Thursday, June 30, 2016

Just how crazy good was the 1985 Chicago Bears defense?


Buddy Ryan was a member of two Super Bowl-winning coaching staffs in his career: the 1968 New York Jets in Super Bowl III as a defensive line coach and the 1985 Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX as defensive coordinator.

His '85 Bears defense will always be remembered as one of the best in NFL history.

Near-perfect regular season

Ryan devised the 46 defense, which helped the Bears post a 15-1 record during the 1985 regular season. Their only loss came on the road in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins.

Ryan's defense led the NFL in seven defensive categories that season.

ESPN Stats & Information

The '85 Bears ran away from the pack with their defense. The 198 points they allowed led the league by 65 points (or 4.1 points per game). Their point differential of plus-258 was 110 points better than the next-closest team in the NFL that season.

Elias Sports Bureau research notes that the 1985 Bears own the third-best point differential of any team to win the Super Bowl since the NFL expanded to a 16-game regular season. The only teams that rank higher than the Bears on that list are the 1999 St. Louis Rams (plus-284) and 1991 Washington Redskins (plus-261).

Dominant postseason

Ryan's '85 Bears defense is the only one in NFL history to record two shutouts in a single postseason. They held the New York Giants to 181 total yards in a divisional round shutout before an even more dominant shutout performance against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game in which they let up just 130 total yards.

The Bears allowed 10 points to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. The only other team in NFL postseason history that allowed fewer than 20 total points in at least three postseason games is the 1971 Dallas Cowboys (18 points in three games).

Bears opponents scored 3.3 points per game that postseason, 2.5 points per game better than the next-closest team in NFL history with a minimum of three postseason games played (2000 Baltimore Ravens).

They had the same number of takeaways (10) as points allowed that postseason.

Three defensive players on the 1985 Bears team went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame –- Richard Dent, Mike Singletary and Dan Hampton.

Don't forget about Ryan's '84 Bears

The Bears ranked third in sacks in 1985, but their 72 sacks under Ryan in the 1984 season are the most by any team in a single season since sacks became an official stat in 1982.

Johnny Depp’s Basquiats Fetch Millions in Pre-Divorce Auction

Johnny Depp may be embroiled in a tension-filled divorce from Amber Heard, but he was able to scoop up millions of dollars that will probably help with his legal bills at a Christie's auction yesterday. According to Page Six, the actor sold two paintings by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat for a total of $11.5 million as part of a Christie's 250th anniversary sale.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's Pork, 1981, sold for 5,122,500 pounds.

Courtesy of Christie's London.

The artworks proved to be extremely smart investments for Depp, who Artnet reports was an early fan of Basquiat. He purchased a 1981 self-portrait of the artist in 2001 for $578,000. It sold for $4.7 million. Depp's second Basquiat, "Pork," was also painted in 1981. It fetched $6.8 million at the gavel.

Depp is auctioning off eight pieces of his Basquiat collection in total. They can be viewed on the Christie's Web site.

Meanwhile, Depp obliquely addressed the drama in his personal life during his first public interview since the divorce announcement. He appeared on L.A.'s 95.5 KLOS Jonesy's Jukebox on Monday with his band, the Hollywood Vampires, and discussed the downside to being a celebrity. "The drag is all the hoopla that happens. I like the process of it . . . I don't wanna be a product."


The sun gizmo in ‘Game of Thrones’ opening appears in Sam’s library scene
Image: hbo
2016%2f06%2f29%2f56%2fhttpsd2mhye01h4nj2n.cloudfront.netmediazgkymde2lzax.af914By Jonathan Keshishoglou2016-06-28 20:04:05 UTC

Warning: Like most of Twitter, this post contains Game of Thrones Season 6 spoilers.

The Game of Thrones opening, besides containing that epically snazzy theme song, can also include important information about the episode itself. 

Namely, it tends to list the locations that will appear in the coming hour (in Winterfell's case, it even shows who currently owns it). But until the most recent episode, "The Winds of Winter," there wasn't any sign the sun gizmo that shines in the opening actually exists within the world of the show. But there is now.

And right now, it involves Samwell Tarly, Jon Snow's lovable sidekick played by John Bradley-West. Season 6 has seen Sam heading south to Oldtown to become a maester.

It isn't until the finale that Sam finally arrives at Oldtown's Citadel. When he leaves Gilly, his wildling girlfriend, in the lobby to check out the Citadel's library, he sees the bright, spinning sun-gizmo from the opening credits.

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Mark Zuckerberg Covers His Laptop Camera. You Should Consider It, Too.

Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most powerful men in the world because billions of people give Facebook, which he founded, free access to their personal data. In return, users receive carefully curated snapshots of his life: baby photos, mundane office tours and the occasional 5K.

On Tuesday, observers were reminded that Mr. Zuckerberg, 32, is not just a normal guy who enjoys running and quiet dinners with friends. In a photo posted to his Facebook account, he celebrated the growing user base of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. An eagle-eyed Twitter user named Chris Olson noticed that in the image's background, his laptop camera and microphone jack appeared to be covered with tape.

Other publications, including Gizmodo, used the tweet to raise the question: Was this paranoia, or just good practice?

3 things about this photo of Zuck:
Camera covered with tape
Mic jack covered with tape
Email client is Thunderbird

— Chris Olson (@topherolson) June 21, 2016

The taped-over camera and microphone jack are usually a signal that someone is concerned, perhaps only vaguely, about hackers' gaining access to his or her devices by using remote-access trojans — a process called "ratting." (Remote access is not limited to ratters: According to a cache of National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, at least two government-designed programs were devised to take over computer cameras and microphones.)

Security experts supported the taping, for a few good reasons:

• The first is that Mr. Zuckerberg is a high-value target.

"I think Zuckerberg is sensible to take these precautions," Graham Cluley, an online security expert and consultant, wrote in an email Wednesday. "As well as intelligence agencies and conventional online criminals who might be interested in targeting his billions, there are no doubt plenty of mischievous hackers who would find it amusing to spy upon such a high-profile figure."


Continue reading the main story

• The second is that covering photo, video and audio portals has long been a basic and cheap security safeguard.

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Aziz Ansari: Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family

"DON'T go anywhere near a mosque," I told my mother. "Do all your prayer at home. O.K.?"

"We're not going," she replied.

I am the son of Muslim immigrants. As I sent that text, in the aftermath of the horrible attack in Orlando, Fla., I realized how awful it was to tell an American citizen to be careful about how she worshiped.

Being Muslim American already carries a decent amount of baggage. In our culture, when people think "Muslim," the picture in their heads is not usually of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or the kid who left the boy band One Direction. It's of a scary terrorist character from "Homeland" or some monster from the news.

Today, with the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels. It's visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense.


GOP donor Paul Singer says Trump would cause a depression


A hedge fund executive and major Republican donor believes Donald Trump's policies would spell big trouble for the U.S. economy.

Paul Singer, head of $27 billion Elliott Management, said Wednesday that he may not vote for anyone in the race between presumptive nominees Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, and joked he is considering writing himself in.

"The most impactful of the economic policies that I recall him coming out for are these anti-trade policies," Singer said during a panel discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. "And I think if he actually stuck to those policies and gets elected president, it's close to a guarantee of a global depression, widespread global depression."

Trump has pledged hefty tariffs against nations including China if they don't renegotiate trade policies he says are detrimental to U.S. interests.

Singer supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in what was once a 17-person race for the GOP nomination. Singer most recently gave $1 million in April to the Our Principles PAC, which was part of the campaign to stop Trump, according to OpenSecrets.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

See more of Singer's comments today on CNBC's "Closing Bell" from 3-5 pm.

Spanish authorities opened a new investigation into possible tax evasion by Google

The Spanish authorities have opened a new investigation into possible tax evasion by Google, broadening the scrutiny of the American technology giant in Europe.

The authorities visited the company's offices in Madrid on Thursday as part of the inquiry, according to a person briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. It was unclear whether the officials had questioned executives or had taken documents. The inquiry was reported earlier by the Spanish news media.

The new investigation adds to a long list of inquiries into corporate tax practices in Europe, where the authorities are broadly looking into whether American companies like Google, McDonald's and Amazon, among others, improperly shifted profits across the region to reduce their tax payments. The companies deny any wrongdoing.

In late May, French tax authorities raided Google's offices there, saying the company was under investigation for aggravated financial fraud and organized money laundering. Italian authorities are looking into whether the company did not pay a sufficient amount of tax.

In a statement, Google said that it complied with the tax laws of every country in which it operates.


Hershey Rejects Mondelez’s $23 Billion Takeover Offer

Mondelez International, whose snacks also run from Nabisco to Cadbury chocolate, has made a $23 billion takeover offer for Hershey in what would be one of the biggest deals of the year.

Hersey said on Thursday that Mondelez had offered to pay $107 a share in cash and stock — a premium of about 10 percent to Hershey's closing stock price. Hershey said that its board had "rejected the indication of interest and determined that it provided no basis for further discussion between Mondelez and the company."

If the two companies strike a deal, it would be among the most prominent in a year that has been lacking in daring deal-making.

Buying Hershey would be the boldest transaction for Mondelez — cleaved from what was once Kraft — since its former parent bought Cadbury of Britain in a $19 billion deal more than six years ago.

But winning Hershey could prove tricky for Mondelez, since the smaller chocolate maker is effectively controlled by a charitable trust that owns about 81 percent of the company's voting power.


Continue reading the main story

The Hershey Trust, established by Milton Hershey and his wife, Catherine, in 1905, has opposed takeovers of the company in the past. In 2002, the trust halted an auction of the company at the 11th hour as it was about to accept a $12.5 billion deal from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.

News of the approach, which was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal, sent shares in Hershey up 15 percent in trading on Thursday, to $111.87. Shares in Mondelez rose 4 percent, to $44.71.


Obama Library Architect Announced

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects via Obama Foundation

Nearly a year after the Obama Foundation kicked off its search for an architect, the Obamas has announced that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects will lead the design effort for the future Obama Presidential Center for Chicago's South Side. The facility, which will be the first presidential library in an urban center, will be built in Jackson Park or Washington Park. The Obama Foundation has previously indicated that the library's architect will help decide which site the project will be built at.

According to Martin Nesbitt, chairman of the Obama Foundation, the husband and wife architects were chosen for their creative ideas to help engage the surrounding community. "Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners stood out in their commitment to exploring, together with the Foundation, the best ways of creating an innovative center for action that inspires communities and individuals to take on our biggest challenges," Nesbitt stated in the official announcement. However, many other firms will be involved in the project from the design through construction phases. The Obama Foundation states that as many as 15-20 other firms may be involved in the project.

What's the reality behind Walmart's 'Made in America' claims?


Walmart is making its annual push to get credit for its self-proclaimed massive investment in U.S.-made products, which means it's time for a reality check. The Alliance for American Manufacturing, which put together the infographic below, has the facts:

 When Walmart claims that its American-made goods initiative will create 1 million new American jobs, it fails to mention that Chinese-made goods entering the United States through Walmart totaled at least $49.1 billion in 2013 alone.

It also doesn't mention that the combined effect of imports from and exports to China through Walmart accounted for about 15 percent of the growth of the overall American goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013.

Or that the Walmart-based Chinese trade deficit eliminated 400,000 American jobs during that time.

Walmart's rosy claims are on the left; the AAM's reality check is on the right.

infographic highlighting distance between Walmart's claims about buying American and the reality.

Elizabeth Warren blasts Comcast, calls for stronger anti-trust enforcement

If you thought Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren might moderate her positions, might fight a little less vocally for her key issues since she's under a big spotlight as a potential VP nominee? Then you haven't been paying attention to Elizabeth Warren. Here's her latest big policy speech.

"Last year was Comcast's best year in nearly a decade," the Massachusetts Democrat said in prepared remarks for a speech. "But while big telecom giants have been consuming each other, consumers have been left out in the cold—facing little or no choice in service providers and paying through the nose for cable and internet service."

Warren's speech at a forum on monopolies came as part of her advocacy for greater enforcement of antitrust laws as American consumers pay higher prices for cable and Internet services than those elsewhere.  […]

"Strong executive leadership could revive antitrust enforcement in this country and begin, once again, to fight back against dominant market power and overwhelming political power," Warren said in the Capitol Visitor Center. "But we need something else too — and that's a revival of the movement that created the antitrust laws in the first place."


Friday, June 3, 2016

3 US cities caught cheating on municipal water lead tests


An independent investigation by The Guardian found 33 cities in 17 US states (including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee) are systematically cheating on the tests to monitor lead levels in the municipal water. 21 of those cities used the same cheating techniques that led to criminal charges in the Flint water scandal.

Law firm Hagens Berman has launched a class action suit against the city of Philadelphia over the deception.

The Guardian investigation reveals a deep, long-running culture of scientific corruption in the water-testing regimes of American cities, including using methods known to underestimate lead levels; Michigan and New Hampshire state governments advising cities to discard high-lead test results and re-test in an attempt to get a more favorable result; refusing to sample lead levels in high-risk houses because it posed "a security risk"; and more.

Philadelphia, a city accused of having the worst water testing in the US, asks testers to pre-flush their pipes, remove aerators and slowly pour water into a sample bottle. The EPA has warned against all these testing methods, which could "mask the added contribution of lead at the tap".

Documents show some authorities have also removed high-risk homes from testing or sought to obscure their dangerous lead levels. In Michigan, a department of environmental quality (MDEQ) official told the director of a town water department in a Detroit suburb called Howell to "bump this one out", referring to a sample with high lead levels, by taking additional samples.

"I would suggest at least five more samples," Adam Rosenthal, an official at the MDEQ drinking water office wrote in an email in 2008.

New Hampshire offered similar advice to water system officials in that state, advising water departments to test early so any high results could be re-tested.

At least 33 US cities used water testing 'cheats' over lead concerns [Oliver Milman and Jessica Glenza/The Guardian]

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