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Billy Gardner

Knitted Down there, Sewn to the boundless black stitches In our white spotted blanket. Creatures, Atop brown threads Puncturing the blue. The knots inside their tops Can't unravel what's true.

Dakota Fanning turns 18 and reveals "Now Is Good" poster

Shortly after her controversial Cosmo cover

Dakota Fanning turned 18-years-old today, unveiling a poster of her upcoming film “Now Is Good.” The child star, now all grown up, has been in Hollywood’s spotlight for over a decade and has acted alongside many A-list actors including Denzel Washington in “Man on Fire” and Sean Penn in her breakout film “I Am Sam.”

IMDB reports Fanning will play the role of Tessa Scott, “A girl dying of leukemia compiles a list of things she’d like to do before passing away. Topping the list is her desire to lose her virginity.”

The news of Fanning’s birthday comes after the actress’s recent controversial spectacle on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. Fanning was a minor at the time the edition published this month’s issue. Fanning was placed on the cover with captions reading “His Best Sex Ever,” and, “Too Naughty To Stay Here: But You Have to Try This Sex Trick.” The parallel seems rather evident to her upcoming role, where her number one desire is to lose her virginity.

A Cosmopolitan representative told Fox News, “We’re thrilled to feature Dakota Fanning on the February cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine, and she looks stunning. Dakota, who turns 18 this month, is a mature, fearless young woman and we are proud to honor her as our Fun Fearless Female of the year.” With her teen years behind her, the arguments for and against Fanning’s “Cosmopolitan” issue have become mute.

Fanning claims, ‘I’m interested in good characters and the experience,’ when describing her upcoming role. “Now Is Good” has no set release date.

AT&T Owes T-Mobile Billions

CEO is out $2 million himself

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson could have earned millions more in a deal to consummate T-Mobile, had it gone through. The regulatory filing by AT&T stated, “As a result, despite strong operational performance, Mr. Stephenson’s compensation was reduced by more than $2 million, including a 25 percent cut in his short-term award, a significant reduction in his payout percentage relative to other managers.”

Most of Stephenson’s paycheck comes primarily from direct performance and this CEO will find his pocketbook a little lighter. The reason he was docked so much is due to the epic failed $39 billion deal, that requires AT&T to hand over $4.2 billion in cash and spectrum rights to T-Mobile.

The deal was essentially thwarted by governmental regulations of the Federal Communications Commission and Stephenson claims the FCC is, “picking the winners and the losers” and goes on in bitter resentment saying, “The rules are so fluid, you can drink out of them right now.” Stephenson vies for congress to dictate how the FCC would run the further auctions, set conditions on who can bid and how the spectrum can be used.

The House of Representatives has drafted such a bill but the FCC, amongst others has opposed it, claiming such a bill would give certain carriers an unfair advantage. The chief of the FCC wireless communications bureau, Rick Kaplan stated, “As the Chairman has said, our goal and intention for spectrum auctions is that every carrier–big, medium, or small–that needs additional spectrum should have a meaningful chance to bid for it.”

Either way upcoming changes or nullifications will not put the $2 million dollars in Stephenson’s already $18 million piggy bank.

"Am I Ugly?" The absurd new t(w)een fad

Never thought I’d say I miss the days of Pokemon cards and WWJD bracelets

With social media taking over daily life for teens and tweens and word of mouth moving at the speed of time, are children really fit to make decisions on what they are posting to the web?

The new trend for what appears to be mostly middle aged girls is posting videos to Youtube labeled, “Am I Ugly?”

These children, stressing the word children, post video profiles of themselves, essentially posing the question, “Am I Ugly?” The internet allows for immediate feedback on the post in an often very extreme fashion. One of the first videos posted to this category has received over 3 million hits on Youtube and draws responses on both sides, “you are pretty, pretty ugly,” or, “not pretty, not ugly…. SEXY!!!”

The utter disconnect provided by any internet source poses illogical and demeaning responses of all kinds. Denise Restauri a contributor with Forbes writes on the fad as damaging to a teen’s mindset, “Many have low self esteem and looking for validation in the worst place, the Internet. There’s only one way for self-esteem to go with these videos, and that’s down.”

There are many reasons to blame for this atrocious fad continuing, the number of comments on the videos, the effectiveness the internet allows feedback, the list goes on and on, but the real problem is parents lack of interest and or complete ignorance on a subject that should have been avoided.

Youtube does not allow anyone below the age of 13 to post a video and yet, somehow, an 11-year old has a video asking if she is pretty or ugly. With a generation so involved in the internet and social media, parents need to be on hand monitoring what their children are doing on the web.
 

Bradley Manning: The WikiLeaks source to be arraigned

Set to hear the 22 charges against him today

Bradley Manning will attend his arraignment today at Fort Meade in front of a military judge and officers. The 24-year old former intelligence analyst is accused of handing over hundreds of thousands of classified military action documents to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks on there website claims to be a self described not-for-profit website with, “important activities to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.”

Bradley Manning was a source for a site, “that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Manning seems to be at the mercy of those frontiers today.

He will hear all 22 charges against him at the arraignment this afternoon. Charges include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, stealing public records and transmitting defense information.

Manning’s lawyers are providing a case of a young soldier, in a gender identity crisis isolated from his fellow soldiers. This type of person should not have been given access to classified materials.

Aiding a foreign enemy is a crime punishable by death, but the Army prosecutor has said if convicted, the Army will seek out a life in prison sentence for Bradley Manning.

Some activists, like Max Obuszewski from Baltimore, argue in favor of the so called crimes Manning committed, saying, “He is a hero for blowing the whistle.”

Despite some support, Bradley Manning will enter his plea today, beginning the court process. Along with a potential for life in prison, if convicted, the soldier will be reduced to the lowest ranking pay grade, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances and will receive a dishonorable discharge from the military.

The possibility for a plea deal is possible at the arraignment but no such agreement has been announced.

Knicks vs Heat: Will the Linstoppable Linsanity Linger On?

If the Knicks can’t handle the Heat than stay out of Miami

The New York Knicks are set to play the Miami Heat this evening in what is amongst the most highly anticipated match-ups so far this season. The Knicks have spiked in media popularity since the rise of Jeremy Lin and are will take on Lebron James and the Heat at home this evening.

With Jeremy Lin in their lineup the last 10 games, the Knicks have won 8 games.  The young phenom during those games has averaged almost 24 points and a near 10 assists along with it. According to “Beijing Business Today,” Nike is looking to extend their contract to the young player putting up points, in hopes of not having him stolen by competitors. 

Lin is set to cash in and coming from the D-league no less. This young player has been called a “godsend” by Hardwood Paroxysm’s Noam Schiller and “inspirational” by espn.com’s Mike Wallace and hopes to continue his Linlightening talents into tonight’s game. 

With his current rise in popularity and overall threat to other NBA teams, Lin knows, “teams will adjust” to his playing style. The seemingly modest hoop star turned down a recent GQ cover spread, and said on ESPN, “I need to be focused on basketball right now.” Tonight’s venue is a good example of why.

On the other side of the monumental match up, is this season’s top suspect for MVP, Lebron James. With so much attention going to the Cinderella story of Jeremy Lin, Lebron has remained under the radar scoring almost 30-points a game and having arguably the best season of his career.

The Heat look to continue their 7 game win streak tonight. Adjustments are sure to be made against Jeremy Lin but one can’t help but wonder is the up and coming Jeremy Lin Linstoppable?
 

Gas prices to be addressed by Obama

Does he really make a difference in the world’s most expensive industry?

President Barack Obama is set to speak this evening at University of Miami, concerning American’s tension over the rising gas prices. Obama currently promotes an energy strategy that the administration says will further reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The news will not be all sunshine and rainbows though, considering the subtext of the campaign argues, “The federal government can do little to halt the rise in gas prices.” Obama’s advisors are hoping that the campaign will help sway the 58-percent of Americans who disapprove of the president’s gas price strategies.

The current price for gas is $3.58 and is the highest it has ever been for this time of year. With Santorum warning “$5 gas prices” in the near future and Gingrich claiming “I could lower the prices to $2.50,” the Obama administration feels the pressure to address the issue.

The point will assuredly be made this evening that Obama’s policy is in fact working. Since his election, the production of oil has increased, and the consumption of gasoline has decreased.  With the little power the president has on the cyclic occurrence, this statistic does seem to be a plus for Obama.

Other issues that loom over the influence on gas prices are the current conflicts with Iran. OPEC, in the beginning of 2011, stated that Iran contained 9% of the world’s oil reserves. The fear of an all out war with Iran would be detrimental to oil prices around the world and the country’s exportation of 2.2 billion barrels of oil a day would surely be disrupted.

Even worse though, the Strait of Hormuz, that lies directly south of Iran’s border, supports the transportation of one fifth of the world’s oil. While the Israeli government contemplates an attack on Iran due to their nuclear programs, the impact would be staggering for gas prices, and Santorum might be right. President Barack Obama has his hands full in tonight’s campaign.
 

Qnexa weight-loss drug approved by FDA advisors

The final vote comes in April

A United States Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted in favor of Qnexa 20-2. Qnexa is a highly anticipated weight-loss pill. Pending an official FDA vote, it will be the first obesity drug in 13 years.

Vivus Inc.’s Qnexa, since passing the preliminary vote, has doubled its worth in stock, going from $10.69 to $21.24. Although the pill is not guaranteed to be approved, the decision by the full FDA is expected to go down in April and usually follows in line with the vote of the advisory panel. With obesity being a national epidemic, one can’t help but wonder if this stock is a good investment?

Qnexa was previously denied by the FDA in 2010 due to safety concerns, but several panel members now claim the pill will be prescribed to millions, if not, “tens of millions” of people, says Christopher James, an analyst for MLV & Co.

Xenical is currently the only FDA-approved drug for long term use (1 year) on the market for obesity. A study, in April, found Xenical may have some competition; patients who took Qnexa for a full year lost an average of 22 pounds and lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure.

Dr. Louis Aronne, founder and director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital at the Cornell Medical Center in New York City, recently commented on the trials success but expressed some concern, “They need to be used in the right people under the right circumstances.”

Aronne was not apart of this Qnexa advisory panel but was a former advisor for Vivus and other companies involved in weight loss pill. He believes Qnexa will be placed on the market but with a watchful eye, due to concerns of side effects, including heart problems and birth defects.

“We don’t want to open up pill mills,” Aronne stated.

Despite  concerns, Vivus is hopeful, claiming on their website that patients lost “10 percent” of their body weight. The advisory panel seems to agree that the benefits of Qnexa outweigh the costs.

National Enquirer publishes Whitney Houston cover: "THE LAST PHOTO"

Is it too soon?

The National Enquirer, that one tabloid seen in every grocery aisle, is no stranger to bashing Whitney Houston. They did a spread of the troubled singer about her final moments alive and hired an actress to pose as Whitney Houston’s dead body.

Now, it seems the National Enquirer got what their wish. In their latest print, the words “Whitney: THE LAST PHOTO” are stamped on the front cover accompanied by a picture alleged to be Whitney Houston dead in her coffin.

The photo was apparently taken inside the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey and shows the R&B superstar, lying in her gold casket with her childhood nickname: “Nippy,” embroidered above her head on the casket’s silk lining.

Whitney Houston is pictured in her “favorite purple dress,” says the Enquirer cover, “Buried in jewelry worth $500,000” and “had gold slippers on her feet.” Controversy has erupted throughout the media questioning the legitimacy of the photo and the integrity of the tabloid.

The Houston family had gone to extensive lengths to keep the media in check during Whitney’s wake and funeral, but this picture seems to have been taken at a private showing, bringing many to question who took it and how much did they get for it.

These types of actions are not uncommon for the Enquirer, which has been called “distasteful” and “too soon” on Twitter and Facebook. The tabloid, in the past, published a picture of Elvis in his casket in 77’ and followed suit with John Lennon in 88’.

Whitney Houston’s bodyguard found her unconscious in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton Hotel room in California on Feb. 11. She was laid to rest last Saturday in her hometown of Newark. She was 48-years-old.

Manny Pacquiao turned down how much per round?

Floyd just isn’t giving Manny enough

Floyd Mayweather offered Manny Pacquiao a guaranteed $40 million with no pay-per-view money for their fight. Team Pacquiao rejected the money saying Floyd’s offer was a “PR stunt.”

If the fight was to go the distance, the least Manny Pacquiao could make per round is $3 million. But he said no thank you.

“He offered me $40 million, and no pay-per-view. No pay-per-view. Can you believe that? Would you do that? Come on. What would he say if I offered him $50 million, not $40 million, $50 million, and said ‘No pay-per-view. Take this money and be happy, but no pay-per-view.’ He wouldn’t do it either,” said the champion fighter of four different weight classes.

On the other side of the story, Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s manager, denied that any offer was made at all and that “Pacquiao is lying.” Ellerbe continued, “What Manny Pacquiao has to understand, and I don’t think he understands this part, is that if the fight ever comes off, he’ll never make the kind of money that Floyd makes. That’s simply because of the structure of his terrible deal with his promoter.”

Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxer and politician, came back with his own offer, “I told him, ‘Okay, 50-50 and I’ll agree to everything else. I told him I would agree to all of the other things he was demanding. Everything. Even the blood testing he wanted, I would do it. But it had to be 50-50,”

There has been no further negotiation between the two, and instead, both fighters have scheduled other bouts in the upcoming months. Manny Pacquiao will fight Timothy Bradley on June 9, 2012 while Floyd Mayweather will fight Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012.

Charlie Sheen thinks he's Charlie Harper?

Sheen apologized to Kutcher via twitter

Charlie Sheen has been known for his outbursts but his most recent was against his replacement actor, Ashton Kutcher, on CBS’s “Two and Half Men.” Sheen told TMZ “I’m tired of lying … I’m tired of pretending the show doesn’t suck. I’m tired of pretending Ashton doesn’t suck. It’s nothing personal, I just feel bad for him. He’s saddled with such bad writing.”

Charlie Sheen apologized Tuesday to the younger Kutcher via Twitter for his offensive comments,  

“Dear Ashton-

My bad.
I was disrespectful to a man doing his best.
I got excited and threw you into a crossfire.
The rest of my statement I stand behind.
You, however, deserve better.
Safety in your travels good sir.

– The “late” Charlie Harper”

Charlie Sheen was TV’s highest paid actor while he was on the show but after being killed off last season, he still held his resentment towards the executives of “Two and a Half Men.”

This is to be expected though, considering Sheens outspoken attitude in the past, the peculiar thing about the message was that he signed it as his former character Charlie Harper. Think what you will about his psychological state though, because when asked on “ABC’s Good Morning America” last year if he was bi-polar, Sheen replied “Wow. What does that mean? I’m bi-winning.”

Catch Charlie Sheen on “Anger Managemant” March 22nd and find a few more memorable Sheen quotes below.

— “If you borrowed my brain for five seconds, you’d be like, ‘Dude! Can’t handle it, unplug this bastard!’ It fires in a way that’s maybe not from, uh…this terrestrial realm.”
— “The only thing I’m addicted to right now is winning.”
— “I am on a drug, it’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”