Former NFL defensive star Bubba Smith, who found a successful second career as an actor, died Wednesday in Los Angeles at age 66.
Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said Smith was found dead at his Baldwin Hills home. Winter said he didn't know the circumstances or cause of death.
Police spokesman Richard French added the death does not appear to be suspicious.
The top overall pick in the 1967 draft after a sensational career at Michigan State, the six-foot-seven Smith spent five seasons with the Baltimore Colts and two seasons each with Oakland and Houston. He won the 1971 Super Bowl with the Colts.
“I'm saddened by it. I remember my first training camp in 1972 in Golden, Colo. I spent a lot of time with him there. He was a great guy. He was a giant, the biggest player on the field,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said.
One of the most feared defensive ends in the game, Smith often drew two blockers, yet was effective enough to make two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. His best work, though, came in college, and Smith was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
“He was simply a good guy,” former Michigan State teammate Robert Viney said in a statement released through the university. “His size made him an intimidating figure, but he was a real gentleman. He was a helluva player.”
As an actor his most memorable role was playing Moses Hightower, the soft-spoken officer in the “Police Academy” series. He also appeared in such television series as “Good Times,” ”Charlie's Angels,“ and ”Half Nelson,“ and was a regular in the ground-breaking Miller Lite commercials featuring retired players.
Born Charles Aaron Smith, he played in high school for his father, Willie Ray Smith, in Beaumont, Texas, before heading to Michigan State, where he was an All-American in 1966.
“‘Bubba' Smith was a great Spartan,” Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said in a statement. “As both a football player and later as an actor, ‘Bubba' was a great ambassador for the University. It's only fitting that beginning this fall the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Award bears his name.”
At Michigan State he played on some of the school's greatest teams and was one of its best players. Fans in East Lansing, Mich., would chant, “Kill, Bubba, Kill” during games and his No. 95 jersey was retired in 2006.
“I will shed some tears tonight because I've lost a great friend,” Viney said. “He never sought the spotlight. He was a humble man. As I remember him, I recall the chants of ”Kill, Bubba, Kill“ from the crowd in Spartan Stadium. He will be missed.”
Smith was part of two of the most famous football games ever played. In 1966, he was at Michigan State when the Spartans and Notre Dame, both undefeated, played to a 10-10 tie. Michigan State finished second behind the top-ranked Fighting Irish.
In 1969, he played for the Colts against the New York Jets in the Super Bowl. Led by Joe Namath, the Jets of the AFL upset the NFL champion Colts 16-7 in Miami.
GLASGOW: Andy Murray bounced back from his Wimbledon disappointment to help Great Britain grab a share of the spoils in the opening singles of their Davis Cup clash with Luxembourg.
World No.4 Murray, beaten in the semi-finals at Wimbledon by Rafael Nadal a week ago, barely broke sweat as he crushed lowly ranked Laurent Bram 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 to level the match at 1-1.
Bram, a 27-year-old club professional, does not have a current world ranking, weighing in at 996th in his most recent appearance in 2006.
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But Murray showed no mercy to his hopelessly outclassed opponent, wrapping up a rare triple bagel win in only 52 minutes to square the tie after James Ward had lost to Gilles Muller in the opening rubber.
''It was good fun, it's nice to be back in Scotland. I've not been back for about 18 months and I need to make more of a habit of it. The support I've had here has been so nice,'' Murray said.
O In Buenos Aires, Argentina reached the Davis Cup semi-finals after Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank won their doubles rubber to establish a winning 3-0 lead over Kazakhstan.
Chela and Schwank raced past Yuriy Schukin and Evgeny Korolev 6-3 6-2 7-5 to put the encounter to bed and set up a September meeting with either holders Serbia or Sweden, who were facing off in Halmstad.
After racing though the opening two sets the Argentinians, clad in the sky blue and white of their football team, who are hosting the Copa America, broke for a decisive 6-5 lead in the third before Schwank finished the job on his fourth match point.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco had set up the win on Thursday in easily winning their opening singles against Mikhail Kukushkin and Andrey Golubev.
The Kazakhs, made up of naturalised Russian players, had caused a shock by dumping out the Czech Republic in the previous round but at the Parque Roca they were blown away by an Argentine side who looked determined to break their tournament duck.
O In Bern, Roger Federer overcame early problems to beat Portugal's Rui Machado and guide Switzerland to a 2-0 lead on Friday.
Federer's service was broken twice in the opening set by the 93rd-ranked Machado before he recovered to win 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-2 in the Group I second-round match.
It was Federer's first match since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last week.
Earlier on Friday, Federer's Olympics gold medal-winning doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka beat Frederico Gil 7-5 6-3 6-4.
Federer and Wawrinka are scheduled to face Gil and Leonardo Tavares in Saturday's doubles rubber. The contest is being played on indoor hard courts.
The winning nation advances to a play-off in September to join the 16-nation world group.
O In Sweden, holders Serbia shred off the injury-enforced absence of Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic to take a 2-0 lead over Sweden in their Davis Cup quarter-final on Friday.
Viktor Troicki beat Michael Ryderstedt 6-3 6-1 6-7 (6-8) 7-5 in the first singles rubber, just hours after new world No.1 Djokovic pulled out of his rubber against Ervin Eleskovic citing a knee injury.
World No.29 Janko Tipsarevic stepped in and enjoyed a comfortable match when debutant Eleskovic, the world 355, retired with a knee injury after the Serb had established a 6-2 1-0 lead in just 44 minutes.
''I want to say at the start that it's a terrible way to win. I am really sorry for Ervin,'' Tipsarevic said. ''I am happy to give my country a point but I didn't want to win like this.''
One of the biggest stories during NFL Draft weekend was Da’Quan Bowers and how a once top-5 prospect fell into the second round of the NFL draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Owners and teams stayed away from the nation’s leading sack leader due to a knee injury. Since draft day, Bowers has been fairly quiet but he recently spoke with “The Commish” Justin Pawlowski about his knee.
“My knee is great,” Bowers started with. “It’s back to where I needed it to be. It’s back to playing shape. I’ve been rehabbing and working out all throughout the whole summer. The knee is fine. I’m running, jumping, and cutting. Everything’s a full go.”
Some worried that Bowers’ knee would cause problems for him throughout his NFL career. Bowers denied those rumors and said that he expects to have a long NFL career.
“Dr. Andrews has seen much worse knees than mine go on to have great NFL careers.”
Bowers was absent from both the Josh Freeman-lead mini-camp and the rookie symposium this past week. He was asked about his absence and responded with this.
“I didn’t want to miss any rehab time or anything that would slow me down from being where I needed to be come camp time.”
So everything sounds positive for the Bucs second round draft pick from Clemson. If it works out, then it looks like the Bucs have a steal in the second round.
After being taken to task by the president for keeping a low-key schedule, the Senate has canceled its planned Fourth of July break next week in order to attempt to make progress on deficit reduction talks.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the announcement Thursday morning, saying senators would be expected back in Washington for an afternoon vote on Tuesday.
“We’ll do that because we have work to do,” Reid said in floor remarks. “There's still much to do to put Americans back to work, to cut our deficit and get our economy back to work. It is really important that we do this.”
The Senate was scheduled to be out of session next week. The House is off this week and due to return for votes on Wednesday.
President Obama unloaded on Congress at a press conference Wednesday, specifically citing the frequent breaks for what used to be called recess. Leaders now call the time out of Washington “constituent work periods.”
“They’re in one week. They’re out one week. And then they’re saying Obama’s got to step in-- you need to be here, I’ve been here, I’ve been doing Afghanistan, Bin Laden, and the Greek crisis. You stay here. Let’s get it done,” Obama said.
The administration has said lawmakers need to vote to raise the debt ceiling before Aug. 2 to avoid default on the country’s financial obligations. Talks to craft a deficit reduction plan before the date appear to have stalled.
Oil rose in Asian trade today on positive economic data from the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, analysts said.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for July delivery, rose 25 cents to USD 95.20 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for August gained four cents to USD 114.06.
"US crude futures rose in choppy trading, recouping some of the previous day's sharp losses after the International Energy Agency forecast a steep rise in demand," said a Phillip Futures report.
The IEA, in its monthly report Thursday, raised its global oil demand forecast for 2011 by 0.1 million barrels per day to 89.3 million barrels. A predicted rise in demand hinted at a recovering US economy, which requires crude oil to fuel its industries, leading to higher prices.
New US claims for unemployment benefits fell to 414,000 in the week ending June 11, a decline of four per cent from the previous week, and US housing starts grew more than expected in May, rebounding 3.5% from April.
"However, the gain was limited due to the rising tension over a planned rescue of Greece, amid worries of wider fallout," the IEA report added.
Dealers have been rattled by the failure of eurozone finance ministers to reach an deal on a second bailout package aimed at averting a Greek debt default, which could plunge financial markets into crisis.
After a long delay, al-Qaeda’s media arm announced a successor for Osama bin Laden over the Internet. “The general command of al-Qaeda, after completing consultations, decided that the sheik doctor Abu Mohammed Ayman al-Zawahiri take the responsibility and be in charge of the group,” said the statement. “We seek with the aid of God to call for the religion of truth and incite our nation to fight ... by carrying out jihad against the apostate invaders ... with their head being crusader America and its servant Israel, and whoever supports them,” it said.
Born in 1951, and trained as a surgeon, Mr. Zawahiri is an Egyptian who got involved in radical Islamist politics in the 1970s and formally became Mr. bin Laden’s second-in-command in 1998. He’s sometimes described as the “Karl Rove of al-Qaeda,” brainy and uncharismatic, but despite his shortcomings as an orator he was always viewed as the natural replacement for Mr. bin Laden. There is a $25-million bounty on his head.
Why was he the obvious choice?
In part, there’s nobody else. A joke among analysts in recent years was that serving as al-Qaeda’s “No. 3” is the most dangerous job in the world, because hits on senior terrorist figures were touted as taking out the third in command. Some of that was bluster from Western intelligence agencies, but there did appear to be a dearth of suitable candidates.
Wasn’t another al-Qaeda associate named leader?
Pakistani newspaper reported last month that Saif al-Adel, a former Egyptian special forces officer, had been appointed as interim leader. Several other media outlets corroborated this, but the announcement from al-Qaeda does not offer details about Mr. Adel’s role. That ambiguity, and the fact that the terrorist group waited 45 days before naming a leader, have been widely interpreted as signs of a power strle.
“It is surprising that al-Qaeda took such a long time to announce Zawahiri as the group’s new leader,” said Noman Benotman, a senior analyst at the think-tank Quilliam, who was a close associate of Mr. Zawahiri in the 1990s. “This is a sign that there may have been disputes and conflicts within al-Qaeda, including over his leadership, that Zawahiri needed to resolve before formally taking over.”
How will this promotion affect the organization?
Some say he will focus on attacking the West to nominally avenge his former boss’s death, but also to make his own mark. Organizationally, his ascension may not make a difference. “Under his leadership, there really won’t be that many changes,” former CIA counterterrorist expert Mark Baker told CNN. “It’s not like a corporate shakeup.”
Does anybody take al-Qaeda seriously any more?
The United States government has tried to play down Mr. Zawahiri’s relevance; one senior official told reporters he “barely matters.” Then again, if he were entirely irrelevant the White House would not have bothered to circulate talking points that attack his character, telling journalists that the new al-Qaeda boss lacks combat experience and was an “armchair general.” Predictably, the U.S. military promised to hunt and kill the new al-Qaeda leader.
Will this affect the Taliban’s war in Afghanistan?
Not really. Three Taliban fighters interviewed by The Globe and Mail in the days after Mr. bin Laden’s death seemed uninterested in the question of who should lead al-Qaeda. Most insurgents in Afghanistan draw a sharp distinction between themselves and the “foreigners,” meaning Arab extremists with a global vision of holy war. A 40-year-old merchant now fighting NATO forces in southern Afghanistan sested that al-Qaeda doesn’t need a leader: “Everyone in al-Qaeda is Osama,” he said.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Jimmer Fredette-Kemba Walker showdown is set.
Both hyped players and lottery prospects, who made big splashes in the NCAA Tournament this spring, will participate in a pre-draft workout for the Utah Jazz on Wednesday morning.
The point guards will be joined in the tryout session by 6-foot-8 forward Paul Carter (Illinois-Chicago), 6-10 forward Josh Harrellson (Kentucky), 6-2 guard Senario Hillman (Alabama) and 6-6 guard Malcolm Lee (UCLA).
As usual, this workout is not open to the public.
The 6-3 Fredette, who earned national player-of-the-year honors at BYU this past season, and the 6-1 Walker, who led UConn to the national championship, are among the intriguing players who will likely be available for the Jazz with their No. 3 overall pick.
The Jazz also have the 12th selection of the draft, which takes place a week from Thursday.
The wildly popular Fredette worked out in Phoenix on Monday and has also received rave reviews from his showings for Indiana, New York and Sacramento.
While many Jazz fans are hopeful the local team will pick up the BYU star, Fredette has been projected to be selected as high as No. 7 overall. Most draft speculation has Jimmer pegged in the late lottery area, which would give Utah a shot to take him at No. 12.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Nearly 100,000 Yemenis protested Friday in a main square of the capital, demanding the president's ouster in the biggest rally since Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia after he was wounded in an attack on his palace.
Saleh's evacuation for medical treatment has thrown Yemen into a dangerous political standoff, with opponents insisting he now be pushed completely out of power and his allies seeking to preserve his rule. Saleh was wounded in a blast that hit a mosque where he was praying in his presidential palace on June 3. Badly burned, Saleh was rushed to Saudi Arabia for treatment along with a number of top officials from his regime who also were wounded in the blast.
But the president's allies say he could return within days and have been resisting U.S. and Saudi pressure to start now on a handover of power. Saleh, who has ruled for nearly 33 years, has held out against a wave of daily protests since late January demanding his removal, throwing the country into turmoil. Before he was wounded, opposition tribesmen rose up and battled for two weeks with government forces in fighting that shook the capital.
The United States fears that the impoverished country's power vacuum will give even freer rein to al-Qaida's branch in Yemen, which Washington believes is the terror network's most active franchise. Already, Islamic militants — some suspected of ties to al-Qaida — have taken control of at least two areas in the restive south, a provincial capital Zinjibar and a nearby town Jaar.
PHOTOS: Demonstrations in Yemen
On Friday morning, warplanes hit militant positions north of Jaar, witnesses and security officials said. They said there were casualties but the number was not known. The night before, troops shelled other militant positions near the town with artillery, killing at least six militants, according to medical officials. The medical and security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
In Sanaa's Taghyeer, or "Change," Square on Friday, the crowds of protesters demanded that the vice president — who is acting leader in Saleh's absence — allow the creation of a new government. "The people want a transitional government," they chanted.
The opposition tribesmen marched through the square with the bodies of 41 of their fighters they say were killed a week ago when troops bombarded the Sanaa home of one of their leaders. The tribe's chief, Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, led the march of around 10,000 people from the square to a cemetery in the capital, as protesters chanted, "The people want the butcher put on trial," referring to Saleh.
In another part of the city, about three miles (five kilometers) away, several thousand Saleh supporters held a rally outside his presidential palace. No friction between the two sides was reported.
Similar anti-Saleh protests were held in cities around the country, including in Taiz, Yemen's second largest city, where tribesmen have moved in to protect protesters who came under attack last week in a fierce crackdown by government troops. In recent days, government forces and tribesmen have been fighting in the city, trading gunfire and shelling.
Since Saleh's evacuation, Sanaa has been under a fragile cease-fire, with government troops still deployed in the streets where they once battled al-Ahmar's tribal fighters. The situation has raised fears of a new explosion of violence if a political solution is not found soon — or if the president does indeed return.
The United States and Saudi Arabia are pressing Saleh's ruling party to move ahead with a Gulf Arab-mediated agreement under which he would formally leave power in exchange for immunity, a new unity government would be formed between the ruling party and opposition parties and new elections would be held within two months.
But youth activists leading the street protests reject the deal, saying it would allow elements of Saleh's regime to remain in power. They demand the creation of a transitional government made up of technocrats.
In Abu Dhabi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday called on all sides to honor a cease-fire. She said Washington was pushing for an "immediate, orderly and peaceful transition" in Yemen.
The upheaval of the past months has left Saleh too preoccupied to focus on the fight against al-Qaida, and the United States has stepped up its covert operations in Yemen. American officials said Thursday that a U.S. airstrike on June 3 killed a midlevel al-Qaida operative named Abu Ali al-Harithia in southern Yemen.
Emboldened, the militants have made inroads deep in the Yemeni hinterland and on its red mountain ranges.
In Abyan, residents said suspected al-Qaida militants were openly training in camps and using live ammunition for target practice. They were also carrying out identity checks on travelers on roads leading to neighboring provinces.
Residents of the southern province of Shabwa said suspected al-Qaida militants and sympathizers had set up checkpoints on the road to the nearby province of Hadramawt. They also controlled the towns of Rawdah and Houtah, where they freely roamed the streets.
There is a blurred line between Yemen's large and diverse community of militants and al-Qaida, which is thought to have no more than 300 hard-core members in Yemen. The militants have varying levels of links to the terror network.
Saleh has allied with many of these groups to promote his own interests against political rivals that include moderate Islamists, leftist parties and secular-minded intellectuals. He has sought the militants' help to "Islamize" the south, where secular traditions endure two decades after it was united with the conservative north.
These NBA Finals are about beginnings. Or are they endings?
The kings are dead. At least, they're on the golf course, or however they spend their summer vacation. There are no Los Angeles Lakers, no Boston Celtics, no San Antonio Spurs. That takes care of 10 of the past 12 NBA champions.
In their place are new plotlines — but familiar enough faces of the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. A sequel to 2006, when the Heat won in six games. But so much has changed. "Times are different," Dwyane Wade said. "Situations are different. Teams are different."
Here come the Heat, as many expected, some feared. Certainly not a finished product since the merger of James, Wade, Bosh, Inc., but finding itself this first spring together.
It has been an arduous road, never without pressure or scrutiny or malice from that part of the audience which loathed the way the South Beach trinity formed an alliance in the quest for domination.
Today Miami, tomorrow the world.
When ESPN handed James a dagger to stick into Cleveland last July, it was the beginning of something, but the Heat had only one ending in mind. They huddled together against all the storms that followed.
"We never turned our back on each other," Wade said. "Without that, we would have been done."
"It feels like a roller coaster, like the world is caving in on you. But you have to stay together," James said during the Eastern Conference duel with Chicago. "Nothing from our season has been easy at all. That is not in our vocabulary."
Here, too, come the Mavericks, driven by a relentless 7-footer whose title chances will one day run out. Dirk Nowitzki began a long time ago in Dallas and now looks around and sees grizzled faces from hither and yon, brought together to make a happy ending. A Jason Kidd, a Shawn Marion, a Tyson Chandler — nine players on the Mavericks roster have at least 10 years of NBA experience.
"We're trying to get somewhere where this franchise has never gotten," coach Rick Carlisle said. "So there's real resolve there."
"It's just a bunch of veterans," Nowitzki said, "with a lot of unique stories."
Miami and Dallas could hardly be called a new wave. Too many of the players have been around. Besides, for a true changing of the guard, we wait for the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, who flexed their future in the conference finals, even as they kept blowing up in the fourth quarter.
Promised Oklahoma City forwaard Kevin Durant , "I know I'm far from where I want to be, and I think I'm moving in the right direction."
Promised Chicago point guard Derrick Rose , "If anything, this is going to make me hungry."
"Hopefully we won't have to continue to see him in the postseason," James said of Rose.
Wade: "We will.
James: "Yeah, we will."
But the present brings fresh possibilities, too.
What would validate James' decision faster than a championship?
"I wanted to team up with some guys that I understood would never die down in the moment," he said as the umpteenth explanation of his move. "I'm happy. In anyone's job, they always try to find some way they can do their job and be happy doing it."
Not only happy, but delivering clutch plays nightly, which has some witnesses making — trumpets, please — the Michael Jordan comparison. Scottie Pippen, for raise-the-eyebrow instance.
James might be a couple of titles short for that sort of thing, but he's working on it. This could be the beginning of true legend-building.
Meanwhile, what would be more satisfying for Nowitzki than ending both his personal quest for a title with Dallas' long search for the next step?
"There is no next step," Carlisle said, "until we've got a ring on our finger."
LeRingless James understands. "You dream about hoisting the trophy up, the title, seeing the confetti rain.
" If you don't have that vision, I don't know exactly what you're being part of this postseason for. I have that vision all the time, even when I'm awake or sleeping."
So here they are, two teams with their share of critics, on style usually more than substance.
"About a month left of the continued of hate," James said of his tempestuous journey. Maybe a championship will begin national acknowledgement of the wisdom of his intentions, or an increased tolerance for Mark Cuban's maverick Mavericks act.
But might it also be the end of basketball for awhile? Lockouts are all the rage, and the NBA faces one, too. The sport could soon be quiet and dark.
The Finals are alive enough, though.
Residents of fire-ravaged northern Alberta communities in and near Slave Lake are finally learning if their homes were engulfed by flames.
The town has released a detailed photographic map showing 374 lots were destroyed by the wildfires that swept through the area Sunday evening. Another 52 lots were damaged. A map of homes in the nearby Municipal District of Lesser Slave River shows 59 lots were destroyed and 32 were damaged.
Flames forced roughly 7,000 people to flee from their homes.
Slave Lake Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee says many residents will be heartbroken by the news, but they need to know.
“This is a very emotional undertaking for everyone involved,” she said Thursday as the maps were shown to people at evacuation centres in Athabasca, Westlock and Edmonton.
“I understand the anxiety residents have felt since being evacuated, not knowing if their home or business had been damaged or destroyed.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach are to tour the communities Friday.
Officials say it will be weeks before people are allowed to move back to the undamaged homes.
Alberta is working on a plan to get people out of evacuation centres and into temporary homes and to help students who have been forced from school.
The provincial Housing Department said people whose homes were not destroyed will be placed in short-term accommodation such as hotels until they can return home, with help from the Red Cross. Spokesman Dan Laville said residents whose homes were destroyed or damaged will get assistance finding longer-term rental accommodation. Details of the plan are to be announced in the coming days.
“Our goal is to help people move out of the evacuation centres as soon as we can,” Mr. Laville said.
Alberta Education announced that children in Grades 3, 6 and 9 who were to write Provincial Achievement Tests in and around Slave Lake will not be required to take them. Grade 12 students will be exempt from writing diploma exams unless they wish to take them at a different school. Students who don’t write the exams will receive final grades based on their school marks.
Crews have been busy trying to make the community safe, but it will be a long time before life approaches anything resembling normal.
Ms. Pillay-Kinnee said progress is being made to repair electric and natural gas service to undamaged homes. Hooking up a potable water supply will take longer. Repairs to damaged homes are expected to take months. Rebuilding destroyed homes could take more than a year.
“Please be patient and understanding. We are working around the clock to make the community a safe place for their return,” she said. “We are going to get through this.”
The town is considering building some temporary housing, including trailers, but these would also require water, sewer, electric and gas hook-ups.
Alberta wildfire officials say rain showers Wednesday night helped improve conditions. On Thursday there were 72 wildfires burning across the province, 19 of them out of control. That’s a drop from more than 30 over the past few days.
Duncan MacDonnell, with Sustainable Resource Development, said there are fears that lightning strikes could start new fires. Forests are still too dry and the fire threat in the region remains extreme.
“We are watching for the threat of thunderstorms because lighting strikes could cause more fires and we don't want any more of that.”
The Canadian Press