Saturday, August 04, 2007
Calvin Johnson signs, goes camping: And, just like that, the Lions' offense is MUCH better.
Juan Carlos Navarro traded by the Wizards to the Grizzlies, reuniting JCN with buddy Pau Gasol. Memphis gave up a conditional first-rounder (Lottery-protected next year -- a lock to happen, and Top 3-protected in 2009, so my question is: What happens when the Grizz are in the Lottery next year and the Top 3 in '09? When do the Wizards get that pick, and if they get it in 2010, how does that possibly help a team that wants to contend in the East NOW?) Navarro joins the studly, if undersized, Memphis backcourt log-jam with Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry. Prediction: JCN gets quality minutes, particularly late in games.
Neifi Perez gets 80-game suspension after third strike on banned stimulants. (Really: He can't switch to decaf?)
What am I missing? Feel free to add in the Comments.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Yahoo Blogger Fantasy League Draft Results: You knew I was going to take LaDainian Tomlinson with the first overall pick last night. But what happened after that was... iffy. Did I blow my shot at glory, my season over on Draft Day? Click here for the full report (or just scroll down to the next post below).
College Football: Coaches' Top 25 comes out. Yes, this is pretty high up in the usual a.m. post for something so ludicrous, but I can't help myself.
USC is the overwhelming No. 1, but not a unanimous pick. No. 2 LSU got 4 first-place votes. No. 3 Florida got 9 first-place votes (even I wouldn't give them a first-place vote, so I'm not sure what coaches are doing besides using inertia to say "Well, until they lose, they should stay No. 1," which is a stupid way to do any Top 25, let alone a preseason Top 25, which is already one of the most meaningless exercises in sports.) No. 5 Michigan got 2 first-place votes.
The highest-ranked team that was unranked a year ago is
(One more time: What would be the harm in revealing each coach's ballot, from here through the end of the season? Transparency is GOOD, not bad, in this case.)
NFL Deals: The Cards are making Levi Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. But here's the thing: If he comes close to earning that money, it's worth it. That team is a strong O-line from breaking through as a playoff contender.
MLB Milestone Watch: No Bonds 755, No A-Rod 500. Maybe this weekend?
MLB Dud: Brewers manager Ned Yost, who seemed to lose control of his dugout in an perceived altercation with C Johnny Estrada, after Yost ripped another player. It wasn't the fight that some claim, but it's a signal that in addition to losing a grip on first place in the NL Central, Yost might be losing a grip on his team.
MLB Stud: Kerry Wood, who will make his return to the Cubs today as part of the bullpen. At this point, you have to be rooting for one of the great hard-luck cases of the last decade. (Not quite Ankiel, but in the Top 5 certainly.)
NFL Camping Injury Watch (because, at this point, that's all that matters, particularly to fantasy owners): Adrian Peterson suffers a hip pointer.
NFL Hall of Fame induction: Question for everyone. Would Michael Irvin have made the Hall of Fame if he didn't have the high-profile position of being on ESPN all those years? (Can't wait to hear about THAT induction speech.) Is Bruce Matthews the anti-Irvin?
NBA Schedule: OK, give the NBA a TON of credit for making Oden vs. Durant part of the Christmas Day triple-header, which I argued last month is the biggest single day of the season (playoffs included) for the league.
(Yesterday, I mentioned how awesome it was to have Durant vs. Carmelo on Opening Night. But there's a rival for Best Opening Night Game: KG and the Celtics against the Wizards, in a battle of Big Threes.)
Scandals: Is there a brewing tennis gambling scandal involving Nikolay Davydenko? Or is this just a case of bookies being extra-careful in the wake of the NBA's scandal? Will we see more quick triggers on sports books calling off bets if they see even a hint of weirdness?
Media: So you probably heard about the YES Network being worth, like, 3 BILLION dollars or something like that. Here's a follow-up: The 37 percent of the network owned by The Boss won't be for sale. So hold off on those "Signal he's selling the team!" stories... for now.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
For those following along, here is the roster I ended up drafting for the Yahoo "Bloggers' League" in our draft tonight. I had the first overall pick, then the back-to-back picks at the end/start of rounds, with a hellish 22 picks between me and each U-turn.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson: "I win."
WR Torry Holt: "Best available WR."
RB Brandon Jacobs: "Fits RB-WR-RB strategy"
RB Marion Barber: "Best available 3rd RB."
QB Vince Young: "I want to root for him."
WR Dante Stallworth: "More than Brady-to-Moss."
RB Leon Washington: "Eh, classic Panic Pick."
WR Chris Chambers: "Seriously: W! T! F!"
QB Matt Schaub: "Money, meet mouth."
K Neil Rackers: "Swiped him from Leitch."
WR Ted Ginn: "Handcuffing...Chambers? Cripes."
RB Michael Bush: "Worth a shot in Round 13."
D Vikings: "Suckered by KSK's Drew on this."
TE Owen Daniels: "Round 15: I give up."
From the looks of things, I will test all that conventional wisdom that says you could have LaDainian Tomlinson and the JV team from the Little Sisters of the Poor and still be a contender in your league. (Ugh: Washington and Chambers was a Round 8/9 back-to-back pick that -- before, during AND after -- nearly ruined the entire draft for me. Wait: Nearly?)
I wish I could say that, knowing I had Tomlinson's production, I intentionally took a flier on high-risk/high-reward guys like Young, Jacobs, Davis, Stallworth, Ginn and Bush. That's just hindsight rationalization.
I still give myself a puncher's chance in the league, if only because I have Tomlinson. Of course, it doesn't take much skill to know how to use that No. 1 overall pick.
More as it develops.
This is a no-brainer: LaDainian Tomlinson.
But then you get that interesting phenomenon with that No. 1 draft position: You have a HUGE wait, then you make back-to-back picks (with more huge waits until the next back-to-back pick).
It’s a 12-team league, so I’m eyeing picks 24/25, 48/49, 72/73 and so on….
But here's how you can help: In the Comments section, give me some underrated and overrated (mostly underrated, please) players to keep an eye on. Any/all positions. Who is poised for a break-out season? Who is undervalued?
Meanwhile, I HAVE to go RB-RB-QB, right? (That second RB and the QB will come back-to-back.) Or, as I suspect, is the emerging trend of split-time RBs going to decrease the value of RBs, and given the wait between my 3rd and 4th picks, I should go for a WR?
Should be fun. And intensely, freakishly, thrillingly public. (J. Childs: "The most public yet of my many humiliations.") Thanks for the help!
Twins postpone Thursday's game, with weekend games possibly affected by that horrific bridge crash. Thoughts and prayers with the entire
Cubs in first place in NL Central: Mark it down "August 2." Forget the records: The race between the Cubs and Brewers (and accompanying Wild Card race between that runner-up and the runner-up in the NL West) will be the two biggest storylines to watch in the NL over the next two months.
Vince Young involved in training-camp scrum: He's throwing the punches, which isn't the best move for your QB. But I like his fight! (No pun intended.)
Vick Watch: Does Donovan McNabb REALLY want to be going on the record as supporting Michael Vick?
Randy Moss is going to be devastatingly awesome for the Pats... if his hamstring holds up.
Wellington John Mara tells Michael Strahan to cram it with walnuts, ugly. (If Wellington Mara was telling Strahan anything, it would have been much bigger news, obviously, given that it would have been some sort of Strahan Seance.)
Fantasy Watch: Between Frank Gore's hand and Willie Parker's knee and Clinton Portis' rehab, what's a mid-round fantasy GM to think?!
YOU design Chad Johnson's future TD dance: Now THIS is a brilliant idea from Yahoo Sports. Hat-tip to Y! (And
Another day, another scandal: This one crosses over into that mind-bogglingly corrupt one where colleges and lenders colluded, via kickbacks, to screw over students looking for loans.
It now seems (via the Washington Post) that student-athletes were sold out by their institutions to these student loan lenders. Schools involved in subpoenas range from Georgetown to Virginia Tech to "Auburn, Georgia Tech, Marquette, Oregon St, Rutgers, Texas Christian, UCLA, Kansas, Louisville, Oregon, Pittsburgh and South Florida," according to the WaPo.
Let me say this: Any school that engaged in this sort of tactics should be punished, perhaps even their athletic programs. The NCAA has no purview over this, but if their mission at all is about the welfare of the "student-athlete," this is something they too should look into. I won't hold my breath.
Johnny Damon is griping about playing time: Gee, who didn't see that coming? Yankees fan or not, raise your hand if you'd rather have Shelley Duncan in the lineup over Johnny Damon. Thank you. (Meanwhile, the Yankees are 2 games behind the Indians for the Wild Card. With 55 games left to play? Wow, that didn't take long to go from "season over!" to "won't bet against them.")
CFB: Just in time for the close of Big Ten Media Day(s), the Northwestern football blogger Lake the Posts reveals his No. 1 NU football moment of all time. It's a no-brainer: NU over Notre Dame on Sept. 2, 1995. I couldn't agree more: This was, arguably (or inarguably) the biggest regular-season upset in modern college football history. Re-live the glorious moment here.
NBA schedule out today: Get all your jokes out now about bookies circling special dates... all done? Good. Here's an intriguing one: Kevin Durant vs. Carmelo Anthony in the season opener. I love it: Remember, Carmelo WAS Durant... except Melo actually managed to carry his team to an NCAA title, while Durant couldn't even lift his out of the Tournament's first weekend.
Sports tickets: MLB does a deal with StubHub. Don't discount how huge this is. They used to be at war with each other. Now they'll collaborate. I think business schools call it "coopetition."
Predators staying in
US Swimming Championships: How can you NOT root for Dara Torres, trying a comeback at 40 – and winning the 100m freestyle!
Coming later this morning: Looking for your fantasy-football advice! Check back around noonish.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Wednesday 08/01 A.M. Quihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifckie:
KG, Johan, MLB Trades, NFL Camping, More!
August used to be the dog days of the sports year. (Now, we can't even throw around the phrase "dog days" anymore. Thank you, Mr. Vick.)
Now, between NFL camping (and accompanying fantasy-league ramp-up mania) and CFB two-a-days and MLB fantasy-league pennant races, August has arguably turned into a power month of the sports year. Just thought I'd point that out, given that it's August 1. Let's get going.
NBA: KG to Celtics, Cont'd. Forgive me if I'm not ready to hand
In effect, "playing to win now" means "playing to win the East title," not "playing to win the NBA title." I suppose that beats the Lottery (and having a team seemingly going nowhere), but let's still keep it in perspective. It's a long way from "East contender" to "NBA contender."
If nothing else, it makes the Celtics relevant again. Too bad the only people crowing about needing the Celtics to be relevant again are the team's fans. It is a manifestation of that unique brand of delusional
UPDATE: Here's today's Must-Read: Henry Abbott at TrueHoop put together a cavalcade of alternative opinions about the future of the NBA East. (I'm included... read through them all, but look for a familiar name halfway down.) Really really smart people and a ton of variety of opinion.
UPDATE: Billups has a fairly must-read post over at Free Darko, with 10 reasons why this deal rules. And he may have even pierced my cynicism.
Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett will wear No. 5. And I predict that it will be the best-selling NBA jersey of the year. Who would have guessed that with the ludicrous volume of jersey numbers the Celtics have retired that a single-digit number would still be available? (I guess Gerald Green wore No. 5 a year ago, so I should have known it was available.)
Johan Santana is leaving the Twins: That is not an unreasonable interpretation of some of the things MLB's best pitcher had to say about his team after their trade dud-line:
"I'm not surprised. That's exactly how they are. That's why we're never going to go beyond where we've gone."
"It's not just about hope. In a realistic world, you have to really make it happen and go for it."
"You always talk about future, future. ... But if you only worry about the future, then I guess a lot of us won't be part of it."
"Why waste time when you're talking about something that's always going to be like that? It's never going to be beyond this point. It doesn't make any sense for me to be here, you know?"
MLB Trade Deadline: The Red Sox get Eric Gagne, effectively turning the Red Sox starting rotation into 6-inning pitchers, max. Because then they turn it over to the 7-8-9 bullpen troika, which is
The Braves made another move, this time to get extra bullpen help, grabbing Octavio Dotel from the Royals. Dotel has the ability to close, but will likely be a set-up guy for
MLB Milestones: "Glavine 300" on hold as Mets bullpen blows his shot. "A-Rod 500" and "Bonds 755" also didn't happen. (How do you know A-Rod is in a slump? If you hear the Yankees hit 8 home runs in one game and A-Rod can't claim one of them.)
NFL: Daunte Culpepper signs with the Raiders. If he's healthy, who needs a rookie QB taken No. 1 overall and apparently with an over-inflated sense of value? (Speaking of which, has Brady Quinn signed yet? No? What a d-b-a-g.)
Vick Watch: It's not that Rawlings cut its endorsement ties with Michael Vick. It's wondering what the heck took them so long?
College Football Media Daze: Big Ten. Commish/TV impresario Jim Delany clarified that the Big Ten isn't going to add a 12th team imminently. (As for whether the league should add a 12th team or controversial championship game, here's my small suggestion: Start by moving the
Freddy Adu Watch: Will finally play in Europe after inking a deal to play with
Tour de France: This shouldn't surprise you, but someone says they have proof that champ Contador is linked to doping. How do you say "Same old, same old" in French?
Murdoch buys Wall Street Journal: My only hope is that he lets my immensely talented WSJ friends Jason Fry, Carl Bialik and Sam Walker continue to produce sensational work. (Oh, and if I reprise my role as the WSJ Online's NCAA Tournament analyst next spring, I'd accept a pay bump upward.)
FTC vs. MLB? Here's an interesting one: You know that famous "blah blah blah without written consent of Major League Baseball blah blah blah" that each sports league announces during any/all games? Google, Microsoft and others think it's unnecessarily hard to understand, intimidating those of us who would like to use the content legally from doing so. Here's the story, via News.com. (And a hearty h/t to PaidContent.org.)
If you live in NYC: Varsity Letters Reading Series TONIGHT! An amazing lineup: Sally Jenkins, Joe Posnanski and Seth Mnookin makes his return. It all starts at 8 at Happy Ending (302 Broome) on the
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Yesterday could be The Day That Saved Sports.
After two weeks of relentlessly (and unprecedentedly) crappy news – Vick, Donaghy, Bonds, Tour de France – it was never tougher to be a sports fan.
Yesterday's overflow of non-scandalous big news was an amazing reminder: Sports fans are entirely resilient. You could get whiplash with the speed which fans dropped a focus on the bad stuff and turned their attention to the promising.
Some cranks and cynics might gripe about the "Instant History" outlook: What does it say that sports fans are so quick to move on from the soul-sucking news and to embrace the reviving news?
It says this: No matter what the short-term problems, sports are guaranteed to provide SOMETHING that brings us back to a focus on the sports, not the scandals.
On to the rundown...
R.I.P. Bill Walsh: As I said yesterday, he was arguably the greatest – and most influential – offensive mind in football.
(I encourage you to leave Walsh-specific comments in the dedicated Walsh post below this one. Meanwhile, KSK has the definitive -- and simply put -- tribue. Worth your time to read it.)
KG to the Celtics: I gave my analysis in a stand-alone post yesterday afternoon (feel free to leave KG-specific comments there), but let me provide it again:
This is a win-win:
The Celtics become instant contenders in the East – and regain their national relevancy. (The downside? Anything less than an East title is a failure. Welcome to Expectationsville, Celtics Nation. Consider that for a second: No one believes for a second that this team can actually win an NBA title, and even an East title is no lock. This for three players, none of whom have proven to be conference-champion material. Yet the demands are there.)
The T'wolves finally shed The Big Baggage and can begin to reposition themselves as an "up-and-coming" young team, anchored around one of the NBA's best young big-small combos: Al Jefferson and Randy Foye. (Hint to Kevin McHale: Model yourselves after the Warriors and run-run-run.) Their fans get nothing if not renewed hope. And that's not bad.
Interesting takes on KG filtering in. Start with this one from DLIC of Free Darko. I agree: KG has never been a personality that would seem to mesh with Celtics fans' epic sense of entitlement. (By the way, HUGE kudos to Celtics Blog for actually breaking the KG story. Number of mainstream media outlets crediting him? Take the under.)
MLB Trade Deadline: Is the Braves' acquisition of Mark Teixeira enough to shift the balance of power in the NL East?
(That depends on what you think of the Mets' acquisition of Luis Castillo. By the way, speaking of mid-season acquisitions, Pedro is going to make his first minor-league start
tonight tomorrow night. If he can return by September 1, that's a bigger pickup than anything anyone else in the NL will do.)
Who's going to get Jermaine Dye? And who's going to get Eric Gagne? (And will the Red Sox get BOTH? They've cooled on Dye in the last half-day, but still, it's possible.)
MLB Milestones Tonight: We're tracking Bonds 755, A-Rod 500 and the one with the best chance of happening tonight: Glavine 300.
MLB Stud: Phillies, who have won 4 straight and are 3 games behind the Mets for first in the NL East. Oh, and they made a deal to trade for Kyle Lohse. Watch that fantasy player wire! Will he help you in a late-season push (or crush your dreams with his inconsistency?)
NFL Training Camp: Frank Gore breaks his hand in the first practice and will likely miss the preseason. This is huge, if only because Gore was poised to become THE hot fantasy football first-round choice. Will it affect his draft status? The team seems to think he'll be ready by the end of preseason. (And MDS says "he'll be fine" over at Fanhouse, and I'll trust his opinion. Bring on the fantasy drafts!)
Speaking of Fantasy Football, I am juggling a ludicrous number of leagues this fall. This one might be the most intriguing: It's Yahoo Sports' Bloggers League, featuring the likes of the guys from Kissing Suzy Kolber, the Mighty MJD, Will Leitch and AJ Daulerio from Deadspin, Orson Swindle from EDSBS, N.O.I.S. -- and me.
I believe you'll be able to follow the league publicly, allowing me to deploy one of my favorite Jackie Childs' lines: "This is the most public yet of my many humiliations." Here's the link to the intro by league Commish, Andy Behrens.
Brady Quinn still holding out: Seriously, ever since the calendar flipped to 2007, this guy has been an all-pro dud – Sugar Bowl, NFL Draft, blogger mockery, and now this hold out. Get over yourself.
Vick Watch: His buddy
NBA Robberies: Were Antoine Walker and Eddy Curry's robberies linked?
College Football: Contrary to speculation that they would take a break in their series,
Quickie Book Club: "Dixieland Delight," by Clay Travis. You'll recognize the name: He's the lead columnist for SportsLine. Also, of anyone in the mainstream media, he's considered a Great Friend of Sports Bloggers. He's also an exceptionally good guy.
But, most importantly, he's written a hell of an entertaining book, which is based on his tour of SEC football schools from last fall. If you love college football, this is a must-have, but even if you don't love college football, it's like hearing awesome road-trip stories told by a great buddy. Travis' stories just happen to include Tim Tebow. Here's an Amazon link.
(Disclosure: Clay and I share a book agent. But just because the sales of Clay's book will almost assuredly help pave the way for my own future book deal, don't buy it for that... if "don't" means "do!")
UPDATE: Former ESPN anchor star Robin Roberts has revealed she has breast cancer. She remains one of the Top 3 greatest talents every produced by the network -- as her full-time gig hosting Good Morning America affirms. Here's to her full and healthy recovery.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I'm arguing it is win-win.
Win for the Celtics: If you were ever going to mortgage the future for a 3-5 year window, this is it. The East is wide open, especially next year. With a "Big Three" like KG, Pierce and Ray Allen, the Celtics suddenly have the best "Big Three" in the conference -- and a legit shot at the conference title (even if they have no shot at an NBA title). Again, the shorthand is this: If LeBron and spare change can win the East, then KG-PP-RA and spare change does that one better.
Win for the T'wolves: This team was desperate to move on and equally desperate to launch a youth movement that actually gives its fans hope through the lean times, looking toward a brighter future. Al Jefferson and Randy Foye form one of the best young big-small combos in the league. Gomes is solid. Green has potential. Telfair brings sizzle. Add in T'wolves draftee Brewer and rehabbing McCants, and if nothing else, the T'wolves can adapt to the entertaining up-tempo trend sweeping the league. (The only downside? They couldn't trade places with the Celtics and get into the East. Oh, and McHale is still GM.)
Here's why Minnesota nets out as the trade winner: Expectations. If the T'wolves are in the Lottery the next 3-5 years, fans can gleefully chalk it up to growth. As long as there is marginal improvement year over year, there is hope. If the Celtics don't win the East -- and, to be sure, it is no guarantee, even with KG -- the trade is a complete failure.
Perhaps even bigger: The NBA also is a winner: How relieved do you think David Stern is to change the story from Donaghy back to on-court topics like a blockbuster deal? Hmm: Do you think the league helped revive this deal in order to change the subject? I wouldn't put it past them. And I'd give them credit if they did.
Ripken and Gwynn enshrined in Baseball Hall of Fame: And, for one day at least, sports (and fans) are pulled from the month's sense of ruin.
Bonds Watch: Still at 754, but the record is better tied (and broken) during the week, when there's of a national focus by fans, than on the weekend.
(Will they boo Bonds in
UPDATE: KG to Celtics? Man, could the NBA use a blockbuster trade right now or what? (Note: I have been a proponent of the T'wolves trading Garnett for a few seasons now. And getting Al Jefferson -- even if Jefferson will command a near-max contract soon enough -- will make it easier to take. If the Celtics have KG, Pierce and Ray Allen, they might have the best threesome in the NBA... but who gets to shoot?) Tracking...
UPDATE 2: Tony Taylor is going to bury Michael Vick. The biggest claim of Taylor's filed "statement of facts": Vick funded the dog-fighting operation.
Meanwhile, Jose Canseco insinuated that A-Rod might be tainted. As others have noted (and I agree): It's no longer easy to dismiss Canseco as some kind of fame-whore lying to get more attention. Not when he seems to be the only person in baseball talking even remotely straight about the extent and severity of its steroids scandal. (And he isn't afraid to name names to the Mitchell Commission. Cripes, if the guy had even a smidgen of a p.r. compass, he would be able to turn himself into a rare HERO in this MLB/PED story.)
MLB Stud: Carlos Zambrano, who became MLB's first 14-game winner. And as the Cubs close in on the NL Central lead, Zambrano assumes front-runner status in the NL Cy Young race.
MLB Dud: Brewers. In just 5 weeks,
MLB Trade Deadline: Tomorrow. Suddenly, Eric Gagne (as set-up guy, not uber-closer) is the hottest commodity on the block. UPDATE: Teixeira to the Braves for a Salty catcher and prospects. Great move for the Braves. Good move for the Rangers, who would have lost Teixeira to free agency inevitably anyway. More on this and all trades tomorrow.
MLB Milestones: Ichiro became the third-fastest player to get to 1,500 career hits. Between his career in
Arena Bowl: The San Jose Sabercats are officially a dynasty, after winning their third Arena Bowl title in the last 6 years. More important, the game was the first team championship game to be held in
NFL Signings: Vikings sign RB Adrian Peterson, who might be my pick for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. (And, on defense, the Redskins signed safety LaRon Landry.)
Meanwhile, will Simeon Rice replace Michael Strahan in
Pac-Man Fever: Jones could be joining TNA wrestling. Which will undoubtedly make him THAT much more appealing for Roger Goodell to bring back to the NFL, right? Cripes. Can't Jones just spend the year quietly training for his NFL return? His agent might think that Jones is simply capitalizing on his brand awareness, but what kind of brand are we aware of?
CFB: Pac-10 secession from BCS? I'm late on this, but it's worth pointing out. The Pac-10 Commissioner said he would pull the conference from the BCS if it instituted any kind of "Plus-One" playoff model.
Now, how is that so far off from my ground-breaking idea that the SEC should secede ("SEC-ede" – get it?) from the BCS, but not because it doesn't want a playoff, but because it DEMANDS a playoff.
By the way, I would love to see how the Pac-10 Commissioner would react when, say, USC goes undefeated but loses out on a national championship because they can't play for it.
Look, let's just dump the Pac-10: They can have the Rose Bowl (and take the Big Ten with them). Let them play their little Grandaddy of an exhibition game after the season, while the SEC crowns its next national champ. (OK: I'd settle for the SEC champ versus
Tour de France: Alberto Contador wins the least-respected championship in sports.
Gulbis gets first LPGA win: She's still better known for being hot (or squiring around with Big Ben) than for being a great golfer. But now she can point to a tournament W.
High School Football: Hoover (AL) High from MTV's "Two-a-Days" is both arguably the best high school football program in America and, arguably, the most corrupted high school football program in America. And if you don't think those two things are interrelated, you're living in a fantasy world.
Finally, some good news from