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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tibetan woman holds Olympic flame atop Everest


By Nick Mulvenney

EVEREST BASE CAMP, China (Reuters) - A Tibetan woman took the Olympic torch the last steps to the top of Everest on Thursday, realizing "a dream of all Chinese people", but Tibetan exiles criticized Beijing for politicizing the Games.

"Long live Tibet!" and "Long live Beijing!", the climbers, all wearing red, shouted joyously into a TV camera after unfurling the Chinese national flag, the Olympic flag and a flag bearing the Beijing Olympic logo.

The ambitious project to take the torch to the Himalayan peak was cast as the highlight of the relay ahead of the Games, which start in exactly three months' time, and followed weeks of protests against Beijing's rule in Tibet.

"We have realized a promise to the world and a dream of all the Chinese people," base camp commander Li Zhixin told reporters after being mobbed by jubilant friends and colleagues.

Communist China has spent billions of dollars on staging the Olympics, eager to project the image of a modern and vibrant country. But protests during the international leg of the torch relay have bruised Chinese pride and provoked a surge of nationalist sentiment.

Exiled Tibetan officials and rights groups said the Everest flame was in bad taste and not in keeping with the spirit of the Games.

"During these times when the situation in Tibet is very grave and grim we felt it is very provocative to take the Olympic torch to the Tibetan side of the mountain," said Thubten Samphel, secretary of the exiled government's information department in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala.

"The Chinese are suppressing the Tibetan people ... it is not in harmony with the spirit of the Olympics," he told Reuters.

Tenzin Dorjee, deputy director of Students for a Free Tibet, said in a statement e-mailed from New York: "Beijing's conquest of Everest is a political move meant to reassert China's control of Tibet."

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950, and nine years later the Dalai Lama fled to India after a failed uprising against communist rule. He is branded a "separatist" by China, but says he only wants greater autonomy for the region.

"AGREED TO DISAGREE"

Anti-Chinese protesters caused serious disruption to some legs of the main torch relay on its journey around the world after deadly riots in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on March 14 and subsequent unrest in other Tibetan areas of China.

Tibetan groups said they planned prayer vigils around the world later on Thursday to mourn those killed in protests in Tibet.

China says a "Dalai Lama clique" was responsible for the disturbances in Tibet and protests over the Olympic torch.

The Chinese state-run media this week accused the Tibetan spiritual leader of trying to blacken China's name and prevent its rise, days after the two sides held a rare round of talks.

However, an envoy to the Dalai Lama said Chinese negotiators had shown a willingness to engage with the Tibetan side during recent talks, despite major differences on important issues.

"We agreed on few and disagreed on many ... We agreed to disagree," the envoy, Lodi Gyari, told reporters in Dharamsala. "These views were expressed in a frank and candid manner."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said his government's attitude towards dialogue was "sincere".

"We also hope the Dalai Lama can show sincerity by taking concerted actions to truly stop separatist activities, stop plotting and provoking violent actions and stop disrupting the Beijing Olympics," Qin told a regular news conference.

EMOTIONS RUN HIGH

On Thursday morning, five climbers, two of them women, staged the torch relay just shy of the world's highest peak amid strong winds and minus-30-degree temperatures.

"Beijing welcomes you!" and "tashi delek", the climbers said -- using a Tibetan greeting meaning "may everything be well" -- after escorting the flame in a mini-relay to the 8,848-metre (29,030-foot) peak at the end of a six-hour climb.

Beijing student Huang Chungui passed the flame to ethnic Tibetan woman Ciren Wangmu, who trudged the final steps unaided by oxygen to hold the torch aloft.

That prompted jubilation among the reserve climbers, officials and a small team of journalists who had endured thin air at high altitude, sub-freezing temperatures and basic sanitation for nearly two weeks as they waited for the final ascent.

The tent to which the live pictures were relayed from the summit was rent with cheers and tears, and several renditions of the Chinese national anthem echoed out across the Himalayas.

The Everest climbing team, which included 22 Tibetans, eight Han Chinese and one man from the Tujia minority, had been on the mountain for more than a week preparing the route along the north-east ridge.

Concerned that protesters would try to disrupt the assault on Everest, which sits astride the border of the Chinese region of Tibet and Nepal, China had effectively closed off the region and released only limited information to the media.

The flame that crested Everest's peak was taken from the main Olympic torch when it arrived in Beijing in March.

The Beijing organizers paused the main torch relay, scheduled to pass through the southern city of Shenzhen on Thursday, while the final push for the summit was taking place.

The Everest flame will be reunited with the main flame later in the relay, possibly when it passes through Lhasa in mid-June.

(Additional reporting by Abhishek Madhukar in DHARAMSALA, India; and Beijing bureau; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

(Take a look at the Countdown to Beijing blog at blogs.reuters.com/china)

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Top MMA Fighters That Have Never Been Knocked Out

MMATraining.com wanted to know which top MMA fighters have never had the misfortune of being knocked out in a professional MMA fight. You may be surprised to read about who made our list, and maybe even more surprised to see who didn't! After some input from our staff on what our initial starting points should be, a ton of research and enough coffee to keep the Ultimate Fighter contestants awake for four days, here is what we found:

Anderson "The Spider" Silva

In 25 fights as a professional Mixed Martial Arts artist, Anderson Silva has never been knocked out. The Brazilian Muay Thai expert has lost only 4 times in his career, and never been stopped by strikes. Silva began his reign of terror over the UFC's middleweight division in June of 2006 and has since never been defeated inside the Octagon. Regarded by most as the world's best pound for pound fighter, "The Spider" was voted the 3rd Toughest athlete in Sports by Sports Illustrated in 2008. Only the PGA's Tiger Woods and Sled dog racer Lance Mackey placed ahead of him.




Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (Big Nog)

Noted as having quite possibly the best chin in all of MMA, Big Nog, is one of the toughest Heavyweights to ever put on a pair of 4 ounce gloves. He has taken a pounding from the all time Heavyweight great Fedor Emelianenko on three different occasions and survived to hear the judge's decision twice. (One encounter was stopped due to accidental cut).

Prior to his meetings with Fedor, Nogueira battled Bob Sapp during Pride Shockwave in 2002. If Nogueria's chin was ever a question mark, all was answered on August 22, 2002. 365 lbs muscle-bound Sapp picked Nog up and slammed him onto his head, leaving onlookers wondering if he would even get up. Nogueira's submission of Sapp just minutes later will live on in MMA infamy forever.




Fedor Emelianenko

During Fedor's dominance over Prides Heavyweight division from 2002 to 2006 he was one thing: Unstoppable. At 27-1-1, the native of Russia has beaten Mirko Cro Cop and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice, and has not lost in his last 25 fights. In one of his most defining moments, facing Kazuyuki Fujita at Pride 26, Fedor was hit with a barrage of punches and he appeared seconds away from being KO'd. He was able to hold onto his opponent long enough to regroup and submit the Japanese Heavyweight at the 4 minute mark of the 1st round.

Fedor's questionable opponent selection in the last 2 years has raised concerns over his place atop the Heavyweight division, but no one has ever doubted his chin.




Takanori "The Fireball Kid" Gomi

Takanori Gomi, the Japanese lightweight sensation currently carries a professional MMA record of 28-3. With only 2 submission losses and one lose from the judge's decision on his resume; the "Fireball Kid" has never been KO'd. One would think Gomi's willingness to stand and trade punches with some of the top lightweights would have lead to at least one KO, but no one yet has been able to. In what was likely his toughest test to date, Gomi was to face an extremely gifted BJ Penn, in Penn's home state of Hawaii. The October 2003 battle would not go Gomi's way. Gomi suffered one of his three losses, with Penn getting the better of him via rear naked choke in the 3rd frame. Penn peppered Gomi's chin throughout the fight but was unable to put him down.




Tim "the Maine-iac" Sylvia

The 6'8 Sylvia is not the most popular fighter with fans. However, he has a heck of a chin. After entering the UFC in 2002, Sylvia was known as a very aggressive striker who's first 6 wins in the Octagon all ended before the final bell. The behemoth of a man has been criticized in recent years for using his long reach to jab his smaller opponents to boring decision victories. However, a closer look at Tim's record reveals he has fought some very tough competition and never been put down. Randy Couture, Minotauro Nogueira and Brandon Vera all flank the Maine-iac's fight resume.

When heavy hitting KO artist Andrei Arlovski hammered Tim in their 2006 title rematch it looked like Big Tim was done. But he was able to regain his composure seconds later, and threw a right hand that ended Arlovski's night for good, sending him to the canvas in a heap.




Notably Absent from the List

When the subject first came up about doing an article on the top guys in MMA who'd never been knocked out, we heard a lot of names being thrown around for it. But, three of the names we heard most often had indeed been knocked out, no matter how much our friends insisted they hadn't been (gasp - we know).

Below, we give you the 3 most notable names ABSENT from our list:



Randy "The Natural" Couture

After moving down from Heavyweight to Light Heavyweight in June of 2003, the legendary "Captain America" appeared to be unbeatable, stopping Chuck Liddell and embarrassing Tito Ortiz in the process. His streak would end however, when he faced Liddell once again in April of 2005. Couture met the fate of many Liddell opponents before him, suffering a 1st round KO mid way through the round. Couture was once again KO'd by Liddell in February 2006, which put a conclusive end on their trilogy and causing Randy to enter into semi-retirement. The Dudeliest Dude of the Year for 2007 re-entered the world of martial arts shortly thereafter, only to retire again due to feeling unappreciated and underpaid.




George "Rush" St. Pierre

The young French Canadian had run through almost everyone in the deep UFC welterweight pool. He had dominated the likes of Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Frank Trigg and Sean Sherk, before dominating his rematch with Matt Hughes at UFC 65 in Sacramento (before which he uttered the often repeated "I am not impressed by your performance" to Matt Hughes). He was the UFC champion and was untouchable. No one told Matt Serra this. Winner of the 4th installment of The Ultimate Fighter, Serra shocked the MMA world by knocking GSP out in the first round at Houston's Toyota Center in April 2007 (he later avenged that loss during UFC 83). St. Pierre later said he tapped due to strikes, but referee "Big" John McCarthy was seconds from stopping it and was scored as a 1st round TKO.




Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

The reigning UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Rampage is now atop the MMA 205 lbs food chain. But in October 2003, during Pride 28 "High Octane" he was not as fortunate. Rampage ran up against then Pride champion Wanderlei Silva, who had not been defeated in his last 14 fights. Jackson was beaten soundly, with Silva using his Muay Thai clinch to deliver one devastating knee after the other, leaving Quinton bloodied, and hanging from the ropes unconscious. Just 6 months later, Rampage suffered yet another KO loss, this time to Silva's teammate and fellow Chute Boxe fighter Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Jackson will likely have the chance to avenge those losses, as all three are currently employed under the Zuffa umbrella.




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Super Bowl 30-second ads to cost $3 mln in 2009: report


NEW YORK (Reuters) - NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co, plans to say next week that the entry price for a 2009 Super Bowl 30-second ad will be $3 million, the Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday.

The $3 million mark has never been the starting price for a commercial at the Super Bowl, though individual slots have sold for that much before, the report said.

Prices to buy a 30-second spot for the 2008 Super Bowl averaged $2.7 million, it was reported earlier.

NBC Universal representatives could not be reached immediately for comment.

(Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman; Editing by Quentin Bryar)

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College Junior Enters NBA Draft. The Catch: He Has No Basketball Playing Experience

Zach Feinstein is the dark horse in this years NBA Draft, the dark horse because he’s managed to register himself despite having no serious basketball playing experience.

Zach explains:

“The short story is that I, Zachary Feinstein, have declared for the 2008 NBA Draft. As a 5′8″ 130 pound Caucasian, I am the perfect candidate for professional basketball. Also, I do not play basketball.

You see, I am not currently on my college’s basketball team (Division 3 just for reference) nor did I try out to be. I was at no point on my high school’s basketball team nor did I try out to be. I was at no point on my middle school’s basketball team nor did I try out to be. The last time I was on a basketball team was before Bill Clinton got caught with his pants down.

So there you have it, I, Zach Feinstein, am in the 2008 NBA Draft.”

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