Monthly Archives: April 2009

Ballin’ Mayoral Candidates

Two former NBAers are vying for the mayoralties of two of America’s largest cities. In Detroit, former Piston Dave Bing just picked up the endorsement of the Free Press, and in Seattle former Sonic and Washington State Cougar James Donaldson announced his candidacy.

Obviously, it’s Bing who, if victorious, has the toughest, most impossible job ahead:

Detroit’s problem is rooted in the transformation that the US economy is undergoing.

Old manufacturing regions such as this have been declining for some time.

There is a budget crisis. Rising unemployment and population loss have reduced the amount of tax revenue coming in. Vehicle sales are falling in an area whose economy is dominated by the so-called “Big Three” car manufacturers. House prices have been tumbling.

In Detroit, the population too has been falling for years. In the middle of the last century almost two million people lived in the city. Today it is less than a million, as people have moved out to the suburbs.

Detroit’s challenge is to manage the loss of people, jobs and revenue, without allowing the city to fall further into despair. It is a tough job.


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Cricket Diplomacy: The U.S. and Pakistan

Pakistan is destabilized, riddled with terrorist elements, and in possession of nukes, and not even the Dems can agree on how those problems should be handled. But perhaps there’s hope in … cricket? Here’s the Times of India on a new U.S.-hosted cricket tournament that begins in October:

Seven Pakistani players – Inzamam ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir and Saqlain Mushtaq – are said to have signed up for the new league, which will be held twice a year. In fact, the proposal APL seems to be designed to rescue Pakistani cricketers from international isolation in the face of Indian clout.

This may sound like small potatoes but after losing host status for the 2011 World Cup, Pakistan is looking for any sort of enfranchisement when it comes to the beloved sport of cricket.


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Morning Money Quotes

Montreal Canadiens coach and GM Bob Gainey on the booing of the U.S. national anthem by Habs’ fans:

“I feel like there’s a confusion there with our fans. They feel like booing the anthem is supporting our team, in that the anthem represents the Boston team. And I think if they could separate those two things, then we could respect the anthem of the United States of America and they could still participate loudly in whatever way they want to disrupt the Bruins.”

Ron Judd reports on female ski jumpers’ lawsuit against the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee:

The suit, which presents interesting legal jurisdiction questions, alleges that allowing men, but not women, to jump in the Games is a violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which bars gender-based discrimination.

UEFA’s new plan of action should some European soccer fans continue making racial taunts:

“We will call for play to be stopped for 10 minutes when these things happen, and for announcements to be made in the stadium. If it continues, then the match will be stopped.”

Richard Whitall on the American misunderstanding of global soccer:

Obama has taken a lot of flak this week for breaking the Golden Rule of US foreign policy; never be on equal footing, never admit past mistakes. To do otherwise is to put America on level playing field, thereby threating its “unique” status as a “beacon on the hill.” Sport is very important in this regard. Soccer represents for many American exceptionalists a stand-in for the socialistic intrusions from the outside—Europe, South America, Asia. This symbolism has been unwittingly helped along by several soccer tourists on the American left (see Franklin Foer), who, rather than delve into the complex and tangled workings of the global game, instead draw a simplistic line between “good” soccer cultures and “bad” soccer cultures, those with racist chants and violent histories and those with family-friendly, grassroots support (ie Barca), one good, one bad, one right, one left. Just pick the “good” soccer culture and you’re in left-wing sports fan paradise.

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A Move Against Olympic Terror

The Obama Administration has levied sanctions against Abdul Haq (not to be confused with this Abdul Haq), who attempted to launch terrorist attacks during the Beijing Games:

The Treasury Department’s target was Abdul Haq, head of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party. The action means that any bank accounts or other financial assets found in the United States belonging to him must be frozen. Americans also are barred from doing business with Haq, who is Chinese.

With that off the docket, Obama can now focus on forging a non-proliferation treaty with Lehman Brothers.

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NBC’s Creative Accounting

NBC is claiming it lost a boatload on the most recent Super Bowl telecast:

The GE-owned network purportedly lost $45 million on the Feb. 1 telecast, despite monster ratings and a record $206 million in ad sales. The loss contributed to a 45 percent plunge in first-quarter profit for NBC Universal, according to corporate parent GE, which released earnings yesterday.

The claim is ridiculous on its face. As the Post piece speculates, this is probably all about NBC’s trying to strike a blow against escalating rights fees. It’s a lie, but NBC is hoping it’s a useful lie. In some ways it’s appropriate, in that NFL owners–and owners in almost every professional sports league–routinely lie about their financials as a way to apply downward pressure to labor costs. They’re all losing money, they say, and that’s why greedy Player X needs to soften his contract demands. It’s an ageless refrain.

Anyhow, it’s curious how NBC gets promptly called out for its lies, and, for instance, Latrell Sprewell is roundly ridiculed for his “feed my family” remark. But when your local grandfatherly sports team owner shrugs and shows you the linings of his empty pockets, the media is mostly sympathetic and unquestioning.

(HT: With Leather)

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Jay-Z on Phelps

Rapper/Nets minority partner Jay-Z sounds off on the semi-recent Michael Phelps/doobage tempest in a teapot:

“You look at all these people who graduated from Princeton and Harvard, who are supposed to be pillars of the community – every day [they’re] in the newspaper arrested for some kind of financial fraud,” the New York Daily News quoted him as telling told Cigar Aficionado magazine.

“Then you look at someone like Michael Phelps. He’s 23. What’s he gonna do? He’s a kid. He’s going to experiment,” he added.

The last part of his quote rings especially true. Phelps is young, rich, and famous. That he smokes weed–once, twice, on occasion, with tidal regularity, whatever–should be neither surprising nor a source of outrage. This whole nonsense reached a nadir when Matt Lauer solemnly tsk-tsked Phelps, and then Kellog’s dropped him as a sponsor. More recently, Usain Bolt learned the costs of offending Puritan sensibilities. If nothing else, it’s absurd that Phelps’ pot-smoking generated more outrage than his 2004 arrest for DUI.

I just wish that some interviewer, in the course of Phelps’ penitential media tour, had asked him, “Isn’t all of this really f***ing stupid?”


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Hungary’s Horse Hopes

“Failure is the most often heard expression in Hungary today — failure, mistake, pessimism. When even a horse is able to make a miracle from nowhere, it’s a sign of hope that we can get out from the desperate situation we are now in.”

That’s Victor Orban, leader of Hungary’s Fidesz Party, talking about Overdose, the race horse that’s captured the beleagured Hungarian imagination. Overdose’s owner purchased him as an afterthought–for the meager price of $3,500–and despite being, in his trainer’s words “short” and “kind of ugly,” the horse has since gone on to win 12 races in 12 starts. In the process he’s come to be known as the “Hungarian Seabiscuit.” For a country facing a particularly grim economic future, Overdose has become a galvanizing force:

There is a clear patriotic tilt to the horse’s reception. He rode out Sunday with an honor guard of six flag-bearing riders dressed as Hussars, the famous Hungarian light cavalry, as tens of thousands screamed.

“For us Hungarians, it’s a big deal,” said Livia Nagy, 23, one of the thousands who came out for the race. “Overdose is something we can be proud of.”


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