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ESPN Magazine: KOBE Print E-mail

ESPN Magazine: KOBE

by Henry Abbott

He is arguably the greatest player in the history of the Lakers' franchise. He is also destroying it from within.

From Wilt to Kareem to Shaq to Pau, they were the team that could always pull one more star out of the hat. But since the night of Fisher's explosive delight, the squad's most stunning trick has been in how completely and quickly it turned the NBA's show-pony franchise into a goat, ranked 28th in ESPN's most recent Future Power Rankings. Four years, five coaches, three early playoff flameouts, two key departed big men, one celebrated owner deceased. The Lakers have been in near free fall.

It would seem that the only connection fans have to the Lakers' title tradition is Bryant, the man who helped make the franchise one of the most popular brands in sports. Now 36, he's a lock to have his statue outside Staples Center someday. He's the reason celebrities line up 10 deep inside. He's also, say sources both in and around the Lakers' organization, the primary reason the team has fallen so mightily.

For years the Lakers lived by the Mamba. This is the story of how they're dying by him.

...........................

The story of the Lakers' losing Howard has been told as one of the big man chafing under Mike D'Antoni's offense. One Lakers source, though, says Howard's issue wasn't really with the offensive scheme but that "he saw one particular player play outside that scheme with carte blanche, with no accountability. These people who say Dwight couldn't handle the pressure of Los Angeles ... that's nonsense. LA was everything Dwight wanted. To be celebrated. To be among stars. To be among women of this caliber. To live, basically, in one big reality TV show. This was a perfect setting for him."

Bryant, who declined through a Lakers spokesman to comment for this story, playfully grumbles about today's youth and their newfangled ways, but there really is an element to his play that is from the past. By the old points-per-game measure, he was not just a perennial All-Star but one of the best players ever. But the league has changed around Bryant, and swiftly. The movement of people and the ball, 3s, rim attacks, coordinated defensive effort and generating open shots for teammates are what's winning now. Subsuming ego and glorifying teammates is a winning NBA strategy, and it's what D'Antoni and Nash attempted to bring to the Lakers.

After his first year with Bryant, Nash couldn't hide his disappointment when talking to Grantland's Zach Lowe: "I think it'd be nice to find a middle ground where he does his thing but the ball still can move for great parts of the game. ... But I knew it wasn't going to be the same. When you play with Kobe Bryant, the ball is gonna be with him most of the time."

Or it will be, at least, until he shoots it. Bryant has fired away for nearly two decades. He's fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list, trailing only Kareem, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan. He's also just a few weeks' play from setting an all-time league record for misses. "The problem is, he's just not as good as he thinks he is," says one source in the Lakers' inner circle. "He's just not as efficient as he thinks he is. If he had the other intangibles, like LeBron, or if he was any kind of different person, it would have been easy for us to attract talent, retain it and win."

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Eric Frein sightings: How 'wilderness ninja' has outfoxed 1,000 cops Print E-mail

Eric Frein sightings: How 'wilderness ninja' has outfoxed 1,000 cops

By Patrik Jonsson

Law enforcement officials are shifting the focus of the massive manhunt for Eric Frein following two sightings of the alleged sniper in northern Pennsylvania.

 Two fresh sightings of alleged sniper Eric Frein has resulted in more closed public schools in northern Pennsylvania and a shift in a massive manhunt to near where Mr. Frein went to high school – and where he was a member of the high school rifle team.

The pressing question of how a single man has outmaneuvered 1,000 trained law enforcement officers in the Pocono Mountains for over five weeks suggests that Frein has used a home-field advantage, long-term planning, and survival skills to resemble a “wilderness ninja,” a term some use to describe a rare breed of native scouts who can, in essence, morph into shadows.

But while true native scouts are bulwarks for good, Frein has “gone to the dark side,” says Shane Hobel, the founder of the Mountain Scout Survival School in New York’s Hudson Valley.

“This guy is on a totally different parallel [than a native scout] but it is a parallel,” says Mr. Hobel. “That makes him a dangerous individual, and the fact that he’s got sniper capability makes it even more dangerous.”

A self-taught survivalist and crack rifle shot, Frein is alleged to have killed one state trooper and wounded another in a brazen midnight ambush on a rural police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pa., on Sept. 12. 

Tom Brown, the legendary American tracker and founder of the Tracker School in Manahawkin, N.J., says that Frein likely planned the attack and escape for years. That’s corroborated, says Mr. Brown, by stories about Frein disappearing from work for weeks at a time, likely to prepare food caches and find hidden shelters. The fact that searchers have failed to spot Frein with heat-sensitive scanners suggests he may be hiding in caves.

After five weeks of searching, police have at times come titillatingly close to Frein, spotting him on several occasions and finding several camp spots, including one with a rifle, ammunition, and a diary that recount the shooting in cold-blooded terms.

Police insist they’re close to capturing Frein, believing that he is increasingly feeling stressed and cornered.

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The truth about evil Print E-mail

Hitler Youth

The truth about evil

John Gray

Our leaders talk a great deal about vanquishing evil. But their rhetoric reveals a failure to accept that cruelty is a basic human trait 

When Barack Obama vows to destroy Isis’s “brand of evil” and David Cameron declares that Isis is an “evil organisation” that must be obliterated, they are echoing Tony Blair’s judgment of Saddam Hussein: “But the man’s uniquely evil, isn’t he?” Blair made this observation in November 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq, when he invited six experts to Downing Street to brief him on the likely consequences of the war. The experts warned that Iraq was a complicated place, riven by deep communal enmities, which Saddam had dominated for over 35 years. Destroying the regime would leave a vacuum; the country could be shaken by Sunni rebellion and might well descend into civil war. These dangers left the prime minster unmoved. What mattered was Saddam’s moral iniquity. The divided society over which he ruled was irrelevant. Get rid of the tyrant and his regime, and the forces of good would prevail.

If Saddam was uniquely evil 12 years ago, we have it on the authority of our leaders that Isis is uniquely evil today. Until it swept into Iraq a few months ago, the jihadist group was just one of several that had benefited from the campaign being waged by western governments and their authoritarian allies in the Gulf in support of the Syrian opposition’s struggle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Since then Isis has been denounced continuously and with increasing intensity; but there has been no change in the ruthless ferocity of the group, which has always practised what a radical Islamist theorist writing under the name Abu Bakr Naji described in an internet handbook in 2006 as “the management of savagery”.

Ever since it was spun off from al-Qaida some 10 years ago, Isis has made clear its commitment to beheading apostates and unbelievers, enslaving women and wiping out communities that will not submit to its ultra-fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. In its carefully crafted internet videos, it has advertised these crimes itself. There has never been any doubt that Isis practises methodical savagery as an integral part of its strategy of war. This did not prevent an abortive attempt on the part of the American and British governments in August of last year to give military support to the Syrian rebels – a move that could have left Isis the most powerful force in the country. Isis became the prime enemy of western governments only when it took advantage of the anarchy these same governments had created when they broke the state of Iraq with their grandiose scheme of regime change.

Against this background, it would be easy to conclude that talk of evil in international conflicts is no more than a cynical technique for shaping public perceptions. That would be a mistake. Blair’s secret – which is the key to much in contemporary politics – is not cynicism. A cynic is someone who knowingly acts against what he or she knows to be true. Too morally stunted to be capable of the mendacity of which he is often accused, Blair thinks and acts on the premise that whatever furthers the triumph of what he believes to be good must be true. Imagining that he can deliver the Middle East and the world from evil, he cannot help having a delusional view of the impact of his policies.

................................

No view of things could be more alien at the present time. Whatever their position on the political spectrum, almost all of those who govern us hold to some version of the melioristic liberalism that is the west’s default creed, which teaches that human civilisation is advancing – however falteringly – to a point at which the worst forms of human destructiveness can be left behind. According to this view, evil, if any such thing exists, is not an inbuilt human flaw, but a product of defective social institutions, which can over time be permanently improved.

Paradoxically, this belief in the evanescence of evil is what underlies the hysterical invocation of evil that has lately become so prominent. There are many bad and lamentable forces in the world today, but it is those that undermine the belief in human improvement that are demonised as “evil”. So what disturbs the west about Vladimir Putin, for example, is not so much the persecution of gay people over which he has presided, or the threat posed to Russia’s neighbours by his attempt to reassert its imperial power. It is the fact that he has no place in the liberal scheme of continuing human advance. As a result, the Russian leader can only be evil. When George W Bush looked into Putin’s eyes at a Moscow summit in May 2002, he reported, “I was able to get a sense of his soul”. When Joe Biden visited the Kremlin in 2011, he had a very different impression, telling Putin: “Mr Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.” According to Biden, Putin smiled and replied, “We understand each other.” The religious language is telling: nine years earlier, Putin had been a pragmatic leader with whom the west could work; now he was a soulless devil.

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Did Obama just hand GOP a weapon to use against endangered Democrats? Print E-mail

Did Obama just hand GOP a weapon to use against endangered Democrats?

By Peter Grier

Obama said that it didn't hurt his feelings that some Democrats in red or swing states didn't want to campaign with him, because 'these are all folks who vote with me' – a point that GOP rivals have been making all along.
Obama appeared yesterday on Al Sharpton’s radio show. His primary purpose was to try and increase turnout and political excitement among Mr. Sharpton’s audience, which is minority-oriented. Obama said he understood the position of Democrats in red or swing states who don’t want him to show up for personal campaigning. That doesn’t hurt his feelings, said the president, because he understands how the world works and figures those folks are strong supporters anyway.

“The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me,” said Obama. “They have supported my agenda in Congress.”

 
Unique Considerations for Children Raised by Grandparents Print E-mail

Unique Considerations for Children Raised by Grandparents

By Angela Grippo, Ph.D.

Grandparents clearly are stepping up to help out in times of need.

Between 2008 and 2010, more than 5 million children in the United States lived with their grandparents (Murphey, Cooper, & Moore, 2012). About two-thirds of these households were multi-generational, where both the parent and grandparent lived in the home. The remaining one-third were custodial grandparent households, where the parent generation was absent (Vespa, Lewis, & Kreider, 2013).

Usually living in grandparent-headed households is better than the alternative. For example, children with single parents fared better academically and psychologically when living in multi-generational households compared to those living in single-parent-only households (DeLeire & Kalil, 2002). Similarly, children who live in custodial grandparent households, after being placed there by social services, do better than those who are placed in the regular foster care system (Brooks & Barth, 1998).

Other things such as age and culture are likely to influence how a child responds to living with a grandparent. Younger children need to feel loved and cared for, which grandparents can do well. However, adolescents who are figuring out who they are and how they fit into the world likely will start to wonder what it means to have their grandparents serving in a parental role. In addition, the expectation of how involved grandparents should be in taking care of grandchildren varies by culture.

 
How to Make Frequent Business Travel Healthier Print E-mail

How to Make Frequent Business Travel Healthier

By Michael Friedman, Ph.D.

Frequent business travel can be exciting and productive, but can also come with a substantial health cost. In order to ensure sustainability and long-term success, one's health and wellbeing must be a priority.

Third, think of the larger goals in your life, and what your health management will bring you. For example, if you are trying to manage your diabetes to live longer to see your loved ones, try to focus on that while traveling. This will not only provide motivation, but also increase your happiness in the moment.

 
The GOP hates the ‘lamestream media’ even more than you think. Print E-mail

The GOP hates the ‘lamestream media’ even more than you think.

When it comes to the outlets that the most conservative Americans get their news from, it's Fox News and everybody else.

And by everybody else, we mean mostly a bunch of other conservative-leaning media.

A new study from the Pew Research Center lays bare the increasing reliance on partisan and/or ideological news sources on the right and left, and both sides have trended in that direction. But when you compare the left to the right, it's clear which side is more interested in consuming news from sources with which it agrees politically.

Pew asked people which news sources they got their news from in the previous week. Among the most conservative Americans -- what Pew calls "consistent conservatives" -- five of the top six answers leaned to the right.

More than eight in 10 "consistent conservatives" said they had consumed news from Fox in the previous week (84 percent). Another 50 percent cited local news, while between 29 and 45 percent cited conservative commentators or their associated Web sites -- the radio shows of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and Beck's news site, The Blaze.

On the left, MSNBC doesn't carry near the same weight as Fox with "consistent liberals." Just 38 percent say they had consumed news from the liberal-leaning cable news outlet. These Americans have more mainstream tastes, consuming news from NPR (53 percent), CNN (52 percent), local TV (39 percent), NBC News and PBS (37 percent apiece), the BBC (34 percent), ABC News and the New York Times (33 percent apiece).

The only other outlet approaching the kind of ideological, commentator-driven news of the Hannitys, the Becks and the Limbaughs on the left is the Daily Show, which 34 percent of "consistent liberals" cited as a news source they had tapped in in the past week. And while the Daily Show certainly has a liberal-leaning point of view, its express purpose is entertainment -- not news.

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When School Is Harder to Get Into Than the U.S. Print E-mail

When School Is Harder to Get Into Than the U.S.

By BENJAMIN MUELLER

Despite state and federal guidelines, Long Island districts are requiring documents that are often difficult for families to obtain, forcing immigrant children to stay at home.

Before dawn breaks and the morning light spills onto his bedroom floor, Carlos Garcia Lobo bounces out of bed, his eyes alight with anticipation, and asks his mother if he can go to school.

Each time, she replies to her 8-year-old son: Not yet.

Four months after fleeing Honduras with a 15-year-old cousin, Carlos has reached what his family said seemed like an impassable frontier. Like dozens of the roughly 2,500 unaccompanied immigrant children who have been released to relatives or other sponsors on Long Island so far this year, Carlos has been unable to register for school.

The impasse has baffled parents, who say their scant resources have proved no match for school district bureaucracies. Required by law to attend school, children are nevertheless stuck at home, despite unrelenting efforts by their parents and others to prove that they are eligible. Suffolk and Nassau Counties, on Long Island, rank third and fifth, respectively, in the United States, after counties centered on Houston and Los Angeles, in the number of unaccompanied minors they have absorbed so far this year; Miami-Dade County is fourth.

Many of the children are barred because their families cannot gather the documents that schools require to prove they are residents of the district or have guardianship — obstacles that contravene legal guidance on enrollment procedures the State Education Department issued in September. Concern over similar deterrents across the country prompted Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in May to chide districts for “raising barriers for undocumented children,” thereby violating a 1982 Supreme Court decision that guarantees their right to an education.

Driven from Honduras by gangs that brandished machetes and robbed his grandmother’s home, Carlos trekked to the border in June with his cousin and a guide, bumping along on buses “all day and night,” he recalled.

On July 10, Carlos joined his mother, Yeinni Lobo, who came to the United States when he was 11 months old. Since he arrived, Ms. Lobo says she has visited the local school office at least 10 times, toting a stack of immunization records. She provided her address, and the name of the fellow tenant who collects her rent, to show that she lived in the district, she said. But the school demanded a statement from the home’s absentee owner.

So as Carlos tries to decode the schoolwork his older cousins bring home, Ms. Lobo gets an education in red tape. She found her homeowner’s Bronx address on property records at a nearby courthouse. A letter she sent pleading for help soon dropped back through her mail slot, marked “Return to Sender.” Carlos’s official manila file folder is affixed with a neon green Post-it reading, “Waiting for owner’s affidavit.” Once, a school secretary suggested that Ms. Lobo fix the problem by moving to a different home. In the school parking lot, she says, she and other mothers cry over the lost weeks.

“They are not giving us a solution,” Ms. Lobo said. “I’m worried because he’s getting behind.”

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Where There’s Trouble, You’ll Usually Find Joe Biden Print E-mail

Where There’s Trouble, You’ll Usually Find Joe Biden

Lloyd Green

His crisis-creating malapropisms and his son’s drug-related discharge from the Navy are just the beginning. This guy’s a train wreck.

According to the polls, Joe Biden doesn’t have a prayer in 2016. And according to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” 

But two things are also certain: First, Biden is still Barack Obama’s go-to-guy when partisan loyalty is at a premium. Faced with rising concern and criticism over the outbreak of Ebola, Obama tapped Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, to be America’s Ebola czar. Second, Biden’s friends and family have not hesitated to profit from their ties to the Vice President. Biden’s brother, James, and his son, Hunter, have cashed in on the family name, whether it be in Iraq or Ukraine. Biden may have the mien of the crazy uncle in the basement, but he is also a real reminder of what is wrong with politics.

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Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them Print E-mail

 

Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them

Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party’s congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants.

There’s a simple reason that congressional Republicans are willing to risk alienating Hispanics: They don’t need their votes, at least not this year.

Republicans would probably hold the House — and still have a real chance to retake the Senate — if they lost every single Hispanic voter in the country, according to an analysis by The Upshot.

Such a thing would never happen, of course, but the fact that the Republicans may not need a single Hispanic vote in 2014 says a good deal about American politics today.

The fact that the Republican House majority does not depend on Hispanic voters helps explain why immigration reform has not become law, even though national Republican strategists believe the party needs additional support among Hispanic voters to compete in presidential elections. It’s true that Republicans would stand little, if any, chance of winning the presidency in 2016 if they lost every Hispanic voter. If anything, the Republicans probably need to make gains among Hispanic voters to compete in states like Florida and Nevada.

But Congressional elections are different. Although the young, urban and racially diverse Democratic coalition has won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, that coalition has not delivered House control to the Democrats. Gerrymandering isn’t the only cause, either. It’s the way the population is distributed.

Even a situation in which every Latino voter in America chose the Democratic candidate would mainly allow Democrats to fare better in the heavily Hispanic districts where the party already wins. This is already occurring, to a lesser degree. Over the last decade, Democratic gains among young and nonwhite voters have allowed Democrats to win a majority of the House vote without flipping enough districts to earn a majority of seats.

The Upshot analysis found that if not one of the eight million Hispanic voters supported the Republican candidate, Republicans would lose about a dozen House seats, especially in Florida and California. The loss of those seats would make the Republican House majority more vulnerable if Democrats made gains elsewhere in future years. But given the Republicans’ current strength across rural areas and in conservative suburbs, the loss of every Hispanic every voter would not be enough to cost them the 17 seats that would flip House control.

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