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1  Politics / the Barack Obama Administration / Obama proposes home loan refinancing plan on: February 01, 2012, 04:58:54 pm
Obama proposes home loan refinancing planBy Les Christie @CNNMoney February 1, 2012: 1:17 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- President Barack Obama proposed a plan aimed at helping millions of homeowners refinance their mortgages to today's historically-low rates. To pay for it though, he'll need $5 billion to $10 billion.
The plan would allow borrowers who are current on their mortgage to save thousands of dollars by refinancing into loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The cost is estimated to range between $5 billion and $10 billion. To pay for it, Obama said he does not plan to add to the deficit. Instead, he wants to impose a fee on large banks -- a move that may have a hard time making it past members of Congress, who have rejected the notion of taxing the banks in the past.
The refinancing plan is the latest in a string of programs designed to help solve the nation's housing market crisis. President Obama unveiled the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) foreclosure-prevention effort three years ago as part of the massive stimulus bill. But the plan, which sought to help 4 million homeowners, has helped less than 1 million to date.
What's different about this latest proposal is that it would help borrowers with private, non-government bank loans who could not obtain new refinanced loans in the past because they owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth.
"If you're underwater through no fault of your own and can't refinance, this plan changes that," Obama said in a speech in Falls Church, Va. On Wednesday.
Has Obama's housing policy failed?
To be eligible for the new refinancing program, borrowers must not have missed a mortgage payment for at least six months and have no more than one late payment in the six months prior to that. They also must have a credit score of 580 or better, a threshold that the administration says 9 out of 10 borrowers meet.
Their mortgage balance also cannot exceed the loan limits for FHA-insured loans in their communities, which range from $271,050 in low housing cost areas to $729,250 in high-cost ones. They also must own and occupy the home covered by the loan.
0:00 / 2:59 Inside Florida's foreclosure crisis
The administration wants the program to include a provision requiring lenders to take a "haircut" by writing down mortgage balances of deeply underwater loans -- those whose borrowers owe more than 140% of their current home values. The more underwater borrowers owe compared with their home values, the greater the risk of default.
By refinancing into lower interest rate loans, mortgage borrowers could substantially reduce monthly payments. Many would go from paying 6% or more to about 4.25%. On a $200,000 balance, that would save about $216 a month on a 30-year mortgage.
The program will offer an option to allow borrowers to refinance into 20-year loans. These will not necessarily reduce monthly payments but will enable borrowers to build home equity more quickly and enable them to finish paying off the loans sooner.
Foreclosures: America's hardest hit neighborhoods
The administration wants homeowners to take that option and is proposing that the FHA pay closing costs to encourage them, which would result in an additional average savings of about $3,000.
This latest initiative first emerged in last week's State of the Union address, when the president said he would launch a program that could save borrowers an average of $3,000 a year by allowing them to refinance into loans at current low interest rates.
The president said the plan is an effort to help bolster the housing market, and subsequently the economy. The 3.5 million homeowners the program targets are not in default, the administration said, and the cash freed up could result in more consumer spending." \l "TOP" \l "TOP
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First Published: February 1, 2012: 12:36 PM ET
2  General Category / Sports / Farewell, Red Sox Nation on: October 25, 2011, 04:59:29 pm
Farewell, Red Sox NationI gave everything I had to the team and received even more in return
In this 2002 photo, 28-year-old Theo Epstein is introduced as the new general manager of the Boston Red Sox. (Globe Staff/Jim Davis )
By Theo Epstein
October 25, 2011
I GREW up in Brookline just down the road from Fenway Park, living and dying with every pitch, every win or loss, and every Red Sox season that fell painfully short. My whole outlook on life changed at age 12 as my twin brother and I writhed on the living room floor, devastated by Game Six of the ’86 Series.

Had you told me then that the Red Sox would go on to raise not one but two World Series flags, I wouldn’t have believed you. And had you told the 12-year-old me that I would someday walk away from my dream job as general manager of the Red Sox completely of my own volition, I would have thought you were crazy.
I think that kid would appreciate an explanation - and so might some of you.
For the last decade, I gave everything I had to the Red Sox and received even more in return. I grew enormously as a person, had some successes, and made a lot of mistakes, too. I still love the organization, enjoy close relationships with owners John Henry and Tom Werner - as well as a complicated but ultimately productive and rewarding relationship with Larry Lucchino - and count many of my co-workers among my dearest friends. The reason I am leaving has nothing to do with power, pressure, money, or relationships. It has nothing to do with September, either.
Football legend Bill Walsh used to say that coaches and executives should seek change after 10 years with the same team. The theory is that both the individual and the organization benefit from a change after so much time together. The executive gets rebirth and the energy that comes with a new challenge; the organization gets a fresh perspective, and the chance for true change that comes with new leadership. This idea resonated with me. Although I tried my best to fight it, I couldn’t escape the conclusion that both the Red Sox and I would benefit from a change sometime soon.
With this thought in mind, my assistant general manager, Ben Cherington, and I discussed how best to finish preparing him to take over as general manager, likely after the 2012 season, and how to ensure that the Red Sox could maintain continuity within our talented baseball operations group. Those steps were important for me before I could begin to feel comfortable making a transition. This summer, when ownership and I first discussed Ben as my successor, the Red Sox were stable, thriving, and talented enough in the big leagues and in the farm system to compete as one of the best clubs in baseball this year and for many years to come.
Then, September happened.
All of a sudden, we found ourselves needing to pick a new manager, a decision with long-term implications and one best made by someone who could lead the Red Sox baseball operation for the foreseeable future. Then the Cubs asked permission to interview me. The Cubs - with their passionate fans, dedicated ownership, tradition, and World Series drought - represented the ultimate new challenge and the one team I could imagine working for after such a fulfilling Red Sox experience.
So, knowing my time as the general manager was drawing to an end, I had a decision to make: stay one more year and do my best to conduct the manager’s search under less than ideal circumstances, or recommend the succession plan, allow Ben to run the search process, and join the Cubs. I wrestled with leaving during a time when criticism, deserved and otherwise, surrounded the organization. But Walsh’s words kept popping into my head, and I recalled how important it was for me as a relatively new general manager to bond with Terry Francona during the interview process back in 2003.
It was very difficult deciding to leave the place where I grew up, where I met my wife, where my son was born, where my family and closest friends live, and where I help run a charitable foundation. And it was equally hard to part with the organization and the people, including John, Tom, and Larry, who entrusted me with this role at such a young age and supported me along the way. But it was the right thing to do.
What a privilege it has been to be a part of the Red Sox these last 10 years. The first title in 2004, born from the heartbreak of Aaron Boone, was unforgettable: The Steal, Papi, the Bloody Sock, the Greatest Comeback Ever, the end of The Curse. The second, 2007, was equally rewarding as it solidified the franchise’s rise and marked the emergence of a core drafted, developed, and trained in the “Red Sox Way’’ so many had worked so hard to establish.
Beyond the results on the field, I believe the Red Sox came to stand for certain things over the last decade. Pride in the uniform. Appreciation of our history. Controlling the strike zone. Grinding at-bats. Having each other’s backs. Rising to the moment. Never backing down. Connection to the fans. Hard work. Playing with passion and urgency. These concepts were taught in the minor leagues and reinforced at the big-league level by our homegrown players and by Tito, a selfless leader who always put the Red Sox first. These principles united the organization and came to define us.
This is why September - when we let fans down by falling short of these ideals - was so crushing. But the Red Sox will recover. What was built up with pride and passion over so long cannot be torn down in one bad month. The same is true, I know, of the fans’ loyalty.
Yes, September was a collective failure. As the general manager, I am the person ultimately responsible. Things did indeed happen in the clubhouse that do not have a place at the Red Sox or anywhere in sports. But the reports about team-wide apathy and indulgence are exaggerated. It may not seem this way now, but the team did care about winning, about the fans, and about each other; unfortunately, we failed when we let less important things get in the way. I tried desperately to reverse our slide, as did Tito, the coaches, and the players. But we just could not play well, and then we did not handle the adversity well.
Everyone involved is taking responsibility. The players I’ve talked to are embarrassed by our performance in September and are rededicating themselves this winter - not only to their training in the gym and on the field but also to their growth as leaders. September was a wake-up call to those of us in management as well; there are plans to raise standards in several areas, and Ben will work hard with the new manager to ensure those standards are met.
If not for the complete confidence I have in Ben to address these issues, I could not in good conscience leave the organization at this time. But there is no one in baseball more qualified to be the next general manager of the Red Sox.
Ben is infinitely more prepared than I was when I took over nine years ago. He’s been an area scout, an international scout, an advance scout, a farm director, and he’s supervised drafts. Ben is honest and insightful, fearless and friendly - and he is ready to lead this organization forward.
Lost in the cacophony of the last few weeks is the fact that the Boston Red Sox remain one of the preeminent organizations in baseball, with an extremely bright future. Ben will head the same scouting and baseball operations staff that engineered much of the club’s success the last nine years. There is tremendous talent on the major league club and significant depth in the farm system after a decade of strong drafts.
Despite recent criticism, Red Sox ownership remains a model for others to follow. John, Tom, and Larry demonstrate their commitment to winning in the most fundamental way possible: If something needs to be done to help the team on the field, it gets done. September happened despite them, not because of them. It may not seem this way now, but I am convinced that we will look back at September of 2011 not as some harbinger of the demise of the Red Sox, but as an anomaly in the midst of a decades-long run of success for the franchise. Some good may even come from it. I know the climate is especially hostile right now, and our mistakes are well documented, but I encourage fans not to lose faith in the players or in the organization. Red Sox Nation is a fantastic place, and it’s even better when we take a deep breath and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
In Fort Myers next spring, a rededicated, revitalized, reborn Red Sox team will take the field for its first workout of 2012. September will seem like a long time ago. So will 2004 and 2007. I won’t be there, but the 12-year-old in me will be rooting for the Red Sox (except, of course, when they play the Cubs in June). From afar, I think I’ll finally be able to enjoy the experience more, to pull for the players with appreciation for their hard work and better perspective when things don’t go the way we - or they - want. I hope you will join me.
Thank you for all the incredible support this last decade. I will never forget it. May we meet again in an October not too many years from now.
Theo Epstein was general manager of the Boston Red Sox from 2002 to 2011. 
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.
3  Health & Healing / Health & Healing / Danish researchers on cellphones and cancer: Don't worry; your device is safe on: October 21, 2011, 04:52:35 pm
Danish researchers on cellphones and cancer: Don't worry; your device is probably safeMARIA CHENG AP Medical Writer
6:23 a.m. CDT, October 21, 2011
LONDON (AP) — Danish researchers can offer some reassurance if you're concerned about your cellphone: Don't worry. Your device is probably safe.

The biggest study ever to examine the possible connection between cellphones andcancer found no evidence of any link, suggesting that billions of people who are rarely more than a few inches from their phones have no special health concerns.
The Danish study of more than 350,000 people concluded there was no difference in cancer rates between people who had used a cellphone for about a decade and those who did not.

Last year, a separate large study found no clear connection between cellphones and cancer. But it showed a hint of a possible association between very heavy phone use and glioma, a rare but often deadly form ofbrain tumor. However, the numbers of heavy users was not sufficient to make the case.

That study of more than 14,000 people in multiple countries, in addition to animal experiments, led the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify electromagnetic energy from cellphones as "possibly carcinogenic," adding it to a list that also includes things such as coffee and gasoline engine exhaust.

But that designation does not mean the phones necessarily pose a risk. Cellphones do not emit the same kind of radiation as that used in some medical tests or found in other sources such as radon in soil.

Two U.S. agencies — theFood and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission — have found no evidence that cellphones are linked to cancer.

Yet fears of a link persist, despite the fact that cancer rates have not risen since cellphones were introduced.

In the latest research, published online Thursday in the journal BMJ, researchers updated a previous study examining 358,403 cellphone users aged 30 and over inDenmark from 1990 to 2007. They found cellphone users did not have a higher cancer risk compared with those without cellphones.

Cancer rates in people who used cellphones for about 10 years were similar to rates in people without a cellphone. Cellphone users were also no more likely to get a tumor in the part of the brain closest to where phones are usually held against the head. The study was paid for by the government's Danish Strategic Research Council.

"Our study provides little evidence for a causal association, but we cannot rule out a small to moderate increase in risk for subgroups of heavy users," said Patrizia Frei, of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the paper's authors.

"This is encouraging news, but it doesn't mean we're at the end of the road," said Hazel Nunn, head of Health Evidence and Information at Cancer Research U.K., which was not linked to the study.

About three-quarters of the world's population, more than 5 billion people, use a cellphone. That makes it difficult for scientists to compare cancer incidence in people who use the devices versus those who do not.

Others disputed the Danish study's findings. The advocacy group MobileWise, which believes cellphones pose a health risk, said the study wasn't long enough to consider the long-term risk, since brain tumors can take decades to develop.

In an accompanying editorial in BMJ, Anders Ahlbom and Maria Feychting ofSweden's Karolinska Institute wrote that one of the study's strengths was its use of objective data from cellphone records. Previous studies have been criticized for relying on people to recall their cellphone habits from decades earlier.

In about 30 other studies done in Europe, New Zealand and the U.S., patients with brain tumors have not reported using their cellphones more often than unaffected people.

The editorial writers pointed out that research on cellphones and cancer was not sparked by any evidence of a connection, but from concerns that something about the relationship between radio frequency fields and human physiology had been "overlooked or misunderstood." Research into the safety of cellphones is now "extensive," they wrote.

Nunn said studies with longer-term data were still needed and that there was little information on children's exposure to cellphones.

There was no biological evidence for how cellphones might cause cancer, unlike, for example, the proof that tobacco is carcinogenic, she added.

Cellphones send signals to nearby towers via radio waves, a form of energy similar to microwaves. But the radiation produced by cellphones cannot directly damage DNA and is different from stronger types of radiation like X-rays or ultraviolet light. At very high levels, radio frequency waves from cellphones can heat up body tissue, but that is not believed to damage human cells.

Nunn said people should not change their cellphone habits based on the current evidence, except perhaps for limiting their kids' use of the devices.

"There are a lot more worrying things in the world than mobile phones," she said.




4  General Category / Sports / Kaplan: 1985 Bears will finally visit White House on: September 22, 2011, 04:49:32 pm
Kaplan: 1985 Bears will finally visit White House

William Perry and the rest of the Champion Bears never visited the White House to celebrate their historic victory. (AP)Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
Posted: 5:18 p.m.

   By David Kaplan Insider   
Follow @TheKapman   

NFL sources have confirmed to me today that the 1985 Chicago Bears have been offered the opportunity to be honored at the White House by President Barack Obama on Oct. 7 in a ceremony to honor the Super Bowl XX champions.

The team, which is considered by many to be the greatest team in NFL history, was never honored at the White House following their victory and the honor comes nearly 26 years after they completed a historic season by crushing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

The Bears never visited the White House for the traditional celebration, as the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded two days after their Super Bowl triumph, killing its crew.

Bears quarterback Jim McMahon did visit the White House when he was a member of the Super Bowl winning 1996 Green Bay Packers and he wore his 1985 Bears No. 9 jersey on the visit.

Most of the members of the team and some members of the coaching staff and front office are expected to attend the ceremony but a final list of attendees has not yet been confirmed.

David Kaplan publishes his thoughts at The Kapman on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and whenever major news breaks. Follow him on Twitter @thekapman.
5  Health & Healing / Women's Studies / Bunnies take a hop down memory lane on: September 15, 2011, 04:57:36 pm
Bunnies take a hop down memory lane

Women recall their time working at the original club

Hugh Hefner, surrounded by a dozen Playboy Bunnies, at the original Chicago Playboy Club in 1960.    

By Nina Metz, Tribune Reporter
5:08 p.m. CDT, September 14, 2011
If you walk down the northwest side of Walton Street as it meets Michigan Avenue you won't find anything there to suggest that this plot of real estate was once home to the original Playboy Club. One suspects curious tourists will be craning their necks anyway.
Debuting Monday, the new NBC drama "The Playboy Club" is set in and around that very Chicago nightspot, circa 1961, dusting off all those mothballed memories for a look back at the club's impact and Bunny culture itself.
Aiming for some verisimilitude, the TV series is shot entirely in Chicago, mostly from a soundstage complex on the Southwest Side. In reality, the Playboy experience throughout the '60s was centered on Hugh Hefner's mansion at 1340 N. State Parkway (the third and fourth floors were given over to Bunny dormitories where rent was $50 a month), and the club itself at 116 E. Walton St., which opened Feb. 29, 1960, in a building Hefner leased from Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks owner Arthur Wirtz.
During the first month of operation, nearly 17,000 people ventured into the club, which took much of its inspiration from another local establishment called the Gaslight Club. Originally located on Rush Street, the Gaslight also required its members to carry a key for entry and it featured a waitstaff of Gaslight Girls decked out in sequin-trimmed velvet corsets and little else. The Gaslight Girls also were hired for their vocal abilities — singing was part of the gig.
Hefner streamlined both the Gaslight costume and the talent requirements for his own club. "If you are pretty and personable, between 21 and 24, married or single, you probably qualify," read the newspaper ad, Gloria Steinem wrote in her 1963 magazine piece about her short stint posing undercover as a Bunny at the New York Club.
The ad promised an earning potential of $200 to $300 a week. Steinem never found a Bunny who earned that much, but a number of former Bunnies said their experience proved otherwise. (Steinem, who recently called for a boycott of the NBC show, has posted her original article on her website under the heading "Recent News.")
The idea for the now-iconic Bunny uniform reportedly came from Ilse Taurins, who was then dating Hefner's promotions director, Victor A. Lownes. Taurins suggested using the tuxedoed Playboy logo as a launching point. Hefner thought it was too masculine. Taurins had her mother (a seamstress) work up a prototype anyway, with ears, cuffs and tail. Hefner was sold.
In her piece, Steinem devotes a good amount of ink to the discomforts of the uniform. "The bottom was cut up so high that it left my hip bones exposed as well as a good five inches of untanned derriere," she wrote. Zippers frequently popped open if a Bunny sneezed. Only the skinniest Bunnies didn't have to suck in to make the uniform fit. Steinem stuffed her bosom with plastic dry cleaning bags, of all things, and complained that the corset left welts on her torso. Her feet were completely wrecked, as well, thanks to repeated eight-hour shifts in 3-inch heels. (Aside from the pain, she notes in a postscript, her foot size was permanently enlarged due her time waitressing in those heels.)
Not all former bunnies think Steinem got it right, and plenty take issue with her characterization of the women she observed as well as her description of the working conditions. NBC gathered a small group of former Bunnies at the Drake Hotel last weekend to talk about their experiences. Some worked at the Chicago club, others in Los Angeles and New York.
As they pulled up their chairs for lunch alongside cast members from the NBC show, including Broadway actress Laura Benanti (who plays a Bunny supervisor) as well as Leah Renee, Jenna Dewan Tatum and Naturi Naughton, the question hung in the air: Would the actresses eat? Yes! Some even swallowed bread! But only a little!
Afterward the former Bunnies shared their stories. Sharon Rizzo, who came to the Chicago club out of Indiana University in 1966, said it was "scary" the first time she put on the uniform. "I come from such a conservative background and then it was like, whoa! It was cut all the way up to the waist so it was quite an experience. But it is a master of engineering. That costume made everybody look fabulous. If you were a little thinner it gave you curves, and if you were a little on the heavy side it gave you that very skinny waist. You had to be really out of shape to not look good."
The ideal woman, as propagated by Hefner, has major curves up top, a tiny waist and long legs, and the Playboy Club uniform, by hook or by crook, created the illusion that every woman working there conformed to that fantasy.
Turning to the former Bunnies, actress Tatum asked: "But didn't you feel, the second you put on that costume, that you were in character? You walk out into this club and you transform from your regular day life into your Bunny character?" Rizzo and another former Bunny, Gloria Hendry, answered in unison: "Absolutely."
"At first I was nervous," Hendry said. "I went to work for at least six months to a year, I'm not exaggerating, my stomach would just flutter until I got over that fear. It was stage fright. It was like entering a stage, that's exactly what it was. Playboy was theater and once you were onstage, that was it. And when it was over you could take off the costume and you could breathe, your feet no longer hurt and you went back to your regular life."
Hendry made her way to club in 1965 after leaving a post at the NAACP, where she had worked after graduating high school. "After all the tragedy of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, my gut couldn't take it anymore. I wanted some beauty in my life. I just had to change. So I was looking in the newspaper and I saw Playboy and the girls were making a lot of money. At the NAACP I was making about $150 a week. So I applied and I was accepted, and there I was at the Playboy Club. I mean, traumatic. Putting that costume on was a rude awakening — rude meaning, my core was like, 'Oh my God, what am I doing here?'"
Hendry is unequivocal when asked if the uniform was comfortable for eight hours at a stretch: "No, it was not." Tatum talked about cutting back on the amount of food and liquids she consumes while wearing the costume for the TV show: "You just have to prepare." Trips to the restroom are complicated: "You have to take the whole thing off," Hendry explained. Also, one can't really sit comfortably in the outfit; it tends to ride up in all the wrong places.
As with anything, there were pluses and minuses to the job. Hendry seemed most at ease of all the former Bunnies talking about both. She worked at the club for seven years and said she made $1,000 to $2,000 a week, as a table Bunny (often carrying 30 drinks on her tray at a time) or as a cigarette Bunny.
"People were giving me $50 tips just by (my) saying (seductively), 'Cigars, cigarettes, cigarillos, Playboy lighters?' In New York we were classified as celebrities. We were really pioneering in those days. Where in the world could we make that kind of money? It was the money I needed to go to school. It was a means to an end, and they helped you make that bridge."
Reading back through Steinem's expose (which still stands up as an entertaining piece of writing), one senses that she never quite embraced the idea that for many, being a Bunny was a performance, nothing more.
Kathryn Leigh Scott was among the former Bunnies in town last week. She worked at the New York club starting in 1963 when she had just turned 19 and went through Bunny training with Steinem.
"When her article came out, we were a little bit disappointed and dismayed that she hadn't portrayed us as she knew us to be," said Scott. Almost 30 years later, Scott ran into Steinem. "She turned around looked at me like she knew me and I said, 'You wouldn't remember me, I was Bunny Kay, we were in Bunny training together,' and she stepped way back and then said, 'Well, are you doing anything now?'"
That prompted Scott to write "The Bunny Years: The Surprising Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs and the Women Who Worked as Bunnies and Where They Are Now," a compilation of interviews with more than 250 former Bunnies that is being reissued this month. Scott made it clear that she thinks Steinem got it wrong, but it took repeated attempts to get Scott to name specific points.
As part of the interview process, Steinem was required to have an "internal exam" by a doctor on the Playboy payroll, which also included a test for venereal disease. "It's for your own protection," she was told. Scott said she never had (nor was asked to get) a gynecological exam as a prerequisite, but Hefner admitted to the policy in a letter to Steinem after her piece ran and thereafter abolished the practice.
Steinem also talks about the issue of tips. Bunnies who served drinks were allowed to keep 100 percent of their cash tips, but only half of any tips added to a charge account. And coat check Bunnies were not allowed to keep any portion of their tips, but were instead paid a flat rate of $12 per shift: "I was to put all the tips in a slotted box attached to the wall, smile gratefully and not tell the customers that the tips went to the club," Steinem wrote. The coat check pulled in $1,000 in tips the night she worked. (Interestingly, the club's coat check service was just for men: "Only if the club was uncrowded and the coats were not fur was the Hat Check Room available to women.")
In 1963 two ex-Bunnies sued for back tips and "misrepresentation" of the amount of money a Bunny could earn. Eventually the Bunnies went on strike, said Hendry, who participated. But as Steinem heard, the tips were bigger in Chicago: "They're dumber there," a Bunny said. "I mean, it's easier to make them think you'll go out with them, and then they tip you more."
The Chicago club, being the original, was the basis for all others — in look and setup. It subsequently moved over the years, ending up in Lincoln Park (at Clark Street and Armitage Avenue) before closing for good in 1986. But as the Tribune reported last month, a new Playboy Club is expected to open in Chicago by early next year.
Whether or not this reincarnation is viable remains a question. "You are holding the top job in the country for a young girl," the Bunny manual from the early 1960s announced, a statement that probably seemed enticing at the time but sounds ridiculous today.
The NBC show, however, aims to dig up glamorous '60s-era anachronisms of Bunnies fending off handsy clientele, like one of Steinem's overheard conversations in the dressing room: "A girl with jet-black hair, chalky makeup and a green costume stopped at the door. 'My tail droops,' she said, pushing it into position with one finger. 'Those damn customers always yank it.'"
Twitter @NinaMetzNews
Copyright © 2011, Chicago Tribune
6  General Category / Sports / 5 Sorta Realistic Ways to Make Baseball Less Boring on: September 09, 2011, 04:54:11 pm
Matthew Milam's Thoughts On Everything
5 Sorta Realistic Ways to Make Baseball Less Boring

By DanTello, Thursday at 8:50 am
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Unlike football, if your hometown baseball team sucks, you have no desire to watch baseball unless you are over the age of 50. My dad is a White Sox fan who watches Cubs games despite their shittiness and hating them. He can''t help himself, he's over 50. In fact, I think all white dudes over 40 exclusively watch their hometown sports team, Two and Half Men, and reruns of Everyone Loves Raymond.
Anyway, for those of us who tune out on the MLB season once our teams fall out of the race, we need some rule changes in the good ol' MLB to keep us entertained. Here are my 5 best ideas.
5. No more "warning" the benches: Currently, the stupidest rule in all of professional sports is when a pitcher throws a 97mph fastball at a batter's head, and both teams get "warned". So now the next guy on either team who throws at a batter is immidetely thrown out of the game and suspended. Essentially, a pitcher throwing a temper tantrum on the mound can try and kill a player on the other team, not get punished, and also guarnatee that if anyone retaliates, the retliator, not the instigator will be thrown out. Is this Russia? Let's take the warning system out, let the players police the game themselves, and reinstitute a little "eye-for'an-eye" justice.

4. If you charge the mound, and don't throw a punch, you are suspended for 10 games: I don't know when charging the mound turned into a shoving match and a lot of empty threats that looks more like two rival frat bros after they bump into each other at a bar: Lots of pushing, crazy eye staredowns, and calling each other "bro".
From now on, if you charge the mound, you are fighting the pitcher or you are getting an upaid suspension for 10 games. Fans don't deserve the massive let down of an empty mound charge. We need more Kyle Farnsworth sparing Paul Wilson types of fights. Thank you, Kyle. That was the one day that being a Cubs fan actually made people feel tough.

3. One pitcher per inning: No more changing relief pitchers per batter depending on the lefty-lefty or righty-righty match-up. You guys are professionals; learn how to hit and pitch to both lefties and righties. It will shorten the game by 30 minutes and get to see way more pitchers have pyschological breakdowns on the mound.

2. 10-run slaughter rule: If a team is up by 10 runs or more after the 6th inning, the game is called and the losing team gets credited with an additional loss. So a slaughter rule loss = 2 regular losses. This will make blowouts way more exciting, and keep both teams trying and playing their best players for every inning of every game.
1. Inject some National Rivalries: They say rivalries in baseball have been diluted by the Wild Card system and interleague play. Even Yankees/Red Sox games have lost some of the slap-your-sister/wife/girlfriend/dad fervor and urgency they once had. So let’s make it personal. Remind players why they should hate each other. When Chien-Ming Wang was on the mound in his heyday facing Ichiro, both fans and players alike should have been reminded of Japan’s cockheaded 1895 invasion of Taiwan. Wang might not even know about it himself. Or, we could just keep thinking all Asian MLB players are friends, speak the same language, and never witness the first-recorded (surely karate style) Asian-on-Asian fight in MLB history.
7  Politics / the Barack Obama Administration / Obama’s deal with ‘nutters’ is bad for America on: August 01, 2011, 04:55:28 pm
Obama’s deal with ‘nutters’ is bad for America
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Obama’s deal with ‘nutters’ is bad for America
Cap Times editorial | (11) Comments | Posted: Monday, August 1, 2011 5:30 am Hamburg
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is all smiles as he walks to the Senate floor to announce that a deal has been reached on the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sunday, July 31, 2011.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
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“Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time,” said Harry Truman. If the 33rd president was right, then Barack Obama just did himself and his party a world of hurt.
Faced with the threat that tea party-pressured Republicans in the House really would steer the United States toward default, Obama had to do something. But instead of bold action — borrowing a page from Ronald Reagan to demand a straight up-or-down vote on raising the debt ceiling; borrowing a page from Franklin Roosevelt to pledge to use the Constitution to defend the full faith and credit of the United States — the president engaged in inside-the-beltway bargaining of the most dysfunctional sort.
In cutting a deal with Republicans that places Democratic legacy programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — at risk while cutting essential programs for working families and the poor, Obama has positioned himself to the right of where mainstream Republicans such as Howard Baker, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush used to stand in fights with the fringe elements of their party.
Now the fringe is in charge of the GOP. And Obama is cutting deals to satisfy Republicans that Britain’s banking minister describes as “right-wing nutters.”
Obama and Democratic congressional leaders are claiming that they have done everything in their power to avert deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And it is true that they have given the Republicans (and their paymasters) less than House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan was demanding with a proposal that turned Medicare into a voucher program and began privatizing Social Security.
But a compromise without total destruction can still do a lot of damage.
The president’s bow to the political extremism — and the economic irrationality — of a tiny circle of “right-wing nutters” in Congress will, according to reports based on briefings by White House and GOP aides, “raise the debt limit by about $2.7 trillion and reduce the deficit by the same amount in two steps. It would cut about $1 trillion in spending up front and set up a select bicameral committee to put together a future deficit-reduction package worth $1.7 trillion to $1.8 trillion. Failure of Congress to pass the future deficit-reduction package would automatically trigger cuts to defense spending and Medicare.”
An aide familiar with the deal told The Hill newspaper that the Medicare cuts would not affect beneficiaries. “Instead,” according to the report, “health care providers and insurance companies would see lower payments.” But that’s still a squeezing of Medicare.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chair Raul Grijalva says Obama and his negotiators have bent too far. Like many progressives, Grijalva favored a straight up-or-down vote on the debt ceiling. “Had that vote failed,” he argued, “the president should have exercised his Fourteenth Amendment responsibilities and ended this manufactured crisis.”
Instead, the president blinked. And in so doing Obama agreed to what Grijalva described as “a cure as bad as the disease.”
“This deal trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it,” Grijalva declared Sunday. “Progressives have been organizing for months to oppose any scheme that cuts Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it now seems clear that even these bedrock pillars of the American success story are on the chopping block. Even if this deal were not as bad as it is, this would be enough for me to fight against its passage.”
How widespread that sentiment will be within the House Democratic caucus remains to be seen. While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has signed on with the president, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says she must meet with caucus members before taking a position.
Congresswoman Donna Edwards, D-Maryland, slammed the deal: “Nada from million/billionaires; corp tax loopholes aplenty; only sacrifice from the poor/middle class? Shared sacrifice, balance? Really?” she tweeted Sunday.
Grijalva objected, in particular, to the lack of shared sacrifice.
“This deal does not even attempt to strike a balance between more cuts for the working people of America and a fairer contribution from millionaires and corporations. The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways. Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost. I will not be a part of it,” the Arizona congressman explained. But Grijalva’s gripe was political as well.
“For decades Democrats have stood for a capable, meaningful government — a government that works for the people, not just the powerful, and that represents everyone fairly and equally. This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country,” explained Grijalva. “We have given much and received nothing in return. The lesson today is that Republicans can hold their breath long enough to get what they want. While I believe the country will not reward them for this in the long run, the damage has already been done.”
How much damage? How much damage to vulnerable Americans? How much damage to the global reputation of the United States as a functional state? How much damage to a U.S. economy that is threatened by rising unemployment? How much damage to the image of the Democratic Party as a defender of working families?
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Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted in Editorial on Monday, August 1, 2011 5:30 am Updated: 7:57 am. Barack Obama, John Boehner, Debt Ceiling, Paul Ryan, Raul Grijalva

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8  Messages / Causes & Activism / Recalls aside, give GOP puppet masters an A+ on: August 01, 2011, 04:54:39 pm
Madison360: Recalls aside, give GOP puppet masters an A+
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Madison360: Recalls aside, give GOP puppet masters an A+
PAUL FANLUND | The Capital Times | | (34) Comments | Posted: Monday, August 1, 2011 9:00 am Men&t_url= Men&t_url=
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Blog: Madison360
Paul Fanlund is the editor of The Capital Times, the fifth editor in its history. A long-time Madisonian, he was a State Journal reporter and editor before taking a business job with Madison Newspapers for six years. He joined the Cap Times in 2006. With Madison360, he offers insights into the Cap Times and CT-fueled sites such as and sports, and shares information, observations and links to help readers better engage in our always interesting city.
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One way or another, this month's recall elections will give us metrics on the unwavering hard right politics of Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans in the Legislature.
But for another group, the unseen puppet masters who authored this year's grand governing strategy, the mark already must be an A+. That's because even if Democrats retake the state Senate in recall elections, the damage done will take years to unwind.
I'm really not sure whom to compliment: the hard liners at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the millionaires who fuel the Wisconsin Club for Growth or the billionaire Koch brothers. Or, more likely, it's a cabal that includes them all plus more shadowy figures. For that matter, we do not know whether this was a 2010 invention, or, as some suggest, it had roots years ago when the GOP elite decided to purchase control of the state Supreme Court.
What we do know is that these forces are all about concentrating ever more wealth and power in the hands of the few through lower taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals, business-dictated regulation, fewer consumer protections and an emasculated labor movement.
This whole year has been a landslide victory for the haves over the have-nots. Looking back, one has to credit the GOP cabal for many things, starting with the element of surprise.
Rep. Peter Barca of Kenosha, minority leader of Assembly Democrats, recalls a conversation last fall amid a series of campaign appearances before Realtor groups. Rep. Robin Vos, the Rochester Republican who now co-chairs the Joint Finance Committee, foreshadowed 2011.
"I can remember after one of those sessions, he said to me, 'Peter, it's looking good for us and bad for you. If we get the control, we're going for broke,' " he recalls Vos saying. 'We are going to push the envelope.'" Barca adds: "I remember going to my car and thinking, what does that mean exactly?"
Now he knows: "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine they were talking about this far on every single issue," he tells me in a conversation in my office.
Or consider Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democrat who lost to Walker, saying it was a full month after his defeat, at a press club luncheon, when Walker first talked about decertifying public employee unions. "Wow, that didn't get mentioned" during the race, Barrett told me he was thinking.
So, the groundwork was laid by the 2010 elections in which the GOP won the governorship and control of both houses, just as Democrats had in 2008. The GOP brain trust then proceeded, per its plan, to totally ignore the nearly half of the electorate that voted for the other side. They pushed a radical right agenda as far and as fast as they could, damn the consequences. After all, this was about fundamental realignment, not about the political fate of Walker, whose poll numbers are now dropping.
A strategic pillar was selling a phony rationale — Wisconsin is "broke" — to justify unprecedented action. (A search of our digital library had 72 stories so far in 2011 that includes Walker's name with the words "state" and "broke.")
Another piece of the plan, the most well-known, was targeting public sector employees and especially their labor unions. The GOP elite's war on the middle class could not succeed absent a villain. In a fundraising appeal last week, Walker was still talking about those evil "public employee union bosses" pouring millions into efforts to recall Republican senators.
Wages and job prospects have been eroding for private workers for years while the wealth gap between them and the affluent has widened dramatically. So let's turn people against teachers and police officers and, from now on, refer to the rich as "job creators" whether accurate or not.
So, armed with a trumped-up crisis and a villain, the Republicans have approved what Democrats cite in Legislative Fiscal Bureau numbers as $2.3 billion in corporate special interest "giveaways" over the next decade, all while cutting back on tax credits for the working class and seniors.
As Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, a Madison Democrat, puts it to me, "Republicans in Wisconsin ... are basically a single-issue party for tax breaks for the wealthy, whether it is for corporations or individuals."
They then reduce public school funding and revenue authority by $1.6 billion while increasing taxpayer money for private schools. So what if your child's class cannot afford basic supplies and class sizes jump, Walker and allies have stuck it to those "union bosses."
Meanwhile, GOP voices frame things for reporters and editorial boards as "common sense" responses to crisis and insist that it is Democrats who refuse to compromise. This "Alice in Wonderland" approach has worked to confound Democrats. "You have so many in the media who have been willing to swallow hook, line and sinker this very disingenuous argument that we are broke," says Barca.
The next step, and I suspect this matters little to the GOP cabal, is to move aside as right-wing legislators push pro-gun and anti-choice actions to satiate tea party types. It doesn't put more money or power into their hands, but hey, it may help solidify their control.
Then they help pass unwarranted voter identification legislation that will suppress turnout on the other side and draw legislative boundaries that are the most blatantly partisan in state history. These actions may be inside baseball to the general public, but could be crucial in withstanding an eventual backlash caused by ignoring half the electorate.
And what about swing voters? Democrat Roys says Republicans have "paid so much attention to their special interests, they know they will have unlimited funds and can change minds and convince the small number of swing voters they need" with a tsunami of unregulated campaign ads.
Finally, if Republicans do retain a majority in the Senate, which is quite plausible given the conservative tilt of the battleground districts, they can declare themselves vindicated.
Damn effective, I have to say.
We will see this month if Democrats are able to make the case that Republicans' real goal is not reinventing Wisconsin's collapsing manufacturing economy, but instead to further concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few, to make Wisconsin a sort of Mississippi of the north, unfettered by organized labor influences that, while imperfect, lift wages, benefits and working conditions for all.
"I don't think, overall, we have won that argument," says Barca.
The GOP cabal's over-arching strategy is greedy, cynical, and — to date at least — seems to be working.
Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted in Madison_360, Blogs on Monday, August 1, 2011 9:00 am Updated: 10:30 am. Prison, Paul Fanlund, Koch Brothers, Scott Walker, Republican Party, Politics, Recall Election, Peter Barca, Robin Vos, Wisconsin Club For Growth, Tom Barrett, Kelda Helen Roys,

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9  Media & Film / the History of Film / Kennedy, Monroe and the mind-control memo on: July 25, 2011, 04:59:04 pm
Marilyn and MJ12
Kennedy, Monroe and the mind-control memo
By Robin Ramsay   June 2011   
Baron/Getty Images

I know there hasn’t been much glamour in this column, but how about Marilyn Monroe, JFK and UFOs? The Daily Mail revived this one on 19 April with “Was JFK killed because of his interest in aliens? Secret memo shows presid­ent demanded UFO files 10 days before his death”. JFK was proposing joint Soviet-American space exploration (in 1963!)[1] and, though the memo’s intent isn’t entirely clear, he seems to have been asking the CIA to review their UFO files in the hope of providing information about the ‘unknowns’ – presumably unidentified sightings – to persuade the Soviets that the UFOs they were seeing were not US espionage devices: “It is import­ant that we make a clear distinction between the knowns and unknowns in the event the Soviets try to mistake our extended cooperation as a cover for intelligence gathering of their defense and space programs.”

The veracity of this document has been questioned,[2] but it did arrive from the CIA after a Freedom of Information request, so it might be genuine.
From this, the Mail slid seamlessly into the MJ-12 (Majestic) disinformation quagmire, informing its readers about the ‘burned memo’, in which the Director of Central Intelligence (MJ1) writes to other MJ members and warns them inter alia: “As you must know, LANCER [Secret Service code for the presid­ent] has made some inquiries regarding our activities which we cannot allow.”[3]

Never mind that the account of this document’s discovery – allegedly pulled from a fire while the CIA were burning sensitive material – is an insult to our intelligence; as we know that the MJ-12 material was cooked-up by the USAF, it’s obviously a fake.

At this point the “Daily Mail reporter” who wrote the story missed a trick. For, had s/he searched a little further, s/he would have come across the Marilyn Monroe-JFK-UFO memo.[4]

This purports to be notes made from a transcript of a phone-tap of a conversation between journalist Dorothy Kilgallen and her friend Howard Rothberg. It includes this paragraph:

“Rothberg indicated in so many words, that she [Marilyn Monroe] had secrets to tell, no doubt arising from her trists [sic] with the President and the Attorney General. One such ‘secret’ mentions the visit by the President at a secret air base for the purpose of inspecting things from outer space. Kil­gallen replied that she knew what might be the source of visit. In the mid-fifties Kilgallen learned of secret effort by US and UK governments to identify the origins of crashed spacecraft and dead bodies, from a British government official. Kilgallen believed the story may have come from the New Mexico story in the late forties. Kilgallen said that if the story is true, it would cause terrible embarrassment for Jack and his plans to have NASA put men on the moon.”

Did JFK really talk about national security issues with Marilyn Monroe? This seems implausible to me, and one second-hand source, quoting Rothberg, says the document is a fake.[5] It hardly matters. If you look carefully at the fuzzy, often photocopied text,[6] right at the bottom on the left is what appears to be “MJ-12”. Yes, the “M” is indistinct, but the “J-12’ is quite legible. It’s another product of the Majestic disinformation mill!

1 Google “NSAM 271” for details.
2 See
3 The “burned memo” is displayed at
4 See
6 See
10  Media & Film / Cinema / ‘Captain America’ is solid, old-fashioned on: July 22, 2011, 04:56:20 pm
‘Captain America’ is solid, old-fashioned
CHRISTY LEMIRE | Associated Press Movie Critic | No Comments Posted | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 7:00 am
MAIDMENT — Associated Press/Paramount Pictures
From left, Tommy Lee Jones portrays Colonel Chester Phillips, Hayley Atwell portrays Peggy Carter, and Chris Evans portrays Steve Rogers in “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
2 1/2 stars
Stars: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones.
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequence of sci-fi violence and action
How long: 2:06
Opens: Friday
Where: Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema, Cinema Cafe
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Let Tony Stark make the wisecracks and Nick Fury give the intimidating commands.
As Steve Rogers, Chris Evans brings an earnest dignity and intelligence to “Captain America: The First Avenger,” the final Marvel Comics set-up for next summer’s all-star blockbuster “The Avengers.” There’s little humor here outside a few moments in which this superhero discovers the full breadth of his powers and the presence of Tommy Lee Jones, who shows up and does that bemused, condescending thing he can do in his sleep.
Director Joe Johnston’s film feels weighty and substantial, even in the dreaded and needless 3-D, and it has a beautiful, sepia-toned, art-deco look about it. The lighting, production design, costumes, even the perfect shade of red lipstick on retro-chic Hayley Atwell all look just right. Plenty of action awaits, but it’s not empty or glossy. You are not in for a giddy, winking, high-flying summer fling. And that’s OK — there’s something appealing about such an old-fashioned approach.
Evans, who previously played a Marvel comic-book hero as the smart-alecky Human Torch in both “Fantastic Four” movies, takes a very different tone here as the World War II fighting hero. Rogers is a scrawny kid from Brooklyn with dreams of military glory who keeps getting rejected each time he tries to sign up for service. (In a creepy but seamless special effect, Evans’ head is placed on a skinny body; that deep, serious voice of his gives the character gravitas and heart.)
Scientist Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees something special in him, though, and enlists him for a daring experiment. Through some high-tech injections, Steve is transformed into a super soldier known as Captain America. Despite his newly buffed physique, the government believes the best use of this human weapon is to send him out on tour selling war bonds.
But Rogers isn’t the only one who’s been juicing: Hugo Weaving plays the former Nazi leader Johann Schmidt, who will reveal himself to be the villainous Red Skull. He’s formed his own splinter group, Hydra, and insists that his minions greet him with a Hitler-style salute. He’s built some formidable weaponry with the help of Toby Jones as his put-upon scientist assistant.
The rest of the abundant supporting cast includes Jones as Col. Chester Phillips, who’s skeptical of the kid’s abilities; Dominic Cooper as the clever and charming inventor Howard Stark; and Atwell as British agent Peggy Carter. Atwell’s gorgeous looks make her a great fit for the part, but her character is better developed than you might imagine; she’s no damsel in distress, waiting for Captain America to save her, but rather a trained fighter who’s very much his equal.
But “Captain America” is far more engaging when it’s about a scrappy underdog overcoming the odds than it is about generic shoot-outs and exploding tanks. It only scratches the surface in trying to examine the perils of premature fame. And in satirizing our country’s tendency to fetishize patriotism, “Captain America” doesn’t have much that’s new to say: We worship and cling to our heroes, whether or not they want or deserve our adulation? Is that it?
Still, such a reserved take on the subject might just be preferable to heavy-handed preaching. And we’re surely in store for an over-the-top spectacle when “The Avengers” hits theaters next year. ‘Til then, this is a nourishing appetizer.
Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted in Reviews on Friday, July 22, 2011 7:00 am Updated: 11:15 am

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11  General Category / Sports / Re: Jimmy Butler finds a new home, hope on: June 28, 2011, 04:53:38 pm
Forman confident Bulls will sign Mirotic in 2-3 years
1st-round pick under contract with Real Madrid through 2015

Bulls draft pick Jimmy Butler, right, shows his new Bulls jersey to Michelle Lambert, whose family took in Butler as a teenager. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune / June 27, 2011)   
By K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune reporter
6:37 p.m. CDT, June 27, 2011
There are myriad reasons general manager Gar Forman sounded confident the Bulls eventually will sign Nikola Mirotic, whose rights were acquired Thursday from the Timberwolves when the Bulls moved up in a draft-day trade.

Mirotic is under contract with Real Madrid through 2015 with a buyout of roughly $2 million Euros, according to sources. The Bulls' plan is to let him develop overseas for at least two to three seasons before negotiating a buyout. They took a similar approach with Asik, who just finished his rookie season after the Bulls acquired him in a draft-day trade in 2008.

Dukan is the Bulls' longtime international scout who has a longstanding professional relationship with Real Madrid officials.

"We can't say for sure when he'll be able to come over, but we're hopeful he'll be a big part of what we're doing," Forman said Monday at the Berto Center. "In our speaking with him, his desire and dream is to play in the NBA at some point."

Monday marked Forman's first public comments about Mirotic, whom the Bulls projected as a lottery talent whose contract status scared off teams.

"He's a 6-foot-10-inch power forward who has a great offensive package," Forman said. "He shoots it with range. He can handle and pass. He's already playing at a high level in the Euroleague in the ACB, which is probably the second-strongest league in the world behind the NBA. Historically, it's very unusual for players of that age to be playing such a significant role at that level."

Both Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau pointed to Mirotic's need to get stronger physically but believe he will complement Derrick Rose with his shooting ability.

"His skill set fits us well," Thibodeau said. "He also complements Carlos (Boozer). He's highly skilled, great touch. But he's more than a spot-up shooter. He can put it on the floor. I like his frame. He looks like one of those guys who will get better and better."

Quick connection: Jimmy Butler stood in the Houston airport when the text message landed on his phone: "Congratulations. Welcome. Maybe come by (Sunday night) and chill out for a bit and get to know each other."

Rose sent it.

So Butler, the Bulls' first-round pick, spent Sunday night watching the BET awards show with Rose and Randall Hampton. The latter is Rose's best friend and former teammate at Simon High School, who just happened to play with Butler in Butler's lone season at Tyler (Texas) Junior College.

"I've talked to Randall ever since I left junior college and went to Marquette," Butler said. "He's been one of my best friends throughout this process and he's forever one of my teammates and like a brother to me.

"We went to Derrick's house and just talked about basketball, my life. Randall and I were joking about our junior college days. It's crazy that I used to watch Derrick on TV and now I'm a teammate. He's a good dude. He's just like me for the most part. He just wants to win."

School spirit: Like Butler, Dwyane Wade is a Marquette product. He's also a member of a Heat team that eliminated the Bulls from the Eastern Conference finals. Light-heartedly asked if he liked or disliked Wade, Butler, who will wear No. 21, laughed.

"A little bit of both, I guess," Butler said. "He's a great player. I'm hoping to help shut him down in the future. He's a normal person. He's a great human being. He always comes back and talks to us like he played with us."

Twitter @kcjhoop
12  General Category / Sports / Re: Jimmy Butler finds a new home, hope on: June 24, 2011, 04:55:03 pm
Bulls, Butler a perfect fit
In Jimmy Butler, the Bulls found a player with the skills Tom Thibodeau covets
Comments30 Jon Greenberg
Jimmy Butler In His Own Words
Andy Katz sits down with NBA Draft prospect Jimmy Butler to talks about his rough beginnings in Tomball, TexasTags: NBA, Draft, Jimmy Butler, Andy KatzJimmy Butler In His Own Words
Jimmy Butler In His Own Words
Jimmy Butler In His Own Words
Andy Katz sits down with NBA Draft prospect Jimmy Butler to talks about his rough beginnings in Tomball, TexasTags: NBA, Draft, Jimmy Butler, Andy Katz
Fantasy Hoops: NBA Draft
Fantasy Hoops: NBA Draft
Adam Stanco and Keith Lipscomb put the fantasy spin on the 2011 NBA DraftTags: Adam Stanco, Keith Lipscomb, Fantasy, Fantasy Hoops, Fantasy NBA
Call Me Metta World Peace
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Thompson Excited To Go No. 4
Thompson Excited To Go No. 4
Tristan Thompson talks about being selected No. 4 overall in the draft and is looking forward to playing with Kyrie IrvingTags: First Take, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson
CHICAGO -- On Wednesday evening, as Tom Thibodeau prepared to throw out the first pitch at the Cubs-White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field, Bulls assistant coach Ed Pinckney was asked which players blew them away in pre-draft workouts.
Pinckney stared ahead, shrugged his shoulders and looked toward his boss, as if to say it doesn't matter how high these hopefuls jumped or how many jumpers they hit in a practice gym.
"They have to be able to play for him," he said.
  • Enlarge\l ""
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireJimmy Butler has overcome tremendous obstacles to reach the NBA.That's no easy task. As the Bulls found out last season, Club Vinny was closed and Camp Thibs was no vacation. Playing for Thibodeau is a man's job, and the Bulls were looking for a rookie who could fit into a championship-caliber team.
The Bulls might have found their guy in Jimmy Butler.
Yes, for the 30th straight year, the Bulls were elated the guy they targeted fell to them, in this case, a 6-foot-8 swingman who played three years just up the road from the Berto Center, at Marquette.
The Bulls took Butler with the 30th and final pick of the first round, after trading the 28th and 43rd picks to grab 6-foot-10 small forward Nikola Mirotic with the 23rd pick. (The deal has yet to be approved by the NBA, but league sources told ESPN's Nick Friedell that is a mere formality.) While Mirotic will remain in Europe (he plays for Real Madrid) for the time being, Butler was chosen for the present.
The Bulls see Butler, who averaged 15.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a senior, as a small forward on offense with the ability to defend every position except center, and the 21-year-old is saying all the right things already, talking defense and shutting down LeBron James.
"I think I'm a guard; that's how I'm going to make my mark in this league," he said. "I'm going to put in that work to be able to guard LeBron, Dwyane Wade and all those guys so the Bulls can get to that championship.
"I'm working on my outside shot, so I'll be able to knock it down, but I think the biggest thing is defense," he continued. "I'm going to be a pest, take up everybody's space and make them work for every little thing. I think that's where everything is going to go for me. If I want to get out there, it's going to be on the defensive end, getting stops and running after defensive rebounds."
Why not just buy Thibodeau flowers and chocolates while you're at it, Jimmy.
Of course, that's the kind of attitude the Bulls were targeting, and Bulls general manager Gar Forman allowed that they were thinking about a big swingman who could defend James, so he doesn't act like Michael Jordan again next June.
"It was discussed as we went through the process," Forman said. "And that's not to put pressure on a guy that just got picked, that we're going to throw him out there and expect him to guard LeBron, but we think got a lot of versatility defensively and we think that's a real plus for us."
Bulls draft pick Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler, whom the Chicago Bulls drafted with the No. 30 pick in Thursday's NBA draft, joined "Chicago's Gamenight" on ESPN 1000 minutes after he heard David Stern call his name.
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The Bulls did their homework on Butler. Forman knows every junior college coach in the country, and Butler's coach Mike Marquis is a close, personal friend. So he had been on their radar before he went to Marquette.
"After following him for several years, we got the chance to meet with him a couple times during the process," Forman said. "When we did, each time we met with him, he really kind of blew us away. We really feel he's going to fit in the locker room and the culture of this team, and fit on the floor."
The Bulls, as expected, will look for a true scoring guard in the free-agent market whenever the labor situation is figured out. But Forman thinks Butler's midrange game will help spread the floor at the 2 or 3 spot, while he contributes on defense.
Butler's story goes beyond the box score, though. As ESPN's Chad Ford recounted last week, Butler was essentially homeless at 13 after his mother kicked him out. He eventually found a surrogate home with a classmate's family and persevered, spending a year at Tyler Junior College before winding up at Marquette.
Before you get carried away, don't insult him by comparing his story to the Michael Lewis book-turned-tearjerker movie "The Blind Side." Butler's story is his own and should be treated as such. Trust me -- you're going to hear more about it in the coming months, especially if he turns out to be a legit player and not another James Johnson.
Butler said he was hesitant to share his background story during college, but he knew he had to open up to the NBA talent evaluators, and he's happy for it.
"It was tough for me because I never really talked about it," he said. "I kept it inside and tried to keep it a secret, but I knew it had to get out at some point. It just happened to get out now. I'm glad it got out, to tell you the truth, because I've been holding it in for a very, very long time. Everyone was inspired by it, but that's just me. This is my story, this is my family and I wouldn't change anything for the world."
Butler watched the draft with his surrogate family in Tomball, Texas, as his past and future intersected. When his name was called, his head was clear.
"The thought that ran through my head was, 'My dream came true,'" he said.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for

Bulls draft bio: Jimmy Butler
June, 23, 2011
Jun 23

Player: Jimmy Butler
Position: SF
Pick: 30
Background: A native of Texas who played his college ball at Marquette
Birth date: Sep 14, 1989
Strengths: On paper, Butler appears to be a Tom Thibodeau type of player. He is a versatile perimeter player who defends effectively. As a senior with the Golden Eagles, he averaged 15.8 points per a game, scoring both inside and outside. He has overcome great adversity in his life to get where he is. That obviously speaks very highly of both his determination and his character. He could be used as a backup for Bulls small forward Luol Deng next season. ESPN's Chad Ford rated him as the eighth best small forward in the draft.
Weaknesses: At 6-8, Butler is a bit of a ‘tweener. He lacks great quickness and explosiveness, according to Ford. He's not a great outside shooter, having hit 20 of 58 3-point attempts as a senior.
Career highlight: Butler had 30 points and six rebounds in Marquette's loss to Cincinnati this past March. He also scored double digits in all three of Marquette's NCAA tournament games this season.

13  General Category / Sports / Jimmy Butler finds a new home, hope on: June 24, 2011, 04:54:33 pm
Jimmy Butler finds a new home, hope

Homeless as a teen, Jimmy Butler lives out his hoop dreams with a new family Chad Ford
Jimmy Butler In His Own Words
Andy Katz sits down with NBA Draft prospect Jimmy Butler to talks about his rough beginnings in Tomball, TexasTags: NBA, Draft, Jimmy Butler, Andy KatzJimmy Butler In His Own Words
Jimmy Butler In His Own Words
Jimmy Butler In His Own Words
Andy Katz sits down with NBA Draft prospect Jimmy Butler to talks about his rough beginnings in Tomball, TexasTags: NBA, Draft, Jimmy Butler, Andy Katz
Fantasy Hoops: NBA Draft
Fantasy Hoops: NBA Draft
Adam Stanco and Keith Lipscomb put the fantasy spin on the 2011 NBA DraftTags: Adam Stanco, Keith Lipscomb, Fantasy, Fantasy Hoops, Fantasy NBA
Call Me Metta World Peace
Call Me Metta World Peace
First Take discusses Ron Artest's decision to change his name to Metta World PeaceTags: Ron Aretst, Andy Katz, Ric Bucher, Skip Bayless, First Take, Metta World Peace
Thompson Excited To Go No. 4
Thompson Excited To Go No. 4
Tristan Thompson talks about being selected No. 4 overall in the draft and is looking forward to playing with Kyrie IrvingTags: First Take, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson
"I don't like the look of you. You gotta go."
Those were the last words Jimmy Butler says he remembers his mother saying to him before, according to his recollection, she kicked him to the curb.
He was 13 years old. There was no family to run to. No place to call home. No money in his pocket.
Most kids his age are concerned with school, sports, girls. Butler was just trying to survive. Alone.
Butler pauses as he speaks to me from a hotel room in Cleveland. He sounds unsure about doing this interview. For years, he's kept the story out of the headlines. Several times he tells me he's not sure it's the right time to talk.
He's focusing on NBA draft workouts. He just flew in from New Jersey, where he worked out June 8. Two days later, he tried out with the Cavs. His coach at Marquette, Buzz Williams, always told him to take everything one day at a time.
"That's literally what I live by," Butler said. "One day at a time. The NBA is a goal of mine. But I'm not there yet. I can't lose my focus."
Butler has 13 days until the draft, when he's likely to hear his name called somewhere between the late first round and early second round.
His workouts, by virtually all accounts, have been stellar. He won the MVP award at the Portsmouth Invitational. He impressed scouts with a strong performance at the Chicago pre-draft combine. He's drawn praise from virtually every NBA scout and GM who has worked him out.
But it's been the interview process that has created the most buzz. Representatives from team after team told me he was one of the most impressive young men they've ever met.
"His story," one GM said. "is one of the most remarkable I've seen in all my years of basketball. There were so many times in his life where he was set up to fail. Every time, he overcame just enormous odds. When you talk to him -- and he's hesitant to talk about his life -- you just have this feeling that this kid has greatness in him."
Butler is fine with that interpretation. But there's another one that he fears.
"Please, I know you're going to write something. I'm just asking you, don't write it in a way that makes people feel sorry for me," he said. "I hate that. There's nothing to feel sorry about. I love what happened to me. It made me who I am. I'm grateful for the challenges I've faced. Please, don't make them feel sorry for me."
Pity hasn't gotten Butler anywhere in life. Courage has.
Butler finds a family
After leaving his Tomball, Texas, home at 13, Butler did his best to keep his head above water. With his father out of his life since he was an infant, he stayed with friends as long as he could. Usually within a few weeks, he was moving on to a new place -- anywhere to lay his head down at night.
Basketball became his life, and Butler showed a lot of promise. The summer before his senior year in high school, he was attracting attention as a potential star in Tomball -- but not from the usual suspects. Division I coaches had yet to make contact, but a ninth-grader named Jordan Leslie was scouting him.

Courtesy Michelle LambertSoon after Jordan Leslie (left) challenged him to an impromptu 3-point contest, Jimmy Butler became a part of his family.
Leslie was from Tomball, too, and was following Butler closely. At the end of a summer league game he approached Butler and challenged him to a 3-point-shooting contest. Butler was taken aback by the brashness of the kid. He agreed to the contest. Leslie was an athlete too, an up-and-coming hoops and football star.
After the game, the two became fast friends. Leslie began inviting Butler to his house to play video games and to stay the night. Butler's life would never be the same.
Leslie's mother, Michelle Lambert, paused at first. She had four kids of her own from her first husband, who had died. Her new husband had brought three children of his own with him. Money was tight. The word around Tomball was that Jimmy was trouble. Her new husband finally told the kids that Jimmy could stay, but only for one or two nights at a time. But each night when Butler would come to stay, a different kid would say, "Tonight's my night to have Jimmy stay." After a few months, the Lamberts gave in, and Michelle told him he could stay for good.
Butler needed a family, and Lambert was offering hers.
But not before she set some ground rules. For the first time in his life he'd have a curfew. He had to attend class and improve his academic performance. He'd have chores around the house. Most importantly, Michelle told him, he had to be a role model.
"I told him my kids looked up to him," Lambert said. "He had to stay out of trouble. Work hard in school. He had to set an example. And you know what? Jimmy did it. Anything I asked him to do, he did it without asking questions."
"They accepted me into their family," Butler said. "And it wasn't because of basketball. She was just very loving. She just did stuff like that. I couldn't believe it."
With some family support for the first time, Butler became a star for the Tomball High School Cougars. As a team captain his senior season, he averaged 19.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and was named to the all-district first team.
But it wasn't enough to draw the attention from colleges he had hoped. Scouting services didn't rank him. He didn't play AAU ball, which hurt his chances of being seen. He had an outside shot at playing at Mississippi State, but didn't get a scholarship offer. With nowhere to go again, Butler took the only route he could and enrolled at nearby Tyler Junior College.
Once again, with his back to the wall, Butler not only survived; he thrived. In his first conference game for Tyler, he scored 34 points.
"After that I had a few 30-, 40-point games," he said. "It gave me the confidence that I can play at a high level."
As a freshman, Butler was Tyler's leading scorer and was an honorable mention juco All-American. College coaches around the country began to notice. By April of 2008, Butler had offers from Marquette, Kentucky, Clemson, Mississippi State and Iowa State.
Once again, Lambert became a guiding force in Butler's life.
"He had a lot of offers, but I was impressed by Marquette for academic reasons," she said. "That's a great academic school. I told him he should go there because basketball may not work out long-term. He needed a good education and a degree to fall back on. "
Soaring to new heights

Rick Osentoski/US PresswireButler could always score. But the versatility he showed at Marquette drew scouts' attention.
Butler listened and became Williams' first recruit for Marquette. But things didn't start as well as Butler may have hoped. He was used to being the man, but in Milwaukee, he had to sit and watch from the bench as a sophomore. At times, he was frustrated. He'd call Lambert and tell her he wanted to come home.
"Buzz was tough," she said. "He had never had a man tell him no. I did all the time. But often his coaches just enabled him. It was another chance for him to mature."
Said Williams: "I've never been harder on a player than I've been on Jimmy. I was ruthless on him because he didn't know how good he could be. He'd been told his whole life he wasn't good enough. What I was seeing was a guy who could impact our team in so many ways. "
Butler averaged just 5.6 points in 19.6 minutes a game for the Golden Eagles, coming off the bench behind two future NBA players, Wes Matthews and Lazar Hayward. Again, a difficult situation became a positive experience.
"I was tutored by the best," Butler said. "Those guys taught me so much about how to play and how to be a man. I knew that to be successful, I had to be more than a scorer. I had to become a leader. It's not about scoring. It's about doing what my team needs me to do. I wanna be that glue guy, I want to be a guy my team and my coach can count on. That's what I want to be."
By his senior season, Butler had shed the "scorer" label and drew attention from NBA scouts because of his versatility. He could still score -- Butler averaged 15.7 points in 2010-11 -- but he could also rebound, handle the ball and defend multiple positions. He played without ego. He was a winner.
"I saw him at a game versus Providence. He did everything," one NBA scout said. "He guarded Marshon Brooks. He was special. So many guys come into the NBA with role-player talent and think they're a star. I knew this kid could come in and fit, right away, on a good team. That's the appeal."
Scouts were coming to watch him play all year, but Butler was totally unaware. He said he had no idea he was projected as an NBA player until after the college season had ended.
"I was just so focused on our team, on us winning," Butler said. "It's not that it wasn't a dream. Like I said, I was just trying to live one day at a time."

Maggie Casey/Marquette AthleticsOn Marquette's senior night, Butler was surrounded by his new family and coach Buzz Williams.
The highlight of Butler's college career came on senior night when Lambert walked him out on the court.
"That night was a complete blur," Lambert said. "I cried the entire time. He had accomplished so much. I was both happy and proud. Everyone doubted him. His coach and principal in high school said he'd never amount to anything. And there he is, with the crowd cheering.
"But I was also sad and scared. Your baby is gone and now he faces the horrible world. Jimmy always talks about what we did for him. I'm not sure he understands what he did for us. He changed our life, too. We are better people for having him in our family."
Said Butler: "We are all attached at the hip. I give her the credit for helping me become who I am. I love her. You would think that she gave me birth. I talk to her every morning. She's very loving. That's my family. That's Michelle Lambert. She is my mom."
'I know I can overcome anything'
So don't feel sorry for Jimmy Butler. He's about to make a career out of the sport he loves. He has a loving family that's given him a place to belong. And any doubt that he had in himself is now long gone. He believes.
"It's taught me that anything is possible," Butler said. "My whole life, people have doubted me. My mom did. People told me in high school I'm too short and not fast enough to play basketball. They didn't know my story. Because if they did, they'd know that anything is possible. Who would've thought that a small-town kid would become a halfway decent player in college and now has a chance to be drafted in the NBA? That's my chip. That's what motivates me. I know I can overcome anything if I just take everything one day [at a] time."
"I hope someone gives him a chance," Lambert said, trying to fight back tears. "No one gave him a chance. I guess we did, and look what happened. He finally had someone to make [proud of him]. If an NBA team gives him a chance, he'll do the world for them. That's what he did for me."
On June 23, Butler will return to the Lambert home in Tomball to watch the NBA draft with his family. There will be no fanfare. No entourage. No fancy suits. Just his mother and seven brothers and sisters. Sharing a meal. Holding hands. Believing.
14  Media & Film / Cinema / Re: Lantern or Hornet: Films about emerald-hued heroes are no gems on: June 17, 2011, 04:55:01 pm
I just came back from a midnight showing and as far as I'm concerned, this is a ***½ movie. If you like Green Lantern, you'll love this movie. Also, a bit of advice: Don't leave when the movie ends, there is more. A lot of people got up as soon as the credits rolled and they missed a key scene.
15  Media & Film / Cinema / Lantern or Hornet: Films about emerald-hued heroes are no gems on: June 17, 2011, 04:54:27 pm
Lantern or Hornet: Films about emerald-hued heroes are no gems

'Green Lantern' -- 3 stars

Ryan Reynolds stars in "The Green Lantern."    
Michael Phillips Movie critic
9:01 a.m. CDT, June 16, 2011
Green just isn't the superhero color this year.

Ryan Reynolds, above, who had yet to headline a major franchise effort, has the action-star stuff to shoulder a product launch such as this.
He does. Even with his somewhat reedy voice he's an easygoing, charismatic presence, and a real actor. But the film itself is disappointingly routine, as well as jarring in its violence. Only in fits and starts, mostly in the most earthbound scenes between Reynolds and /topic/entertainment/blake-lively-As test pilot Hal Jordan, destined to become an intergalactic "space cop" sporting a ring that does a lot more than decode, Reynolds has a way of playing a hotshot — who's also a self-defeating screw-up — that seems plausible and likable. The actor's lightly sardonic comic touch matches up well with Lively's; she plays fellow pilot, ex-girlfriend (though the spark remains) and aerospace heiress Carol Ferris, who is thrilled with the superhero developments (wee green mask and all) in her unreliable ex's life.
"Green Lantern" is a relationship picture, in which the man learns to be a better, more vulnerable and honest man en route to saving the planet from a fire-breathing, soul-sucking whatzit called Parallax. All the other 3,000-plus Green Lanterns, the sentinels of the universe, cannot find a way to deal with this punk, not even Hal's fellow Green Lanternite who goes by Sinestro (/topic/entertainment/mark-strong-
Mark Strong, a credible and compelling presence). In this end of the cosmos those who slip on the evil yellow ring represent and promulgate fear, yucky and addictive and destructive. Green is good — pure, valiant willpower, like the next generation of energy drinks.
Those unfamiliar with "Green Lantern" mythology, begun by DC Comics in 1940, may experience the film's chaotic, exposition-larded first 30 minutes as pure homework for the test to come, with quick bullet points about planet Oa, the universe's 3,000-plus sectors, the oath … it's a load. The faraway planets of Oa and others look like all the other places we've been on screen lately, from /topic/entertainment/movies/thor-%28movie%29-
"Thor" (which I enjoyed, even in its squareness, more than "Green Lantern") on back.
If the movie's a popular success, it'll be because audiences dig Hal's ability to turn anything he can think of into adversary-vanquishing reality. Meaning: In a training sequence (/topic/entertainment/michael-clarke-duncan-
Michael Clarke Duncan voicing a computer-generated badass) and later, in real battle against the infected, sniveling, yellow-eyed scientist played by /topic/entertainment/peter-sarsgaard-
Peter Sarsgaard (largely in full Elephant Man makeup), the trouble keeps coming, via death bolts or whatever. And Hal simply thinks of a brick wall, or a ridiculous machine gun, and poof: It's made manifest, and the problem is momentarily solved. In the most bombastic of the action scenes, a careening helicopter carrying the U.S. senator played by Tim Robbins transforms into a Hot Wheels vehicle steered clear of carnage on a green, sky-borne track. This saves the day, certainly for product placement.
Realizing this isn't a very sophisticated argument, I find the "Green Lantern" selling point — think it, and it happens! — to be a bit of a dead-end. If everything's possible, then somehow everything's a little less magical. And "Green Lantern" isn't much fun; the head-bashings and pummelings pile up high, and harshly. Reynolds and Lively and their unforced, considerable chemistry got me through the rough stuff. But barely. Take this review with a grain of salt. As I said, I enjoyed "Thor."
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action)
Cast: Ryan Reynolds (Hal Jordan); Blake Lively (Carol Ferris); Peter Sarsgaard (Hector Hammond); Mark Strong (Sinestro);Angela Bassett (Dr. Waller); Tim Robbins (Sen. Hammond)
Credits: Directed by Martin Campbell; written by /topic/entertainment/greg-berlanti-Greg Berlanti, /topic/sports/michael-green-PESPT002766.topic/topic/sports/michael-green-

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