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The Long Island Press

Long Island Kosher BBQ Festival Draws Thousands

    Kosher Barbecue Championships Grand Champs from Atlanta, GA.
Kosher Barbecue Championships Grand Champs from Atlanta, GA.

Thousands of people descended on Westbury last weekend to cheer on nearly two dozen competitors vying for the top spot in the Long Island Kosher Barbecue Championship and Kosher Food Festival.

BBQ fans came hungry for the second-annual festival, which featured competitions in a number of categories, including best ribs, beans, chicken and brisket. Competitors even battled for booth decoration and best team name.

“Your own creativity is the limit,” said Michael Glickman, a volunteer from Temple Beth Torah, where the festive crowd gathered to visit multiple tents of delicious kosher barbecue foods.

Ten of the 22 teams were Long Islanders, while others grill-masters came from as far away as Georgie and Florida for the competition. The field of competitors was made up of first timers and veterans, such as Eric Devlin, who helps run barbecue events across LI.

“The important thing is, it’s all fun,” said Jay Hack, of White Plains. “Technically it’s a competition, but everybody helped everybody else.”

Hack, who considers himself a “fantastic tailgater,” was making his first foray into the Kosher barbeque competition after hearing about it at his local synagogue. Those attending the festival raved about his marinated barbeque pineapple and deep-fried motzah balls.

Teams began to cook and set up their tents Saturday evening and worked through the night. All of the materials—utensils, meats, ingredients and barbecue grill—were provided by the temple to ensure that they were kosher.

Live entertainment from a local Jewish music groups filled the air as folks made their way to the barbecue team competition tents.

Competitors put their talents on display in front of Kansas City Barbeque society judges, kosher cooks, food jockeys and two celebrity judges, sports broadcaster Len Berman and competitive eater Don “Moses” Lerman.

When the grilling was complete, the judges tallied up the points and named, Grillin Tefillin from Atlanta, Ga., the Grand Champions.

This festival was dedicated to Temple Beth Torah Marvin Rembo, who had died less than a week before the event, which he lobbied for last year.

Canned foods and a portion of the proceeds were donated to local charities to support hunger relief on Long Island.

Fairway Market, Mid Island Animal Hospital, Long Island Cares and M’Yad L’Yad (Long Island’s Helping Hands) sponsored the festival.

Letters to the Press – June, 2013

[colored_box color=”blue”]

Well, now you know why people continuously drink and drive…

because like this monster, you get a slap on the wrist and go do it again [“Bethpage Man Gets 1 Year in Jail for Fatal DWI Hit and Run,” May 16]. Very, very sad. Will they finally figure out that they need tougher laws for animals like this!!!

Edna Clary Garcia via Facebook[/colored_box]

[colored_box color=”grey”]Still feeling it, house in shambles but rebuilding slowly RT @LongIslandPress: Long Island Marks 6 Months Since Sandy

@DwightSchrute via Twitter[/colored_box]

[colored_box color=”blue”]In bypassing the hype, ignorance and prejudice, etc., I am letting you know some of what I know, though not all that I think [“Letters to the Editor,” May]. Marijuana has been around a long time; the legislative history is well known and it impels the cartels. Colorado and Washington have their foot in the door so that those who wish may now have their pot and smoke it too, and also make brownies if they wish. The future of this situation for all depends on how it plays out in those two states. Hopefully, it will be for the good and be an aid in finding a solution to the war on drugs.

Charles Samek, Mineola via email[/colored_box]

[colored_box color=”grey”]Do not second guess unless you can walk in the shoes of an officer [“Hofstra Student Killed by Officer’s Bullet During Robbery,” May 18]. It is easy for all of you to sit in your living room and “Monday morning quarterback.” Direct your anger at the judge who let the criminal out. Direct your anger at the social programs that don’t work and the funds that are just thrown at them. Direct your anger at the animal and his family for not raising him right.

Paul Carpentieri via Facebook[/colored_box]

[colored_box color=”blue”]“What are they expecting” is the real ?? RT @LongIslandPress: U.S. Military ‘Power Grab’ Goes Into Effect. Not Good.

@MakingMyPoint via Twitter[/colored_box]

[colored_box color=”blue”]Jaclyn Gallucci’s article “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” [“Out There,” May] did an excellent job describing what rowing is all about. Her description of torrential downpours and waterspouts reminded me of a similar situation long ago with SRA’s Learn to Row program. Instead of waterspouts we saw lightning strikes bouncing off the water while my wife was sitting in a metal coach boat. One thing to always remember: rowing is, and always will be a water sport.

William Ober, Head Coach, Huntington High Crew Team via email[/colored_box]

[colored_box color=”blue”]Love that my hometown paper, @LongIslandPress, made national headlines with their #WarPowers scoop

@sparrowmedia via Twitter[/colored_box]

Long Island Press Wins 16 Press Club Awards

pcli
The Long Island Press won 16 awards from the Press Club of Long Island this week.

The Press Club of Long Island honored the Long Island Press with 16 awards for journalistic achievement Wednesday at the group’s annual media awards contest ceremony at the Woodbury Country Club.

The newspaper scored awards from PCLI—the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists—in an array of coverage categories for reporting on crime, the environment, health, education and sports, among other issues.

First-place prizes winners included Editor-In-Chief Christopher Twarowski for environmental reporting with “Ripple Effect: Bethpage’s Toxic Plume Creeps Closer to Contaminating More Public Drinking Wells” and Managing Editor Jaclyn Gallucci for crime and justice reporting with “Identifying Princess Doe: 30 Years After A Girl Was Found Beaten to Death, Advances in Technology May Finally Bring Her Identity—And Killer-to Light.”

The paper won five second-place prizes, including one for education reporting with “School House Lock: Budget Troubles and Declining Enrollment Are Forcing LI Elementary Schools to Close,” by News/Web Editor Timothy Bolger and Staff Writer Lindsay Christ.

Senior Editor Spencer Rumsey, former editor Michael Patrick Nelson and Twarowski took home another for business reporting with “Paper Tiger: Under Cablevision’s Control, A Once-Feared Newspaper Has Become A Puppet; A Look Behind the Curtain.

Twarowski and Rumsey also landed a government/politics reporting prize with “Hell or High Water: Despite NIFA’s Rejection, A Federal Criminal Case and Plants in Crisis, Mangano Forges Ahead With Sewer Privatization.”

In the health reporting category, Jackie Salo won with her story, “LI Schools Struggle With The Rise in Teen Suicide,” while Dave Gil de Rubio picked up an arts reporting award for “Westbury Music Fair: An Introspective Look at LI’s Storied Venue, Past, Present And Future.”

The Press also won nine third-place honors, including “Turf War: Is SCPD Playing Politics by Backing Out of the FBI’s LI Gang Task Force?” By Shelly Feuer Domash, Bolger and Twarowski, which ranked in the crime and justice as well as the in-depth report categories.

Also scoring was: A breaking news story, “NY Islanders Skating to Brooklyn in 2015,” by Twarowski, Rumsey, Bolger and Staff Writer Rashed Mian, “Major Concern: LI College Grads Face Uncertain Economy—And Future,” by Kevin Ryan for education reporting; “River Keepers: Protecting The Future of The Carmens River from Brookhaven Politics, Fears And Falsehoods” by Rumsey for environmental reporting; “Up All Night: With Not Enough Hours In The Day And Technology That Never Rests, Students Are Sleeping Less Than Ever Before, But at What Cost?” by Gallucci and Lea Weatherby for health reporting; And “Local Olympians: LI Hopefuls Go for The Gold in London,” by Salo, Mian and Alyssa Mellilo in the sports news category.

Rounding out the list were two videos: One accompanying the Ripple Effect story, by Twarowski, Mian, Scott Kearney and Sal Calvi for in-depth report; And for community news, a video by Mian and Twarowski accompanying Superstorm Sandy coverage.

John Tortorella Fired as Rangers Head Coach

John Tortorella (Photo credit: YouTube/HockeyWebCaster)
John Tortorella (Photo credit: YouTube/HockeyWebCaster)

Heads are starting to roll at Madison Square Garden four days after the New York Rangers were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The organization announced Wednesday that head coach John Tortorella was “relieved of his coaching duties,” President and General Manager Glen Sather said in a news release.

The Rangers bowed out of the playoffs in disappointing Game 5, losing to the Boston Bruins 3-1 after they staved off elimination two days earlier in a spirited overtime victory after falling behind in the series 0-3.

Tortorella, the top winning U.S-born coach in NHL history (410 victories), was named the 34th coach in team history in Feb. 2009.

He arrived at the Garden with a Stanley Cup Championship on his resume. Tortorella guided the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 46-win season during the 2003-2004 campaign, claiming the franchise’s first title in its history.

Tortorella also served as an assistant coach for the Rangers in the 1999-2000 season.

Four Corners: Surfing on Long Island

Tommy Bunger

THE BOARD SHAPER

As the buzzing shrieks of a track saw dissipate, Tommy Bunger emerges from behind a door covered in sawdust. His hands worn and tough, he lowers the respirator from his mouth and introduces himself. A second-generation surfboard maker, or “shaper,” as he calls himself, the 39-year-old has been crafting beauty out of fiberglass for nearly 20 years. It’s a family tradition. Tommy follows in the footsteps of his father Charlie, the owner of Bunger Surf Shop in Babylon. “I grew up surfing,” he says, leaning against a graffiti-ridden wall inside his factory, a dual garage-studio attached to an industrial complex off Sunrise Highway. Their family-run shop opened in 1962—the Bunger’s original factory burning down in the late 1980s and Tommy taking over shaping duties in the mid 1990s. “It’s been in my family for so long, since my father used to be a shaper,” Tommy says, in between stacking boards he’s planning on working on later. “Building the boards is a satisfaction you get out of making something that is mass-produced these days.” Tommy takes pride in seeing his creations enjoyed by kids and adults alike new to surfing. “[The boards] are all-custom, so you see people out there surfing, knowing that somebody’s getting a board that’s quality made right here on Long Island.”

Dave Juan

THE SHOP OWNER

Dave Juan stands across from a row of surfboards propped up against a red brick wall at the back of Unsound Surf on East Park Avenue in Long Beach and attempts to explain the reasons for his shop’s success. “We’ve been around so long that we know so many of our customers,” the 37-year-old says. “Kids know they can come here, hang out and say, ‘What’s up!’” Pausing abruptly mid-sentence, he cracks a smile and greets a customer named Sean, who rushes over. A surfer for more than 20 years, Juan recalls that he bought his first board from his friend’s brother for $60 and hasn’t looked back. He and co-owner Mike Nelson opened Unsound in 1997. Floor space normally housing more boards, wetsuits and a host of surfing-related gear was laid bare due to Superstorm Sandy’s devastating wrath. Juan hopes to have the shop operating at peak condition by mid-month, when Unsound celebrates its grand re-opening. “The entire store was gutted, from ceiling to floor,” he says. “Mostly everything was gone.” Asked what he values most about running what has become a neighborhood institution, he joyfully explains: “The best is just seeing kids happy when they come in with their parents to get their first board!” He adds, “The smile on the kid’s face, that’s the best thing. There’s nothing better than that.”

Elliot Zuckerman

THE SURF INSTRUCTOR

Elliot Zuckerman was exposed to surfing when he was just 3 years old. By the time he turned 10, he was catching waves at New York’s beaches during the summer and the winter. Now 59, Zuckerman credits his father and godfather for showing him the way. “As soon as I was able to walk, they put me on a surfboard, and I haven’t stopped since,” he says. Zuckerman’s passion for the sport and his knack for teaching others led him to start his own surfing school, Surf2Live, in 1978. Since then, it’s become an institution, of which Zuckerman is extremely proud. “I saw the ease that I was able to teach people a sport that I seriously love, and it just grew from there,” he says, from his large beach estate overlooking the northern coast of Puerto Rico. Besides the Long Beach native’s love for hometown surf, Zuckerman admits to being smitten by the flexibility of instructing vacationers in the warmer Caribbean climate during off-season. “Here, this is considered the East Coast’s Hawaii, the waves break on very shallow reefs and there’s a million variations on the breaks,” he says. Zuckerman also founded nonprofit Surfer’s Way, which has been exposing special needs children to the surfing lifestyle for almost 20 years. “It takes a long time to really get proficient at this sport,” he says. “But if you stick with it…anybody will be able to learn.”

TJ Gumiela
Photo by Matt Clark

THE PRO SURFER

TJ Gumiela, 22, shakes the water from his wetsuit and, with board in hand, leaps out of the frothy ocean of LI’s South Shore to meet a photographer. Born in Long Beach, Gumiela says he’s been surfing since he was six. “At first…I was boogie boarding,” he says. “I would stand on my boogie board, and my dad was like, ‘Oh, it looks like I’ve got to get him a surfboard now.’” In 2005, Gumiela became the first New Yorker to win the youth division of the Eastern Surfing Association East Coast Championships; he was just 15. “No one knew who I was, I was just some kid from New York,” he says. “I went through about 12 heats and ended up winning the event.” Gumiela had just returned from surfing in Hawaii; he annually visits Puerto Rico. But he says he has a soft spot for his hometown surf. “We don’t have waves every day, but when we do, they’re really good waves,” he says. Gumiela currently has five professional sponsors. Aside from competing, he also works at Skudin Surf, an all-ages surf school. When teaching kids, Gumiela recalls when he was their age. “People would say, ‘Oh, you surf in New York! Are there even any waves there?’” he laughs. “Now, people are going to know that there are waves in New York!”

The Number – May 2013

16,000

The number of people, and the largest turnout in the show’s history, who showed up for Simon Cowell’s The X Factor auditions at Nassau Coliseum on April 25 for a chance to participate in Season 3.

The Target – May 2013

the-target

JUSTIN BIEBER

OFF TARGET The pop star reaches new heights of self-love writing in a guestbook at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam that if the teen hadn’t died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945, he hopes she would have been a “belieber.” Bieber then takes to Twitter to describe his time at the museum, which displays Anne’s handwritten diary, among other exhibits recalling the atrocities of the Holocaust, as a “chill day.” While some credit Bieber for addressing this dark chapter of history, the only thing he really did was cause his rabid pre-teen fans to take to Twitter in his defense, arguing that had she not been murdered for merely existing, along with 6 million others, Anne Frank would, in fact, have probably been a Justin Bieber fan. Are this kid’s 15 minutes almost up?

FLOATING HEAD

PARTIAL SCORE The men’s crew team at Marist College in Poughkeepsie find a man’s head floating in the Hudson River, pull it to shore and the pictures go viral on the Internet. The only shocker here is the head was a 7-foot Styrofoam and fiberglass replica of a Greek or Roman statue.

CANNONBALL

BULL’S EYE The Long Island Rail Road announces the Cannonball, a premier express Friday afternoon train to the Hamptons and Montauk, will be departing from Manhattan instead of Queens this summer. The LIRR promises a smooth and comfortable 94-minute ride covering 75 miles without making a single stop before Westhampton. An extra $20 will get you reserved seating, beverages and snacks. You don’t even have to leave from Platform 9¾ to catch it – the Cannonball will depart from Penn Station’s Track 19 at 4:07 p.m. every Friday. We checked.

GUNS

OFF TARGET As the parents of Newtown victims watched, the Senate fails to pass a simple measure to curb gun violence, falling six votes short of expanding background checks of gun buyers. In other words, six of our senators would rather those like the Tsarnaev brothers wouldn’t have had to rely on pressure cooker bombs for their plans to target Times Square. They could have just armed themselves with an arsenal of automatic weapons without a care in the world. Good job, guys!

EINSTEIN

BULL’S EYE Scientists believe that eventually Albert Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, published in 1915, will not hold true under extreme conditions. Without getting too wonky, a newly-discovered pulsar star and its white-dwarf companion nearly 7,000 light years from Earth, was expected by scientists to be just those extreme conditions. But the genius’ theory held true and once again, Albert Einstein: 1; The rest of us: 0.

BOY SCOUTS

PARTIAL SCORE The Boy Scouts of America proposes to lift the gay ban for kids and even gets support from the Morman community. Gay adult leaders, however, will continue to be excluded. One step forward, one step back.

Long Island Cinco de Mayo 2013 Events

cinco-de-mayoCinco de Mayo is on Sunday, which means muchos Mexican-themed, cerveza-fueled fiestas are planned Saturday and Sunday across Long Island to celebrate the national holiday for America’s allies south of the border.

The events range from fundraisers for Superstorm Sandy survivors and family events for the kids to local bars and restaurants offering specials on burritos, margaritas and Coronas—so break out that souvenir sombrero from Cancun.

But, before leaving the house in a poncho, here’s a quick North American history refresher lesson:  Cinco de Mayo is not—like some people mistakenly believe—Mexican Independence Day, which is Sept.16.

The holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla, when Mexican forces turned back invading French troops in 1862—a symbol of resiliency for the world’s most populous Spanish-speaking nation.

And for those who still remember their high school Spanish 101, here’s a potentially useful bonus factoid—a Mexican saying that may come in handy on the Long Island Rail Road this weekend: “A boca de borracho, oídos de cantinero.”

It translates to “the mouth of drunk, ears of barman.” It basically means ignore the loud drunks.

Saturday
10 a.m.-5 p.m., Cinco de Mayo Dive Meet, Nassau County Aquatic Center, Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, 516-572-0501.

2-4 p.m., Cinco de Mayo at the Long Island Children’s Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City, 516-224-5800.

Cinco de Mayo Kickoff Party, Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub, 275 Rte 25A, Miller Place, 631-331-5454. $4 Coronas and margaritas.

May 4-5: Cinco de Mayo Weekend at The Nutty Irishman. 323 Main St. Farmingdale. 516-293-9700. $4 Coronas, 8-10 p.m.

Sunday
11 a.m.-2 p.m., Cinco de Mayo Festival at the Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market. 4558 Sound Ave, Aquebogue, 631-523-6608

11 a.m.-2 p.m., Cinco de Mayo at the Long Island Game Farm Wildlife Park. 638 Chapman Blvd, Manorville, 631-878-6644. www.longislandgamefarm.com

12-2:30 p.m. or 3-5:30 p.m., Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Kid’s Fun Skate. United Skates of America, 1276 Hicksville Rd. Seaford, 516-795-5474.

2 p.m., Cinco de Mayo: Serenata Mexicana. The Suffolk Theater, 118 E. Main St. Riverhead, 631- 727-4343. $35.

2-3 p.m., Latin Music. Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages, 1200 Route 25A  Stony Brook, 631-751-0066

2-5 p.m., Mambo Loco at Martha Clara Vineyards. 6025 Sound Ave. Riverhead, 631-298-0075

3-8 p.m., Cinco de Mayo Party, Sandy survivor fundraiser, Knights of Columbus, 2333 Bellmore Ave., Bellmore, 516-785-9407. $40.

3-9 p.m., Cinco de Mayo at Pefecto Mundo Latin Bistro. 1141-1 Jericho Turnpike, Commack, 631-864-2777.

10 p.m.-12 a.m., Cinco de Mayo at Lily Flanagan’s Pub. 345 Deer Park Ave., Babylon, 631-539-0816

Cinco de Mayo Party at Dublin Deck. 325 River Ave, Patchogue, 631-207-0370.

Cinco de Moe’s at Moe’s Southwest Grill, multiple locations. Homewrecker burrito, chips and salsa for $5 and bobblehead Cinco de Moe’s collector’s cups.

Margaritas and Fajitas at Cozymel’s Mexican Grill, 1177 Corporate Dr., Westbury.11 a.m.-12 a.m.

Buy two tacos get one free at Chico’s Tex-Mex Restaurant, 18 Berryhill Rd., Syosset, 516-802-3500. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

$2 tacos, $5 nacho platters, $3 beers and $4 margaritas and sangrias at Swell Taco, 135 Deer Park Ave., Babylon, 631-482-1299. 12-4 p.m.

$5 margaritas, $3 beers, free giveaways, Don Juan’s, multiple locations.

-Compiled by Danny Mounce

The Quote – May 2013

“Don’t allow the terror to prevail.”

–Sister Sanaa Nadim, chaplain of Stony Brook University’s Musilm Student Association. (Read: MUSLIM AMERICANS)

Pink Slip – May ’13

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Reese Witherspoon (White House photo)
Reese Witherspoon (White House photo)

Reese Witherspoon

Didn’t she learn anything in law school? The “Legally Blonde” star Reese Witherspoon acted out when a state trooper in Atlanta pulled over her husband, Jim Toth, because he saw the car weaving. The 37-year-old actress was riding shotgun and allegedly wouldn’t stay put after the officer told her to wait inside the vehicle while Toth, a Hollywood big-shot agent, took—and failed—a sobriety test, according to police. The actress threw a hissy fit, peppering the trooper with questions like: “Do you know my name?” and “You’re about to find out who I am!” and, last but not least, “You’re about to be on national news!” The officer slapped her with a disorderly conduct charge, and Toth got a DUI. The trooper can be forgiven for not recognizing the lady in pink from the “Legally Blonde” flicks (the sequel, subtitled “Red, White & Blonde,” was arguably a real miss-demeanor), but the Georgia law man apparently had not even seen her Academy Award winning “Walk the Line,” and in some states that could be considered a criminal offense. Without a doubt, Witherspoon, a mother of three (including an infant named Tennessee James), should have known better than to cross any line. Her name should be “Mud,” until we hear otherwise.

Mike Rice & Tim Pernetti

Pity the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University who had to put up with months—if not years—of physical and verbal abuse from their hot-headed basketball coach Mike Rice, who humiliated, belittled and bullied them. Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti was shown videotapes of Rice’s bad behavior in November 2012 and did nothing about it until the footage went national in April and the full-court pressure finally proved too much for even this bureaucrat to ignore. The players were brutally mistreated by this sadistic set-up man that apparently was condoned from the top down. So Rice was let go, and Pernetti resigned—and they walked away with more than $2 million in combined compensation—and this from a state school. Both men should hang their heads in shame. Winning is not everything.

Brittany Ozarowski

Long Islanders could be forgiven for thinking that the smiling 21-year-old brunette wearing a blue T-shirt that read “Scrub for a Cure” was sincere about holding a pet-grooming benefit to pay for her cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. But “Suds up for Brittany!” was nothing but a doggone scam, Suffolk prosecutors say, and they charged Medford’s Brittany Ozarowski with 24 counts, including grand larceny and scheme to defraud. “There was no cancer,” said Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota. “The only thing that there was, was heroin and more heroin.” Before she was busted, she’d allegedly convinced her grandmother to sell her Selden House and give her a hundred grand, and persuaded her dad to deplete his retirement account to help her out. If the facts in this case are true, Ozarowski was right that she needed treatment—for her addiction, not her affliction.

George W. Bush

The 43rd president of the United States was an unmitigated disaster for this country but you’d never know it to look at him. His presidential library just opened at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and his popularity has been rising of late. To a reporter from The Dallas Morning News, W says, “I’m comfortable with what I did. I’m comfortable with who I am.” The self-satisfied scion of the 1 percent is comfortably rich—that’s for sure. But he caused a great deal of pain during his eight years in office, and millions of people in America and abroad are still suffering from his misdeeds and misperceptions. First, he ceded too much power to his dark lords, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and mislead us into two mismanaged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rather than read the presidential briefing, “Al-Qaida determined to Strike in U.S.,” he went on vacation to his Texas ranch that August in 2001, and on that fateful morning in September when the terrorists struck, he went on reading “My Pet Goat” to school children at a photo-op. The U.S. economy has never recovered from the near collapse he and his wealthy conservative backers have never had to account for—and that the middle class and the unemployed continue to pay for. In retirement—thank the Lord!—this “Decider” has time to paint watercolors in his bathtub, while his former staffers and supporters white-wash his approval of water-boarding and other forms of torture that have compromised U.S. foreign policy and undermined our Constitution. So the worst president in a century gets a library. He shouldn’t even get a library card. But he should be forced to listen to “My Pet Goat” every day for the rest of his life.

Paolo di Canio

Soccer fans, as we’ve seen countless times in other countries, sometimes lose it in the stands or in the streets outside the stadium. The hooliganism that makes the news is just the bad behavior of a few nut-jobs and it should not be used to besmirch a sport that claims to be the most popular in the world. But it’s another story when the politics of the coach—not his coaching skills—get attention. So the controversy surrounding the recent appointment of Paolo di Canio to run Sunderland United in England’s Premier League ranks with the worst of them. The team is owned by Ellis Short, an American billionaire hedge-fund owner in Dallas, who says his new hire is “passionate, driven, and raring to get started.” He certainly has started something but it’s not what they call football. Sunderland’s vice president, a former British foreign minister, promptly resigned. A local coal miner’s group called the appointment “a disgrace and betrayal of all who fought and died in the fight against fascism.” When di Canio played in Rome for Lazio, he greeted the far-right section of the club’s supporters known as “ultras” with a fascist salute, the New York Times reports, and on his own right arm he has the tattoo, “Dux,” Latin for leader, which was Benito Mussolini’s preferred title for himself. Di Canio makes no bones in his autobiography about his adoration of Mussolini, and he’s said in the past that he’s a “fascist, not a racist.” In his previous coaching job, di Canio kicked a player, abused a referee on TV and called his team “donkeys” and “Chihuahuas” when they performed poorly. It’s time to give di Canio a red card and boot him from the game.

Max Baucus, Mark Begich, Heidi Heitkamp & Mark Pryor

In case anyone’s forgotten, the president of the United States is a Democrat and the majority of U.S. Senators are Democrats. But that doesn’t mean that they could get anything done like pass a modest gun control measure such as background checks at gun show sales, which a majority of the country, some 85 percent according to the Pew Research Center, supports. No, these days because of the Senate’s ridiculous filibuster rule, it takes 60 votes to move forward on anything meaningful. And even though President Obama mustered a 54-46 majority on gun control measures, he fell short. Who’s to blame for this disgrace? How about these four Democratic cowards: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)? This despicable quartet let the president of their own party down, but more importantly, they “caved to the pressure” of an extreme lobbying group that “willfully lied,” as Obama put it, and let the nation down. Shame on them. The victims of the Newtown massacre—and all the innocent victims of gun violence since then—deserve public servants who put the greater good ahead of themselves.

Adam Savader

Maybe his savvy computer skills weren’t being fully challenged with opposition research, and that’s why this 21-year-old former campaign intern for Gov. Mitt Romney had enough time on his hands that he could cruise the internet, allegedly cyber-stalk 15 women and post their nude photos without their permission. Adam Savader, a Great Neck Republican, reportedly had internships with Rep. Paul Ryan and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, so he must have learned something about family values along the way, but could he have chosen the wrong role models? The FBI has busted him, and the Department of Justice wants to charge him with harassing women in Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Long Island. It’s a sad, shameful situation, but it’s also pathetic considering all the porn sites a horny young man could visit day or night for free—and the only harm he’d be doing is to himself.

John Idzik

Long-suffering Jets fans (and isn’t that an oxymoron!) have put up with so much they take it for granted. Like little Woody Johnson, who runs the team into the ground when he isn’t running around spending his inherited wealth on worthy causes like Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. But you know the Gang Green Mediocre Meadowlands Machine has hit a new low when it provokes the “Game of Thrones” creator George R.R. Martin to weigh in on his blog: “It is hard to be a fan of the New York Jets. They have hardly done anything right since Joe Willie Namath won Super Bowl III, and every time you think maybe they are finally turning the corner, they find some new way to screw things up. Today the Jets traded Darrelle Revis, the best cornerback in the NFL and far and away the best player on the team. It is never a good idea to trade the best player on your team.” And he spoke not in jest. The perpetrator of this trade is the new Jets general manager John Idzik. Says Martin: “Fire his ass now.” Revis told the media that Idzik had lied to him. Perhaps it’s fitting to let one of Martin’s fictional creations have the last word in this sordid game, and our top pick would have to be Lord Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger, the former Master of Coin (he also ran the houses of ill repute), who told Eddard Stark, after betraying the noble leader, “I did warn you not to trust me.” Also apropos is this gem: “Look around you. We’re all liars here, and every one of us is better than you.” Would that Jon Snow played football…

Rick Perry

Good ole Gov. Rick Perry. Remember that greatly revealing moment when the mighty Texan was still thumping his chest in the 2012 Republican presidential primary and he promised in a televised debate that if he ever got to live in the White House, “I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone,” but he could only name two? Well, the governor stuck his cowboy boot in his mouth again recently after the tragic explosion of the fertilizer plan in West, Texas, that left 15 people dead and the community devastated. The state agency in charge of overseeing the plant’s safety reportedly hadn’t inspected the facility in seven years, and there were flagrant violations that had drawn only the most minimal of fines. But what short-sighted critics might have seen as a failure was, in the far-sighted eyes of Gov. Perry, a success because, as he told the audience of the Bio International Convention in Chicago, it’s another positive sign that all kinds of companies have a friend in Texas, “where limited government, low taxes and a pro-business environment are creating more jobs than any other state.” Except when they’re blowing those jobs—and their workers—to bits.

Glenn Reynolds

Who is Glenn Reynolds? He’s a law professor at the University of Tennessee who blogs in the wonkosphere as the Instapundit. He’s entitled to his opinions, of course, but this right-winger’s claim that former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was engaging in “emotional bullying” when she and the families of the Newtown victims tried in vain to match the firepower of the NRA and its millions in the heated gun control debate on Capitol Hill borders on the bizarre. The Arizona Congresswoman was shot in the head and has survived! If she doesn’t have the right to browbeat politicians in the pockets of the munitions makers, then Prof. Reynolds doesn’t deserve to have a brain.

Col Allen

In a just world, Col Allen would find himself plastered on the front page of the New York Post instead of probably plastered in a bar somewhere with his Aussie pals chortling over the muck they’ve made with someone else’s life without ever having to answer for their tabloid blunders except with a call for another round of drinks—that they can expense. This lascivious leader of the Murdoch Minions in Manhattan is a real pisser. Does he get his come-uppance for identifying two innocent people as “BAG MEN” in the Boston Marathon massacre? Not a chance. But at least his act of defiance has been good for blowback. Take this headline in Gawker: “Is the New York Post Edited by a Bigoted Drunk Who Fucks Pigs?” There was no direct evidence linking the two men in the front-page photo with the Post’s headline (which was not only inaccurate but journalistically irresponsible); nor is there any evidence that the Post’s editor in chief has ever had carnal relations with swine. But he hasn’t denied it, has he?

Amanda Bynes

Fame is a cruel mistress and nobody illustrates that ignominy better than the young woman who was once the truest of talented teenage heartthrobs but is now some celebrity mutant that passes for Amanda Bynes. Whatever happened to Nickelodeon’s former star to make her act this way we wish she would stop smoking it. It’s obviously gone to her head. Recently she shaved half her hair off, got plastic surgery that made her look weirder and pierced her shiny cheeks with pointless diamond studs. Ouch! She’s gotten kicked out of a gym for lighting a joint in the locker room (darling, it was Manhattan, not Denver or Seattle!), and been booted from an adult gymnastics class at Chelsea Piers when she went nuts after she did a cartwheel and “her dark-colored wig fell off.” Last year she was charged with a hit-and-run and a D.U.I. in L.A. Is Amanda Bynes auditioning for The Lindsay Lohan Story? Someone should tell her that LiLo’s bio-pic is a long way from production—the treatment is still in development. As Penelope Taynt, Amanda Bynes’ self-proclaimed “No. 1 fan” (Bynes herself in thick glasses and black hair), used to complain on the kids show: “You’re wasting my life!” Back then it was a skit, but now it’s gone literal.

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