Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Last year, the rate of murders and manslaughter was 5.0 per 100,000 Americans, down from 9.8 in 1991. Overall, the rate of violent crimes fell more than a third during that time, from a rate of 758 per 100,000 in 1991 to 429 last year. This number includes homicides, rapes, robberies and assaults.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Bodog.com has released its odds on who will win the 2011 NBA championship, and the star-studdedMiami Heat, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, are their favorite to win it all, at 7-4 odds.
The Lakers, who are going for a three-peat (it would be Coach Phil Jackson’s fourth career three-peat), is the second favorite to win next June, at 11-4. They're followed by the Orlando Magic (11-1), the Boston Celtics (12-1) and theChicago Bulls (15-1). The youthful Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets follow at 18-1.
By the way, the Clippers are listed at 100-1, and Kurt Rambis’ woeful Minnesota Timberwolves squad pulls up the rear (with the Sacramento Kings, New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors) at 150-1.
Celticstown.com has its own take on the next champ and, surprise, lists "10 Reasons why the Boston Celtics will win the 2011 NBA Championship."
Reason No. 1: "To lose a Game 7, to the Los Angeles Lakers, in LA, after leading by 13 midway through the third quarter is as devastating as it gets. ... That pain, that memory can only be cleansed by raising banner 18."
MIAMI -- The fireworks took place on Wednesday night. The fallout occurred on Friday.
Major League Baseball levied a series of fines and suspensions in the aftermath of the benches-clearing altercation between the Marlins and Nationals on Wednesday night at Sun Life Stadium.
From the Marlins, Chris Volstad was fined $4,000 and suspended for six games. Alex Sanabia was suspended for five games, while Gaby Sanchez received a three-game suspension. Sanabia's suspension will begin on Sept. 8. The reason is the league didn't want to overlap two Marlins starting pitchers.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez was suspended for one game and fined $1,500. Bench coach Brandon Hyde managed the team on Friday. Jose Veras wasn't suspended, but he was tagged with a $1,000 fine.
Sanchez and Sanabia each received $3,000 fines.
"I think the umpires and the league did what they had to do," said Rodriguez, who served his suspension on Friday when the Marlins faced the Braves. "All the players are going to be appealing their suspensions. The league did what they had to do, to get this over and start playing baseball."
All the players are appealing, which means they can play until the appeal process takes place.
Volstad is hoping to at least have his suspension and/or fine reduced.
"Fair or not, I don't know what it is," Volstad said. "I'll serve it and go through that process."
The firestorm started on Wednesday after Volstad threw behind Washington's Nyjer Morgan, who charged the mound. Morgan was suspended for eight games and fined $15,000.
Nationals reliever Doug Slaten and third-base coach Pat Listach received three-game suspensions. And Washington manager Jim Riggleman was handed a two-game penalty.
Sanchez was highly visible during the skirmish, as he knocked down Morgan, who'd already thrown a punch at Volstad. The Marlins first baseman said he was protecting his pitcher, and not looking to apply a clothesline move.
"In a situation like that, you don't want to see your teammates go down," Sanchez said on Friday. "After that, I'm done with it. I want it to be over, and to play baseball."
The Marlins face the Nationals Sept. 10-12, and chances are Sanchez could miss that series if his suspension is upheld. The appeals process is expected to take place just prior to Florida being in Washington.
Sanabia, meanwhile, was actively pulling players off each other. And he was entangled with Washington's Adam Dunn.
"I thought he just landed on me," Sanabia said.
Sanchez said he has seen enough of the replays and he is ready to play baseball.
"After the first day, it was kind of like, 'Enough with it. I've seen it. I've lived through it.' The biggest thing was, for me, is that no one got hurt, and everybody was OK," the rookie first baseman said. "What you don't want to see is guys get hurt in that situation."
The Marlins clearly were upset by the way Morgan conducted himself during the series. On Tuesday, the Washington outfielder collided with catcher Brett Hayes, who suffered a separated shoulder.
The matter with Morgan would have been resolved, to many Marlins, after he was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning. But Morgan swiped two bases with his team trailing by 11 runs.
But when he scored, Morgan stared into the Marlins' dugout, and he made expressions to the crowd as he entered his dugout.
"That definitely upset people," Sanchez said. "He did what he thought he needed to do, and we did the same. In baseball, you're going to have situations like that. It's not the first time, and it probably won't be the last time where situations like that happen in the game. It's the bad part of the game."
Thursday, September 2, 2010
KABUL, Afghanistan — One of the principal owners of the Afghan bank at the center of an accelerating financial crisis here said depositors had withdrawn $180 million in the past two days. He predicted a “revolution” in the country’s financial system unless the Afghan government and the United States moved quickly to help stabilize the bank.
Khalil Frozi, one of the two largest shareholders of Kabul Bank, said reports indicating that the institution had lost as much as $300 million were overstated. But he predicted that if Afghan depositors continued to withdraw their money at the current rate, then Kabul Bank would almost certainly collapse — undermining confidence in the nascent financial system Afghanistan has been trying to build with American help.
“If people lose their trust in the banks, then we will have revolution in our financial system,” Mr. Frozi said in an interview. “We need the Afghan government and the U.S. government to support us. That is essential.”
The news came as Afghan leaders took the first steps toward arresting the panic, which began earlier this week when the country’s top banking officials demanded the resignations of Mr. Frozi, the bank’s chief financial officer, and of the bank’s chairman, Sherkhan Farnood.
Afghan and American officials say the two men presided over the bank in a reckless and free-wheeling manner, doling out millions to allies of President Hamid Karzai and pouring money into risky investments that went bust. The bank’s nosedive — and the corruption associated with it — are posing a direct challenge to the country’s fledgling financial system, which was built under American guidance following the collapse of the Talibangovernment in 2001.
In a news conference here, President Hamid Karzai promised that the Afghan government would guarantee all deposits at the threatened institution. He said the Afghan government had already given Kabul Bank more than $100 million to ensure that it could pay the salaries of some 250,000 public employees. The bank administers the payments for the government.
“People don’t need to be worried,” Mr. Karzai said. “We’ve got enough cash to support the bank.”
“Even if the whole financial system in Afghanistan collapses, we have enough money to support it,” he said.
Mr. Karzai, who appeared with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, said the crisis had been invented by the Western press, which he said had raised baseless fears among ordinary Afghans.
“The Western press has been covering it in a negative and provocative way,” he said of Kabul Bank’s troubles.
Still, it was not clear that the Afghan government had the legal authority to guarantee Afghan deposits, or the financial wherewithal to shore up the banking system if confidence were to collapse.
Mr. Frozi said Kabul Bank retained about $1.1 billion in deposits. That figure alone would represent a quarter of Afghanistan’s foreign currency reserves, which Mr. Karzai said totaled $4.8 billion.
If the loss of confidence spread beyond Kabul Bank, it seemed almost certain to strain the resources of the Afghan government —and make it more likely that the Americans would be forced to intervene. There were no indications yet that the panic was spreading, but American and Afghan officials say privately that other Afghan banks might face similar troubles.
For now, American officials ruled out any direct financial assistance. They said they were providing technical assistance to the Afghan government but nothing more.
“We are taking no steps to bail out Kabul Bank,” a White House spokesman said. “We support the Afghan Central Bank’s efforts to uphold international standards on transparency and its decisive action in response to reports of fraud at the Kabul Bank.”
Most Afghans do not keep their money in the banking system, and Kabul Bank is tiny by international standards. But creating a credible and stable banking system is an important goal of the American-led effort in the country, which is seeking to help Afghanistan develop a modern economy.
Kabul Bank, one of the biggest private financial institutions that sprang up after the fall of the Taliban, stands at the very center of Afghanistan’s political and economic elite. A brother of Mr. Karzai, Mahmoud, is a major shareholder, as is Haseen Fahim, the brother of the country’s vice president. The bank lent Mr. Fahim, a prominent businessman, as much as $100 million, officials say.
The bank helped finance President Karzai’s re-election campaign last year, giving him as much as $14 million, according to former senior Afghan officials. Mr. Karzai, in turn, chose the bank to administer much of its payroll, which Mr. Frozi desribed as one of the bank’s most lucrative fields of business
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Sony has launched a new music and video download service as it gears up to challenge Apple's iTunes.
The announcement, made at the IFA technology fair in Berlin, was timed to coincide with an Apple media event in the US.
The cloud-based service will be available on PlayStation 3s, Bravia TVs, Blu-Ray players and Sony's personal computers.
Initially it will offer movies. Music will be added at the end of the year.
Sony's online services platform Qriocity has offered video-on-demand in the US since April this year but will now be available in Europe.
The Music Unlimited service, due at the end of the year, will give users access to millions of songs.
"Via Qriocity, Sony will deliver a variety of digital entertainment content and services... including video, music, game applications and e-books over time," said Fujio Nishida, president of Sony Europe.
It is not the first time that Sony has tried to break into the digital music market.
In 2004 it launched an online music download service in the US, called Connect.
It did not prove popular with consumers and Sony pulled the plug on it in 2007.
Commenting on the new service, Forrester analyst Mark Mulligan said it was a "necessary strategic move".
"It has done a wise thing launching a multi-media rather than just a music service. Apple has the glue of iTunes but Sony doesn't have this and it has recognised the need to join the dots between all its disparate devices," he said.
In Australia and New Zealand, Sony has been trialling another music service called bandit.fm, which allows users to stream unlimited music for a fixed cost.
It is rumoured that Amazon is also about to enter the movie and music streaming fray, with its own download service.
Details of Sony's latest service and the costs will be announced later.