the Rams that they would be happy with either Luck or Griffin. But most people in the league seemed virtually certain the Redskins would end up with Griffin. It’s not necessarily a consolation prize. Some talent evaluators prefer Griffin’s chances of becoming a centerpiece player in the NFL to Luck’s.

But the Colts were locked in on Luck throughout the period leading up to the draft. In March, they released quarterback Peyton Manning, the only four-time most valuable player in league history, after he missed all of last season following a series of neck surgeries. Manning landed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent, and the Colts made plans to begin their rebuilding around Luck. The Colts announced Tuesday they would select him.

That seemed to suit the Redskins just fine. In Griffin, they are getting a quarterback who has demonstrated speed as a runner and accuracy as a passer. He has put star quality on display during the pre-draft buildup. Now he must show he can stand out in the NFL with his play on the field, as well.

The Redskins are heavily invested in Griffin after trading three first-round draft picks to the Rams — the sixth overall choice Thursday night and opening-round selections next year and in 2014 — plus a second-rounder this year for the right to draft him. That will matter little to the Redskins, though, if Griffin becomes the kind of player who takes his team to Super Bowls. The Redskins have gone 20 years without a Super Bowl appearance and have totaled just 11 victories in Coach Mike Shanahan’s two seasons with the team.

The Redskins made moves in free agency earlier this offseason to upgrade Griffin’s receiver corps. The team, which lacked a 1,000-yard receiver last season, signed wideouts Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan as free agents. Neither has had a 1,000-yard receiving season in the NFL, and it’s unclear if the Redskins have assembled enough talent around Griffin to be a winning team, even if he performs well as a rookie.

Only one of the previous four sets of quarterbacks taken first and second in the same draft had highly productive pro careers. Jim Plunkett was drafted first and Archie Manning went second in 1971; both were standout quarterbacks. The other three sets of quarterbacks drafted first and second — Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer in 1993, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf in ’98 and Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb in ’99 — yielded one Pro Bowl performer and one draft disappointment.

Caps Defeat Bruins 2-1 OT in Game 7

"When it comes to playoff time, you never know who's going to score the goals," said Washington coach Dale Hunter, who has the other Game 7 overtime goal for the Capitals, in 1988 against Philadelphia. "And the guys who are big guys, character guys -- [Knuble] blocked a shot and took off. [Ward] went with him, and they got rewarded for it."

Washington Post:
With a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 on Wednesday night at TD Garden, the Capitals dispatched the Boston Bruins and punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third time in the past four years.

Fourth-line winger Joel Ward scored the game winner 2 minutes 57 seconds into overtime by driving to the net and swatting a rebound past Tim Thomas, who was preoccupied by Mike Knuble’s presence on top of him in the crease. It was a clutch time for Ward to score his first tally with a goaltender in the net since Jan. 7 at San Jose.

“It’s not about relief. We didn’t feel we had the pressure on us tonight. We’ve played these guys tough for six games going into tonight. We knew we could beat them,” Matt Hendricks, who recorded Washington’s first goal, said of the emotion he felt when Ward’s shot crossed the goal line. “We had the confidence playing in this building, we had the confidence that we were going to come and do the job we had to do.”

Ward, Hendricks and the rest of the grinders on Washington’s third and fourth lines led the charge, helping tip the balance in the final chapter of this taut series. It marked the first time in NHL history that each game of a seven-game series was decided by one goal.

Game 7 Lineup:
Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Matt Hendricks
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman

Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth

It's getting to the point where it wouldn't be the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals didn't meet at some point.

With their 2-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, the Rangers will face the Capitals in the postseason for the third time in four years.

The Capitals won the previous two meetings, both of which occurred in the first round. The Caps rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in 2009 to win in seven games, then vanquished the Rangers in five games last year.

In their last eight postseason games, the Capitals are 7-1 against the Rangers.

The Rangers and Capitals split their four regular-season contests in 2011-12, with each team picking up one win in the other's building. They faced off on the final day of the regular season with the Capitals blitzing the Rangers, who needed a win to secure the Presidents' Trophy, 4-1.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, perhaps the favorite for the Vezina Trophy, wasn't at his best against the Capitals. In three games this season, he was 2-1-0 but had a 3.00 goals-against average and .859 save percentage.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby arrived on the scene late but made 35 saves in the season finale against the Rangers, the only time he's faced New York in his career.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Virginia Tech Fires Seth Greenberg

Virginia Tech fired men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg on Monday, stunning the man who roamed the Hokies' sideline for the last nine years.

Athletic director Jim Weaver made the announcement at a hastily called 4 p.m. news conference Monday, only three hours after Greenberg told by phone that he had no idea what the media session was about. Greenberg, who noted he was currently hosting a recruit on campus, said he believed it had nothing to do with him since he hadn't heard from Virginia Tech officials and assumed that it had something to do with Weaver.

"People thought I was hanging up my cleats but that was not the intention at all," Weaver said of the purpose for Monday's news conference. "[Assistant athletic director Tom Gabbard and I] decided last week that we needed to go in another direction in our men's basketball program and we have terminated coach Seth Greenberg's tenure as our basketball coach."

Weaver said he and Gabbard made the decision to fire Greenberg last week, but did not inform Greenberg until 1:30 p.m. Monday.

"I was completely shocked and blindsided by the decision of Jim Weaver and the administration. These past nine years have been some of the most rewarding for me both personally and professionally," Greenberg told just after 6 p.m. Monday. " ... I appreciate the support from [Virginia Tech] president [Charles W.] Steger, the Hokie Nation, the student body, my coaching staff and all our players. Our program was built on family, trust and relationships. I leave the program in far greater shape than when I was hired nine years ago."

The buyout of Greenberg's contract was $1.2 million.

Weaver noted that he and Gabbard realized they would not be extending Greenberg's contract in 2013 and that the current vacancies on the coaching staff factored into the decision.

Assistant James Johnson took a similar job at Clemson and Weaver said that the Hokies were willing to match any offer that Clemson had made to Johnson.

"I didn't like the way it unfolded with coaches leaving an ACC program that has the promise on the court that [this] program has for next year," Weaver said. "If Coach Johnson wanted to stay in Blacksburg he would have gotten the same amount of money as he did at Clemson. Coach Johnson came to my office Friday morning and said it had nothing to do with money."

Last week, assistant Rob Ehsan also left to join the staff at Alabama-Birmingham, and was accompanied by director of basketball operations Jeff Wulbrun, who got an assistant's position at UAB, leaving only John Richardson and Greenberg on the Tech staff.

Within three hours of Tech's announcement about Greenberg, Old Dominion announced it had hired Richardson, who spent five years on Blaine Taylor's staff before going to Blacksburg.

"I can certainly understand some coaches leaving, but to have as many leave as we had sat the wrong way with me," Weaver said, adding that the decision "had nothing to do with losing. It had nothing to do with NCAA appearances. It had something to do with people leaving and it had something to do with me wanting to change the direction and leadership of the program."

That desire, he said, came to him as he stood before a workshop of 182 full-time staff members of the athletic department.

"The relationship of that program to the rest of the department is what hit me," Weaver said, noting that Greenberg did not attend the workshop. Weaver declined to elaborate, but said it was quite evident to him at the department workshop.

Greenberg told that he was recruiting in Arizona, Texas and Ohio during the workshop.

The search for a successor will begin Tuesday, Weaver said, adding that he has already heard from people in the profession about the job. He did not rule out hiring an assistant coach or a young head coach with little experience.

The Daily Press of Newport News, Va., reported that Weaver won't use a search firm.

Greenberg has a career record of 383-293 in 22 seasons as a collegiate head coach and a 170-123 record in nine seasons at Virginia Tech. In 2009, he passed Chuck Noe into second place on the all-time wins list. Only Charlie Moir, with 213 victories, has more wins at Tech than Greenberg.

Greenberg is 3-3 against top-ranked teams, with all three losses coming on final possessions. Prior to this season, the Hokies had made five consecutive postseason appearances and had six total postseason appearances during his tenure. As a two-time ACC Coach of the Year, his teams earned first-round byes four times at the ACC Tournament.

Tech was a consistent bubble team during Greenberg's tenure but made just one NCAA tournament appearance under his direction. Greenberg's teams had been crushed by injuries over the past few seasons, and they finished 15-16 this past season, including 4-12 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Greenberg came to Virginia Tech from the University of South Florida, where he served as head coach for seven seasons. At USF, Greenberg had a record of 108-100. Prior to USF, Greenberg was the head coach at Long Beach State University, where his overall record was 105-70.

Greenberg has a daughter who is a junior at Virginia Tech and another daughter who graduated from the school.

More information:
» Washington Post: "End of an Era"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Action Guaranteed

Holy smokes, this video got nominated in the Vimeo Awards! Go here to check out the finalists and vote:

'Five Full Runs' comes from 3 days of shooting with Tanner Hall for 'Retallack : The Movie'

Cinematography & Edit by Nate Smith -
Sound by Dan Leavers and Fabrizio Paterlini

Official movie trailer:

It's Not Crazy, It's Sports

Seth Greenberg cameo

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spotlight: Dick Clark

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
Dick Clark, the longtime host of the legendary American Bandstand, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, and the man who embodied New Year's Eve for 40 years, passed away this morning in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack. He was 82. According to ABC News, Clark spent last night in an L.A. hospital following an outpatient procedure, but the iconic TV personality experienced a "massive heart attack" early in the morning and resuscitation efforts didn't succeed, Clark's manager Paul Shefrin said in a statement.

He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1994 and served as spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Clark first got his start as a disc jockey in Syracuse and Philadelphia before segueing to television as the host of American Bandstand in 1957. His first day on the job, he interviewed some guy named Elvis Presley. There's no understating the importance of American Bandstand on the musical landscape: In an era before MTV and MegaUpload, Bandstand was the place to hear the latest songs and see the newest styles. The show thrust rock'n'roll into American living rooms and, without Bandstand, there would have been no Soul Train or Total Request Live — perhaps the entire trajectory of pop music would have been different.

In addition to his 33-year run as host of Bandstand, Clark and his production company also created the American Music Awards, which celebrated its 39th annual ceremony last November. His company also serves as producer of the annual Golden Globe Awards (the private equity fund of Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder acquired Dick Clark Productions in 2007 for $175 million). Clark's love of music and youthful looks earned him the nickname "America's Oldest Teenager," a moniker that followed him well after he'd attained senior citizen status.

There was also Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, which became the unofficial television destination every December 31. Clark handed the reins of his "Rockin' Eve" special to American Idol host Ryan Seacrest in 2006 after suffering a severe stroke that impaired his speech, but Clark still managed to make annual cameos on the special he created back in 1972. For all his contributions to music, Clark was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His legacy also features an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Peabody Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a spot in the National Radio Hall of Fame. To quote the host's weekly sendoff on Bandstand, "For now, Dick Clark... so long."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Space Shuttle Discovery Retires in Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) - The space shuttle Discovery soared over the Washington Monument, the White House and the Capitol in a high-flying salute to the nation's capital Tuesday.

The world's most traveled spaceship, hitching a ride on top a Boeing 747 jet, took a couple of leisurely spins at an easy-to-spot 1,500 feet around Washington after a flight from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Thousands packed the National Mall to watch the pair swoop by.

The shuttle then crossed the Potomac and flew over Arlington National Cemetery and the graves of five astronauts killed in the two space shuttle tragedies. Richard Scobee and Michael J. Smith died aboard Challenger in 1986, and David M. Brown, Laurel Salton Clark and Michael P. Anderson perished when Columbia disintegrated during reentry in 2003.

The shuttle-jet combo was set to land at Dulles International Airport. On Thursday, it will be towed to its permanent installation at the Smithsonian's annex in northern Virginia.

Discovery departed Florida's Kennedy Space Center at daybreak. Nearly 2,000 people - former shuttle workers, VIPs, tourists and journalists - gathered along the old shuttle landing strip to see Discovery off. A cheer went up as the plane taxied down the runway and soared into a clear sky.

The plane and shuttle headed south and made one last flight over the beaches of Cape Canaveral - thousands jammed the shore for a glimpse of Discovery - then returned to the space center in a final salute. Cheers erupted once more as the pair came in low over the runway it had left 20 minutes earlier and finally turned toward the north.

Discovery - the fleet leader with 39 orbital missions - was the the shining star of the space shuttle program. Discovery flew 149 million miles around Earth and deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, which redefined the world's understanding of space.

Following the loss of space shuttle Columbia, it was Discovery NASA turned to get back into orbit. It played a similar role for the Challenger 17 years later.

"Discovery was an amazing machine. It always, on all of its flights, worked flawlessly," says former astronaut Pinky Nelson who flew on Columbia and Challenger, and was aboard Discovery's 1988 return flight.

"It was the real work horse of the fleet."

Discovery is the first of the three retired space shuttles to head to a museum. It will go on display at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, taking the place of the shuttle prototype Enterprise. The Enterprise will go to New York City. Endeavour will head to Los Angeles this fall. Atlantis will remain at Kennedy.

NASA ended the shuttle program last summer after a 30-year run to focus on destinations beyond low-Earth orbit. Private U.S. companies hope to pick up the slack, beginning with space station cargo and then, hopefully, astronauts. The first commercial cargo run, by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., is set to take place in just another few weeks.

For at least the next three to five years - until commercial passenger craft are available in the United States - NASA astronauts will have to hitch multimillion-dollar rides on Russian Soyuz capsules to get to the International Space Station.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mike Wallace (1918-2012)

Myron Leon "Mike" Wallace (May 9, 1918 – April 7, 2012) was an American journalist, game show host, actor, and media personality. During his career, which spanned over sixty years, he interviewed a wide range of prominent newsmakers.

He was one of the original correspondents for CBS' 60 Minutes which debuted in 1968. Wallace retired as a regular full-time correspondent in 2006, but still appeared occasionally on the series until 2008.

Wallace's youngest son is journalist Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday.

On March 14, 2006, Wallace announced his retirement from 60 Minutes after 37 years with the program. He continued working for CBS News as a "Correspondent Emeritus", albeit at a reduced pace. In August 2006, Wallace interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Wallace's last CBS interview was with retired baseball star Roger Clemens in January 2008 on 60 Minutes. Wallace's previously vigorous health (Morley Safer described him in 2006 as "having the energy of a man half his age") began to fail and in June 2008 his son Chris said that his father would not be returning to television.

Bubba Watson: 2012 Masters Champion

"I attack. I always attack," Watson said. "I don't like to go to the center of the greens. I want to hit the incredible shot. Who doesn't? That's why we play the game of golf, to pull off the amazing shot."
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The rarest shot in golf can happen any time Bubba Watson has a golf club in hands.

Watson was so deep in the woods late Sunday afternoon that he couldn't even see where he was going. With his golf ball nestled on a bed of pine needles, he hit a gap wedge that shot out toward the fairway and hooked some 40 yards and onto the elevated green.

And on a thrill-a-minute Sunday at Augusta National, where Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa made only the fourth double-eagle in the 76-year history of this major, it made Watson a Masters champion.

"I've never had a dream go this far, so I can't really say it's a dream come true," Watson said. "I don't even know what happened on the back nine. ... Nervous on every shot, every putt. Went into a playoff. I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head, and somehow I'm here talking to you with a green jacket on."

His amazing shot in the playoff settled 10 feet from the hole, setting up a simple par for the win.

"I had no idea where he was," Oosthuizen said. "Where I stood from, when the ball came out, it looked like a curve ball. Unbelievable shot. That shot he hit definitely won him the tournament."

Watson, who made four straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a 4-under 68, made it all sound so simple. Maybe it's because he has hit so many shots like that before. Maybe it's because he is one of the few players who doesn't have a swing coach, and never has.

The hard part was holding back tears.

He was blubbering hard on the 10th green, shoulders heaving and face contorted, for so many reasons. Just two weeks ago, he and his wife adopted a baby boy, Caleb. The first person on the green was his mother -- his father died right after the Ryder Cup in 2010. He held her tight and cried some more.

Lost in all the commotion was Oosthuizen making what is commonly called the rarest shot in golf -- a double-eagle -- when his 4-iron from 253 yards on the par-5 second hole landed on the front of the green, took the slope and rolled some 90 feet into the cup for a 2.

Oosthuizen had never made a double-eagle in his life.

Oosthuizen was trying to join Gene Sarazen in the 1935 Masters as the only major champions to win with a double-eagle in the final round. The former British Open champion made one clutch putt after another on the back nine, none more important than a 4-footer on the 18th for a 69 to force the playoff.

Phil Mickelson, playing in the final group for the fourth time, recovered from a triple bogey on the par-3 fourth hole and still managed to stay in the game. He could only make two-putt birdies on the two par 5s on the back and shot 72.

Lee Westwood of England ran off three straight birdies, but the last one hurt. He had an 8-foot eagle putt to tie for the lead on the 15th and missed it, and a final birdie on the 18th gave him a 68 and only made it look close.

Matt Kuchar tied for the lead with a short eagle putt on the 15th, then bogeyed the 16th for a 69. Peter Hanson of Sweden, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, didn't make a birdie until the 15th hole. He closed with a 73.

Tiger Woods went from the favorite to not even a factor on the weekend. He closed with a birdie on the 18th for a 74 and had his highest score ever at the Masters as a pro, finishing at 5-over 293 -- 15 shots out of the lead. This, from a guy who only two weeks ago won by five shots at Bay Hill, presumably signaling a return.

"It was an off week at the wrong time," Woods said.

He tied for 40th with U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, also favored to contend. McIlroy was one shot out of the lead after two rounds, then had a 77-76 weekend.

Watson, a 33-year-old from Bagdad, Fla., in the Panhandle, won for the fourth time in his career and moves to No. 4 in the world, making him the highest-ranked American in golf. He became the fifth left-hander to win the Masters in the last 10 years, beginning with Mike Weir in 2003. Phil Mickelson, who was still in contention on the back nine, has won three times in that span – 2004, 2006 and 2010.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Family Ties

The Dehms emigrated from Niederaula, Germany in the mid 1700s. Niederaula is a market community in Hersfeld-Rotenburg district in northeastern Hesse, 59 km south of Kassel. The community lies on the Fulda between the outliers of the Rhön, the Vogelsberg and the Knüllgebirge (ranges). Within town limits, the rivers Aula, Jossa and Hattenbach all empty into the Fulda. Given its geographical location and its favorable transport connections, Niederaula has developed itself into a “logistical center”, as at the time of German reunification (1990), it found itself right in the middle of the newly reconstituted country. Several logistical service businesses have built central locations in Niederaula for the transfer of their transports.

The Looneys and the Murphys emigrated from County Cork, Ireland in the mid 1800s, around the time of the potato famine. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. Like many parts of Munster, Cork has rich fertile agricultural land and many bog and peatlands. Cork is the state's second most populous county and the islands third most populous, with a total population of 518,218 and is the largest county by land area. The activity of the IRA in the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921), such as the one under Tom Barry in west Cork, was popularized in the Ken Loach film The Wind That Shakes The Barley. The song "The Banks Of My Own Lovely Lee" is the song traditionally associated with the county.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Live-Action Fan Films

Anchorman 2 Announcement, The Dictator Trailer

Coventry Telegraph:
Will Ferrell made a surprise announcement on the US talk show Conan that there will be a sequel to his 2004 comedy hit Anchorman.

Appearing as Ron Burgundy - the film's title character who works for KVWN-TV Channel 4 Evening News in 1975 San Diego - Ferrell told host Conan O'Brien that he and Paramount had made a deal to do a follow-up.

Ferrell is pictured in Anchorman guise with Conan O'Brien in an official photograph above, while a video of the talk show segment is embedded below.

There are rumors that Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner will reprise their roles from the original and that Adam McKay will once again direct.

Back in 2008, a sequel was said to be in development but in April 2010, McKay said on Twitter that Paramount had scrapped the idea. There's no indication why it has suddenly been resurrected.

More comedy is on the way in Sacha Baron Cohen's fourth film, The Dictator, released on May 18, 2012.

Cohen co-wrote the film as well as starring in it alongside Ana Faris, Megan Fox, Ben Kingsley and John C. Reilly. A new international UK trailer has been unveiled and is included below.

Ahead of the 2012 Oscars, Cohen fired back at Academy officials who hoped to prevent him from attending the ceremony dressed as his latest character, General Aladeen.

"While I applaud the Academy for taking away my right to free speech, I warn you that if you do not lift your sanctions, and give me my tickets back by 12pm Sunday, you will face unimaginable consequences!" Cohen wasn't banned, but the Academy made it clear that he was not welcome to turn the red carpet into a promotional stunt for his movie.

More information:
» "In Kazakhstan, They're Not Laughing"
» National Anthem of Kazakhstan (Borat)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Obama Sings Sexy And I Know It

Just kidding. But remember in January he actually sang a little Al Green:

Sports Food

StrasBurger at Nationals Park
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has inspired an aptly-named "Strasburger," an 8-pound monstrosity, available at Red Porch in Nationals Park.

According to the Washington Post: "Weighing eight pounds total (including toppings), the StrasBurger is a monstrous all beef burger (combination of ground brisket, chuck and short ribs). The burger is served on a large burger bun with our secret sauce, American cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, pickle chips and served with a cone basket of fresh cut fries and a pitcher of your choice of soft drink. This signature dish is the perfect entrée to share at this affordably-priced family restaurant."

NBC got a nutritionist to crunch the numbers, and it turns out that the Nats' Strasburger is at least 8,000 calories, with 600 to 700 grams of fat, 200 to 300 grams of saturated fat, and 2,500 to 3,000 milligrams of sodium. Sure, Nationals Park suggests splitting it between an entire family, but even divided in four the burger is at least 2,000 calories a serving.

The 8-pounder isn't the only Strasburger to grace menus; last year Glory Days Grill had a Strasburger with guacamole, red peppers, and pepper jack cheese. The Burger Joint's rendition placed a hot dog on a hamburger bun, topped with Cheddar cheese and 14 pickles. And Tortilla Coast's Strasburger had two honey-glazed patties, fried onions, and jack cheese.

P.S. It is easy to make the "everything's bigger in Texas" quip when Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, is serving something called the Big Boomer. It's a 1-pound hot dog that measures 24-inches long and is endlessly topped with spicy ketchup, jalapeño mustard, Baja relish, beef chili, melted cheese, and raw onions.

Taste the Lin-Sanity
In recognition of the 23-year-old's overnight fame, the new frozen yogurt pints are made at the Harvard Square shop with vanilla frozen yogurt, lychee honey swirls and come with a fresh waffle cookie on the side, which can be dipped into the container or crushed on top, company officials said.

The fresh waffle cookie ingredient replaces initial batches of the flavor that included "fortune cookie pieces" mixed in with the frozen yogurt, Ryan Midden, Ben & Jerry's general manager for Boston and Cambridge said by phone today

"There seemed to be a bit of an initial backlash about it, but we obviously weren't looking to offend anybody and the majority of the feedback about it has been positive," he said.

Midden said the primary reason for changing the cookie ingredient was because "a couple of [pints] got returned because the cookies got so soggy."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Avengers Trailer

The Avengers (titled Avengers Assemble in the United Kingdom) is an upcoming American superhero film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures1, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast, which includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, and Samuel L. Jackson. In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to save the world from destruction.

Development of The Avengers began when Marvel Studios received a grant from Merrill Lynch in April 2005. After the success of the film Iron Man in May 2008, Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Scarlett Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the screenplay that was originally written by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio in August 2011 and New York City in September 2011. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.

The Avengers is scheduled for release on May 4, 2012 in the United States in 2D and 3D.

Joss Whedon: "It just really just goes back to the very first incarnation of The Avengers. It goes to The Ultimates, it goes to everything about it. It makes no sense, it's ridiculous. There's a thunder god, there's a green "ID" giant rage monster, there's Captain America from the 40s, there's Tony Stark who definitely doesn't get along with anybody. Ultimately these people don't belong together and the whole movie is about finding yourself from community. And finding that you not only belong together but you need each other, very much. Obviously this will be expressed through punching but it will be the heart of the film."