New York Times (blog)
Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade is still No. 1 in fans' hearts
Heat fans, in an attempt to show that their newfound love for LeBron James is at least somewhere in the vicinity of the level of hatred Cleveland fans have for him, started out with all the right intentions.
Heat and Cavaliers Pass in the NightNew York Times
Cleveland Cavaliers push Miami Heat to the finish before falling, 101-95Plain Dealer
Wade comes up big in 4th, Heat beat Cavs 101-95Washington Post
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Yankees Offseason Heats Up
The only thing keeping a new contract between the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter from being finalized is Jeter's refusal to accept that fact that he is now 36 years old, not 26. So says a baseball source with knowledge of the substance of the
Yanks, Jeter hammer out new
Jeter and Yankees Agree on New DealNew York Times
Jeter, Yankees finalize three-year
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Miami Heat's LeBron James scores 38 in homecoming win against Cleveland
LeBron James put aside the distraction of his first game in Cleveland as the Heat played its best game of the season. BY JOSEPH GOODMAN CLEVELAND — It was a cauldron of hate. There was pain here and wounds and it all smelled like sweat and alcohol.
LeBron James, the Villain, Returns to BoosNew York Times
LeBron James is in Cleveland, and Cleveland can't screw this upYahoo! Sports
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Washington Post
Miami Heat's LeBron James gets his biggest victory yet: closure
CLEVELAND — They tried to poison him from a distance with the usual combination of boos and signs and T-shirts and chants. They tried to wound his heart with family references and telling LeBron James that his hometown of Akron,
LeBron James triumphant in return to Cleveland | PhotosChicago Tribune
LeBron James, the Villain, Returns to BoosNew York Times
LeBron Returns To ClevelandDenver Post -Atlanta Journal Constitution
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(CNN) - Amidst the fallout from the WikiLeaks release of sensitive State Department cables, an ongoing fury of words has erupted from both sides of the aisle over blame and accountability.

Former President Bill Clinton issued a warning Tuesday at an appearance in Greensboro, North Carolina. “I’ll be very surprised if some people don’t lose their lives over these leaks,” he said, while addressing a crowd at Guilford College. “And goodness knows how many will lose their careers.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee indicated those responsible for the leak should face a punishment no less than execution. He visited the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California Tuesday to promote two new Christmas-themed books. When asked to comment on WikiLeaks, Huckabee declared that “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason. And I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.”

The 2008 GOP presidential hopeful continued, “They’ve put American lives at risk…and any lives they endanger they’re personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stopped short of recommending execution while appearing Tuesday on Fox News, declaring instead that “The WikiLeaks guy should be in jail for the rest of his life.” The former Speaker of the House called Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, an enemy of the United States and agreed with both Clinton and Huckabee, stating that Assange is “going to get a lot of folks killed.”

His comments echo those of New York Rep. Peter King, the ranking member of the House committee on Homeland Security, who called Assange an enemy combatant while appearing on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer Tuesday night.

Gingrich rendered his final judgment on Fox, declaring that “These are bad people doing bad things and they’re going to get Americans and our allies killed and we should recognize that and recognize that is in effect an act of war against the United States.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drew praise for her efforts to thwart the scandal from Gingrich and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Gingrich commented that he was “proud” that Clinton “actually cared about national security” and suggested that “she should be praised for trying to gather intelligence and not in any way attacked or condemned…”

Assange feels differently, telling TIME managing editor Richard Stengel that Secretary Clinton “should resign.” He spoke to Stengel over Skype from an undisclosed location Tuesday and indicated that Clinton “should resign if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations…”

Gibbs fired back Wednesday, rejecting the statement as “ridiculous and absurd.” He followed up with strong support for Secretary Clinton and asserted that “The president has great confidence in and admires the work that Secretary Clinton has done…I’m not entirely sure why we care about the opinion of one guy with one website. Our foreign policy and the interests of this country are far stronger than his one website…”

In an attempt to squash talk of doubt surrounding Secretary Clinton’s ability, he stated “These are State Department cables and the Secretary of State and the State Department have reached out to world leaders and foreign ministers to alert them that these documents would be coming…I think the Secretary of State has dealt with the situation very effectively.

Since this weekend, WikiLeaks has published hundreds of classified U. S. diplomatic messages, the first of what the organization says is a quarter million similar documents.

In addition to being published on WikiLeaks website, the documents were acquired in advance by five major newspapers in Europe and the U. S. (The New York Times, The Guardian of the UK, El Pais of Spain, Le Monde of France, and Der Spiegel of Germany.) CNN declined a last minute offer to discuss advance access to some of the documents because of a confidentiality agreement requested by WikiLeaks that CNN considered unacceptable.

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Heat's LeBron James braces for return to Cleveland
Baltimore Sun
On Thursday, LeBron James makes his much anticipated return to Cleveland. It is his home state, and where he played for the Cavaliers for seven seasons. POLL: Should LeBron perform his pregame ritual of tossing white powder in Cleveland return?
LeBron's return: Karaoke for ClevelandMinneapolis Star Tribune
Miami Heat's LeBron James ready for `emotionally draining'
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Washington (CNN) - Just when you thought the race for the South Carolina U.S. Senate seat could not get more unusual, there’s a new twist.

Famed South Carolina chef and cookbook author Nathalie Dupree has entered the race as a write-in candidate. She tells CNN she was motivated to launch the long-shot campaign after reading an article last week about GOP incumbent Sen. Jim DeMint’s refusal to sign off on a congressional earmark of $ 400,000 to study dredging for the port of Charleston.

The study was designed to help allow the port to accommodate larger boats - thereby helping the state’s economy.

“I just got angry,” Dupree says. “Jim DeMint would not sign off on it.”

DeMint is a fiscal conservative who has staunchly opposed congressional earmarks.

“Funding for the Port of Charleston is being held hostage to a corrupt, political earmark system that rewards those who play along and tries to punish those who dare to speak for change,” DeMint campaign manager Ian Headley told CNN in a written statement.

“Senator DeMint will continue to fight to change this broken system that is short-changing our Port, bankrupting our country and mortgaging the future of South Carolinians.”

Dupree is also upset that DeMint has been active this campaign season traveling the country rallying support for other candidates. DeMint’s political action committee has donated several million to conservative candidates, many of whom challenged establishment choices in Senate contests this year.

DeMint “would rather change the U.S. Senate than help South Carolinians,” Dupree says. “I just think there needs to be a voice at least to make Jim DeMint come home … instead of (trying to be) a big man to create a new party that is gong to create steam from a kettle.”

“One of the ways Senator DeMint fights for South Carolina taxpayers is by helping elect principled leaders to the Senate who will stand up to the big spenders in both political parties,” replied Matt Hoskins, a spokesman for the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Dupree, author of 10 books and hundreds of television shows, says the odds in her uphill campaign are not as they otherwise could be because of her fame and notoriety.

“It would be against me if I wasn’t so well-known in the South,” she says.

After announcing Thursday in several events, she is hitting the campaign trail Friday.

“I am just getting going,” she declares.

Dupree, who was active as a youth in Democratic politics, still considers herself a Democrat but says she wants to work with people in both parties, including the state’s other GOP senator, Lindsey Graham.

She enters a race that already generated national attention when political novice Alvin Greene shocked the establishment by winning the Democratic primary. Democrats in the state pushed Greene to pull out after news surfaced that he had been charged with showing pornographic images to a college student. He has not entered a plea in the case.

Speculation also swirled about how Green, who is unemployed, could afford the $ 10,400 filing fee to enter the race. At the same time, observers have questioned the halting answers he gave in several television interviews.

DeMint is heavily favored to win a second term. There is also a Green Party nominee in the race, as well as two other write-in candidates.

Follow Kevin Bohn on Twitter: @KevinBohnCNN

CNN Political Ticker

After focusing his fire in recent weeks on Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), the presumptive Democratic nominee, GOP front-runner Milwaukee Co. Exec. Scott Walker (R) is increasingly hitting his GOP primary opponent, ex-Rep. Mark Neumann (R) in a sign that the race my be tightening.

Walker has been the more prolific fundraiser in the GOP race (Neumann has largely been self-funding) and he won the endorsement of the state party in a landslide in May at the party’s convention as Neumann decided not to compete for the party’s backing. Walker was also out-polling Neumann early in the summer. Thus, all indications pointed to Walker as the odds on favorite to win the GOP nomination.

The actions of both Barrett and Walker were also consistent with the notion that Walker was headed toward victory in the GOP race. Barrett has targeted Walker in TV ads and Walker has gone after Barrett as well. Meanwhile, the RGA has also been running ads in the state that go after Barrett, who faces no real threat in the Dem primary.

But the GOP race has taken a heated turn of late, as Walker recently released mailers and a TV ad likening Neumann to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Neumann responded to the spot with one of his own. Neumann had also previously gone up with a spot that calls Walker a “career politician,” and the campaigns have continued to spar over the content of Walker’s ad.

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Washington (CNN) - It’s often overshadowed by the battle for control of Congress, but the Democratic and Republican parties are ramping up their efforts in the crucial fight for control of the nation’s governorships.

The Republican Governor’s Association announced that they launched new commercials in Ohio, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Maine and Michigan Wednesday and Thursday. The governorships in all five states are currently held by Democrats. And the RGA confirms that it’s also donating $ 500,000 to Susana Martinez, the GOP gubernatorial nominee in New Mexico - another state where the Democrats are fighting to hold onto a governors’ office.

Meanwhile the Democratic Governors Association is up with a new ad taking on Martinez, the Dona Ana County district attorney. The DGA is also running a new commercial in Ohio, as well as in Vermont and Maine.

While the battle for control of Congress dominates the headlines, the fight for the governorships is extremely important. Next year governors will have a big say in how the new Census numbers are used to alter congressional districts in their states.

Voters in 37 states cast ballots for governor this November.

CNN Political Ticker

Beauty pageantry is among the world’s fastest-growing sports-or activities, anyway. The Miss Universe and Miss World pageants are two of the world’s highest-rated telecasts, year after year. It is hard to pin down the numbers, but I am pretty sure that both of those pageants out-draw the Super Bowl. And pageantry is not only increasingly popular in Asia and Africa, it is enjoying a resurgence in Europe. So I’ve never understood why both of the principal international pageants, as businesses, always seem to be operating on a shoestring.

The Miss Universe finale will take place in just nine days, on August 23, and only in the last day or two has the pageant’s site had more than one photo for each contestant. Better late than never, however, and the site is now shaping up well, just as the betting odds are beginning to emerge. In recent years, both the Miss Universe and the Miss World pageant have been hosted in relatively remote locations in China, Vietnam, South Africa, and so on. This year’s Miss Universe is in Las Vegas-Mandalay Bay, to be precise. That will probably help the pageant’s exposure.

Of course, the basics of beauty pageants never change. This video, posted today on the Miss Universe site, shows the swimsuit photo shoot that took place a day or so ago:

If you follow the link above and go to the pageant’s site, you can see photos of all of the contestants. My own assessment is that this year’s field is pretty strong. One of the odd things about beauty pageants is that quite a few people bet on them. You can see the current Miss Universe odds here.

The current betting favorite is Miss Philippines, Venus Raj (seriously). She followed a convoluted path to the pageant. She won the Philippines contest, but then was disqualified because of discrepancies between her account of her own history and official records. The disqualification caused outrage among Filipino pageant fans, and she was quickly reinstated. She is a strong candidate to be sure, but I doubt that she will win; click to enlarge:


Currently, Miss Mexico and Miss Haiti are tied for second among bettors. Mexico is a huge center of pageantry and consistently fields top candidates, but Haiti is a bit of an upset. Here they are, with Miss Mexico on top:

Mexico90908.jpg Haiti10104.jpg

Miss Haiti promises to be a sentimental favorite. There are a number of strong contestants this year, and my guess is that the betting odds will shift considerably over the next week. We will feature additional contestants between now and the 23rd, either because they are rising in the betting odds or because I like them. In the latter category, I will close with Miss Sweden. For a while, Sweden’s culture was negative toward pageants, and there was a year or two when Swedish contestants wouldn’t appear in swimsuits, sort of like Miss Saudi Arabia. But that apparently has changed. This year’s Miss Sweden is an exemplar of the resurgent spirit of pageantry all across Europe:


Stay tuned for more up to the minute commentary over the next nine days.

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