Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stars turn out to 'fight the fight' against sinkholes

Meadowlands, N.J.--Sinkholes affect 0.0000000000001 out of every 10,000 residents in the United States.  Local, state, and the federal governments spend nearly $2 million annually to cleanup sinkhole-related damage to homes, businesses, parks, business parks, streets, and sidewalks. In 2007, the death toll from these geologic peculiarities reached two--the deadliest year ever recorded. A new home, seemingly sitting safely upon a solid foundation, can quickly succumb to the abrupt and unannounced arrival of a lurking sinkhole. Additionally, the time-consuming paperwork created by sinkholes has claimed four lives over the past six years.

But, does it have to be this way? Sinkhole experts  around the world say absolutely not. "A sinkhole is just a hole that needs some care," said Bobby Wulchuck, a geologist with the State University of New York at Catskill Falls. "Listen, I specialize in sinkholes, and I see firsthand the pain, suffering, and heartache that come along with them. All that's needed is some basic 'things,' as I like to call them, to combat sinkholes. But, apart from these 'things', most importantly we need to raise awareness and funds."

Here in MetLife Stadium in the wetlands of North Jersey--an area not particularly known for sinkholes--a sold-out crowd is expected to take in a slew of top musical performers and singing actors to help raise money for a great cause. This is the fourth annual Sing out of Sinkholes concert and the lineup includes: Madonna, Sting, U2, Elton John, Kanye West, B-52's, the Cranberries, Blink 182, Spin Doctors, Jay-Z, Jay-Y, the Bacon Brothers, Lil' MC Hammered (N.J. officials will not let the 14-year-old drink onstage), Beyonce, Carrie Underwood, Chris Farlowe, Clay Aiken (Claiken) and many more.

Before going on stage, where a crowd of 80,000 await, the superstar rocker Bono kneels down and says a quick prayer. Upon returning to his feet he tries to explain his passion of curbing sinkholes: "The people affected by sinkholes ..." he tried to gather himself but quickly broke into tears, unable to go on. The singer's manager attempted to finish U2's leader's thoughts: "Bono is very passionate about sinkholes and helping all those affected by them. He's just so damn passionate about them that he ..." The manager excused himself.

"Together we can add several zeros to this number and, ultimately, make it come closer to affecting zero people. I mean, it's time to stick it to sinkholes," shouted Sting into the damp microphone, after providing the crowd with the 0.0000000000001 statistic. "Are you with me?"

In the summer of 2008, Madonna, flying from Paris to Philadelphia to film a commercial for Red Bull (it never aired), read an article in AirPages, the in-flight magazine for U.S. Airways,  about a Newport, Rhode Island family that lost their six-car garage to a sinkhole. After that day the battle against sinkholes would never be the same.

Taking the stage, Madonna, the organizer and founder of the concert, led the fanatics in a chant of "We don't need no stinkin' sinkholes," to the beat of Pink Floyd's "We Don't Need No Education." The Material Girl whipped the fans into a fever pitch, and eventually removed the training wheels and on and on went the clamor: "We don't need no stinkin' sinkholes (dada den den). We don't need no stinkin' sinkholes (dada den den). We don't need no stinkin' sinkholes (dada den den)." When Madonna clapped three times, the masses knew exactly what to do: "Hey, sinkholes, leave those kids alone."

Musicians were not the only ones participating, as A-list actors paid a visit to help with the cause."Sinkholes don't have to be sinkholes at all. The cost of a simple cup of coffee can help prevent a simple sinkhole from ever happening. Well, actually, many millions of cups of simple coffee," said Leonardo DiCaprio, standing in front of a poster of a Florida sinkhole, to a group of reporters during the annual Stop and Sink Charity Dinner at the Three Seasons Hotel.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Next up for Niagara Falls highwire walker: cross the falls again ... using only balance pole and no wire

Nik Wallenda also says he wants to learn how to ride a bike one day. "Trying to balance on a bike scares the hell out of me."

'American Ninja Warrior' contestant thought to be trying out for 'American Idol' still in critical condition

Doctors say that as soon as he can eat solid foods, breathe on own, and eyebrows grow back (fully), the talented performer can begin singing again. Before taking on ridiculous obstacle course, camera microphones picked up a comment from the nervous contestant to distracted 'ANW' host: "Oh, so I sing when I reach the end of the course or during the course?"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Entire Sacramento Kings roster spotted raucously celebrating with mock Stanley Cup in downtown Sacramento bar

The jubilant NBA players scribbled their names onto the tinfoil cup with a sharpie maker. The group was largely ignored by other bar patrons.

Klinsmann über mortified that strong European connections unable to get U.S. squad into Euro12

The U.S. Men's National Team head coach and former German soccer star Jurgen Klinsmann says he "let all Americans down. Yeah, even those ones that refuse to like the soccer game match."
Above: The U.S. coach watches over a practice in early May. "I know, like, practically, a ton of people over there in that Europe," said Klinsmann. "They owe me. They owe me big time. We should be in Euro12."

Report: Los Angeles Kings credit Sacramento Kings for Stanley Cup win

When the Los Angles Kings captured their first championship in the franchise's 45-year history on Monday night, the city of nearly four million people gave a hearty sigh. Well, at least the five hundred thousand or so southern Californians that care about hockey. This support from the surfing community was much appreciated by the Kings. However, it was a professional basketball team in the state's capital, some 400 miles to the north, that gave the team its edge over the New Jersey Devils.

"Honestly, we couldn't have done it without the support of the Sacramento Kings," said Los Angeles Kings forward Mike Richards, who joined the team last summer through a trade. "They sent us inspiring texts messages and even came to a few playoff games. There's a special bond between two pro teams that share the same name in different sports. Like, for example, the San Francisco Giants pulling for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl in February.And, the New York Giants cheering for the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series in 2010. There's really nothing like it. We owe a lot to them."

Richards makes a great point. How quickly we forget how the Giants unbridled support of the Giants captivated the nation only five short months ago. Eli Manning called the S.F. Giants backing "stronger than the Golden Gate Bridge."

And, here it is again. The Sacramento Kings were invited by the Cup winners to participate in the championship parade on Thursday. "We thought we would be mixed in with the Kings on multiple buses," said Marcus Thornton, the club's leading scorer this season. "Never in a million years did we think we would have our own bus ... at the front of the parade."

"There has long been a perceived divide between northern California and Southern California," explained a teary-eyed owner Philip Anschutz to NBC hockey analyst Darren Pang in the Kings' locker room following the game six victory. "Some have gone as far to suggest that the state be divided into two. Well, I'm here to tell you the northern part of the state and the southern part of the state became unified over the last couple months. The Kings and the Kings came together. It's a special, special thing, Darren."

When Pang asked Anshutz if the entire Sacramento roster would be outfitted with championship rings the politically conservative owner smiled nervously and replied, "Abso-f-ing-lutely!" Additionally, the Sacramento Kings will all have their names engraved onto the Cup.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tsunami Fallout: Body of sumo wrestler washes up on Oregon beach

Astoria, OR--Debris from the March 11, 2011 Japanese tsunami continues to wash ashore along the west coast of the United States after yearlong-plus journeys across the Pacific Ocean--the planet's largest body of water. Discovered items making the arduous trek thus far include: soccer balls, a motorcycle (packed in a case), a concrete dock, an unmanned ship, and now, sadly, the body of a popular sumo wrestler (pictured above). Authorities will not release the identity of the athlete until the family has been notified. "The Japanese consulate in Portland, OR has contacted the U.S. military to secure the use of a C-130 cargo plane to return the body to Japan," said the Oregon State Trooper first to arrive on the scene. Authorities believe the mawashi, the belt worn by a sumo wrestler, fell from the victim's waist during the unforgiving, crushing waters of the tsunami itself.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Success of European Championship could lead to more global soccer tournament; may include N. America, S. America, Asia, Africa, Australia and held every four years

London--International Soccer officials are waiting to gauge the success of Euro2012, the European Championship held every x number of years, in order to determine whether a more global tournament should be organized. "Soccer is becoming more and more popular worldwide," said Jean Benivedi, a public relations director at the Soccer Guys, a French-based nonprofit that promotes the game internationally. "Yes, even more popular than American football. And, I think the world is ready for a tournament that determines the best soccer nation on the planet. It could be held, like, every four years or so. I'm serious." If Euro2012 is deemed a success, soccer matches could be televised in the near future.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Small fishing company that aggressively signed on to raise, tow Costa Concordia admits it 'has no idea where to begin'

Rome, Italy--Crews have (sort of) begun the salvage operation of the Costa Concordia, the Carnival ship that ran aground and capsized off the coast of Italy back in January. Several companies placed bids to raise the massive cruise ship and tow it to a nearby port in order to salvage the useful parts. One local company, with absolutely no experience in nautical salvage work, decided to toss its hat into the ring of bids. "Business is slow right now and we thought that we would give this salvage thing a try," said Giuseppi Fionni, the president of a small fishing company based in Naples, via an interpreter. "We only heard about the ship on a small handheld radio. I had no idea it was this big. I own, like, four 12-ft fishing vessels with outboard motors. We're screwed. This a is a serious ship." A Carnival representative explained the bid choice: "We went with the fishing company because their bid was so ridiculously low. I mean, low, low. Now they're out there just staring at the ship. All they do is circle the ship in small boats. I'm very nervous. They still need to honor the contract."