Saturday, August 06, 2005

Loser First-Date Locations

Loser First-Date Locations

Brought to you by Sara Eckel and!

You'd like to think the success of a first date is all about chemistry, connection, good conversation...but sometimes, where you are and what you're doing can play a key role in whether things go well or not. So, if you want to start a potential relationship off on good footing, please, we beg you, listen to what our 2,000 survey respondents said, and don't take your love interest on the following dates.

81% of you would functions
Your date will be nervous enough trying to impress you--don't make them audition for family and friends too. "Who needs that pressure?" says Wyatt, 32, from Lafayette, Colorado. "My family is so far from normal I wouldn't let a date near them."

34% of you would clubs
Loud music, pulsing lights, guys without shirts...need we say more? "Everyone's on the prowl. That would be very uncomfortable," explains Rosie, 31, from Modesto, California. We have to agree.

31% of you would avoid...movies
You spend two lame hours staring at a screen, not getting to know each there's always a risk the flick will contain a sex scene or something even more awkward. John, 28, from Boston, recalls taking a date to a David Lynch film. "Her reaction was, 'Why did you take me to this?'" he says.

28% of you would avoid...bars
Many people think alcohol is the perfect social lubricant for a first encounter, but it can lead to trouble. "No way," says Jim, 41, from Canton, Michigan. "I might say or do something foolish."

24% of you would avoid...sporting events
Any place that involves face paint, the wave, and angry drunk guys screaming at the referee is no venue for a soul mate connection. William, 23, from Upland, Indiana also points out they don't bring out the best in men: "Guys can seem a little too aggressive, and women might find that scary."

15% of you would avoid...the beach
Just because you like strolling hand in hand seaside doesn't meet you should do it on your first meeting. Karen, 28, from Dallas, concurs. "It's hard enough to pick out a cute little black dress," she says. "How do you pick out a perfect bikini?"

15% of you would avoid...comedy shows
If the comic is bad, that lame vibe will extend to the entire evening. "Comedy is great when it's good. But horrid when it's bad," says Anne, 37, from Spokane, Washington.

13% of you would
Trying to outsmart that little windmill is great fun--if you're ten years old. "If you're anything like me, you're clumsy when you're nervous...Bad idea for a first date!" says Angie, 28, from Lima, Ohio.

11% of you would avoid...theme restaurants
Never take a first date to a restaurant where your waiter is dressed like Chubby Checker, Fred Flintstone or Quasimodo. Beth, 32, from Brooklyn, New York, recalls her awful date at a medieval-themed restaurant. "You have to either pretend there aren't people in bloomers delivering your food, or keep making jokes like, 'I think I'll have the ye olde steak,'" she says.

9% of you would avoid...museums
A first date is a time to kick back and relax, not solemnly contemplate the works of the great masters. "It's a little too much intellectual stimulation for a first date," says Amy, 27, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

9% of you would houses
Many people think that meeting for coffee is an easy, breezy way to meet cute. But let's face it: It's hardly romantic. Or as Sandi, 40, from Tampa, Florida, put it: "Borrrrring!"

Sara Eckel writes for Glamour, Self, and Cosmopolitan--and actually wouldn't mind going mini-golfing on a first date.

Note: Percentages add up to more than 100% because some respondents made multiple selections.

Eddie Murphy's Wife Files for Divorce

Eddie Murphy's Wife Files for Divorce

By Associated Press
Fri Aug 5, 10:53 PM

LOS ANGELES - Actor-comedian Eddie Murphy's wife filed for divorce Friday, citing irreconcilable differences, his publicist confirmed.

Murphy and his wife, Nicole, married in 1993 and have been separated since July. They have four daughters and one son, ages 3 to 15, according to divorce papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

"The welfare of our children is our main concern, and their best interest is our first priority," the 44-year-old actor said in a statement issued through his publicist, Paul Bloch.

The former "Saturday Night Live" star's film credits include the "Beverly Hills Cop," "The Nutty Professor" and "Dr. Doolittle" movies.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Justice, SEC Investigate DaimlerChrysler

Justice, SEC Investigate DaimlerChrysler

By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writer
Fri Aug 5, 5:00 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department is investigating whether DaimlerChrysler AG paid bribes to foreign officials with the knowledge of its senior executives, the automaker disclosed in its latest financial filings.

The criminal investigation is tied to an inquiry opened last year by the Securities and Exchange Commission after an employee fired by the automaker said he was dismissed for complaining that the company was using secret bank accounts to bribe government officials.

DaimlerChrysler said it was cooperating with the investigations by "voluntarily sharing with the DOJ and the SEC information from its own internal investigation of payments from certain accounts" and complying with subpoenas from both federal agencies.

A DaimlerChrysler spokesman, Toni Melfi, confirmed that the investigation was linked to the SEC probe.

An internal investigation has identified accounts, transactions and payments that "are the subject of special scrutiny," but the company has not reached any definitive conclusions about whether they violate the law, DaimlerChrysler said in its interim report to the SEC on its financial performance in the second quarter of 2005.

The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits the payment of bribes to foreign officials.

The inquiries come amid a transitional period for the world's fifth-largest automaker. DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergan Schrempp announced last week that he would step down at the end of the year and be succeeded by Dieter Zetsche, who has led the U.S.-based Chrysler Group. Schrempp will leave two years before the end of his contract.

The disclosure in the SEC filing came about a week after 53-year-old Rudi Kornmayer, the managing director of a Mercedes plant in Nigeria, shot and killed himself in a park in Esslingen, Germany, on July 22. Prosecutors in Stuttgart, Germany, said he left a suicide note but that it provided no details about the bribery claims.

Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra declined to comment Friday. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the Justice Department investigation on Friday.

David Bazzetta, a former employee in the automaker's corporate auditing department, claimed in a lawsuit filed last year in U.S. District Court in Detroit that he learned during a corporate audit executive meeting in Stuttgart that payment of bribes was a common practice dating to before Daimler-Benz's 1998 merger with Chrysler Corp.

The suit was settled last month. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

The company noted that Bazzetta's whistleblower allegations were dismissed by a federal judge and the Labor Department. The company said the decisions validated "our position that his claim was without merit."

Several nations have tried to crack down on bribery in recent years. Nearly three dozen countries have agreed to adopt tougher anti-corruption laws, which have imposed criminal penalties on companies found guilty of bribery.

The State Department estimated last year that between May 2003 and April 2004, 47 contracts worth $15 billion may have been affected by bribes paid to foreign officials by non-U.S. companies.

DaimlerChrysler U.S. shares fell 31 cents to close at $49.20 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.


Associated Press writers Mark Sherman in Washington and Matt Moore in Frankfurt, Germany, contributed to this report.


On the Net:

DaimlerChrysler AG:

Knotts' Poor Health Forces Hometown Festival Cancellation

Knotts' Poor Health Forces Hometown Festival Cancellation

POSTED: 11:04 am EDT August 3, 2005
UPDATED: 11:27 am EDT August 3, 2005

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The failing health of Don Knotts is forcing his hometown of Morgantown, W. Va., to postpone a parade and film festival in his honor.

Stacey Brodak, the executive director of the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau, said a doctor for the 81-year-old Emmy-winning actor advised him not to travel across the country from his home in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Brodak cited "escalating health issues," but did not elaborate.

Knotts, who has dozens of film credits is best known as the bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show."

He also played would-be swinger landlord Ralph Furley on "Three's Company."

This fall, he'll be the voice of Turkey Mayor in the animated Disney film "Chicken Little."

Brodak said three events will go on as planned this month -- the unveiling of a sidewalk star, the first meeting of the local Don Knotts Fan Club and a display of Knotts memorabilia.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Easing of Northwest Logging Rules Blocked

Easing of Northwest Logging Rules Blocked

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
Tue Aug 2, 8:01 PM ET

SEATTLE - A federal judge struck down a move by the Bush administration to ease logging restrictions in the Northwest, saying the government failed to consider the effect on rare plants and animals.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said in her ruling Monday that under federal law, authorities had an obligation to show why the logging restrictions should be changed.

Pechman said she would not issue any specific injunctions pending further hearings, and the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday it hopes to salvage the Bush initiative by fixing the problems cited by the judge.

The rule change, which took effect in the spring of 2004, said forest managers no longer had to look for rare species before logging. The timber industry had complained for years that the rules were overly intrusive and could take years to complete.

Instead, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management were to use information provided by state officials in Washington, Oregon and California in determining whether to allow logging, prescribed burns, and trail- or campground-building.

The change applied to 5.5 million acres of old-growth and other forests in the Northwest.

A coalition of environmental groups sued to stop the change, saying it would double logging on federal land in the region and have disastrous consequences for rare species. They cheered the ruling Tuesday.

"That's a huge decision for people who care about old-growth forests in our region and the species that depend on them," said Dominick DellaSala, a forest ecologist with the World Wildlife Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Rex Holloway, a regional spokesman for the Forest Service, said the agency's lawyers were reviewing the decision and the "inadequacies" pointed out by the judge.


Bills Comment: The liberal, activist, environmentalist whacko judges strike again!

Sony to Pay $1.5M Over Fake Movie Critic

Sony to Pay $1.5M Over Fake Movie Critic

By ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer
Wed Aug 3, 9:40 AM ET

LOS ANGELES - A judge approved an agreement calling for Sony Pictures Entertainment to pay $1.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing the studio of citing a fake movie critic in ads for several films, an attorney said Tuesday.

Moviegoers who saw the films "Vertical Limit," "A Knight's Tale," "The Animal," "Hollow Man" or "The Patriot" during their original theater runs must file a claim to be eligible for a $5 per ticket reimbursement, said lawyer Norman Blumenthal, who represented a group of filmgoers who sued Sony Pictures in 2001.

Any funds remaining after claims are satisfied would go to charity, he said.

Sony Pictures declined comment. The studio did not admit any liability under terms of the settlement.

After the dispute came to light, the studio temporarily suspended two executives and vowed to monitor its publicity and advertising more closely.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl entered a final judgment in the case last month, Blumenthal said.

The lawsuit, originally filed by two California moviegoers, claimed the ads fooled the plaintiffs into seeing "A Knight's Tale."

In one ad for the action-comedy, a critic identified as "David Manning of The Ridgefield Press" was quoted calling star Heath Ledger "this year's hottest new star!"

In an ad for "The Animal," Manning was quoted declaring, "The producing team of 'Big Daddy' has delivered another winner!"

At the time, The Ridgefield Press, a small weekly newspaper in Connecticut, did not have a movie critic named David Manning, the lawsuit said.

Some of the movies Manning praised had already received positive reviews from real critics.


On the Net:


Adidas to buy Reebok for $3.8 bln

Adidas to buy Reebok for $3.8 bln

By Ulf Laessing
Wed Aug 3, 6:47 PM ET

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's sporting goods maker Adidas-Salomon (ADSG.DE) has agreed to buy U.S. rival Reebok (NYSE:RBK - news) for $3.8 billion in a move to close the gap on Nike and promise a profit increase by expanding in the United States and entering new markets.

The world's second- and third-biggest sports goods companies said Wednesday Adidas would buy the outstanding shares of Reebok for $59 per share in cash, a 34 percent premium to Reebok's closing share price Tuesday.

The combination will create a more formidable competitor to battle Nike's dominance of the market for athletic gear, particularly in the United States, which accounts for 50 percent of the sports footwear market alone.

Nike holds an estimated 36 percent share of the U.S. market, followed by Reebok at 12.2 percent and Adidas at 8.9 percent, according to John Horan, publisher of industry newsletter Sporting Goods Intelligence.

The combination will give Adidas and Reebok increased leverage with retail outlets in the all-important U.S. market and allow the brands to more directly challenge Nike on its home turf.

"The deal makes sense to us at first pass given Adidas' stated goal of increasing market share in the U.S. and its rivalry with Nike," Prudential analyst Lizabeth Dunn wrote in a research note. "On the margin this looks like bad news for Nike, which has dominant share in major retail accounts."

Nike spokesman Alan Marks said the company does not expect to change the way it does business in a traditionally competitive market.

"We always feel we win in our business when we stay focused on our strategies and our customers," Marks said. "It has always been a competitive business and it will continue to be a competitive business."

Reebok, based in the Boston suburb of Canton, Massachusetts, will bring key equipment licensing contracts with major North American professional sports leagues, including the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.

Also coming aboard are top endorsement contracts with NBA stars like Allen Iverson and Yao Ming.

Both boards agreed to the takeover, which will create a company with combined annual sales of some $11.1 billion. Nike's sales in its 2004/05 business year to May were $13.7 billion.

Reebok shares surged 32 percent to $58 on Instinet ahead of the 1330 GMT New York open, while Adidas was up 5.7 percent at 156 euros in much higher volumes than usual by 1153 GMT after it painted a bright outlook for the merged firm in a conference call.

Nike shares closed up 1.27 percent at $86.92 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Adidas stock had initially dropped 4 percent on the news, as some analysts questioned the deal's benefits and cost.

The takeover complements Adidas's strengths in Europe with Reebok's strong position in the United States.

"The deal makes sense. In one go, both brands are expanding significantly in Asia, North America and Europe," said HVB analyst Uwe Weinreich.

Puma, the world's fourth-biggest sporting goods company, last week also unveiled aggressive expansion plans through acquisitions and entry of new sportswear markets.

Adidas said it was confident Reebok's shareholders would approve the deal, which includes Reebok's net cash position of $84 million.


Adidas said the deal with Reebok, which it expects to close in the first half of next year pending antitrust and shareholder approval, would boost net income of the new Adidas Group by more than 10 percent per year in the medium term.

Sales are seen growing at a mid- to high-single-digit rate, and cost savings are expected to reach $150 million annually by the third year after the deal closes.

Adidas said it expected no significant restructuring costs and that they would quickly be outweighed by synergies.

The deal includes a provision for a $100 million break-up fee payable to Adidas if the acquisition is terminated under certain circumstances. If the deal is terminated because it is blocked by antitrust authorities, Adidas may be required to pay Reebok a fee of $75 million, according to a Reebok regulatory filing.

Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein raised its investment view to "buy" from "add," saying Adidas' margins would grow.

In the key U.S. market -- where Adidas has repeatedly changed strategy to attack market leader Nike -- Adidas and Reebok said sales would double as Adidas gets access to Reebok's popular basketball, American football, hockey and womenswear products.

"North America is the market where you have to be," Adidas Chief Executive Herbert Hainer told a conference call.

In the second quarter, Adidas's sales grew in all regions except Europe, meeting expectations by rising 8.2 percent to 1.52 billion euros.

Net income rose 33 percent to 94 million euros ($116 million), when adjusted for the sale of Salomon -- beating the average estimate of 86 million euros forecast in a Reuters poll of 18 analysts.

For 2005, the Bavarian firm reiterated net income from continuing and discontinued operations would rise 20 percent.

Analysts said Adidas would also benefit from Reebok's strong lifestyle fashion business. Reebok Chairman and CEO Paul Fireman will continue to run the Reebok brand.

(Additional reporting by Georgina Prodhan and Natalia Matter and the San Francisco Bureau)

($1=.8121 euro)

Brain-Dead Woman Dies After Giving Birth

Brain-Dead Woman Dies After Giving Birth

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer
Wed Aug 3, 7:18 PM ET

ARLINGTON, Va. - A brain-dead woman who was kept alive for three months so she could deliver the child she was carrying was removed from life support Wednesday and died, a day after giving birth.

"This is obviously a bittersweet time for our family," Justin Torres, the woman's brother-in-law, said in a statement.

Susan Torres, a cancer-stricken, 26-year-old researcher at the National Institutes of Health, suffered a stroke in May after the melanoma spread to her brain.

Her family decided to keep her alive to give her fetus a chance. It became a race between the fetus' development and the cancer that was ravaging the woman's body.

Doctors said that Torres' health was deteriorating and that the risk of harm to the fetus finally outweighed the benefits of extending the pregnancy.

Torres gave birth to a daughter, Susan Anne Catherine Torres, by Caesarean section on Tuesday at Virginia Hospital Center. The baby was about two months premature and weighed 1 pound, 13 ounces. She was in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Dr. Donna Tilden-Archer, the hospital's director of neonatology, described the child as "very vigorous." She said the baby had responded when she received stimulation, indicating she was healthy.

Doctors removed Torres from life support early Wednesday with the consent of her husband, Jason Torres, after she received the final sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church.

"We thank all of those who prayed and provided support for Susan, the baby and our family," Jason Torres said in a statement. "We especially thank God for giving us little Susan. My wife's courage will never be forgotten."

English-language medical literature contains at least 11 cases since 1979 of irreversibly brain-damaged women whose lives were prolonged for the benefit of the developing fetus, according to the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Dr. Christopher McManus, who coordinated care for Susan Torres, put the infant's chances of developing cancer at less than 25 percent. He said 19 women who have had the same aggressive form of melanoma as Torres have given birth, and five of their babies contracted the disease.

A Web site was set up to help raise money for the family's mounting medical bills, and as of two weeks ago, people from around the world had donated around $400,000. The family said it must pay tens of thousands of dollars each week that insurance does not cover.

Jason Torres had quit his job to be by his wife's side, spending each night sleeping in a reclining chair next to her bed.

The couple have one other child — 2-year-old Peter, who has been staying with his grandparents.


Associated Press writer Kristen Gelineau in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.


On the Net:

Susan Torres Fund:

Bolton gets to work; says he's glad to be at UN

Bolton gets to work; says he's glad to be at UN

By Evelyn Leopold
Tue Aug 2, 7:09 PM ET

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - John Bolton presented his credentials as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday and immediately paid visits to U.N. ambassadors to discuss reform of the world body and test the waters on Iran's nuclear policy, envoys said.

Bolton, who arrived in New York on Monday and conferred briefly with Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday, visited the U.N. missions of China, Japan, Algeria and Britain, among other nations with seats on the 15-member U.N. Security Council.

"Warm" and "friendly" and "frank," were some of the comments from envoys after his visit.

Bolton, 56, the former State Department undersecretary for arms control, raised possible Security Council action on Iran's announcement that it plans to resume enriching uranium, said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But no details were given and it is not clear how much support there is in the 15-member body for any kind of rebuke or sanctions.

Bolton also exchanged views with some ambassadors on Annan's ambitious reform program, which 170 world leaders will endorse in one form or another at a U.N. summit in mid-September.

U.N. General Assembly members are spending most of August negotiating a text on security, human rights, development and U.N. management reforms. And they face a contentious bid for permanent Security Council seats by Japan, Germany, Brazil and India, which the U.S. opposes.

Anne Patterson, the deputy U.S. ambassador, told the General Assembly on Tuesday the document was too long and did not address American priorities.

She particularly criticized the section of development, saying it did not "adequately reflect the necessary partnership between the developing world, which must put into place the institutions that allow it to use aid effectively, and the developed world."

Bolton did not speak to reporters but told Annan at a photo-taking session, "Good to see you. I'm glad to be here."

No U.N. envoy can ignore a chief American representative but several diplomats reminded reporters that give and take was essential to the diplomatic game. Bolton has a reputation as a skilled sparring partner, who once called the United Nations irrelevant.

"Mr. Bolton has his views on the United Nations," Algerian U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali told reporters before meeting Bolton.

"We only hope that when he comes here and works with us he will realize -- I am sure he already does -- that the United Nations is an irreplaceable forum and that we have to work together to make our world safer and more prosperous," Baali said.

Brazil's U.N. ambassador, Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, also a Security Council member, struck a similar note.

"There is a tradition here to work together. We hope and expect that this tradition will be maintained," he said.

Bolton, opposed by Democratic senators for five months, was installed by President Bush in a so-called recess appointment that allows him to make such appointments when Congress is not in session. He can serve until January 2007, when a new Congress is sworn in.

Hours after the appointment on Monday Bolton was in New York to meet staff at the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

Bolton is no stranger to the United Nations, having served as an assistant secretary of state for international organizations under President George H.W. Bush. He helped lobby Security Council members in 1990 to approve a war against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait.

Wallace interested in 'NASCAR consultant' role

Wallace interested in 'NASCAR consultant' role

By Dave Rodman, NASCAR.COM
August 1, 2005
10:55 AM EDT (14:55 GMT)

In 22 years of full-time racing in NASCAR's premier division, Rusty Wallace has seen and experienced plenty, and he feels that's given him plenty of ideas.

And he thinks, potentially, plenty of solutions.

With only 17 Nextel Cup races left before he leaves the racecar driver's role that's been his livelihood for more than 30 years, Wallace is considering where his future time is going to be spent.

And he's decided he would like to give back to the sport.

At Pocono Raceway two weekends ago, Wallace said that if he were asked, he would serve as a special consultant to NASCAR to solve problems and fix racetracks.

"I haven't had any conversations with [NASCAR]," Wallace said. "But I would definitely be interested in doing it. I want to help this sport grow [and] I see a lot of negative things that I can help on, so we'll see what happens."

Wallace acknowledged that NASCAR has a history of listening to everyone in its garage areas. The sanctioning body has taken Wallace's unofficial "proposal" under advisement.

"It's important for everybody to understand that we take in all the input that's out there already, from as many sources as we can," NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham said. "We'll always consider other options to make the racing better and safer for all of the competitors."

Wallace was adamant that an individual -- not a group of drivers -- was needed to find solutions. He cited NASCAR's success over the last 57 years as the reason for his philosophy.

"I think they need a driver that they can trust, not a committee," Wallace said. "The drivers disagree and they get too many things going on and it screws everything up."

Since William H.G. France formed NASCAR in the late 1940s, the final decision on NASCAR policy has rested with him, his son William C. France and now his grandson, Brian France.

That's fine with Wallace.

"I do like the dictatorship the way it is," Wallace said. "That's the reason NASCAR has worked the way it has -- they make the decisions [they have to] and it's not a committee decision [because] if you had a committee decision you'd never make the progress they have."

Wallace said he sees issues almost on a weekly basis that he could address.

"I think they need to get a key guy who will look at these tracks and help them with changes," Wallace said. "There are things that need to be addressed at the road courses. Sears Point [Infineon Raceway], I'd like to help them with Turn 6 so they can get a better passing zone."

But Wallace's "pet project" when he made his proposal was the job that was done at Pocono in an attempt to correct a rash of left front tire failures that occurred during the June Pocono 500.

When drivers arrived at Pocono in June and began practicing, they found an uneven patch in the Tunnel Turn, and in the race they ran afoul of a sharp-edged curb. Both items, in combination with aggressive set-ups, led to problems.

When the series returned in July they found a new patch and a modified curb and, even though there were virtually no tire problems then, Wallace said the garage area was fired up over the changes.

"This thing here is a disaster," Wallace said the day before the Pennsylvania 500, where he ultimately finished second to Kurt Busch. "I don't know what is going on over there [but] Cheech and Chong designed that thing.

"Someone with more talent than they used needs to fix that thing."

Wallace said a driver -- either himself or someone like him -- has the needed experience to create effective solutions.

"You've got to have some rhyme or reason about how you design things -- you've got to know that when you approach something at 200 miles an hour it looks different, versus coming at it at 20 miles an hour in a street car," Wallace said. "You've got to have some talent -- you've got to have a driver to tell these guys how to do this [and] I think that's where they could use some help on."

Ultimately, that's where Wallace thinks he could help most. He's involved in a new track in the American Midwest with Paxton Waters, whom Wallace said designed speedways in Las Vegas and Fontana, Calif.

"I'm having a good time with my track in Iowa because I'm able to do what I want with all the different things I've seen around the country," Wallace said. "We've got about 28 bulldozers over there right now and the track is taking shape -- it's fully funded, it's reality and it's going down the road rocking and rolling.

"We're in conversations now with sanctioning bodies. I think it's going to be the most beautiful track in the world. It's a 7/8ths-mile with 12-degree banking at the bottom and 14-degree at the top.

"I've looked at all the pit lanes, I looked at the warm up lanes and I looked at the tunnel and how you get to the track. I looked at how you get people in and out, I looked at the hospitality areas and I looked at the most fan-friendly way to do it."

At Pocono Wallace went into great detail of the ways in which he's going to spend his time beginning next season, but wouldn't go into specifics about ideas to help NASCAR grow.

He reiterated that he felt he was the best man for the job, however.

"I don't have a whole laundry list right now in my head, but there are a lot of things," Wallace said. "I think they like me and they trust me and they know when I say something I'm not lying."

Bill's Comment: I believe that NASCAR would be smart to utilize him for this, or some other driver-related capacity.

Lisa Marie has it bad -- and NASCAR capitalizes

Presley the focus of sport's latest promotional campaign
By B. Duane Cross, NASCAR.COM
August 1, 2005
11:25 AM EDT (15:25 GMT)

The question was simple enough: Would you like to interview Lisa Marie Presley?

She's the face of the latest 30-second NASCAR ad that asks, "How bad have you got it?" The commercial combines footage of Lisa Marie at the Pepsi 400, race footage and her song Thanx off the Now What album. NASCAR also is in discussions with Capitol Records for cross-promotion at retail and radio venues around the Presley-NASCAR relationship.

LMP -- daughter of Elvis and Priscilla, activist, musician. ... Yeah, I could be persuaded.

My parents instilled in me at an early age a great sense of history. I know Elvis' story, from Tupelo to Graceland; I grew up 30 minutes south of Tupelo, a couple hours from Memphis. Other than Highway 45, Elvis was the best thing to ever come out of Northeast Mississippi.

Elvis and Priscilla were married the day we loaded up the family Ford Falcon and moved from Fayetteville, Tenn., to Aberdeen, Miss.

Ten years later, fate had my mom and me on a Trailsway bus en route from Tennessee to Mississippi -- but mired in heavy traffic in Memphis; the world was laying The King to rest. (Like many others, my mom still has the August 1977 newspapers that mourned Presley's death.) We both have daughters named Riley (Lisa Marie) or Reily (me).

Interview Lisa Marie? Yeah, that's doable. I know her story, too -- and it's not Jacko or Nick Cage. It's never been about her celebrity, not for me.

She's into LEAP and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. She's also actively involved with Presley Place. The lady isn't big on talk; she's does the walk.

• LMP's official Web site

After the interview everyone had the same question: What's she like? As if the answer was going to include the words "diva" or "prima donna." Truth is Lisa Marie's every other thirtysomething mother of two with a career. When she's not Lisa Marie Presley, she's mom. What else is there? Lisa Marie comes across as someone you'd want in your circle of friends.

And that's where we began ...

So, Ms. Presley, would you do another ride-along with Wally Dallenbach? "Hell no! ... But I would like to go around the track with someone sane," she says.

For those who missed it, her pre-Pepsi 400 "Wally's World" trek around Daytona was must-scream TV.

"I knew I was in for it," says Presley, "when I asked him before we started that if I asked he would slow down. He didn't answer."

Presley performed before the Pepsi 400 at Daytona on July 2, and though that was her first NASCAR race to attend in person, she's quick to say that "I kinda got hooked."

"I got a crash-course in the whole arena -- racers, their stories. ... It's amazing [that they] basically jeopardize their lives for our entertainment."

And it's that entertainment on which NASCAR is looking to capitalize. Presley is the latest entertainer to lend her fame to the "How bad have you got it?" marketing campaign, joining a list that includes Hootie and the Blowfish, Sheryl Crow and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.

Presley also says the sport's ongoing move toward the left coast will be well-received. "I think the West Coast will embrace NASCAR; there is more of an audience."

Speaking of audiences, Presley's music is gaining its own -- despite the industry's current slant toward pop princesses. "[The music industry] is not at its best at this moment," she says. "It's not conducive to different kinds of music. ... It's shallow and commercial."

Nonetheless, her gritty debut album To Whom It May Concern was certified gold and her follow-up entry debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard chart.

Presley admits it has been "hard to walk my own path," but says she wouldn't change a thing. "Most of the content of the second record is radio-friendly. But I did my own thing, didn't conform -- and that's not necessarily praised in society."

Her daughter, Riley Keough, also has done her own thing. She did two runway shows during Fashion Week 2002 in Milan, Italy, for designers Dolce & Gabbana, and she currently is a model for the Dior fashion house.

Presley readily admits to having reservations about 16-year-old Riley pursuing a modeling career. "Yes, of course -- because of the nature of [the business] savors superficial things. But she's so unaffected by all of it, and all is going good."

However, she does have some advice for those who either want to break into the entertainment industry or are trying to follow famous footsteps: "All you can do is the best you can do. Be serious about it.

"Being an individual is OK rather than being what you're thought of or should be."

To that end, Presley has engaged herself in several projects to help others. In 2002, she testified before Congress on behalf of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, championing the cause against labeling children mentally ill and drugging them with heavy, mind-altering, psychiatric drugs.

She also supporters LEAP -- the Literacy, Education and Ability Program -- as well as Presley Place, a charitable organization in Memphis that helps homeless people.

"I'm not someone out for myself," she says. "I'm not vain and I don't want attention. I have to take responsibility because I have the ability to help others. ... I'm blessed to be privileged."

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the writer.

Do Republicans Underperform??

America's Natural Majority

Despite recent electoral victories, could Republicans actually be underperforming at the polls?

Newt thinks so, and so does Tony Snow, who yesterday said on his show after talking to Newt, "They don't understand the advantage of their ideas." (Listen at Tony's site, - see "Republicans in Remiss").

Newt's latest White Paper, America's Natural Majority, shows how on the great challenges facing America, the majority of the country is remarkably conservative in its beliefs and values. Newt then lays out how Republicans can finally live up to that dynamic in order to become a true governing majority that accomplishes bold, needed changes purely on the power of their ideas and the wind of overwhelming popular support in their sails.

Underwood, Martin Are Sexiest Vegetarians

Underwood, Martin Are Sexiest Vegetarians

Wed Jul 27,10:25 AM ET

NEW YORK - If only Bo Bice had cut down on the ribs. Carrie Underwood, who beat out Bice to win the "American Idol" crown in May, was voted the "World's Sexiest Vegetarian" in PETA's annual online poll. She shares the honor with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.

More than 13,000 votes were cast in the contest run by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights group announced Tuesday.

Underwood, a 22-year-old Oklahoma native, wore a "V for Vegetarian" T-shirt on the Fox show. Martin, 28, and his wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, made headlines when they gave their 1-year-old daughter, Apple, a vegan birthday cake.

Underwood and Martin beat out other famous veggie lovers including David Duchovny, Reese Witherspoon, Avril Lavigne, Joaquin Phoenix and Prince.

Last year, Andre 3000 of OutKast and Alicia Silverstone won the "sexiest vegetarian" title. Other previous winners include Tobey Maguire, Lauren Bush and Shania Twain.


On the Net:

Megadeth Lead Singer Sues Former Bassist

Megadeth Lead Singer Sues Former Bassist

Tue Jul 26, 2:20 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - The lead singer of Megadeth has sued the band's former bass player for allegedly using the name of the group without permission in an ad for musical equipment.

David Mustaine claims in the lawsuit filed Monday in Superior Court that he and David Ellefson entered into a settlement agreement in February that restricts the guitarist's use of the band name.

"Ellefson shall not use, or authorize anyone else to use, the work or mark `Megadeth" to advertise, market or promote any person, band, company, organization, product or services without Megadeth's prior express written permission," according to the lawsuit.

Mustaine said an ad in this month's issue of Bass Player features Ellefson holding a pedal tuner for bass guitars and includes the names of several bands he is involved with — including Megadeth.

Mustaine is seeking unspecified compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages.

Megadeth was founded in 1983 and released a greatest hits album, "Back to the Start," last month. Ellefson appeared on albums from 1985 to 2002 until he got into a disagreement with Mustaine and refused to rejoin the band last year.


On the Net:

AFL-CIO President Blasts Heads of Unions

AFL-CIO President Blasts Heads of Unions

By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer
Mon Jul 25,12:54 PM ET

CHICAGO - AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, anticipating plans by the Teamsters and a major service workers affiliate to bolt from the labor federation, charged Monday that such a move would be a "grievous insult" to working people and their unions.

"At a time when our corporate and conservative adversaries have created the most powerful anti-worker political machine in the history of our country, a divided movement hurts the hopes of working families for a better life," Sweeney said in a text of his keynote address to an AFL-CIO convention marred by division and boycott.

The Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, the largest AFL-CIO affiliate with 1.8 million members and one that Sweeney once headed, intended to announce Monday they are leaving the federation after failing to reform it, according to several labor officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The unions are part of the Change to Win Coalition, seven labor groups vowing to accomplish what the 50-year-old labor giant has failed to do: Reverse the decades-long decline in union membership. But many union presidents, labor experts and Democratic Party leaders fear the split will weaken the movement politically and hurt unionized workers who need a united and powerful ally against business interests and global competition.

Two other Change to Win Coalition unions signaled their intentions to leave the AFL-CIO: United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE, a group of textile and hotel workers. But they were not scheduled to take part in Monday's news conference.

A few blocks away, a shrunken AFL-CIO met to hear Sweeney say he was "very angry" at the dissident leaders. They include SEIU President Andy Stern who was a protege of Sweeney's when the AFL-CIO chief was leader of the SEIU.

"The labor movement belongs to all of us — every worker — and our future should not be dictated by the demands of any group or the ambitions of any individual," Sweeney said.

"But it is also my responsibility to hold our movement together — because our power is vested in our solidarity. So I want you to know I will overcome my own anger and disappointment and do everything in my power to bring us back where we belong — and that's together," he said.

Earlier, Democratic lawmakers were careful not to take sides in the fight in their convention speeches, but urged labor leaders to stand together for workers at a critical time.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said business interests may think the divide will make organized labor vulnerable.

"We have news for them. It's not going to happen," he said to cheers. "Our unity is our strength. We will stand together and fight for working families."

After his speech, Durbin said it's too early to tell what impact the rift will have on the Democratic Party, which relies on labor movement for money and manpower on Election Day. "I think the unions not participating in this convention are still deeply committed to working families," he said. "I hope the separation in our union family is resolved very soon.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., made a glancing reference at the dispute, telling delegates: "There are questions of strategy and tactics of leadership and power and I can imagine many of you are anxious about labor's future but, more importantly, you're also anxious about your own futures."

He urged labor leaders to adapt to the global economy, which is pressuring U.S. workers out of jobs. "There has never been a greater need for a strong labor movement to stand up for American workers," Obama said.

The four dissident unions, representing nearly one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members, announced Sunday they were boycotting the federation's convention, a step that was widely considered to be a precursor to leaving the federation.

"Our differences are so fundamental and so principled that at this point I don't think there is a chance there will be a change of course," said UFCW President Joe Hansen.

Leaders of the dissident unions say the AFL-CIO was beyond repair from within. In addition to seeking the ouster of Sweeney, they demanded more money for organizing, power to force mergers of smaller unions and other changes they say are key to adapting to vast changes in society and the economy.

Rank-and-file members of the 52 non-boycotting AFL-CIO affiliates expressed confusion and anger over the action. "If there was ever a time we workers need to stick together, it's today," said Olegario Bustamante, a steelworker from Cicero, Ill.

It's the biggest rift in organized labor since 1938, when the CIO split from the AFL. The organizations reunited in the mid-1950s.

Globalization, automation and the transition from an industrial-based economy have forced hundreds of thousands of unionized workers out of jobs, weakening labor's role in the workplace.

When the AFL-CIO formed 50 years ago, union membership was at its zenith, with one of every three private-sector workers belonging to a labor group. Now, less than 8 percent of private-sector workers are unionized.

A divided labor movement worries Democratic leaders who rely on the AFL-CIO's money and manpower on Election Day. Most experts content the split could weaken organized labor, though some competition may be what's needed to jolt the movement from its slumber.

The convention boycott means the unions will not pay $7 million in back dues to the AFL-CIO on Monday. If all four boycotting unions quit the federation, they would take about $35 million a year from the estimated $120 million annual budget of the AFL-CIO, which has already been forced to layoff a quarter of its 400-person staff.

Two other unions that are part of the Change to Win Coalition planned to remain at the Chicago convention: the Laborers International Union of North America and the United Farm Workers. They are the least likely of the coalition members to leave the AFL-CIO, though the Laborers show signs of edging that way, officials said.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, the seventh member of the coalition, left the AFL-CIO in 2001.


On the Net: AFL-CIO:

Change to Win Coalition:

AFL-CIO Splinters, Spooking Some Democrats

AFL-CIO Splinters, Spooking Some Democrats

By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer
Mon Jul 25, 7:08 PM ET

CHICAGO - The AFL-CIO splintered on Monday, spooking some Democratic Party leaders and the ranks of organized workers, their futures in the hands of labor rebels who bolted the 50-year-old federation vowing to reverse the steep decline in union membership.

"Our goal is not to divide the labor movement but to rebuild it," said Andy Stern, president of the 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union. He and Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said their unions would leave the AFL-CIO, paving the way for other unions to follow.

Their action drew a bitter rebuke from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who called it a "grievous insult" that could hurt workers already buffeted by the global economy and anti-union forces in Congress.

"The labor movement belongs to all of us," Sweeney said, "and our future should not be dictated by the demands of any group or the ambitions of any individuals."

The future of the labor movement could be greatly affected by the success or failure of Stern's effort to build a coalition outside the AFL-CIO that dedicates more money and manpower to recruiting union members while adjusting to demands of the global economy.

His Change to Win Coalition consists of seven unions, four of which boycotted the AFL-CIO convention: The SEIU, Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE, a group of textile, hotel and restaurant employees.

Labor officials expect the UFCW and UNITE HERE to leave the AFL-CIO later.

Those four unions represent one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members. The SEIU and Teamsters alone account for more than $20 million of an estimated $120 million AFL-CIO budget.

Much of that money goes to Democratic candidates and to political operations that benefit the Democratic Party. Stern, Hoffa and their colleagues in the Change to Win Coalition pushed the AFL-CIO to shift focus from such political activity to recruiting new union members, contending that a growing union movement would naturally increase its political and bargaining power.

"They said no," Hoffa said at a coalition news conference held a few blocks from the AFL-CIO convention site. "Their idea is to keep throwing money at politicians."

Democratic politicians catch most of the AFL-CIO donations, one reason why party leaders worry about a weakened federation. The AFL-CIO also spends millions of dollars on programs that help get Democratic voters to turn out on Election Day.

Some Democrats said Monday they hoped the warring factions would come back together. Others suggested the competition would jolt organized labor out of its decades-old slumber.

"We're in uncharted waters," said Democratic consultant David Axelrod of Chicago. "Obviously, you have to believe a unified and coordinated effort is better than a disparate one and, obviously, the labor movement is a vital part of the Democratic coalition."

Some Democrats cast the breakup in apocalyptic terms. "It's the worst thing that could happen to us as a party," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist with long ties to labor.

Others welcomed the challenge to the status quo. "The approach represented by progressive reform organizations like the SEIU represents the future — they grow in size, they have fresh ideas, they understand message in the media age, they connect with the middle class," said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. "These groups are on the right side of history."

As for the effect on union members, Rebecca Knorr, a member of the Communication Workers of America who works as a directory assistance operator for Qwest, said of the split: "We agree on the same principles, but our leadership refuses to work together. ... The rank and file are the ones that are going to be hurt by this."

While this is the biggest rift in organized labor since 1938, when the CIO split from the AFL, supporters of the breakup note that labor made big gains when the two groups competed.

One of every three private-sector workers belonged to a labor group when the AFL-CIO merged in the 1950s. Now, less than 8 percent of private-sector workers are unionized.

Globalization, automation and the transition from an industrial-based economy have forced hundreds of thousands of unionized workers out of jobs, weakening labor's role.

A number of Democratic lawmakers made their traditional pilgrimage to the AFL-CIO convention, urging unity while being careful not to take sides in the fight.

"What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., pointing to efforts to fight the Bush administration on behalf of union workers.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said business interests may think the divide will make organized labor vulnerable.

"We have news for them. It's not going to happen," he said to cheers. "Our unity is our strength. We will stand together and fight for working families."

After his speech, Durbin said it was too early to tell what impact the rift would have on the Democratic Party. "I hope the separation in our union family is resolved very soon," he said.

What are the chances of that happening? "I don't know," he replied.

A few blocks away, Stern and Hoffa dismissed suggestions that they would ever rejoin the AFL-CIO, though they said they wanted to work with the federation to bolster union membership.

"We've extended our hand and they have to decide whether they want to be successful or vindictive," Stern said.

Sweeney didn't hide his feelings. "This is a tragedy for working people," he said.