Afternoon News Report; June 30, 2010

Sorry for the tardiness of today’s MNR; I played photographer at this morning’s fire at an abandoned slaughterhouse near the Nature Center and it’s thrown me a few hours behind.

Anyhoo — your Morning Afternoon News Report … 

LARRY KING HANGING UP HIS SUSPENDERS (AND MIKE)

CNN’s legendary interviewer, Larry King, is retiring in the fall. Although he claims it’s not because of ratings, he hit a 20-year low earlier this year in the Nielsens.

Now, speculation has turned to who will replace him and names as diverse as Ryan Seacrest and Katie Couric have emerged.

My take: Despite his inability to conduct a fluid interview in a couple of years (and being mocked by comedians on “Saturday Night Live” for year), he was always able to get the A-list stars on his show. It’ll be interesting to see who replaces him on CNN.

HURRICANE ALEX SLOWING DOWN OIL SPILL CLEANUP IN GULF

The first hurricane of the 2010 season, Alex, is bearing down in the Gulf of Mexico and is pushing more oil onto beaches in the area.

My take: This is ALL they need in the Gulf; hope this thing blows through quickly. I thought this picture (courtesy of The Associated Press) told the story pretty well:

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COCKS WIN COLLEGE WORLD SERIES

With a dramatic 11th-inning victory, the South Carolina Gamecocks claimed its first NCAA baseball championship last night in the College World Series — the final one played at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.

My take: Besides the unbridled joy I get in typing “Cocks” and not being suspended for doing it, last night’s game was pretty fantastic. I was Facebooking and chatting with a few of you during the game and that made it even more fun.

In honor of the Cocks winning the CWS, here is a trio of pictures to liven up your afternoon (click on the pictures for better viewing):

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The iPod shuffle

Mary Jane’s Last Dance — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Barbie Girl — Aqua

We’re An American Band — Poison

She Sells Sanctuary — The Cult

Learning To Fly — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Guest iPod shuffle (from Jonathan Massey)

Because The Night — Patti Smith

Come Together — The Beatles

Have You Ever Seen The Rain — Creedence Clearwater Revival

Babyface — U2

Love In An Elevator — Aerosmith 

(Want your iPod shuffle to appear on the ol’ blog? Send it to me at bhanks@freedomenc.com — but tell the truth. If Jon Dawson’s anthem, “It’s Raining Men” shows up, send it.)

Morning News Report; June 29, 2010

HUNGER-STRIKING ILLEGAL HOSPITALIZED

One of the three illegal immigrants who were on a hunger strike outside U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s office in Raleigh was hospitalized last night; as a result, the other two have called off their strike.

My take: OK, I’m not the brightest light in the room, but I’d like to reiterate a point that “goodneighbors” (Stephen LaRoque) said in the comments on the first linked story — why didn’t the authorities simply arrest the three and begin the deportation process? They admit they are illegals and yet they are allowed to protest in open daylight?

What the heck is going on here? I can’t drive 63 in a 55 without getting a ticket … but you can flaunt that you are an illegal alien? Good grief.

OPRAH TOPS FORBES’ MOST POWERFUL CELEBRITY LIST

Oprah Winfrey, behind $315 million in annual salary, tops Forbes Magazine’s “Most Powerful Celebrity” list for 2010. She’s followed by Beyonce Knowles, James Cameron, Lady Gaga and Tiger Woods.

My take: That is about as culturally diverse a top 5 as you can get — two African-American women top the list, followed by a white dude, a potential cross-gendered freak and a philandering multi-racial golfer.

Oh, and U2 — the world’s best rock band of all time — is No. 7. Awesome.

FREEDOM NAMES NEW CEO

‘Cause I’m a good company man, I’ll include in today’s MNR that Freedom Communications named a new CEO today, Mitch Stern. Stern worked for a long time for NewsCorp and Rupert Murdoch, so that should make some of our right-leaning readers happy…

My take: Welcome to the Freedom Family, Mr. Stern — now give me a raise!

The iPod shuffle

Whenever, Wherever — Shakira

Men In Black — Will Smith

Down On The Corner — Creedence Clearwater Revival

The Lounge Fly (Mix) — U2

The Way You Move — Outkast (Big Boi featuring Sleepy Brown)

Welcome to the world, Caroline Grace Tribula!

I was going to put this in the Morning News Report, but I figured it deserved its own blog entry — congratulations to our very good friend, J.T. Tribula, on the birth of his new daughter, Caroline Grace Tribula. She was born at 11:25 a.m. yesterday, weighed 6 1/2 pounds and was 18 inches long.

Here’s a picture of the dad and baby I just stole from his Facebook page (click on it for a better view!):

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Again, congrats, J.T.! Hope to soon have you back teaching and coaching where you belong — in Lenoir County!

Kinston, Jones Senior ranked statewide

With less than two months remaining before the 2010 prep football season begins, two local teams — Kinston and Jones Senior — are in the ncpreps.com 2A and 1A polls, respectively.

There’s one twist here, though, that Ryan Herman eloquently points out – neither KHS or JS have a head coach.

Kinston, ranked No. 16 in the 2A poll, had a handshake agreement with an Onslow County defensive coordinator, but the deal fell through before it went to the school board — which was to take place tonight. Now, the Vikings are working hard to get a coach to replace Battle Holley, who bolted for East Duplin.

Which leads me to this thought — Brian Aldridge is finishing up his venerable career at ED; why was it so absolutely necessary for Holley to go to Beulaville? Why couldn’t Holley have stayed at KHS this final season with the caveat that he’d go to ED in January? I’m sure it had something to do with Aldridge giving up his P.E. position and Holley immediately taking it, but why couldn’t that have happened in January.

Anyhoo, it’s a bad situation for Kinston High School, which has to replace a popular coach mere weeks before its first game in August.

It’s a little better at Jones Senior, where it’s likely that Greg Hampton’s longtime assistant, John Davis, will take over the reins of the Trojans program, which is ranked No. 18 in Deana King’s ncpreps.com 1A poll. Davis was Hampton’s right-hand man and intimately knows the program, so the transition will be smoother at JS than it will be at KHS.

Both situations, though, remind me of South Lenoir, circa 2005 — when a little-known coach named Lee Atkins took over the Blue Devils program that started a historic 6-0 and went to the state playoffs. Both KHS and JS have a ton of talent in their respective programs; if a coach with an iota of talent comes in, Holley and Hampton might be quickly forgotten.

Or if the wrong one comes in (i.e., Ken Whitehurst taking over an 8-4 Kinston team and “leading” it to a 1-10 finish before bolting or Gerald Whisenhunt crashing and burning the South Lenoir program in the late 1990s), it could be a long time before Kinston or Jones Senior return to glory days.

Back to the polls, though: check them out here. Deana always does a fantastic job getting coaches from throughout the state to participate in her polls and I’m beyond excited to get my hands on the 2010 edition of the N.C. Prep Football News yearbook.

Morning News Report; June 28, 2010

SUPREME COURT RULES CHICAGO HANDGUN BAN UNCONSTITUITIONAL

The Supreme Court has struck down a Chicago law that bans handguns. Constitutional experts say this could bring sweeping change to gun control laws across America.

My take: Chalk one up for individual rights — and for a strict reading of the Second Amendment. I do find it ironic, though, that this judgment is handed down while we have the leadership of one of the most liberal presidents in American history.

The cherry on the pie? That this happened as the result of a challenge from Chicago, Obama’s old stomping ground.

And somewhere, Charlton Heston is smiling.

ROBERT BYRD DEAD AT 92

The longest-serving legislator in the U.S. Congress’ history, West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, died this morning at 92. He served 51 years in the Senate and six years in the U.S. House.

After being a segregationist and Ku Klux Klan member early in his life, he became known as one of the most liberal members of the Senate.

My take: He had been in frail health in the past couple of years, but he still made 98 percent of his votes. Pretty impressive.

BLAGOJEVICH CONSIDERED OPRAH FOR OBAMA’S SENATE SEAT

In FBI tapes, deposed Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich considered naming Oprah Winfrey as the replacement for then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama when Obama was elected president.

My take: A seriously intriguing thought — and the former governor is right: it would probably be a wildly popular move (probably not with the right, but with the couch-sitting general populace).

The iPod shuffle

My Generation — The Who

Going Nowhere Slow — The Bloodhound Gang

If I Can’t Have You — Yvonne Elliman

(Oh) Pretty Woman — Van Halen

Running Down A Dream — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Irresponsible, inaccurate journalism at WITN

There is nothing more distressing to me than irresponsible journalism — and it’s being practiced at WITN NBC-7 at this very moment.

In an attempt to “be first,” WITN has an update on the Bojangles’ shooting with a plethora of misinformation (we have the correct information here). When Jon Dawson and I read it, Dawson immediately called the sheriff and Sheriff Billy Smith implicitly said WITN was wrong on several counts, again mentioned in the above link.

This is a competitive business, there’s no doubt. We pride ourselves on beating WITN, WCTI ABC-12 and WNCT CBS-9 and it pisses me off when one of those stations beats us to a story in our own backyard.

But get the damned story right. As I’ve done in the past with TV stations (specifically the fine job that Shane Moreland and the guys do at WCTI), I’ll give you a tip of the cap when you beat us to a story. But it makes all of us — TV and print — look bad when you have this much misinformation in a report.

Get your crap straight, WITN.

Morning News Report; June 25, 2010

MANAGER FOUND DEAD AT LA GRANGE BOJANGLE’S

The manager of the La Grange Bojangle’s, Kenneth Michael Leefe, was found dead in a car in the restaurant’s parking lot at 11:45 last night. Jon Dawson and Wesley Brown are working on the story now.

My take: Not the kind of story you want to start working on at 8:30 a.m., but a great job by Dawson and Brown to get this first. They’ll be providing details and updates all day long.

FORMER K-TRIBERS IN TROUBLE FOR ALLEGED ASSAULT

Three former Kinston Indians players — Beau Mills, Jerad Head and Josh Tomlin — who are now with the Double-A Akron Aeros (Mills, Head) and Triple-A Columbus Clippers (Tomlin) were arrested for assault on Tuesday after a fight outside an Akron bar on June 3. David Hall of The Free Press had a short note on it in today’s K-Tribe notebook.

My take: Not good — especially if it turns out to be true.

WALL GOES NO. 1 IN NBA DRAFT; SHEED RETIRING

Former Raleigh Word of God (and GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational alum) John Wall was the No. 1 overall selection in last night’s NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards.

Also, the NBA’s bad-boy — and former Tar Heel — Rasheed Wallace of the Boston Celtics is retiring after 15 years in the league.

My takes: Not surprised at the selection of Wall; if Gilbert Arenas can get his head out of his arse, they should make quite the backcourt.

And it was fun for one year to pull for Sheed after years of pulling against him. He also left $12 million on the table with his retirement … not sure how I feel about that, but I hope he has something post-retirement to make similar money. Still, the Cs would not have made their run to the Finals without him.

The iPod shuffle

Straight Outta Compton (Extended Mix) — N.W.A.

Rightstarter (Message To A Black Man) — Public Enemy

My Generation — The Who

The Thunder Rolls — Garth Brooks

Fergalicious — Fergie featuring will.i.am

Morning News Report; June 24, 2010

AMERICANS WIN GROUP C IN WORLD CUP

With a 1-0 win against Algeria yesterday in the World Cup, the United States won a group for the first time since 1930. The Americans will face Ghana at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in elimination play.

My take: Admittedly, it was on in my office and that was a pretty good moment when Landon Donovan’s shot found the back of the net.

Not going to go negative here, so I don’t have to get hate mail from my good friend Randy Capps (who is keeping everyone up to date with soccer thoughts here). So, go USA!

OBAMA FIRES TOP GENERAL IN AFGHANISTAN

President Obama fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, after statements by McChrystal and his staff were printed in Rolling Stone magazine. However, Obama did it while his secretary of defense wanted to keep McChrystal.

My take: Again, I’ll admit I haven’t read the RS piece yet, although I plan to soon (can someone send me a link?). But I’ll reiterate what I said yesterday — and I’m former military, too — you can’t talk s*** about your commanding officer, particularly the Commander In Chief.

Wait until you retire and do it …

VIKING PRESS WINS STATEWIDE AWARD

Michael Moon and his journalism staff at Kinston High School won a statewide award during the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association summer institute at the University of North Carolina in June. His staff also won a slew of other awards at the summer institute.

My take: Congratulations to Moon and The Viking Press. I’ve personally watched him completely overhaul that paper — and it’s arguably the best high school student newspaper I’ve ever read. Great job, dude.

The iPod shuffle

I Hope You Die — The Bloodhound Gang

Straight Outta Compton — N.W.A.

La Di Da Di — Doug E. Fresh

Before I Let Go — Maze featuring Frankie Beverly

A Man I’ll Never Be — Boston

P.S.: My beautiful 6-year-old niece, Cara, is in a video linked here on MySpace. If she gets enough votes, she’ll win tickets to a Miranda Lambert concert — if you’re a member of MySpace, please take a few minutes to vote for her. Thanks!

P.P.S.S.: Ol’ Jon Dawson has done it again — check out today’s column about me, the Kinston HS championship ring and the Big Rock forfeiture.

Morning News Report; June 23, 2010

TOP U.S. GENERAL IN AFGHANISTAN IN D.C. TO CHAT WITH OBAMA

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan has a face-to-face meeting with President Obama this morning after disparaging comments Gen. Stanley McChrystal made about Obama surfaced in Rolling Stone magazine.

Obama hasn’t indicated whether or not he’s going to fire Gen. McChrystal yet, but it’s also possible that the general might resign.

My take: It doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with Obama’s leadership (or lack thereof), he is still the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military. If you don’t want to serve in the military under him, then get out. There’s no excuse for anyone in the military to denigrate our CIC to anyone in the media.

ARKANSAS DEPUTY SUSPENDED FOR PLAYBOY PICS

A 21-year-old deputy for the Washington, Ark., Sheriff’s Department has been suspended for posing nude for Playboy.com.

My take: Eh, if she violated the “conduct unbecoming of an officer or employee of the department,” that’s on the sheriff to decide. A look at the deputy:

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Hey, transfer her to Lenoir County!

U.S.-ALGERIA FACING OFF IN WORLD CUP

The United States is fighting for its life in the World Cup as it takes on Algeria in its final opening round game of the tournament.

My take: And somewhere, Randy Capps is glued to his TV. Go USA.

The iPod shuffle

So Cruel — U2

Doo Wop (That Thing) — Lauryn Hill

CG 2 — Nelly

I Wanna Rock — Twisted Sister

Crying In The Chapel — Elvis Presley

Morning News Report, June 22, 2010

TIMES SQUARE BOMB SUSPECT PLEADS GUILTY

Surprising many, the man who was accused of leaving a car bomb in Times Square pled guilty yesterday, meaning he is facing a life sentence for his crime. He also warned of more imminent attacks on America.

My take: Although none of those attacks will be by him. Ha!

VANESSA CARLTON: ‘I AM BISEXUAL’

Pop singer Vanessa Carlton of “A Thousand Mile” fame announced she is bisexual.

My take: Well, good for her — means it’s easier to get a date. A gander at Ms. Carlton:

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PANTHERS’ SMITH BREAKS ARM — PLAYING FLAG FOOTBALL

Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers will be unable to play until possibly the first regular season game of the 2010 season after breaking his arm — in a YMCA flag football game.

My take: Wow. And somewhere, Matt Moore and John Fox are weeping.

The iPod shuffle

Jizz In My Pants — The Lonely Island

Heartland — U2

Why — Annie Lennox

No Line On The Horizon — U2

In The Air Tonight — Phil Collins