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Is America Ready for a Black President? By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/13/2008 7:14:00 PM
Filed under: Democrats, Barack Obama, 2008 President, Humor, Race Today, we have two very different sources addressing that puzzler. The satirical paper The Onion asks the question: Do We Really Want Another Black President After The Events Of Deep Impact? Have we learned nothing from the tragic events of 1998, when, under the watch of President Morgan Freeman, this nation was plunged into chaos, and hundreds of millions of people died at the hands of the deadly Wolf-Beiderman space rock? The mere fact that this country is even considering putting another black man, Barack Obama, in the Oval Office proves that we have not. The answer is provided, perhaps more absurdly, in real life by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette): You've got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate," he said bluntly. Our eyes only met briefly, perhaps because the governor wanted to spare the only black guy in the room from feeling self-conscious for backing an obvious loser. "I believe, looking at the returns in my election, that had Lynn Swann [2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate] been the identical candidate that he was --well-spoken [note: Mr. Rendell did not call the brother "articulate"], charismatic, good-looking -- but white instead of black, instead of winning by 22 points, I would have won by 17 or so." I say we solve this thing once and for all, what do you think? Is America ready for a black President? After the jump, we'll talk it over, and we'll also decide if Rendell's remarks should hurt Hillary and/or re-ignite the race issue in this campaign. Update: See end of story for Rendell's side of the story View Poll Let's get the easy ones out of the way.
Ed Rendell is a knucklehead. What he said should have no impact on Hillary, unless she miraculously refuses to repudiate the remark, or agrees with it. Can you imagine that? "Hey, look, Ed's just keeping it real. I mean, there are 2 kinds of black people..."
Chris Rock touched on the "wellspoken" issue very effectively, too, in reference to Colin Powell, and it is a recurring theme with black public figures. The implication is that the default setting for black people is to be inarticulate. In Obama's case, he is such an exceptional orator that it has become "safe" to make the observation, but I get the feeling from a lot of white people that a large part of Obama's ability to transcend race is the fact that he doesn't "sound black."
Not likely. Hopefully, there's a swift denunciation, and this thing dies on the vine. The much-hyped "Race Crisis of Several Weeks Ago" ended in a truce between the Obama and Clinton camps, and there's no reason to believe that Rendell was acting on orders from Clinton to marginalize Obama. Obama, for his part, should, and will probably, take the high road. I imagine he'll come up with a great rejoinder, something along the lines of, "I know Lynn Swann, Lynn Swann was a friend of mine, but I, sir, am no Lynn Swann." "The Onion" article references Chris Rock's film, "Head of State", but Chris himself offers a great repudiation of Rendell's statement in his stand-up act. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something like, "Only white folks would try to get Colin Powell to run for Vice-President against somebody he could beat." Obama has proven that race alone is not a negative when voting for a presidential candidate, but a lot of people take issue with the use of race as a positive. They make the assumption that, because Obama pulled 90% of the black vote in Virginia, for instance, that those people are voting for him just because he is black. It's compelling at first blush, the way a lot of stereotypes are, but think about this. If the audience for "Seinfeld" was 90% white (I actually suspect it was higher, but who knows), does that mean they only watched it because Seinfeld was white? Of course, the big difference is, there are lots of "white" shows to compare trends with. There's only been 1 (non-
fictional) black candidate with a chance to win. Hardly enough data to establish a pattern. I'm sure Rendell is right on some level, there probably are some white people who are afraid that Barack Obama will turn the White House into a raucous, "Soul Plane"-esque madhouse, or whatever other horrors they can imagine, but I don't think those are Hillary's voters, either. Update: Governor Rendell tries to backpedal with MSNBC's Nora O'Donnell, video below. First, he tries to say that he was talking about a "tiny, tiny percentage" of voters, yet in his original remarks puts the figure at about 5%. Then he seems to want credit for all of the non-stupid stuff he said. Finally, did he throw a little flirt in there at the end? I think he did. To be fair to Ed Rendell, it is very difficult for white people to address racial issues in a frank manner, as even the most well-intentioned analysis can come off as clumsy. I believe that he belongs to a large subset of old-school white people who crave racial harmony, but just kinda don't "get it." Whatever the intention of remarks about Lynn Swann's "well-spokenness", he reinforces the tacit and more insidious brand of "He's one of the good ones" racism.
How does one "sound black" or "sound white"? There's such a broad spectrum for each, yet I suspect that every reader, black or white, knows what I mean. In that way, the "Onion" article highlights another problem with white America's attempts to bridge the racial divide. Morgan Freeman's character in "Deep Impact", and Dennis Haysbert's "24" character, are almost completely devoid of any traits that accentuate their "blackness." I don't mean, necessarily, stereotypical traits, but merely touchstones of the black experience that inform who they are. Which is fine in a broader context, but in a media landscape that portrays black people in a handful of narrow ways, the "black role model" is uniformly one of white assimilation. This, again, reinforces that "one of the good ones" style of racism without necessarily intending to. I've observed this phenomenon particularly in sports. Black superstars like Terrell Owens or Donovan McNabb, or in my generation, Reggie Jackson, are not considered role models because they get labeled as "hot dogs", or "not team players", while a prick like Pete Rose gets called "Charlie Hustle." It stems from a failure to recognize the different set of obstacles, and the traits required to navigate them, that black people face in America. Update: For Joe, who asked about Obama's Mom: Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
Happy Valentine's Day! By Justin Paulette (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/13/2008 10:40:00 PM
Filed under: HumorFor this was on seynt Volantynys DayWhan euery bryd comyth there to chese [choose] his make [mate]. - Geoffrey Chaucer, Parlement of Foules
blessed Valentine's Day! Although the original holiday (Holy Day), dating back to the martyrdom of one of three St. Valentines in the first centuries of Christianity, reveals no special relation to love, the current romantic association is firmly established - and deserving of momentary reflection.
Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments So, from all of us at Political Machine, we wish you a romantic and
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Crikey! Clinton Camp Chaos! By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:00:00 AM
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Ads, Primaries, 2008 PresidentIn linking to a Wall Street Journal article about the current tension and turmoil inside Hillary Clinton's campaign, Matt Drudge offers up this breathless headline. The article itself is a tad hyperbolic in describing a reeling campaign that, in reality, is locked in a practical dead heat with its adversary. From the Journal: (T)he campaign has something of a shellshocked feel, as staffers privately chew over a blowup last week where internal frictions flared into the open. Clinton campaign operatives say it happened as top Clinton advisers gathered in Arlington, Va., campaign headquarters to preview a TV commercial. "Your ad doesn't work," strategist Mark Penn yelled at ad-maker Mandy Grunwald. "The execution is all wrong," he said, according to the operatives. "Oh, it's always the ad, never the message," Ms. Grunwald fired back, say the operatives. The clash got so heated that political director Guy Cecil left the room, saying, "I'm out of here." Cecil was later seen "air-guitaring" to a "My Chemical Romance" album in his parents' basement. It's a cute story, but hardly a sign of a Clinton Apocalypse. Maybe Drudge is trying to give Hillary the same "Drudge Bounce" he gave her going into New Hampshire. The real story here, in my view, is the strategy, which has been wrong all along. Mark Penn, if you're reading this, here's your new strategy:"Let Hillary Be Hillary!" You might want to change it to something like, "It's the Hillary, Stupid!", but I wouldn't recommend it. I think you would agree, there's been more than enough Bill Clinton in this campaign so far. More on that in a minute. First, I want to address all f this "Hillary on the ropes" coverage that we all knew was coming. New polls show Obama with his first lead, albeit small, in
national polls. Now, Hillary has led those all along, but that was never a story, they were always discounted. When the shoe is on the other foot, suddenly the national polls will spell disaster for Clinton. Also, last night on Countdown, Keith Olbermann and Richard Wolf dissected Hillary's new campaign ad, and characterized her as "going negative." This is a very mild, but clear, example of the unfair coverage she can expect. The ad challenges Obama to attend a debate in Ohio, positing that he would rather make speeches than debate issues. It's the most reasonable ad in the world. What's she supposed to do, run ads for him?
This has been the story of Hillary's political life. When she ran for Senate in New York, she started out with high negatives, the remnants of relentless Clinton-era character assassination. But once people got to know her, she turned the whole thing around. I expect her support in Texas to build, not diminish. This brings me to the Clinton campaign's strategy. It has been wrong at almost every turn. This is not a surprise, since Clinton herself, and the rest of the DLC, stood in vehement opposition of Howard Dean's wildly successful "50 State Strategy", preferring instead to focus resources on Democratic strongholds in "big states."
The public is on to the national media's anti-Clinton bias, and I firmly believe it was that, and not the infamous "crying jag", that delivered her New Hampshire. The same effect may come into play here, but the interval is a lot longer. Still, if we have three weeks of "Hillary Fading" headlines, and she wins Texas and Ohio by wide margins, then what?
These are the same geniuses who convinced John Kerry not to "go negative" (i.e. factual) against the worst President in history, and had their asses handed to them by the political equivalent of Little Red Riding Hood. David Knowles has Mark Penn's current take on the "Big State" strategy.
I expect Hillary to do very well in Texas, and this brings me back to my first point. Hillary gave an awesome speech in El Paso on Tuesday night. Looking anything but beleaguered, she spun a moving, populist oratory that had the crowd ready to don kilts, paint their faces blue, and have at it.
They're also focusing on wooing "Super Delegates" to put them over the top in the event of a narrow popular vote defeat. This sends the wrong message on two fronts: first, it is almost an admission of popular defeat, and second, it tells the voters that Clinton doesn't care what they think, much the same way the "Big State" strategy does. Cenk Uygur
from The Young Turks has the breakdown of Clinton's ground game versus Obama's, and her campaign's focus on conventional strategies. Not only are these strategies archaic, they also downplay Hillary's greatest strength. She is great on the ground. Acquainting voters with her through TV ads just reinforces the media's framing of Hillary as cold, corporate, and pre-packaged. Finally, they are doing a terrible sales job, damning her with faint praise. Ready on day one? Vetted? Experienced? They're selling her like a pre-owned Mazda, when what they've got is the original Knight Rider car. You wouldn't go around listing miles per gallon, or counting cup-holders and cubic feet of storage space. You'd be like, Dude! It's Kitt!" To paraphrase Tom Cruise from Jerry Maguire, "Let Hillary be Hillary. Let Hillary be Hillary! Let Hillary. Be Hillary." Here's the Young Turks clip I referenced earlier. Enjoy.
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John McCain: The Audacity of 'Nope!' By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/13/2008 11:43:00 PM
Filed under: John McCain, 2008 President, HumorJohn McCain may be cruising to his inevitable coronation as the Republican Party's Presidential nominee, but already, McCain is running into a formidable adversary. Setting aside the revolt by conservative pundits like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, who are always
revolting anyway, McCain has had to do battle with another prominent Republican whose rhetoric has been making him look bad. The culprit is, of course, John McCain. McCain's stump speeches have been rife with hope-repudiating ideas like a 100 year continuation of the Iraq War, and the observation that jobs lost overseas are not coming back. Barack Obama has begun making hay of McCain's passionate, principled
initial opposition to the Bush tax cuts, followed by his ratification of them, saying that the "...wheels came off the straight talk express." Even in his Potomac Primary victory speech, McCain had this uplifting quote: "In a time of war, the promise of a brighter future is not always clear..." Wow. Where do I sign?
McCain has a new ad out now, attacking John McCain, in the form of this parody of "Yes, We Can", written "mostly by John McCain", from Barely Political. If John McCain is to have any chance at all in November, he's going to have to figure out a way to silence John McCain, or at least neutralize him. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
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Alleged MLB Juicer Feels the Heat By Liza Porteus Viana (Political Machine)
under heavy scrutiny over the drug allegations several years ago.
happened during the 4.5-hour long hearing here.
Submitted at 2/13/2008 8:22:00 AM
More after the jump ... "This evidence is 100 percent authentic," McNamee said, adding that he kept the used syringes and other items in case he ever needed them to prove others were involved. They were the "only evidence that would prevent me from me from being the fall guy," he said.
But before the hearing began, two lawyers told The New York Times that Clemens was going to be confronted with a "new and damaging affidavit" from Pettitte, and that he would be asked about information the committee staff has uncovered on their own that ties the player to drugs.
Filed under: HouseYankees pitcher Roger Clemens testified before Congress today that despite former players and trainers claiming otherwise: "I have never taken steroids or HGH." Clemens was trying to convince lawmakers - and the world - that he has never used steroids or human growth hormone (HGH). "I've been accused of something I'm not guilty of ... I'm never going to have my name restored but I've got to try to set the record straight," Clemens continued. The tension in the hearing room was so thick it could have been cut with a knife, as Clemens and his former trainer and accuser, Brian McNamee, sat at the witness table together, separated by one other person, Charlie Scheeler, an MLB-steroid use investigator. McNamee claims he personally injected Clemens with drugs 16 times between 1998 and 2001. McNamee said Wednesday that he submitted used syringes and other evidence to investigators to prove the doping did occur, after MLB came
Clemens said he would have ran to the Mitchell commission in a "New York minute" had he known the "lies" McNamee was telling investigators. "If someone's trying to break my spirit in this room, they're not going to break my spirit," Clemens said. He also said fellow Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte "misremembers" conversations he supposedly had regarding HGH. Later talk about discrepancies over an abscess on Clemens' buttocks after an alleged injection made me tune out just a bit...but I perked up when Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., complained loudly about hearing "lie after lie after lie" even though the witnesses were under oath. You can read more about what
"The committee is not messing around and has other damaging evidence against Roger," one lawyer told the Times. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing probed claims included in Sen. George Mitchell's report on drug use in MLB. That report said the use of HGH by professional baseball players is rising. Committee Chairman Harry Waxman, D-Calif., was expected to read portions of Pettitte's affidavit and ask Clemens to respond. I expect an extremely awkward silence to follow.
glamorized. "Just last week, Sylvester Stallone seemed to be endorsing the use of HGH to reverse the aging process," he said. Rocky last year admitted to bringing restricted growth hormones into Australia and, recently, defended his use of it, saying: "HGH is nothing ... anyone who calls it a steroid is grossly misinformed." Other alleged users that McNamee points the finger at - Pettitte and former Yankee second-baseman Chuck Knoblauch - were excused. They apparently answered all the lawmakers' questions during separate meetings and their presence wasn't needed. Clemens, 45, went door-to-door around Capitol Hill for the third day in a row Tuesday, stressing that he is not a doper. Today's hearing is being televised. You won't get material much better than this, even on FX or HBO. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
Waxman said Tuesday there are many myths surrounding the use of HGH, and it's a sorry testament to today's society that its use is often
Contempt Votes for Two White House Officials By Mark Impomeni (Political Machine)
If the contempt citations pass, they will be referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for possible action. However, as a U.S. Attorney, he too serves at the pleasure of the president and will likely be ordered by the White House to ignore the citations. Congress cannot force the Justice Department to enforce its citations due to the separation of powers between the branches of government, so Congress will have to take the Administration to court and seek a judicial order directing the Executive Branch to act. Such an order would be surely appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:45:00 AM
Filed under: Bush Administration, House, Breaking News, InvestigationsThe House of Representatives will take up contempt of Congress charges today for one current and one former Bush Administration officials in its continuing investigation into the firing of eight United States Attorneys last year. The officials, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, and former White House Counsel and Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet Miers, stand accused by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) of failing to cooperate with subpoenas ordering them to appear before his committee. In a statement in advance of the votes, Conyers said that the contempt citations were a regrettable but necessary exercise to "preserve the role and constitutional prerogatives of Congress as an institution, in addition to getting to the bottom of the U.S. Attorney controversy." The White House vehemently disagrees. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino offered a blistering attack on Conyers and the Democratic leadership of the House which is
allowing these votes at this time. "If the House had nothing better to do, this futile partisan act would be a waste of time. Unbelievably, it is being considered in place of legislation to make us safer, address concerns in the housing market, improve health care conditions for our veterans, reauthorize No Child Left Behind or open new overseas markets for U.S. goods and services, among other bills."Democrats on the Judiciary committee want Miers and Bolten to answer questions about the White House's role in the
controversial firings. They maintain that the firings were partisan political acts brought about by the U.S. Attorneys' refusal to aggressively pursue cases that might benefit Republicans in the 2006 elections. The White House has said that the firings were related to job performance and argues that U.S. Attorneys, as political appointees in the Executive Branch, serve at the pleasure of the president. The White House says that the president may dismiss any or all of them at any time and for any reason.
Given all of that, there is virtually no chance that the citations will see any action during the time left in this administration, and the next president and Congress may have to decide whether or not to act on them. Today's vote then is good political theater for the bases of both parties, but will not ultimately result in anything concrete. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
Idol's Top 24 official FOX photo gallery By Jason Hughes (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:21:00 AM
Filed under: American Idol, Contestants Now that we know who they are we can see how they've been cleaned up
by FOX and photographed. And that crazy Top 24 promo photo featuring the contestants hiding behind Simon masks has been replaced with the above photo, minus the masks. Oh those wacky kids over at FOX. They're so creative!
Continue reading Idol's Top 24 official FOX photo gallery Permalink | Email this | | Comments %Gallery-16066%
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Justice OKs Harsh Methods; Senate 'Debate' Disagrees Clinton By Mark Impomeni (Political Machine)
Constitution? Is it obvious, that what can't be done for punishment can't be done to exact information that is crucial to the society? I think it's not at all an easy question, to tell you the truth."These are risky comments for a Supreme Court Justice to make. Justices must steer clear of prejudging potential cases or issues that may come before the Court. With many detainee cases in the Federal court system right now, there is a fairly good chance that one or more of them will be accepted for arguments at the Supreme Court during Scalia's tenure.
Submitted at 2/13/2008 12:10:00 PM
Filed under: Senate, Terror, Supreme CourtSupreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in an interview on British television that under certain circumstances, interrogators could inflict pain on suspects in order to extract valuable information from them. Scalia's frank comments on the subject underscore the difficult nature of the debate over so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used by the Bush Administration against high value detainees captured in the war on terror. Meanwhile, in a vote not directly related to Justice Scalia's comments, the Senate approved a House passed bill that outlaws the use of harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding. The bill passed the Senate on a mostly party line vote of 51-45. The provision is part of a broader intelligence authorization bill and would limit interrogation techniques to those approved by the Army Field Manual. President Bush has promised a veto of the bill if it includes the restriction on interrogations. Scalia was addressing the classic "ticking time-bomb" scenario; where a hypothetical captured terrorist has information about an imminent attack. Many legal and moral scholars have asserted that in this specific case, authorities have wider latitude
to use methods not otherwise authorized in the effort to save lives. Scalia lent his name to this line of thinking in his broadcast remarks. "It seems to me you have to say, as unlikely as that is, it would be absurd to say you couldn't, I don't know, stick something under the fingernail, smack him in the face. It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. "I suppose it's the same thing about so -called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to find out where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited by the
Scalia has recused himself in the past over comments he made in public on issues. The most famous of these may be Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, otherwise known as the Pledge of Allegiance case. Scalia had made public comments at a Religious Freedom Day event held in Virginia that critics said revealed a prejudice in favor of school children saying the pledge with the words "under God" included. Scalia's recusal meant that the case was decided by the eight remaining Justices, increasing the possibility that the lower court ruling striking down the Pledge of Allegiance would be upheld. Ultimately the case was dismissed on technical grounds. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
McCain Likes Easy By Dave (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/13/2008 1:25:00 PM
Filed under: Republicans, John McCain, Supreme Court McCain makes the "duh!" statement of the day: John McCain is back at work on Capitol Hill today, continuing his effort to get Republican leaders to rally behind him as the presumptive GOP nominee. He received endorsements from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo. and suggested he'd like Mike Huckabee to get out the race because it would make things easier. "Of course I'd like for him to withdraw today. It would be much easier," he admitted. "But I respect, and have said repeatedly, that I respect his right to continue in this race just as long as he wants to. I don't think that's inconsistent."
Sure, and it would have been even easier if Mitt and Rudy and Fred had given up in December. Still, it is nice of McCain to allow that Huckabee has every right to stay in the race. Awfully big of him. Truth is, McCain's road ahead to the nomination is easy with or without Huckabee. In fact, the only thing I can see derailing him now is a scandal or a gaffe, as any 11th hour opposition from conservative circles appears to be dissipating by the hour. Like it or not McCain is the nominee. And a huge question mark. There is no doubt that McCain is an unqualified pain in the neck. That's not a criticism, I generally those kind of people. I'll take someone who knows their own mind over someone who checks public opinion every day, so McCain over Romney was not so hard to figure out. The problem is two things, one is that McCain, they tell us, is rock solid, he doesn't bend, he doesn't change, he sticks to his
By Greg McNeilly (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/13/2008 1:40:00 PM
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ads, 2008 PresidentWhile the Obama and Clinton campaign traded "negative" or "attack" radio ads during the South Carolina Democratic primary, today is another first. What many call a "contrast" ad was released by the Hillary Clinton campaign focusing on Barack Obama's lack of interest in debating. The :30 second spot, airing in Wisconsin, is titled "Debate." The ad's script reads: ANNCR: Both Democratic candidates have been invited to a televised Wisconsin debate. Hillary Clinton has said yes. Barack Obama hasn't. Maybe he'd prefer to give speeches than have to answer questions. Like why Hillary Clinton has the only health care plan that covers every American, and the only economic plan that freezes foreclosures. Wisconsin deserves to hear BOTH candidates debate the issues that matter. And that's...not debatable. Hillary Clinton: "I'm Hillary Clinton and I approved this message. In political campaigns, the debate over debates, is almost always engaged by the challenger against an incumbent. And it rarely works. Attacking Obama for not debating makes Clinton sound like just another politician bickering about a process issue, voters of the Badger state have no interest in.
principles. The second thing, is that over the past eight years, his principles led him to serious fights with just about every Republican constituency. So if he is solid, we can expect more of the same. And if not, well then he doesn't really deserve the solid label does he? McCain elected would be either the first great president of the twenty first century, the first who was able to forge his own path, provide his own leadership and take care of business. Or his administration will be a train wreck as he one by one ticks off every constituency in the country, both right and left. And given past performance that's the way I'd lean. But your mileage may vary: FDR or LBJ? or if you prefer Republicans, Reagan or Bush? Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
Pretend you were conducting a survey - with an open-ended question - seeking a honest list of the issue or issues of the greatest concern to the residents of Wisconsin. How many voters would you have to ask before someone responded "Not enough debates in Presidential primaries"? It's a bank shot. Clinton is clever in trying to demonstrate that Obama's oratory skill is a ruse and more teleprompter than cognitive muscle. But it's probably too cute and persuades no one but those already in her camp. Obama and Clinton have appeared in 18 debates during this cycle and have two more scheduled in the next three weeks. Wisconsin's 92 Democrat delegates will be allocated by a primary on February 19. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
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Hillaryland Spin: Your States Suck! By David Knowles (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/14/2008 1:00:00 AM
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Democrats, Featured Stories "Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn't won any of the significant states--outside of Illinois? That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama." --Chief Clinton Strategist Mark Penn
Senate OK's 'Domestic Spying' By Justin Paulette (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/13/2008 9:17:00 PM
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Senate, Barack Obama, Terror By a resounding 68 to 29 vote, the Senate has approved "sweeping measure" to "expand the government's clandestine surveillance powers." Of course, this references the FISA court and warrentless wiretapping of communications between the United States and foreign terrorist groups. As I've written before, the hypocrisy of most liberal Democrats on this issue should be regarded as among the most shameful scandals tainting their party. Many vehemently decried the loss of liberty in America due to President Bush's "domestic spying program," before promptly voting in favor of the program's obviouslynecessary national defense measures. However, there are two important exceptions to the shame of hypocrisy: Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama. They have not proved hypocrites. Rather, they have proved
either incalculably incompetent on national security or depravedly opportunistic in their vying for leftwing financial and electoral gain. Obama voted against the bill, citing (as I review in my previous post) an immunity clause for telecom companies which cooperated with the act. The Wall Street Journal's editors aptly survey his decision: "It says something about his national security world view, or his callowness, that Mr. Obama would vote to punish private companies that even the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee said had "acted in good faith." Had Senator Obama prevailed, a President Obama might well have been told "no way" when he asked private Americans to help his Administration fight terrorists. Mr. Obama also voted against the overall bill, putting him in MoveOn.org territory." As for Sen. Clinton, the lagging candidate couldn't be bothered to attend the vote on, potentially, the most important piece of national
security legislation to pass the Senate in a year (although she has indicated that she would have voted against it if present). As the folks over at NRO note: "...the Potomac Primary was in the DC area. McCain and Obama managed to get to the Hill without difficulty. Not Clinton. She has no excuse. The craven decision not to vote - not to be accountable - was calculated ... and this from the candidate who slammed Obama for ducking the tough votes as an Illinois legislator." John McCain ought to hold up a giant roll-call chart of the Senate vote on this measure at every speech he gives for the next two months. I can think of no greater indication of the difference in judgment and competence between McCain and his rivals than this vital issue. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
GE and Johnson & Johnson -- just timing By Sheldon Liber (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:03:00 AM
Filed under: Forecasts, Management, General Electric (GE), Johnson and Johnson (JNJ), Bargain stocks, Stocks to Buy Yesterday when I posted Why complain about GE and not JNJ -- a
puzzle? I got my answer. Investors do have patience, but it's limited. They will wait three years for positive results, but maybe not five, and ten -forget about it! As you can see from yesterdays' chart comparing three-year performance, there is no difference and in both cases the stocks are down. The difference is nobody is demanding
that heads should roll at Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) while they are at General Electric Company (NYSE: GE). Continue reading GE and Johnson & Johnson -- just timingPermalink | Email this | Comments
Did you hear that, Virginia? Turns out you're insignificant. Washington, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Georgia, how does it feel to be second tier citizens? Louisiana, Delaware, Connecticut, Minnesota how's that inferiority complex treating you? D.C., South Carolina, Missouri, Utah, Alaska, Colorado, Nebraska, Idaho, North Dakota, Nevada (where Obama received more delegates), Kansas, Alabama, what's it like being on the outside looking in? And let this be a warning to you, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Rhode Island, all of whose primaries are in the offing. If you go for Clinton, then maybe Mr. Penn will re-consider his spin and let you past the velvet rope. Go for Obama, and you can just keep waiting in line with the others. Hey, when your candidate loses 23 of 34 contests, is behind in the popular vote, and behind in the delegate count even when you factor in all the loyal Bill Clinton-era super delegates, you've got to say something. And yes, Mr. Penn, I've got some serious questions, but at the moment they aren't for Obama. Chief among them is why you decided to play a Giuliani-like strategy of husbanding your efforts and resources for states you deemed "significant," while your opponent worked hard in every contest? Second, do you really intend to press forward with your plan to try and seat Florida and Michigan, even though doing so could rip the party apart and guarantee a Republican victory in the fall? And third, have you really decided you want the nomination even if you are behind in the pledged delegate count and the popular vote when the convention rolls around? Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
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Chelsea in Cincinnati By Dave (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/14/2008 12:27:00 AM
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, 2008 President A firsthand report from local Cincinnati blogger Bill Sloat: Chelsea Clinton campaigned for her mom across Ohio today, visiting Ohio State University and Ohio Wesleyan before finishing the night at a packed meet-and-greet in a downtown Cincinnati pub. She didn't make a speech in the bar, but worked the crowd and took questions from all comers. She invited people in Sully's Bar and Grill to step up, shake hands, and share a brief political chat. It was low key and personal. She's scheduled to do more campus stops in NE Ohio Thursday. The crowd in the pub was mostly young professionals.
Chelsea said she wanted to speak with those who hadn't made up their minds whether to vote for Hillary or Obama. She had a sales pitch to make. She said she wants Ohioans on the fence "to please come up and talk to me." And she went on to pitch health care and experience for her mother. All talk of "pimping" aside, sons and daughters are usually a big asset to candidates, especially if they are old, and face a deficit in the youth and hip categories against a younger and hipper opponent. If it's McCain versus Obama, McCain's daughter will also be a huge benefit. She even has a blog. Hipness factor high. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
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Analyst downgrades: UBS, NTAP and Semiconductors By Eric Buscemi (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:58:00 AM
Filed under: Analyst upgrades and downgradesMOST NOTEWORTHY: UBS AG (UBS), Network Appliance (NTAP) and Semiconductors were today's noteworthy downgrades: • Deutsche Bank downgraded UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) to Hold from Buy following the company's earnings reports to reflect its large new risk exposures. • Citigroup lowered Network Appliance (NASDAQ:NTAP) to Hold from Buy, as they believe the company's lackluster outlook will weigh on shares in the near-term.
• Semiconductors Micron Tech (NYSE:MU) and Novellus (NASDAQ:NVLS) were downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman citing expectations of excess DRAM supply. OTHER DOWNGRADES: • Goldman removed Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) from its Conviction Buy List. • JP Morgan lowered Knot Inc (NASDAQ:KNOT) to Neutral from Overweight. • Morgan Stanley lowered Boardwalk Pipeline (NYSE:BWP) to Equal Weight from Overweight. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Obama Leads in Popular Vote By David Knowles (Political Machine) Submitted at 2/13/2008 11:00:00 AM
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Democrats, Barack Obama, Breaking NewsI've posted before on the contentious subject of seating Florida and Michigan's delegates. On a related topic, NBC News has now released some interesting numbers regarding the popular vote. Even with Michigan and Florida included in the tally, Obama still leads Clinton in terms of the number of votes cast this
Including Florida and Michigan the total vote stands: Obama 9,942,375 Clinton 9,860,138
Obama also took his first lead in Rasmussen's national poll today, and is also up according to Gallup. The news was not all bad for Clinton today. She picked up the endorsement of Joe Wilson, a well-respected figure in Democratic circles.
Consider that for a moment. Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. NBC sees the significance: Why does this popular vote total matter? Because it's yet another talking point when wooing superdelegates. Howm many supers
Hillary: Easy as 1-2-3 By Brandon Barker (Political Machine)
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CNN Fires Producer Over Blog By Jay Allbritton (Political Machine)
Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:38:00 AM
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Featured Stories, Viral Video, LOLectionPolitical junkies looking for clear signs of Sen. Hillary Clinton's demise in the 2008 Democratic primaries may be in luck. However, they may also be staring ahead bug-eyed with coffee all over their trousers. Gene Wang--a former Silicon Valley CEO who recently sold Bitfone, a maker of software for portable gadgets, to Hewlett Packard--is now dabbling in campaign songwriting and viral videography, recently pulverizing the political landscape with a song called "Hillary4U&Me." The song--a jaunty, amiable and mind -boggling cover of The Jackson 5's "ABC"--was first hinted at back in August by The New York Times, who reported that Wang had asked friends and acquaintances to gather at a "secret location" to film this tribute to Sen. Clinton.
will be comfortable voting against the candidate who's leading in the pledge delegate count and the total vote
Submitted at 2/13/2008 5:07:00 AM
No one knows what these people were told, what they ate or drank, or who forced them to wear brown Tshirts and dance like suburban dads at a lock-in. But, without another word, here is what happened: B. Brandon Barker is the author of the novel Operation EMU. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
Filed under: MediaBlogger Terry Heaton reports that CNN fired American Morning producer Chez Pazienza from his post at the show today over content on his somewhat edgy blog Deus Ex Malcontent. "According to Chez," Heaton wrote, "he was terminated for violating network policy by not running what he was writing through their vetting system." Pazienza, who worked for the network for four years, posted about the firing on Deus Ex Malcontent. "Yesterday afternoon, I was fired from my job at CNN," he wrote. "What was the reason for my abrupt and untimely dismissal? You're reading it. More to come soon."
MSNBC involving David Shuster, his satirical post "Is Barack Obama gonna have to Choke a Bitch" may have been a bad career move. At a time when cable news is locking down loose cannons, Pazienza could not have seriously thought that CNN would let him get away with a blog subtitled "Making Mockery of Mockery". Still, an independent thinker like Pazienza may be better off as a blogger than with CNN. Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
In light of the recent debacle at
Couchville Joins The Deadpool By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:04:29 AM
TV listings site Couchville has joined the deadpool. The service, provided by PVR software maker Snapstream, offered US TV listings via zip code and cable or satellite provider. According to
Michael’s March 2007 review: … and it shows you a simple, easy to navigate TV guide. A vertical red line shows you what’s currently on, and via an Ajax interface you can grab and drag the listings vertically (for channel) or horizontally (for time) to see more (this works much like the
Google Maps interface)….It’s very simple and it’s very useful.
Michael said Couchville did one thing right, just a shame that one thing wasn’t sustainability. (thanks to 1to10 Reviews for the tip) C r u n c h N e t w o r k : CrunchBoardbecause it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
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ValuClick (VCLK) seen past legal issues By Brent Archer (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:47:00 AM
Filed under: Major movement, Analyst upgrades and downgrades, Good news, Law, Options, Technical Analysis, ValueClick Inc (VCLK)ValueClick Inc. (NASDAQ: VCLK) shares are trading higher this morning after analysts from Robert W. Baird and Oppenheimer upgraded the stock to "Outperform" from "Neutral" and "Outperform" from "Perform," respectively. VCLK disclosed yesterday that it will pay the Federal Trade Commission $2.9 million to settle a dispute over its lead -generation practices. Both firms raised their ratings afterwards, believing that with the investigation behind it, VCLK can focus on growing the lead-generation business to get back on track. If you think that the company won't fall by too much in the coming months, then now could be a good time to look at a bullish hedged trade on VCLK.
more about this type of trade here. After hitting a one-year high of $36.70 in May, the stock hit a oneyear low of $17.07 in January. VCLK opened this morning at $23.41. So far today the stock has hit a low of $22.35 and a high of $23.44. As of 10:45, VCLK is trading at $22.99, up $1.31 (6.0%). The chart for VCLK looks bullish but deteriorating slightly, while S&P gives the stock a neutral 3 STARS (out of 5) hold rating. For a bullish hedged play on this stock, I would consider a March bullput credit spread below the $20 range. A bull-put credit spread is an options position that combines the purchase and sale of put options to hedge risk in case the stock doesn't do what you think but still leverage nice returns. For this particular trade, we will make a 13.6% return in just five weeks as long as VCLK is above $20 at March expiration. ValuClick would have to fall by more than 13% before we would start to lose money. Learn
VCLK hasn't been below $20 by more than a few cents in the past year and has shown support around $20.75 recently. This trade could be risky if the US economy continues to worsen, but even if that happens, this position could be protected by the support the stock might find right at $20, where it has bounced a few times in the past quarter. Brent Archer is an options analyst and writer at Investors Observer. DISCLOSURE: Mr. Archer owns and/or controls diversified portfolios of long and short stock and option positions that may include holdings in companies he writes about. At publication time, Brent neither owns nor controls positions in VCLK.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Alcoa (AA) higher on extended bid for Rio Tinto (RTP) By Brent Archer (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:15:00 AM
Filed under: Deals, Industry, Alcoa Inc (AA), Options, Technical Analysis, Rio Tinto plc ADS (RTP), Aluminum Corp of China ADS (ACH)Alcoa, Inc. (NYSE: AA) shares are rising today after a memo was disclosed which revealed that AA and Aluminum Corp. of China (NYSE: ACH) formed a special purpose vehicle, "with the intent to acquire up to 14.9%" ofRio Tinto's (NYSE: RTP) London-listed stock. The two had bought a 12% stake in Rio Tinto in January. If you think that the company won't fall by too much in the coming months, then now could be a good time to look at a bullish hedged trade on AA.
After hitting a one-year high of $48.77 in July, the stock hit a oneyear low of $26.69 in January. AA opened this morning at $36.01. So far today the stock has hit a low of $35.71 and a high of $36.42. As of 10:25, AA is trading at $36.05, up 54 cents (1.5%). The chart for AA looks neutral and improving, while S&P gives the stock a positive 4 STARS (out of 5) buy rating. For a bullish hedged play on this stock, I would consider an April bullput credit spread below the $27.50 range. A bull-put credit spread is an options position that combines the purchase and sale of put options to hedge risk in case the stock doesn't do what you think but still leverage nice returns. For this particular trade, we will make a 5.3% return in just two months as long as AA is above
$27.50 at April expiration. Alcoa would have to fall by more than 23% before we would start to lose money. AA hasn't been below $27.50 by more than a few cents in the past year and has shown support around $34 recently. This trade could be risky if the US economy continues to worsen, but even if that happens, this position could be protected by the support the stock might find around $28, where the stock bottomed out in January. Brent Archer is an options analyst and writer at Investors Observer. At publication time, Brent neither owns nor controls positions in AA, ACH or RTP.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Countrywide CEO to get $10 million - for what exactly? By Zac Bissonnette (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:35:00 AM
Filed under: Management, Bank of America (BAC), Countrywide Financial (CFC)I've been banging the drum on Angelo Mozilo's heinously bad stewardship and overcompensation for awhile now but sorry folks: I gotta get at least one more post out of this travesty. Mozilo, who is CEO of troubled lender Countrywide Financial (NYSE: CFC), is eligible to receive stock awards valued at $10 million this April. The awards consist of performance-based restricted stock units and stock-appreciation right and will vest upon the consummation of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)'s acquisition of the company. The fact that Mozilo sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stock at prices 5 times the current price raises questions about whether he really need to be compensated further. But that's not the worst of it. Chief Operating Officer David Sambol could receive a $1.9 million retention bonus upon completion of the merger. The purpose of a retention payment is to keep an executive from jumping ship to another more lucrative opportunity. But I've got to ask: Given that Countrywide is the poster child for idiotic lending, bad management, and poor corporate governance, is Mr. Sambol really that in demand that a $1.9 million retention payment is necessary. Or is this just more of the "loot the company while you still can!" stuff that has come to characterize the descent of Countrywide?Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Borders goes digital By Zac Bissonnette (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:28:00 AM
Filed under: Management, Stocks to SellStruggling bookseller Borders Group (NYSE: BGP) has opened up a new concept store as part of its plan to re-invent itself. According to the USA Today, the new prototype store in Michigan contains "a digital center where you can download music or books, burn CDs, research family histories, print pictures and order leather-bound books crammed with family photos - with help from clerks who know how to do those sorts of things and won't embarrass you if you don't." A few problems: Why would anyone go to a store to download music or
books or burn CDs when you can do that at home for less money? Leatherbound books filled with family photos? That hardly seems like the kind of thing that will turn around this flailing behemoth. The problem for Borders has been that it's having a hard time competing with Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) which is more convenient, less expensive, and offers a broader selections. Features like "Search inside" are further depleting the few advantages that brick and mortar bookstores have left.
I wouldn't bet on Borders' transformation. The company's isn't coming from a position of strength: Borders is a book retailer that's been watching its relevance decline for years and now it needs to essentially change its business model to compete. Reinventions rarely work, and I wouldn't expect the Borders one to succeed. If the strategy is simply to offer customers more services that they can get for less money on the internet, I'd say this is a turnaround that's destined to fail. Borders plans to open 13 more concept stores this year.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Motorola flipflops on its handset division By Brian White (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:35:00 AM
Filed under: Products and services, Competitive strategy, Motorola (MOT)After Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) said it was considering options to spin off or sell its money-losing MOTOROLA page 8
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Yahoo!'s history of bad acquisitions: a warning to Microsoft By Zac Bissonnette (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:47:00 AM
Filed under: Deals, Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo! (YHOO)An interesting piece in today's Wall Street Journallooks [subscription required] at Yahoo!'s (NASDAQ: YHOO) history of very bad acquisitions: Geocities, Broadcast.com, Inktomi, and Overture. And then there's this beauty: Yahoo! could have acquired Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) for just $3 billion back in 2001. Oops. So investors have good reason to question Yahoo!'s insistence that Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) offer is too low: What does Yahoo! know about acquisitions in the first place? And if they're such experts on what companies are worth, why have they
made so many big mistakes? But perhaps Microsoft should take a look at the Journal piece too. Yahoo! essentially threw away billions of dollars on internet companies that it thought had competitive advantages but didn't. Is Microsoft doing the same thing with its bid for Yahoo!? The reaction of traders to the original offer which sent Microsoft shares plunging indicates considerable skepticism about how well the combined entity would do. This is starting to look like a case of a reluctant bride insisting on a bigger diamond while the groom's parents tell him he's too good for her anyway.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Analyst initiations: SBAC, HOLX and KNXA By Eric Buscemi (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:08:00 AM
Filed under: Analyst initiationsMOST NOTEWORTHY: SBA Comm, Hologic and Kenexa were today's noteworthy initiations: • Jefferies believes SBA Comm's (NASDAQ:SBAC) high-quality portfolio positions it well to take advantage of strong industry trends and thinks the company could be an acquisition candidate for one of the larger tower companies. The firm started shares with a Buy rating and $38 target. • Hologic (NASDAQ:HOLX) was initiated with a Buy rating and $82 target at Suntrust, as they view Hologic as a premier women's health company. The firm expects increased digital penetration in the
mammography market. • Kenexa (NASDAQ:KNXA) was assumed with an Outperform rating and $26 target at Friedman Billings, as they expect the company to maintain healthy revenue growth and industry leading margins given the favorable long-term industry trends. OTHER INITIATIONS: • Credit Suisse initiated PSS World Medical (NASDAQ:PSSI) with an Outperform rating and $21 target. • Kaufman started Accenture (NYSE:ACN) with a Hold rating and a $41 target. • Oppenheimer assumed NexMed (NASDAQ:NEXM) with an Outperform rating and $3 target.
MOTOROLA continued from page 7 wireless handset division a few weeks ago, the company's new CEO, Greg Brown, said that the company is "fully committed" to the mobile device business. Okay -- which is it? Brown went on: "Motorola is fully committed to the mobile devices business and I am fully committed to mobile devices." Fully committed to keeping it in-house or selling it off? One has to wonder. Motorola's brand in the cellphone business is a very good one, although that division's profit troubles and sales numbers have been really horrid in the last 12 months. Still, unless the company could easily be worth more to shareholders if split up (i.e., Carl Icahn), then refocusing efforts in its handset division should be a top priority. Motorola was once on top of
By Eric Buscemi (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:48:00 AM
Filed under: Analyst upgrades and downgrades, ValueClick Inc (VCLK)MOST NOTEWORTHY: Valueclick, The Medicines Co and British Sky Broadcasting were today's noteworthy upgrades: • Oppenheimer upgraded shares of Valueclick (NASDAQ:VCLK) to Outperform from Perform following the company's Q4 upside, as they believe the FTC investigation completed with no material penalties and that lead generation is stabilizing. • Citigroup upgraded shares of The Medicines Co (NASDAQ:MDCO) to Buy from Hold following the solid Q4 results to reflect a better
Filed under: Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo! (YHOO) Even for a company the size of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), the $44.6 billion buyout proposal for Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) is a big bet. And it's expensive. Hey, just look at Yahoo's feeble attempts to ward off the bid (such as a deal to merge with MySpace). On its face, it looks like Microsoft wants several things: the Yahoo
brand, the assorted content properties, applications (like Flickr) and the lucrative display-ad business. But perhaps there is more? Well, according to a recent piece in the New York Times, it looks like Microsoft may also be using the deal to bolster its hugely profitable Office franchise. In other words, Microsoft will be able to offer low-cost or free versions of
risk/reward profile and stabilizing PCI volume. • Goldman raised its rating on British Sky Broadcasting (NYSE:BSY) to Buy from Sell and added shares to their Conviction Sell List as they see above-average upside at tough valuations. OTHER UPGRADES: • Goldman upgraded the U.S. Trucking Sector to Attractive from Cautious, also upgraded YRC Worldwide (NASDAQ:YRCW) and Arkansas Best (NASDAQ:ABFS) to Neutral from Sell. • ING upgraded Novartis (NYSE:NVS) to Buy from Hold. Permalink | Email this | Comments
European economy cools in Q4 on slowing exports, higher food costs By Joseph Lazzaro (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:47:00 AM
Microsoft wants Yahoo for ... software? Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:12:00 AM
It's hard to believe that Motorola's brand recognition in the ultracompetitive handset business is tarnished. It's just the sales and profit that's lacking. So, within the fast pace that the handset business works in, Brown's test will be to fix those problems and get Motorola's nameplate again at the top of the sales charts. The market may give him all of 2008 to do so, but many investors, unfortunately, want instant gratification after former CEO Ed Zander's results.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Analyst upgrades: VCLK, MDCO and BSY
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By Tom Taulli (BloggingStocks)
the world with the RAZR. There is no reason it can't be there again.
its software and monetize it with the large amounts of Yahoo traffic. It's something that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is already aggressively pursuing. So, to get perspective on things, I had a chance to talk to David Koretz, who is the CEO and founder of BlueTie (which offers web-based email applications). According to him: Continue reading Microsoft wants Yahoo for ... software?Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: International markets, Bad news, Economic dataEurope's economic expansion slowed in Q4 2007, cooled by the U.S. slowdown, which lowered demand for Europe's exports, Bloomberg News reported Thursday. Euro-zone GDP increased just 0.4% in Q4 2007, down from 0.8% in Q3 2007, according to the European Union announced Thursday. Economists had expected Q4 2007 GDP growth of 0.3% For 2007, the euro-zone economy grew 2.3%. The EU will publish statistics on country-by-country GDP economic performance on February 26. Most economists expect Germany export performance to boost the continent's economic growth, offset somewhat by slowing consumer spending growth in France. Continue reading European economy cools in Q4 on slowing exports, higher food costsPermalink | Email this | Comments
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PolyOne Corporation (POL): Shares forming bullish 'pennant' pattern By Larry Schutts (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:59:00 AM
Filed under: Earnings reports, duPont(E.I.)deNemours (DD), Dow Chemical (DOW), Technical Analysis, Stocks to Buy PolyOne Corporation (NYSE: POL) provides vinyl compounds, polymer coating systems, screen printing inks, engineered films, specialty resins, colors, additives and high performance compounds to 10,000 customers in 35 countries. The company also distributes a full range of resins from such manufacturers as Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW) and DuPont (NYSE: DD). PolyOne operates from manufacturing
facilities and joint ventures in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The firm surprised investors last week, when it announced Q4 EPS of 9 cents and revenues of $631.3 million. Analysts had been expecting 7 cents and $623.9 million. In discussing the solid quarter, the CEO particularly noted growth in the PolyOne construction-independent non-vinyl businesses. Management also guided FY08 revenues to about $2.91-$2.96 billion, versus Street consensus of $2.68 billion. Continue reading PolyOne Corporation (POL): Shares forming bullish 'pennant' patternPermalink | Email this | Comments
Carl Icahn still holding Time Warner (TWX) stock By Jon Ogg (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:22:00 AM
Filed under: Time Warner (TWX), Time Warner Cable (TWC) Carl Icahn's ICAHN CAPITAL, LP has released its total holdings for the period ending December 31, 2007. What is most interesting is that, despite the many other positions, Mr. Icahn still has a sizable stake in both Time Warner stocks -- the parent company and the cable subsidiary. As of December 31, 2007, Mr. Icahn lists the following positions: • Time Warner Cable, Inc. (NYSE: TWC) 4,711,128 shares or roughly $130,027,000 • Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX)
Visteon (VC) posts wider loss on restructuring costs By Eliza Popescu (BloggingStocks) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:36:00 AM
Filed under: Earnings reports, Forecasts, Bad news, Management, Consumer experience, Competitive strategy, Ford Motor (F)Shares of Visteon Corp. (NYSE: VC) are slipping in morning trading after the company posted a larger fourthquarter loss and announced it would continue its restructuring plan. The auto parts supplier reported a wider fourth-quarter loss of $43 million, hurt by restructuring costs and write-downs. Included in the company's loss was $30 million related to non-cash asset impairments and $32 million related to restructuring expenses.
Submitted at 2/13/2008 3:10:18 PM
GumGum launches an ambitious new project today - a new platform and business model for licensing content on the Internet, beginning with images. Image piracy runs rampant on the Internet, of course. Blogger Perez Hilton was sued for stealing images of celebrities, and we’ve had (ridiculous) charges leveled at us as well. And don’t forget the recent Lane Hartwell debacle. Attributor, a Silicon Valley startup, helps content owners track their intellectual property to find examples of infringement. But until now, no one has really thought about a better way to license content on the Internet, so that both large and tiny publishers have an incentive to avoid simply stealing stuff. That’s where GumGum comes in. Images today are generally licensed for a flat fee, exclusively or nonexclusively. GumGum founders
share of 33 cents managed to beat analysts' estimates for a much larger quarterly loss of 55 cents per share. Visteon's revenue also saw a small increase of only 2% $2.86 billion from $2.81 billion in the same period of last year. Continue reading Visteon (VC) posts wider loss on restructuring costsPermalink | Email this | Comments
However, the company's loss per
12,933,159 shares or roughly $213,526,000 • Full Holdings This is much less than his prior investments in Time Warner Inc. and it is not a big enough stake to give him a great deal of influence behind the scenes at the company. But combined, these investments still represent some $333 million dollars. That's serious money. As of 12:15 p.m. today, TWX is at $16.44, down 14 cents today and still battling back from a 52-week low of $14.64 reached on Jan. 23.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Chinese Stealth Startup Qifang Wants to Bring P2P Lending to the Mainland By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch) Peer-to-peer lending5:20:58 is coming to Submitted at 2/13/2008 PM CHINESE page 10
GumGum Launches New Image Licensing Platform By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Ophir Tanz and Ari Mir think a better way is to charge for impressions, or on an advertising-supported basis. But tracking image impressions isn’t trivial, so they first had to build a platform to do that. GumGum allows any publisher to search for images (there are thousands available now via a number of photography agencies) here’s an example search for “Britney.” Images can be licensed on a CPM basis (generally $0.20 or so, but determined by content owner), or for free with an advertisement. GumGum requires images be published via a Flash object so that impressions can be tracked and billed properly. Flash also allows them to serve interactive advertisements, served via VideoEgg (we wrote about their Flash ad product here). Here are two images, one based on CPM licensing, one based on advertising: Any photographer can now upload images and sell them. And any publisher can create an account to license images. Down the road,
GumGum says, they’ll be adding video, audio and text content for licensing as well. Will This Work? It’s certainly a pain for publishers to have to embed a Flash object to publish an image, but it is the only reasonable way that GumGum can track impressions and serve ads. Many small publishers will of course simply continue to steal images, or look for freely usable stuff on Flickr. But if there is a killer image that a lot of people will want to publish, GumGum is a great way to easily license it to an unlimited number of people. At the very least, it’s an interesting experiment. GumGum raised $125k in a December seed round from friends and family. The founders, who sold a previous startup Mojungle to Shozu in 2007, also put $125k of their own capital into GumGum. Crunch Network: CrunchGeardrool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
Here Come the Shareholder Lawsuits Against Yahoo By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/13/2008 1:04:11 PM
The inevitable shareholder lawsuits have started to be filed against Yahoo for not accepting Microsoft’s bid. Yesterday, the Wayne County Employee’s Retirement System of Michigan, was the first to file suit. The retirement fund owns 13,600 shares. You can expect more shareholders to pile on board, especially if this thing drags out. In fact, that is not the only shareholder suit Yahoo is facing. On February 1, the day Microsoft made its recent offer, another shareholder lawsuit was filed against Yahoo in California for failing to accept Microsoft’s bid from the year before. They might want to amend that lawsuit to include Yahoo’s most recent rejection as well. The more that Yahoo fights the merger, the more shareholder lawsuits will pop up. The reports in the media typically note how this is increasing the pressure on Yahoo. Nothing against Wayne County, but 13,600 shares is a tiny stake for an institutional investor. If bigger investors started suing, then the pressure would be noticeable. But big investors don’t sue, they vote their shares. C r u n c h N e t w o r k : CrunchBoardbecause it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
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CHINESE continued from page 9 China. This morning I interviewed a Chinese-American entrepreneur living in Shanghai named Calvin Chin working on a stealth P2P lending site for Chinese student loans called Qifang. (The name, which translates to “bloom,” comes from the Chairman Mao quote, “Bai Hua Qi Fang”—”Let a hundred flowers bloom.”) Consumer lending is just getting off the ground in China. Most college education is financed by group borrowing associations rather than bank loans. Chin wants to bring that group lending dynamic online with Qifang. In fact, P2P lending might have a greater impact in China and other developing countries than the U.S. because of the absence of other consumer banking alternatives. Chin was born in Michigan, went to Yale, and worked in banking and a few tech startups before moving to China. He founded Qifang in August, 2007. He is aiming to a launch the site in China in the spring. So far it is a real bootstrap operation. He has raised $200,000 in angel money from investors in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, and is in the process of raising a series A financing. Qifang was inspired by existing P2P lending startups like Prosper and Zopa, but Chin is developing it with a Chinese twist. He says: We feel strongly about China’s Internet being pretty embarrassingly all about copies. And while we were inspired by other models, we feel like we need to challenge ourselves to be different and better and fit the market. We think of it as innovation
leveraging—take a good idea and make it work for China by making it different. Simply porting over Prosper’s business model won’t work, given the lack of credit history, the lack of a large student loan market, the stillyoung Internet culture, and the severe regulatory environment. As with Prosper, individuals with money to invest can come on the site and register as lenders. They can browse through the profiles of the different borrowers to decide who to loan their money out to. Unlike Prosper, Qifang is starting out only with student loans. And it is not the fist P2P lending site in China. A broader one called PPDai offers P2P loans across many categories (see this write-up in English). But Chin thinks that starting with student loans is the better strategy in China because of the need to stay in the good graces of the government. Anything that helps promote education is popular with government bureaucrats. It is also a big market. Chin estimates there are 25 million students in China, who pay an average tuition of $700 a year. That is $17.5 billion in potential loans. Chin expects the interest rate on most loans on Qifang to be between 8 to 12 percent, a decent return. The interest rate will be based on how many lenders bid on each loan. The site will recommend that lenders invest in a portfolio of loans to reduce their risk, but if they choose, each one can put all their money in a single loan. Since there is very little credit history on
individuals in China, the site will use other proxies to calculate risk. Each borrower must scan in their national ID cards to verify who they are, and list their school, major, grades, hometown, parents ID cards and income. Chin is creating partnerships with the schools directly, so that the information students supply can be verified and so that loan payments can be made directly to educational institutions. “We don’t want students running off to Macao,” he jokes. There will also be an interesting social calculus that takes place on the site. Since each borrower’s parents will be named on the loan, failure to pay it back would result in a shameful losing of face for the parents. “Social pressure is very powerful here,” notes Chin. Default and delinquency rates will also be visible by hometowns, school, and even major. Banks don’t benefit from that sort of social pressure. Whether it will have any effect on default rates will be worth watching. As growing economies like China develop their banking infrastructure, P2P lending has a shot of growing up with it rather than fighting against an already-entrenched way of doing things. In that sense, P2P lending might have a better shot in China than it does here. C r u n c h N e t w o r k : MobileCrunchMobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.
“Post to MySpace” Button Released for Easier Sharing By Mark Hendrickson (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/13/2008 9:35:34 PM
Yahoo Makes Its Case in Letter to Shareholders By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/13/2008 7:50:51 PM
Yahoo has just released the following letter to shareholders outlining its reasoning for rejecting Microsoft’s offer to buy the company. In it, CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang emphasizes Yahoo’s strengths as both an online destination and an advertising network, and argues that Yahoo is better off going it alone than combining with Microsoft. He states: “The global online advertising market is projected to grow from $45 billion in 2007 to $75 billion in 2010. And we are moving quickly to take advantage of what we see as a unique window of time in the growth - and evolution - of this market to build market share and to create value for stockholders.” He says that even though Yahoo is the No. 1 Web destination, his goal is to increase visits by 15 percent annually. Re-emphasizing his strategy of being the key starting point on the Web, he adds, “we are particularly excited about our growth prospects in mobile, the biggest emerging starting point in the world.” (We could have told you that). All in all, the letter is pretty much a formality without any major new arguments, but it does put Yahoo’s best face forward to its shareholders. We’re No. 1, Yang is saying, and we don’t need Microsoft.
What he doesn’t explain is how Yahoo got into this pickle in the first place. Here is the full text of the letter: Dear Stockholders, On February 1, 2008, Microsoft made an unsolicited proposal to acquire your company. As much has been reported in the press recently, I wanted to reach out to you personally to let you know why your Board of Directors, after a careful review by Yahoo!’s management along with our financial and legal advisors, believes that Microsoft’s proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo! and is not in the best interests of our stockholders. Most importantly, I want you to know that your Board is continuously evaluating all of Yahoo!’s strategic options in the context of the rapidly evolving industry environment, and we remain committed to pursuing initiatives that maximize value for all our stockholders. We have a unique combination of strengths – Yahoo! is one of the most recognizable and admired brands in the world. We have over 500 million users (nearly 1 out of every 2 internet users worldwide). In the U.S., we are # 1 in many of the most used online services including personalized home pages, mail, news, music, shopping
and travel. Because we have leadership positions in so many indispensable online services, users spend more time on Yahoo! sites than anywhere else online. – Yahoo! is an attractive partner for marketers. Yahoo! is #1 in online display advertising, which represents 90% of the advertising inventory on the web, and we are also a leader in search marketing and a pioneer in the growing fields of mobile advertising and online video advertising. Through Yahoo!, advertisers can now connect with consumers on our
owned sites as well as those of our growing network of partners including eBay, Comcast, AT&T, a consortium of over 600 newspapers, Forbes.com, Cars.com, WebMD and more. – Yahoo! has the financial flexibility to execute our plans, thanks to our healthy cash balance, which exceeded $2 billion as of December 31, 2007, and our substantial operating cash flow, which we expect to grow double digits in 2009. – Yahoo! has made important investments in our core computing infrastructure enabling us to dramatically increase the speed of our search engine updates even while handling vast and growing quantities of data. – In addition, we have the added value of our substantial, unconsolidated investments in Japan and China. We have substantial positions in Yahoo! Japan, the leader in its market, and Alibaba, which is strongly positioned in China, a market with enormous growth potential. (more…) Crunch Network: CrunchGeardrool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
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PageOnce to Put All Your Online Accounts in One Place By Mark Hendrickson (TechCrunch)
What’s Next for YouTube (Video Editing, Recommendations, Advertiser Analytics)
Submitted at 2/13/2008 5:54:43 PM
Personal content aggregators are nothing new. We recently covered the latest of many services that consolidate your social networking activity into one place. But PageOnce, a company that was on this year’s Israel Web Tour, wants to become the one stop shop for all your web-accessible accounts. The site is still in private beta and working to expand the number of account types that it supports (TC readers can sign up here). However, you can already use the service to retrieve information from many banking, social networking, airline, email, and shopping accounts such as Citibank, Facebook, American Airlines, Gmail, and Amazon. PageOnce takes the information appropriate to each account (once you give it your username and password, of course) and displays it in a Netvibes/PageFlakes-like layout. If you have lots of accounts to manage, you can choose to view them according to type (finance, shopping, utilities, etc.). Despite the fact that PageOnce needs to build relationships with many of the account providers in order to retrieve information from them (not everyone has an API like Facebook after all), the company has done a good job digesting information for ata-glance presentations from a fairly wide range of providers. The “fetch once” technology behind the site,
By Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/14/2008 8:21:56 AM
however, only pulls information from elsewhere; it doesn’t push information back, so you can’t actually make changes to your bank account while on PageOnce; you’ll need to follow links to the bank’s website itself. PageOnce is definitely onto a good idea here, and I particularly like being able to check all my accounts without having to reenter usernames and passwords for each. However, I wonder whether a more established personalized homepage provider like Netvibes won’t swoop in and steal PageOnce’s thunder. Netvibes is already a great place to retrieve information from various web services and RSS feeds. It wouldn’t be a huge leap for them to provide widgets that could display information from a much wider range of personal accounts as well. And in
fact, when I asked Netvibe’s founder Tariq Krim whether they planned to provide this functionality, he said that Netvibes is already discussing the possibility with several account providers supported by PageOnce. PageOnce seems to have the leg up since they’ve already proven that they can aggregate this sort of information. But since they rely on their own efforts to expand support for an inexhaustible number of accounts, a more decentralized approach with Netvibes as the focal point and account providers as the widget developers themselves could win out in the long run. Crunch Network: CrunchGeardrool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
Serious Drama As KnockaTV Shuts Down By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/14/2008 1:40:01 AM
I haven’t seen this much public drama between founders and their investors since the FilmLoop forced merger in early 2007. Earlier today I wrote that Israeli startup KnockaTV was heading to the DeadPool. Employees, who are apparently going unpaid, are pushing the company into liquidation to try to get at least some of what is owed to them. We dug a little more into the story, because it just didn’t make sense: the startup was well funded with $3.5 million in capital from mid 2007 and the founders, who were among the creators of ICQ, had a $407 million payday in 1998. That doesn’t guarantee the startup would be successful, but it suggests that employees wouldn’t have to worry about their paychecks this early on. Based on rumors going around Tel Aviv, there was some sort of major fallout between Evergreen Venture Partners (the venture firm behind the financing) and company founders, particularly Sefi Visiger. Product development may have been seriously
delayed. Burn rate was so high that an additional funding round was needed, and Evergreen may have demanded the founding team put up more cash instead. Tempers flared, the founders elected to shut the company down, and are reportedly supporting the employees in their efforts to liquidate it. According to one source, the liquidation will ensure that employees are paid before other creditors become too numerous. A liquidation would knock out existing stockholders, leaving the company assets to be sold off. Quite possibly they would then be acquired by the original founding team, leaving Evergreen without any stock, or their original investment. How much of this is true? Sefi and Evergreen won’t comment directly to us. But there is little our contacts in Israel want to discuss today other
than KnockaTV and what they heard happened. Companies that closed substantial funding just a couple of months prior don’t generally fall apart immediately before launch. Evergreen’s reputation in Israel is considered excellent, whereas some members of the KnockaTV founding team are said to be major league partyers first and serious business people second. More will likely be said on this story, from both sides, before it is finally put to bed. The sad part of all this (other than employees going unpaid) is that the product actually held promise. Our early reviews were generally positive. Crunch Network: CrunchGeardrool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
Last night at an event in NYC dubbed “Videocracy,” YouTube gave marketers a sneak peak at some upcoming initiatives. Silicon Alley Insider’s Michael Learmonth tried to get in, but was thrown out. Luckily, Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer took notes. Here is what he learned: —YouTube is excited about its active sharing feature that lets YouTube watchers signal to other viewers when they are watching a particular video (if you turn the setting on, anyone watching the video at the same time as you will see your username on the right side of the screen). —Better video-editing tools are on the way. (What took you so long?). —Video recommendations will soon be launched based on what you have already watched (similar to Amazon’s collaborative filtering, people who liked this book also liked that one). —YouTube wants to be everywhere. It will continue to distribute its videos beyond the Web browser to mobile devices and large, flat-screen TVs in the living room. —For marketers, the “real news was YouTube’s announcement of an impending launch of advanced analytics tools. You’ll be able to see where video views are coming from (geographically and site-wise), as well as many other data points. This will be a huge help to advertisers trying to extract more success metrics and data from their YouTube efforts.” YouTube is also planning some more “Tentpole Content Initiatives” to draw a mass audience, much like its presidential debate partnership with CNN. These will include: —The YouTube Games. A takeoff on the Olympics featuring homemade videos of the “wacky wide world of weird sports.” —Living Legends. Videos of living legends like the Rolling Stones. —The YouTube Global Gathering. A worldwide event that will be broadcast from multiple locations on YouTube. Thanks for sharing, Ian! C r u n c h N e t w o r k : MobileCrunchMobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.
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Topper Makes Search Complicated In The Name Of Progress By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch)
KnockaTV May Be Heading To The DeadPool
Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:24:27 AM
Topper search offers a search service which….um…machine learning….um something…..results. Here’s the pitch anyway. Here is a quick description of how to use it. Enter a search query. Topper Search will go out and get the top 100 results and display the top 10. Select at lease one ‘+’ and one ‘-’ result. Topper will use machine learning to build a model and classify all 100 results. Use the buttons in the top bar to redorder these results to your taste . Topper will then display the a different top 10 based on your model. It is great for building ad hoc models for a single search. Try it for disambiguating a query. The stock example I use is ‘lions’ (for the football team or the animal). It can also be used for multiple searches and has a simple persistence mechanism for later use. For example once you have a model built for ‘lions’ try a search for ‘bears’ or ‘eagles’. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are building out tools for blogs and news etc using similar machine
learning tools. There’s a PDF on Topper here for those interested. It sounds cool, but I’m not a coder and this sounds rather complicated. Using it is worse again, after the slow delivery of search results you’re asked to + or - results in an attempt to create better search results (sort of a poor mans Reddit, but more complicated and without the kooks.) Developers and coders may find this interesting so ultimately those of you reading this who are that way inclined can take a look. For the vast majority of the rest of the planet, it comes in on the usability scale at between ZOMG and FAIL. Still, it might take off, maybe the world is looking for a complicated version of Google
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
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Plaxo’s Buyer - Not Facebook, Not Google. Likely Comcast
CNN iReport: iLame Or iGood? By Duncan Riley (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/14/2008 12:40:57 AM
CNN launched iReport.com yesterday, a “citizen journalism” site dedicated to user news submissions. Andy Warhol said in 1968 that “In the future, everyone will be worldfamous for 15 minutes,” and iReport.com is offering users at least part of their 15 minutes as submissions may be used on CNN itself. But unfortunately that’s where it ends, because there is no payment for submissions. CNN claims this is a site is “where the community — not CNN — became the most trusted name in news,” but trust doesn’t equal money at a time where more and more sites and startups explore ways of compensating users for their time and effort. There is some good content on the site, and CNN has selected star reporters in a social networking style popularity contest that encourages decent content, that and users can vote on stories as well. The weakness in the idea is that submissions are not
pre-vetted or pre-read (or seemingly post-read), and you get stories like this one that is currently sitting as the fourth most viewed story on the site. I’m sure the weather in New York might be disgusting, but does a story that consists of one line and a picture of snow really make for great reporting? Then there’s stories like this one; Testing testing…… I can see people having proper fun with this in the coming days, until CNN ultimately decides that not moderating the site is a dumb idea. Bored TechCrunch readers should feel free to add their own stories to CNN iReport and post the links. There’s no prize for the best one, other than your 0.25 seconds of Warhol fame in the TechCrunch comment thread C r u n c h N e t w o r k : CrunchBoardbecause it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
Submitted at 2/13/2008 2:40:25 PM
Israeli startup KnockaTV looks to be in serious trouble. If this article in the Globes is correct, 21 employees went without salaries in January and the company is 1.2 million in debt (about $300,000). We first wrote about KnockaTV, which was founded by the same team who founded Mirabilis (ICQ), in August 2007 (Mirabilis was sold to AOL in 1998 for $407 million). They went into private beta in December 2007. The company raised at least $1 million in seed funding (the Globes article says they’ve raised $3.6 million in total). Update: the
company is telling us they raised a total of $3.5 million, half from Evergreen, half from the rest. CrunchBase updated. The founders have a lot of personal capital at their disposal, and it seems unlikely they’d let employees go unpaid. Still, the unpaid employees have supposedly petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to appoint a provisional liquidator to the company. I’ve emailed the company for a comment. For now, KnockaTV goes into the TechCrunch DeadPool. C r u n c h N e t w o r k : CrunchBoardbecause it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/13/2008 9:31:04 PM
Plaxo finally got bought, say valley whispers, and blog after blog have speculated incorrectly about who the buyer might be (first Facebook, then Google). Finally, someone may have gotten it right - Valleywag is saying that Comcast is the buyer, for $175m. That makes sense based on what we heard earlier today, too: that one of the cable players bought them, for something just under the $200 million previously rumored. Comcast is the most active buyer in the bunch. In fact, they’re getting a bit of a reputation as the guys who’ll look at any deal, and don’t quibble much on price. If no one else will take you, there’s always Comcast. To be fair, some of my disdain for Comcast exists solely because they
supply my cable and Internet at home, and really really suck at it. I believe I’ve spoken to every customer service rep they employ. Plaxo did around $5 million in 2006 revenue, doubling that to $10-$12 million in 2007. 2008 projections are $20-$25 million. The company has 1.8 million worldwide visitors per month (Comscore). Crunch Network: CrunchGeardrool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
Seesmic Announces $6 Million Series A Round By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/14/2008 12:25:35 AM
Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur wrote a long blog post about his $6 million Series A round of funding today (I am an investor in this company). Most of the round was taken by Atomico (founded by Skype’s Niklas
Zennstrom and Janus Friis), and rounded out with a long list of angel investors. Much of this was reported late last year. This is Loic’s fourth or fifth startup, but his first in the U.S. (he’s French). Seesmic, a video-focused startup that is very twitter-like in its ability to facilitate random discussions, is doing well in its closed beta period.
which is why I invested. See Dave Winer, VentureBeat, Mark Evans, Ryan Stewart, TheNextWeb and others for their thoughts. We aren’t covering it much given the conflict of interest, but this is a company I expect great things from,
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MySpacers Will Love This AddHer Widget Thingy By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch) Submitted at 2/13/2008 10:45:29 PM
Anyone who’s ever visited HotOrNot and clicked on pictures for hours will be a perfect user for AddHer. Users (women only at this point, look for AddHim soon, say the founders) upload a photo of themselves and create a widget that can be embedded on MySpace or another website. The widget shows the user plus another randomly selected woman and asks readers to select who they like better based on a variety of questions. If this doesn’t make sense, just see the embedded widget above and keep clicking on my face (the founders
decided to allow me to join even though I’m not a woman - I didn’t pick that picture though). Readers can visit the MySpace page of the person they clicked on, and users who’ve created a widget can see their ratings and the total number of times people have seen their image. See their tour and the AddHer blog for for more details. This is the first product of Addmired, Inc., which is a Y Combinator startup. More on the Addmired CrunchBase page. Crunch Network: CrunchGeardrool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
Nokia launches user created "Yamake" games on N-Gage -- bye bye Gizmondo v2 By Thomas Ricker (Engadget) Submitted at 2/13/2008 7:46:00 PM
Filed under: Cellphones, GamingSorry Gizmondo, your dreams of a resurrected user generated gaming platform were just usurped by Nokia. Straight outta Espoo comes Nokia's Yamake (a mashup for "you make the game") for their N-Gage platform. With it, Nokia says players can "create their own games" from a range of "mini games" by adding user generated text, pictures, sound clips and movies. Games can then be shared via the NGage Arena and via MMS between N -Gage compatible S60 devices. The press release specifically mentions the creation of mini games "such as" pictures puzzles and quizzes -- so no, we're not looking at user generated, 3D first person shooters upon initial release. In fact, without any images or
video to accompany the press release, Yamake sounds more like a user customization platform than game creation platform. Still, we'll cut them some slack as they get this off the ground. One thing seems pretty clear though, this ain't your mama's sidetalkin' N-Gage; Nokia is playing for keeps this time around. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Microsoft drums up its very own Xbox 360 shortage By Paul Miller (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 1:25:00 AM
Filed under: Gaming The word on the street, nay, the word straight from Jeff Bell's mouth, is that the Xbox 360 is experiencing stock shortages, which could hurt sales for January and February. We'd already heard of Elite shortages, but now they seem to be more widespread. "You could say we misjudged demand," said Bell, head of global marketing for Microsoft games. "We're literally out of stock in many stores. We think this will have an impact on our sales." Apparently the 1.3 million Xboxen
sold in December didn't leave many sitting around for the rest of winter, so we could be seeing shortages through February, according to Bell -but they should be able to meet demand by spring. It almost sounds like Microsoft is playing hard to get like a certain other console we know of, but we'll bite our tongue until we can get a tearful confession out of Major Nelson. Or, you know, two straight years of stock scarcity.
Michael Bay singlehandedly wins the HD format war Reality show casting calls By Joshua Topolsky (Engadget)
Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:04:00 AM
Filed under: HDTV Finally, Michael Bay has stepped down from Cheese Mountain to pontificate on the finer points of the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray war. Speaking from the inner-sanctum of his lair -located equidistant from the Church of Scientology and a gigantic cotton candy stand -- Mr. Bay reminds us that, "Blu-ray's better, and I told everyone," then goes on to further prop himself by adding, "I was very vocal about it. I knew HD [DVD] was not going to make it." We're glad that Bay can sleep at night, safe in the knowledge that the mere "quality" of
the formats decided the winner of this battle, rather than massive business partnerships fueled by the desire for marketshare. He wrapped up his message (actually given at an awards ceremony held by the Visual Effects Society) by saying, "Am I thrilled? It really wasn't my fight, but remember what I said in the press? I was kind of saying HD [DVD]'s going to lose... No one believed me." He then slammed a trophy he was receiving to the floor, pointed to the packed room, and yelled, "In your face, HD DVD!" [Via Blu-ray, thanks Kiwi616] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
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By Keith McDuffee (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 1:57:00 AM
Filed under: Other Reality Shows, CastingA day hasn't gone by where we haven't received some sort of tip or email asking us, the TV Squad, how to get on [insert reality show here]. Unfortunately no, Simon Cowell does not work for us, and Donald Trump isn't my BFF, so we really can't help all that much. The folks at RealityWanted.com often send us a list of new and existing reality shows that are looking for new, er, talent, and they've given us permission to make mention of them here. We'll try to make this a regular feature as often as we get a new list. This time we have Million Dollar Password, Dress My Nest, Grill It!,
Divorce Court, Whose Wedding is it Anyway? and several new shows. Continue reading Reality show casting calls Permalink | Email this | | Comments
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AT&T offers **free Option GT Ultra and GT Ultra Express HSUPA cards (**must sell soul) By Thomas Ricker (Engadget) Submitted at 2/13/2008 11:18:00 PM
Filed under: Wireless
Hands-on with Polymer Vision's e-ink Readius By Sean Cooper (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:06:00 AM
Filed under: Cellphones, Misc. Gadgets, Handhelds The long wait is over, the Polymer Vision Readius has finally made an appearance and from our quick -- and loving -- glance, it's the stuff. Featuring Bluetooth, dual-band HSDPA, tri-band GSM / EDGE, expandability via microSD, and it'll also SMS -- albeit, without a keyboard, it'll be tough -- and can make calls. The cellular calling and messaging features are likely an afterthought since connectivity to get
at the content via the Readius portal was the goal. The site will push content to your device based on choices made there for feeds, newspapers, mags, audio books, and whatever else Polymer Vision sees fit to add. The device will support books in HTML, text files, and PDFs, though, we expect as they gain ground with partners the list may expand. Hit the gallery at Engadget Mobile for a pile of pics of it in action.
Check it data fans, AT&T just announced a pair of new HSUPA LaptopConnect cards from Option. The GT Ultra goes type II PCMCIA while the GT Ultra Express is, you guessed it, destined for ExpressCard34 slots. Both cards are tri-band UMTS/HSPA 850/1900/2100MHz and quad-band GPRS/EDGE capable for BroadbandConnect speeds of about 600Kbps to 1.4Mbps on the way down or 500Kbps to 800Kbps back up the tubes. Those bands should get your suit connected in some 140 countries spanning the US, Europe, Japan and Korea. The cards are Mac and PC compatible and will set you back $50 0$ (for a limited time
starting tomorrow) plus a two year contract of at least $60 per month. After you mail-in the appropriate rebate forms of course... which you'll probably forget to do. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
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Sprint's April WiMAX softlaunch on track, full-scale deployment at risk By Thomas Ricker (Engadget)
Hands-on with Nokia's S60 touch UI at MWC
Submitted at 2/13/2008 10:15:00 PM
Filed under: WirelessReady for untethered 3Mbps to 5Mbps downloads and 1Mbps to 1.5Mbps upload speeds while on the go? Us too, especially our Chicago-based brethren waiting for Sprint to properly soft-launch their Xohm service onto the nation. Backed by 50 or so WiMax exhibits with product on display at Mobile World Congress, Sprint's VP for technology development, Ali Tabassi, assured us that April would indeed see the fledgling Xohm service soft launch into Chicago, Baltimore, and the DC areas. However, he conceded that the billions required to reach the goal of 100 million subscribers by year end have not been approved. Sprint will at least cooperate with Clearwire -- a former Xohm partner -- on roaming agreements so that the two don't
By Sean Cooper (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:29:00 AM
Filed under: Cellphones, Features, Handhelds
duplicate coverage. Come on Sprint, we know it's been tough for you lately as you bleed subscribers (and profits). But if you build it, we will come back.
Move along, nothing too new and thrilling here. We hunted down Nokia's touch demo and were completely un-thrilled by the whole package. Sure, it's still early days for the interface, but it's a case of same old same old as it's sporting the same UI, same OS, but now instead of using the d-pad, you're able to poke about with your finger. The demo
was running on a small tablet in software only, no hardware yet, though, as we've already mentioned, devices should start arriving in the second half of the year. Hopefully Nokia will see the error -- in our opinion -- of its ways and drop some glitz -- feel free to pop on over and visit NVIDIA for some inspiration, Nokia -- down on this fairly glitz-free bit of wizardry. Hit the link to see the full gallery! Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
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Subscription-based Everex Zonbu laptop reviewed By Donald Melanson (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:27:00 AM
Filed under: Laptops PC Mag wasn't exactly bowled over by the subscription-based Zonbu desktop, but that didn't stop them from coming back for another go 'round with the similarly subscription
-happy Zonbu laptop, which they found a bit more to like about. While they again found the low upfront cost ($279, in this case) to be the the laptop's biggest selling point, they also found it to be a good deal more capable than the desktop, thanks in no small part to its 60GB hard drive (as opposed to the 4GB flash drive and 25GB of online storage the desktop
processor and graphics chip to be more than a tad lacking, and those recurring monthly bills could have you thinking twice about your decision after a while.
offered). As you might have guessed, however, they found the laptop's VIA
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Dell XPS M1730 with 8800M GTX SLI reviewed -- that sucker is fast By Paul Miller (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 1:02:00 AM
Filed under: Gaming, Laptops As is usually the case when you slap the latest and greatest silicon in a laptop, it's going to best whatever came before. What's surprising here is how thoroughly the Dell XPS M1730 with a Core 2 Extreme X9000 processor and dual GeForce 8800M GTX cards in SLI trounces the last generation of tech. The folks at ExtremeTech pitted the laptop against a hapless m9750 from Alienware,
sporting the last generation of tech, and it handily bested it in every competition. CPU tests were heavily in the M1730's favor, and GPU tests even more so. The only holdup is that new X9000 processor, and according to Dell a release is "imminent" -- and if you're shelling out $4480 for a laptop, it might as well be what ExtremeTech calls "the fastest notebook yet."
Secrets of the ThinkPad X300 -what Walt didn't tell you By Paul Miller (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:27:00 AM
Filed under: Laptops That X300 preview from yesterday leave you wanting for more? Well since Lenovo doesn't seem to keen about busting this laptop out and giving us the true skinny, we've got some detailed spec sheets to show you in the interim. Just in case you were on the hunt for an ultraportable, Lenovo has gone ahead and compared its new ThinkPad to just
about every other tiny laptop under the sun -- with one notable exception. Hit up the read link if the few we collected in the gallery below aren't cutting it for you. [Thanks, Rabeeh A] Gallery: Secrets of the ThinkPad X300 -- what Walt didn't tell you Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
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Hands-on with Nokia's high-rolling N96 By Sean Cooper (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 12:14:00 AM
Filed under: Cellphones, Features, Handhelds The Nokia N96 is here and while it certainly doesn't blow the doors off the current N95 in all its many
varieties, it does refresh the form, add beauty, and the TV ain't all that bad to boot. What definitely stands out on the N96 is build quality, the material choices here are not as cheap as they were on its older siblings, it actually looks and feels like a high end device. We also were able to get some TV time in courtesy of some neighbor or
now, but there is just no comparing them, the DVB-H looks first rate. Peep the huge gallery over at Engadget Mobile.
another, we've enjoyed SlingPlayer Mobile on our devices for a while
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Electric Bill's Van-Puter does his Dodge Caravan proud By Paul Miller (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:46:00 AM
Filed under: Desktops, Transportation "There's this big space between the seats -- wonder what I should do with it?" You know how the story goes. Electric Bill's answer was to slap a
MicroATX case down there, put a printer up above it, and bolt a 17-inch LCD to the dash. He even worked in a bit of GPS, possibly the most useful bit of the whole assembly. There's an extra battery to provide power, though it can sap juice from Bill's 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan as needed. In addition to the obvious on-
makes a great last-minute Valentine's Day surprise for that special soccer mom in your life. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments the-road frag sessions this modification allows, we hear it also
Self-reconfigurable Matrix-style camera array soon to be self-aware By Paul Miller (Engadget) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:48:00 AM
Filed under: Digital Cameras We're pretty sure this camera setup won't be putting the Wachowski Brothers out of a job any time soon, but some folks at Carnegie Mellon
slapped this Matrix-style rig together for a "mere" $22,000. The cameras are mounted on linear guides, making them self-reconfigurable, and each can shoot 640 x 480 video at 30 fps. Their purported aims are "Imagebased rendering," creating 3D objects with little scene geometry info, but we're sure they're doing plenty of
Matrix Restitutions. [Via MAKE] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments bullet time scenarios in their free time. Coming to a YouTube near you:
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Star Trek movie pushed back to 2009 By Brad Trechak (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:39:00 AM
Filed under: TV on the Bigscreen, OpEdIt looks like Star Trek fans are going to have to wait until May 2009 to see their franchise reboot. According to Variety, Paramount Pictures has pushed back the release date because they feel it would make more money as a summer tentpole.
Microsoft mobile exec shuffle: Knook out, Lees, VP of business software in By Ryan Block (Engadget) Submitted at 2/13/2008 6:41:00 PM
Filed under: Cellphones So it looks like Pieter Knook, SVP of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business, is out, according to the WSJ. We're not entirely sure why he's retiring (when we met him last year he seemed sprightly enough), but he'll be replaced by Andrew Lees, VP of Server & Tools Marketing and
Solutions Group, a man that's spent the last decade on MSDN and TechNet stuff. So, you know, the guy clearly knows the mobile space inside and out. The move comes just in time, too -- what Windows Mobile really needs right now is somebody to come in and make it more businesscentric.
Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:25:00 AM
Filed under: Displays, HDTVLG wasn't offering much in the way of a release date when it announced its super-slim (as in 1.7-inch) LGX LCD TV last month, but it looks like it could be coming sooner rather than later, with the set now making its allimportant debut at the FCC, which is usually a hint of things to come. As
Frankly, I think this is a bad idea. While the movie-going public increases during the summer, Star Trek has the benefit of family appeal
that would make it perfect as a Christmas Day release once the gifts are open and the family starts realizing that it can't stand each other. Continue reading Star Trek movie pushed back to 2009 Permalink | Email this | | Comments
Evangeline Lilly and Jeff Fahey talk Lost - VIDEOS By Erin Martell (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 12:39:00 AM
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LG's very slim, very red LGX LCD TV hits the FCC By Donald Melanson (Engadget)
The reboot is being masterminded by J.J. Abrams, who is behind such television shows as Alias and Lost. It stars Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock. Leonard Nimoy, who originated the role of Spock in the 1960's, will be returning as well in the movie as an older Spock.
you can see, the set is still as red as ever, if a little less polished than it looked in LG's press photos. Unfortunately, the FCC doesn't have any other surprises to provide, although the curious can get a peek at the set's innards and some other less than flattering photos by hitting up the read link.
Filed under: Late Night, Lost, Video, Celebrities With the TV season getting back to business as usual, a few Lost stars have been making the rounds in the media this week. Earlier, E!'sKristin Dos Santos interviewed Jeff Fahey, who plays pilot Frank Lapidus on the show. Frank is my favorite new Lostcharacter, and Fahey is very intriguing and well-spoken in person. The actor discusses his reasons for joining the show and admits that he had never watched Lost before joining the cast. Evangeline Lilly was a guest on Tuesday night's episode of the Late Show with David Letterman. The actress tells Dave about how a planned trip to China became an impromptu trip to Japan (no visitor's visa). She also talks about the writers'
strike and how she deals with island fever during filming in Hawaii. Both videos are available after the jump. Enjoy! Continue reading Evangeline Lilly and Jeff Fahey talk Lost - VIDEOS Permalink | Email this | | Comments
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The Colbert Report: Annie's adventure By Annie Wu (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:02:00 AM
Filed under: Other Comedy Shows, OpEd, Celebrities Or How Annie Embarrassed Herself in Front of 100-Some Strangers, or In Which Annie Is Filled with More Self -Loathing Than Usual, but more on that in a moment. On Monday, February 11, 2008, I visited The Colbert Report for the
first time. I've been getting tickets and planning trips for the show since it first started, but each and every time I get ready to go, something
goes horribly wrong. This trip has been three years in the making! It's been a string of bad luck, and I actually spent my bus ride to New
York waiting for the vehicle to flip over or for an aneurysm to kick in. Surprisingly enough, neither of those things happened, even though extreme cold and snow appeared out of nowhere upon my arrival. Yay me and the trail of destruction I leave in my wake. Continue reading The Colbert Report: Annie's adventure Permalink | Email this | | Comments
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Big Brother 9: live feeds report - Nielsen cable ratings for the week ending February 10 Feb.14 By Jackie Schnoop (TV Squad)
By Bob Sassone (TV Squad)
Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:23:00 AM
Submitted at 2/14/2008 1:08:00 AM
Filed under: OpEd, Big Brother (US)It's Valentine's Day in the Big Brother 9 House o' Love! Aw, isn't that just so darn sweet, kind of like a fluffy kitten or something? Oh, but this report actually covers the events leading into the day, so the houseguests haven't really been struck by Cupid yet. Oh ... and there isn't a heck of a lot of love going around in the house either.
Filed under: Industry, Programming, Ratings Here are the weekly cable ratings, by number of viewers. A real mix of stuff this week: wrestling, the election cartoons, legal dramas, and a teen sitcom. CNN got three of the top ten spots for its election coverage on Super Tuesday (the different entries represent different times during the night). FOX News got one of the spots too. Not sure why MSNBC didn't get into the top ten, but I guess there's not enough room when the same coverage by CNN takes up three of the slots. Oh, and Chicken Little got into the top ten too. 1. WWE Monday Night RAW - 9pm (USA)
But besides that, it's Valentine's Day in the House o' Love! There have been some unusual changes in the house since my last report. Beware -- there will be show spoilers after the jump! However, there are no spoilers in the photo gallery below, just some candid
moments from the feeds. %Gallery-16018% Continue reading Big Brother 9: live feeds report - Feb.14 Permalink | Email this | | Comments
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Four stars for Barbara Walters Oscar Special By Allison Waldman (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:40:00 AM
Filed under: Other Comedy Shows, News, Celebrities, Children, Ugly Betty, AwardsAs the Academy Award presentation approaches, that can only mean one thing -- time for a new Barbara Walters special. Yes, yes, what matters most before the big show isn't the red carpet and the fashions, it's who will Barbara be interviewing for her annual Oscar edition? Ms. Walters has four biggies lined up for the Sunday, February 24th (7:00-8:00 p.m. ET) broadcast. Oscar nominee Ellen Page, star of Juno; Indiana Jones, himself, Harrison Ford; UglyBetty diva, Vanessa Williams; and HannahMontana/teen queen Miley Cyrus. It's an eclectic group, to say the least, but then, that's Baba
Wawa's formula for success, is it not? After all, this is her 27th straight year doing a pre-Oscar special. Continue reading Four stars for Barbara Walters Oscar Special Permalink | Email this | | Comments
Project Runway: The Art of Fashion By Annie Wu (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:24:00 AM
Filed under: OpEd, Project Runway, Episode Reviews(S04E11) For the first time since the history of the show, I'm actually quite satisfied with the final group of designers going to Fashion Week. Now, that is not to say that I've changed my mind about how well this season's designers have been doing, because I still feel like it has been one of the worst seasons. However, this time it seems like the final group of designers all truly deserve to be there. All right, before I get ahead of myself, let's go over just how well everyone did in this challenge. Please excuse me if I fail to fully suppress my pretentious artiness.
Cashmere Mafia: Yours, Mine, and Hers By Kristin Sample (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 12:21:00 AM
Filed under: Other Drama Shows, OpEd, Episode Reviews (S01E06) Cashmere Mafia is slowly but surely getting better. Let me digress quickly by saying that I lost a little respect for Kanye West last night. "Stronger" as the opening song for Cashmere Mafia? Did the producers really think that CM was cool enough to warrant that song as the background music for the opening
scenes? I guess Kanye West had a momentary loss of self-respect when he agreed to that. But enough complaining. I said the show is getting better and I'm prepared to explain myself. Let's see what's going on with the girls this week. A full review after the jump... Continue reading Cashmere Mafia: Yours, Mine, and Hers Permalink | Email this | | Comments
The Daily Show: February 13, 2008 - VIDEO By Annie Wu (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:01:00 AM
%Gallery-16074% Continue reading Project Runway: The Art of Fashion Permalink | Email this | | Comments
Filed under: OpEd, The Daily Show, Episode ReviewsWednesday marked the return of both "The" and the Daily Show (and Colbert Report) writers! Whoo! Whoo! The strike shows have been marked by visible host exhaustion, wacky clock-gobblers (heh) in the form of elaborate feuds, and lots of John Oliver. Sure, the change in pace and style was sort of interesting, but having the writers back means that we don't have to worry about forced improvisation or Jon and Stephen falling asleep
partway through a taping. Continue reading The Daily Show: February 13, 2008 - VIDEO Permalink | Email this | | Comments
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Give a Lost, Grey's, or Ugly Betty valentine By Erin Martell (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 1:28:00 AM
Filed under: Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty If you're frugal, TV-obsessed, and in a relationship (a winning combination if there ever was one), you might want to check out ABC.com's free Valentine's Day e-cards. You can use your favorite characters from Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, and Lost to express your love for that special someone. Tell your significant other that you're McDreamin' of them, send a post-it note from Henry Grubstick, or impart a creepy--but loving-message from Benjamin Linus. My only complaint is that more ABC shows, like Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money, weren't included. Who
wouldn't want a valentine from Olive Snook or Clark the driver? Continue reading Give a Lost, Grey's, or Ugly Betty valentine Permalink | Email this | | Comments
By Kristin Sample (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/13/2008 11:11:00 PM
Okay let's get to the juice. The hamsters (I borrow the phrase from Jackie.) had an eventful night. A quick rundown of the first eviction
and first HOH competition after the jump... Continue reading Big Brother 9: Eviction #1 and HOH #1 Permalink | Email this | | Comments
American Idol: The Top 24 Revealed By Jason Hughes (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/13/2008 3:00:00 PM
Filed under: American Idol, Reviewcaps, Contestants (S07E10) Looks like Idol's getting an early start with the cheesy blatant endorsements. They opened this episode with an incredibly corny Jumper intro featuring Hayden Christensen and Ryan Seacrest. But tonight is all about about the chair
By Richard Keller (TV Squad) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:45:00 AM
Big Brother 9: Eviction #1 and HOH #1 Filed under: OpEd, Big Brother (US), Episode Reviews(S09E02) First, I would like to start by echoing the sentiments of my fellow bloggers JJ and Jackie and say, "Woot! Big Brother is back!" And furthermore, a Big Brother during the winter? What did I do to deserve this? While the WGA strike was horrible and while I am excited that the strike is over, it did produce a winter season of Big Brother. And that doesn't suck.
Unhitched -- An early look
and final judgment for the contestants. No more singing; no more chances to prove themselves. It's simply a matter of sitting down and hearing if they're in the Top 24 or headed home. Continue reading American Idol: The Top 24 Revealed Permalink | Email this | | Comments
Filed under: Other Comedy Shows, OpEd, Early Looks, Episode Reviews When it comes to new comedies, the FOX network's record hasn't been very glowing as of late. Yes, the Sunday night animated comedies still bring in the audience, and Arrested Development brought critical acclaim, and Back to You and Til'
Death are decent, if not outstanding, sitcoms. But, what else has the network brought to the table recently? Anyone remember The Loop, Happy Hour, Freeride, Kitchen Confidential or Stacked? Of course not; hence, the sad track record FOX has had bringing funny to its network. Continue reading Unhitched -- An early look Permalink | Email this | | Comments
Madonna Waxes Eloquent on 'Filth and Wisdom' By Kim Voynar (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/13/2008 11:33:00 AM
Filed under: Comedy, Drama, Independent, Berlin, Festival Reports, Cinematical IndieMadonna's directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom, which is playing the Berlinale in the artsy "Panorama" section, opened today, and our good friends over at indieWIRE had one of the few one-on -one interviews Her Madonna-ness granted to her film fest subjects. indieWIRE reports that buzz from folks coming out of the screening was (some might say surprisingly) mostly positive. The film, originally envisioned as a short but expanded to 85 minutes, tells the tale of "three friends desperate to better their lot in life, who must duel with the reality of their circumstances." There's A.K., a would-be rock superstar who keeps things afloat while waiting for his ship to come in by turning tricks as a cross-dresser; Holly, who trains as a ballerina by day while working as a stripper at night to survive; and Juliette, who works in a pharmacy while saving money to live her dream of moving to Africa to help children in need. Madonna chose to show her film at
Berlin and, according to the indieWIRE piece, has no plans for further fest screenings. Instead, the film's team is exploring distribution options, "both traditional and nontraditional," so you may be able to see it sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you can check out indieWIRE's excellent writeup of their Madonna interview, and see a sneak-peek three-minute scene from the film. Added bonus for all you guys out there (well, girls too, let's not make gender assumptions here) -most of the clip is a scene of strippers practicing pole dancing. In, you know ... an artsy way.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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Review: Definitely, Maybe By James Rocchi (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/14/2008 2:02:00 AM
Filed under: Comedy, Romance, New Releases, Universal, Theatrical Reviews
Cinematical Seven: When Cupid's Arrow Missed the Mark - Bad Romantic Matchups By Jeffrey M. Anderson (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:02:00 AM
Filed under: Romance, Cinematical Seven Chemistry. It's a word tossed around in plenty of movie reviews, generally to diagnose whether two actors have it or not. Chemistry can be in the eye of the beholder: some critics may disagree, but if the chemistry is really there, it will show in the way the film catches on. No one can deny that Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan had it in When Harry Met Sally, or that William Powell and Myrna Loy, or Woody Allen and Diane Keaton had it in their many films. But for every hit, there are many, many failed experiments. Here are seven of the most (or least) memorable.
1. Fred Astaire and Joan Fontaine in A Damsel in Distress (1937) For whatever reason, Astaire decided to break up his hit formula with Ginger Rogers and make this movie without her. His new partner? Joan Fontaine, best known for playing mousy, quietly pretty types (Rebecca, Letter from an Unknown Woman, etc.) and definitely not a song-anddance woman. Poor Joan was taken to the mat for her lack of singing and hoofing, although the film actually isn't that bad. The ultra-witty P.G. Wodehouse adapted his own novel, it won an Oscar for its dance choreography, and it features another great team: George Burns and Gracie Allen. 2. Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice (2002) Every so often some Hollywood executive gets the idea to team up two big stars, hoping that their
massive appeal will translate into screen chemistry; it mostly doesn't. These two romantic comedy masters, who have been wonderful in other films with other people, came together like a dull, wet flint, unable to strike even the most meager spark. Another infamous example of this type of casting came in 1986: recent Oscar winners Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep came together for Mike Nichols' Heartburn. Before it opened, it had lots of buzz. After it opened, it had more of a stench.
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'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' Trailer Online Now!!!! By Erik Davis (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/14/2008 12:05:00 AM
Filed under: Action, Fandom, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Home Entertainment, Remakes and Sequels, Trailers and Clips Oh yes, four exclamation points for the fourth installment in a fantastic franchise. The trailer we've all been waiting for is now online, and you
can view it above (courtesy of Yahoo) -- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I don't even want to say anything about the trailer; I almost want the first reaction to come from you fans. This is a biggie. This isn't just another trailer for just another movie. This is Indiana Jones. This is Harrison Ford. This is Steven Spielberg. This is
George Lucas. This is ... something we've been waiting 19 years to see. (How lame am I?) So take a breath. Clear the next couple minutes. Sit back, relax and enjoy ... ... then tell us what you think. He's back in theaters on May 22. View PollPermalink | Email this | Comments
Several things conspire to make Definitely, Maybe seem a dicey proposition at first glance. There's the rarely-inspiring presence of Ryan Reynolds, whose film career has, up to now, moved between mediocre comedies and mediocre action and horror films and served mostly as a demonstration of the phenomenon of 'failing up.' There's also the gimmicky nature of the pitch giving off warning signs, as divorcing dad Reynolds tells his daughter Abigail Breslin the story of his life before he got married, shielding names and facts so she can't figure out which of the three women (Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks or Rachel Weisz) he knew and loved when he was single came to be her mother. "I like it," Breslin says early in the film, appraising Reynolds's efforts. "It's like a love storymystery." And even that's a somewhat off-putting moment; Gee, kid, thanks for pointing that out for us. But Definitely, Maybe, written and directed by Adam Brooks, surprised me as it unfolded, and got around my initial reservations with its mix of good humor and grace. Not only is Reynolds an appealing lead here -possibly because the boyishness that's undercut his other work is an integral part of his character - but Definitely, Maybe also has some grit and gristle under the glib gimmick of the mommy-mystery hook. As Reynolds explains the long and winding road of what happened and when, Brooks's script mostly doesn't shy away from the tough stuff, and it doesn't paint Reynolds as some perfect, hapless everyman undone by random chance; he makes mistakes, and he pays for them, and he tries to set things right. Reynolds is normally light and charming enough on screen, but there's something new in his performance here, as his inner feelings keep coming into view behind his smile. Continue reading Review: Definitely, MaybePermalink | Email this | Comments
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SXSW Watch: 'Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie' and More! By Erik Davis (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:02:00 AM
Filed under: SXSW, Fandom, Movie Marketing, Trailers and Clips
Cinematical Seven: Sexy Scenes Without the Sex By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/13/2008 1:02:00 PM
Filed under: Cinematical SevenEven though this isn't about sex, it's about sexiness, so some content might not be suitable for work, or for young/impressionable/anti-sexual readers.
There's a vast sea of in-your-face sex on film -- close-up penile shots from the likes of Brown Bunny, real sex in Shortbus, porn penis in Romance -and those are just the moments that capture the real deal. There's also all the simulated sex from the infamous prosthetic in Boogie Nights to the sexual addiction of A Dirty Shame.
Yet in this barrage of real and almostreal sex, there's tons of sexy scenes that do just as well without the actual act of copulation. And I'm not talking about a scene like Mulholland Drive, where the camera fades out before the heat begins to sear. This sexiness could be orchid tickling by a young man who gave up sex for Lent, Mark Hunter dancing with a fan to "Why Can't I Fall in Love?, " or even two people working on some clay. And that's just the beginning. In honor of Valentine's Day (which is tomorrow!), what follows are some of sexiest moments cinema has captured without the sex. Read on, and then weigh in with your favorites. Career Opportunities | View It!
This is one of those scenes that went well beyond the movie, which is impressive since this flick is pretty damn low on the John Hughes totem pole. Jennifer Connelly's Josie McClellan is a rich, dissatisfied young woman stuck in Target. When some lame criminals interfere with her evening locked in with Jim (Frank Whaley), she gets creative. While the boys sit down for a bite to eat, she throws a long leg over a stationary horse, and calmly, seductively rides it while taunting the thieves with every mechanical bounce, and her statement: "I think I might need more than just a quarter." Continue reading Cinematical Seven: Sexy Scenes Without the SexPermalink | Email this | Comments
And we continue along with our precoverage of the South by Southwest Film Festival with three more trailers this time (I didn't put them all in the title, because the three titles are hella long). The first trailer (seen above) is from a flick called Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie. From what we hear, this could be one of the more buzzedabout films coming out of the festival this year; with the words 'cult hit' written all over it. It's being described by some as American Movie meets Harry and the Hendersons -- which automatically means I'll be there to see it. The director, Jay Delaney, emailed me this morning to give me the scoop on his film (not the only email I'm getting about this one, mind you), and he seems like a nice guy; good people. Here's the synopsis: "Through the experiences of two amateur bigfoot researchers in southern Ohio, we see how the power of a dream can bring two men together and provide a source of hope and meaning." For more, check out the film's official website ... and if you likey likey, we'll make a point to chat with Jay about his film while in Austin. More trailers (for The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela and Flying on One Engine) after the jump ... [via Matt Dentler] Continue reading SXSW Watch: 'Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie' and More!Permalink | Email this | Comments
Jerry O'Connell and Heather Graham Have a 'Baby on Board' By Jessica Barnes (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/14/2008 4:32:00 AM
Filed under: Comedy, Independent, Romance, Casting, Cinematical IndieEven though Jerry O'Connell's latest comedy video isn't as great as the Tom Cruise parody, they might have helped him land a job. The Hollywood Reporterannounced that O'Connell has signed to star with Heather Graham in the romantic comedy Baby on Board for Brian Herzlinger. Herzlinger is a relative newcomer and is probably best known as they guy who made a documentary about trying to get a
date with Drew Barrymore. Russell Scalise and Michael Wright's script follows a happily married couple (O'Connell, Graham) whose lives and high-powered careers are thrown into chaos thanks to an unplanned pregnancy. The cast also includes John Corbett (Northern Exposure) and Katie Finneran as a bitter married couple whose bad advice makes things worse for the soon to be parents. Also on board is Ian Ziering (who knew that Steve Sanders was still kicking around Hollywood?) as a gay obstetrician and Lara Flynn Boyle as Graham's demanding boss.
Well, I figured it was only a matter of time before the "Knocked Up/Juno Clones' finally started to trickle into
theaters. So as funny as Jerry O'Connell can be, I am a little less sure of Graham's comedic skills. The last time I can remember laughing at Graham was during her brief cameo on Arrested Development back in 2004. Then again, any show that can turn Carl Weathers into a comedy star seems to have the knack for making anybody funny. Baby on Board is set to start shooting next week on location in Chicago, and should make it to theaters sometime later in '08. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
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Suicidal Blogger Outs Herself as a Hoax, er, "Art Project" By Kim Voynar (Cinematical) Filed under: Exhibition, DIY/FilmmakingTuesday, Ryan posted about 90DayJane, the "moviecentric" blogger who had created a blog dedicated to her intent to commit suicide in 90 days. Wednesday afternoon, Gawker posted that the young woman, known as "90 Day Jane," had outed herself on her blog, saying the whole thing had been a "personal art piece" (that's "hoax" to you and me) saying in part: I feel a massive sense of responsibility to my art, but more importantly the readers of this blog. My closeness to thi project must have made art seem like reality to many people. That is not a reaction that I expected nor can I morally justify. This is why my project, 90DayJane, will be taken down in the next few hours. The folks at Gawker, bless their gawking little hearts, have preserved 90DayJane's final message to her fans and detractors for posterity (posted, fittingly enough, under their
Rashida Jones Loves Paul Rudd By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/14/2008 3:32:00 AM
Filed under: Comedy, Romance, CastingAside from scoring himself the lead in I Love You Man, Paul Rudd is scoring himself a woman with some impressive genes. Variety reports that Rashida Jones has signed on to play his fiance in the upcoming comedy. You might remember Jones from her work in The Office, or going back a bit more, Boston Public, but she's also the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton. Nice job, Paul!
Submitted at 2/14/2008 12:01:00 AM
"Webtards" category), and you can read it in its entirety if you like. For me, the whole thing does kind of speak to the power of the internet for getting a message out there. 90DayJane was a hoax, but how much do you want to bet we're going to see a spate of "online documentaries" hoping to cash in on the (relative) success of her fauxsuicide blog and videos? Continue reading Suicidal Blogger Outs Herself as a Hoax, er, "Art Project"Permalink | Email this | Comments
The film focuses on Rudd as a man who, for some reason, decides that he needs to hunt down a stranger (Jason Segal) to be his best man. I can't think of any reason why that would be necessary. Do all of his friends die in a plane crash? I don't get it. At the very least, the guy could share some of his wife's friends. But really, as long as we get a wedding with some Rudd dancing, I'll be happy.
She's also going to co-star with Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. in Chilled in Miami. In the never-before -seen premise, a big-city woman gets transferred to rural Minnesota and "re -evaluates her big-city values." Jones will be her best friend in the film, but they're not saying whether this is her big-city best friend or someone she bonds with up north. This one, I'm not so keen on, but kudos to Rashida for picking up two big roles. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Keeping busy, this isn't the only project Rashida has signed on for.
From the Editor's Desk: The Whole Steroids Thing By Erik Davis (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/13/2008 10:02:00 AM
Filed under: Casting, Celebrities and Controversy, Trailers and Clips Before I begin, you all need to know that I have not -- nor will I ever -inject something into my ass. Now that we've cleared the air, anyone else watch this Roger Clemens thing this afternoon? What's up with this whole thing? And why does it have to turn into this ridiculous circus, with athletes testifying in front of Congress -- reports, analysis, blah blah blah. How does this help? When little Jimmy finds out that Roger Clemens won 150 Cy Young awards because of steroids, he won't touch the stuff ... because? Yes, great, they all did steroids. Let's test everyone from now on. Perfect. Problem solved! Oh no, there needs to be another investigation. And then another hearing. And then more
people need to testify. Why? WHY? Look, steroids are a big problem. Parents need to teach their children not to trust people who want to stick needles in places reserved for a little light smacking on an alcohol-fueled Friday night. And if these kids don't listen, then we need to use some scare tactics. Show them what steroids really do to a person. And since I'm a nice guy who wants to help, you can point your son or daughter toward the video below. After they watch it, you say: "This is what steroids do dammit! Love your body! Don't give into peer pressure!" Then you can come back here and thank me. No, wait, don't thank me. I'm just doing my job. Permalink | Email this | Comments
First Look: 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine!' By Erik Davis (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/13/2008 2:04:00 PM
Filed under: Action, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Fandom, Newsstand, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Remakes and Sequels, Images Now that's more like it. The other day a few photos of Hugh Jackman appeared online, and they were touted (by us and many other) as the first official photos of Hugh Jackman back in the Wolverine get-up. Well, USA Today has snagged the first official official look at the new film, and now that's the Wolverine we've all come to love, adore ... and not ask to scratch our backs. Hell yeah -- he's angry, he doesn't know what the f*ck is up with his body and he's ready to claw his way to the truth. On the character, Jackman said, "I
think one of the reasons the X-Men took off is that it connected in a way nobody saw," Jackman says. "They're mutants with powers. But they're also outcasts for being, and everyone connects with that on some level. And who wouldn't want the power to get back at the people who ostracized you?" Then there's this bit of juicy info: "Wolverine's nemesis Sabretooth "is going to play a big part in it. And there will be a good bit of cameos" of new and familiar mutants. But you can't give too much away, because fans are pretty hard-core. Their expectations go up a level every time you come out with a new film." Sweeet! And the cameos will be? What do you think?X-Men Origins: Wolverine hits theaters on May 1, 2009.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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Jennifer Coolidge, Isaac Hayes, and More Join 'Soul Men' By Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/13/2008 11:02:00 AM
Filed under: Comedy, Music & Musicals, CastingWhen I first blogged about Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac hitting the road together in the new film Soul Men last September, I likened it to A Mighty Wind. Now they're getting one of the film's actors, some Hayes, and a bunch of musicians. The Hollywood Reporter has posted that the kooky Jennifer Coolidge and Isaac Hayes have signed on, along with Sean Hayes (that Will & Grace dude, not an Isaac relative). Also joining the mix are musician John Legend, Affion Crockett (Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins), Adam Herschman (Walk Hard), Fatso Fasano (Weeds), and Jackie Long (The Comebacks). So, Jackson and Mac are former bandmates who have to reunite when their third, who will be played by Legend, passes away. "The pair fight with each other all the way across the country when they're forced to take a road trip together for a reunion concert." Coolidge will play Mac's
love interest, Isaac will play himself in what I imagine will be some sort of short stint or cameo, and the other Hayes will take on the typical "obnoxious manager" role. As for the rest, there's no word on who they're playing. The comedy is currently filming in Shreveport, Memphis, and LA, and producers are hoping to release this in October. So, what say you? Are you ready for a little male Soul?Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
BREAKING: 'Star Trek' Pushed to 2009 By Erik Davis (Cinematical)
The Write Stuff: The Strike is Over! By Patrick Walsh (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/13/2008 12:02:00 PM
Filed under: RumorMonger, Scripts, Politics, The Write Stuff It's the end of the strike as we know it, and I feel fine! Yes, writers across America are heading back to work today. The strike started on November 5th of last year, and has lasted over three months. The WGA and the AMPTP have been building toward a conclusion for a couple weeks now, so the wrap-up doesn't come as a huge surprise. Still, it sure is great to see an official announcement, isn't it?
Submitted at 2/13/2008 1:32:00 PM
Filed under: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Fandom, Distribution, DIY/Filmmaking, Newsstand, Remakes and Sequels Is this breaking news? I don't know. Variety thinks it's breaking news, so I guess it's breaking news -- but, to me, breaking news would be, "Star Trek Not Happening Because J.J. Abrams Crapped Himself and Hates Life."Star Trek'srelease date being pushed back to May 8, 2009, from December 25, 2008? News, definitely. Breaking news? Not so much. Why the move? Some feel the film has more box office potential in May than in December (which I certainly believe, to some degree), but I'd bet the cattle ranch J.J. wanted to fine-tune that script a bit now that the writer's strike is over, and he'd like that much more time to do so. We know he had problems with the script they're shooting with now; minor problems, probably, but I could see him wanting to change it up now that he's able to. Anyway, yeah, Star Trek will now arrive in theaters on May 8, 2009. Its competition will come from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (due out May 1,
Members of the WGA voted on the
issue, and the decision was a landslide. 3,775 ballots were cast, and 3,492 of those voters checked "yes." That's a total of 92.5% in favor of ending the strike. So, a few holdouts - 283 to be exact -- but by and large Guild members are very happy with the new contract. The official ratification of the deal is slated for February 26th. WGA East President Michael Winship announced that "We're (now) receiving a percentage of the distributor's gross, which is very real money, as opposed to what people refer to as creative or Hollywood accounting." Continue reading The Write Stuff: The Strike is Over!Permalink | Email this | Comments
'Street Kings' Poster Arrives By Erik Davis (Cinematical) Submitted at 2/13/2008 10:32:00 AM
Filed under: Drama, Movie Marketing, Posters
2009) and Angels & Demons (due out May 19, 2009). Also of note, Variety says Dreamworks pushed the Tropic Thunder (Ben Stiller comedy) release date back to August 15 from July 11. What do you think about the release date shift? Does it mean a whole lot to have those extra few months?Permalink | Email this | Comments
The good folks over at Fox Searchlight have just sent us the new poster for Street Kings (click on the image for a larger version), starring Keanu Reeves as a cop who, following the death of his wife, finds himself framed for a murder he didn't commit. In order to clear his name, he'll have to up against a cop culture he's been a part of his entire career.
And he'll do it without help from steroids. Take that Clemens! The first trailer debuted a couple days ago, and the film also stars Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Common, Chris Evans, The Game and Jay Mohr. It's gritty, it's directed by David Ayer and it arrives in theaters on April 11. For more on Street Kings, head on over to the film's official site (which is in teaser mode right now, and will be updated with all sorts of goodies as the release date draws near). Permalink | Email this | Comments