Molinaro: Cousins has changed the playing field with his contract. Guaranteed!

It’s hard to believe that an athlete as relatively innocuous as Kirk Cousins is the maverick who disrupted the NFL’s carefully cultivated financial game plan. Until now, league owners craftily avoided giving out guaranteed contracts, but after the Vikings met Cousins’ demands for a fully guaranteed $84 million, 3-year deal, the stage is set for more top-tier free agents to insist on long-term guaranteed money. It won’t open the flood gates because not many players have the same leverage as Cousins, but cracks are forming in the owners’ iron-clad business plan.Futurewatch: Seeing as how he’s a newcomer to Minnesota, wonder how Cousins’ deal will play in a Vikings locker room full of lesser-paid athletes whose contracts and financial futures hang by a knee ligament or front office decision.Not so fast: Before anyone and everyone puts too many expectations on Cousins, keep in mind that some of the Vikings’ progress last season came as a result of the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers being sidelined by injury.Small change: What can the Giants do with – and about – Odell Beckham Jr.? The wide receiver has mega-million dollar talent ... to go with a 10-cent head. Easy for me to say, but if I were the Giants, I’d unload him.Throwback: This week’s NFL player movement recalls the comment made by offensive guard Conrad Dobler in the ’70s after he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the New Orleans Saints. “Religiously speaking,” he said, “it’s an advancement from a Cardinal to a Saint.”Speed ‘em up: I love the new minor league baseball rule for extra-inning games that calls for each inning to begin with a runner on second. It will add excitement and get fans home sooner. The reason this will work at Harbor Park and elsewhere is that results don’t matter down on the farm. It’s a place to develop and harbor talent for the big-league clubs.Favored Continue Reading

For years, engineers have warned that Houston was a flood disaster in the making. Why didn’t somebody do something?

Houston is built on what amounts to a massive flood plain, pitted against the tempestuous Gulf of Mexico and routinely hammered by the biggest rainstorms in the nation.It is a combination of malicious climate and unforgiving geology, along with a deficit of zoning and land-use controls, that scientists and engineers say leaves the nation’s fourth most populous city vulnerable to devastating floods like the one caused this week by Hurricane Harvey.“Houston is very flat,” said Robert Gilbert, a University of Texas at Austin civil engineer who helped investigate the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “There is no way for the water to drain out.”Indeed, the city has less slope than a shower floor.Harvey poured as much as 374 billion gallons of water within the city limits, exceeding the capacity of rivers, bayous, lakes and reservoirs. Experts said the result was predictable.The storm was unprecedented, but the city has been deceiving itself for decades about its vulnerability to flooding, said Robert Bea, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and UC Berkeley emeritus civil engineering professor who has studied hurricane risks along the Gulf Coast.The city’s flood system is supposed to protect the public from a 100-year storm, but Bea calls that “a 100-year lie” because it is based on a rainfall total of 13 inches in 24 hours.“That has happened more than eight times in the last 27 years,” Bea said. “It is wrong on two counts. It isn’t accurate about the past risk and it doesn’t reflect what will happen in the next 100 years.”In an average year, Houston gets 50 inches of rain — as much as Harvey will deliver to some parts of the city.The muddy rivers — notably the San Jacinto and the Buffalo Bayou — that meander through Houston struggle to carry much water.Dams along the rivers were built mainly for water storage, not flood control. Because Texas Continue Reading

The biggest news stories of 2017 were about destructive forces and mass movements

The past year has been a wild ride.White supremacists rallied and anti-fascists confronted them in the streets. Flat-Earthers held their inaugural international convention and people started a campaign for Neil DeGrasse Tyson-Bill Nye for 2020. The world lost musicians including Tom Petty, Chris Cornell and Chuck Berry and the “Cash me outside, howbow dah” girl got a record deal.Here’s a list of some of 2017 biggest news events. Keep up with this story and more President Donald Trump’s inauguration Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on January 20. His presidency was controversial from the start, with promises to investigate "voter fraud" despite him losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots. The hashtag “Not My President” entered the lexicon and many refused to call him by his name or title, instead referring to Trump only as “45.”The day after the inauguration at the first press briefing by Sean Spicer, Trump’s since-ousted press secretary, Spicer falsely claimed the inaugural crowd "was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.”Spicer’s words, defending the president's own angry speech, earned him a “pants on fire” rating from the non-partisan fact checking site Politifact.Not everyone in D.C. came to support Trump on inauguration day. Large crowds of protesters also marched through the streets, some becoming violent and breaking windows. One black limousine was set ablaze and its windows were shattered. An anarchist symbol and the words “We the people” were scrawled across the vehicle in orange spray paint.Police deployed pepper spray and stun grenades to tamp down on demonstrators and more than 200 people were arrested. Women’s March The day after Trump assumed office, millions of people took to the streets in cities around the country to Continue Reading

This Week: Ideas From the 99 Percent. PLUS: Ending Corporate Personhood

IDEAS FROM THE 99 PERCENT. At the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement is an understanding that our political system has failed to address the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Where our politicians and pundits have failed, Occupy Wall Street has succeeded in bringing issues like inequality, corporate ownership of politics and prolonged joblessness to the forefront of public debate. Yet, some still trivialize, criticize or attack the Occupy movement for lacking specific demands. They clearly miss the point of its message. And they aren’t paying attention. To be sure, there’s no shortage of smart policy proposals to address the crises that beset us. As I’ve argued before, sane and humane policy solutions exist, such as those in the Congressional Progressive Caucus People’s Budget. Our special forum in this week’s issue takes stock of some of those proposals. In “Ideas From the 99 Percent,” diverse voices, including William Grieder, Rinku Sen, Tamara Draut and Sarah Anderson offer concrete policy solutions—debt relief for struggling homeowners and students , fairer taxation policy and corporate governance rules, reducing interest rates on federal student loans, and instituting a financial transactions tax on Wall Street speculation. Be sure to read more about these and other ideas here. WE THE PEOPLE. One very specific and concrete proposal that has caught on in Occupy encampments across the country: to introduce an amendment to the Constitution that would reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United and limit the pernicious influence of corporate money in our political system. This is the central goal of the We the People Campaign launched this week with colleagues Jim Hightower and Jay Harris. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United opened the flood gates to corporate spending in elections. But it has inspired progressive groups to resist, organize and regain control of Continue Reading

Essay: Autonomy the missing ingredient to turning around schools

Rochester City School  41 is going into receivership because it has been underperforming for many years.  As a result the district will have to make some serious decisions about what to do with the school. So what?  In the end, unless a more knowledgeable and committed organization takes it over, the results will be the same for the students in their families.  They will experience an education that is less than what it should be.  The only way to improve schools is to break through the bureaucratic fortress that shields them from innovation and change.  It is not money, policies or programmatic changes that will make the difference. Freedom is the greatest variable.For 30 years district leaders have rearranged the cards but the only thing that has improved over this time is the collective think that drives the failure. No one is willing to tell the emperors that they have no clothes on.  Instead we complain a little and every now and then there is a rallying cry for something new but there is no broad-based, unrelenting push to do anything radical.  Instead we accept the dysfunction, low expectations and demeaning conditions as the way it is.East High School will be turned around but it is not because the folks at University of Rochester know more about learning than we teachers do. And while the resources the U of R bring are hugely important, the single most important factor in improving dysfunctional schools is autonomy. Ownership fuels responsibility and without this commitment most schools are simply playing the game. The relations that must be formed in schools in order to establish successful cultures can’t happen when the bureaucracy demands conformity even when the rules fly in the face of common sense.  We are hard-working and cordial but we all know that intense and prolonged improvement is unrealistic given the framework we are working within.Until district and union leaders Continue Reading

Khadeen Carrington scores career-high 42 points in Bishop Loughlin’s 90-71 win over Christ the King in title game of CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens tournament

Khadeen Carrington and Bishop Loughlin owned Brooklyn/Queens on Friday night. And at the pace the Lions' star is playing at, it may not be long before the rest of the city belongs to them, too. Carrington showed Christ the King why he deserved to be the league's MVP, scoring a career-high 42 points as Loughlin trounced the Royals, 90-71, in the championship game of the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens tournament at St. Francis Prep. "Personally, for me, it was a great game," said Carrington, who is headed to Seton Hall. "It was a great game for the team and we tried to beat them when it count(ed), which is tonight." The teams were battling back and forth for the first five minutes, but then Carrington threw down a one-handed jam, which opened the flood gate for the Lions as they would close out the first quarter on a 13-4 run. The Lions had everything going for them, scoring a total of 49 points in the first half, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by senior guard Darius James. "It got me fired up," Carrington said of his fast break dunk that turned the momentum. "It got the team fired up, the crowd, the bench and it got us going a little bit." Carrington is used to having career moments against Christ the King. On Jan. 31 he scored his 2,000th career point against the Royals. That was the same night when Christ the King's Adonis Delarosa received a technical foul and suspended for two games. Delarosa had 23 points and teammate Rawle Alkins added 17. "Bottom line is they played like they were suppose to," Christ the King head coach Joe Arbitello said. "They have seven seniors who wanted to win the Brooklyn/Queens championship and Khandeen Carrington is just so under control and making shots, he's tough to guard when he's that good." Carrington missed only four of his 19 shots and was getting to the line with ease. He was able to control the tempo of the game and had Christ the King in early foul trouble, which made it a lot easier for him to get to the Continue Reading

Central Jersey roads reopening as flood waters recede, Manville closes shelter

Some of the roads that were closed Wednesday evening and Thursday morning due to flooding have been reopened.Flooding caused by more than 4 inches of rain over a 24-hour period brought the Thursday morning commute to a standstill in many places.But late Thursday morning officials reopened Route 206 in Hillsborough and the Van Veghten Bridge connecting Manville to Finderne in Bridgewater. Earlier Thursday morning all traffic to Manville had been diverted.A flood watch from the National Weather Service was in effect until noon Thursday. Emergency management officials were reporting that flood waters are subsiding and traffic conditions were improving.The rain flooded many roads and raised the waters of the Raritan River to some of the highest levels in recorded history, although no municipalities ordered evacuations.The American Red Cross with seven volunteers opened a shelter 6.a.m., Thursday, in flood-prone Manville but closed it about noon.“It was good not to be needed,” Red Cross of Northern New Jersey spokeswoman Diane Concannon said from the shelter at the Manville VFW on Washington Street.The high waters blocked underpasses in Somerset and Union counties and submerged cars in residential streets in Manville. Several police and fire departments in the region reported multiple rescues from flooded cars but no injuries were reported. The Millstone River also experienced flooding at sites in Griggstown and Blackwells Mills.Bound Brook officials announced Thursday morning that the flood gate at East Street had been closed as a precaution. The gate was retracted and the road reopened after 11:30 a.m.Because of flooding on Easton Avenue in the Somerset section of Franklin, the Somerset County-operated DASH 851 and DASH 852 buses will be redirected May 1.They will be re-routed from Easton Avenue using Elizabeth Avenue to Davidson Avenue, then from Pierce Street to Cedar Grove Lane to New Brunswick Road to Willow Avenue and back to Easton Avenue.The buses Continue Reading

Grafton ghost town a preservation of the past

While on my way to Zion National Park last week, I took a short detour and stopped by the ghost town of Grafton.Of the dozens of abandoned town sites in Southern Utah, the two most prominent and most visited are easily Silver Reef and Grafton. Both ghost towns have non-profit groups dedicated to preserving what’s left of the structures and the lands where the respective towns once stood. It’s easy to find other visitors strolling amid the ruins on a visit to these two towns.Beyond that, the two towns couldn’t be more different.Grafton was a farming community, first settled by pioneers sent by Brigham Young in 1861 to grow cotton in Utah’s Dixie. Silver Reef was a mining town that flourished in the mid 1870s and 1880s after silver was discovered in the surrounding sandstone reefs.Grafton is, to this day, surrounded by fields, cattle and the remains of orchards while Silver Reef is surrounded by barred-up and filled-in mines.Grafton was a Mormon community built by saints acting on faith that they could carve a living out of this harsh landscape. The most prominent structure still standing at the town site is the one-room schoolhouse and church meeting hall that was built in 1886 when townsfolk hauled lumber 75 miles from Mount Trumbull on the Arizona Strip and built adobe bricks from clay gathered in a pit west of town to construct the adobe building.Silver Reef was populated by wide variety of people seeking their fortunes either in the mines or through selling the miners supplies, whisky and lodging in town. The most prominent building still standing in Silver Reef is the Wells Fargo bank building that serves as a museum today.Three separate cemeteries can be found near the town, one for Protestants, one for Catholics and the third for the Chinese immigrants that worked the mines.Efforts have been made in both ghost towns to preserve the past, to shore up old buildings, walls and foundations that serve as reminders of their Continue Reading

Daniel Murphy’s misplayed grounder opens flood gates for Phillies in 6-4 win over Mets at Citi Field

It was weird.Citi Field, and they were shouting. A segment wore Phillies gear, sure - but there was a lot of "Let's Go Mets," a lot of waving orange towels and dancing when Jose Reyes scored a late-inning run. What was this, 2006? No, it was summer baseball in New York, and it was alive. The atmospheric wattage was not enough, however, to power a Mets win. There are vibes, and there is reality. The reality is that your stars are injured, your relievers cannot remain unhittable forever, and you lose to Philadelphia, 6-4, Friday night. The reality is that Daniel Murphy is playing first base instead of Ike Davis, which led to this game-deciding moment: Top of the ninth, game tied 3-3, runners on first and second. Domonic Brown sends a sharp grounder to Murphy. With greedy dreams of a double play, Murphy pivots, and cannot recover in time to field the ball. Carlos Ruiz scores the go-ahead run.BOX SCORE: PHILLIES 6, METS 4 "I just misplayed it," Murphy said. "I thought it was going to take a different hop.. I was trying to turn two." From there, the inning just got really Metsian. The next run scored on a Jimmy Rollins sacrifice fly to shallow right. Michael Martinez dashed home from third, arriving ahead of Carlos Beltran's three-hop throw. Not exactly a laser. Justin Turner is caught stealing in the 7th inning. The final Phils run came when Placido Polanco grounded to Ruben Tejada, who flipped the ball to Jose Reyes - just after Chase Utley arrived at second base. The unfortunate timing allowed Brown a successful 90-foot dash home. It was strange, seeing the Mets lead after seven and lose.Jason Isringhausen and Francisco Rodriguez have almost always been right. Isringhausen entered with a 2.35 ERA, and Rodriguez with a 192/3-inning scoreless streak. When Terry Collins came to retrieve his closer, the party vibe went sour, and Rodriguez heard boos. This bothered the manager. "I was a little disappointed to hear the reaction to Frankie," he said. Continue Reading


ST. LOUIS - After the fall, Curtis Granderson wanted to see the videotape. So he watched what a Tigers fan might call "lowlight" video clips of his slip in the seventh inning of Thursday's Game 4, trying to see exactly what happened when he lost his footing chasing David Eckstein's double. "I wanted to see the replay, how I went down," the Tigers center fielder said. "When I went down, I was below the camera, because they were expecting me to be in another spot, so I really couldn't tell anything. I'm hoping to find another angle." Whether or not Granderson ever finds deeper meaning beyond a simple fall on a wet field, he knows this - he has slipped into World Series lore. Optimistic Cardinals fans are looking at the play, which started the rally that gave St. Louis a 4-3 lead, as karmic payback for Curt Flood's misjudgment of a fly ball in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series against Detroit, which helped the Tigers win that title. But Granderson is hoping for his own silver lining, too. "The other guy who fell, his name is Curt, too, so maybe that means something," Granderson said, smiling. "The baseball gods are funny. Hopefully, it evens out." While Granderson at least could see parallels with Flood, Detroit manager Jim Leyland was in no mood after Game 4 to make any comparisons. "I knew that question would be asked," Leyland said. "I talked about it afterwards. I said, 'I know one of the first questions I get when I go to the press conference is if I remember Curt Flood slipping,' and I do. But right now I'm not real interested in Curt Flood." Presumably, Leyland was in a better mood after some time passed. Granderson sure was. He was in good spirits before last night's Game 5 and said he was over his fall soon after Game 4 was over, except for his curiosity. Everyone else "was expecting me to have a breakdown," Granderson said. "It's not as negative as it could be. It was a freakish thing that happened. It was a slip, not a physical mistake or Continue Reading