Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bush Vows Veto of ‘Communism’ CEO Pay Cap

WASHINGTON -- (TYDN) President Bush warned late Tuesday he would veto proposed legislation capping salaries of chief executive officers at U.S. public companies.

The House passed legislation last week keeping CEO pay to no more than 1,000 times average worker salaries -- a ceiling of roughly $26 million annually. As of Tuesday night, the Senate was debating a similar proposal -- a $30 million annual cap -- that the president derided as "communism."

Many Wall Street analysts applauded the tough talk. If either plan became law, they said, American enterprise and their leaders would likely abandon the United States for overseas tax havens, territories where CEOs already do their personal banking. "This proposal is anti-American and anti-worker," Bank of America analyst Josh Duboinken said. "If this became law, the average worker would shoulder an even bigger tax burden."

Bush -- while outlining the government's recent bailout of Bear Stearns, the need for the government to reduce interest rates further, the necessity for the Treasury to print more dollars and for the government to back more mortgages and student loans -- told the National Press Club here that "meddling with what CEOs earn smacks of communism and goes against our nation's hands-off approach to capitalism and our non-interventionist economy at large."

"For the government to say how much pay somebody can make is regulation at its worst and my head wants to explode just thinking about it," Bush said, as he took the opportunity to urge Congress to end the federal minimum wage of $5.85 per hour. "Deregulation is what we need for our economy to be free of shackles."

In 2006, the median annual household income in the United States was just above $48,000, according to the Census Bureau. The median income per household member, including all working and non-working household members above age 14, is about $26,000, according to census numbers.

The CEO pay cap legislation comes as the U.S. economy is headed toward recession, as energy and food prices surpass all-time highs and as unemployment creeps upward.

Worker rights groups derided both the House and the Senate bills. They called the packages "smoke and mirrors." They noted that the wage ceilings can be surpassed with bonuses, restricted stock, backdated stock options and other long-term incentive awards.

"We can live with CEO packages of 1,000 times the average worker's pay," said Devin Martin, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO. "But once you go beyond that, that's going to start to hamper morale of the rank-and-file."

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were not immediately available for comment. Spokesmen for the two said they were drafting a multi-billion-dollar Iraq War package that would continue financing the operation indefinitely.

Photo: azrainman

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Doctors Wrinkled At ‘Sensationalist’ Botox Study

MALIBU, Calif. -- (TYDN) Researchers here at Pepperdine University are casting doubt on a recent study showing patient appointments for Botox injections require eight days of advance notice compared to 26 days for an evaluation of potentially cancerous, color-changing moles.

Academics blasted the November study by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, saying the academy cast its member dermatologists in a negative light by exaggerating wait times.

In a report to be released Monday and obtained Sunday by TheYellowDailyNews, the Pepperdine University School of Dermatology-Plastic Surgery, which has catered to many Hollywood stars including Pamela Anderson, the Olsen twins and Dyan Cannon, decried the academy's report as being "sensationalist and against what all professional dermatologists stand for."

Among other things, the university's report, after surveying 500 Botox-injecting dermatologists in the greater Malibu area, found that the wait time for the wrinkle-removing shots was only six days on average, not the eight days the academy reported.

"The American Academy of Dermatology is casting dispersions on our profession. Our study shows dermatologists, as a profession, are much more responsive, 25 percent more, than what the public has been made to believe," Pepperdine researcher Adam Sarapoga said.

Sarapoga urged his fellow 25,000 Botox-injecting colleagues in the greater Malibu-Hollywood area to withdraw their membership from the academy to protest what he said was "the biggest defamation campaign against dermatologists by dermatologists since the Food and Drug Administration approved the injection of botulism into the body's skin in 2002."

According to the American Society of for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Botox is the top, non-surgical cosmetic procedure in the United States. Botox is derived from a bacterium known as botulinum, among the most poisonous and naturally-occurring substances in the world. A small amount wrongly applied can paralyze or kill human beings.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decried the academy's study as well. "This Pepperdine study is raising my eyebrow to the shoddiness of the academy's research," Schwarzenegger said in an exclusive interview. "And you know how hard it is for me, as a frequent Botox patient, to raise my eyebrow."

Still, the Pepperdine researchers also faulted the academy for exaggerating that it took a full 26 days to get an appointment to see a dermatologist to examine a potentially cancerous mole. According to the Pepperdine study, wait times were slightly more than 25 days, not 26 days.

"This is another example of how our own trade group is out to destroy its own profession," Sarapoga said. "That academy report is just a big, and wrong blemish on us all."

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. One in five Americans get it. About 90 percent of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma --a small, shiny bump or mole-like nodule on the skin.

Botox patients pay about $800 out of pocket for their injections. Insurers do not cover the cosmetic procedures and dermatologists usually receive the money up front.

Insurers, however, do reimburse for mole examinations, which bring in a much smaller amount of money. And dermatologists must wait months before insurance companies pay for the routine, non-cosmetic examinations.

Photo: gruntzooki

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Female Jihadists Picket, Demand 72 Virgins

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- (TYDN) Female suicide bombers walked off the job here and throughout the region late Thursday, demanding 72 virgins in the afterlife upon detonation, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

The strike, in a bid to put female bombers on an after-detonation par with their male counterparts, is an attempt to disrupt suicide missions in Afghanistan, Beirut, Iraq, Israel, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, according to union sources briefed on the strategy who requested anonymity because they have not been authorized to publicly discuss the strategy.

The walkout, to be announced here Friday, was called by Dubai International Female Detonators Organization, the region's largest trade union representing women suicide bombers with 25,000 members jihadwide. The membership is demanding the same number of virgins their male suicide-bombing counterparts receive upon reaching "paradise" after they blow up themselves and countless other innocents.

Despite the strike, however, negotiations continued through the night. Union representatives said the membership agreed to settle for male virgins instead of non-virgins in a bid to expedite the bargaining process. The union's five-year contract, signed following the U.S. invasion in Iraq, expires May 1.

Western diplomats and counter-terrorism experts were reviewing the impasse. One high-ranking Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he has not been authorized to publicly discuss the strike, cautioned that the walkout might have little impact.

The official noted that the union's bargaining strength has been dwindling daily since the organization was formed here in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

And, the pentagon official said, the group is severely outnumbered by the decades-old Dubai International Male Detonators Organization, which analysts estimate has several hundred thousand members jihadwide.

"There seems to be a seemingly endless supply of male suicide bombers available," the Pentagon official said. "There has been a jump in their numbers after our invasion of Iraq five years ago. We're still reviewing whether there is a correlation."

The Jihads National Organization for Women and other woman's rights groups, however, suggested the picket lines would put the squeeze on terror efforts by Middle Eastern governments or factions in the region, a prediction several analysts suggested was overly optimistic.

The lockout, which is unusual for a union to declare a week before the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement, is a push to open the door to woman's rights in a region where virtually none are provided, said a spokeswoman for the Jihads National Organization for Women, in an exclusive interview with TheYellowDailyNews.

"This is only the beginning," said the spokeswoman, who requested anonymity for fear she would be caned to death for speaking publicly. "Next, we plan on fighting for the right to show our faces in public."

The King of Saudi Arabia, speaking here in the Saudi capital of Riyadh where OPEC officials were honoring President Bush for his part in tripling oil prices, said he would not acquiesce to union demands and would urge others to follow.

"The next thing these women will want is to drive cars, vote and even walk alongside their husbands," Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud said in an exclusive interview.

President Bush, seated here next to the king and ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries representing Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, applauded the king's decision. Noting that Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil-exporting nation and one of several U.S. allies in the Middle East theater, Bush said it was the right decision to disengage with the union, which he derided as a "sponsor of terror."

"The king understands that we should never deal with terrorists," Bush said in an exclusive interview with TheYellowDailyNews.

A union spokeswoman, during an exclusive interview with TheYellowDailyNews at a jihadist training camp in the no-man's land separating Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the walkout came just as 10 female jihadists were dispatched to Sadr City, a Baghdad slum that has been the target of repeated suicide bombings.

"These women, who were on their way to kill innocent men, women and children, and themselves, deserve martyrdom on equal footing. Period," said the spokeswoman, who requested anonymity out of fear for her life. "We will no longer settle for our husbands in paradise."
Photo: tinoubao

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

McCain Wins Presidency, Democrats Demand Re-leak

WASHINGTON -- (TYDN) Sen. John McCain has become the United States' 44th president in a landslide vote, according to November election returns obtained late Tuesday by TheYellowDailyNews.

The results naming the Republican from Arizona to succeed President Bush were leaked to TheYellowDailyNews seven months ahead of the general election. Historians said it was the first time the outcome was leaked before both major parties officially declared a candidate at their respective national conventions.

In response, Democrats demanded a re-leaking as voter rights groups expressed outrage. "Every four years the results are getting leaked sooner and sooner," Center for Democracy president Elaine Schmirnikoff said. "Whatever happened to the good old days, when the Supreme Court decided the elections?"

Campaign operatives for Democratic contenders New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama said they would demand the Federal Election Commission to re-leak results after their party's August national convention in Denver, Colo.

"It's unacceptable that the results have been leaked months before our party chose a candidate," Democratic National Party Chairman Howard Dean said in an exclusive interview with TheYellowDailyNews. "It's just unfair and smacks of politics."

Election strategists downplayed Dean, saying it was just one of a host of exaggerations by the party's chief. Results from the Democrats' convention are expected to be leaked perhaps as early as Wednesday, according to these strategists, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they have not been authorized to disclose the pending leak.

McCain, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, secured 65 percent of the presidential vote, in what revisionist historians are declaring an unprecedented landslide even before the former Vietnam veteran has announced a running mate, according to electronic voting machine results forwarded to the Federal Election Commission and reviewed by TheYellowDailyNews.

"When I was in Vietnam, fighting for democracy and held hostage in a cage, I dreamed this day, this great day of democracy would be fulfilled," McCain said at a hastily called news conference in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.

McCain, part of an 11-member U.S. delegation monitoring Zimbabwe's election results that are being challenged by incumbent dictator President Robert Mugabe, said his elevation to the U.S. presidency "should be held up around the globe, that a fair election can come without bloodshed, unnecessary balloting and long lines in polling stations."

Barring a recount, McCain is expected to assume the U.S. presidency in January.

Pollsters, meanwhile, were scratching their heads over the results. A CNN-ABC poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, showed Monday that 65 percent of Americans did not know there was an election this November.

Photo: Nirazilla

Sunday, April 20, 2008

U.S. Obesity Leveling, Threatened by U.N. Food Edict

BETHESDA, MD. -- (TYDN) Obesity rates are leveling for the first time in the United States since government scientists began monitoring the fattening of America two decades ago, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

Government scientists cautioned, however, that any gains in combating U.S. obesity were threatened by Sunday's declaration from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The secretary-general warned that food production worldwide must increase urgently to ease skyrocketing prices -- 40 percent since last year -- which has caused the hungry to riot and protest in Cameroon, Burkino Faso, Haiti, Egypt, Ethiopia and elsewhere. The World Food Bank estimates 33 countries are at risk of food-related political and social upheaval.

The obesity study by the National Institutes of Health here is the first time scientists in the United States did not detect an annual rise in obesity in two decades. Elias A. Zerhouni, the NIH director, told TYDN in an exclusive interview that the obesity rate has leveled off at 100 percent of the U.S. population for the second year in a row, up from 98 percent.

"We have the upper hand now. Obesity, the scourge plaguing our society, cannot rise anymore and can only go down now or stay flat," Zerhouni said in an interview here. "But the United Nations' call for increased food production is ill-timed and misguided. The U.N. fought us over the Iraq war, and now it's turning a blind eye to an epidemic affecting every American."

Ban, the secretary-general who was addressing a five-day conference on development in Accra, Ghana's capital, said over the last three years "the world has consumed more food than it has produced." Production, he said, must increase immediately to avert a global crisis.

Researchers for the NIH here are attributing the leveling of obesity in the United States to a variety of factors.

The biggest was mandatory nutrition labeling imposed last year on restaurants and the fast-food industry. Researchers are just beginning to see the benefits with food labeling, and they note that cigarette smoking in the United States has become virtually nonexistent after the government required Big Tobacco to label packages about the dangers of smoking.

"When people go to McDonald's, for example, while the fat they ingest usually equals the recommended amount for a week, we're starting to see consumers leave a French fry or two behind. It's phenomenal," one researcher told TYDN in an exclusive interview.

While taking into account a person's height, age, sex and build, officials define obesity as being more than 20 percent of one's ideal weight. Obesity is a significant contributor to a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, cancer and osteoarthritis.

Photo: dotbenjamin

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Clergy Swells as Pope Reverses Pedophilia Ban

VATICAN CITY -- (TYDN) Catholic clergy ranks are swelling under Pope Benedict XVI's "reunification decree," the pontiff's edict freeing thousands of excommunicated pedophiles to reunite with the Church, TheYellowDailyNews has learned

The pope has quietly reversed a policy under his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who had removed and banned thousands of seminarians, priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and others who had sexual relations with young children, mostly boys. When Benedict assumed the papacy three years ago, among his first and clandestine edicts was to increase the numbers of ordained men at all Church levels, Vatican sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told TYDN late Thursday.

The clergy's dwindling numbers produced the cancellation of masses, Sunday schools, and forced the secularization of weddings, funerals and other services.

The pontiff, traveling in the United States on his first official visit, is expected to announce a rejuvenated Church when addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on Friday, the Vatican sources said.

The pope is expected to tell the General Assembly that he understands the policy is controversial, but the Church's future depends upon it, according to Benedict's prepared speech, the entire text of which TYDN obtained Thursday.

"I am aware that this reunification decree opens the Church up to much criticism, that we chose this group that has a rich and long Church history over gays, lesbians and female clergy," Benedict is expected to say.

Then, calling on his oft-used poetic embrace, his speech adds: "I am ashamed. I am ashamed the Church turned a blind eye as its clergy began to evaporate, to blow like a leaf from its mother, cartwheeling in the air."

Ever since John Paul's 2005 death, Church historians had been recording a slow and steady increase in the number of Catholic clergymen, up several thousand from an estimated 50,000 under John Paul's tenure. "Most analysts believed the reasons behind the resurgence was a renewed faith in God, and a desire for a life of celibacy," American University scholar Nathan O'Reilly said in a telephone interview.

Still, Benedict's plan was met with subdued optimism by some the world's estimated 1 billion Catholics.

ChurchWatch Coalition spokesman Paul Cain, in an e-mail interview with TYDN, applauded Benedict's move, but said Pope John Paul II's initial decision was blasphemous.

Then there is Bruno Rignulous. As the shoe salesman learned of the papacy's decree while touring the Vatican City grounds here, he noted that his son, now an adult, was a sexual victim of a renegade priest.

"The pope's reunification decree should make the Church stronger," Rignulous said. "My son, when he now goes to confess his sins -- to seek guidance and forgiveness -- sometimes there'd be no one there to confess to."

Photo: Argenberg

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bush: Iraq Withdrawal Linked to ‘Benchmarks’

WASHINGTON -- (TYDN) President Bush backtracked on his ongoing pledge to keep the Iraq war effort running indefinitely, announcing Wednesday an ambitious timeline for withdrawal linked to what he termed "benchmarks."

The president said he would begin phasing out the more than 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in the year 2020. Or, linking to other "benchmarks," as he called them, the deployment would begin to shrink after 20,000 U.S. troops were killed in a covert plan presidential advisors have dubbed "The 20-20 Peace Proposal."

The latest war tactic is facing intense criticism from the right as being too optimistic, and from the left as being not ambitious enough.

The operation replaces the commander-in-chief's clandestine program, "Iraqi-05-4000 Operation," according to well-placed sources, who spoke to TYDN on the condition of anonymity. That plan was Bush's original and secret policy to withdraw five years after the initial 2003 invasion or upon 4,000 troops having been killed in the Iraqi theater, whichever came first, these sources said.

Revisionist historians called Bush's latest proposal "bold," "daring" and "verging on the renegade."

The president, in an exclusive Oval Office interview with TYDN, said the "United States would not be defeated. We cannot be defeated and that's what this plan and these benchmarks stand for."

The chief executive said his recent "surge" of thousands of U.S. troops throughout Iraq and the Baghdad capital is beginning to quell the bloodshed, years after U.S. forces toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein who was executed in a publicized hanging in December, 2006

"Today, a suicide bomber blew herself up in a Sadr City slum marketplace, killing 25 men and women and eight children," the president said. "That's half the carnage from yesterday's bomber."

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain immediately derided Bush's latest war maneuver. The Arizona senator, while speaking to a news conference at the Pentagon, released his top-secret Iraq war proposal, which campaign aides dubbed "The 25-25 Peace Proposal for American Strength at Home and Democracy Abroad in Iraq and Elsewhere." Analysts nicknamed it the "25-25 Peace Proposal."

"If elected, I would shun these dove-like policies enacted under the second Bush administration," McCain told reporters. "At a minimum, we're not abandoning the Iraqi people until 2025, or until 25,000 U.S. troops have been killed, period."

Legal experts, while applauding Bush and McCain for never using the term "quagmire," suggested McCain was being soft. They noted that McCain's plan slipped in the term "democracy."

They attacked the Vietnam veteran, suggesting he might not hold tight to his timeline if democracy blossomed in Iraq beforehand.

"Which is it, McCain? Is it 25,000 dead troops, the year 2025 or democracy?" an angry Ann Coulter was quoted as saying in an exclusive interview with Bill O'Reilly on the Fox News Network.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama immediately chastised the Bush and McCain plans.

As Obama was set to announce his so-called "19-19 Peace Proposal" to CNN viewers, Clinton told Oprah Winfrey fans about her "18-18 Peace Proposal."

An Obama campaign source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, told TYDN that the Illinois senator would propose what campaign operatives have called the "17-17 Peace Proposal" later Wednesday on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

Photo: BL1961

Sunday, April 13, 2008

MLB Bans Players Not Linked to Steroid Scandal

NEW YORK -- (TYDN) Major League Baseball announced Monday it was banning as many as 90 former and current players including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens not linked to steroids or performance-enhancing drugs, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

The move, as part of MLB's new one-strike policy, was first disclosed on the TYDN web site Sunday night. The decision came months after former Senator George Mitchell named almost 90 players who tested negative for drug use in violation of MLB's mandatory steroid-use policy.

Some of the active players who the 311-page Mitchell Report alleged violated the policy were New York Yankees picture Andy Pettitte, Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada and Washington Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca.

Representatives for current players said they would demand binding arbitration to seek reinstatement. Former players announced they would do the same to protect their pensions, Hall of Fame status or to regain entry into the league.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, in an exclusive interview with TYDN, said MLB's expulsion decision was part of the league's new "one-strike" doping policy.

"What kind of messages do those policy breakers send to our fans, to the children and to the future of Major League Baseball?" Selig asked in an exclusive interview. "They were not playing fair. It's that plain and simple."

Cy Young winner Clemens and home run king Bonds have not signed with a team yet this season. Representatives from both deny they breached baseball's steroid policy.

Baseball tapped Mitchell in 2006 to investigate steroid use following allegations that Bonds was breaking MLB policy -- revelations that shocked fans and sports writers alike.

"This is shameful to fans who, when they pay a week's salary to bring their children to a MLB game, expected to see world-class pitching, hitting, base running and fielding," Mitchell said in an exclusive interview.

Baseball has strengthened its drug policy three times since 2005. That year, it initially did not have a policy against non-steroid use. Today, following a subsequent two-strike policy and under intense pressure from Congress, one clean test is all it takes to be removed.

Representatives Henry Waxman and Tom Davis, who head the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has been probing steroids in sports, applauded the new one-strike policy.

"We are sorry it came to this. But hopefully the strict policy will reshape the mindset of some of these renegade players," the two said in a joint statement.

Bonds, the home run king who surpassed Hank Aaron's 755 homers last year, and Clemens, a four-time Cy Young award winner, said they would appeal the decision.

Bonds has pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to charges he lied to a federal grand jury about steroid use.

Bonds, who testified as part of the government's Bay Area Laboratory-Cooperative sports doping scandal, told the grand jury that he did not knowingly use steroids.

"We have direct evidence that he was lying," federal prosecutor Matt Parrella said in an exclusive interview.

Clemens, for his part, is denying congressional testimony from his former trainer, Brian McNamee. The trainer claims Clemens did not take steroids.

Testifying before Congress, McNamee denied he provided Clemens with a variety of performance enhancing drugs, which contradicted Clemens' testimony. The FBI is probing whether Clemens lied to congressional staffers when alleging he was using steroids.

"Clemens' 25 All-Star-packed seasons speak for themselves," Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said in an exclusive interview.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bush Resigns, Unresigns For ‘Good of the Nation’

WASHINGTON -- (TYDN) President Bush unresigned Friday, moments before he was to announce his resignation at a hastily called news conference here, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

Political analysts said the unresignation avoided a constitutional showdown over Bush's successor, a crisis unseen since the Watergate and Monica Lewinsky scandals.

The initial decision to resign came after it became clear to the president that his almost eight years in office were a failure domestically, internationally and monetarily. There's no end in sight to the Iraq War, gasoline costs have tripled, housing prices are plummeting while unemployment is on the rise. The nation's stature with the rest of the world is at an all-time low, and the economy is verging on recession, the president said in an exclusive interview with TYDN.

"I'm not even sure I remember why I invaded Iraq five years ago. Do you?" the nation's Republican commander in chief said minutes before his Rose Garden appearance. "But the sacrifices our nation's poor and middle class are making in the Middle East and economic theater will ensure a stronger and even larger upper class."

Still, the president said there was plenty of blame to go around. "Americans who chose to invest in sheltering their families with a home instead of purchasing oil futures simply made a bad choice," he said. "And that's what's so great about our country, that we have the freedom to invest on the fruits of others' labors."

Bush said he decided to continue his post as chief executive amid intense pressure from lobbyists and Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike. As the nation's 43rd president was about to announce his resignation before a throng of reporters, Bush decided to stay on and do "what was for the good of the nation," he said in an exclusive Oval Office interview.

"If I was to resign, Dick Cheney would assume the presidency," he said. "That's one errant heart palpitation away for Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, to take over."

Photo: Fpat

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wrigley Field Renamed Fukudome

CHICAGO -- (TYDN) Wrigley Field, the nation's oldest Major League Baseball park after Fenway, is being renamed the Fukudome for the Cubs' all-around sensation from Japan, Kosuke Fukudome, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

Three sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because they have not been authorized to discuss the name change, confirmed Tuesday that Sam Zell, the billionaire real estate magnate who acquired the Cubs as part of an $8.2 billion deal for the Tribune Co., would rename the historic ballpark along Addison Avenue here. The cost-cutting move is to lure the 30-year-old overseas baseball stalwart who few American's have heard of.

Fukudome, (pronounced "Fuh-q-dohm"), the outfielder-slugger who just signed to a $48 million, four-year-deal, demanded substantially higher wages until Zell and Fukudome's agent agreed to the one-of-a-kind accord, these sources said.

"We all knew Zell wanted to sell the naming rights. But there was a lot involved: money, history, nostalgia, ego and a lot more," one of the negotiators told TYDN. "Zell was this close to naming it the Viagradome."

A spokesman for Mayor Richard M. Daley, when contacted of the developments by TYDN, was initially flabbergasted by the news but declined immediate comment about the name change, to be unveiled at the Cubs' next home game April 15 against Cincinnati.

"We are reviewing our campaign contribution reports and will issue a statement shortly," Daley spokesman Billy Davis said.

After TYDN broke the news on its web site, ESPN and other news agencies carried similar but awkward-reading headlines: "Wrigley Field Renamed the ***udome." An ESPN spokeswoman said the cable sports channel was being consistent in its coverage, and referred a TYDN reporter to its box scores and Cubs' game coverage.

Wrigley Field is known for its ivy-laden outfield and, among other things, for Babe Ruth's "called shot" when he pointed to the bleachers during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series and hit a homer off Charlie Root's next pitch. It was the last Major League Baseball stadium to install lights, having night games in 1988.

Fans' reaction to the stunning development was mixed. A throng wearing blue and red littered the streets here along Clark and Addison streets, chanting "Fuku, Fuku."

Sources close to the deal said it would, for a few weeks at least, act as an employee-saving tourniquet at the nation's second-largest newspaper publishing company, where hundreds of journalists and others have already been dismissed at the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday of Long Island, Baltimore Sun and a host of radio and television stations under the Tribune Co. umbrella.

Zell, like his media-ownership counterparts, is refocusing an industry that many say is overly focused on newsgathering rather than profits.

"This could stop the blood-letting for weeks, if not months, under the Tribune portfolio," Goldman Sachs money manager Efrin O'Hara said. "And what better way than leverage a name of a stadium to get a player on the cheap at the same time."

A Zell spokeswoman declined comment.

Food industry analysts suggested the repackaging of the stadium's menu alone could be worth hundreds of millions if marketed and branded appropriately. "Can you imagine the value of hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts and even beer under this brand," Zida Sogrofos, a Bear Stearns analyst, said. "The Babe Ruth candy bar is so yesterday."

Fukudome's agent, Joe Urbon, initially declined to acknowledge the stadium name change or give specifics of the deal. But after prodding by TYDN, he said Fukudome, a native of Kagoshima who batted .305 his entire career, was pressing to sign for $62 million but settled for substantially less, $48 million over four years.

Zell, Urbon said, was initially hesitant to rename the stadium, which was built in 1914 and first known as Weegham Park before the chewing gum family purchased the Cubs and later adorned its masthead in 1926. But Urbon said Zell came around after concluding the deal made dollars and cents.

"The Wrigley's have been getting a free ride for, what, decades?" Urbon quoted Zell as saying.

Fukudome batted .305 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .543 slugging percentage during a nine-year stint with the Chunichi Dragons. He was Japan's Central League Most Valuable Player in 2006. The left-hander was sidelined for the bulk of last year's season with an elbow injury.

Photo: John Repka
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