NBA Free Agency 2010: Where Will Top Free Agents End Up? (PHOTOS)

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under TOP HEADLINES

It overshadowed the NBA Finals; it overshadowed the NBA Draft. And now it is here: the 2010 NBA free agency period. With superstars galore, teams have thrown away past seasons in order to remove enough salary cap to aggressively woo these free agents. Some teams have enough room to offer two maximum contracts. For the stars’ incumbent teams, this is a period of mass hysteria. For teams such as the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers, this is the moment to change their respective franchises from the laughing stocks of the league to respectable contenders. Scroll down to see the cream of this year’s free agency crop. Who would you want the most?

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The pollution solution

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Humor

by Mary J. Ruwart

Question: Isn’t government the best protector of the environment and our national parks? What steps would libertarians take in this arena?

Who’s the greatest polluter of all? The oil companies? The chemical companies? The nuclear power plants?

If you guessed “none of the above” you’d be correct. Our government, at the federal, state, and local levels, is the single greatest polluter in the land. In addition, our government doesn’t even clean up its own garbage!

In 1988, for example, the EPA demanded that the Departments of Energy and Defense clean up 17 of their weapons plants which were leaking radioactive and toxic chemicals-enough contamination to cost $100 billion dollars in clean-up costs over 50 years! The EPA was simply ignored. No bureaucrats went to jail or were sued for damages. Government departments have sovereign immunity.

In 1984, a Utah court ruled that the U.S. military was negligent in its nuclear testing, causing serious health problems (e.g. death) for the people exposed to radioactive fallout. The Court of Appeals dismissed the claims of the victims, because government employees have sovereign immunity.

Hooker Chemical begged the Niagara Falls School Board not to excavate the land where Hooker had safely stored toxic chemical waste. The school board ignored these warnings and taxpayers had to foot a $30 million relocation bill when health problems arose. The EPA filed suit, not against the reckless school board, but against Hooker Chemical! Government officials have sovereign immunity.

Government, both federal and local, is the greatest single polluter in the U.S. This polluter literally gets away with murder because of sovereign immunity. Libertarians would make government as responsible for its actions as everyone else is expected to be. Libertarians would protect the environment by first abolishing sovereign immunity.

By turning to government for environmental protection, we’ve placed the fox in charge of the hen house-and a very large hen house it is! Governments, both federal and local, control over 40% of our country’s land mass. Unfortunately, government’s stewardship over our land is gradually destroying it.

For example, the Bureau of Land Management controls an area almost twice the size of Texas, including nearly all of Alaska and Nevada. Much of this land is rented to ranchers for grazing cattle. Because ranchers are only renting the land, they have no incentive to take care of it. Not surprisingly, studies as early as 1925 indicated that cattle were twice as likely to die on public ranges and had half as many calves as animals grazing on private lands.

Obviously, owners make better environmental guardians than renters. If the government sold its acreage to private ranchers, the new owners would make sure that they grazed the land sustainably to maximize profit and yield.

Indeed, ownership of wildlife can literally save endangered species from extinction. Between 1979 and 1989, Kenya banned elephant hunting, yet the numbers of these noble beasts dropped from 65,000 to 19,000. In Zimbabwe during the same time period, however, elephants could be legally “owned” and sold. The number of elephants increased from 30,000 to 43,000 as their owners became fiercely protective of their “property.” Poachers didn’t have a chance!

Similarly, commercialization of the buffalo saved it from extinction. We never worry about cattle becoming extinct, because their status as valuable “property” encourages their propagation. The second step libertarians would take to protect the environment and save endangered species would be to encourage private ownership of both land and beast.

Environmentalists were once wary of private ownership, but now recognize that establishing the property rights of native people has become an effective strategy to save the rainforests. Do you remember the movie, Medicine Man, where scientist Sean Connery discovers a miracle drug in the rainforest ecology? Unfortunately, the life-saving compound is literally bulldozed under when the government turns the rainforest over to corporate interests. The natives that scientist Connery lives with are driven from their forest home. Their homesteading rights are simply ignored by their own government!

Our own Native Americans were driven from their rightful lands as well. Similarly, our national forests are turned over to logging companies, just as the rainforests are. By 1985, the U.S. Forest Service had built 350,000 miles of logging roads with our tax dollars-outstripping our interstate highway system by a factor of 8! In the meantime, hiking trails declined by 30%. Clearly, our government serves special interest groups instead of protecting our environmental heritage.

Even our national parks are not immune from abuse. Yellowstone’s Park Service once encouraged employees to trap predators (e.g., wolves, fox, etc.) so that the hoofed mammals favored by visitors would flourish. Not surprisingly, the ecological balance was upset. The larger elk drove out the deer and sheep, trampled the riverbanks, and destroyed beaver habitat. Without the beavers, the water fowl, mink, otter, and trout were threatened. Without the trout or the shrubs and berries that once lined the riverbanks, grizzlies began to endanger park visitors in their search for food. As a result, park officials had to remove the bears and have started bringing back the wolves.

Wouldn’t we be better served if naturalist organizations, such as the Audubon Society or Nature Conservancy, took over the management of our precious parks? The Audubon Society’s Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary, partially supports itself with natural gas wells operated in an ecologically- sound manner. In addition to preserving the sensitive habitat, the Society shows how technology and ecology can co-exist peacefully and profitably.

The environment would benefit immensely from the elimination of sovereign immunity coupled with the privatization of land and beast. The third and final step in the libertarian program to save the environment is the use of restitution both as a deterrent and a restorative. Next month’s column will feature the second part of the Pollution Solution, answering the question “How would libertarians keep our air and water clean?”

 
References:

1. John Baden, “Destroying the Environment: Government Mismanagement of Our Natural Resources”: (Dallas, TX: National Center for Policy Analysis, 1986), pp. 20-21.

2. Alston Chase, “Playing God in Yellowstone: The Destruction of America’s First National Park” (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press), pp. 123-124.

3. Mary J. Ruwart, “Destroying the Environment” and “Pollution Solution” in Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle (Kalamazoo, MI: SunStar Press, 1993), pp.97-110; 171-182.

 

Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D., is the author of Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle, a liberty primer for liberals, Christians, New Agers, and pragmatists. She also wrote Short Answers to the Tough Questions: Sound Bites for the Libertarian Candidate after her Internet column (www.self-gov.org) of the same name. You can contact Dr. Ruwart at mary@ruwart.com.

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Pentagon recommends Medal of Honor for a living soldier

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under TOP HEADLINES

The Pentagon has recommended that the White House consider awarding the Medal of Honor to a living soldier for the first time since the Vietnam War, according to U.S. officials.




PentagonUnited StatesMilitaryGovernmentInstallations
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Elizabeth Edwards Says She Was Willing to be Step-Mother to John’s Love Child

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Celebrity Nonsense, Media Fools

Elizabeth Edwards told Larry King on Wednesday night that she was willing, at one point, to be the step-mother of John Edwards and Rielle Hunter‘s child.

Elizabeth, who refrained from mentioning the name of her estranged husband’s ex-mistress, said that while she’s never spoken with Rielle, she has met Rielle and John’s little girl, Quinn.

"When John and I were together, and he was wanting to be a father — which I admired, that he should; when he found out that in fact this was his child and he wanted to be a father, and if that were the case and we were together, I would be this child’s step mother," Elizabeth told Larry.


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Elizabeth Edwards Was Willing to be Step-Mother to John’s Love Child

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Celebrity Nonsense, Media Fools

Elizabeth Edwards told Larry King on Wednesday night that she was willing, at one point, to be the step-mother of John Edwards and Rielle Hunter‘s child.

Elizabeth, who refrained from mentioning the name of her estranged husband’s ex-mistress, said that while she’s never spoken with Rielle, she has met Rielle and John’s little girl, Quinn.

"When John and I were together, and he was wanting to be a father — which I admired, that he should; when he found out that in fact this was his child and he wanted to be a father, and if that were the case and we were together, I would be this child’s step mother," Elizabeth told Larry.


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Sharron Angle’s Unemployment Solution: There Are Lots Of Jobs Available (VIDEO)

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under TOP HEADLINES

If you’ve been following the ongoing Senate campaign of Nevada hopeful Sharron Angle, you know that she’s sick and tired of the long-term unemployed taking home all of those cushy unemployment benefits. Angle’s angle is that these millions of Americans are just living large on the dole and need to have their unemployment benefits terminated so that they will be motivated to go out and get a job — one of the millions of magical jobs that exist in Sharron Angle’s mind!

Last night, Angle discussed this matter with Nevada political reporter and host par-excellence John Ralston, on his “Face To Face” show. There, Angle attempted to clarify her remarks. But she continued to hold that America is just brimming with jobs, for everyone.

RALSTON: How would you have voted on that bill to extend unemployment benefits?

ANGLE: I would have voted no, because the truth about it is that they keep extending these unemployment benefits to the point where people are afraid to go out and get a job because the job doesn’t pay as much as the unemployment benefit does. And what we really need to do is put people back to work. So if you want to ease people back into work, what we need is an unemployment benefit that pays part. You know, you go to work, you have something of a safety net, in unemployment. But just to give them full unemployment benefits and then extend those for two years or more gets them not only out of the working class but it also depreciates their skills, so they’re not actually able to go out and compete in that workforce, so what we really want, is we want something that stimulates a group of people to go back into what we know as that free market.

Ralston then played a clip of Angle, explaining her position thusly: “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn’t pay as much. We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.”

RALSTON: SO you’re saying that these tens of thousands of Nevadans, they’re sitting on their couches, they’re all spoiled, they don’t want to go out and get a job, and I’m going to cut off your benefits. That’s your attitude.

ANGLE: No, now, come on, John.

RALSTON: Spoiled! You said they’re spoiled.

ANGLE: Well, I said that it had spoiled our citizenry. That’s a little different. They’re not spoiled. What has happened is this system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job.

Also spoiling our ability to go out and get a job? The epic, economic collapse in 2008. Aside from that, it’s really hard to discern what Angle is talking about. Ralston re-interjected himself:

RALSTON: You think that a bunch of people are sitting out there saying, “You know what, this is great! I got my unemployment check coming in, I’m not going to go out and look for a job?”

ANGLE: No, they’re not.

RALSTON: But that’s what you’re implying.

ANGLE: It’s not what I’m implying. What I’m implying is that there are some jobs out there that are available. Because they have to enter at a lower grade and they cannot keep their unemployment they have to make a choice. We’re making them make a choice between unemployment benefits and going back to work and working up through the ranks of that job and actually building up a good wage again and building up some seniority in that job. And what we need to do is make that unemployment benefit go down, not just completely remove the safety net from them while they go out and look for a job.

RALSTON: So you’re saying if people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, as many have during this recession, Sharron Angle’s solution is to cut their unemployment benefits so low so they’re somehow gonna go out and find jobs that don’t exist? How does that make any sense?

ANGLE: There are jobs that do exist. That’s what we’re saying, is that there are jobs. But those are entry-level jobs.

It would be one thing, of course, if the economy had, in fact, created all kinds of jobs — even entry-level jobs. Then Angle’s grand plan to increase the desperation of the long-term unemployed so that they go after the scraps with renewed vigor might be actionable. It might even be entertaining! We could pit the unemployed against each other in Thunderdomes, which sounds perfect for Nevada. But Angle’s just astoundingly out of touch with what’s going on in the world of unemployment. For some real talk, here’s Pat Garofalo:

Angle’s clarification doesn’t make her position look any better, and her assertion that there a multitude of jobs available for the unemployed is simply rubbish. First, the average unemployment benefit is just $290 per week. There are nearly five workers actively searching for work for every job available, compared to 1.5 per job opening before the recession began. “That is incredibly unusual, so therefore it’s premature to give up on those emergency benefits,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com.

Another thing that Angle might want to get hip to is this new trend in employment, where in order to get a new job, you have to have a job already. Of course, I say that as if Angle is at all interested in fostering employment. As she famously said, “As your US Senator, I’m not in the business of creating jobs.”

WATCH:

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Gosselin Family Expands in ‘Kate Plus 8′ Special

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Celebrity Nonsense, Media Fools

The Gosselin family’s new TLC reality special “Kate Plus 8″ has mother Kate preparing for some new additions to their large family. In the hour-long special featuring Kate as a single mom, Kate creates a new household manual and gets the house in order. She also prepares for some new additions to the family, deciding to get some chickens. Kate and the kids seek the help of their Amish friends to build a chicken coop for their new pets. Kate organizes a special egg-centered meal for the family, in the hopes that the chickens will lay some eggs in time for dinner. “Kate Plus 8″ airs Sunday, July 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TLC.

[Read full story on The Insider]

Kate Gosselin Pictures: Kate Gosselin Reacts to Rumors of Her Being a 'Dancing with the Stars' Diva

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Doom Summer Reruns Q207: Remembering April to June 2007

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Mortgage Mess

Come back, if you dare, to the spring of '07.  Official optimism was fighting a last ditch battle against economic reality.

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#10 "The National Association of Realtors- What a Difference a Week Makes!"

by twist, 4/13 '07

… where the NAR demonstrates that the best way to make a prediction is to backdate it.

  • "You just know the housing situation has gotten bad if the six-percenters at the National Association of Realtors finally feel the need to reveal the awful truth: Prices are going to fall. The latest verbiage from the world’s most vocal housing-bubble cheerleader, NAR economist David Lereah, actually predicts that home prices will drop by 0.7 % in 2007." – Seth Jayson Motley Fool

#9 "Home Prices May Not Crash- But Sometimes They Go Down Darn Fast"

by twist, 6/28 '07

  • Those who study speculative bubble markets though, generally do not predict a "pop," but a gradual rate of decline, particularly in real estate, where prices tend to be 'sticky.' " – twist 3/10 '07

Sometimes I have to eat my words too.  Just over three months after I said that …


#8 "Fannie Files 2005 10-K – CFO Hand-off Sounds Good"

by John M, 5/3 '07

This was one of John's "DoomWatches," when he was trying to collect samples from some great fire-stream of information about one of the topics we'd been following.

  • "But more importantly, the release marks another milestone in the company’s effort to work through an accounting scandal that prompted the ouster of its top management and raised allegations that Fannie Mae executives had manipulated the books in order to maximize their bonuses. Federal authorities are trying to recoup tens of millions of dollars in bonuses from former Fannie chief executive Franklin D. Raines. The company itself paid $400 million in penalties to settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission." - Howard Schneider in the Washington Post, May 2, 2007.
    • Little did John realize then that Fannie's & Freddie's troubles were only beginning …

#7 "Phoenix Home Sales: Worst March in Five Years"

by twist, 4/11 '07

Long time Doom nemesis Jay Butler, ASU professor and housing analyst, was tap dancing around the data to avoid the most salient point- home sales were at their worst point in five years.

  • March generally tends to be the first month that shows an improvement in a given year and the beginning of the resale season. With 5,385 sales, March did show some improvement over January (4,520 sales) and February (4,280 sales). Further, it was the strongest month since 5,685 were recorded in August 2006 and 5,040 sales in November. Thus, March showed all of the indicators of a traditional March and further supported the idea that the market has returned to its historical pattern. However, it was well below the 7,265 sales of March 2006 and 10,035 sales of March 2005, but comparable to the 5,340 sales of March 2002."  - Jay Butner
    • The twists and turns of that one were enough to make me dizzy.

#6 "Fair Isaac Foils FICO Fixing"

by twist, 6/5 '07

Companies were adding low-scoring users to credit cards of high-scoring users to repair their FICO, prompting Doom to ask…

  • How can subprime be contained when you don’t know who’s a subprime borrower?

#5 "A Slightly Off-Beat Question"

by John M, 4/5 '07

This was John's first ever try at writing up part of an American Enterprise Institute banking seminar.  He and Igor have been working steadily on this project in the years since and now "the dungeon" holds 23 complete annotated event transcripts with two more currently under construction.


#4 "U.S Pending Home Sales Down 10.5% YOY, Lowest Reading in Three Years"

by twist, 5/1 '07

Home sales were bad, but David Lereah of the National Association of Realtors could always be counted on to see improvement just around the corner.


#3 "Amendment Dares Not Speak Its Name"

by John M, 5/24 '07

As Congress was writing the legislation to enable new GSE regulator FHFA, Congresswoman Melissa Bean (D-IL) and Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) managed to get a "Bean-Neugebauer" amendment passed to limit FHFA's oversight of possible systemic risk involving Freddie and Fannie.  Whatever were they thinking?

  • "This amendment would preclude a new regulator from assessing an overly broad interpretation of risk that might unnecessarily constrain portfolio activities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which could disrupt the mortgage markets and impede the enterprises’ pursuit of their housing mission". – NAHB
    • This quote is taken from note [10] at the end of the article.  John gave credit to the Home Builders for at least raising the issue.  B-N went through with very little public discussion and now, for all we know, this legislation may still be in force.  The builders need not have worried, though, because even under conservatorship the GSEs' portfolios seem very much unconstrained no matter how risky the new mortgages are.

#2 "We’re Still Here"

by twist, 6/15 '07

To a poster on the Yahoo “gossip” boards who said, I don’t see how there could be any more RE doomsayers out there I said, We’re still here.


And a good thing too, because less than a week later those two infamous hedge funds at Bear Stearns blew up, which brings us to …

Hank. And for anyone who still thinks that smart former Goldman Sachs type Secretaries can be counted on for accurate information, (There must be one or two of you) this week’s number one pick should disabuse you of that notion.


#1 "HousingDoom Pauses for Sunshine and Roses- And Gives a Response"

by twist, 6/21 '07

On the very day that impending doom became clearly audible to everyone in the blogosphere he gave us one of the year’s funniest quotes:

  • WASHINGTON – The major slump in the housing market is nearing an end and should not have a significant impact on the overall economy, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Wednesday.
  • "We have had a major housing correction in this country," Paulson said in an interview with a small group of reporters at the Treasury Department. "I do believe we are at or near the bottom."

Little did Hank suspect how near he was, that less than two months later the bottom would fall out of entire world's private banking system. Tune in next week as Doom recycles July to September '07 and the sudden onset of the global credit crunch.

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Larry King ‘Deeply Thankful and Humbled’ by Audience, Network

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Celebrity Nonsense, Media Fools

A rep for Larry King says the iconic CNN host is "overcome by the outpouring of support" since announcing his departure from "Larry King Live."

"In the wake of announcing the end of his nightly CNN program, Larry King has been overcome by the outpouring of support, kind words and best wishes from viewers, colleagues and the general public," King’s rep tells ET. "The expressions of appreciation, recognition and praise for his contributions over the past 25 years have been particularly gratifying and moving to him."

King released the following statement Wednesday about his departure: "I am thankful to every viewer who watched, every caller who asked a question and to the thousands of guests who appeared on my program. I am especially grateful to CNN for giving me the opportunity and to my many staff members over the years. Without all of you, none of this would have been possible, and I am deeply thankful to you and humbled by your show of esteem and respect."


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Researchers seek Little Miss Muffets for fear study (Reuters)

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Clueless, Humor, Total Nonsense

Reuters – An Austrian university is on the hunt for girls who recoil at the sight of spiders for research into how fear affects the processes of the brain.
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