NCAA sentences eight embattled ‘Canes, and Miami’s season gets a glimmer of hope

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NCAA sentences eight embattled ‘Canes, and Miami’s season gets a glimmer of hope

Last week, Miami officially revoked the eligibility of eight of the dozen current players who allegedly accepted improper benefits from ex-booster turned convicted Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro, whose sprawling account of largess over the last decade threatens to bring the program to its knees. At the time, Miami seemed to hope the NCAA would let all eight off the hook with a slap on the wrist in time for next Monday's season opener at Maryland. When the official verdict came down today, not surprisingly, that didn't happen.
But it came a lot closer than most of us expected: Of the dozen players in question, only three will miss more than one game. Five will sit for only one game, making them eligible to play again by this time next week. And four others won't miss any time at all.
The full accounting, from the NCAA's official release (emphasis added):
Olivier Vernon, who received more than $1,200 in benefits primarily from Shapiro, must miss six games and make repayment of the value of the benefits. These recruitment benefits included meals, transportation, access to Shapiro's game suite, drinks, as well as cover charges at two different nightclubs, among others.
Two other student-athletes, Aravious Armstrong and Dyron Dye, will miss four games and must make repayment. Armstrong received approximately $788 in extra benefits from Shapiro and athletics personnel during his recruitment. Dye received approximately $738. These student-athletes' benefits included five nights of impermissible lodging from institutional staff during their unofficial visits, transportation, multiple meals, and entertainment at a gentleman's club.
NCAA sentences eight embattled ‘Canes, and Miami’s season gets a glimmer of hopeVernon, Armstrong and Dye all received "substantial benefits" as recruits "to entice them to enroll," which is considered especially egregious. Five other players were only charged with receiving benefits after enrolling:
These five student-athletes — Marcus Forston, Sean Ryan Spence, Adewale Ojomo, Travis Benjamin and Jacory Harrismust miss one game and make repayment. Forston received more than $400 in extra benefits from Shapiro and athletic personnel, including athletic equipment, meals, nightclub cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman's club. Spence received approximately $275 in benefits, including meals, transportation, as well as cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman's club. Ojomo received $240 in extra benefits, including a meal and nightclub cover charges. Benjamin received more than $150 in extra benefits, including meals and entertainment. Harris received more than $140 in benefits from meals, entertainment, transportation and nightclub cover charges.
Four other players must repay small amounts, all under $100, but were not suspended for any games. A 13th player, defensive end Marcus Robinson, was cleared of wrongdoing.
That's a lot of names, a lot of games and a lot of dollar signs, but it adds up to a huge sigh of relief for the U: The most important names on the chopping block — Jacory Harris (top), Travis Benjamin, Marcus Fortson and Sean Spence (above right) — will return in good standing after Monday's opener, restoring the starting quarterback, leading returning receiver and All-ACC candidates at defensive tackle and middle linebacker to the lineup just in the nick of time for a visit from suspension-ravaged Ohio State on Sept. 17.
At that point, the Buckeyes will still be without key starters at tailback, wide receiver and left tackle, respectively, all of whom are serving five-game suspensions that will last well into October. They'll also still be breaking in a new quarterback in place of exiled starter Terrelle Pryor. Meanwhile, the 'Canes will be at nearly full strength for the key midseason run against ACC Coastal rivals Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Georgia Tech, and — barring injuries or further revelations — at full strength for the stretch run against Florida State, South Florida and Boston College in November.
Olivier Vernon and Ray Ray Armstrong are both veteran starters whose presence will be missed on defense over the first half of the season, but on a scale of 1 to 10, the collective damage to Miami's prospects for the year is somewhere around a three. At most.
[Y! Sports probe: Miami booster spells out illicit benefits to players]
Of course, that's only in the short term. Over the long term, the prospects are still dire: With 72 players and four assistant coaches deeply involved with an unrepentant booster who was also an active sports agent — not to mention the architect of a multimillion-dollar Ponzi-scheme — the prospective sanctions at the end of the NCAA's ongoing investigation could still reduce the program to a smoldering crater via heavy-handed scholarship reductions, a multi-year bowl ban, heavy fines or worse.
But we're still months away from all that. In the meantime, the 'Canes will suck it up against Maryland, use the subsequent bye week to regroup and come out against the Buckeyes full steam ahead.

Top Tips For a Valentine’s Day to Remember

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Are you counting down? Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and Head of Romance at Hallmark Cards, Kendra Keller certainly knows a thing or two about romance and what we really want on Valentine’s Day.
We need some tips! Here Kendra reveals some romance tips which will make you top of the class come Valentine’s Day:
Gifts:
* A Valentine’s card, whether it’s cute, classy, traditional or tacky, is considered the most important item to receive on Valentine’s Day- don’t neglect such a simple touch! Upload photographs to one of our Personalized Valentine’s cards to make it extra special.
* A home-made gift shows thought, consideration and creativity- think along the lines of home-made muffins, a personalized photo frame (so they can frame your thoughtful personalized Valentine’s card of course!) or a delicious three course dinner for extra brownie points.
Messages:
* What you write in your personalized Valentine’s day card says way more about your relationship than what you buy.
* Personalized messages and private jokes show openness and the ability to be honest about your feelings, but remember to keep it clean as other people may well end up reading it!
* If you want to write a poem, avoid channeling your inner cheese and remember it doesn’t have to rhyme to be romantic – so just give it a go. If you want a hand our online Valentine ‘s Day range always have a couple of verse options to choose from.
Dates:
* Dream dates are all about personal touches and don’t just have to be about wining and dining, and splashing the cash!
* Personal grooming should be a given- but a bit of effort (a nice new shirt/haircut/new underwear) will not go unnoticed and get you extra brownie points boys and girls!
* A home-cooked meal, foot massage, bubble bath or even agreeing to watch the football/ Desperate Housewives are all activities that are easily achievable and just as effective as love hearts and roses.
* Why not create a personalized invitation for your date to make it really different?

Britney Vows Never To Return To Australia. In Other News, Millions of Aussies Now Believe In God

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britney australia
After rightfully being called out by irate fans who weren’t happy at paying hundreds of dollars to see Britney Spears lip sync, Britney has vowed never to return to Australia.
The Britney Australia drama (is drama the right word, given her entire life is a drama) started a couple of weeks back when the occasionally mental mother of two appeared at the Burswood Dome in Perth in “the round,” a format where fans are seated around a central stage vs being in front of the stage looking down on a central point.
Fans noted that Britney rarely turned around during her performance, and to make matters worse the big screens at the event never showed images of her on the stage. I’ve been to the Burswood Dome numerous times, and it’s a reasonably large venue (say approx 20,000 people in that setup.) It would be difficult to see Britney from the cheap seats at the best of times, let alone if she had her back to her for most of the “concert.”
Britney’s tour though hasn’t improved from there, with numerous reports in the Australian media of fans leaving her events early, and of tickets flooding eBay at way below the ticketed price as news spread that she just wasn’t worth seeing. According to some reports, Britney has also been booed and jeered while leaving her hotels…showing that Australians are never shy in expressing correct and fair opinions.
The Chicago Sun Times now claims that Britney Spears has told her team, and anyone else who will listen — she will never again perform for an Aussie audience. According to an insider, she “is very happy to be getting out of that country.”
Let me say as an Australian in my finest imitation of a Britney southern accent “don’t ya ever come back now, ya’ here.” Trailer trash should stay in trailers, and not be allowed past customs at the airport

Khapra Beetle Discovered At Chicago Customs, Called World’s Worst Pest

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khapra beetle
US Customs agents are put on high alert for a variety of reasons but one of those high alerts may surprise you, it turns out the Khapra Beetle is a big deal at US Customs offices.
How dangerous are the beetles to our eco-system? A recent Chicago Tribune article appeared with the title ‘Most feared’ pest found in shipment at O’Hare.
That title was created after customs officials found a cast skin and larva in two 10-pound bags of rice.
So how dangerous are the beetles? Here’s a warning from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection:
— “The Khapra Beetle, Trogoderma granarium Everts, is one of the world’s most destructive stored-product pests. It is difficult to control once introduced into a region because it feeds on a variety of dried materials, is resistant to insecticides, and can go long periods without food. Infestations can result in up to 70 percent grain damage, making products inedible and unmarketable.”
— It “originated in South Asia and is now present throughout much of northern Africa and the Middle East, with a limited presence in Asia, Europe, and southern Africa.”
— By April this year, “agriculture specialists [had] made 44 Khapra Beetle interceptions. This is more than the total interceptions in calendar year 2010.”
While US Customs agents are doing a good job of finding and killing the beetles the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal reports that the number of interceptions is on the increase:
“This year, CBP agriculture specialists have made 100 Khapra beetle interceptions at U.S. ports of entry compared to three to six per year in 2005 and 2006, and averaging about 15 per year from 2007 to 2009.”
The problem is so severe that even a dead khapra beetle can cause a shipment to be sent back to it’s original destination.

Hurricane Irene Rips Through Puerto Rico, Eyes Southeast US

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Hurricane Irene cut a destructive path through the Caribbean on Monday, slamming Puerto Rico with strong winds that uprooted trees and left more than a million without power before continuing on its path that experts say could carry it to the U.S. Southeast as a major storm by the end of the week.
Irene, currently a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, will most likely pick up steam and intensify to a Category 3 hurricane capable of generating damaging winds of up to 130 mph, according to a report by the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
“Residents of Florida and the southeastern U.S. should be keeping their eyes on this storm and have their hurricane supplies ready now,” says hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen. “No one wants to be standing in line at the hardware store when a storm hits.”
Although the center of the storm’s 500-mile-wide projected path is currently on track to skirt up the Florida coastline and hit South Carolina at 8 am EST on Saturday, Feltgen explains that it could change, and in the best case scenario, a low-pressure center could push the storm away from the coast late in the week.
To stay on top of Irene’s progress, head over to the Weather Channel’s official website or subscribe to their twitter feed @weatherchannel.
For raw footage of Hurricane Irene and the damage it caused in Puerto Rico, check out the following video provided by the AP.

LeAnn Rimes Confronted About Weight Loss by Random Fellow Diner

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leann-rimes-eddie-cibrian-tattoo-wedding-vows
Some of you might think singer slash actress LeAnn Rimes has gotten too thin- the star has been criticized for perhaps overdieting in recent press mentions.
However, one fan stepped completely out of line in their “concern” for Rimes- interrupting the newlywed’s dinner to urge her to eat more! The story comes straight from Rimes, who angrily tweeted her experience while dining Saturday night to her 167,000 followers. According to Rimes, apropos of nothing, a fellow diner approached her while she was at dinner with her husband Eddie Cibrian and his kids.
Rimes didn’t relay exactly what was said, but had the following to say:
“How dare someone come to me at a table with the boys and tell me I need to eat something. What is wrong with people?
As I’m stuffing my face….have another drink and maybe take a class in manners! Cheers!”
Rimes got some sympathy from her fans, but a few Twitter followers gave her a bit of the same critique. One fan told Rimes that “lots of folks think [she is] getting too thin” and commented she was beginning to “look 12 years old.”
Rimes’ ire was provoked again. She angrily responded:
“Once again, I’m done talking to rude people who have no right to have an opinion on my body. Out of line… If it happened to someone who wasn’t a ‘celebrity’ it would be rude, but to a public figure it’s socially [acceptable]?”
While Rimes received mixed feedback, she asserted to her fans that the patron did not have a right to interrupt her family dinner with what she perceived as a “judgement” about her physique. Would you ever say something so intrusive to anyone, much less a celebrity?

Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale to Star in ‘Danger Girl’ Film Adaptation?

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milla-jovovich-kate-beckinsale-sofia vergara danger girl movie
UPDATE: The Playlist has reportedly contacted the actresses’ representatives and they have debunked this story as rumor, saying that none of them are attached to the project.
You can file this one under speculation for now, but word on the web is that Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale and Sofia Vergara are set to star as curvy super-heros in the forthcoming film adapation of the comic book series Danger Girl.
For those unfamiliar with the less-known animated work of J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell, Danger Girl follows the adventures of three salaciously illustrated female secret agents led by their mentor named Deuce (who wikipedia says resembles an aged Sean Connery).
Benderspink Productions (A History of Violence, The Hangover) is apparently shopping the rights to the project, which has been described as Kill Bill meets Raiders of the Lost Ark, with the team element of Mission: Impossible thrown in for good measure.
In addition to the Danger Girl rumor, there have been reports that Milla, who recently finished making a 2011 reboot of the classic film The Three Musketeers, is set to reprise her role as security officer Alice in a fifth installment of the Resident Evil sci-fi franchise.
Afterlife, the fourth movie in the popular film series loosely based upon the Capcom video games of the same name, was a box office hit, raking in over $236 million worldwide.
via Digital Spy