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On TV, Timing Is Everything At the Olympics

In mid-2005, Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Sports, had secured the support of the International Olympic Committee for the critical move of the finals of the key television sports of swimming and gymnastics to morning hours in China so they could be shown live in prime time in the United States. But he had one more person he needed to consult: Michael Phelps.

“Michael was the first outsider I talked to about it,” Ebersol said in an interview from Beijing, where he wrapped up NBC’s coverage of the games Sunday. He said he wanted to make sure that competing in the morning would not harm the performance of the likely American star of the games.

Ebersol had already developed a close relationship with the swimmer, so much so that Phelps and his mother had attended the funeral of his young son Teddy after a plane crash that also seriously injured Ebersol.

Competing in the morning, Phelps said, was no problem.

Prospectors Rush To A Boom in Natural Gas

American natural gas production is rising at a clip not seen in half a century, pushing down prices of the fuel and reversing conventional wisdom that domestic gas fields were in irreversible decline.

The new drilling boom uses advanced technology to release gas trapped in huge shale beds found throughout North America — gas long believed to be out of reach. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel, releasing less of the emissions that cause global warming than coal or oil.

Rising production of natural gas has significant long-range implications for American consumers and businesses. A sustained increase in gas supplies over the next decade could slow the rise of utility bills, obviate the need to import gas and make energy-intensive industries more competitive.

While the recent production increase is indisputable, not everyone is convinced the additional supplies can last for decades. “The jury is still out how big shale is going to be,” said Robert Ineson, a natural gas analyst at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm.

Delegates for Clinton Ready to Back Obama

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention arrive in Denver having largely put aside the deep divisions of the primary fight between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, although some hold lingering concerns about Obama’s level of experience, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

More than half of the delegates that Clinton won in the primaries now say they are enthusiastic supporters of Obama, and they also believe he will win the presidential election in November, the poll found. Three in 10 say they support Obama but have reservations about him or they support him only because he is the party’s nominee. Five percent say they do not support him yet.

The poll, which was taken before Obama selected Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware as his running mate, also suggests that Clinton’s 1,640 pledged delegates are evenly split over whom they plan to vote for on the floor of the convention during the roll call vote on Wednesday evening.