~ a cinderella story ~
Another year is set to start for the league which many have called the best in the United States. Except this season will be a little different.
Rice has closed due to financial woes and teams have moved up to the ‘AA’ from the ‘A’ to make for more competitive balance. There will be league matchups this year that haven’t been seen in a long time.
Of course, one thing is the same as always: a bevy of talent. Christ the King, St. Raymond and Cardinal Hayes are all loaded with five or more future Division I players and many of those players are veterans. With deep and inexperienced teams below them, like Holy Cross, Xaverian and Archbishop Molloy, it should be a fun ride.
St. Raymond's Nkereuwen Okoro will help lead a deep, talented Ravens squad bent on winning a city title.
Here are the first rankings of the season:
1. Christ the King
A third straight CHSAA Class AA intersectional title is well within reach. Christ the King, nationally ranked by every major outlet, will be led by UConn-bound senior guard Omar Calhoun and a triumvirate of talented juniors: Isaiah Lewis, Jon Severe and Jordan Fuchs. The Royals are fueled by a loss to Mount Vernon in last year’s New York State Federation Class AA final.
2. St. Raymond
People think Daniel Dingle and Kerwin Okoro when they hear St. Ray’s and that’s normal. But coach Oliver Antigua sees the city’s most balanced team. He expects big years out of electric guard Shane Rector, sharpshooter Larry Graves and defensive stopper Myron Hickman as well as rising sophomore Kayvon Williams.
3. Cardinal Hayes
No team benefited more from the untimely demise of Rice than Cardinal Hayes. The Cardinals will go from the Class A championship game to ‘AA’ title contender in the league’s revamped setup. That’s what happens when you add Tyler Wilson, Naasir Williams and Chris Robinson to an already-formidable nucleus.
4. Holy Cross
Experience, versatility and unselfishness are the words that come to mind when you think about Holy Cross coming into the season. Five senior regulars are back from a team that went to the CHSAA Class AA intersectional semis. Led by Will Davis, Marquise Moore and Mairega Clarke, the Knights will be in the mix again.
Perhaps no player in the CHSAA improved himself more in the offseason than Brian Bernardi, who stayed home in July to do skills work – a rarity today. Point guard Dillon Burns is a gritty leader and Shakeel Kemp, an athletic swingman, might be ready to break out. But there’s no doubting this is Bernardi’s team.
6. Archbishop Molloy
The C.J. Davis Era has begun at Molloy. But the exceptional sophomore point guard has some help, too. Fellow 10th-grade guard Gabe Kilpatrick is a player, steady senior point guard George Davis returns and Morrell Haskins and Darden Ostrozubi have done well filling in for talented junior wing Marco Kozul (ankle).
7. Bishop Loughlin
Star seniors Tyliek Kimbrough, Joel Angus and Travis Charles have jumped ship to PSAL teams, but coach Ed Gonzalez is more than happy with what remains: a bunch of talented youngsters. Loughlin will have senior leadership, but sophomores Khadeen Carrington, Elisha Boone and Devin Wilson lead the way.
8. Archbishop Stepinac
Point guard Josh James, with his Division I offers, is primed for a breakout season and guards Tyler Iacuone and Naim Thomas are expected to take on major roles. Conroy might be at Lehigh, but Devino McRae and Austin Taps make up a formidable front line. The transition to ‘AA’ should be seamless for Stepinac.
9. Mount St. Michael
If Mount can shoot the way its capable most nights and defend like coach Tom Fraher hopes, it could be a strong year moving up to the ‘AA’ for last year’s ‘A’ champ. Malik Gill is a great lead guard. Pair him with shooters Anthony Maestre and Andrew Utate and inside beast Omari Manhertz and it’s a tough combo.
10. All Hallows
Jon Brens leads a solid group of seniors and juniors Raz Council and Ethan Hamlet are expected to take that next step in their development. Longtime coach John Carey envisions this small team creating mismatches and scoring off the bounce. He always seems to have All Hallows playing its best basketball in the postseason.
Dropped out: None
On the bubble: St. Peter’s, St. Francis Prep, Fordham Prep and Monsignor Farrell
S I M M E R I N G
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A U.S. Senate committee is considering tackling a burgeoning and controversial business in which veterans and other retirees sell some of their future pension income to investors, with an array of middlemen profiting from the transactions.
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Sen. Tom Harkin wants to be sure 'pension participants are not abused.'
"The sale of pensions to investors in secondary markets is a worrisome new practice that deserves careful scrutiny," said Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "In tough economic times, hard-working people are often forced to make difficult choices between immediate economic needs and their future retirement security.
"However, it is critically important that people forced to make these tough decisions have the information they need to make wise choices, and don't fall victim to unscrupulous or illegal practices."
Mr. Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, said he plans "to take a closer look at these issues in the coming months to ensure that our laws are respected and pension participants are not abused." A committee spokeswoman said it is early in the process, and the senator declined to elaborate on possible courses of action.
As The Wall Street Journal detailed in a story earlier this month, financial middlemen have helped to set up websites with names such as BuyYourPension.com and pension4cash.com to connect pension recipients.
The pensioners need immediate cash; the investors are lured by promises of higher returns.
The market plays off several current trends: With tougher credit standards, many people who ordinarily might borrow from credit cards are willing to pledge future pension checks for cash now, even if the terms are highly unfavorable to them.
Many people who never previously considered unconventional investments are attracted to them with bonds paying ultralow yields and stock markets a highly risky bet.
The financial middlemen bundle information obtained by the websites into spreadsheets that are supplied to financial advisers for their clients. The investor pays an agreed-upon lump sum to the retiree, who signs a contract pledging to hand over all or part of each month's check for a set number of years. The deals typically are priced to yield investors 6% to 7% or so a year, as their money is returned over a period of several years to 10 years.
Meanwhile, an array of middlemen collect fees: They are spread among the website operators, firms that do the heavy lifting of pulling together transactions, distributors and the financial advisers who land individual investors.
No one keeps track of how many pensions are traded for instance cash, and the number for now is believed to be small. But in recent months, websites have proliferated, and middlemen far from Wall Street have ramped up efforts to win over financial advisers to the concept.
These firms have their eye on the hundreds of thousands of military veterans, police officers and firefighters who can start receiving pension checks while they are still in their 40s, many of whom have moved on to other jobs and wouldn't be put in desperate financial straits if they pledge some of their future pension income for a wad of cash.
The deals attempt to thread the needle of federal pension law and federal statutes governing military pay, which prohibit the "assignment" of qualified pensions. The transactions attempt to make the distinction that the pension itself isn't being assigned but that the retiree is promising to fulfill a contract and will use money he or she has received from a pension check.
But that makes the transactions risky to investors because the retiree could breach the contract or file for bankruptcy, putting investors in a line of creditors seeking to be repaid.
Pension-income-stream transactions arranged by a California firm that has been in the business since the 1990s have been enforced by some courts but rejected by others, including a U.S. bankruptcy court, filings show.
Write to Leslie Scism at email@example.com
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national debt surpasses $15 trillion." border="0" width="580" height="324" />
A new Republican National Committee ad attacks President Obama as the national debt surpasses $15 trillion. (YouTube / RNC)
The Treasury Department confirmed this week that the national debt has surpassed $15 trillion -- that's 15, followed by 12 zeros -- a milestone Republicans have latched on to for a fresh attack on President Obama's fiscal management.
The timing could not be more conspicuous, with less than a week left before the super committee's deadline and no deficit-reduction plan in sight. A leading Senate Republican said Thursday his party continues to wait for a counteroffer from Democrats, and charged that Obama has been "AWOL" in the discussion.
"Even now, while they're up against the final deadline on this super committee, the president is nowhere to be found, traveling abroad," Sen. John Thune said on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee.
GOP negotiators have proposed $250 billion in new tax revenue over 10 years, a particular point Thune said made "a lot of Republicans uncomfortable." Democrats have called the proposal insufficient.
"I am still hopeful Republicans will see their way to bring to us a real revenue package — and that's what all of us are looking for in terms of fair and balanced," Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the super committee co-chairwoman, said after a meeting of Democrats on Wednesday.
Tied to the new debt total, the RNC launched a web video (see below) highlighting previous Obama statements on the issue as a candidate.
In one speech, in July 2008, Obama noted, "We now have over $9 trillion of debt. … That's irresponsible. That's unpatriotic." Weeks after taking office, he promised to cut the federal deficit in half, which the RNC dubs "another broken promise."
The federal deficit for the 2011 fiscal year was $1.3 trillion. Since Obama took office, the national debt has climbed more than 41%.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement Wednesday calling the $15-trillion figure "astounding," and promoted his new plan to dramatically downsize the federal government.
"Now more than ever, America needs leadership committed to overhauling Washington," he said.
Democrats point to an analysis that says the Bush tax cuts account for half of the nation's projected debt through 2019.
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The Sandy Beach Oceanfront Resort on Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Monday, November 7, 2011. Copyright 2011 Jason Barnette
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Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participated Saturday November 5th, 2011 in South Florida’s largest public safety expo, which featured crime prevention vehicles, safety demonstrations, educational displays, children’s activities, child fingerprinting and informative meet-and-greet activities for all ages. The event was hosted by Crime Stoppers of Broward County and the Seminole Paradise Hard Rock Hotel..
© 2011, Antonio E. Arce, all rights reserved; do not copy or use without permission from the author.
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LONDON—Shaken by criticism of its handling of anticapitalist protesters on its doorstep, St. Paul's Cathedral said it is suspending legal action to have the Occupy London camp evicted.
Reversing course after appearing to side against the protesters, St. Paul's said it decided to drop legal measures after late-night talks with the bishop of London, Richard Chartres, who loosely oversees the cathedral.
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St Paul's Cathedral in London, where anti-capitalist protesters have been camped for more than two weeks.
The move prompted the City of London to "press pause" on its own, separate legal action to evict the campers, though it suggested it may go to court if negotiations don't lead to the campers moving. "We're hoping to use a pause—probably of days not weeks—to work out a measured solution," the city said on Tuesday.
The bishop of London, meanwhile, invited the former chairman of UBS Europe and Lazard International, Ken Costa, to lead a new group of financial-services and church leaders aimed at "reconnecting the financial with the ethical," according to a statement from St. Paul's and the bishop. Located in London's financial district, St. Paul's is the city's main church for the Anglican faith.
The anticapitalist protesters have said they never intended to target the cathedral—they wound up camping at its steps after being denied access to the nearby London Stock Exchange. But by rocking St. Paul's leadership, the encampment has drawn greater attention to its cause, allowing it to claim a victory for the global Occupy campaign.
"The alarm bells are ringing all over the world. St. Paul's has now heard that call," Bishop Chartres said. "Today's decision means that the doors are most emphatically open to engage with matters concerning not only those encamped around the cathedral but millions of others in this country and around the globe."
In an editorial published online Tuesday in the Financial Times, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England, said he was joining the Vatican in supporting three changes to the financial system: the separation of routine banking from speculative transactions; obligations on banks receiving public bailout money to help "re-invigorate the real economy;" and a so-called Robin Hood tax of 0.05% on financial transactions, with the money raised to be invested in the real economy. If world leaders can agree on these three changes, "the struggles and questionings alike of protesters and clergy at St. Paul's will not have been wasted," the archbishop wrote.
St. Paul's initially welcomed the campers when they set up in mid-October, but later tilted toward legal action to remove them, causing one top priest, Giles Fraser, to resign in protest. A week into the protest, the cathedral shut its doors for the first time since World War II, calling the tents a fire hazard.
On Friday, St. Paul's said it planned to take legal action against the campers. That sparked a barrage of criticism, causing the head of the cathedral, Graeme Knowles, to resign on Monday.
St. Paul's governing body, known as the chapter, called the past few weeks "an enormously difficult time for the cathedral."
St. Paul's Dean Steps Down
"Legal concerns have been at the forefront in recent weeks but now is the time for the moral, the spiritual and the theological to come to the fore," Michael Colclough, canon pastor of St. Paul's and a member of the chapter, said in Tuesday's statement.
In a phone interview, Mr. Costa, who serves as warden of a large church in London's genteel Knightsbridge neighborhood, said he was still drawing up plans for the new group the bishop had asked him to lead. The initiative will make "pragmatic suggestions" that financial-services practitioners can "embrace" to ensure they conduct their work ethically, he said.
In an Oct. 28 opinion piece in the Financial Times after visiting the protest camp, Mr. Costa wrote: "The cure is not more legislation, or increased regulation. It is the pressing need to reconnect the financial with the ethical."
People walk by protest posters surrounding the Occupy London camp outside St. Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday.
The mood was celebratory Tuesday evening in the protest camp, where a trio played "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" on flute, guitar and bongos. Charlie Veitch, a 31-year-old protester who lost his job in the banking sector after the fall of Lehman Brothers, welcomed St. Paul's move but expressed concern that the city government is "more belligerent than the church" and could still move to evict campers.
He called the church's new initiative with the financial sector admirable but said: "The pessimist in me says greedy people aren't going to change just because the church or some guy writes reports saying we should all be huggy, peace-and-love hippies."
Write to Jeanne Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org
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