Afternoon News Report; April 29, 2011

Consider this your royal wedding-free zone…

THE WORLD IS GOING TO HELL

… and it’s not just because of the royal wedding mess. In the last 48 hours or so, there have been two Marines and a woman arrested for molesting a 5-year-old, a former Kinston police officer arrested for sexual abuse of his own 5-year-old child and a Winston-Salem teacher being arrested for continuous sexual abuse with a high school student.

My take: Seriously disgusting. I’ve spent most of my life thinking people are basically good … but I’m beginning to think the opposite.

There are some sick, sick people out there, folks.

EXXON MOBIL POSTS 69 PERCENT EARNINGS BOOST

You may be paying $1 more a gallon than you were a year ago, but all that’s done has helped Exxon post record profits in the first quarter.

My take: And you know what? There isn’t a damned thing you can do about it. Need to go somewhere? You need gas.

Exxon Mobil to you: Screw you; deal with it.

CAM NEWTON SELECTED FIRST BY PANTHERS

As predicted practically everywhere, Auburn’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton was the 2011 NFL Draft’s No. 1 pick by the Carolina Panthers.

My take: Although I think Newton is basically the 2011 version of Oakland bust Jamarcus Russell, I’m going to hold out hope that the powers-that-be in Charlotte know what they are doing.

The iPod shuffle

Thicky Thick Girl — Nelly featuring Murphy Lee & Ali

Flesh For Fantasy — Billy Idol

Shooting Star — Poison

The Rockafeller Skank — Fatboy Slim

Legs (Remix) — ZZ Top

P.S.: Here’s my story on South Lenoir winning the NCHSAA sportsmanship award; congrats, Blue Devils!

P.P.S.S.: I have four tickets to each of this weekend’s ECU baseball games vs. Southern Miss (today at 6 p.m.; tomorrow at 3 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m.). Want ‘em? Hit my email at bhanks@freedomenc.com with “ECU tickets” in the subject line along with a way to contact you and how many tickets and to which day you want in the body of the email. I’ll draw for them around 3 today.

Morning News Report; April 28, 2011

SOUTH LENOIR NAMED NCHSAA’S TOP SPORTSMANSHIP SCHOOL

This morning, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, in conjunction with the N.C. Athletic Director’s Association, has named South Lenoir the Sportsmanship Award winner for 2011.

The Blue Devils will formally accept the award a week from today in Chapel Hill. They’ll also get a trophy, a banner and a $1,000 cash award.

My take: Congrats to Athletics Director Lisa Smith and the Blue Devils — this is certainly a worthy award for our friends at South Lenoir.

TORNADOES SWEEP THROUGH SOUTH AGAIN; THEY’RE HEADED HERE

Dozens of people have died in tornadoes sweeping through the South; now, ENC is under a tornado watch.

My take: I’m not much of an apocalypse-type guy … but these are some scary times. Keep your head down, y’all, and stay tuned to Kinston.com and Skip Waters and the boys at WCTI ABC-12.

NFL DRAFT KICKS OFF TONIGHT

The Carolina Panthers have the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, which kicks off at 8 p.m. today (and it appears they’re going to take Auburn’s Cam Newton). The draft will be broadcast on ESPN and NFL Network.

My take: There are so many red flags here about Newton for the Panthers, I don’t know where to start. If they select Newton … they deserve what they’re going to get. The smartest pick, to me, would be for them to take Alabama’s Marcel Dareus, a defensive tackle who will be a star for a decade.

Of course, that won’t be sexy enough for Carolina, so they’ll likely take Newton, who’ll be giving back his Heisman in a few years.

As long as my Redskins make a smart pick (probably UNC’s Robert Quinn, if he slips that far), I’ll be happy.

He won’t be selected in tonight’s first round or maybe even in the seven rounds of the draft, but former Greene Central defensive end Brandon Sutton (who played at Catawba College) will likely sign a free agent contract with an NFL team. But I won’t be surprised if he ends up as a late-round pick.

The iPod shuffle

Stuntin’ Like My Daddy (Radio Edit) — Birdman & Lil’ Wayne

Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check — Busta Rhymes & Rampage The Last Boy Scout

Only Girl (In The World) — Rihanna

My Love — Paul McCartney & Wings

Bridge Burning — Foo Fighters

Want to see UNC vs. ECU baseball tonight?

It’s the biggest game of the season in Greenville as the boys in baby blue invade Clark-LeClair Stadium when UNC visits ECU. I have four tickets to the festivities — and they can be yours.

Send me an email to bhanks@freedomenc.com with “ECU tickets” in the subject line and a way to contact you in the body of the email. Let me know how many you want (2 or 4); I’ll draw for these bad boys around 3 today. You’ll need to come by TFP office by 5 to collect them.

Good luck! And thanks to the anonymous donor for hooking us up with them!

Morning News Report; April 27, 2011

WHITE HOUSE RELEASES OBAMA BIRTH CERTIFICATE

After years of wrangling, accusations and general ridiculousness, the White House has finally released President Obama’s birth certificate.

It shows that, indeed, the president was born in Hawaii and isn’t an illegal alien like Donald Trump’s hair has attempted to shove down our throats.

Click here to get a gander at it: 042711 obama birth certificate.

My take: I hope this seriously puts an end to this foolishness.

If you dislike Obama because of his politics, bankrupting our country or even because you’re a racist, that’s on you. But don’t you — honest to God — think that if there was something substantial to this, it would’ve come out in the lead-up to the 2008 election? Especially since the president had the Clinton smear campaign lined up against him?

It’s time to let this go, because all it does is continue to embarrass us in the world’s eye. If you don’t want him as your president again in 2012, vote him out. But he’s done what everyone has asked him to do — so let this episode go.

And if you think Trump would be a better president than Obama … then may God have mercy on your soul.

HARROW ANNOUNCES TRANSFER

Well, I hinted it on here last week … and it’s come to pass: Rising sophomore guard Ryan Harrow has announced he will transfer from N.C. State. He will not transfer to another ACC school, and it appears Georgia and Kentucky are atop his personal list.

My take: This makes no sense to me — Harrow had the starting job locked up for next year (and probably the rest of his career in Raleigh, too).

I got to know him and his coach a bit at the Glaxo — and he’s a great young man and a tremendous talent. However, he showed he is a bit sensitive to criticism (as evidenced by his tweets and Facebook reactions last season and in the postseason).

This will hurt State as the Pack has no bonafide point guards on its roster. Never fear, though, Wuffies — you have a really, really good PG coming in Fall 2012 when Tyler Lewis of Forsyth Country Day (who is coached by former Kinston star Craig Dawson).

POSSIBLE CREDIT CARD INFO STOLEN BY PLAYSTATION HACKERS

The PlayStation Network has been down for over a week; it was originally announced that hackers had shut it down.

Now it’s been revealed the hackers may have stolen credit card information kept within the system. There are more than 77 million PSN accounts.

My take: Wowzer … and I’m one of them.

Scary times — and another reason I ALWAYS hesitate to give critical financial information over the interwebs.

The iPod shuffle

Love Walks In — Van Halen

Cuts Like A Knife — Bryan Adams

Pimp Juice — Nelly

Let’s Get It On — Marvin Gaye

Bad — U2

P.S.: Check out this really good story by WRAL’s Erin Summers on Apex Middle Creek basketball coach David Kushner, who is battling MS. I’ve gotten to know Coach Kushner over the past few years at the GSK and have found him to be one of the good guys who truly loves his players and isn’t one of the new breed of “look at me” coaches. Good luck in this battle, Coach.

Afternoon News Report; April 26, 2011

Sorry for the tardiness of this and for no MNR/ANR yesterday — have one guy out on vacation and another off for training. TOO MUCH WORK, NOT ENOUGH PLAYTIME MAKES BRYAN A DULL BOY.

Or something like that. On to the MNR ANR:

JUDGE ENDS NFL LOCKOUT

A district court judge in Minnesota ended the NFL lockout by granting an injunction players requested. The NFL is appealing the decision.

My take: For the love of all that is good and holy, I wish these jerkwads would come to an agreement and get this behind us. BRYAN MUST HAVE HIS NFL.

Let’s just hope the appeal gets tied up in courts for the next two or three years and we get our season(s).

WOLFPACK MASCOT’S RELATIVES POISONED

The sister and father of the N.C. State Wolfpack mascot, along with two other dogs, were found poisoned at their Elizabeth City home. It appears they were poisoned by fish soaked in antifreeze.

My take: Disgusting. I truly hope they find the douchebags who did this and soak their heads in antifreeze.

You know, hurting a human — who can defend themselves — is bad enough. But poisoning innocent animals? There’s a special place in hell for asshats who do that.

Oh, and I wanted to link the Elizabeth City Daily Advance story — the paper who broke the story — to this nugget, but it’s a pay site.

FORD POSTS LARGEST 1Q PROFITS IN 13 YEARS

Ford Motor Company posted a 22 percent profit in the first quarter of 2011, its largest gain in the same period in 13 years.

My take: Good for Ford, who has recovered the right way — without government assistance (like General Motors and Chrysler). Makes me want to go buy a Mustang.

The iPod shuffle

25 Or 6 To 4 — Chicago

Dopeman (Remix) — N.W.A.

I Wanna Rock — Twisted Sister

Don’t Dream It’s Over — Crowded House

Fight The Power — Public Enemy

Morning News Report; April 22, 2011

BRAXTON GUILTY OF SIMPLE ASSAULT

Former state representative and Kinston City Councilman Van Braxton was found guilty yesterday of simple assault in his post-Election Day 2010 fight with Ray Wiley.

He received a Prayer for Judgment Continued, which means if he is convicted of another crime over a certain period of time, he’ll have the original charge reinstated, along with whatever judgment he receives in the new crime.

My take: Finally, an end to that sad chapter in our county’s history.

The rapid and sudden decline of Van Braxton started with his poor decision to use what essentially turned out to be lies against Stephen LaRoque in his reelection bid for the N.C. House, his crushing loss in November and this sad episode two days after the election.

I’m not here to bury Van (or to praise him, for that matter), but I had always found him to be a pretty decent person until this whole mess with Wiley. We gave him multiple opportunities to tell his side of the story, but he chose not to do so. I still think if he wants to restore his good name, a run at the City Council again wouldn’t hurt him — although he probably just wants to stay away from the public for a while. And if that’s the case, I don’t blame him.

CONGRESS QUESTIONING APPLE ABOUT IPHONE TRACKING

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., (yes, it’s still weird typing that) is asking Apple why it’s tracking iPhone and iPad users with software installed on both units.

My take: Yep … as someone who has owned an iPhone for three years, I’d like to know the answer to that question, too. It appears law enforcement is using the info, but why did Apple install this program in the first place?

Big Brother is watching us …

MIAMI FINDS ITS NEW BASKETBALL COACH

… and it’s a familiar name: George Mason coach Jim Larranaga, who took the Patriots to the Final Four in 2006.

My take: In my opinion, a great hire for the Hurricanes, despite his age (61). Miami is not a destination job, despite being in the ACC, so any good he can do while he’s there will be icing on the cake for the Canes.

The iPod shuffle

A Groovy Kind Of Love — Phil Collins

Blue Eyes Blue — Eric Clapton

People Are Strange — The Doors

Hits From The Bong — Cypress Hill

Never Let ‘Em C U Sweat — Nelly & The Teamsters

Morning News Report; April 21, 2011

HARROW TRANSFERING FROM STATE?

N.C. State point guard Ryan Harrow, who just finished his freshman season in Raleigh, is not announcing whether or not he’s transferring from the school.

However, this is what his Facebook status was at around 11 a.m.: I have not transfered from NCSU. Nothing is official and im just living life one day at a time. As to were im going to college next year cant answer that one just yet sorry..

My take: If he transfers, that would be too bad for the Wuffies — Harrow has the potential to be one of the premier point guards in America. The way he tore up the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational in December 2009 was nothing short of amazing.

Whatcha think, Wolfpack Nation?

CITY COUNCIL, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS STAND UP AGAINST U.S. 70 MEDIAN

The Kinston City Council and Lenoir County commissioners each passed resolutions against the proposed U.S. 70 median the N.C. DOT wants to put in front of King’s Restaurant, Neuse Sport Shop and other businesses in that stretch.

My take: Hope it’s not too little, too late for those business owners. I can’t even imagine what the DOT is thinking in this case — the U.S. 70 bypass will be built in about 4 or 5 years anyway, so what’s the point in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for something that’s going to be obsolete that soon? More money than sense, I guess?

MLB TAKES OVER DODGERS

With its owner embroiled in a messy divorce — and having to take out a $30 million loan to pay his players last week — Major League Baseball has taken over operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

My take: Wow; with the NBA running the New Orleans Hornets and now this happening with the Dodgers — one of the proudest pro franchises in sports history — this trend is alarming. Maybe it is time for pro sports contraction?

The iPod shuffle

Dirt Off Your Shoulder — Jay-Z

To Be With You — Mr. Big

How Low — Ludacris

Undercover (Of The Night) — The Rolling Stones

Touch The Sky — Kanye West featuring Lupe Fiasco

P.S.: Our very own Chewbacca, Jon Dawson, has another funny column today about The Free Press kickball team. Check it out…

Morning Sports Report; April 20, 2011

WOODY DURHAM ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

The venerable voice of UNC athletics, Woody Durham, announced his retirement last night in Chapel Hill.

My take: This is probably going to shock some of y’all — but I love Woody Durham (as was alluded to a couple of years ago). In that link, I mentioned I’d share my favorite Woody story … so here goes.

When I was growing up in Wilkes County (in northwest N.C.), my parents weren’t exactly the biggest sports fans. What that meant was that we didn’t watch a lot of sports on TV; instead, I had a trusty little transistor radio that had the one ear bud.

While I hated Carolina sports — and even Woody Durham at the time — I could listen to practically every Tar Heel game (along with the other Big 4 and ACC games) on my little radio at night. I listened to Carolina’s national championship game on that radio in 1982 and dozens of other UNC basketball games from 1979 to 1985 or so.

Fast-forward about a decade. As a sports stringer/free-lancer for the Gaston Gazette in 1994, I was given the opportunity to help cover the ACC Tournament in Charlotte. While I had covered a ton of prep and college games to that point, I had never covered an ACC Tournament.

And I was a nervous wreck. I walked into the Charlotte Coliseum, collected my credential and went to the media room. I didn’t know where to go, what to do or even how to get to press row.

After I found my bearings (and the little paper that showed me where my seat was on press row), I went out into the main arena and found my seat. As I was setting up my 40-pound laptop and trying to look like I was supposed to be there, I heard a voice that made me stop breathing.

Sitting right in front of me was Woody Durham. The man I had grown up with in my ear was just 3 feet in front of me. It was like I had my own personal play-by-play announcer — the man I had grown up listening to — right in front of me.

He turned around, said something like, “How are you doing, young man,” (although I’m not 100 percent sure that’s what he said) and shook my hand. I’m sure he thought I was a bit mentally-challenged because I think I blithered back something about listening to him while I was growing up — something I’m sure he’d heard 1,000 times.

And it was a memorable ACC Tournament – Woody called the whole tournament (as announcers used to do back in the day) and Virginia made the championship game (although my God-fearing Cavahoos lost to the Heels). And as a postscript (and a foreshadow?), Kinston’s Jerry Stackhouse was the MVP for UNC.

I ran into Woody a few other times from 1994-2002 and he was always pleasant. While he struggled a bit over the past couple of years with his call, he was always in fine voice. It’s going to be very, very weird to listen to Carolina basketball and football broadcasts and not hear the Voice of the Tar Heels.

Thanks for the memories, Woody.

Here are some other tributes to Mr. Durham:

GOODELL EXPECTS 2011 NFL SCHEDULE TO BE FULLY PLAYED

The NFL released its 2011 schedule yesterday – and the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, said he expects the schedule to be played in full.

My take: The first bit of good news in this drama in a while. I hope he’s right — because I gotta good feeling about my Redskins this year!

KNIGHT APOLOGIZES TO KENTUCKY, CALIPARI FOR REMARKS

ESPN’s Bobby Knight issued an apology to the University of Kentucky and its basketball coach, John Calipari, for making comments about the school’s practice of “one-and-done” players.

My take: Very uncharacteristic for him to do that — I’m surprised he didn’t just let it go, although I’m pretty sure that would’ve meant ESPN would let him go.

But … he was right. Kentucky — and its “one-and-done” mentality — is killing the spirit of college basketball. Kudos to Knight for standing up to the Big Blue … although I’m a little disappointed he backed down.

The iPod shuffle

(Oh) Pretty Woman – Van Halen

Flowers On The Wall — The Statler Brothers

I’m So Afraid — Fleetwood Mac

All You Need Is Love — The Beatles

Sussudio — Phil Collins

It’s 3:30 already?

Good grief … started an MNR around 9 a.m. and have nothing in it. Crazy busy day.

Anyhoo, I have four tickets to tonight’s ECU-UNCW baseball game; if you want ‘em, hit my email immediately.

And check out TACC9 today at 11 p.m. for a visit that Justin Hill and I had with Reece Gardner. One of my favorite visits yet.

The iPod shuffle

Around The World (Live) — Red Hot Chili Peppers

Ho — Ludacris

Electric Avenue — Eddy Grant

Love Will Never Do (Without You) — Janet Jackson

Notorious — Duran Duran

Morning News Report; April 18, 2011

N.C. HIT BY DOZENS OF TORNADOES

Saturday was a tragic day as dozens of tornadoes swept through the state, including ones that destroyed Greene County Middle School and many homes throughout that county.

My take: First — I’m so thankful that no one in our little neck o’ the woods lost their lives although there are at least 21 confirmed deaths in North Carolina.

And a personal aside — the HB and I were headed to Charlotte for the Jordan Brand Classic Saturday afternoon when the storms came through. We actually drove through the band of storms close to Burlington, saw the sideways rain and got rocked around I-40 by the winds.

We were about 10 minutes from our hotel when Tina got a call from her next-door neighbor asking if she was all right. Tina said we were — and then her neighbor told her that a tree was on her house. We turned around at Harris Blvd. at UNC-Charlotte on I-85 and hot-footed it back to Raleigh where we found what looked like a war zone.

The tree was, indeed, on Tina’s house and her backyard looked like a minefield, between all the uprooted trees and such. But Molly Ringwald Hughes Hanks the Puppy Dawg — who was going to be picked up by a friend later in the day — was fine … and that’s all that mattered.

Tina lives off South Saunders Street in Raleigh, and it seriously resembled a war zone. Her electricity is, obviously off and the power company is estimating it will be seven to 10 days before it is restored.

We worked yesterday to get her yard cleaned up as much as possible and to put tarps over the portions of her roof we could reach. She is awaiting a call from insurance adjuster.

More than anything, though, we’re just thankful that our puppy dawg is all right — a house and material things can be replaced. But we’re also saddened by all the tragedy and deaths throughout the state. I know you are joining me in praying for everyone touched by the storms.

And while I have a moment, please allow me to praise the efforts of my fine staff at The Free Press. While I was directing FP coverage and reading stories from Tina’s yard, Richard Clark, David Anderson, Justin Hill, Charles Buchanan and Wesley Brown were humping it hard to get today’s outstanding edition in your hands (and your computer screens). Clark, Anderson and Hill were all working on their days off, which makes their efforts all that much more appreciated. Thanks, guys!

NICOLAS CAGE ARRESTED; BAILED OUT BY DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER

Movie star Nicolas Cage was arrested in a drunken fit Saturday night — then was bailed out by reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter.

My take: Sounds like a movie script, but evidently happened.

As for Nicolas Cage — what the heck has happened to him? Once upon a time, he was one of the top actors in the world and now he’s having to have someone post an $11,000 bond for him? Seriously?

BARNES RETURNING TO UNC

In news that is going to make all UNC fans slobber all over themselves, Harrison Barnes announced he is going to return to Chapel Hill for his sophomore season.

My take: With him waiting a few days later than anticipated, you know it was a tough decision. However, this makes it an all-or-nothing year for the Heels next year. Go ahead, Heels fans, whoop it up — you deserve it.

The iPod shuffle

Crank That — Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em

Crazy Little Thing Called Love — Queen

Moment Of Surrender — U2

Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car — U2

Band On The Run — Paul McCartney & Wings