Choice of letter does the public no favor

I could only shake my head after reading the letter from Denny Wedemeyer ("Circuit attorney's office embarrasses itself," Feb. 26) about the paper's editorial calling for the governor's resignation. First, he refers incorrectly to a "premarital" affair by Gov. Eric Greitens. The affair, as has been acknowledged by the governor himself, took place in 2015, four years into his second marriage. More significantly, Wedemeyer would have us believe the indictment has to do with his victim's lack of clothing, rather than the governor's invasion of this woman's privacy in violation of the law. The letter's contorted logic even goes so far as to compare the governor to Rembrandt. It's like looking at the indictment of Paul Manafort and imagining it stems from a criticism of Manafort's desire to borrow money, rather than his grossly dishonest behavior. While I expect the Post-Dispatch to present views from opposing sides of controversial issues, it does the public no favor when printing letters that are based on demonstrably false assumptions. Alan Freed  •  St. Louis Continue Reading

Critics say helpers of homeless do them no favors

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mohammed Aly does not see any reason why he shouldn't try to ease the lives of Orange County's homeless. But the authorities — and many of his neighbors — disagree. Aly, a 28-year-old lawyer and activist, has been arrested three times as he campaigned on behalf of street people. Recently, he was denied permission to install portable toilets on a dried-up riverbed, site of an encampment of roughly 400 homeless. "Put yourself in their position: Would you want a toilet, or would you not want a toilet?" he asked. "It is a question of basic empathy." But his detractors — engaged in a dispute that rages up and down America's West Coast, as the region struggles to cope with a rising tide of homelessness — say Aly and other do-gooders are doing more harm than good. However well-meaning, critics say, those who provide the homeless with tents and tarps, showers and toilets, hot meals and pet food, are enabling them to remain unsheltered. And not coincidentally, they note, nuisances of homelessness like trash and unsanitary conditions fester and aberrant behavior continues. In California, the San Diego County community of El Cajon passed a measure that curtails feeding the homeless, citing health concerns. In Los Angeles, city officials have closed and re-opened restrooms for those on Skid Row amid similar controversies. The issue is hotly debated across Orange County, a cluster of suburbs and small cities known more for surf culture and Disneyland than its legions of poor. In the tony seaside enclave of Dana Point, neighbors fear a nightly meal is drawing homeless to a popular state beach where teens play beach volleyball and families picnic and surf. On the dusty riverbed 30 miles (48 kilometers) north, a van furnished with shower stalls parks alongside the homeless encampment; those living in the string of tattered tents add their names to a list of dozens waiting to bathe. While the mobile unit aims to help those living Continue Reading

Looser bank regulation will do shareholders no favors: James Saft

By James Saft (Reuters) - The Trump administration’s vision of a rollback in banking regulation isn’t just dubious medicine for the economy, it will do shareholders no favors. That’s because unleashing banks will likely bring on future rounds of boom and bust on Wall Street, creating the kind of volatile, low-quality earnings shareholders dislike and punish with lower valuations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in June released a regulatory reform blueprint which would exempt many banks from some stress tests of their ability to withstand economic and market foul weather. He also called for further exemptions giving most banks a free pass on the “Volcker Rule” prohibiting some kinds of speculative trades and holdings, as well as steps towards “transparency” which would likely make Federal Reserve stress tests less rigorous. Randal Quarles, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Federal Reserve Vice Chair of Regulation, is thought to be sympathetic to the view that regulation is holding back economic growth. Quarles, echoing Mnuchin, told his Senate confirmation hearing transparency should be a “theme of the Federal Reserve’s regulatory activities”. What the administration can accomplish is unclear, but history shows investors neither like nor highly value free-wheeling big banks. Our largest banks and investments banks have generally traded at multiples of earnings far below that of the stock market, and hugely below more highly regulated sectors like utilities. The root issue here is the preference of investors for a stable stream of earnings from a growing company, as opposed to the preference of bank insiders for speculation and volatility. Insiders do well when banks are unleashed. Risk-taking drives up revenues, boosts annual bonus payments, and also creates the earnings and stock market volatility which makes the share options many traders and executives are paid in more valuable. Continue Reading

College Football Countdown | No. 88: North Carolina State

Dave Doeren opened North Carolina State's cupboard and found some stale bread, an open container of mustard, a half-eaten sac of pretzels and a bag of stale potato chips. It wasn't totally bare, but it's time to go grocery shopping.As much as any program in the Atlantic Coast Conference – and perhaps most of all – N.C. State needs a roster overhaul. The holdovers from the previous coaching regime fell flat in Doeren's system; a portion of the blame does fall on the new staff, to be fair, but the general lack of cohesive depth was the primary culprit behind the Wolfpack's winless turn through ACC play. COUNTDOWN: Complete list (so far)Some help is already here. More is on the way. N.C. State's end-of-year two-deep featured seven true freshmen, most devoted to the offensive skill positions. February's recruiting class was better, though the program is stuck in a bit of conundrum – since the region's best recruits won't choose Raleigh until the winning ways return, but the winning ways may not return until more talent arrives on campus. Call it N.C. State's Catch-35 – the number of years since the program's last ACC title.It's time for Doeren and the Wolfpack to close the borders. This starts in recruiting: Doeren's first full class added depth, but only four of North Carolina's top 20 recruits signed with the Wolfpack, per The state's best prospect, five-star running back Elijah Hood, ended up at North Carolina.And then there's the football product. Of N.C. State's nine losses last fall, four stand out among the pack: UNC, Duke, Wake Forest and East Carolina. All teams inside the state; all losses. Not since 1943 had N.C. State lost four or more games to in-state rivals in the same season. That season included setbacks to Camp Davis and North Carolina Navy Pre-Flight, but still: NCSU needs to reassert its place in the pecking order.LAST YEAR'S PREDICTION: Here's how I see the schedule: N.C. State should go 5-2 against the group Continue Reading

College Football Countdown | No. 62: Rice

You'd have to go back 15 years to find the last Rice defense that played with such aplomb, and another 30-plus years before that to find a defense that played with such aplomb during a winning season – because winning Rice seasons are admittedly few and far between, rarer even than the Owls' occasional defensive stinginess.Yet it wasn't the offense that carried the Owls to the third 10-win season in program history, the second under eighth-year coach David Bailiff, in 2013. It was the defense: Rice finished fourth in Conference USA in total defense, trimming its per-game total by roughly 15%, and finished fifth in scoring, allowing one fewer touchdown per game.Last year's defense allowed only two opponents, both from the SEC, to score more than 34 points; five opponents did so in 2012, with the Owls dropping four of five, and a combined 16 did so from 2010-12. In the Conference USA title game, Rice held high-octane Marshall to 371 yards of offense on 4.76 yards per play – the Thundering Herd's second-worst performance in each category during an otherwise explosive season.This might be why the program's latest 10-win season seems more like the start of a trend – a trend toward annual bowl participation – and less of a flash in the pan. The 2008 breakthrough qualifies as the latter: Bailiff's follow-ups included a 10-loss season and back-to-back four-win years before an uptick into the postseason in 2012.Yeah, it feels a little different. The Owls took 10 games in 2008 thanks only to an unstoppably effective offense; the status quo returned once the quarterback and receiver left the building. Last year's 10-win finish and conference title had a different feel – still explosive, still aggressive, still pushing the ball offensively, but tempered by the balance provided by a stouter defense. If that's the formula for the future, the Owls are in good shape.LAST YEAR'S PREDICTION: Getting back to six wins shouldn't be too difficult, though Continue Reading

Thunder’s Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP, but award show does him no favors

Russell Westbrook deserved the hardware.As we discussed more than two months ago, when this debate was front and center and the Oklahoma City Thunder star was putting the finishing touches on one of the more memorable MVP races in NBA history, his triple-double season for the ages deserved to be rewarded. But for the love of Oscar Robertson, was this timing tough or what?It wasn’t Westbrook’s fault that the league decided to wait 75 days to settle the argument by way of the NBA Awards show on TNT, with the 28-year-old beating out fellow finalists James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. But synergy was sacrificed in the name of the almighty dollar. And by the time Westbrook got his hands on the Maurice Podoloff Trophy that belonged to the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry these past two years – nearly seven weeks after the announcement last season – the optics changed on the MVP race in the kind of way that gave the formal crowning a hollow feel.It’s all a disastrous disservice to the players who deserve better. Latest NBA coverage: Consider what has transpired since Westbrook was seizing the spotlight during the regular season by becoming just the second player in league history to average a triple double (31.6 points points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists per game).Westbrook’s Thunder, which came within eight wins of the 2015-16 Oklahoma City team that had former MVP Kevin Durant before his departure to the Warriors last July, fell in five games to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. That Thunder-Rockets affair was unofficially seen as the MVP showdown series between Westbrook and Harden, even if all the votes had already been tallied for the award that only takes the regular season into account. And by the look of it, Harden had played his way into a better light.But then Harden hit a wall of his own, as his Rockets fell to the San Antonio Spurs in six games Continue Reading

Mark Sanchez has been dreadful, but Woody Johnson, Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum have done beleagured quarterback no favors

Mark Sanchez has played frighteningly bad for much of this season. But he’s also been sabotaged by his owner, coach and general manager with the ridiculous trade for Tim Tebow and then being surrounded by the worst set of skill position players in the NFL. It’s almost as if Woody Johnson, Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum set him up to fail, which they didn’t do intentionally, of course, because Johnson is the only one with job security.he named him to start Sunday in Jacksonville after he was benched in the third quarter last week against the Cardinals and Greg McElroy came in and bailed out the Jets. Sanchez, who has regressed the last two seasons, will audition for the 2013 starting job over the final four games, unless in the interim he has another three-interception bad body language meltdown like he did against Arizona, in which case Ryan will bench him again. Ryan is giving Sanchez another chance. The leash is getting shorter. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Fox broadcast sheds no light on power outage during Cowboys-Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium

It was bizarre seeing a National Football League game played in a brand new billion-dollar stadium morph into a tilt contested on a high school field with bad lighting. Yes, this in a stadium where patrons must purchase PSLs to gain admittance. Part of the PSL "experience" now includes watching a game in the dark. What a bargain! "I don't know if it's at a point where it's too dark to play," Fox's Joe Buck said Sunday evening as the lights were going out in the Meadowlands during the third quarter of Cowboys-Giants. "But it's pretty close." The Foxies handled the situation, a 12-minute power outage, as if it was a mere nuisance. Still, the blackout should be a complete embarrassment to the NFL and the owners of the new joint. Before the juice was completely lost, Fox rolled out its unofficial official, Mike Pereira, to explain how the NFL deals with power loss. He only talked procedural matters, not fan safety. When the lights were totally gonzo, Fox switched to Rams-49ers. When power was restored, Buck reported that a "generator blew outside the stadium." Troy Aikman indicated some players had panicked. "They didn't know what was going on nor did anyone else," Aikman said. "But they hit the ground. A number of those guys did." There was no fear in the voices of Aikman/Buck - only confusion. They were fishing in unchartered waters, but could've raised some points/questions. Why would officials allow even one play to commence without proper lighting? Isn't this the state-of-the art NFL where everything - supposedly - is done first class? If either Buck or Aikman didn't want to dump on the league, or Giants brass, he could've put Pereira, a former NFL suit, on the spot and actually asked him a tough question. Like what does the NFL think about leaving 82,500 fans in the dark? Isn't there a safety issue to consider? Or how exactly could this electric funk be taking place in a new NFL palace, home of two teams? Buck/Aikman, who have praised the Continue Reading

No small feat getting into Townsend Harris High School; 3,000 8th graders list it as first choice

Forget about applying to college - competition is just as intense for a seat at this New York public high school. Townsend Harris High School in Queens had spots for fewer than 10% of the students who listed it as their first choice for this school year, stats show. The Queens school wasn't only the most competitive for the class of 2014 - it also had nearly 3,000 first-choice applications, the most of any nonspecialized high school. "We are very fortunate to have talented and motivated kids and they want to be in the company of kids that have the same talents and ambitions," said Principal Kenneth Bonamo, crediting the school's success in part to its size. "Eleven hundred is big enough to offer a variety of courses and activities but small enough that everyone knows each other." New York requires kids entering high school to rank each choice, and the Daily News obtained the most recent numbers. Townsend Harris was the top pick of the city's 395 regular public high schools. The city's nine selective schools - which require admissions tests or an audition - weren't included in the rankings. The school, which focuses on the humanities, accepts top-notch students with a 90 or above average, excellent attendance and great standardized-test scores. "Our homework load and our course load can be challenging," Bonamo acknowledged. "It's the philosophy that kids who can handle that type of rigor should be exposed to it, and we do them no favors by letting them coast." The school boasts a college prep program that culminates with students taking two classes a term at Queens College during their senior year. Preparing for college, says editor Laura Zingmond, is part of the draw for the school. "If you do well [at Townsend] you are a candidate for admission to a top college," she said. "You're pushed and if you excel, you get into an amazing school." Also topping the city's most popular list are Manhattan's Food and Finance, a career Continue Reading


SIGHTS, SOUNDS AND IMPRESSIONS from Eric Mangini's first Jets minicamp, which ended yesterday at Hofstra: Chad Pennington's days as the teacher's pet are over. The rehabbing quarterback still hasn't performed in live drills for his new coach - it was a rookie minicamp, no veterans - but it became clear from listening to Mangini that Pennington isn't going to enjoy the same benefit of the doubt he received last training camp from Herm Edwards. Mangini praised Pennington's attitude, but he has no loyalty to the oft-injured passer and vowed to start the best player. Pennington, he of the twice-repaired throwing shoulder, will duel Patrick Ramsey in the Jets' first quarterback competition since Ken O'Brien vs. Browning Nagle in 1992. Kellen Clemens is the anti-Matt Leinart. You're not going to read about the rookie quarterback on the gossip pages. Clemens is a married man with small-town values. He grew up on a 3,500-acre cattle ranch in Burns, Ore. (pop. 4,000), two hours from the closest shopping mall. His next trip to Manhattan will be his first. "I don't think I'll have that man-about-town image," he said, sounding like a young Pennington with his team-first clichés and polite manner. (Clemens actually referred to the veteran as Mr. Pennington.) Of course, the small-town background can work the other way, too. Is Clemens' skin thick enough to play quarterback in the big city? On the field, Clemens displayed quick feet, a compact delivery and take-charge skills. "What I liked out of Kellen this weekend was his presence and his ability to run the operation," Mangini said. "That's been really positive." D'Brickashaw Ferguson: Bodyguard or wallflower? Or both? Off the field, the Jets' new stud left tackle was quieter than a Dewayne Robertson performance. Ferguson, the fourth overall pick, didn't seem too inspired by all the media attention. He was a lot less talkative than he was on draft day, which may not be a bad thing. "He's very Continue Reading