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Topic: Karl

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Susanna Hoffs, New Beck, Bob Wills, Monkees, and 10,000 Killer Bees   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, October 05, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

SUSANNA HOFFS: The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles has a cool profile that asks: "How did a nice Jewish girl from Santa Monica become a rock star?" As Hoffs is big into covers recently, we salute her with video of three songs, including The Seeds' "Pushin' Too Hard" from the early days of The Bangles, Simon and Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter" live o­n Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve '06, a 1991 cover of Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love" (a must-see for men and lesbians) and Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" with Matthew Sweet o­n the Peacock-net.

BECK: As if a new album this week was not enough, he has two new songs with videos streaming at his website.

TV o­n the RADIO singer Tunde Adebimpe puts the pop and politics into perspective for Harp magazine: "If I'm listening to a record and someone mentions something about their politics, it doesn

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Sgt. Pepper, Johnny Cash, David Byrne & Richard Thompson, Dieting Monkeys   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, October 04, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE BEATLES: A "new" album of Beatles music mixed by their legendary producer George Martin and described as a new "way of reliving the whole Beatles musical lifespan", will be released in November. But if you really want to see George Martin work the knobs, you should watch The Making of Sgt. Pepper, in which Martin plays the 4-track masters to highlight individual tracks and alternate takes. Part 1 ends with an analysis of "Strawberry Fields Forever," while Part 2 starts with "Penny Lane" -- the predecessors to Pepper and the first Beatles single to miss No.1 o­n the UK charts, for a very strange reason. (Part 2 also covers the title track.) Part 3 covers "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "With A Little Help From My Friends", and "Within You Without You." Part 4 addresses the influence of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album o­n Pepper and covers "Good Morning" and "Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite." Part 5 discusses Ringo's drumming and focuses o­n "A Day In the Life."

ROCKTOBER! The Drive-By Truckers are posting live MP3s and studio outtakes throughout the month, in connection with A Blessing and a Curse. As the band puts it: "The blessing is that by the end of the month, you can collect an entire DBT bootleg album. The curse is that each track will be available for a couple of days at most." Get clicking!

EDDIE VAN HALEN threw a release party for the adult film Sacred Sin, which features two new instrumentals by Eddie. And if you guessed there would be naked chicks in Eddie's pool, you would be right.

JOHNNY CASH & THE ORIGINAL TENNESSEE TWO: At rbally, Jennings has posted the audio from a 1958 TV gig. You can stream it via the Hype Machine, natch.

BACK IN BLACK: Goth has risen from the dead -- and the 1980s pioneers are (naturally) not happy about it.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK: The Ear Farm has posted a 2004 solo gig at the venerable Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ. You can jukebox it via the Hype Machine.

DAVID BYRNE talks to the Montreal Gazette about the future of rock music -- albums, stores, internet distribution and more. Of course, if David Byrne duets with Richard Thompson in a diner, people are going to hear it.

MYSTERY TRAIN: Some Velvet Blog has posted multiple vesions of the classic, originally by Little Junior's Blue Flames. You can jukebox 'em via the Hype Machine, too.

WHAT IT IS! Amid the flurry of new releases yesterday, I should have mentioned that Rhino a four disc set of rare and classic funk tracks that have long served as the source material behind tracks by Kanye, Biggie, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and the Beastie Boys, among others. Liner notes by writer and Soul Sides blogger Oliver Wang, with track-by-track commentaries and testimonials from funk and rap notables. Follow the link to Pitchfork for video of Aretha Franklin o­n The Flip Wilson Show.

STEVE ALBINI talks to the Chicago Reader about Shellac, upcoming work with The Stooges, and staying analog.

PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: The troubled singer and supposedly sober supermodel are planning to marry in Ireland and start a family soon, according to the manager of a Dublin venue where they performed at last week.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S ex-boyfriend and wannabe baby daddy filed suit Monday against the spokesmodel, demanding that she return to California with newborn daughter Dannielynn Hope for a paternity test. Meanwhile, Smith's faux wedding to long-time attorney Howard K. Stern may have a million-dollar payday, with GettyPictures or People rumored to have paid that much for pics of the ceremony.

BRITNEY SPEARS is planning a variety of styles o­n her new album, including rap. Yet she is also determined to improve o­n her previous releases. But for the rap, that would seem like a low bar to clear. Meanwhile, Spenderline is backsliding into his party boy habits again.

ELVIS PRESLEY bedded Marilyn Monroe within minutes of meeting her, according to the King's former agent, Byron Raphael.

GEORGE CLOONEY is trying to outsmart the paparazzi by turning his public dating into The Thomas Crown Affair.

JESSICA SIMPSON was spotted in a hotel with John Mayer again. All of the Strange New Respect he's been earning is o­n the verge of dissipating. Meanwhile, creepy dad-manager Joe shows he's as good at steering a car as he is at steering his daughters' careers.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: According to TMZ, Cruise is now directly involved in whipping Holmes back into shape for their supposed wedding.

SEAN PENN has a message for his daughter's dates: "I tell them that whatever they do to my daughter that night, they better be prepared to come home and do it to me too."

BORAT: British-born comic Sacha Baron Cohen has been condemned by a British Jewish group... that supports Mel Gibson.

TORI SPELLING is the latest to go o­n pregnant actress watch.

SIENNA MILLER and JUDE LAW: TMZ asks, "Are They or Aren't They?" Get back to us when you have it figured out.

JACKO: Do you think MJ ever saw the Bollywood version of the "Thriller" video?

WHY DO HUMANS KISS? An article that shows Scienceline has a sense of humor.

YOUTH RIOTS in England and Paris during Ramadan, but the press is doing its best to avoid mentioning the underlying issue. Here's some video of the French police fleeing the scene.

OPERATIC JIHAD: Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post weighs in o­n the Deutsche Oper in Berlin cancelling its production of Mozart's Idomeneo for fear that the avant-garde remake's final, unscripted scene (in which the king of Crete lugs o­nstage the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha, Poseidon and Muhammad) might offend Muslim sensibilities and create a security risk.

IRAQ: An Al Qaeda leader has died from injuries sustained during armed clashes with Iraqi Army troops in southwestern Kirkuk. Sunni sheikhs in Anbar are offering 30K men as recruits for the mostly Shiite Iraqi police and army; integrating these forces would be a positive development. Bill Roggio looks at US and Iraqi ops against Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army outside Baghdad. London's Times goes o­n a Mahdi Army op inside Baghdad. Col. Sean MacFarland says Ramadi is tipping toward Coalition forces, though -- as with Anbar generally -- the US expects it will be Iraqi forces that finish the job.

DIETING MONKEYS give preliminary evidence that cutting calories prevents age-related diseases.

RED SQUIRRELS may get a rope bridge across the A933 in Scotland.

PET OWNERS are suing a company called Hollywood Paws for failing to turn their pooches into stars. Owner Larry Lionetti contends he never promised acting jobs, although he said several animals had won spots in commercials: "Everybody knows down in your town that there are actors and actresses waiting o­n tables until a part comes along. Who in L.A. doesn't know this?"

A MONTH IN THE DOGHOUSE, and a woman gets Stockholm Syndrome.

TEN DAYS IN A LIONCAGE, and Ye Fu calls it performance art. His goal is to feel what it is like to be an animal locked up in a cage by men. Not all that different from living in China, I'd wager.

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Rogue Wave Benefit, New Releases, RHCP, and Sea Lion Painting   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, October 03, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

ROGUE WAVE held its benefit concert for their drummer Pat Spurgeon, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. The benefit concert featured performances by Rogue Wave, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie,) Nada Surf, Ryan Miller (Guster,) John Vanderslice, and other special guests including Daniel Handler (a/k/a Lemony Snickett). Click through for MP3s and video of songs including: "Cuddly Toy," "I

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Cheap Trick, The Hold Steady, Evan Dando, Alpaca Paternity Suit   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, October 02, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

SITE NEWS: Lance moved the site to a major hosting service over the weekend. We hope this will help speed things up a bit. Lance is continuing to tinker a bit and has further improvements planned. Thanks, Lance!

CHEAP TRICK played Imus in the Morning last week, including "Don't Be Cruel," "Voices," "Dream Police," "I Want You To Want Me" and "If it Takes A Lifetime." There is something oddly compelling about having a news ticker run under Rick Nielsen.

THE HOLD STEADY get a lengthy rave in the New York Times (try Google News to bypass registration) o­n the eve of the release of Boys and Girls in America -- a title we learn is borrowed from Jack Kerouac. The indie bar band's latest seems to be getting some backlash from hipsters who don't like its Thin Lizzy and Springsteen influences. You may still be able to stream the whole album from Vagrant Records, though it was down for a bit after kids figured out how to download all of the MP3s separately... bad kids! Otherwise, you can stream three new tracks from MySpace.

GERRY RAFFERTY was apparently so drunk after a ten-hour bender o­n an transatlantic flight that he had to be taken off in a wheelchair and whisked to a detox clinic run by the Church of Scotland. Does this mean he hasn't given up the o­ne-night stands, either?

GARY GLITTER, convicted of sexually assaulting two underaged girls in March, wants to return to the UK and make a television comeback after his expected parole from a Vietnamese jail in November. I would guess the UK authorities might have different plans for him.

SUFJAN STEVENS: "Majesty, Snowbird," a new track reflecting his new seeming obsession with birds, is popping up o­n various music blogs. YANP will also point you toward the video.

A GENESIS REUNION WARNING is issued when a Genesis reunion has actually been sighted or is indicated by radar. Those in the affected areas should go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level, away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Do not open windows. I will admit, however, to liking "Turn It On," which is the obvious choice for this story.

EVAN DANDO and THE DEARS played the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia last week, so you can stream them from NPR now.

WHO NEEDS LUTE MUSIC? London's Observer wonders why Sting, The Who and Paul McCartney think that their fan bases, initially attracted by high-grade pop and rock, will be impressed by lutes, violins and great swathes of Latin noodling: "Never do musicians get more pompous than when they decide there has been a dreadful mistake -- they are not farting, nose-picking rock stars after all, but proper artists, composers, if you will."

ART BRUT, o­ne of my faves from the past couple of years, is putting out a new single in November. Until then, make do with plenty of great tracks o­n the Hype Machine.

KURT COBAIN: Courtney Love cradles a look-alike of her late husband -- supposed to depict Jesus Christ -- while a critic for London's Times argues that Nirvana's Nevermind has aged badly.

THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP: I saw Michel Gondry's latest film, which may never achieve wide release, as it lacks both the stars and emotional depth of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And a fair amount is subtitled, though neccessary for the plot. That's not to say it wasn't good; it was. Indeed, it was in some ways more visually inventive than Eternal Sunshine. Also darker,though with a number of funny moments, such as the o­ne pictured, in which the band is playing the Velvet Underground's "After Hours."

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Ashton Kutcher grabs the top two slots with Open Season and The Guardian. The animated flick made 23 million o­n an 85 million budget, but that may be okay, given that it won't have much 3-D competition in October. Jackass: Number Two came in third, with another 14 million of probable pure profit. School For Scoundrels did an anemic 9.1 million opening, but o­n mere a 20 million budget. Jet Li's Fearless plunged 55 percent to 4.7 million after his fans turned out for the opening. Gridiron Gand skidded to sixth, though it should end up in the black. The Illusionist actually moved up to seventh, despite losing over 100 screens. Flyboys and The Black Dahlia, otoh, dropped far enough that both may end up in the red. Little Miss Sunshine again clung to the top ten.

EVA LONGORIA and TONY PARKER are dunzo, supposedly due to "distance and demanding careers and not living in same city," as opposed to Parker dancing and cuddling with a tall blonde at Marquee in full view of Leonardo DiCaprio, Bono, The Edge and Mick Jagger.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S "wedding" to attorney Howard K. Stern was "not legally binding," according to her other attorney. Meanwhile, the model's estranged mother does not believe Stern is the father of Smith's baby.

AMANDA PEET of Studio 60 got hitched to screenwriter David Benioff at the actress's alma mater, Friends Seminary, a Quaker school founded in 1786. Peet is four or five months pregnant already; her castmates call her "fatty."

SCARLETT JOHANSSON has been named Esquire magazine's Sexiest Woman Alive, which was obvious to anyone that followed the teasers run o­n the mag's website. Clearly, there should be some sort of official ceremony in which last year's sexiest, Jessica Biel, kisses Scarlett good luck for her reign. My favorite part of the story is where she asks, "What about my brain?", which is right before she talks about spelling "harass" wrong o­n a sign directed at the paparazzi.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise will threaten to sue the press over a lot of things, but he cannot sue them for making fun of his height, particularly in relation to Holmes. So that's going to happen.

LINDSAY LOHAN has welched o­n the reward or thank-you note promised by her rep to the driver who found Li-Lo's missing Hermes bag, which was stuffed with a million dollars in jewelry and her asthma medicine, lost at Heathrow Airport earlier this month. Classy!

BORAT: Sacha Baron Cohen, milking the publicity for all it's worth, was turned away from the White House in a stunt was timed to coincide with an official visit by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is said to be displeased with Cohen's fictional TV reporter from Kazakhstan. The Washington Post has video of Borat's press conference held after the stunt. It appears he's now dragging Uzbekistan into the fight.

LITTLE SUPERSTAR UPDATE: The strange video posted here o­n Friday is explained at Gorilla vs. Bear.

DAVID HASSELHOFF, currently in the UK promoting Click, his single "Jump In My Car," and his book Making Waves, was accused of being drunk during a live television breakfast show. He apparently flirted outrageously live o­n air with GMTV hostess Jenni Falconer, then tried to come o­n to Sunday Mirror showbiz columnist Suzanne Kerins, who was presenting Hasselhoff with the Guinness World Record for Most Watched Man o­n TV at London's posh Claridges Hotel.

CARTOON JIHAD: Today, the controversial Mohammed cartoons will be shown on Norwegian TV for the first time. A ceramic bobblehead doll of the Prophet Muhammed is being hawked online for 22.99 a pop by an ex-Marine. That's going to go down well in some quarters. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is part of the a "Zionist" conspiracy to exert cultural influence, according to Iranian state television. Meanwhile, in the UK, a hardline Muslim teacher who denounced pupils for singing Christmas carols has been made a government schools inspector.

IRAQ: At ITM, Omar blogged the fierce clashes in Baghdad and later calm during the curfew imposed to capture an al-Qaida suspect and members of his cell, who were "in the final stages" of planning an attack o­n the Green Zone. The suspect was a bodyguard for senior Sunni Arab political leader Adnan al-Dulaimi, causing Shiite politicians to demand changes in the Iraqi government. Meanwhile, security forces are closing in on the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, a senior Iraqi official said Sunday.

IRAQ II: Army Col. Sean B. MacFarland says that the insurgents are losing ground, and Iraqi security forces are gaining in Anbar province, but the insurgency will probably not end until some time after US troops withdraw from the area. Predominantly Sunni tribes there seem to be helping: Reuters reports five al-Qaeda were captured in the city of Ramadi, "including three foreign fighters from Yemen." In addition, the Anbar tribes claim to have killed a senior al-Qaeda leader, captured several others and forced more to flee across the Syrian border.

CATS and DOGS are using their own social networking sites. Plenty of cute pics from Dogster.com and Catster.com at the link.

ALPACA PATERNITY SUIT is dismissed o­n technical grounds by the Circuit Court of Monroe County, IN. So there's a good chance it could be refiled in Illinois.

A PET SHOP FIRE that killed more than two-dozen exotic snakes, frogs, fish, and other reptiles in Cambridge, MA may have been set by animal rights activists.

SNAKES o­n EVERYTHING UPDATE: Another Idaho home was found infested with snakes. The new homeowners discovered this last Spring, when the reptiles came out of hibernation.

HAMSTER o­n a PLANE forced an Austrian Airlines jet to make an unscheduled stop Friday. I think we all know What Samuel L. Jackson would say.

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Soul Asylum, Isobel Campbell, Cutout Bin, and Kangaroo Boxing   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, September 29, 2006 - 08:30 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE...

...with SOUL ASYLUM, completing my Twin Cities trilogy. Let's start with a medley from 1986 Minneapolis Music Awards, which begins with the title track of Made To Be Broken, but -- as any Soul Asylum fan would guess -- devolves into some scary covers. Let's just say they play some funky music. And if you check out the related videos o­n the same page, you'll find gems like the live versions of "Sometime To Return," "Marionette" and maybe even "Cartoon" from the band's underrated major-label debut, Hang Time.

THE BYRDS get a nice feature at CNN with a new Roger McGuinn interview, in which he discusses how he and David Crosby discovered Michael Clarke by noticing that he "looked like Brian Jones and Mick Jagger combined... We recognized the value of having a good-looking guy in the band." Photo gallery at the link, too.

ISOBEL CAMPBELL talks to London's Independent about Belle & Sebastian and collaborating with Giant Sand's Howe Gelb o­n a possible sequel of sorts to her acclaimed Ballad Of The Broken Seas: "Half of me wants to do that and half of me wants to make a modern-day Rumours," she laughs. "Maybe I'm just having fun with myself thinking that, but I really like that record." There's still a selection of Campbell tracks to stream via the Hype Machine.

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS are already working o­n a new album, with a hoped-for Summer 2007 release, guitarist Todd Fancey tells Pitchfork. Dan Bejar and Neko Case will join the band in the studio, and Bejar will continue to contribute songs to appear o­n the new record.

LORRAINE ELLISON: Tom Moon covers "another rediscovered talent from the golden age of soul music -- someone who was little more than a footnote during the outbreak of amazingness that distinguishes that fertile era." You can stream three from her posthumous box set at NPR.

RAY CHARLES: I had "Georgia On My Mind," so I found it along with "Hit The Road, Jack" and a take o­n "What'd I Say," live at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival.

NELSON SINGS NILSSON: ex-Harvey Danger frontman Sean Nelson loved Nilsson Sings (Randy) Newman, and ultimately decided to pay a similar homage to Harry Nilsson. You can stream four lesser-known tunes from the album's MySpace page, which has Nilsson and Monkee Micky Dolenz as friends, among others.

AN AQUARIUM DRUNKARD has a nifty streamable podcast that covers the range from Tommy James & The Shondells to The Velvet Underground to Man Man to Talking Heads to Stevie Wonder to Allen Toussaint... and more.

BECK talks to the San Jose Mercury News about his continual experimentation and to LA Weekly about Los Angeles and whether the way music is now distributed and disseminated influences him.

SUFJAN STEVENS tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that releasing The Avalanche -- an album of outtakes from the Illinois album, relieved an anxiety he does not feel over trying to complete his "50 State Project:" "It doesn't eat at me in the same way because it's so sensational and so ridiculous and so outrageous that it's not realistic. Unfinished songs are concrete. They're like existential unfinished sores. A concept like the 50-state thing is just all speculation, all advertisement... . I know I need to embark o­n it. But I also know I need to slow down because I can't do everything at o­nce."

THE CUTOUT BIN: This Friday's fortuitous finds from the Hype Machine include: Marc Cohn - Walking In Memphis (live at KBCO); Dave Grohl - Tiny Dancer (if you can o­nly listen to o­ne...); Johnny Cash and June Carter - If I Were A Carpenter; Dusty Springfield - "No Easy Way Down; El Perro Del Mar - God Knows (You Got To Give To Get); The Beach Boys - God Only Knows; Harry Nilsson - Me and My Arrow; World Party - All The Young Dudes; Cracker - Shake Some Action; and The Ramones - Judy Is A Punk ("She smokes...").

PETE DOHERTY has been spotted buying syringes, just three days and 15 hours after leaving The Priory rehab clinic, according to London's Sun.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH has married her long-time attorney and close confidante, Howard K. Stern, according to the ever-reliable Star.

NOW SHOWING: This week's wide releases include the animated Open Season (which, despite a Westerberg soundtrack, scores o­nly 42 percent o­n the Tomatometer and an awful 17 percent with the "cream of the crop" critics, though there were o­nly 24 reviews total at presstime). The Kevin Costner-Ashton Kutcher Top Gun meets The Perfect Storm flick The Guardian scores 41 percent, and the Jon Heder-Billy-Bob Thornton comedy School for Scoundrels scores 21 percent. Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep (70 percent) expands to about 220 screens, so I may go see that.

BRITNEY SPEARS is dumping her PR flack, Leslie Sloane Zelnik, following the pop tart's Matt Lauer meltdown and failed efforts to spin stories about marital troubles, according to Radar. Or not, according to E! News.

JESSICA SIMPSON was reportedly uber-crabby at the after-party for her sister Ashlee's London debut in Chicago, which might explain why she looked like a zombie.

KATE HUDSON-OWEN WILSON UPDATE: The National Enquirer's Mike Walker claims that Owen Wilson recently drove up to Hudson's home, pulled out a boom box and sang the Elvis classic, "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You."

SCARLETT JOHANSSON and NATALIE PORTMAN are shooting The Other Boleyn Girl, and, as Egotastic puts it, "even if this movie is the worst movie ever, it will still be the best movie ever."

LINDSAY LOHAN is finally moving out of Chateau Marmont hotel, which undoubtedly pleases the hotel staff and Li-Lo's accountants.

ROSIE O'DONNELL has been named the "worst looking" celeb in High-Definition TV, according to Phillip Swann of TVPredictions.com, a website that covers the HDTV industry. Hard to believe it was even a contest, but there's a whole list of bad-looking celebs at the link.

JOHN HUGHES, director of The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and other teen movies was part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, according to Michael Weiss at Slate, who also has it out for Harold Ramis.

PAUL SCHRADER: The acclaimed writer-director has compiled his list of the best movies of the last 100 years for Film Comment. Schrader's introduction is o­nline, while Whitney Matheson posts his Top Ten.

LITTLE SUPERSTAR: I think all websites are obligated to post this video. I present it without comment, and take no responsibility for those who view it.

IRAQ in the MEDIA: Journalist Bob Woodward, promoting an upcoming book, claims the Bush administration is concealing the level of violence against US troops: "It's getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week." Actually, that's the number you can see in the Iraq Index. The number comes from a report that the administration regularly submits to Congress. No Deep Throat necessary for that o­ne.

IRAQ: A United Nations report o­n Iraq was more upbeat than the declassified key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate, claiming that claimed al Qaeda "may see more losses than gains" in Iraq and that the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq has slowed to a trickle. The new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq purportedly claims that more than 4000 foreign jihadis have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. He also called for scientists knowledgeable in chemical weapons and nuclear scientists to join the jihad. All of which suggests AQ-I is having a problem with recruitment for Iraq. The Kuwaiti News Agency reports that Coalition forces captured the emir of Mosul, which is a high ranking position in al Qaeda's organization. The New York Times reports that radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has lost control of portions of his Mahdi Army militia, which may open the door to Iranian influence, or facilitate a divide-and-conquer strategy for the splinter gangs.

AFGHANISTAN: NATO agreed to expand its military operations into eastern Afghanistan, even as it struggles to find troops to hold off a dogged Taliban-led insurgency in the volatile south. The move would permit NATO's commanders to move US soldiers from the east down to the Taliban's southern heartland, where British, Dutch and Canadian troops have been locked in battle with Taliban-led fighters. Poland will accelerate the deployment of its troops and supply reinforcements NATO needs in the volatile south. Polish Defense Minister Sikorski: "If we want NATO to invest in our security, our army cannot remain in barracks while NATO is battling dangerous fanatics."

AN AUSSIE KANGAROO BOXES A CHINESE CLOWN in the so-called Animal Olympics in Shanghai. Animal rights campaigners are unhappy. Picture gallery at the link, including an elephant passing the Animal Olympic torch to a chimpanzee.

KUDZU-EATING GOATS UPDATE: Two of the kudzu-eating goats hired by Chatanooga, TN have died, o­ne of natural causes. Nevertheless, the city is now bringing in two guard donkeys to fend off any possibe predators. Officials said the goats are proving effective at getting rid of the kudzu and will likely be brought back next year.

A PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS has descended around the Mexican beach resort of Cancun. Towns have formed pesticide-armed brigades and are winning the war against the 3-week-old plague that has -- so far -- left tourist areas unharmed.

DOGS have joined the fight against video piracy.

ANIMAL PENISES are a delicacy in China. The BBC sent Andrew Harding to Beijing to check out a restaurant that specializes in these -- and even scarier dishes. Don't click near a meal-time, folks. It's way worse than Fear Factor.

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