Monday, March 30, 2009

Writing Captions

(CNN) -- A North Korean rocket slated for launch sometime early next month can be clearly seen in a satellite photograph taken Sunday, the Institute for Science and International Security said Sunday.

The satellite imagery, obtained by the ISIS from DigitalGlobe, is said to show the rocket at the Musudan-ri launch site in northeastern North Korea.

The image casts a shadow on the ground below.
CNN could not independently confirm the information provided by the institute, led by former U.N. nuclear inspector David Albright. Defense Department officials were not immediately available for comment.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday there is little doubt that the planned launch is designed to bolster that North Korea's military capability.

He also indicated that the U.S. military could be prepared to shoot down a North Korean missile if the rogue regime develops the capability to reach Hawaii or the western continental United States in a future launch.

The North Korean government says it will launch a commercial satellite atop a rocket sometime between April 4 and April 8.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Tyler Hansbrough deferred to his teammates -- just as he'd hinted he might.

This was no one-on-one matchup down low. Instead, North Carolina rolled past Blake Griffin and Oklahoma with a total team effort.

Ty Lawson scored 19 points and top-seeded North Carolina overcame a quiet game from Hansbrough to beat the Sooners 72-60 Sunday in the South Regional final (BOX SCORE).

North Carolina (32-4) advanced to the Final Four for the second straight year and will play Villanova in the national semifinals.

"This is what we work for," the Tar Heels' Wayne Ellington said. "We put so much work in and sweat in the offseason to get not to this point, but past this point. It means a lot to be able to get to this point and have an opportunity to win the whole thing."

Danny Green scored 18 points for the Tar Heels and Deon Thompson added 10. Hansbrough was in foul trouble early and finished with only eight points, but he'd said the previous day he wasn't going to be caught up in a head-to-head battle with Griffin.

Griffin scored 23 points with 16 rebounds for second-seeded Oklahoma, but the Sooners (30-6) went 2-for-19 from 3-point range.

Special education students share spotlight at Lewisville High prom
06:40 AM CDT on Monday, March 30, 2009

By LAURIE FOX / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Matthew Barr grimaced as the mist of water hit his face and the comb slicked back his copper-colored hair. He cringed when the dress shirt's top buttons squished his neck. And he coughed dramatically as a cloud of cologne and hairspray enveloped him."It's good. I'm OK," he reassured his stepdad, Steve Simpkins, who helped the young man get ready for a teenage rite of passage, the spring prom.

It wasn't supposed to happen for Matthew. At least that's what his mom, Kari Simpkins, told herself years ago. She'd given up on the idea that her son, who is 20 years old, would ever wave from the back of a departing limousine on the night of the big dance.

"You just sort of take those things out of your thinking," Simpkins said as she watched Matthew pace the living room in his tuxedo with turquoise tie and vest, awaiting his ride to Lewisville High School on Saturday evening. "When you have a special-needs child, there are just some of those traditional teenage things that you don't hope for."

But Matthew is part of another spring rite of passage that his mother didn't count on: a special prom at Lewisville High School.

So the limo did arrive for him – a sleek cobalt-blue model – and he did bound down the stairs, bellowing "Bye, Mom! Bye, Dad!" as he hopped into the back of the car, headed for school.

The Grand Ball is a 14-year tradition that celebrates the special education students who attend the school and the Lewisville North ninth-grade center. This year, about three dozen attended the event.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Create Your Own Headlines!

AUSTIN – Senate Republican leaders keep saying the state has no money and can't launch big initiatives to help Texas families reeling from the recession – even with billions of dollars of federal economic stimulus money in a two-year budget that could total $177 billion.

The plan, which the Senate Finance Committee is expected to approve soon, highlights a new fiscal reality that is likely to frustrate Texas lawmakers and residents for years to come: budgets with little leeway.

There are several reasons, but the biggest is that the GOP-controlled Legislature agreed to shift education costs so local property taxes can be cut. Texas already ranks last in state spending per capita, so deeper cuts to offset the education funding are unlikely. And politically, tax increases are off the table.

NEW YORK ( -- The U.S. economy suffered its largest drop in 26 years during the fourth quarter, according to a report from the government.

The nation's gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, fell at an annual rate of 6.3% during the final three months of 2008. That's slightly worse than the government's previous estimate of a 6.2% drop in the period.

Economists surveyed by had forecast that GDP would fall at a 6.6% rate in the latest reading.

The drop is the biggest one-quarter decline in this key measure since the first three months of 1982.

The report showed broad based declines across various measures of economic activity. Spending by consumers fell at a 4.3% rate, with purchases of large ticket items plunging 22%. Investment in housing fell 23% from already depressed levels, completing three straight years of declines in that sector.

Investment in equipment and software, taken as a measure of business spending, plunged at a 28% rate. Exports tumbled at a 24% rate.

The economic problems have obviously not ended with the fourth quarter report. Economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics forecast a 5% rate of decline in the first quarter, which ends Tuesday, followed by a 1.7% drop in the second quarter.

Oscar is back on the March.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences plans to stage Hollywood's big event on March 7, rather than in late February, to avoid a collision with the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.

"Why have two gigantic, spectacular events happen on the same day, particularly these days?" academy President Sid Ganis asked Wednesday. "The Olympics have some 237 events and we are one big event, so it was easier for us to move and we were happy to do it."