Liberty, love and peace,
"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two former New York City police detectives face a federal court hearing in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday after being indicted on murder charges for allegedly acting as hit men for the Mafia more than 20 years ago.
According to the indictment from a federal grand jury in Brooklyn that was unsealed Thursday, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito routinely passed confidential law enforcement information to the mob and killed rival gangsters.
The indictment alleges that the men's association with organized crime began in the early 1980s, when they started passing along information to high-ranking members and associates of the Luchese crime family, disclosing the identities of numerous cooperating witnesses and compromising several state and federal investigations.
Me:I find this not only to be childish table pounding, but completely off-point. When did I say we could "save" everyone? When did I suggest such was my goal? In fact, which of my points is this guy actually refuting? Or even trying to refute? The fact that these people are drug addicts despite the War on Drugs is a point I would make for my case. That some water makes it over the dam is not an argument against having the dam. That some people choose this "way of death" despite all of the barriers we throw up, does not demonstrate that there would not be many, many more people like this if we took those barriers down. Easier access to cheaper drugs would not create fewer addicts -- at least not in the short run (I am open to the argument that in the long run society might find an equilibrium). There are some people who become slaves to drugs very quickly and the only reason many do not become so enslaved is that it is a relative hassle to get them and use them in the open. Take away the hassle factor -- i.e. lower the price -- and you will increase the consumption.Just because the price of Good A is rising doesn't mean consumption of Good A is reduced. That's what my theory tells me. Drug tests Alcohol tests
This is a story about ending poverty in our time. It is not a forecast. I am not predicting what will happen, only explaining what can happen. Currently, more than 8 million people around the world die each year because they are too poor to stay alive. Every morning our newspapers could report, More than 20,000 people perished yesterday of extreme poverty. How? The poor die in hospital wards that lack drugs, in villages that lack antimalarial bed nets, in houses that lack safe drinking water. They die namelessly, without public comment. Sadly, such stories rarely get written.House review
Since Sept. 11, 2001, theU.S. has launched awar on terrorism, but it has neglected the deeper causes of global instability. The nearly $500 billion that the U.S. will spend this year on the military will never buy lasting peace if theU.S. continues to spend only one-thirtieth of that, around $16 billion, to address the plight of the poorest of the poor, whose societies are destabilized by extreme poverty. The $16 billion represents 0.15% of U.S. income, just 15@ on every $100 of our national income. The share devoted to helping the poor has declined for decades and is a tiny fraction of what the U.S. has repeatedly promised, and failed, to give.
The bad news is coming fast for brainy career women. For one thing, they're less likely to get married—perhaps because (according to a study recently published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior) men prefer to date and marry women who occupy subordinate positions in the workplace, or because (according to a survey carried out by four British universities) female intelligence itself reduces the odds of wedlock. (The latter study found that for every 15-point increase in IQ score above the average, women's likelihood of marrying fell by almost 60 percent.) And another study, led by a professor at Ohio State University, suggests that women who do get married and have children will see their job prospects diminish. Two hundred undergraduates were asked to make hiring and promotion recommendations for a law firm based on résumés that differed only as to sex and whether the applicant was married with children. The result: women with children were less likely to be hired and promoted than either men or childless women, whereas men with children were actually favored in hiring over their childless male counterparts.
Congress has questions. Congress wants answers.
And while we'll have to wait for the scheduled March 17 hearing of the House Government Reform Committee for some of baseball's biggest names -- including Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who were among the seven players issued subpoenas -- to explain themselves on the issue of steroid use, we asked ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack to address 15 of the most frequently asked questions about the congressional probe.
Yet on the third floor of a glass office building overlooking the Cooper river is a locked room that is straight out of a futuristic thriller.
Inside, a series of control panels with flashing lights and whirring hard drives comprise the master computer of the world’s largest free-standing database of intelligence on Islamic terrorism. It could hold the key to dismantling Al-Qaeda.
“It’s the best database on Islamic terrorism in the world,” said a senior counter-terrorism official at the FBI.
The database is the pivotal tool in what those involved say will be the biggest class action in history: a $1 trillion lawsuit on behalf of the families of 1,431 of the people killed on 9/11 and 1,325 of the injured.
More than 100 of the clients are British. Yet while investigators building up the database have received government help in 19 countries, from Afghanistan to Syria, they have had none in Britain, according to Ron Motley, the lawyer behind the action.
“We’ve had zero co-operation from the UK,” said Motley, who works from an enormous yacht named Themis after the Greek goddess of justice. “They just don’t want to help their own citizens.”
The ratio of prices to rents is a sort of price/earnings ratio for the housing market. Just as the price of a share should equal the discounted present value of future dividends, so the price of a house should reflect the future benefits of ownership, either as rental income for an investor or the rent saved by an owner-occupier. To bring the ratio of prices to rents back to equilibrium, either rents must rise sharply or prices must fall. Yet central banks cannot allow rents to surge as this would feed into inflation. Rents directly or indirectly account for 29% of America's consumer-price index, so rising inflation would force the Fed to raise interest rates more swiftly, which could trigger a fall in house prices. Alternatively, if rents continue to rise at their current annual pace of 2.5%, house prices would need to remain flat for over ten years to bring America's ratio of house prices to rents back to its long-term norm. There is a clear risk prices might fall.House review
Take a two-bedroom flat in London, which you could buy for £450,000 ($865,000). To rent the same flat would currently cost £1,700 a month. In addition to a 6% mortgage rate, a buyer would face annual maintenance and insurance costs of, say, 1.25%. In the first year, the rent of £20,400 compares with total mortgage interest and maintenance payments of £33,000, a saving of £12,600. Interest payments would be less if a large deposit were paid, but in that case the income lost from not investing that money elsewhere has to be taken into account.
Assume that rents rise by 3% a year, in line with wages, while house prices from now on rise in line with inflation of 2%. At the end of seven years (the average time before the typical homeowner moves), you would be almost £35,000 better off renting, taking account of the capital appreciation and buying and selling costs. In other words, even without a fall in real house prices—which many believe to be likely—buying a house in Britain today seems a poor investment.
"Individual operatives who possess a clean passport, have not come to the attention of intelligence agencies overseas, and lack a criminal record are unlikely to attract the attention of security agencies in the United States, unless they are in contact with known extremists," according to the report. "Al-Qa'ida has altered its operative profile, making it more difficult to screen visa applicants at embassies and individuals entering the United States at airports and other border crossings."
And the report suggests that instead of actual sleeper agents, lying in wait, al Qaeda may rely on disaffected Americans or other sympathizers, who might pick easier, softer targets such as shopping malls.
A tiny magnet is installed in the outsole under the heel, and a magnetic sensor is positioned above it. As the runner's foot hits the ground, the sensor measures the compression. It relays the information to a 20 MHz microprocessor housed under the arch. The microprocessor compares that information to the optimum cushioning that's already programmed into its electronic innards.It then sends orders to a tiny electric motor connected to a cable. The cable either lengthens or shortens to limit or expand the amount of compression, according to the runner's needs. The cushioning also can be manually adjusted.
The whole thing's powered by a replaceable lithium battery good for about 100 hours.
Drug tests Alcohol tests
Care to guess who's having one of the best rebounding seasons in history?
Your first instinct might be to say Kevin Garnett, who's running away with the rebounding title. He's averaging 13.7 boards a game, which is nearly two more than his closest competitor. Considering his sizable lead, it seems heretical to suggest somebody else is the league's best rebounder. But it's true. Though hardly a household name, the Seattle SuperSonics' Reggie Evans is putting Garnett to shame with his rebounding exploits.How did I arrive at this conclusion? It all starts with a simple premise: A player can't get a rebound unless somebody misses a shot. Following from that logic, the best way to rate rebounders is by the percentage of missed shots they reel in, not by the amount they pull down per game or even per minute.
Player A gets 10 rebounds in a game with 20 missed shots, while Player B nabs 20 in a game with 100 missed shots. Player B has twice as many rebounds, but is he really better? Player A grabbed a Herculean 50 percent of all the missed shots in his game, while Player B took in only 20 percent. We shouldn't hold it against Player A that there were so few missed shots for him to rebound.
This is where my tool called Rebound Rate comes in. By measuring the percentage of available rebounds that a player gets while he's on the floor, Rebound Rate makes Player A's superiority obvious.
To calculate a player's Rebound Rate, start by adding all the rebounds and opponents' rebounds in his team's games. Multiply that result by the percentage of the team's minutes that player has played. This gives you the approximate number of rebounds available while he was on the court. Finally, take his total rebounds, divide it by the available rebounds, and multiply by 100.And there you have it -- a player's Rebound Rate.
Purchases dropped 9.2 percent during the month to a 1.106 million annual rate from revised 1.218 million in December that was higher than first reported, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The median sales price declined to $199,400, the lowest since December 2003, from $229,700.
Measured against sales, the supply of homes increased to 4.7 months in January, the highest since June 2000. A record number of homes for sale may limit new construction and restrain prices, suggesting waning pent-up demand. Sales are down 13 percent from the record high 1.27 million pace in March of last year.
I asked Farrell, "But apart from the 25 nonsexist reasons men earn more, isn't sexism still a factor?" He responded, "There are instances of discrimination against both women and men, but on average, no. If you knew you could hire a woman for less than an equivalent man, you'd hire women to get a price advantage over your competition. Do you think businesses so hate women that they hire more expensive men even though they'd lose so much money?"
Every War has its heroes, those who take risks to protect the values we cherish; this war is no different.
We honor those soldiers who risked loss of liberty, economic deprivation, and social ostracism. Each of these men and women of the military have at some point refused orders in this immoral, illegal, unjustified war the United States is currently waging in Iraq, or the occupation in Afghanistan. They obeyed their conscience over illegal orders.
Kissingerhas been heard to describe Rumsfeld as the “most ruthless man” he ever met while in government. It is a view that is disputed by almost no one. And nearly all who know Rumsfeld acknowledge that he is exceptionally intelligent, hardworking, and skillful. But his unique relationship with one of the most powerful vice presidents in history and the exceptional network that binds their offices and the rest of the administration has set the center of gravity wherever these two men are standing together, literally or figuratively.
Is America's gang problem getting worse? The Justice Department says there are now 30,000 gangs with more than 800,000 members. The National Youth Gang Centre (NYGC), which conducts an annual survey that is funded by the Justice Department, gives lower ones (see table). It concedes that every town of 250,000 people now has a gang problem, but it thinks the tide has turned: the number of rural counties and small cities reporting gang activity dropped considerably between 1996 and 2002.
Sen. Rick Santorum, the conservative from Pennsylvania who ranks third in the Senate Republican leadership, said yesterday that he was willing to discuss increasing the Social Security tax rate as a way of helping to assure the program's solvency.
Santorum said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that raising the Social Security payroll tax might be the price Republicans have to pay for Democratic support for diverting some of the tax revenue to private retirement accounts, as President Bush has proposed.
Santorum's comments on raising the Social Security payroll tax rate come at a time that the public appeared to be reacting negatively to Bush's private accounts.
In holding out an olive branch to Democrats, Santorum went one step further than the president.
Bush last month said he would consider raising the cap on annual wages subject to the tax, but he has repeatedly ruled out an increase in the tax rate.
Social Security is supported by a 12.4 percent tax, shared equally by employer and employee, on the first $90,000 of annual wages.
LAST week, for the first time, America's Federal Reserve published its forecast of inflation over the next two years. Many observers took this as a sign that the Fed had moved closer to setting an inflation target, as many other central banks have done.
HOW loose is the world's monetary policy? One gauge is that real interest rates in America and other countries are still negative. Another is that global liquidity has been expanding at its fastest pace for at least 30 years. This deluge largely reflects the combined effects of American and Asian monetary policies.
Our measure of “global liquidity” consists of the sum of America's monetary base (notes and coins plus banks' reserves held at the Federal Reserve) and foreign-exchange reserves held by central banks around the world. In both 2003 and 2004 this rose at annual rates of more than 20%. In no other two-year period since 1975 has liquidity increased by so much (see chart).
America's easy-money policy of recent years has spilled abroad. Low American interest rates have encouraged large inflows of capital into emerging economies, especially in Asia, as investors have sought higher returns. Central banks have then tried to resist the consequent upward pressure on their currencies by buying foreign exchange, mainly dollars. When a central bank does this, it credits domestic commercial banks with deposits (ie, the monetary base expands) encouraging banks to lend more.
Central banks are supposedly the guardians of money. Yet between them they may have created the biggest liquidity bubble in history.
Traditional conscription has its obvious downsides. On a practical level, draftees tend to be less motivated than volunteers. Because they serve for relatively short periods of time (typically two years), any investment made in their training is lost to the military once the draftees return to civilian life. And despite the current manpower shortage, there's no foreseeable scenario in which all 28 million young Americans currently of draft age would be needed. Above all else, there's the serious ethical problem that conscription means government compelling young adults to risk death, and to kill--an act of the state that seems contrary to the basic notions of liberty which animate our society.
In practice, however, our republic has decided many times throughout its history that a draft was necessary to protect those basic liberties. Even if you disagreed with the decision to invasion of Iraq, or think the president's rhetoric is demagogic and his policies disastrous, it is hard to argue that Islamic terrorism isn't a threat to freedom and security, at home and abroad. Moreover, any American, liberal or conservative, ought to have moral qualms about basing our nation's security on an all-volunteer force drawn disproportionately, as ours is, from America's lower socioeconomic classes. And the cost of today's war is being borne by an extremely narrow slice of America. Camp Pendleton, Calif., home to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, is also home to approximately one-seventh of the U.S. fatalities from Iraq. In theory, our democracy will not fight unpopular wars because the people who must bear the casualties can impose their will on our elected leaders to end a war they do not support. But when such a small fraction of America shoulders the burden--and pays the cost--of America's wars, this democratic system breaks down.
Nor are the practical considerations of a draft impossible to overcome. A draft lottery, of the kind that existed in the peacetime draft of the 1950s, with no exemptions for college students, would provide the military an appropriate and manageable amount of manpower without the class inequities that poisoned the national culture during Vietnam. Such a system, however, would not avoid the problem of flooding the military with less-than-fully-motivated conscripts.
Whichever option they choose, all who serve would receive modest stipends and GI Bill-type college grants. Those who sign up for lengthier and riskier duty, however, would receive higher pay and larger college grants. Most would no doubt pick the less dangerous options. But some would certainly select the military--out of patriotism, a sense of adventure, or to test their mettle. Even if only 10 percent of the one-million young people who annually start at four-year colleges and universities were to choose the military option, the armed forces would receive 100,000 fresh recruits every year.
Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.
In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign’s Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate’s press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.
Smith should know. He’s one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.
In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. “The commission’s exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines” the campaign finance law’s purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn’t get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a “bizarre” regulatory process now is under way.
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» The Problems of Pro-Trespassing Libertarians
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