Friday, May 12, 2006

Bill Gallo: Champ in Every Way

The New York Daily News
May 12, 2006

Patterson: All class from street to top of world

Two-time heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, one of the most honest, hard-working and sensitive men to ever lace on a glove for pay in the service of a brutal sport, died yesterday at his New Paltz home at 71.

The former champ was the first in heavyweight history to regain the heavyweight crown, after losing it to Ingemar Johansson, a hard-hitting Swede.

Patterson succumbed to years of Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer.

It was generally known by newspaper friends that he had started to lose his memory during his second go-around as head of the New York State Athletic Commission.

Patterson was appointed by Gov. Pataki in 1995, and many who knew him for years tried their best to minimize the signs. "What's going on with Floyd?" the boxing world wondered.

Very quietly, Patterson was dismissed from his post and was taken to his home in New Paltz.
Since that time, he was seldom heard from and his wife, Janet, rarely answered the phone.

With all this, we had heard from neighbors that Patterson would still walk to his gym to work out and sometimes would even spar with local glovers. This didn't surprise me, because I often heard Floyd say that the best he ever felt in his life was when he was in a gym, wearing his boxing togs. Some people close to him said he might have believed he was readying himself for a bout.

I had known Patterson since he was a shy kid of 17 and didn't yet know whether he wanted to be a professional boxer.

I remember the day very clearly. We were in the Gramercy Gym downtown, and Charley Schwayfel, the manager of the Gramercy Park Hotel, had introduced us.

What I remember most about the meeting was that whenever I asked Patterson something, he was so shy, he'd look down at his shoes while answering.

Schwayfel informed me that he had taken in this somewhat wayward kid and sent him to Cus D'Amato in the Gramercy Gym. "Cus is always looking for kids who can make potential fighters, and this kid might as well do some boxing so as to take out all that hidden anger in him," said Schwayfel.

D'Amato took the kid under his wing, the start of an interesting and mostly triumphant life. Almost immediately, D'Amato saw some winning ways in this shy kid. "Always willing to learn, and he was a joy to teach," said Cus.

"This young fellow took to boxing like a kid takes to ice cream. He's a natural, I tell you," said the man in the homburg.

In no time, D'Amato molded a genuine fighter and in 1952 Patterson became the Olympic middleweight gold medalist.

Cus now was sure he had something, and in the same year, 1952, his charge turned pro. So, on Sept. 12, Floyd TKO'd Eddie Golbold. The wins kept coming.

Patterson started attracting attention with the fans at St. Nick's arena, winning 13 in a row. Now Cus thought he was ready for better opponents, and who does he put him in there with? Joey Maxim, a cutie from Brooklyn who was generally regarded as a "can't hit but can box your ears off" kind of fighter. Maxim beat Patterson, sending him to school in an eight-round decision.

It was a good loss for Floyd, Cus thought, because those eight rounds were a great learning experience. "That's why I matched him with Maxim," said the astute D'Amato.

Patterson came back with will and determination. He was beating everybody put in front of him now.

Patterson started another string of 17 wins, and D'Amato was delighted to announce that his fighter was ready for a championship fight.

On Nov. 30, 1956 in Chicago, Patterson at 21, became the heavyweight champion of the world by knocking out Archie Moore, "the ol' Mongoose," in the fifth round.

For the next two years, Floyd feasted on Cus' carefully hand-picked opponents and beat them all. You see, Cus now had his titleholder and he wanted to keep it for a while - thus the palookas he put his fighter up against.

But, alas, Cus picked one coming out of Sweden he was sure was a cinch for Floyd. He was Ingemar (Toonda) Johansson, and the Swede shocked the world when he destroyed Patterson, knocking him out in the third round. Floyd was down seven times and each time he got up, he reeled about the ring.

Patterson went to his home, which was in Scarsdale at the time, shut the drapes and lost himself to the world for months.

Floyd came out of his depressed mood when D'Amato told him there would be a return match in the next year. Floyd immediately went to the gym, and you never saw a more focused man with a single motive on his mind. He talked to no one and worked intensely, not leaving the gym until the late hours. He was going to win his title back; you read it in his face.

That June 20 night in New York, Floyd took back his title by knocking the Swede out in five rounds. This was to be Patterson's greatest hour.

But, in 1962, Cus made his next mistake. He put him in with Sonny Liston, the big bear with the great left hand who could hit like hell with the right. It took Sonny just one round to wrest the title from Floyd. Just to prove it wasn't a fluke, Sonny did it again months later - in the same round. In his attempts to take back the belt a third time, Patterson would twice lose to Muhammad Ali, the second one ending his career in 1972. His final record stood at 55 wins (40 by KO), 8 losses and one draw.

There's so much more to tell about this man who rose from a juvenile home for troubled kids to the championship of the world. I feel I'm not finished with this column and will endeavor to write more about him in the future.

Let me leave you with this for now: Floyd was a friend of mine, and I can sincerely say this man was one of the finest athletes I have ever known.

Goodbye, my friend, and my condolences to Janet, his wife of over 30 years, and his two daughters.

Harvey Araton: As Bonds Chases Ruth, Pujols Lurks

The New York Times
Published: May 12, 2006

The celebration remained on hold in San Francisco yesterday, but the grand moment of national ambiguity is going to occur one of these coming and largely anticlimactic nights. Barry Bonds will hit No. 714, match Babe Ruth in career home runs, then set his sights on Hank Aaron, on another slice of cherished Americana.

A more compelling, and confusing, chase could also star Bonds later this season, as the hunted.
Maybe you've heard that only one player in major league history — someone named Cy Williams in 1923 — has ever reached 18 home runs faster than the Cardinals' Albert Pujols did Wednesday, in 35 games. In St. Louis, The Post-Dispatch has already begun charting his progress relative to Bonds (73 home runs in 2001) and Mark McGwire (70 in 1998).

In the Red Sox' clubhouse yesterday at Yankee Stadium, May 11 wasn't too early for David Ortiz to envision his pal Pujols creating more late-summer hysteria, just when baseball was supposed to be drug testing its way out of the 60's and 70's, into a more believable 21st century.
"There is no ceiling for this guy," Ortiz said, taking a moment to acknowledge the world outside the Yankees-Red Sox cocoon, to extol the piping-hot Pujols, his Dominican teammate this spring in the World Baseball Classic. "I guarantee you he's going to have career numbers this year. I wouldn't be surprised if he hit 60 home runs."

To which a former Pujols teammate, Red Sox reliever Julián Tavárez, added: "All this guy knows is hitting, watching himself on DVD's. I wouldn't be surprised if he hit 70."

Pujols, Jim Thome or anyone else will not have to hit 74 home runs to color the black-and-white steroid argument a vague shade of gray. Sixty-five would surely be enough to allow Bonds, the sultan of smug, to look his critics in the eye and ask if they are still so certain that his late-in-baseball-life evolution was performance enhanced.

Count Ortiz among those who believe that Bonds — or as he calls him, "My man, Barry" — cannot be dismissed as a miracle of science.

"I don't believe in that, when people say these guys hit all those home runs just because of the steroids," Ortiz said. "Look at Albert. He's strong. He's got a great swing. Think about how many good swings he's going to get unless they start walking him. In these ballparks now, you can hit 60 home runs if you are strong and have a good swing."

It also wouldn't hurt to be taking human growth hormone, or some other substance that the state-of-the-art laboratories haven't created a test for. That's no accusation, just an acknowledgment of the times. Try Googling "Pujols and steroids" and see for yourself how rampant skepticism runs in the bloggers' universe, even for a player who has hit more than 40 homers the past three seasons.

Reflexive cynicism, presumption of guilt until proven innocent, is no doubt unfair to Pujols or any individual never linked to a steroid scandal, but that is what baseball's decade-plus of abject denial as an industry seems to have earned it. That is what the Balco case and the Congressional hearings and the literary revelations have wrought.

Suspicions aren't going away anytime soon, any more than Bonds is.

Remember those wishful notions during spring training that the ailing Bonds might call it a career, spare himself the overwhelming scrutiny and baseball the ongoing examination of its 1990's ethos? How laughable they seem now, given the love-ins by the bay, the pity-me programming on ESPN, the predictable celebrity attachment cheerleading by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others.

If ever there was an athlete born to put up with all of this, to be the quintessential American antihero, it was Barry Bonds. Barring a federal indictment for perjury or income-tax evasion, you get the feeling that Bonds will not quit without Aaron's record if only to spite those who have deemed him unworthy. If he can't play the field every day, or the Giants don't want him next year at the $18 million he is costing them now, Bonds will shop himself to the highest bidder, go to the American League to be a designated hitter.

And who will be the first to dare George Steinbrenner to unite Bonds with Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield for a Yankees extravaganza, Balco on Broadway? Imagine the possibilities. Imagine how well Bonds could teach Alex Rodriguez to better deal with expectations and critics, to never give in.

Such sensitivity, the inability to put failure behind him, has also plagued Albert Pujols early in his career, Ortiz said.

"He's the kind of guy who worries a lot," Ortiz said. "He knows how good he is, but not all the time. He's always thought that he needs to do something every day. When we were together during the Classic, I told him that if you have 81 good games and 81 bad ones, you can still have a great season. He knew that already, but sometimes you feel good when someone reminds you."

Pujols doesn't need to be told he won't stay on pace to hit more than 81 homers. He doesn't have to. Sixty-five home runs would open a whole new dialogue in the contentious home run debate. From Bonds's side, being the hunted might be the best marketing he could ask for.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Patrick Poole: The Muslim Brotherhood "Project"

Patrick Poole
May 11, 2006

One might be led to think that if international law enforcement authorities and Western intelligence agencies had discovered a twenty-year old document revealing a top-secret plan developed by the oldest Islamist organization with one of the most extensive terror networks in the world to launch a program of “cultural invasion” and eventual conquest of the West that virtually mirrors the tactics used by Islamists for more than two decades, that such news would scream from headlines published on the front pages and above the fold of the New York Times, Washington Post, London Times, Le Monde, Bild, and La Repubblica.

If that’s what you might think, you would be wrong.

In fact, such a document was recovered in a raid by Swiss authorities in November 2001, two months after the horror of 9/11. Since that time information about this document, known in counterterrorism circles as “The Project”, and discussion regarding its content has been limited to the top-secret world of Western intelligence communities. Only through the work of an intrepid Swiss journalist, Sylvain Besson of Le Temps, and his book published in October 2005 in France, La conquête de l'Occident: Le projet secret des Islamistes (The Conquest of the West: The Islamists' Secret Project), has information regarding The Project finally been made public. One Western official cited by Besson has described The Project as “a totalitarian ideology of infiltration which represents, in the end, the greatest danger for European societies.”

Now FrontPage readers will be the first to be able to read the complete English translation of The Project.

What Western intelligence authorities know about The Project begins with the raid of a luxurious villa in Campione, Switzerland on November 7, 2001. The target of the raid was Youssef Nada, director of the Al-Taqwa Bank of Lugano, who has had active association with the Muslim Brotherhood for more than 50 years and who admitted to being one of the organization’s international leaders. The Muslim Brotherhood, regarded as the oldest and one of the most important Islamist movements in the world, was founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1928 and dedicated to the credo, “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

The raid was conducted by Swiss law enforcement at the request of the White House in the initial crackdown on terrorist finances in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. US and Swiss investigators had been looking at Al-Taqwa’s involvement in money laundering and funding a wide range of Islamic terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, HAMAS (the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood), the Algerian GIA, and the Tunisian Ennahdah.

Included in the documents seized during the raid of Nada’s Swiss villa was a 14-page plan written in Arabic and dated December 1, 1982, which outlines a 12-point strategy to “establish an Islamic government on earth” – identified as The Project. According to testimony given to Swiss authorities by Nada, the unsigned document was prepared by “Islamic researchers” associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

What makes The Project so different from the standard “Death of America! Death to Israel!” and “Establish the global caliphate!” Islamist rhetoric is that it represents a flexible, multi-phased, long-term approach to the “cultural invasion” of the West. Calling for the utilization of various tactics, ranging from immigration, infiltration, surveillance, propaganda, protest, deception, political legitimacy and terrorism, The Project has served for more than two decades as the Muslim Brotherhood “master plan”. As can be seen in a number of examples throughout Europe – including the political recognition of parallel Islamist government organizations in Sweden, the recent “cartoon” jihad in Denmark, the Parisian car-burning intifada last November, and the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London – the plan outlined in The Project has been overwhelmingly successful.

Rather than focusing on terrorism as the sole method of group action, as is the case with Al-Qaeda, in perfect postmodern fashion the use of terror falls into a multiplicity of options available to progressively infiltrate, confront, and eventually establish Islamic domination over the West. The following tactics and techniques are among the many recommendations made in The Project:

* Networking and coordinating actions between likeminded Islamist organizations;

* Avoiding open alliances with known terrorist organizations and individuals to maintain the appearance of “moderation”;

* Infiltrating and taking over existing Muslim organizations to realign them towards the Muslim Brotherhood’s collective goals;

* Using deception to mask the intended goals of Islamist actions, as long as it doesn’t conflict with shari’a law;

* Avoiding social conflicts with Westerners locally, nationally or globally, that might damage the long-term ability to expand the Islamist powerbase in the West or provoke a lash back against Muslims;

* Establishing financial networks to fund the work of conversion of the West, including the support of full-time administrators and workers;

* Conducting surveillance, obtaining data, and establishing collection and data storage capabilities;

* Putting into place a watchdog system for monitoring Western media to warn Muslims of “international plots fomented against them”;

* Cultivating an Islamist intellectual community, including the establishment of think-tanks and advocacy groups, and publishing “academic” studies, to legitimize Islamist positions and to chronicle the history of Islamist movements;

* Developing a comprehensive 100-year plan to advance Islamist ideology throughout the world;

* Balancing international objectives with local flexibility;

* Building extensive social networks of schools, hospitals and charitable organizations dedicated to Islamist ideals so that contact with the movement for Muslims in the West is constant;

* Involving ideologically committed Muslims in democratically-elected institutions on all levels in the West, including government, NGOs, private organizations and labor unions;

* Instrumentally using existing Western institutions until they can be converted and put into service of Islam;

* Drafting Islamic constitutions, laws and policies for eventual implementation;

* Avoiding conflict within the Islamist movements on all levels, including the development of processes for conflict resolution;

* Instituting alliances with Western “progressive” organizations that share similar goals;

* Creating autonomous “security forces” to protect Muslims in the West;

* Inflaming violence and keeping Muslims living in the West “in a jihad frame of mind”;

* Supporting jihad movements across the Muslim world through preaching, propaganda, personnel, funding, and technical and operational support;

* Making the Palestinian cause a global wedge issue for Muslims;

* Adopting the total liberation of Palestine from Israel and the creation of an Islamic state as a keystone in the plan for global Islamic domination;

* Instigating a constant campaign to incite hatred by Muslims against Jews and rejecting any discussions of conciliation or coexistence with them;

* Actively creating jihad terror cells within Palestine;

* Linking the terrorist activities in Palestine with the global terror movement;

* Collecting sufficient funds to indefinitely perpetuate and support jihad around the world;

In reading The Project, it should be kept in mind that it was drafted in 1982 when current tensions and terrorist activities in the Middle East were still very nascent. In many respects, The Project is extremely prescient for outlining the bulk of Islamist action, whether by “moderate” Islamist organizations or outright terror groups, over the past two decades.

At present, most of what is publicly known about The Project is the result of Sylvain Besson’s investigative work, including his book and a related article published last October in the Swiss daily, Le Temps, L'islamisme à la conquête du monde (Islamism and the Conquest of the World), profiling his book, which is only available in a French-language edition. At least one Egyptian newspaper, Al-Mussawar, published the entire Arabic text of The Project last November.

In the English-language press, the attention paid to Besson’s revelation of The Project has been almost non-existent. The only mention found in a mainstream media publication in the US has been as a secondary item in an article in the Weekly Standard (February 20, 2006) by Olivier Guitta, The Cartoon Jihad. The most extensive commentary on The Project has been by an American researcher and journalist living in London, Scott Burgess, who has posted his analysis of the document on his blog, The Daily Ablution. Along with his commentary, an English translation of the French text of The Project was serialized in December (Parts I, II, III, IV, V, Conclusion). The complete English translation prepared by Mr. Burgess is presented in its entirety here with his permission.

The lack of public discussion about The Project notwithstanding, the document and the plan it outlines has been the subject of considerable discussion amongst the Western intelligence agencies. One US counterterrorism official who spoke with Besson about The Project, and who is cited in Guitta’s Weekly Standard article, is current White House terrorism czar, Juan Zarate. Calling The Project a Muslim Brotherhood master plan for “spreading their political ideology,” Zarate expressed concerns to Besson because “the Muslim Brotherhood is a group that worries us not because it deals with philosophical or ideological ideas but because it defends the use of violence against civilians.”

One renowned international scholar of Islamist movements who also spoke with Besson, Reuven Paz, talked about The Project in its historical context:

The Project was part of the charter of the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was official established on July 29, 1982. It reflects a vast plan which was revived in the 1960s, with the immigration of Brotherhood intellectuals, principally Syrian and Egyptians, into Europe.

As Paz notes, The Project was drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood as part of its rechartering process in 1982, a time that marks an upswing in its organizational expansion internationally, as well as a turning point in the alternating periods of repression and toleration by the Egyptian government. In 1952, the organization played a critical support role to the Free Officers Movement led by Gamal Abdul Nasser, which overthrew King Faruq, but quickly fell out of favor with the new revolutionary regime because of Nasser’s refusal to follow the Muslim Brotherhood’s call to institute an ideologically committed Islamic state. At various times since the July Revolution in 1952, the Brotherhood has regularly been banned and its leaders killed and imprisoned by Egyptian authorities.

Since it was rechartered in 1982, the Muslim Brotherhood has spread its network across the Middle East, Europe, and even America. At home in Egypt, parliamentary elections in 2005 saw the Muslim Brotherhood winning 20 percent of the available legislative seats, comprising the largest opposition party block. Its Palestinian affiliate, known to the world as HAMAS, recently gained control of the Palestinian Authority after elections secured for them 74 of 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Its Syrian branch has historically been the largest organized group opposing the Assad regime, and the organization also has affiliates in Jordan, Sudan, and Iraq. In the US, the Muslim Brotherhood is primarily represented by the Muslim American Society (MAS).

Since its formation, the Muslim Brotherhood has advocated the use of terrorism as a means of advancing its agenda of global Islamic domination. But as the largest popular radical movement in the Islamic world, it has attracted many leading Islamist intellectuals. Included among this group of Muslim Brotherhood intellectuals is Youssef Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born, Qatar-based Islamist cleric.

As one of the leading Muslim Brotherhood spiritual figures and radical Islamic preachers (who has his own weekly program on Al-Jazeera), Qaradawi has been one of the leading apologists of suicide bombings in Israel and terrorism against Western interests in the Middle East. Both Sylvain Besson and Scott Burgess provide extensive comparisons between Qaradawi’s publication, Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase, published in 1990, and The Project, which predates Qaradawi’s Priorities by eight years. They note the striking similarities in the language used and the plans and methods both documents advocate. It is speculated that The Project was either used by Qaradawi as a template for his own work, or that he had a hand in its drafting in 1982. Perhaps coincidentally, Qaradawi was the fourth largest shareholder in the Al-Taqwa Bank of Lugano, the director of which, Youssef Nada, was the individual in whose possession The Project was found. Since 1999, Qaradawi has been banned from entering the US as a result of his connections to terrorist organizations and his outspoken advocacy of terrorism.

For those who have read The Project, what is most troubling is not that Islamists have developed a plan for global dominance; it has been assumed by experts that Islamist organizations and terrorist groups have been operating off an agreed-upon set of general principles, networks and methodology. What is startling is how effectively the Islamist plan for conquest outlined in The Project has been implemented by Muslims in the West for more than two decades. Equally troubling is the ideology that lies behind the plan: inciting hatred and violence against Jewish populations around the world; the deliberate co-opting and subversion of Western public and private institutions; its recommendation of a policy of deliberate escalating confrontation by Muslims living in the West against their neighbors and fellow-citizens; the acceptance of terrorism as a legitimate option for achieving their ends and the inevitable reality of jihad against non-Muslims; and its ultimate goal of forcibly instituting the Islamic rule of the caliphate by shari’a in the West, and eventually the whole world.

If the experience over the past quarter of a century seen in Europe and the US is any indication, the “Islamic researchers” who drafted The Project more than two decades ago must be pleased to see their long-term plan to conquer the West and to see the Green flag of Islam raised over its citizens realized so rapidly, efficiently and completely. If Islamists are equally successful in the years to come, Westerners ought to enjoy their personal and political freedoms while they last.

To read the English translation of The Project, click here.

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Patrick Poole is a public policy researcher and consultant. His work has been profiled by the New York Times, ABC News, and Le Monde, and his articles and papers have been published in eight languages.

Mike Lupica: Alex Gets Bat Off Shoulder

The New York Daily News
May 11, 2006

They booed Alex Rodriguez last night at Yankee Stadium, still mad about the night before. They booed Rodriguez before they saw how he and the Yankees were going to rock Curt Schilling and the house, booed A-Rod because they couldn't boo Randy Johnson anymore, because A-Rod had made two errors in the first game of this series and the Yankees had ended up losing that one, 14-3. Everybody gets booed here eventually, and that includes Rivera and Jeter. You can go broke trying to bet on who might get it next from Yankee fans, or when, or why. Last night it was A-Rod's turn. Sometimes the place isn't nearly as cool as we make it out to be, or want it to be.

They booed Alex Rodriguez last night and he responded by hitting the home run that put his team up for good. Then later, in front of his locker, he was as good as you can be. You don't have to always like everything he says. I sure don't. But say this: He stands in there, and did last night in all the important ways.

"If I was up there, I would've been booing, too," Rodriguez said in front of his locker.

"You're judged here for what you do in October," he said. "I know what I have to do."

They asked him again about being singled out by the owner after Tuesday night's game and he said something he has said before: "No one feels worse when I don't do well than me."

Finally somebody asked him about being judged too harshly, by the fans and everybody else, and Alex Rodriguez said this, as plainly as you can:

"I'm judged the way I should be judged. I make a lot of money and I'm a talented guy."

As talented as the Yankees have had since Joe DiMaggio, certainly the best they've had since Mickey Mantle was in his prime. Somebody who could end up hitting more home runs than anybody in history before he is through. Yankee fans know all that. They just want him to win it all. Somehow he is the face of all the new guys the Yankees have brought in since they last won it all. More than Jason Giambi, more than Mike Mussina, who pitched like a star last night. More than Randy Johnson.

A-Rod struck out looking his first time up against Schilling last night. The second time up he fouled out to first after Giambi had just taken Schilling over the wall in right-center with Jeter on first, tying the game at 3-3. The Stadium, empty by the last out Tuesday night, way too quiet for a long time before that, was right back up in Boston's face now.

Only then A-Rod made a weak swing right after that and the ball ended up in Kevin Youkilis' glove and the Stadium let him have it. He is the reigning MVP of the league. There are those who think he is the best player in baseball now that Barry Bonds is breaking down. But he has not won yet. He was hired to win those 11 games in October Reggie Jackson is always talking about.

"I've done everything in the regular season you can do," Rodriguez said last night.

Now it was a regular-season game on the 10th of May at Yankee Stadium and he had gotten booed in the third inning of a tie game. Now it was the fifth inning and Schilling had just struck out Jeter and Giambi, sat them both right down. A-Rod again. A-Rod with just six home runs for the season at a time when Giambi had twice that. Schilling went right after him, against the Alex Rodriguez who crushed one into the left-field seats, and the Yankees weren't going to lose their third in a row this season to the Red Sox.

Now they cheered A-Rod at Yankee Stadium.

They didn't ask him to come out for a curtain call the way they had when Giambi hit his home run. No worries, he wasn't coming out, anyway, and not because he had a case of hurt feelings. "It was 4-3 in the sixth inning," he said later. "It wasn't the time." But he had changed the game for good, hit Schilling hard, hit the Red Sox hard. A couple of batters later, Jorge Posada hit a two-run home run and it was 6-3 for the Yankees. Game, set, match.

"Yesterday you look bad," A-Rod said. "Today you look okay."

There is this idea that he always plays against the Red Sox the way he did Tuesday night. He doesn't. In fact, in the '04 and '05 regular seasons and in the two games the Yankees and Red Sox had played this season before last night, Rodriguez had hit .279 against the Red Sox. Derek Jeter had hit .221. Rodriguez had nine home runs and 20 RBI and 30 runs scored. Jeter had four home runs and 13 RBI and 22 runs scored. In the '04 ALCS, A-Rod hit .258 with two home runs, five RBI, eight runs scored. Jeter hit .200 with no home runs and five RBI and five runs scored. It is just always easier to blame A-Rod, because he doesn't have four World Series titles in the books the way Jeter does, easier to blame him against the Red Sox and everybody else.

So they blamed him early this year, booed him last night before they cheered him. The guys who've won here, they love them all the time.

They only love the new guys when they deliver, even if one of the new guys is Alex Rodriguez, as good as they've had at Yankee Stadium since DiMaggio, the lord of everything in baseball except the rings.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Staal Has the Talent, Not the Location, to Be a Superstar

The New York Times
Published: May 10, 2006

RALEIGH, N.C., May 9 — When it comes to the N.H.L., Tobacco Road is pretty far removed from Madison Avenue. And that suits Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal just fine, at least for now.

"It probably makes it easier," Staal, 21, said Tuesday about the lack of a spotlight that goes with playing hockey in North Carolina. "There's obviously attention now in the playoffs on our team and how we're doing. But it doesn't bother me or anything that people don't know me as well, or know the type of player I am as much."

All that could soon change. In his second N.H.L. season, the 6-foot-4, 204-pound Staal is one of the major reasons the Hurricanes lead the Devils, 2-0, in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. Game 3 is Wednesday at Continental Arena.

Staal's desperation goal from in front with three seconds left in regulation beat Martin Brodeur and forced an unlikely overtime Monday night. It was Staal's fourth goal of the playoffs, and it came just 17.7 seconds after Scott Gomez scored for the Devils to break a 1-1 tie.

Staal's tying score set the stage for Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin's winning goal 3 minutes 9 seconds into overtime in a 3-2 victory.

In his first N.H.L. postseason, Staal is tied with Ottawa's Martin Havlat and Dany Heatley and the Devils' Patrick Elias for the most points in the playoffs, with 12. Staal has recorded at least one point in seven consecutive games.

He scored the winning goal in overtime in Game 3 of Carolina's first-round series against the Canadiens, and the team has not lost since. The Hurricanes rallied against Montreal after losing the first two games at home, and they have now won six consecutive games.

"If he was playing in New York right now, he'd be a superstar already," said Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina's captain. "There's no question. He's one of the best players in the league. And the things he's done in the playoffs right now, if it was happening in a Ranger uniform, I'm sure he'd be all over the place."

Staal, from Thunder Bay, Ontario, may have a higher profile after he appears in a photo layout in next month's GQ magazine. Still, he has blossomed into one of the league's most promising young stars in an area dominated by Nascar and college basketball.

Carolina selected Staal with the second pick in the 2003 entry draft. He finished this season with 100 points, seventh in the league. His 45 goals ranked eighth over all.

"I think he's one of the best players in the league," Carolina Coach Peter Laviolette said. "As far as a star, I don't really get into names like that. Other people do. I don't. I just think he's one of the best players in the league."

Laviolette was asked Tuesday if a franchise like the Hurricanes could produce a bona fide superstar. “I think the people around the league are going to know his name just based on the way he plays the game,” he said. “And he’s only going to get better and bigger and stronger.”

The Staal name could be prominent around the league for at least the next several years. His brother Marc, a 19-year-old defenseman, was the Rangers’ first pick in last year’s draft. And his brother Jordan, a 17-year-old forward, is expected to be among the top five players selected in this summer’s draft.

SF Chronicle: Bonds' Trainer Can Talk to Grand Jury or Go Back to Jail

TRAINER'S DILEMMA: Anderson can tell grand jury all he knows or go back to jail

Lance Williams, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Chronicle Staff Writers
Thursday, April 27, 2006

From the time federal agents confronted him in the BALCO steroids case, Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' weight trainer and longtime friend, refused to talk about whether he had provided banned drugs to the Giants star.

Anderson and Bonds in 2002

Now, legal experts say, Anderson faces the unhappy choice of either answering a federal grand jury's questions about Bonds and steroids -- or going back to prison.

In what the experts called an unusually tough move, a federal grand jury in San Francisco has subpoenaed Anderson, who recently completed a prison term for dealing steroids in the BALCO case, to testify in an investigation of whether Bonds lied under oath in 2003 when he said he had never taken steroids.

Because Anderson already has pleaded guilty and has served his time, he probably cannot avoid testifying about Bonds and drugs by citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the experts said in interviews.

And without the Fifth Amendment protection, he and another BALCO defendant who has been subpoenaed -- BALCO Vice President James Valente, who also pleaded guilty in the case -- have few legal options other than telling the grand jury what they know about Bonds.

"This is hardball," said Peter Keane, law professor at Golden Gate University. Anderson "has a choice -- he can either testify or go to jail and be locked up for the life of the grand jury."

Veteran San Francisco defense lawyer Doron Weinberg said the government runs the risk of appearing to violate "the implicit expectation of fair dealing" when it demands the testimony of a defendant who already has settled his case and paid his debt to society.

But if a witness' evidence is relevant and important, he said, the law seems to allow the government to force a former defendant before a grand jury to testify about his crimes and to jail him in an effort to coerce his testimony. Former federal prosecutor Tony West called the new round of subpoenas in the case "an unusual and pretty heavy-handed tactic."

The government "is trying to make an example of him (Bonds) by pursuing him this heavily," West said. "It goes back to Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, really pursuing these high-profile individuals."

At issue in the case is Bonds' testimony before the BALCO grand jury in December 2003. As The Chronicle has reported, Bonds denied using steroids. He acknowledged that Anderson had given him substances that matched the description of two undetectable steroids distributed by BALCO -- the "cream" and the "clear" -- but he insisted they were flaxseed oil and an arthritis balm.

Bonds also professed no knowledge of a series of calendars and other documents seized from Anderson's home that prosecutors believed detailed Bonds' use of banned drugs. Prosecutors didn't believe his testimony, the grand jury transcript indicates. Last year, his former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, testified that Bonds had confided to her in 2000 that he was taking steroids. The grand jury resumed its investigation of Bonds and perjury recently. Today, Bonds' surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, and Giants team trainer Stan Conte are expected to testify.

Bonds' lawyer, Michael Rains, called the subpoenas of Anderson and Valente "a grotesque display of harassment of two people who have already been put through the mill" by the government. "I'm just astounded that the prosecution would stoop this low and do these sort of mean-spirited and inappropriate things to try to get to Barry," he said.

When federal agents raided Anderson's Burlingame home in September 2003, the trainer admitted he had been giving banned drugs to four former Giants: Benito Santiago, Bobby Estalella, Armando Rios and Marvin Benard.

Anderson denied that Bonds had used "the clear" or "the cream," but when the agents confronted him with documents that reflected Bonds' use of banned drugs, the trainer said he thought he should stop talking because he didn't want to go to jail, according to a government memo. As the BALCO case played out in court, his lawyer, J. Tony Serra, told reporters Anderson would never cooperate with the government to prosecute ballplayers. Serra couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

If compelled to testify, Anderson presumably could provide extensive information about Bonds and performance-enhancing drugs. Anderson was Bonds' trainer for five years, supervising his gym workouts and accompanying him into the Giants' clubhouse and to BALCO's Burlingame offices.

The doping calendars seized in the case -- some of them thought to be in Anderson's handwriting -- indicate Bonds' use of a cocktail of illegal drugs: "the clear" and "the cream," human growth hormone, testosterone, insulin and clomid, a female fertility drug used in part as a masking agent.

Valente, who was put on probation after pleading guilty to one count of steroids distribution in the BALCO case, also knows about Bonds and steroids, court records show.

In September 2003, Valente told federal agents that he was the middleman in helping Anderson provide performance-enhancing drugs to athletes. Valente said Bonds was among several baseball players Anderson brought to BALCO to obtain drugs that would not be detectable on Major League Baseball's steroids test. Bonds had received "the cream" and "the clear" on a "couple of occasions," Valente told the agents, and he quoted Anderson as saying he was providing human growth hormone and testosterone cypionate to his baseball clients. Valente also could provide the current grand jury with details about a sample of Bonds' blood sent in February 2003 from BALCO to LabOne, a lab that counts steroid testing among its services. Valente sent the sample with Bonds' name on it but then filed an affidavit saying it actually belonged to Anderson.

Valente later admitted to investigators that he knew the sample was Bonds' but switched the name at Anderson's request because Bonds did not want his name on the blood sample.

The experts said Anderson might still seek Fifth Amendment protection before the grand jury, perhaps by arguing that he feared being forced to admit to crimes the government hadn't uncovered. Depending on a judge's ruling, the government might be forced to offer Anderson immunity from prosecution to get him on the witness stand.

After that, if he refused to testify, he would face jail.

Weinberg said courts have held that while the government can jail a witness in an effort to compel testimony, jailing isn't legal simply to punish somebody for refusing to cooperate. With Anderson, "I would argue at the outset that this is punitive," Weinberg said. "Clearly the government must understand he is not going to testify."

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Murray Chass- No Record, No Foul: There's No Need to Salute Bonds

[Every home run Mr. Bonds has hit since 1999 is covered in the sort of slime that only a cocktail of anabolic steroids, HGH, insulin and masking agents can produce. The discussions surrounding Mr. Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's career home run mark wouldn't be taking place at all if the Giant slugger (pun intended) had not been ingesting illegal drugs for the last seven years.

The homerun totals of Barry Bonds are are the totals of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. One of the differences between Bonds and McGwire and Sosa is the staggering amount of evidence regarding his use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs available to anyone who wants to see it. I defy anyone who reads "Game of Shadows" to come to any other conclusion but that Mr. Bonds has been systematically cheating on a grand scale for the last seven years.

Despite his well-documented cretinous behavior I did not count myself among the "Bonds-haters" during his "lean" years...however, my opinion of him and his achievements has been irrevocably altered during the last several months as the evidnce against him has mounted. The respect that I once held for McGwire, Sosa and to a lesser extent, Palmeiro has completely dissipated. Those three are frauds...Palmeiro's finger-wagging denials not withstanding. Hank Aaron and Roger Maris continue to hold the only legitimate claims to the home run crowns. Any talk of celebrating anything about Barry Bonds and his mounting home run totals is absurd. - JTF]

The New York Times
Published: May 9, 2006

IF people want to criticize Commissioner Bud Selig, they can find legitimate reasons. They can criticize him for letting the winner of the inconsequential All-Star Game determine home-field advantage for the championship-deciding World Series. They can criticize him for letting Arte Moreno call his team, the Angels, by a geographically incorrect name.

But don't criticize him for saying Major League Baseball will not salute Barry Bonds for his 715th home run.

Bonds, the most controversial star of his and maybe any other generation, is one home run away from Babe Ruth's career total of 714 after sitting out the Giants' game last night against Houston in San Francisco.

Selig recently said that Major League Baseball would not honor Bonds when he hit No. 715 and passed Ruth. Some people criticized him for his stance, but the criticism had no basis in legitimacy. Why should baseball salute Bonds for becoming No. 2?

Baseball didn't honor Bonds when he passed Willie Mays; Sammy Sosa when he passed Frank Robinson; Mark McGwire when he eclipsed Harmon Killebrew; Rafael Palmeiro when he moved ahead of Reggie Jackson.

Just a month ago, Ken Griffey Jr. broke a tie with Mickey Mantle when he hit the 537th home run of his career, but Selig didn't rush to salute him. For good reason. Griffey didn't break any record, just as Palmeiro, McGwire, Sosa and Bonds didn't break records when they surpassed their celebrated predecessors.

They moved up on the career home run list; that's all they did. And when Bonds hits his 715th, he will also move up on the career list.

Bonds, however, is already first on the list of home runs hit by players who maybe/probably/very likely/most likely used chemical aids. Bonds can repeatedly and vehemently deny using them, but few believe him or even begrudgingly give him the benefit of doubt. A few say there's no evidence because he has never tested positive for steroid use. A few say he's innocent until proved guilty.

Some prosecutors, however, could make a pretty strong case against Bonds with circumstantial evidence. Moving up meteorically on the career home run list, for example.

Bonds broke a tie with Lou Gehrig for 17th place on the career list with his last home run of the 2000 season, his 49th, a career high at the time. His place and his total (494) were impressive enough and worthy of election to the Hall of Fame if he had played no more and had hit no more home runs. In retrospect, that would have been a wonderful idea.

But at an age, 36 going on 37 halfway through the 2001 season, when hitters are battling a downward power spiral, Bonds flourished. He set the single-season record of 73 and leapfrogged 10 players on the homer list, skyrocketing to seventh.

In the next three seasons, he hit 46, 45 and 45 home runs, climbing to fourth in 2002, then, having fallen two short in 2003, to third in 2004 with a career total of 703. Knee problems requiring three operations prevented Bonds from surpassing Ruth last season.

Starting with the season in which he turned 37 and continuing through age 40, Bonds hit 209 home runs. For the corresponding seasons in their careers, Henry Aaron hit 141 home runs, Ruth 103 and Willie Mays 82. Bonds may be a terrific hitter, maybe the best in history if you want to make that argument, but can he be that much better than Aaron, Ruth and Mays? Anyone care to speculate on what they could have done if they had been chemically aided?

Bonds has raised the specter of race, as in white officials, the white news media and white fans not wanting him to pass Ruth. A black player, however, has already passed Ruth.

Aaron, in fact, suffered far worse racial abuse when he was chasing Ruth than Bonds has. If Bonds thinks his mail is bad, he should ask Aaron to see some of his. That doesn't justify or excuse any abuse aimed at Bonds. It's all shameful and disgusting. But in his desire to have people feel sorry for him, Bonds likes to portray himself as unique, and it's just another misguided facet of his personality.

What Bonds will not do when he passes Ruth is break a record. That seems obvious, but people seem to think otherwise. They keep referring to Ruth's mark, as in Associated Press reports that said: "But as Barry Bonds closes in on Babe Ruth's mark ..." and "Standing on the brink of Babe Ruth's home run mark ..." and the ESPN announcer who said, "As Bonds closes in on Ruth's mark. ..."

Ruth doesn't have a mark. The word mark is used as a synonym for record. Ruth doesn't have a record. He lost his record for most home runs in a career when Aaron hit No. 715 in 1974.

Bonds's 715th home run will not be historic, as some people are certain to say or write, because he will make no history with it. It has nothing to do with steroids.

It's putting Bonds's feat in perspective. When McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998, he did not break Ruth's record of 60. Roger Maris did that in 1961, and McGwire broke Maris's record.

When Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001, he broke McGwire's record, not Maris's, not Ruth's.

If and when Bonds hits his 756th home run, it will be historic, and it will break a record. At that point, Selig will reluctantly acknowledge Bonds as baseball's new home run leader, reluctantly because he doesn't want to honor a steroids-set record.

Joel Mowbray: Saddam's Terrorist Blueprints

Joel Mowbray
May 9, 2006

Ask even news-savvy Americans what they know about Saddam’s plans to deploy suicide bombers against the West, and the most common response will be blank stares. Ditto for asking about how Saddam’s thugs trained thousands of terrorists from around the Arab world, right up through 2002.

Both stunning revelations surfaced recently, one in Congressional testimony last month and the other in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. The Pentagon has known about these items on Saddam’s terrorist agenda since the end of 2003, which is when it received the after-action analysis report it had commissioned. (It served as the basis for the testimony and the magazine article.)

Now declassified, the book-length report analyzed thousands of Iraqi documents and interviews with over 100 officials of Saddam’s regime to piece together what was going on in the tyranny’s final days. Much of it is darkly humorous, such as the lengths to which minions would go to deceive Saddam or how the despot actually appeared to believe the ridiculous propaganda spewed by Baghdad Bob.

To the extent the report or its summaries were covered by the mainstream media, attention mostly was focused on the finding that Saddam apparently behaved himself in late 2002 and early 2003 in a vain attempt to stave off the invasion. Yet entirely ignored by the supposedly objective news outlets were the rather newsworthy items indicating that, in fact, Saddam was interested in exporting terror.

According to a Nexis search, only four news outlets have even mentioned “Blessed July,” which was, in the words of the Foreign Affairs article, “a regime-directed wave of ‘martyrdom’ operations against targets in the West.” All nine articles were editorials or opinion pieces. The New York Times essentially avoided covering the report or the magazine summary of it, as the paper instead excerpted a book co-authored by one of its reporters that relied heavily on the report. Even the Associated Press declined to print a quick mention that preparations for “Blessed July,” again quoting from the magazine article, “were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.”

The Washington Post, however, did cover the release of the Foreign Affairs article, but with this headline: “U.S. Said To Misread Hussein On Arms.” The not-so-subtle implication of the rather brief story was that Saddam didn’t pose as big a threat as we thought. In the weeks following the Post article, the full report was released and its authors appeared before Congress. Neither event triggered additional coverage.

Even if Post reporters missed the section in the 230-page report on terror training camps operated by the Fedayeen Saddam, the militia of soldiers most loyal to the ruthless ruler, that issue was raised again in Congressional hearings last month. The camps, which were started in 1994, trained some 7,200 Iraqis in the art of terrorism in the first year alone. “Beginning in 1998,” according to the full report, “these camps began hosting ‘Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, ‘the Gulf,’ and Syria.’”

So in the late 1990’s and beyond, during which time conventional wisdom tells us that Saddam was “contained,” Iraq was training thousands of terrorists from across the Arab world. Saddam was not slowing down. “The training activity of the groups were increasing both internal and apparently external. It was increasing over time,” testified Lt. Col. Kevin Woods (retired), the report’s chief author.

Many Democrats, leading leftists, and even ostensibly objective members of the Fourth Estate scoff at Bush’s contention that the war in Iraq was a necessary component of the war on terror. Yet when fairly compelling proof emerges that Saddam was actively involved in both training terrorists and planning attacks, the collective response was silence.

Most baffling, though, is that the White House has been equally silent.

Had President Bush made even one mention of “Blessed July,” Saddam’s plans for a “wave of ‘martyrdom’ operations” would have dominated cable newscasts and newspaper headlines for at least a day. Maybe not dominated, but it would have garnered at least some attention.

Had the White House press office decided that the mainstream media couldn’t be trusted to disseminate the information accurately, it could have at least highlighted Saddam’s terror training camps for friendly columnists, talk hosts, and bloggers. It didn’t.

The White House doesn’t believe in re-fighting the decision to go to war, which is painfully logical. But politics isn’t logical. Neither are Bush’s political enemies. If the President wants people to trust that he made the right call by toppling Saddam, he needs to reiterate everyday what we know: Saddam was a threat who could no longer be tolerated.

“Blessed July” and Saddam’s terror training camps would be as good a place as any to start.

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Joel Mowbray is author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America’s Security.

Monday, May 08, 2006

William F. Buckley Jr.: Is There a Solution?

May 05, 2006, 1:04 p.m.

I was back home after three days at the Mayo Clinic, and I sat with my wife, having decided on an evening of television. To this end we looked in the morning paper and saw the listing for the story of Bette Davis, coming on at 9 p.m. This was appealing, inasmuch as when I was about fifteen, I fancied my future as Mr. Bette Davis—though that was a contingent romance, if Betty Hutton would not have me. And it was especially embittering given that Bette married just about everybody else, and I was saddled with the mother of the author of Thank You for Smoking.

In any case, we were seated, and after a flurry of investigations to discover on what TV channel Turner Classic Movies appears in New York (answer: 82) we were staring at her. That lovely head, lips all but closed, smoke filtering out of her mouth, and when the smoke was finally gone, she began to speak in her special way, contemptuous of everybody and everything. What followed (for as long as we stayed with her) were shots dating back to 1930. She was always with a cigarette in her hand, calling to mind the recent movie about Edward R. Murrow, which is one long shot of smoke-filled rooms in which characters occasionally say things—grim things, mostly—in between puffs on cigarettes.

The Mayo Clinic is in what I think of as Middle America, though the term has to be used with care. It's easiest to visualize: Get yourself to Minneapolis and then head south for 90 miles, whereafter . . . Rochester. There are 100,000 people there; a third of them work for IBM and a third for Mayo. Most people have a story about that remarkable place, myself included. Mine I got from the late David Niven. He was suffering from an odd affliction that seized his voice from time to time. Living in France and Switzerland he had consulted with a broad band of specialists, but none had come up with a diagnosis. My wife said to him, Why don't you go to Mayo? He did, and in two days they told him he was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. That's what it was, and he died of it 18 months later.

I was there in search of a diagnosis for my shortness of breath, and a dozen tests and examinations confirmed that the problem is emphysema and, oh yes, the cause of it was smoking. How long had I smoked? One deals with Mayo as with a confessional, zero temporizing. I smoked cigarettes for ten years, age 15 to 25. And then cigars, off and on, but steadily for about ten years beginning about age 68.

There weren't many ways of looking at those X-rays and charts and CT scans. There it is, and you find you are taking in about one-third the air you would be taking in if you had never smoked. One must imagine that to be told you have Lou Gehrig's Disease permits a little more human drama than to be told you have emphysema. The Mayo Clinic is not a missionary enterprise, turning out patients with recommitments to holier lives. But let's face it, when six hours later you find yourself relaxed at home watching a close-up of Bette Davis inhaling deeply and even licentiously, it's normal to ask, why is this going on?

The statistics are plain. Every day, approximately 4,500 Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 smoke for the first time. Half of them will smoke regularly from that point forward, which comes down to 800,000 new habitual smokers each year.

Is there nothing to be done? The easiest answer to that question is presumably the correct answer: Nothing. There is the blissful escapist factor: Not every smoker contracts emphysema or lung cancer. And there is the tireless diversionary exercise, drawing attention to Aunt Judie, who just died of lung cancer, had suffered from emphysema, and never had a cigarette in her life. Yes, and such data as these would not be withheld from you at the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo people aren't there to account for scientific anomalies. But a certain strength is imparted to people who expose themselves to the even-temperedness one finds there, the quiet confidence in the correctness of scientific lucidity, the corporate anxiety to show a resourceful concern for human health.

If you found yourself with emphysema, and you woke up emperor of the whole world, with absolute power in all matters of production and consumption, what would you do?

That's simple, of course. Forbid smoking to everyone you care about.