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USS Stockdale

USS StockdaleChristening Saturday for USS Stockdale.

Navy destroyer named after Abingdon native.

The USS Stockdale, a guided-missile destroyer, will be commissioned Saturday at Port Hueneme, Calif.

The destroyer is named after Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, an Abingdon native famous for the 7 years he spent as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War in Hoa Lo Prison, the infamous Hanoi Hilton. According to the Web site for the new destroyer, he was physically tortured no fewer than 15 times. He was kept in solitary confinement, in total darkness, for four years, chained in heavy, abrasive leg irons for two years, malnourished due to a starvation diet, denied medical care and deprived of letters from home in violation of the Geneva Convention.

The ordeal began on Sept. 9, 1965, when then-Commander Stockdale catapulted his A-4E Skyhawk off the flight deck of the U.S.S. Oriskany. Approaching his target, his plane was hit repeatedly with anti-aircraft fire.

“Within seconds, his engine was aflame and all hydraulic control was gone,” according the Web site.

Upon his release in 1973, Stockdale received the Medal of Honor, along with 26 personal combat decorations, including four Silver Star medals.

Stockdale’s wife also is known for her bravery and actions during her husband’s captivity. Sybil Stockdale campaigned for respectful treatment for the families of POWs by founding the League of Families. Sybil Stockdale was presented with the U.S. Navy Department’s Distinguished Public Service Award by the Chief of Naval Operations, the only wife of an active-duty officer ever to be so honored.

The Navy announced in 2006 that the destroyer would be named after the late Vice Adm. Stockdale. Since then, according to the Web site, Sybil Stockdale and her family have kept a close relationship with the ship and crew. The family visited the ship while it was under construction in Maine and during the ship’s christening in May 2008.

The U.S.S. Stockdale’s home port will be San Diego. The newest addition to the U.S. 3rd Fleet’s destroyer force, destroyers like the Stockdale provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups and underway replenishment groups.

Commander Fred W. Kacher will be the Stockdale’s commanding officer and Lt. Commander Brandon S. Bryan will be executive officer.

“Over the past two years, we have had the privilege of getting to know the Stockdales and they have been wonderful to our ship, which bears the name of their father and grandfather and a genuine American hero. We are so grateful to commander, Third Fleet for allowing us this opportunity to bond with the Stockdale family at sea,” Kacher said.

Stockdale was a member of the class of 1946 at Monmouth College, where the student center was named in his honor in 1989.

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Celtics Beaten

Celtics BeatenBulls beat Celtics 105-103 in OT in Game 1.

Derrick Rose scored 36 points in his playoff debut and helped the Chicago Bulls do something not even Michael Jordan could: beat the Boston Celtics in the postseason.

Rose had 11 assists to go with his career high in points, and Tyrus Thomas made a jumper from the corner with 51 seconds left in overtime to lead the Bulls to a 105-103 victory over the defending NBA champions in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round series.

Rajon Rondo scored 29 points with nine rebounds and seven assists for Boston, which was without Kevin Garnett and without much help from the rest of the Big Three, either.

Paul Pierce scored 23 points on 8-of-21 shooting, but missed the potential game-winning free throw at the end of regulation and had a potential game-tying basket blocked with 3.7 seconds left in overtime. Ray Allen, who scored four points on 1-for-12 shooting, had a chance to send it into a second overtime but his jumper from the right side bounced off the back of the rim.

Game 2 is Monday, the anniversary of the 1986 playoff game when Jordan scored 63 points against Boston — in a Bulls loss. In fact, Chicago had not beaten the Celtics in 10 postseason games since the Chicago Stags beat the Celtics in the 1948 NBA quarterfinals.

Too hurt to play and too frustrated to watch, Garnett took refuge in the locker room after the first half while his teammates rallied from an 11-point deficit. Rondo hit a short jumper over Joakim Noah in the lane to give the Celtics a 96-95 lead, but Rose put Chicago ahead on two free throws with 9.4 seconds left in regulation.

Noah fouled Pierce with 2.6 seconds left, but after tying it 97-all with the first free throw the Celtics captain missed the second and the game went into overtime.

Thomas scored six of Chicago's eight points in the overtime and finished with 16 points. Noah, who was also making his postseason debut, scored 11 with 17 rebounds for the Bulls.

Garnett injured his right knee on Feb. 19 and played just 66 minutes, 18 seconds over the last two months of the regular season as the Celtics tried to get him back in shape for the playoffs. But the team kept pushing back the date of his return — from the final three games, to the last two and then to one before coach Doc Rivers shocked everyone on Thursday when he announced that Garnett wouldn't be back in time for Saturday's playoff opener and probably not at all.

Garnett hasn't traveled with the team or been on the bench during his recovery, but Rivers and the players all said that it would be vital to have him out there to cheer them on. That lasted for 24 minutes of fist-pumping, ear-chewing and butt-slapping before Garnett decided he couldn't take it any more.

He missed Rose hitting a hanging jumper in the lane to give the Bulls a 55-44 lead before Boston cut the lead to four points and, with an 8-0 run later in the third, take a 68-67 lead on Rondo's 3-pointer with four minutes left in the quarter.

With the loss at home, the Celtics showed they are in for a long road — and probably a short playoffs — without Garnett. As the No. 2 seed in the East, a team that has two All-Stars and won 62 games — Boston was expected to advance to the conference finals and a potential matchup with Cleveland.

On the other hand, the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks took the Celtics to seven games in the first round last year, and that proved to be a mere speed bump en route to their unprecedented 17th NBA title.

Notes: Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who suffered a mild heart attack on Thursday, was not at the game. His absence was acknowledged by an announcement and a big cheer from the crowd in the first quarter. ... Bulls F John Salmons played with a sore groin. ... The arena was quickly cleared so the Bull Gang could set up for Saturday night's Bruins playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens.

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Dogwood Festival

Dogwood FestivalThe 73rd Annual Dogwood Festival in Atlanta Moves Back to Piedmont Park.

The 2009 Atlanta Dogwood Festival is Taking Place on April 17, 18, & 19 to Celebrate Its 73rd Year.

The 73rd annual Dogwood Festival is now underway in Atlanta, Georgia. Taking place back in Piedmont Park, where the festival has had so much success in the past, the annual festival is expected to see thousands in attendance during its three day run. The 2009 Atlanta Dogwood Festival is going to run on April 17, 18, & 19 and will show off some of the best artists from around the country, all coming to help celebrate as the Dogwoods go into bloom. Tents are up, the music is playing, and people are already enjoying the first day of the 2009 Dogwood Festival.

The 73rd annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival will be held for three days, and has specific hours where events will be taking place at Piedmont Park. The festival will run from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, and from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday. During that time there will be various forms of entertainment available to the crowds, including music, canine competitions, and kids activities. There will even be interactive drumming sessions taking place on Saturday and Sunday that attendants can go enjoy.

Some of the bigger events of this year's Dogwood Festival include an open air comedy club at the Lake Clara Meer Dock Stage. This will take place on Friday night (April 17th) at 8:00 p.m. and will have a half-hour comedy show by Jess Justice and his group, followed by an hour long improv session from Dad's Garage Theatre Company. There will be cocktails and an art bar available, but act quickly, because tickets could go fast, selling at a price of $12 in advance, or $15 at the door. From there attendants can go enjoy the Friends of Dogwood, which will be taking place in the Pavilion and showing off the best food options the area has to offer. (The restaurants that will be serving are listed below).

The 73rd annual Dogwood Festival will be a great opportunity to take in the Dogwood's while they are in bloom, all while having fun with friends and family while enjoying some great food. It's a way to celebrate the community and hang out with your neighbors in a structured setting.

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Aneesh Chopra

Aneesh Chopra
Obama names Chopra, Zients to top posts.

President Barack Obama named two men who have been executives at Washington-area businesses to lead efforts to improve the government’s use of technology and the performance of federal employees.

In his weekly Saturday morning radio address, Obama said he appointed Aneesh Chopra, Virginia’s secretary of technology and former managing director of the D.C.-based Advisory Board Co., to the position of federal chief technology officer.

Also in the radio address, he announced the appointment of investor Jeffrey Zients, former CEO of the Advisory Board Co. and former chairman of the Arlington-based Corporate Executive Board Co. , as federal chief performance officer.

The Corporate Executive Board is a research and consulting organization that helps companies improve their decision-making and business practices. The Advisory Board also provides research and analysis to foster better corporate leadership. Much of its work is with hospitals and health systems.

In March, Obama selected the District’s chief technology officer, Vivek Kundra, to be the federal chief information officer.

The president wants Chopra to promote technological innovation to help meet national goals such as health care reform, homeland security and job creation. Zients is being asked to help the government streamline its processes, reduce costs and follow “best practices” in management.

“Aneesh and Jeffrey will work closely with our chief information officer, Vivek Kundra, who is responsible for setting technology policy across the government, and using technology to improve security, ensure transparency, and lower costs,” Obama said in his remarks for the radio address, as posted on the White House Web site. “The goal is to give all Americans a voice in their government and ensure that they know exactly how we’re spending their money – and can hold us accountable for the results.”

As Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s technology secretary, Chopra oversees projects that include the use technology to improve state government and the promotion of technology-related economic development. At the Advisory Board, he led the company’s Financial Leadership Council and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives. He also was involved in the introduction of a business intelligence software called Compass.

Chopa earned a bachelor’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University and has a master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

The job of federal chief technology officer is a newly created position.

Zients is managing partner of Portfolio Logic LLC, an investment company that concentrates on health care and business services. Zients founded the company after he left the Advisory Board in 2004, where he had served as chairman since 2001. Previously, Zients was chief operating officer of the Advisory Board from 1996 to '98 and CEO from 1998 to 2001. He was chairman of The Corporate Executive Board from 2000 to '01. He currently serves on the board of Sirius XM Radio Inc.

A group led by Zientz and D.C. venture capitalist Fred Malek made a bid to become the owner of the Washington Nationals in 2006 but lost out to a group led by the Lerner family.

Zients wasn’t Obama’s first choice for chief performance officer. The president nominated Nancy Killefer, senior director in the D.C. office of management consulting business McKinsey & Co., for the position in January, but she withdrew the next month because of the publicity over tax problems related to her household help.

The chief performance officer also serves as deputy director of management in the Office of Management and Budget.

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