Gen. Franks comes home to Texas town

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

MIDLAND, Texas -- The head of the U.S. war effort is returning to his West Texas hometown to brief residents on America's offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.

Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of the U.S. Central Command, also was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at an exhibition game Wednesday between the Oakland Athletics and their double-A franchise, the Midland Rockhounds, which will open the city's new baseball park.

Recent visits to Russia and Pakistan, Central Command operation and the al-Qaida terrorist network were to be among Franks' topics at an address Wednesday at the downtown Midland Center.

As commanding general of Central Command since June 2000, Franks oversees all U.S. military operations in an area stretching from North Africa across the Arabian Peninsula to Pakistan and Central Asia.

He was a graduate of Midland Lee High School in 1963 and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1971 while pursuing his military career. He saw his first combat in 1967 in Vietnam as an artillery officer.

Commentator Tesh still bitter over comments

NEW YORK -- John Tesh seems like a mild-mannered musician -- until you ask him what he thinks about NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas.

"I think Bob Costas needs a spanking," the former newsman said. "I have nothing nasty to say about most people, but just the unbridled drubbing that he drummed up for me, it was just unnecessary. ... I'm not a big fan."

Tesh, 49, is still bitter about comments he said Costas made about his much-panned stint as a gymnastics commentator during the 1996 Summer Olympics on NBC.

"On 'The Tonight Show,' he said, 'As an Olympic commentator, John Tesh is a great piano player,'" Tesh recalled. "He was a teammate. It would be like the catcher on the baseball team talking about what a jerk the pitcher was. It's just an unwritten rule that you don't do that."

Tesh said he got an apology from Costas, but he apparently didn't think much of it.

Wife of ex-Chinese leader marks 105 years

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Soong Mayling, the wife of the late General Chiang Kai-shek, made a rare appearance at a party celebrating her 105th birthday, Taiwanese media reported Tuesday.

About 50 friends, relatives and some Taiwanese government officials attended Chiang's party Monday in New York, the China Times Express reported.

Soong, better known as Madame Chiang, was lucid and in good spirits, laughing at times and gracefully thanking her guests, the report said.

Madame Chiang and Chiang Kai-shek, who once ruled China, were one of the world's most famous couples during World War II as they lobbied other nations for help in fighting the Japanese.

After their Nationalist Party lost a civil war with the Communists in 1949, the Chiangs moved their government to Taiwan. Since her husband's death in 1975, she has spent most of her time in America and rarely has made public appearances.

Talk show host Collins arrested for DUI

MENDENHALL, Miss. -- Former syndicated talk show host Gary Collins is free on bond after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, Simpson County authorities said.

Sheriff J.C. Dillon said Tuesday that Collins was arrested Sunday morning after a deputy stopped his vehicle on U.S. 49 north of Mendenhall. He refused a DUI test.

Collins, who gave his address as Beverly Hills, Calif., and his age as 64, could not be contacted Tuesday for comment.

Collins was the host of "Hour Magazine" in the 1980s.

--From wire reports

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