Flames and Flickers: Ask, and you'll learn firsthand


PAYSON, Utah -- Nine musicians from California had their bus
stopped and searched by police after a convenience store clerk told
officials they had asked about security checkpoints near the
Olympic Games.

The Alma Melodioso band from Angels Camp, Calif., which will
perform at the Olympic Plaza in Park City during the Games, had
stopped in Payson, 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, about noon

Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Doug McCleve said a clerk called
police after the musicians had asked whether there were security
checkpoints between Payson and Salt Lake City.

"Because we're in a heightened state of alert, we reacted,
issued an all-points alert, located the bus and closed down the
freeway ramp until we could investigate," McCleve said. "We have
an obligation to the public to be very, very responsive right

The band members were cooperative and allowed police to search
the bus and their personal belongings, he said.

Band member Kathy Miletich said the group expected security
during their trip to Utah but did not expect to be pulled over for
asking a simple question.

"It was a surprise and it was funny," she said. "What wasn't
so funny was that they asked us what ethnic groups were on the bus
and after they searched the whole bus and found some articles about
terrorism, they pulled one of our guys aside and questioned him a

Alma Melodioso specializes in Latin jazz, Afro Cuban and world
beat flamenco music.

A ski-jumping Harry Potter
SALT LAKE CITY -- Boyish-looking Simon Ammann, the 20-year-old
Swiss ski jumper who swept both individual gold medals, is suddenly
a star.

Jay Leno and David Letterman have asked him to appear on their
shows. A Swiss airline has called with promotional offers. But all
of that will may have to wait until after the team
competition Monday.

"We have been overwhelmed by these offers. It's a great honor,
but I don't have an answer. We were not prepared for all of this,"
Ammann said. "All I did was do some ski jumping."

What about comparisons to Harry Potter?

"I've been compared to him a great deal, and it's true we do
resemble each other. But I don't think there was a fairy wand waved
over me," Ammann said.

John Hancock back in IOC fold in a big way
SALT LAKE CITY -- Three years after he pulled the Olympic
rings off the company stationery and criticized the IOC as a
corrupt body, the chairman of John Hancock financial services
signed up Thursday for another four years as one of the biggest
sponsors of the games.

David D'Alessandro signed a four-year extension as a partner in
TOP, the International Olympic Committee's worldwide sponsorship

He did it in a converted railroad terminal that serves as the
IOC's marketing offices for the Salt Lake City Winter Games, which
were at the heart of the million-dollar bid scandal that drew
D'Alessandro's ire.

Now, with changes made and a new president in place,
D'Alessandro said he was pleased and proud to extend his company's
deal, which reportedly costs between $45 million-$55 million.

"It's been a terrific sponsorship for us, minus the scandal,"
he said. "And enough progress has been made to satisfy me."

IOC official says he's surprised by comments
ATHENS, Greece -- An IOC official overseeing Greek
preparations for the 2004 Games expressed surprise Thursday about
angry comments by the culture minister concerning Olympic
construction projects.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said earlier this week that
the International Olympic Committee was mistreating Greece and the
government had no obligation to build roads to please the IOC.

"We were a little bit surprised by the position he expressed,"
said IOC official Denis Oswald, in a telephone interview with The
Associated Press from Salt Lake City. "We have the feeling that
our position and our action has been misunderstood.

"We wanted to have the opportunity to put these things straight
and avoid this misunderstanding, also among the Greek people," he

IOC officials have acknowledged Greek efforts to make up for
three years of lost time in construction projects, but they have
repeatedly warned that chronic delays have placed the 2004 Games at